Jesus’ Bones found in family tomb?

JESUS: TALES FROM THE CRYPT
By Tim McGirk/Jerusalem, Time
February 23, 2007

http://time-blog.com/middle_east/

Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you ‘The Titanic’ is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he’s sinking is Christianity.

In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn’t resurrected — the cornerstone of Christian faith — and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem.
And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.

No, it’s not a re-make of “The Da Vinci Codes’. It’s supposed to be true.

Let’s go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary,
Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.
* * END OF EXCERPT (entire article below)* *

Katia writes:

I don’t buy it.  Just like the James ossurary inscriptions were said to be forgeries, I bet this one is forged too.  It’s just too convenient to find such a tomb 2000 years later during this climate of Christianity-is-a-fraud.  So does this at least prove Jesus was not a myth, but came in the flesh and so did Mary and the others listed in the crypt?  Probably they won’t even admit that.  He is somehow both a myth AND a fraud, to the Jesus debunkers.  As for me, I think he was an historical character, lived and died.  AND resurrected.  So there.  — Katia

JESUS: TALES FROM THE CRYPT
By Tim McGirk/Jerusalem
Time
February 23, 2007

http://time-blog.com/middle_east/

Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you ‘The Titanic’ is back
with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he’s sinking is Christianity.

In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici,
make the starting claim that Jesus wasn’t resurrected — the cornerstone of
Christian faith — and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem.
And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.

No, it’s not a re-make of “The Da Vinci Codes’. It’s supposed to be true.

Let’s go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out
the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a
Jerusalem suburb of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year
old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archologists were summoned, and the stone
caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to
decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary,
Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.

Israel’s prominent archeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn’t associate the
crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble
carpenter who couldn’t afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were
common Jewish names.

There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old
city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshipping the empty
tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ’s resurrection,
after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a
carpenter’s wife in a manger is the Son of God.

But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence
through DNA tests, archeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10
coffins belong to Jesus and his family.

Ever the showman, (Why does this remind me of the impresario in another
movie,”King Kong”, whose hubris blinds him to the dangers of an angry and
very large ape?) Cameron is holding a New York press conference on Monday at
which he will reveal three coffins, supposedly those of Jesus of Nazareth,
his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. News about the film, which will be shown
soon on Discovery Channel, Britain’s Channel 4, Canada’s Vision, and
Israel’s Channel 8, has been a hot blog topic in the Middle East (check out
a personal favorite: Israelity Bites http://israelitybites.blogspot.com/
Here in the Holy Land, Biblical Archeology is a dangerous profession. This
90-minute documentary is bound to outrage Christians and stir up a titanic
debate between believers and skeptics. Stay tuned.

————

JESUS¹ BURIAL SITE FOUND – FILM CLAIMS
By Ariella Ringel-Hoffman
ynetnews.com
February 23, 2007

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3368731,00.html

The cave in which Jesus Christ was buried has been found in Jerusalem, claim
the makers of a new documentary film.

If it proves true, the discovery, which will be revealed at a press
conference in New York Monday, could shake up the Christian world as one of
the most significant archeological finds in history.

The coffins which, according to the filmmakers held the remains of Jesus of
Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene will be displayed for the first
time on Monday in New York.

Jointly produced by Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Simcha
Jacobovici and Oscar winning director James Cameron, the film tells the
exciting and tortuous story of the archeological discovery.

The story starts in 1980 in Jerusalem¹s Talpiyot neighborhood, with the
discovery of a 2,000 year old cave containing ten coffins. Six of the ten
coffins were carved with inscriptions reading the names: Jesua son of
Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus¹ brother),
Judah son of Jesua (Jesus¹ son – the filmmakers claim).

Decades of research

The findings in the cave, including the decipherment of the inscriptions,
were first revealed about ten years ago by internationally renowned Israeli
archeologist Professor Amos Kloner.

Since their discovery, the caskets were kept in the Israeli Antiquities
Authority archive in Beit Shemesh, but now two have been sent to New York
for their first public exhibition.

Although the cave was discovered nearly 30 years ago and the casket
inscriptions decoded ten years ago, the filmmakers are the first to
establish that the cave was in fact the burial site of Jesus and his family.

The film, which documents the stages of the discovery, is the result of
three years labor and research. It will be broadcast on the international
Discovery Channel, Britain’s Channel 4, Canada¹s Vision and Israel¹s Channel
8, which also took part in the film’s production.

According to the filmmakers, the film¹s claim is based on close work with
world-famous scientists, archeologists, statisticians, DNA specialists and
antiquities experts.

* * * * * * *

CHRIST’S TOMB FOUND?
By Stuart Laidlaw
The Toronto Star
February 25, 2007

http://www.thestar.com/Unassigned/article/185534

A Canadian documentary filmmaker will reveal at a news conference Monday
that he has strong evidence a group of burial boxes unearthed in Jerusalem
belonged to Jesus Christ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus and his
family.

The discovery could have profound implications 2,000 years after the boxes
were placed in the ground, shaking the foundations of modern faith and
raising Da-Vinci-Code-like speculation that Jesus had a child with Mary
Magdalene.

