CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

I missed the show last night about the Jesus Tomb, but others did not. One prominent archaeologist interviewed about the "find" called in archeo-porn, described by Ben Witherington as "the worst sort of misuse of archaeological evidence to support a tendentious theory that is so speculative it requires linking one weak hypothesis to another to another to reach a conclusion." Read the rest of Witherington's blog review for details.

If you want a review from a less conservative scholar, I would suggest you check out Mark Goodacre's live blogging of the show. He quite succinctly notes that the entire theory rests on the identification of Mary Magdalene not only as being in the tomb in another ossuary, but having been Jesus' wife with whom he had children. Such a foundation is perhaps one of the weakest possible and puts us off in DaVinci Code territory. Goodacre predicts, "this will continue to be discussed for a couple of days after this broadcast, but then interest is going to die down."

Update: After swimming through comments about the show on various blogs, including this one, two things strike me. First, almost no one is even attempting to defend the claim that Mary Magdalene's remains are in the tomb and that she was married to Jesus. Second, those who claim to have liked the show and found it persuasive are not exceptions to rule no. 1, but instead spend their time complaining that "nothing could ever convince [evangeliclas, Christians, conservative Christians, etc.] that their faith is not true." This is a classic non sequitur in that it tells us nothing about the evidence and argument related to this claim. Instead, it comes across as whining because no one is taking this particular claim seriously. Well, the reason that the laity and the scholars are unconvinced by the argument is because it relies on very tenuous and unconvincing historical claims. If you want to complain about evangelicals or conservative Christians not being convinced by the evidence, you might want to wait until you have a claim actually supported by the evidence. This one is not it.

2 comments:

My review

I thought Simcha Jacobovichi did manage to make a few good points, for example:

Mr. Jacobovichi also argued how his own evidence was better than that of an archeologist who believed that back in 1990 the tomb of the "Caiaphas" family had been discovered and that this tomb had the bones of the very "Joseph, son of Caiaphas" that was the Jewish high priest who organized the plot to kill Jesus. The Caiaphas who convinced the Sanhedrin that Jesus should die and was also involved in the trial of Jesus after his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.

If this Jesus isn't the Jesus of the New Testament, then why believe that their Caiaphas is the Caiaphas of the New Testament? Did anything in their tomb suggest any of that Caiaphas family had been high priests? Well, if that archeologist had anything it was edited out. It was a point that didn't boost Jacobovichi's own credibility but rather one that gave me less confidence in biblical archeology overall, which was pretty low to begin with.

So the only points you think he made were ones arguing that his claim was somewhat stronger than another claim that you also reject?

I have heard people claim that Caiaphas' tomb was found, but haven't really looked into it all that much. It's not like there was any dispute about his existence. I also knew that some scholars, such as Craig Evans, have questioned identifying that tomb with the High Priest.

But I question whether the Jesus Tomb claim is stronger than the Caiaphas name. The Jesus Tomb is based on the unsupported claim that Mary Magdalene's remains were in the tomb and that she was Jesus' wife. That is the whole case as far as I can tell. Otherwise, even advocates of the theory seem to agree that you are left with some really common names that are of interest but otherwise unremarkable.

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