A Better Documentary on the So-Called Jesus Tomb

Earlier this year, the discovery of the so-called Jesus Tomb caused a lot of people to conclude that the body of Jesus had been found along with the body of Mary Magdalene. For our part, we tried to bring some reason back to the discussion with various posts about the finding showing what a huge leap had to be made from the discovery to the labelling of these bone boxes (and bones, in some cases) the bodies of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. You can find some of our comemnts here, here, here, here, here and here. Others have done marvelous jobs of showing that this alleged finding was not what the filmmakers claimed and that most archaeologists rejected their claims outright.

Now, there is a new documentary by Martin Himel that further demonstrates the failure of the original Jesus Tomb documentary filmmakers to make their case. Another take on the 'Jesus tomb' reveals that Mr. Himel has prepared a documentary entitled "Archaeological Minefields" which examines the claims of the original Jesus Tomb documentary and shows that the former was quite limited.

In his work, Himel found two ossuaries with the inscription "Jesus, son of Joseph," even though the impression in Jacobovici's film was that the inscription was unique.

Perhaps the most damning of Himel's findings is that ossuaries were routinely reused over several generations, and that the 10 ossuaries in the Jesus tomb may have held up to 35 separate sets of bones. In the film, archaeologist Joe Zias calls it "intellectually dishonest" to suggest each box held one set of bones.

That means the inscriptions found on the ossuaries do not necessarily represent a nuclear family, as implied in Jacobovici's film. It also indicates that results of DNA tests on bone fragments in the boxes labelled "Jesus" and "Mary Magdalene" are largely meaningless. The results had suggested the people were married, since they weren't related.

"This obviously becomes an issue with DNA," says Himel, who says in the film that Jacobovici is criticized by experts for trying to prove a "pre-existing conclusion."

The reasons to doubt the certainty of the original documentary keep piling up.

("Archaeological Minefields" aired November 12, 2007 on Vision TV. I hope that it is rebroadcast in the future since it sounds as if it was quite informative.)

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