“It’s mind boggling. It’s an altered reality,” Toronto documentary director
Simcha Jacobovici http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simcha_Jacobovici told the
Star last week.

The location of the press conference is being kept secret until Monday to
prevent a stampede of people wanting to see the artefacts on display.

The documentary is called The Lost Tomb of Jesus and its claim that that the
burial box of Jesus has been found along with his DNA, are sure to be met
with scepticism, if not outright hostility, by church leaders.

In an interview, Jacobovici said that while nothing in archaeology can ever
be proven beyond doubt, there is “compelling evidence” that the tomb he
explores under a Jerusalem apartment building is that of the holy family.

“You have to kind of pinch yourself,” said Jacobovici, known as the Naked
Archaeologist after a Vision TV series. “Are we really saying what we are
saying?”

James Tabor, chair of religious studies at the University of North Carolina
and an expert featured extensively in The Lost Tomb, said that as an
academic he has seen enough to convince him of the evidence, but admits to
some trepidation about claiming that the tomb of Jesus has been found.

“There’s a part of you that says, it’s too amazing. How can this be true?”
Tabor told the Star. “It’s an archaeological dream.”

Critics are already dismissing the documentary’s claims.

“It’s a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever,” Bar Ilan
University professor Amos Kloner, who researched the tomb for the Israeli
periodical Atiqot in 1996, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Friday.

Jacobovici says there is nothing in the documentary that should offend
devout Christians, since he does not argue that Jesus did not ascend to
heaven, at least spiritually, as told in the Bible.

“People who believe in a physical ascension — that he took his body to
heaven — those people obviously will say, wait a minute,” he said, adding
he hopes the film sparks more scientific study of the tomb and the ossuaries
found inside.

The tomb was unearthed in 1980 during construction of an apartment building
and was first connected to the Jesus family in a 1996 BBC documentary.
Jacobovici’s documentary uses scientific methods, including DNA testing,
statistical analysis and forensic examination, not available to the BBC 11
years ago.

It airs on Discovery in the U.S. and on Channel 4 in the U.K. on Sunday, and
March 6 in Canada on Vision TV. A book, The Jesus Family Tomb by Jacobovici
and Charles Pellegrino, comes out this week
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0061192023/newheavenneweart>.
Titanic director James Cameron <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_cameron>,
executive producer of the documentary, wrote the introduction.

The film and book follow years of growing interest in the private life of
Jesus, fuelled by the 2003 Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code, made into a
movie last year, in which Jesus is said to have married Mary Magdalene and
had a daughter, sparking a centuries-long cover-up.

The novel, denounced by church groups around the world, spawned a
mini-industry speculating about the historical Jesus, his relationship to
Mary and his family life. Church leaders, including the Pope, dismissed the
book and movie as pure fiction.

Tabor, whose book The Jesus Dynasty last year raised many of the same
questions as the documentary, says the film cannot be as easily dismissed as
Brown’s novel, even though it too suggests that Jesus had a child with Mary
Magdalene.

“This is archaeology. We got the casket. We’ve got the bones,” he told the
Star. “I think we can say, in all probability, Jesus had this son, Jude,
presumably through Mary Magdalene.”

DNA tests conducted for the documentary at Lakehead University on two
ossuaries — one inscribed Jesus son of Joseph and the other Mariamne, or
Mary — confirm that the two were not related by blood, so were probably
married.

“Perhaps Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married as the DNA results from the
Talpiot ossuaries suggest and perhaps their union was kept secret to protect
a potential dynasty — a secret hidden through the ages,” narrator Ron White
says over re-enacted scenes of a happy Jesus and Mary home life.

“A secret we just may be able to uncover in the holy family tomb.”

The tomb was found in the Talpiot neighbourhood of Jerusalem during the
construction of an apartment building in 1980. Archaeologists were given
three days to document the tomb and excavate it for treasures.

Inside, they found 10 ossuaries and three skulls. Six ossuaries had names
etched into them — Jesus son of Joseph, Judah son of Jesus, Maria,
Mariamne, Joseph and Matthew — all Jesus family names.

At the time, however, the inscriptions raised few alarms. These were, after
all, very common names at the time of Jesus. Besides, with all the
construction around Jerusalem at the time, it was a boom time for uncovering
tombs, and the Israeli Antiquities Authority could barely keep up.

Any connection to the holy family was not made until 15 years later, when a
BBC crew researching and Easter special stumbled across the collection in an
IAA storage room. They immediately began work on a new program, based on the
tomb, which aired a year later.

That show, aired as part of the BBC’s acclaimed Heart of the Matter
newsmagazine, was dismissed by Biblical scholars as “laughable” for
suggesting, as Jacobovici does, that the tomb was that of Jesus Christ’s
family.

Today, Kloner and others still argue that the names were so common that
there is no significance to them being found in a tomb.

“The names that are found on the tombs are names that are similar to the
names of the family of Jesus,” he conceded. “But those were the most common
names found among Jews in the first centuries.”

In The Lost Tomb, however, University of Toronto statistician Andre
Feuerverger calculates that while the names are common, the chances of them
being found together are 600 to one.

