Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Jesus' bones finally found... what a relief!

If you watched the Discovery Channel this week, you realize that it only took a few years for a few scientists and movie producers to do what first century religionists, the Roman Empire, naturalists, atheists, and materialists could not do for the past two millenia: having found the tomb of Jesus, they have proven the resurrection to be false, and thus dismantled Christianity.

Before I look for a new faith and a new job however, I suppose I should consider a few sticky details:

1. Serious minds have major questions about the conclusions that have been drawn, including key players who were invovled in the dig. Amos Kloner, the Bar-Ilan University professor and archaeologist who lead the excavation and subsequent analysis, has been quoted recently, dismissing the hype by saying “It makes a great story for a TV film, but it’s impossible. It’s nonsense. There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE.”

2. Without an existing sample of DNA from the Biblical Jesus, or a sample from a proven descendant of the Biblical Jesus, no DNA evidence will prove that an ossuary from this tomb belonged to him.

3. The names of Jesus' family were the most common names of the 1st century, and thus it would be no great surprise to find a tomb with this particular mix of names. What would be surprising, though, would be to find Jesus and his family buried in an upper middle class tomb in Jerusalem, when he was from Galilee. Of course, it might be argued that Jesus could have had a wealthy tomb, because his was funded by a benefactor. Further, it could be concluded that since Jesus was killed in Jerusalem, he would have been buried there. But how could this team use Biblical history so selectively in an attempt to discredit the authenticity of the very documents to which they appeal. If you're going to discredit a witness, you won't appeal to their testimony to prove your point!

4. 600-1??? Are you kidding me? These are the odds presented that this tomb is NOT the burial place of Jesus. Where did such a number come from? If someone knows please tell me. And does this take into consideration the odds of successfully keeping this news covered up for two thousand years? What are the odds that the body of Jesus would be hidden by people who would then be willing to die tortured deaths to protect their cover-up? What are the odds that no subsequent generations of detractors to the faith would ever have spoken up about having found the body of Jesus? It seems that when these historical conditions are coupled with the archeological ambiguity, belief that this is the tomb of Jesus would require greater faith than belief in the Biblical account of the resurrection. But one thing is clear... both belief systems require faith, which is nothing more than a response to the revelation that we're given.

5. Then, of course, there's the matter of whether any of this even matters. Discovery Channel's website points out that even if these are the bones of Jesus it doesn't negate the possibility of a resurrection, per the Bible's story. However, it does forfeit the possibility of Jesus' bodily ascension as declared in Acts.

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to some musicians sing the Apostle's Creed, one line of which states that "I believe in the resurrection of the body". It really is an incredible belief, but careful scholarship, and the inability of archeologists to find a body that would pass any 'reasonable evidence' test, leads me to continue in my recitation of the Creed - I believe in the resurrection of the body.


At 7/3/07 09:33, Blogger Tom said...

600 to 1 (according to the downloadable documents on Discovery's website)


Dr.Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics & mathematics at the University of Toronto, has concluded a high statistical probability that the Talpiot tomb is the JESUS FAMILY TOMB.

In a study, Feuerverger examined the cluster of names in the tomb.

• This involved multiplying the instances that each name appeared during that time period with the instances of every other name.

• To be conservative, he then divided the number by the statistical standard of 4
(or 25%) to allow for unintentional biases in the historical sources.

• He then further divided the results by 1,000 to account for all tombs that may have existed in First Century Jerusalem.

Taking into account the chances that these names would be clustered together in a family tomb, this statistical study concludes that the odds – on the most conservative basis – are 600 to 1 in favor of this being the JESUS FAMILY TOMB. A statistical probability of 600 to 1 means that this conclusion works 599 times out of 600."


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