Friday, March 02, 2007


That's about the most positive way I can describe "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" and The Jesus Family Tomb. Poor job. Poor try. Poor viewers who might actually believe this intellectual garbage. The evidence is porous, at best. As I wrote in my last article, the makers and authors should have held themselves to a higher standard.

Of course, it's always difficult to "prove" and "present evidence" that something true--in this case, what the Bible says--is "false" or "inaccurate." Truth always seems to penetrate the falsity, eventually, like light pentretrates darkness, when the dawn comes. Over the past two thousand years, there have been countless efforts to extinguish the fiery flame that is biblical Christianity, different in format and style but always similar in purpose.

Even in comparison to other such endeavors, however, this one is rather...well, poor. Only a person who's willing to wager his soul's eternal status on a work produced by the director of Titanic would put much stock in it.

The following is a sampling of evidence that shows that this documentary (and book) has little to no credibility. Each point may not be a case-closer in-and-of itself individually, but as a collective unit, it proves that the "case" is barely legitimate, if at all.

Still, though, Christians should be willing to address this issue--rather than justifiably ignoring it--so that "by all means we might save some."


The "DNA evidence" that is being so highly touted only proves that "Jesus" and "Marianme" (claimed to be Mary Magdalene) are not maternally related. It certainly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, does not prove that this tomb held the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the Bible. We do not have the DNA of Jesus, and we never will. Therefore, no matching of DNA is or ever will be possible.

But even beyond that, this evidence does not even show that "Jesus" and "Marianme" were totally unrelated. In other words, it does not prove that they were not cousins; it does not prove that they were not uncle/niece; it does not prove that they were not aunt/nephew. It only proves that they did not spring forth from the same womb. If these two people were related in anyway, the theory of the makers of this documentary would fall apart. But, even if it could be shown that they were in no way related, problems would still remain. For all the puzzle pieces to fit, the quantum leap of a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene must be made. This, however, is an unsubstantiated, sensationalistic idea with no basis but that of a Gnostic Gospel or two and the imagination of Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code). Another "evidence" of the marriage that might be claimed is that of the existence of "Judah, Son of Jesus," present in the tomb. But, now we're using evidence from the tomb to try to prove conclusions made from the tomb. Other than the presence of Jesus' son and other fanciful notions, I haven't heard any other argument why Mary Magdalene would've been married to Jesus rather than to one of the other males present in the tomb.

So, the conclusion of the oft-mentioned DNA evidence is that it proves very, very little.


Some critics don't even think the name translated as "Jesus" was done so correctly. "Hanun" might be the actual name. If that be the case, all has been for naught--for a simple mis-translation. Even if the name is "Jesus," though, the "Son of Joseph" title raises red flags. Jesus was not commonly called the "Son of Joseph," especially by those who knew and loved Him.
Then, there are problems with other names in the tomb. The name "Marianme" is reportedly written in Greek, and is claimed to be the Greek equivalent of Mary Magdalene. But, why would an ardent Jewish family have a Greek version of a name inscribed, especially when all the others are written in either Aramaic or Hebrew? More importantly, Dr. Darrell Bock points out that there is not sufficient credible evidence that "Mariamne" is Mary Magdalene's name: get Mariamne to match Mary Magdalene and not a host of any other Mary’s, one has to appeal to an apocryphal Acts in a fourth century manuscript. Without that, there is not even a possibility of a connection, the Acts of Philip and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, old evidence that was already vetted in the DaVinci Code discussion. In other words, we do not know Mary/Mariamne is Mary Magdalene, a very key point that has to be true for this claim to work.

Sure, they're related, but it's like saying that finding that Maria and Maria are related names is a surprise.

I've also heard that the inscription might even say (translated) "Mary and Martha," which would make very little sense--at least fitting into the fiction mystery that is The Jesus Family Tomb. Mary Magdalene is not the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Back to the Bock article:

Here are the words of Prof. Bauckham, “'Mara' in this context does not mean Master. It is an abbreviated form of Martha. probably the ossuary contained two women called Mary and Martha (Mariamne and Mara).”

The problems continue. "Jose," a rare nickname for Joseph, is the name on one of the ossuaries. But, this would not be Jesus' father Joseph, because, on Jesus' ossuary, it states of "Son of Joseph," not "Son of Jose." Why would there be such a discrepancy?

The conclusion of taking a look at the names, is that this might not even be "a" Jesus and his family, much less the Jesus.

Family Ties:

This is yet another category in which the claims of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" get really shaky. The "Jose" and "Matthew" in the tomb have to be explained away. They are both distant relatives at most, if this is the Jesus of the Bible. There is no reason to think they are Jesus' brothers.