His conclusion is based on a few assumptions: that the Maria on one of the
ossuaries is the mother of the Jesus found on another box, that Mariamne is
his wife and that Joseph (inscribed as the nickname Jose) is his brother.

As the documentary tells us, there is reason to make these assumptions.

Maria is the Latin form of Mary, and is how Jesus’s mother was known after
his death as more Romans became followers. Mariamne is the Greek form of
Mary. Mary Magdelene is believed to have spoken and preached in Greek. Jose
was the nickname used for Jesus’ little brother.

As well, the Talpiot Tomb is the only place where ossuaries have ever been
found with the names Mariamne and Jose, even though the root forms of the
name were very popular and thousands of ossuaries have been unearthed.

This is not, however, the first time a Jesus ossuary has been found. The
first was in 1926.

Another famous ossuary, inscribed James son of Joseph brother of Jesus, is
also featured in the documentary.

Forensic testing of the patina on the Jesus ossuary and that of James
conclude that they came from the same tomb — seemingly proving the
authenticity of the often-questioned James ossuary and further increasing
the likelihood that it is the tomb of the holy family.

Feuerverger calculates for Jacobovici that if James is added to the
equation, there is a 30,000 to one chance that the Talpiot Tomb belonged to
the holiest families in Christendom.

The documentary speculates that the James ossuary was stolen shortly after
the tomb was found. The archaeologists examining the tomb 26 years ago found
10 ossuaries, but only nine are in storage at the IAA. In The Lost Tomb, it
is alleged that the James ossuary is that missing box.

But there is one wrinkle that is not examined in the documentary, one that
emerged in a Jerusalem courtroom just weeks ago at the fraud trial of James
ossuary owner Oded Golan, charged with forging part of the inscription on
the box.

Former FBI agent Gerald Richard testified that a photo of the James ossuary,
showing it in Golan’s home, was taken in the 1970s, based on tests done by
the FBI photo lab.

Jacobovici concedes in an interview that if the ossuary was photographed in
the 1970s, it could not then have been found in a tomb in 1980. But while he
does not address the conundrum in the documentary, he said in an interview
that it’s possible Golan’s photo was printed on old paper in the 1980s.

————

HAS THE DNA OF JESUS CHRIST BEEN FOUND?
By Michael Posner
The Globe and Mail
February 24, 2007

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070224.wlosttomb0224/BN
Story/Front/home

Has the DNA of Jesus Christ been found?

That tantalizing question underpins The Lost Tomb of Jesus — a new book and
feature documentary film with potentially profound implications for
Christianity.

The two provocative works suggest that ossuaries once containing the bones
of Jesus of Nazareth and his family are now stored in a warehouse belonging
to the Israel Antiquity Authority in Bet Shemesh, outside Jerusalem.

Although the evidence contained in the film and book is hardly definitive,
it is compelling. Inscribed in Hebrew, Latin or Greek, six boxes — taken
from a 2,000-year-old cave discovered in March, 1980, during excavation for
a housing project in Talpiyot, south of Jerusalem — bear the names: Yeshua
(Jesus) bar Yosef (son of Joseph); Maria (the Latin version of Miriam, which
is the English Mary); Matia (the Hebrew equivalent of Matthew, a name common
in the lineage of both Mary and Joseph); Yose; (the Gospel of Mark refers to
Yose as a brother of Jesus); Yehuda bar Yeshua, or Judah, son of Jesus; and
in Greek, Mariamne e mara — meaning ‘Mariamne, known as the master.’
According to Harvard professor Francois Bovon, interviewed in the film,
Mariamne was Mary Magdalene’s real name.

The bones once contained in the boxes have long since been reburied,
according to Jewish custom — in unmarked graves in Israel.

If the evidence adduced is correct, the bone boxes — and microscopic
remains of DNA still contained inside — would constitute the first
archaeological evidence of the existence of the Christian saviour and his
family.

Tests on mitochondrial DNA obtained from the Jesus and Mariamne boxes and
conducted at Lakehead University’s Paleo-DNA laboratory, in Thunder Bay,
Ont., show conclusively that the two individuals were not maternally
related. According to Dr. Carney Matheson, the lab’s head, this likely means
they were related by marriage.

Thus, the book and film raise seminal questions, not only about the early
movement of Judeo-Christians that Jesus led, but about whether, as some
scholars believe, he might have been married to Mary Magdalene and fathered
a family.

Nothing in the film or book challenges traditional Christian dogma regarding
the resurrection. But it could pose a problem for those that believe Jesus’
ascension, 40 days after the resurrection, was both physical and spiritual.
And, if further DNA testing were to link Jesus and Yose with Mary, it would
call into question the entire doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

The $4-million documentary is the work two Canadians — Emmy-award winner
director Simcha Jacobovici and his executive producer, Oscar-award winning
filmmaker James Cameron. It will air on Canada’s Vision TV on March 6th and
later next month on Discovery US and Britain’s Channel 4. A companion book,
The Jesus Family Tomb, by Mr. Jacobovici and Dr. Charles Pellegrino, has
just been released (Harper Collins).

