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Finding the Tomb of Jesus

A documentary to be shown on the Discovery Channel purports to have discovered the tomb and the ossuary of Jesus (CNN story here).

I’m amazed that something like this would be called a “documentary” since there is next to no possibility of sufficient evidence for such a claim. The sad thing is that archeological claims, when popularized, rarely resemble anything a trained archeologist would actually say. Archeology is not about searching for a specific person’s remains or some specific artifact, Indiana Jones movies notwithstanding.

This is not, however, solely a province of opponents of Christianity. When archeological discoveries have even the slightest relationship to the Biblical text, Christians will portray them as new “proofs” of the accuracy of the Bible. Inevitably they do no such thing, but each side contributes to this attitude of proving or disproving. Then of course others make discoveries that disprove Christianity, but later these prove to be no such thing either.

Scientific historical study doesn’t work this way. The point is not to prove or disprove an entire collection of documents, such as the Bible, but rather to determine historicity point by point and create a most probable reconstruction of historical events. That process involves a great deal of nuance, and a willingness to admit ignorance in many cases, or tentative conclusions in many others.

Both the statements “archeology proves the Bible” and “archeology disproves the Bible” are silly. The Bible is not a single source from the historical point of view, and sources are not proven or disproven, rather, individual elements of a story will be determined to be more or less probable.

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5 Comments

  1. It will be interesting to see what this “evidence” turns out to be. Meanwhile, next month PBS will be airing a story that uncovers new evidence about the shroud of Turin. Personally, I’m looking forward to both 🙂

  2. I do not claim to be an authority on the Bible. But I have read it over and over again. It has given me some deep insights into Jesus Christ’s mission here on earth and, from what I can discern, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Jesus’ tomb has been discovered. The “resurrection of the body”, as we know it, is nothing more than a lollipop offered to us by organised religion. As far as I know, Jesus himself never referred to the resurrection of His body. He merely said that He would rise again on the third day. He was talking in the spirit. It was His spirit that rose from the dead. Actually, His resurrection should have no connection with the fate of Christianity. You who have read the Bible will agree that Jesus himself concluded his mission among men when, just before dying on the Cross, He said : “It is finished “. That was a clear indication that his work here was completed, and anything beyond the Crucifixion may be interpreted as embellishments.

    It is here that I need to introduce you to the words of St. Peter (1 Peter 3:18) when he stated, without ambiguity, that Jesus Christ was “killed in the flesh” and that He was “raised in the spirit “. Peter could not have said it in clearer terms. Ironically, we are taught that this same St. Peter is said to have testified that the Lord’s body was missing from the tomb ! You see what I mean by “imbellishments” ?

    I also need to present you with the teachings of Paul, when he went to great lengths to inform us that the mortal body as we know it will not rise from the grave. This body is corruptible, he said, and was not compatible with the incorruptible state of heavenly beings. But you don’t have to take my word for it — read 1 Corr. 15:42 where Paul touches in detail on the “resurrection of the body ”

    Actually, through the so-called resurrection we are losing sight of God’s greatest gift to mankind, which is the sacrifice on the Cross of His son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is on this fact that Christianity pivots. By later “rising” from the dead. Jesus did nothing for the sins of humankind. But by dying on the Cross He washed away our sins — past, present and future — with His precious.

    So you see, it doesn’t worry me if the tomb of Jesus, along with His mortal remains, can actually be uncovered. Such a discovery will make no dent in my faith — and it should have no impact on Christianity as a whole . All it will do is blow a hole in the theory of the “resurrection of the body” as preached by people who have their own agendas to follow .

    I hate to burst so many balloons — but there is not going to be any great family reunions beyond the grave. This fact is implicit in the Scriptures.

  3. After going through Carlton Figg’s comments, I feel the need to agree heartily with his opinion on the so-called “resurrection of the body”, though I will not go so far as say that Jesus did not rise in body. I am yet to form an opinion on this point. However, I must say that Carlton has a powerful argument in view of the quote from Acts where St. Peter seemed to have no doubt that Jesus rose “in the spirit”. And yes, I also went through Paul’s explanation on the resurrection of the body. There’s another very valid point raised by Carlton — even if the mortal remains of Jesus are discovered, I personally feel it will not take anything away from Christianity. There is no doubt that Christ’s mission on earth was completed successfully when He died on the Cross. It was his death that brought salvation to mankind, not His resurrection which, I may add, was only to be expected because Christ is God, and God cannot stay dead. The problem, as I see it, is that the Bible contradicts itself in so many places that we really don’t know what to believe. And this suits the churches because, when we don’t understand contradicting passages, we leave ourselves open to the clergy whose interpretations are tailored to suit their own agendas. I am inclined to agree with Carlton in the sense that even if the “Resurrection of the Body” is proved to be a falsehood, I shall continue to be a Christain inasmuch as salvation was offered to me by Jesus on the Cross, and nothing else. Carlton Figg, I say “Amen” !

  4. It appears that Carlton Figg is trying to squirm out of an awkward possibility. I mean, if it is proved beyond doubt that Jesus’ body is indeed lying in that recently uncovered tomb, then Carlton and his ilk will have a bad time trying to explain the centuries of lies spread around the world by Christianity, which, in fact, will cease to have any meaning. The religion will collapse into the dust from which it came ! However, I don’t see that happening. There are too many forces at play and, finally, the story surrounding the tomb will be hushed up, and everybody will live happily ever after !

    There is, however, some food for thought in Carlton’s observations. For instance, Jesus is quoted to have said “It Is Finished” just as He was dying on the cross. I will not say that Carlton’s interpretation of that is wide off the mark — though there are other workable interpretations too. Jesus may very well have meant that hope for the Jews was “finished”, since he was dying at the behest of the Jews. I also want to agree with Carlton when he states that the so-called “resurrection of the body” was a “lollipop” offered to non-believers who were told that, on becoming Christians, they would be entitle to get their physical forms back when they die. “Everlasting” life in your physical body can be a powerful allurement.

    In any case, and because of the centuries of lies by Christian leaders, the identification of Jesus Christ’s body in that recently-discovered tomb will be a lethal blow to Christianity. Carlton may hold on to his personal faith for all that he is worth, but the organised Christian Church will definitely cease to exist — which is why the facts behind the tomb will be swept under the carpet in a world-wide conspiracy during which each religion will scratch the oher’s back !!

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