If it can be determined that they are in fact distant--i.e., not immediate family--relatives, it only serves to open up another can of worms. Who are they? And why are they in such an intimate tomb of mother (Mary), son (Jesus), wife (Mariamne), son (Judah)? Why is Joseph absent? (As I pointed out, it doesn't make sense that "Jose" and "Joseph" would be used in the same tomb to denote the same person.) Why are Jesus' brothers, namely James, Judah, and Simon, missing, when less immediate (supposed) members--Matthew and Jose--are present? Why are Matthew and Jose--not immediate family members--in this tomb in the stead of other non-immediate family members? Are we to assume that neither Matthew, nor Jose, nor Judah, Son of Jesus, married or bore children? Why not? Did not Judah find a way to extend the bloodline of Jesus Christ? Not to mention that Judah's ossuary is the only evidence that he ever existed.

Of course, a point can be made in defense that all family members can't fit into one tomb, but the presence of supposed wife Mariamne and who-knows-who Matthew and Jose are what causes the problem in the first place.


The best "evidence" put forth for this film is that they used "statisticians" to come to the conclusion that it is probable that this is Jesus' family tomb. Nonetheless, historians and archaeologists say that all the names found in the tomb were very common at the time. "Jose" might have been a relatively "rare" nickname for Joseph, but Jose is a problem for supporters of the thesis anyway.

About the commonality of the names and probability, Dr.Darrell Bock blogged with these facts:

Here are the details on names provided to me by Prof Richard Bauckham of St. Andrews and sourced in a famous catalogue of ossuary names that has been out since 2002 with the information known about this locale since c. 1980.:

“Out of a total number of 2625 males, these are the figures for the ten most popular male names among Palestinian Jews. The first figure is the total number of occurrences (from this number, with 2625 as the total for all names, you could calculate percentages), while the second is the number of occurrences specifically on ossuraries.
1 Simon/Simeon 243 59
2 Joseph 218 45
3 Eleazar 166 29
4 Judah 164 44
5 John/Yohanan 122 25
6 Jesus 99 22
7 Hananiah 82 18
8 Jonathan 71 14
9 Matthew 62 17
10 Manaen/Menahem 42 4

For women, we have a total of 328 occurrences (women's names are much less often recorded than men's), and figures for the 4 most popular names are thus:

Mary/Mariamne 70 42
Salome 58 41
Shelamzion 24 19
Martha 20 17

You can see at once that all the names you're interested were extremely popular. 21% of Jewish women were called Mariamne (Mary). The chances of the people in the ossuaries being the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the New Testament must be very small indeed.”

He stated well, that:

To get to the high numbers, all the assumptions about the identifications have to be put into the numbers pot, including Matthew, a name called “consistent with the family.” How? Where is the evidence for this?

Besides, in the end, odds are just odds anyways. Would you bet your soul like you'd bet on a horserace? I don't think so.

Other Common Sense Notes:

The documentary implies that the body of the most influential Person (because He was said to have resurrected) in history has been under the noses of enemies and allies of Christianity alike for almost two thousand years. Is that very possible, with His name right on the ossuary?

Where is everyone of repute supporting this documentary? Dr. Albert Mohler astutely noted on his radio show a few days back that few, if any, reputable people are placing their reputations on the line for this discovery, unless they have something financial or agenda-wise to gain.

Shouldn't the tomb have been a secret one, since the buriers would've been concealing the lie of Jesus' bodily resurrection? This tomb was not secretive.

This was a middle-class or above tomb. Jesus' family was a poor one. The idea that they would've "had the resources later" because they were the "leaders of a popular movement" is bogus and leads into many other problems.

If this were true, it would mean people were giving their lives for a known lie. Make sense?

The supporters of this work are denying any possibility of fraud. How can one be so certain?

This is a tomb originally found in 1980, and it has long been widely dismissed and ignored. This documentary and book is simply a re-packaging. Ultimately, we know it can't be true just because it goes against what the Bible says.

~Kingdom Advancer

P.S. Here are some other sites that have written about this issue:

Pushing Back the Frontiers of Ignorance

Talk Wisdom(Links to several other articles.)

Extreme Theology

Darrell Bock at Leadership U


Austin said...

Answers in Genesis wrote about this, if you haven't checked it out yet.

And thankfully, so did National Geographic. And guess what they say? They say that this film is not credible at all (surprise, surprise). Here's the article: National Geographic - Jesus tomb

Lanna said...

I watched that show the other night.
I found it interesting, but say all the faults.


Kingdom Advancer said...

Now I have checked it out, Austin... Um...But not before you wrote that comment... :D

I watched all of thirty or forty seconds of it, before I didn't want to see any more. I bet it was interesting--exciting, probably--like an adventure movie--a fantasy, fictional adventure movie. :)

Faultline USA said...

I watched it too and found it to be pure bunko!

Moriah said...

The name Jesus was used more then once in the last 2000 years or so. IF the name inscribed on the tomb was Jesus, then it was a ordinary man named Jesus. (Jesus Christ is far from ordinary)