Mr. Jacobovici and Mr. Cameron are scheduled to hold a press conference
Monday morning at the New York Public Library, with the Jesus and Mary
Magdelene ossuaries, flown in from Israel, on display.

Meanwhile, security agents have been hired to stand guard outside the
Talpiyot apartments beneath which the tomb lies, covered by a large cement
plate.

“I don’t think this changes the fundamentals of faith,” Mr. Cameron said in
an interview this week. “But the evidence is pretty darn compelling and it
definitely bears further study.”

Not everyone agrees. “It’s a beautiful story, but without any proof
whatsoever,” archaeologist Dr. Amos Kloner, who wrote the original report on
the Talpiyot cave findings, told an Israeli reporter last week. “The
names…found on the tombs are names that are similar to the names of the
family of Jesus. But those were the most common names found among Jews in
the first centuries BCE and CE.”

Yet if the individual names were common, the film and book ask: what is the
likelihood that this particular group of names, so resonant of the Jesus
story, would appear together, contained in the same family tomb?

“There are really only two possibilities,” says director Jacobovici. “Either
this cluster of names represents the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his
family. Or some other family, with this very same constellation of names,
existed at precisely the same time in history in Jerusalem.”

To calculate the odds, Mr. Jacobovici took the data to University of Toronto
mathematician Dr. Andrey Feuerverger. Factoring in the commonality of these
names in first-Century Israel, Dr. Feuerverger puts the odds of this tomb
not belonging to Jesus and his family at one in 600.

Another estimate, commissioned by Dr. James Tabor, chair of the department
of religion studies at the University of North Carolina, puts the odds at
one in 42 million. “If you took the entire population of Jerusalem at the
time,” says Dr. Taber, “and put it in a stadium, and asked everyone named
Jesus to stand up, you’d have about 2,700 men. Then you’d ask only those
with a father named Joseph and a mother named Mary to remain standing. And
then those with a brother named Yose and a brother named James.
Statistically, you end up with one person.”

The James reference is significant because of the 10 ossuaries found at
Talpiyot, one later disappeared. Many experts believe that coffin is the now
infamous ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’ ossuary that turned up a
few years ago and was put on public display at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Although many scholars have called the inscription ‘brother of Jesus’ a
modern-day forgery, at least as many academics continue to believe in its
authenticity.

Moreover, tests conducted for The Lost Tomb of Jesus show that the patina
encrusted on the James ossuary bears precisely the same chemical thumbprint
as the other ossuaries found at Talpiyot.

Neither the provenance nor the age of the ossuaries is not in dispute. The
boxes, never out of the control of professional archaeologists, are
effectively self-dating, since the practice of re-interring the bones of the
dead in limestone boxes a year after death was conducted by Jews in the Holy
Land for a period of only 100 years. Prominent families stored the boxes in
family tombs.

Moreover, all the inscriptions have been corroborated by some of the world’s
leading epigraphers, including Harvard’s Frank Moore Cross.

The ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’ marking is considered rare; of thousands of
inscriptions so far catalogued, only one other bone coffin contained the
same construction.

No Christian tradition suggests that Jesus had a son, but the Gospel of John
does refer to “the beloved disciple” who rests on Jesus’ lap at the last
supper.

And perhaps, says Mr. Jacobovici, “although this is pure speculation, when
Jesus on the cross says ‘mother, behold thy son,’ he’s not referring to
himself or to his mother, but to his son, who is there with Mary Magdalene”.

The book of Mark, he adds, also contains a passage that might allude to a
son — a reference to a young man, wearing nothing but linen who follows
Jesus after his arrest and, when guards try to apprehend him, slips out of
his clothes and escapes naked.

“That’s a very odd story,” says Mr. Jacobovici. “There’s no name is given
for the young lad, but the gospel writer obviously thought it was important
to tell it.”

“None of us,” maintains Dr. Tabor, “are gleefully presenting this as though
we’ve trumped Christianity. If anything, it might help clarify and refine it
a bit. Some people will immediately say this is sensationalism. I don’t
agree with that. I know enough about it to say this is a subject that
deserves serious and continued investigation.”

Indeed, it’s likely that there will be sequel to The Lost Tomb of Jesus.
While searching for the original Talpiyot cave, the filmmakers stumbled upon
a second crypt, only 20 meters away that has never been explored by
archaeologists. A miniature camera inserted into the tomb revealed three
ossuaries.

————

THE JESUS FAMILY TOMB:
THE DISCOVERY, THE INVESTIGATION, AND THE EVIDENCE
THAT COULD CHANGE HISTORY
By Simcha Jacobovici (Author), Charles Pellegrino (Author)
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco (February 27, 2007)
Language: English
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #349 in Books

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0061192023/newheavenneweart

————

THE JESUS TOMB OFFICIAL SITE:
http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/

* * * * * * * *

JESUS FAMILY TOMB BELIEVED FOUND
By Jennifer Viegas
Discovery News
February 25, 2007

New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the
world’s foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by
leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once
held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.

The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced
a son named Judah.

The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts
— originally excavated in 1980 — open a potentially significant chapter in
Biblical archaeological history.

