Monday, February 26, 2007

Just Discovered! Jesus' Tomb Included His Wife and Kids! Or Did It?

For a really helpful analysis of this newsy item, copy and paste the link below into your browser and read it. Ben Witherington is a world-renown scholar, professor at Asbury Seminary in KY, a great evangelical theologian. He's a good writer and great thinker. His post includes a link to the Toronto Star article that highlighted this issue.

For the record, based on the limited reading I've done, and the trust I place in particular scholars, I believe that this story is based on shoddy work, promoted by brilliant men with an eye for flash and an ability to make a big buck. Though I'm not opposed to asking hard questions about the stories of Scripture, my presupposition is that they are trustworthy, thus when "discoveries" come to light that cast the Scriptures as untrustworthy - I'm a little wary.

Of course Christians are going to seek to discredit these findings, if the tomb is Jesus', and he had a wife and kids, we are fools. So how does a Christian respond without precluding the answer due to fear and deep-rooted bias? Examine the facts, use ruthless logic and truth, assume nothing, and question all motives, including your own.


Anonymous said...

I guess it is true that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

So far, only the press in Witherington’s native Kentucky have delicately raised the issue of the pot calling the kettle bla…that is, the pot calling the ossuary cracked in Witherington’s overheated (the gentleman protests too much) protestations against the latest “biggest New Testament find”* in his lifetime.

Lexington County Herald, 2/27/07

On his blog, Witherington fired a final salvo by referring to the Titanic and saying Cameron “has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now.”

In 2003, Witherington and co-author Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, wrote in The Brother of Jesus that they believed an ossuary bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” was authentic.
A few months after The Brother of Jesus was published, Israel’s Antiquities Authority decided that the ossuary was a fake. It charged the ossuary’s owner, Oded Golan, with fraud and illegally selling archaeological artifacts outside of Israel. His trial continues, 21/2 years after it began.

Witherington said that he and Shanks stand by their conclusion that the ossuary is authentic and are not likely to change their minds, regardless of the trial’s outcome.
* “This is probably going to be the biggest New Testament find in my lifetime, as big as the Dead Sea scrolls,” said Ben Witherington, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

National Geographic News


If Witherington can be such a zealot about HIS OWN wacky claims about HIS OWN phony ossuary, it would only seem sporting that he would cut Simcha Jacobovici (Witherington’s former partner in crime. He was the man who helped Witherington create and hype his documentary on the phony “James Ossuary” about 4 years ago - shown on, you guessed it! The Discovery Channel!) and James Cameron some slack.

Tim Hallman said...

There is nothing wrong with the Discovery Channel producing a show about this tomb and its contents. What is of grave concern is the lack of seeming respect for the thoughtful, intelligent people who believe the Scriptures are trustworthy - Jesus was resurrected from the dead in bodily form. For the producers of the Discovery channel show to almost cavalierly assert that finding Jesus' body will actually be good for Christianity is not thoughtful or intelligent.

However Witheringon is entangled with the various men involved with the James Ossuary and this supposed Jesus Ossuary, it doesn't change the fact that the combination of names doesn't in any way preclude that it is Jesus of Nazareth and his "family".

The show is deceiving the public, even though they are carefully choosing the words, too many people won't read their words carefully, and all they will hear is that Jesus' body was found.

With the anti-religion bias that is emerging, it is no wonder that folks like Witherington are working hard to present the facts, challenge the reports of the archeologists, and keep digging for the truth. If they don't, anti-religionists will move ahead in their intolerant agenda. So there is more at stake here then just trying to protect professional integrity and respect.

I think that it speaks well of Witherington that he can speak so candidly against a former colleague. That shows that Witherington, unlike others, will shut their mouths to the truth because of peer pressure.

Tim Hallman said...

I think that it speaks well of Witherington that he can speak so candidly against a former colleague. That shows that Witherington, unlike others, will not shut his mouth to the truth because of peer pressure.