Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Jesus Family Tomb: CASE CLOSED

I just finished reading "The Jesus Family Tomb," and I can say with confidence: THE CASE IS CLOSED. There is absolutely no substantial evidence to support Jacobovici's claims. The book is a historical, scientific, and statistical nightmare. Bold claims are made without any substantiation; facts are left out; scholars are quoted out of context. This was just another poorly researched book that might end up making millions but will soon meet its misery when people take 15 minutes to look up the facts for themselves. I don't want to write a full critique right now for two reasons:

1) I don't have time

2) James White has written a soon-to-be-released book refuting The Jesus Family Tomb.

"But Mike! I thought you said the case was closed! Why wait?" Yes, the case most definitely is closed. In fact, I feel confident that I could write a deathblow critique of the theory. But if it weren't for the sake of integrity, I would do it. You see, The Jesus Family Tomb theory wasn't properly researched. Very few, if any, peer reviewed journal articles have been written on the subject. Therefore, we are left with very little to work with in writing scholarly refutations of the work. But I will go ahead and make this prediction; in less than one year, enough scholarly material will have been published on this issue to completely destroy Jacobovici's (and possibly James Cameron's) credibility.

This is why i'm waiting on James White's book. He has actually corresponded with the scholar's and scientists that Jacobovici has referenced in his book and the film. These correspondences are not essential, but very valuable.

But just for the sake of integrity, I feel that I am very well equipped to handle any defense of the Jesus Tomb. So if you have objections to anything i've said, or feel that you can actually defend Jacobovici's theory, then I challenge you to support your claims.

In the meantime, I thought i'd post a summary of the errors (Found on James White's blog) so that you'd have something to chew on until I write a full refutation:

- The book and film were not subjected to serious scholarly examination prior to release to the public.

· Many scholars cited in the film and book have affirmed that they were not told the full story, and that their statements have been used out of context.

· The theory uses double standards in its tremendously inconsistent use of the New Testament, at times accepting its accuracy on one point, then rejecting it on the next, without following any logical standards.

· The film and book demonstrate a consistent willingness to document only particular facts related to its conclusions, ignoring those facts that are contrary to its conclusions.

· The central argument of the film (that Mariamne is the original name of Mary Magdalene) is subject to numerous counter-arguments and explanations.

· The inscription on the Mariamne ossuary can be read at least three ways, and the first two, which leave the entire theory without any ground, are more likely than the third, upon which the theory depends.

· Even taking the inscription as the theory does, there is no reason whatsoever to believe a fourth century work of fiction, The Acts of Philip, is relevant to first century Jerusalem.

· The Acts of Philip nowhere refers to, or identifies Mariamne as, Mary Magdalene. The name Mary Magdalene never appears in The Acts of Philip.

· The Acts of Philip say Mariamne could turn into an ark of glass and a pillar of fire. Do the theorists think Mary Magdalene could do this?

· The film misrepresents Francois Bovon of Harvard who has confirmed that he is only referring to the Mariamne/Magdalene connection in the realm of literary parallels, not history.

· Bovon refers to the theorys claims that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child as "science fiction."

· The film misrepresents even the existing text of The Acts of Philip by saying the book says Mary Magdalene (which it never mentions) would be buried in Jerusalem. It actually says Mariamne would die in the Jordan River (which does not flow through Jerusalem).

· The theory's willingness to abandon first century documents directly related to Jesus and his original followers (the New Testament) in favor of a work of fiction from the Encratite community of Asia Minor three hundred years later is a clear indication of its bias.

· The film and book misrepresent the nature and capacities of forensic mitochondrial DNA testing.

· Simcha Jacobovici claims Carney Matheson concluded that the genetic testing shows Yeshua bar Yosef and Mariamne were married. Matheson denies this conclusion forcefully.

· Mitochondrial DNA testing can only address maternal relationships, not paternal ones. Hence, the two genotypes tested could have included a father/daughter relationship, a fact inexplicably left out of the discussion by the film and book.

· The names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc., have been found in other burial sites in Jerusalem in the past, including Dominus Flevit.

· All of the names in the Talpiot tomb are found amongst the top ten most popular names for men and women in the time period of the first century in Jerusalem.

· The argument that there is at least a 600:1 chance that this is the Jesus family tomb is based upon the assumption that 1) there is a Jesus family tomb in Jerusalem, and 2) it has been found. That is, the statistical argument assumes its own conclusion so as to have validity!

· There is no reason whatsoever to believe Jesus would own a multi-generational tomb in Jerusalem. He was from Nazareth, 120 miles to the north, in Galilee, and only visited Jerusalem.

· The theories propounded in the book concerning the Knights Templar are presented without even the pretense of factual or historical foundation, and as such, have as much validity as The Da Vinci Code. They are pure fiction.

· The alleged cross symbol on the Jesus ossuary is far more likely the simple "this side forward" mark to indicate which way to slide the lid so that it would fit.

· The idea that the Judah, son of Jesus in the Talpiot tomb, is the author of the Gospel of Thomas, which was written in AD 165, a century after the Talpiot tomb was sealed, is emblematic of the kind of scholarship represented in The Family Tomb of Jesus.

· The film and book desperately seek to avoid honestly stating the only possible ramification of their theory: that Christianity's primary claim in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is false, and hence Christianity is a false religion.

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