A documentary presenting the evidence, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” will
premiere on the Discovery Channel on March 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The
documentary comes from executive producer James Cameron
and director Simcha Jacobovici
.

The Talpiot Tomb

On March 28, 1980, a construction crew developing an apartment complex in
Talpiot, Jerusalem, uncovered a tomb, which archaeologists from the Israeli
Antiquities Authority excavated shortly thereafter. Archaeologist Shimon
Gibson surveyed the site and drew a layout plan. Scholar L.Y. Rahmani later
published “A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries” that described 10 ossuaries, or
limestone bone boxes, found in the tomb.

Scholars know that from 30 B.C. to 70 A.D., many people in Jerusalem would
first wrap bodies in shrouds after death. The bodies were then placed in
carved rock tombs, where they decomposed for a year before the bones were
placed in an ossuary.

Five of the 10 discovered boxes in the Talpiot tomb were inscribed with
names believed to be associated with key figures in the New Testament:
Jesus, Mary, Matthew, Joseph and Mary Magdalene. A sixth inscription,
written in Aramaic, translates to “Judah Son of Jesus.”

“Such tombs are very typical for that region,” Aaron Brody, associate
professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion and
director of California’s Bade Museum told Discovery News.

Ossuary Inscriptions

At least four leading epigraphers have corroborated the ossuary inscriptions
for the documentary, according to the Discovery Channel.

Frank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern
Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, told Discovery News, “The
inscriptions are from the Herodian Period (which occurred from around 1 B.C.
to 1 A.D.). The use of limestone ossuaries and the varied script styles are
characteristic of that time.”

Jodi Magness, associate department chair of religious studies at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Discovery News that, based
on the New Testament writings, “Jesus likely lived during the first century
A.D.”

In addition to the “Judah son of Jesus” inscription, which is written in
Aramaic on one of the ossuaries, another limestone burial box is labeled in
Aramaic with “Jesus Son of Joseph.” Another bears the Hebrew inscription
“Maria,” a Latin version of “Miriam,” or, in English, “Mary.” Yet another
ossuary inscription, written in Hebrew, reads “Matia,” the original Hebrew
word for “Matthew.” Only one of the inscriptions is written in Greek. It
reads, “Mariamene e Mara,” which can be translated as, “Mary known as the
master.”

Francois Bovon, professor of the history of religion at Harvard University,
told Discovery News, “Mariamene, or Mariamne, probably was the actual name
given to Mary Magdalene.”

Bovon explained that he and a colleague discovered a fourteenth century copy
in Greek of a fourth century text that contains the most complete version of
the “Acts of Philip” ever found. Although not included in the Bible, the
“Acts of Philip” mentions the apostles and Mariamne, sister of the apostle
Philip.

“When Philip is weak, she is strong,” Bovon said. “She likely was a great
teacher who even inspired her own sect of followers, called Mariamnists, who
existed from around the 2nd to the 3rd century.”

DNA Analysis

Jacobovici, director, producer and writer of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” and
his team obtained two sets of samples from the ossuaries for DNA and
chemical analysis. The first set consisted of bits of matter taken from the
“Jesus Son of Joseph” and “Mariamene e Mara” ossuaries. The second set
consisted of patina — a chemical film encrustation on one of the limestone
boxes.

The human remains were analyzed by Carney Matheson, a scientist at the
Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada.
Mitochondrial DNA examination determined the individual in the Jesus ossuary
and the person in the ossuary linked to Mary Magdalene were not related.

Since tombs normally contain either blood relations or spouses, Jacobovici
and his team suggest it is possible Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a couple.
“Judah,” whom they indicate may have been their son, could have been the
“lad” described in the Gospel of John as sleeping in Jesus’ lap at the Last
Supper.

Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in New York,
analyzed both the patina taken from the Talpiot Tomb and chemical residue
obtained from the “James” ossuary, which was also found around 1980, but
subsequently disappeared and resurfaced in the antiquities market. Although
controversy surrounds this burial box, Genna found that the two patinas
matched.

“The samples were consistent with each other,” Genna told Discovery News.

Upon examining the tomb, the filmmakers determined a space exists that would
have fit the “James” ossuary. Given the patina match and this observation,
Jacobovici theorizes the lost burial box could, in fact, be the “James”
ossuary.

Statistical Data

A possible argument against the Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb is
that the collection of names on the ossuary inscriptions could be
coincidental.

But Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the
University of Toronto, recently conducted a study addressing the
probabilities that will soon be published in a leading statistical journal.

Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the
tomb’s time period with the instances of every other name. He initially
found “Jesus Son of Joseph” appeared once out of 190 times, Mariamne
appeared once out of 160 times and so on.

To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by 25 percent, a
statistical standard, and further divided the results by 1,000 to attempt to
account for all tombs — even those that have not been uncovered — that
could have existed in first century Jerusalem.

The study concludes that the odds are at least 600 to 1 in favor of the
Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb. In other words, the conclusion
works 599 times out of 600.

Another Tomb?

