We have been posting stories about Jesus’s supposed grave for over 5 years, including stories about a box that may have contained the bones of his brother James, along with frequent updates about its veracity. On March 4, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, by Simcha Jocobivici and James Cameron (who directed the film Titanic) was shown on the Discovery Channel. A book titled The Jesus Family Tomb has been written by Jocobivici and Charles Pellegrino about this discovery. We will soon post a Dreamland show with Laurence Gardner and William Henry about this topic.
One thing that is confusing about this whole controversy is that the gospels clearly say that Jesus was not laid in a family tomb, but in a grave that was loaned by a rich businessman, probably because Jesus was not a local?his family came from out of town (Galilee) and one would assume that his family tomb would have been located there.
Matthew 27 says: “?A rich person from Arimathea named Joseph came along, who himself had studied under Jesus. This person went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, at which point Pilate ordered it given to him. And taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in a clean sheet and put it in the tomb that had been newly cut in the rock, and rolled a big stone against the door of the tomb and went away…”
Mark 15 says: “And since it was already late and it was Friday, meaning the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, an upstanding member of the high court…went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was amazed that he was dead already and…made Joseph a present of the body. And first he brought a sheet, and then took him down and wrapped him in the sheet, and put him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rockface, and rolled a stone up against the doorway of the tomb.”
Luke 23 says: “And this man named Joseph, who was a member of the high court, a good and innocent man–he hadn’t gone along with the high court and its actions…this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And after taking it down, he wrapped it up in a sheet and put it in a carved-out tomb where no one had ever lain. And the day was Friday, with the Sabbath dawning.”
The above are from The Unvarnished New Testament translated by Andy Gaus.
The Torah says that bodies have to buried as soon as possible after death, meaning that burial usually takes place on the same day or the next, so there would have been no opportunity to transport the body back to Galilee for burial. In 1st century Palestine it was customary to bury a person of some means wrapped in linen and spices, let the flesh decay, and then, a year or more later, place the bones in a stone ossuary, which means “bone-box.” The film points out that Christian tradition says that Jesus’s bones were secretly moved into a new tomb after they were placed in the original one.
The discovery of the tomb that is featured in the film was actually made over 25 years ago. In 1980, Israeli archeologist Amos Kloner examined a tomb in the Talpiyot district of Jerusalem where construction for new housing was underway. Archeologists have found 900 such tomb sites in this area of Jerusalem. Not much was done about the find until some children playing in the construction debris in the basement of their house found an opening and wiggled down into the space beneath, where they found 10 ossuaries with bones in them. Six had inscriptions on them.
Fragments of the bones remained in the boxes, and this is where the DNA comes that was tested by the filmmakers from. The boxes are now kept in an archeological warehouse in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile another inscribed ossuary appeared on the antiquities market in Jerusalem. Oded Golan, a Tel Aviv engineer, claimed he bought the box from Arab dealers and had not noted the Aramaic inscription on the side: Yaakob bar Yosef ahiw de Yeshua (“James, son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus”). The reaction in the scholarly world was explosive. Inscriptionist Andr
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