February 28, 2007

The other day the news outlets were all buzzing over the discovery of a tomb in Israel which had been discovered. Actually it was discovered over 25 years ago. Anyway apparently through some "scientific" studies these documentarians make the claim that these are the remains of the family of Jesus of Nazareth, including Jesus Himself. Of course, if this were true then 2000 years of theology & church tradition have been nothing more than the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the human race. However, it doesn't take much to make me very skeptical of this "discovery".

First, this tomb & the contents were uncovered in 1980. In case you didn't know Israel & the entire area of Palestine is crawling with archaeologists. The findings would have been looked over, & the names Jesus, Mary, Mary, & Judah would have been noticed. Why did it take 27 years for someone to dig deeper? The answer is this. Those names were unbelievably common in that day & time. Don't let the filmmakers throw the weight of statistics around. We all know that statistics can prove just about anything we want them to prove. The names, even in this combination, would not be that surprising, especially the male names. Many male names find their roots all the way back to the 12 sons of Jacob. Linguistically they would have been linked. It would have been similar to Maria/Mary, Robert/Bob, etc. The names on their own are pretty weak as evidence.

Secondly, DNA is touted as the definitive piece of evidence. However, there is one huge flaw in the process. The scientific method says that in an experiment you have to have a control. If these people are trying to convince us this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by the Romans, then we need a piece of his DNA. Hair, blood, bone, anything that could definitively be tied to Him. In order for us to say that this is the Jesus, we have to have that control sample. The test they ran is a mitochondrial DNA test which only determines whether or not there is a maternal link between two people. They tested the "Jesus" DNA with one of the "Marys". They didn't have a maternal link, so they jump automatically to the conclusion that this is Jesus of Nazareth & His wife Mary Magdalene. That seems like a big leap to make without some other evidence linking them. And why didn't they run the DNA of Judah, the supposed son. If his DNA linked him to "Jesus" & "Mary" that would have made a much more compelling argument, but that test is remarkably absent.

And finally the most problematic piece of this puzzle in my opinion. If this is where Jesus was buried after His crucifixion & He did not rise from the dead, why would the people who followed Him in life go to their deaths preaching the resurrection? Also, why would the Jewish & Roman officials not have pointed to this tomb in the days following His crucifixion. It was only 7 weeks after the crucifixion that Pentecost occurred. In those early days of Christianity when it was seen more as a sect that was perverting Judaism, why didn't the Jewish religious leaders kill this new sect with the most destructive evidence possible, Jesus' body?

It just doesn't add up. The science is suspect at best, but more shocking is the lack of logic. Just a couple of years ago, these same filmmakers did a film supporting the claims of the Bible by "proving" the exodus really happened. So which is it? Christians have a much tougher standard of Scripture than non-believers. We believe that it is ALL true, & if one part is disproved the rest is just good stories & maybe some good moral tales, but the heart of it is worthless. I believe there is something else at work here. Every year it seems that we have these specials air that claim to discredit some part of Scripture. In recent years it has been the resurrection itself because if the resurrection is shown to be a fraud, then Christianity collapses & 2 billion people are sent scrambling to redefine their purpose on earth & their worldview. That thought is a little scary now that I think of it. However, the last 2000 years have seen attack after attack discredited not because the resurrection can be proven 100% but because these attacks are usually very flashy, but there usually isn't much substance to it. This attack on the person of Jesus Christ is no different. Watch the special Sunday night, don't be afraid to listen to what these people have to say, but keep in mind that their research was flawed & that they started their research with a preconceived answer rather than allowing the research to actually provide an answer, & that is not science.

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