James Cameron is producing a 90-minute film for the Discovery Channel entitled, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," claiming that the actual bones of Jesus of Nazareth were buried in a tomb near
The timing of the release
The timing of Discovery's special right before Christianity's Holy Week was not by accident. Last year it was National Geographic's "Gospel of Judas" special on the high Christian holiday of Palm Sunday. One can be certain that the next big "special" will be aired at the same time next year to attempt to discredit Christianity's founder at a time of the year when popular interest focuses on His death and resurrection.
Dating of the bones
It was Jewish custom in the first century A.D., that the bones of the deceased were transferred from burial caves to limestone boxes called ossuaries one year after their death. This practice was abandoned after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. Frank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at
What was found?
The tomb containing the bones, was first found by a construction crew in 1980 in the
Are the names those of the Holy Family?
Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the
According to the film's website, DNA testing was attempted on only two samples - those of "Jesus" and those of Mariamene. The DNA was so degraded that no sequencing could be determined from the nuclear DNA (the main chromosomes). Only mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was available for sequencing. Since mtDNA is much smaller than nuclear DNA, the average person's mtDNA differs from another's by only 8 base pairs. In closely-related communities, differences would be much less. The film's website did not give any details about the testing other than the claim that the individuals "were not related." The Lakehead University Paleo-DNA Laboratory (where the DNA testing was done) has been contacted for additional information. Since "Jesus" and Mariamene were unrelated, the filmmakers assumed they were married and had a son named
Jerusalem-based biblical expert Joe Zias has called the documentary nonsense, saying those involved in the project have "no credibility whatsoever... It's an old story that's been recycled. The story first broke in 1996 by the BBC. It burst in a couple of days." The fact that the inscriptions on the ossuaries date to the beginning of the first century and Jesus and the others died much later, makes it extremely unlikely that "Jeshua" from the "Jesus Tomb" is really Jesus Christ. According to Stephen Pfann, "How possible is it? On a scale of one through 10 - 10 being completely possible - it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."
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