9:07 a.m. - March 17, 2007
If you want to read about it in depth, then click here by all means. Yeah, there’s a gazillion things to click and explore, too, and some of it is pretty heavy duty stuff (about some of the lost Gospels, like the Gospel Of Thomas and The Acts of Philip) that require some deep thinking and not knee jerk reaction.
Of course, this being the series of tubes (thanks, Senator Stevens) that is the internets, most of what we gots is knee jerk reaction.
Basically, if I may boil it down to the brass tacks – about 27 or so years ago they found a tomb in Jerusalem while they were constructing some apartments. Israel, being somewhat hip to the fact that there may be some old, old stuff that people want to get their hands on whether it be for religious purposes or good ol’ greed (or both), said that the tomb needed to be excavated. So, they got the ossuaries out of the tomb, rebuired the bones as per Jewish law, put the ossuaries in a huge warehouse (like Raiders Of The Lost Ark), catalogued them, and proceeded to build the apartment building.
Six of the ossuaries were inscribed: Jesus Son of Joseph, Mary, Mariamne, Judah Son of Jesus, Yose, and Matthew. Three others were plain, and one ‘disappeared’. They later found that one and it was inscribed James Son of Joseph Brother of Jesus, but people think that the brother of Jesus probably was added later.
Basically, it all kind of lines up there: Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Yose (diminutive of Joseph) and James stood out, as did Mariamne, which they believe points to Mary Magdalene. Yose and James were brothers (or step-brothers, if you will) of Jesus, with Mary being the Mother. Mary Magdalene, of course, is pretty tight with Jesus.
So, yeah, it looks like the Jesus family tree.
Either the Israeli government didn’t WANT the info to be released, or no one made the connection. Both ideas are plausible, since there were scads of people with those names running around Jerusalem in the first century and I do think that Israel does have some stake in not having any part of the divinity of Jesus proven.
That would kind of ruin their deal, I think. Who’s yer Messiah now?
(For those of us who have Wisconsin in the final four – there’s proof of a God. Whew!)
Well, these filmmakers seized this, and went digging around Jerusalem to find out more information. They also came up with a couple of ideas as well:
1. If this is true, and this is the Jesus family tomb, the only reason that Mary Magdalene is in this tomb is because she was married to Jesus. Yep, husband and wife. In the film, they show them as a happy couple, and the actor playing Jesus has the best Jew-fro this side of Neil Schon in Journey, circa 1979.
This is all well and good. It’s interesting to speculate on things like this, but it’s not something to get ‘em all in a wad about.
1. No one KNOWS for sure what really happened back then.
A lot of the fundamentalists have ‘em in a bunch because of this, for the reason that it calls into question the death and resurrection of Jesus.
To them, the Bible stands as written. Jesus died, rose from the dead, and the body was gone. The stone in front of the tomb was undisturbed, and the soldiers trembled and fled only when they saw the Angel that told Mary Magdalene and Mary the news of the resurrection of Jesus.
Yet, when I read about the resurrection, and interpreted it, I always thought that Jesus was the first to be resurrected in spirit, and not in both spirit and body. His soul was what ascended to heaven. The body, to me, was immaterial to what was actually happening with Jesus after his death.
Mind you, we must remember a couple of things about the Gospels, and the New Testament.
1. The Gospels, while divinely inspired, were written by men who had a definite agenda. That agenda was to try to ensure that the teachings of Jesus would continue past their lifetime and to spread the Good News amongst the faithful. So there was a definite slant and point-of-view that all of the authors of the Gospels took.
2. When the early Church leaders selected the books of the New Testament, they discounted some texts (the Apocrypha – which mostly bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament) and suppressed others (the Gnostic gospels and others). There was a huge reason for this – they were trying to stamp out Gnosticism and anything else that they felt was a heresy. Plus, they were already very patriarchal, so any mention of Mary Magdalene as a great church leader in the first century needed to be expunged from the consciousness of the masses.
3. Not everything in the Bible is a historical record. Jesus spoke in parables, stories, and metaphors and they were quite effective teaching techniques on getting his point across. So a lot more of the Bible could be told in story and metaphor than what some believe.
So, it’s quite possible that a group of Jesus’ followers went to the place where his body lay after crucifixion, held the guards at bay, removed the rock (he had more of a posse than the apostles, mind you, they could have easily done this), snagged the body and buried it in the proper tradition of the times.
And then it’s also possible that Jesus spirit was resurrected, and that Marys did see the angel, and that the guards were scared to death, especially if it was discovered that they violated a direct order and allowed Jesus’ body to be buried. The Bible does speak of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the body was not there anymore, so why couldn’t it be as a result of the Jesus posse doing right for a good Jewish boy and the soul of Jesus being resurrected?
Also, people are up in arms about the relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Here’s one thing, though. We really don’t know what happened for about 18 years or so of Jesus’ life. There are a multitude of theories about what went on during this time. Jesus never goes right out and says he’s celibate, and there’s evidence that Mary Magdalene was close by most of the time, even though she wasn’t amongst the 12 apostles.
Some Catholics (and others) have an issue about Jesus not having any ‘real’ brothers and sisters, but you know, I know the whole Mary thing, but my take was that Jesus’ birth was a virgin birth, and after that Mary was released to procreate normally. Plenty of pious, upright, faithful individuals have conceived children the good ol’ fashioned way. No shame in that, really.
James is noted as a brother of Jesus, and he’s the likely author of the epistle in the New Testament.
Regarding Judah, son of Jesus, could it be that he’s the “Beloved Disciple” that’s mentioned in John. It is true that there were a lot of persecutions of Jews that didn’t follow the Roman company line during this time and they could have done everything they could to protect his identity.
So, yeah, it’s possible for this all to line up right.
But I have doubts about some of it.
They use a mathematician from the University of Toronto to come up with the “Jesus Equation”, using probability based on the names recorded in tombs and ossuaries during that time frame. And by doing so, they ‘show’ that the probability of those exact names sitting in that family tomb and are not the Jesus family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth are staggeringly low.
But I don’t think they have done the math right, because Matthew is sitting there, and he’s not really part of the Jesus story (St. Matthew is not related to Jesus, so he wouldn’t be in the tomb). This Matthew is an outlier.
The names Jesus, Mary, James, and Judah were pretty popular back then. It’s like a family being names Tom, Jane, David and Sarah. It happens.
They use the fact that one tomb has the diminutive “Jose” instead of Joseph, on the tomb and that was rare. Well, there are plenty of cases where people here go by “Junior” or “Tommy” instead of their formal names, and prefer to be addressed by that and even sign their name like that. So why not then?
So I think the probability is a lot greater than it could be someone else’s tomb other than Jesus of Nazareth. Sure, it could be, but it may not be.
Secondly, I have issues with Judah being the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Yes, it’s probable that they really covered up his existence, but I’m thinking that the Grandson of God would have some special dispensation or something, right? Perhaps?
It just seems so convenient…
Remember the names Mary and Jesus were like Emma and Jacob are now – quite popular.
So it’s a good tale – a good yarn – and it may be true or may not be true. It was entertaining, so that’s one thing on its side.
Either way, I’m not going to lose sleep over it, nor am I going to question my faith in anything because of it. Because the message is more important than the physical truth of whatever is or isn’t in that tomb.