The researchers discovered a second, as-yet unexplored tomb about 65 1/2
feet from the Talpiot Tomb. During the documentary, they introduced a
robotic camera into this second tomb, which captured the first-ever recorded
footage of an undisturbed burial cave from Jesus’ time. The team speculates
that this other tomb could contain the remains of additional family members,
or even disciples, though further examination and analysis are needed.

In the meantime, Discovery has set up a special Web site,
http://www.discovery.com/tomb , to provide related in-depth information and
to allow viewers to come to their own conclusions about the entire matter.

As Academy Award-winner Cameron said in a press release, “It doesn’t get
bigger than this. We’ve done our homework; we’ve made the case; and now it’s
time for the debate to begin.”

————

THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS DISCOVERY CHANNEL WEBSITE:
http://www.discovery.com/tomb/

ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY:
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/about/about.html

EXPLORE THE TOMB:
(Includes diagram of tomb, tomb discovery outline, photos of ossuaries and
engravings, a downloadable pdf that describes and illustrates evidence, and
an outline of supporting evidence)
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/explore/explore.html

LAND OF JESUS:
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/land/land.html

FILMMAKERS AND EXPERTS:
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/bios/bios.html

THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS:
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/theology/theology.html

DISCUSSION FORUM:
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/forum/forum.html

Published by

Katia

Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at NorthernWay.org.

6 thoughts on “Jesus’ Bones found in family tomb?”

  1. Were there DNA tests done to show that Judah is the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene? There should be DNA from both in Judah.

  2. Like the James ossuary, names could be forged, boxes could be added to form a picture perfect scenario (i.e. “mary magdalene” who wouldn’t have been related to jesus); and we mustn’t forget the scripture that says, “What can be said of his offspring? For his life was taken from the earth.” But Christianity critics may discount even this, for the sake of proving one’s point. And why was it film makers who took the time to prove this cave as being the jesus grave site, rather than historians, or scholars, or professors?

  3. When both secular and Christian scholars come out and agree on something, that’s a big blow. Rarely do you see these two camps join together in condemning something. A new book called The Jesus Tomb: Is It Fact or Fiction? by Don Sausa, creates a surprising case that the Lost Tomb of Jesus deceptively omitted some information to make their case look stronger.

    This titanic of a documentary has sunk.

  4. I’ve been studying this find for years, long before it became public knowledge following the mass media exposure. I believe that it’s a serious find, which warrants further study.

    The critics of this find’s magnitude basically argue:

    1. That the Jesus family would be buried in Nazareth, not Talpiot;
    2. That the ‘Jesus’ ossuary would have been inscribed ‘of Nazareth’;
    3. That the Jesus family couldn’t have afforded a tomb like the Talpiot tomb;
    4. That the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary is not inscribed “Yeshua” (Jesus) at all;
    5. That the names inscribed on these ossuaries were supposedly common;
    6. That the “Mariamne” ossuary didn’t contain the remains of Mary Magdalene, but of two other women;

    I believe the first five of these allegations against the book’s premise don’t carry much water. The sixth argument actually supports the conclusion that this is the real thing. My comments:

    1. Talpiot is the right place for Jesus’ family tomb- Per Luke, 2:3-4, the family’s LEGAL residence was Bethlehem, not Nazareth. The fact that Joseph and the pregnant Mary could not take the census in Nazareth but had to take it in Bethlehem indicates that Bethlehem was their DOMICILIUM under Roman Law. That basically means that they had no intention to reside in Nazareth permanently. Therefore it would have made little sense for them to have a family tomb in Nazareth, that they wouldn’t be able to frequently visit at a later stage in their lives. They would have wanted a family tomb close to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, easily accessible also to future generations of the family. The fact is indeed that Mary and her children moved to Jerusalem around 30 AD.

    2. The traditional name of Jesus in Hebrew, as reflected also in the Talmud, is “Yeshu Hanotzri.” This appellation stems from “Netzer” (Shoot or Branch). It alludes clearly to Isaiah 11:1, indicating the Royal birth of Jesus, to substantiate his claim for Jewish messiahship. Not to indicate the place he comes from.

    There’s actually no evidence in Jewish sources, such as the Old Testament or the Mishna and Talmud, that a place called “Nazareth” even existed in or before the first century. I’m not disputing the evidence per the NT, that there was indeed a place called Nazareth. But to the best of my knowledge, there’s no mention of Nazareth at all in any ancient writings outside the New Testament. So the place existed, but nobody knew about it. And those in close proximity in Galilee who did know about it, obviously thought derogatorily of it , cf. “can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46.) Therefore there was no reason to call Jesus “of Nazareth.” Either in life or on an ossuary. He was called “Jesus the Branch” (of David) in Hebrew/Aramaic.

    The line of argumentation detracting this discovery around the supposed Nazareth origin of Jesus’ family may therefore be based on a very shaky foundation.

    3. Talpiot is located about 2.5 miles North of Bethlehem. Jesus’ family, of Davidic descent according to the New Testament, could have held the burial cave there even before it moved to Nazareth. Davidic birth was absolutely the most exalted in Judaism, always. The suggestion that any person of Davidic descent could be of the lowest social echelon, that couldn’t fund or get funding for a burial cave, doesn’t make much sense, if any. There’s substantial evidence to the contrary, e.g. 1. Jesus had some very wealthy active supporters like Joseph of Arimatea and Nicodemus (known as Nakdimon ben Gorion in post biblical Jewish sources-one of the richest Jews in Judea;) 2. Josephus, A.J. XX, 9:1. Note the prominence of James, brother of Jesus.

    4. The inscription on the Jesus ossuary does say “Yeshua bar Yehosef” (“Jesus son of Joseph”)to my eye. All letters but one are quite clearly there. The only letter which is somewhat more difficult to discern at first blush is the second letter- “Shin”. That’s because it’s written in a somewhat irregular form (in a regular Shin there are three teeth in the fork, pointing upwards. Here there are two teeth, pointing sideways to the right.) But that particular irregularity appears also on other ossuaries- notably numbers 9 (this one has two “Shin”- one with three teeth pointing to the right, and one with TWO teeth pointing to the right. Exactly like the subject inscription) and 121 in the Rahmani catalogue, which both feature also a “Yeshua.”

    Still, the name “Yeshua” on this ossuary is among the most, if not the most, difficult to read names of all ossuaries listed in Rahmani’s catalogue of Jewish ossuaries. It is almost written as a person’s complex signature on a check. Contrast that with the patronymic following the first name. This is written in a simple straightforward fashion, which is very easy to read. There’s no other example in Rahmani’s catalogue of a first name that has to be deciphered, and a patronymic that’s so plain and clear. Is this merely a coincidence?

    5. Some critics make the following comment to my post:

    “The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, “Mariame,” was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words “kai Mara,” meaning “and Mara.” Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

    According to Pfann’s reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of “Mary the teacher,” but rather of two women, “Mary and Martha.'”

    Here’s my thought about that:
    If the Mariamne ossuary indeed housed the bones of Mary and Martha, these are two sisters of NT fame. One of them could have been married to “Jesus son of Joseph.” -Whether or not she was Mary Magdalene (Maybe the Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair- very intimate scene.) The other sister would than also automatically belong in the family. It still fits. Actually it increases the statistical odds that this is the real thing quite substantially.
    This is a very intriguing possibility indeed, fitting perfectly with John 12:3. Intimate contact with a man, as described in this NT passage, was allowed only to a woman who was an immediate blood relative of that man, his wife (…or a working woman.) That’s all. Therefore Mary of Bethany was quite possibly by elimination Jesus’ wife or in the process of becoming his wife. In that context, Margaret Starbird already theorized that similar anointing with spikenard oil was part of pre marriage ritual of a Davidic king, per certain passages in the Song of Songs. Note also that intercourse by itself was sufficient under Jewish Law in certain circumstances to constitute valid marriage. That practice, termed Bi’ah marriage, was abolished in the 6th century, but it was lawful in Jesus’ time.

    Mary of Bethany could have become pregnant by Jesus while he stayed at her house, shortly before his crucifixion. In that case it’s quite possible that she bore Jesus’ son posthumously and named him “Judah.” And in that case both she and her sister Martha would have become part of Jesus’ family, which earned them a place in the Talpiot family tomb..

    Reminds me of the reaction to this find of a BBC reporter in 1996- It seems like all balls in the national lottery coming one by one.

    I have no knowledge of Greek, so I can only discuss the two propositions. Assuming that the ossuary does say “Mary and Martha”, here’s what I think the names are:
    * 1.”Jesus son of Joseph”(“Yeshua bar Yehosef” in Hebrew/Aramaic script;)
    * 2. “Mary” (“Marya” in Hebrew/Aramaic script);
    * 3. “Joseph” (“Yose” in Hebrew/Aramaic script. Precise nickname of Jesus’ second brother- cf. Mark 6:3);
    * 4. “Mary and Martha” (“Mariame kai Mara” in Greek)-they must have been sisters because Jewish law didn’t allow burial together of two unrelated women;
    * 5. “Matthew” (“Matya” in Hebrew/Aramaic script)- Name of Jesus’ first cousin, son of his father’s brother Alphaeus/Clophas. As James Tabor suggests in a different context, Matya could also well have been Jesus’ half brother, considering a certain specific rule of the Torah (Deuteronomy 25:5-10.) This rule was applied in Jesus time- see Matthew 22:24-28;
    * 6. “Judah son of Jesus”(“Yehuda bar Yeshua” in Hebrew/Aramaic script.)
    * Therefore out of eight names actually inscribed on these ossuaries (including the “Joseph” father of Jesus on the first ossuary) four names undoubtedly relate to Jesus’ immediate family, and three other names relate to the same with a somewhat lower probability. In any event, they all relate to Jesus’ extended family. Note that first century Jewish family tombs were usually a clan thing.
    * The eighth name is “Yehuda bar Yeshua”- must have been the son of Jesus and one of the sisters Mary or Martha. More likely Mary, as explained above.

    6. While the full versions of all these names were indeed common in Jesus’ time, the derivatives, nicknames and contractions were not. Thus “Yeshua” for Jesus was less common than “YeHOshua;” ditto “YeHOsef” instead of “Yosef” for Joseph; “Marya” for Mary was extremely rare in Hebrew/Aramaic script; “Yose” for Joseph is unique. Therefore out of these eight names, two are irregularities, one is a particularity, and one a singularity.

    BOTTOM LINE- Ask yourself inversely a hypothetical question- If the Talpiot tomb hadn’t yet been found, how would Jesus’ family tomb have looked , which ossuaries would it have contained, to when would it have been dated and where would it have been located.

    I would have thought of a tomb just like the tomb we’re discussing. It fits perfectly with what I’d have expected Jesus’ family tomb to be. Right place, right period, right names. I therefore believe that this matter, delicate as it obviously is, warrants further investigation. This could include opening and examination of the adjacent tomb, and forensic examination of the skeletal remains found in the Talpiot ossuaries, and apparently reburied back in 1980. These could hopefully be relocated by comparison to the mithochondrial DNA samples already taken from two of these ossuaries.

  5. Thanks for posting the very interesting comments concerning the probable identification of the “Talpiot tomb” as the resting place for members of Jesus’ family- Like Dr. Bernstein, I would expect these same names to be included in any tomb of the “Jesus family.” In fact, one of my research contacts, Patty Tyler, has suggested that “Arimathea” is perhaps a garbled “phonetic” spelling of the patronymic “bar Matia” (son of Matthew)–which, since no one can find a town called “Arimathea” in Israel, makes some sense. Perhaps “Matia” (Matthew) was part of the clan–? Maybe the Greek-speaking person who wrote “of Arimathea” in the Gospel misunderstood what he heard and just dropped the “b” (“bar”) and assumed the “title” was Joseph’s home town (sort of the same thing they did to Mary “the Magdalene”–assuming that her title was derived from the name of her “home town”—postulating that she was from a town called “Magdala Nunayah” (“Tower of the Fishes”) which was allegedly destroyed for “prostitution” in AD 67, and chasing that “red herring” for centuries! It’s S0 fish-y! The fact that the town they picked was called “Taricheae” until it was rebuilt in AD 70, when it was named “Magdala” –long after Mary’s presumed residence there–is never mentioned….

    I agree with Dr. Bernstein’s argument that “Nazareth” is most likely irrelevant. It’s more than silly for “Bible scholars” to insist that Jesus would have been “buried in Nazareth”–It’s almost on a par with their instance that Jesus couldn’t have been married because the Gospels never mention his wife!

    The Gospels in several instances call Jesus the “Nazorean”… and the root word, as Dr. Bernstein asserts, has to do–not with a town (“Nazareth”)–but with the royal heir (prince) from the Davidic bloodline, the “branch” or “shoot” (Netzer) from the “root of Jesse” prophesied in Isaiah 11:1. In Zecharia 3:8, the Davidic prince Zorrobabel is called “the Branch” or “Shoot.” This image of the “flowering staff” becomes a symbol for the royal Davidic bloodline and heirs and is found in the hand of “Joseph” in statues in Catholic Churches, but also, significantly, in the hand of Joseph “of Arimathea,” who planted his “flowering staff” at Glastonbury….

    As you might guess, I’m particularly interested in the “Mariamne” ossuary–Dr. Bernstein’s suggestion that “Mara” is an abbreviation of “Martha” is interesting–and it’s possible, as he pointed out, that the two sisters of Lazarus might be buried together, their bones preserved in one ossuary. But I’m still partial to the “Mara” as a title meaning “great teacher/Lady/Domina.” I don’t think her family (presumably the people who would have placed her ossuary in the family tomb) would have called her “the Magdalene” during her lifetime, but they might well have called her “Mara” (“Lady Mariamne”)….I think the “Magdalene” title was deliberately coined for her–derived from the passage in Micah (4:8-11) which sums up her life’s story–in light of its amazing “gematria” value, the “153” which associates her directly with the “vesica piscis” () symbol (sacred to the Goddesses of love and fertility) and with the “153 fishes” in John 21 (metaphor for the Church of the “Fishes”).

    I’m staying tuned to developments on the “Talpiot tomb” scene…. one of the things I find most remarkable is the proximity of this cave/ tomb to the “hillock” called “Magdal-eder” (“Tower of the Flock”)– from which I believe Mary Magdalene’s title was originally derived…The “Magdal-eder” (see Genesis 35:21 and Micah 4:8) lies just South of Bethlehem (I’ve often wondered if might be the place where the shepherd were watching their sheep in the Nativity story!)….In any case, Bethlehem, called “the city of David,” is the city associated with the Davidic royal family (descendants of Judah). After Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob, died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob buried her in same region and then “pitched his tent beyond the Magdal-eder.” So the connections of the tomb with the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, the proximity of Bethlehem/Bethany/ Jerusalem, the “Magdal-eder” and the “Talpiot Tomb” –all within about a 10 mile radius!–seem to me to be significant. IMO, they have nothing whatever to do with “Nazareth”–and a significant amount to do with the royal Davidic heirs and “Nazoreans” (the party of Jewish monarchists).

    peace and well-being,
    Margaret
    “The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”
    http://www.margaretstarbird.net

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