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Is this really the last resting place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene - and their son?

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  • Is this really the last resting place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene - and their son?

    The Talpiot tomb, Jerusalem, was first discovered in 1980

    If it really were the most important archaeological discovery in history, the point of truth came with very little song or dance. There was no drum roll or fanfare, just the sweeping aside of black felt drapes to reveal a pair of simple stone boxes sitting side by side.

    But for the panel of film-makers, theologians and statisticians at New York's public library yesterday, this really was the moment. As James Cameron, the director of the film Titanic who has lent his name to the project, said: "It doesn't get bigger than this".

    The claim that was being presented to the world's media and which will be aired on the Discovery Channel on Sunday was that the two boxes once contained the bones of Jesus of Nazareth and his wife Mary Magdalene. Another box, not present at yesterday's event but coincidentally on display in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contained, so the theory goes, the bones of their son, Judah.

    The boxes, which housed human bones and are known as ossuaries, are made out of Jerusalem limestone with its distinctive colour of clotted cream. The smaller of the two bears the inscription Jesus, son of Joseph, while the larger and more lavishly decorated is marked in the name of Mariamene e Mara. According to the Canadian documentary-maker, Simcha Jacobovici, the inscription translates as Mary Magdalene the Master. It is his contention that he and his team of advisers have conclusively found the tomb of Jesus and his family.

    "This is somewhat surreal," Mr Jacobovici said as the drapes were pulled back. "To think that maybe under that felt are the ossuaries of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene which lay together side by side for 2,000 years."

    The claim that Jesus was married to his disciple Mary Magdalene, that they had a child together in the style of the Da Vinci Code, and that after his death he left behind his bones rather than being resurrected in the flesh elicited an outcry that was as instant as it was predictable. The American-based Catholic League dubbed the theory a "Titanic fraud", saying that not a Lenten season goes by without some author or TV programme seeking to cast doubt on the divinity.

    Amos Kloner, a top Israeli archaeologist who was one of the first to examine the ossuaries when they were discovered, said: "We have no scientific proof that this is indeed the tomb of Jesus and his family members".

    At the centre of the controversy is an undisputed fact: that 10 ossuaries dating from the first century were found in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 by building workers. A common funeral practice at that time was to leave the bodies of the deceased to decay for up to a year until only their bones were left, then pack them in the stone boxes and entomb them.

    Of the 10 ossuaries found, six had inscriptions bearing the names of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, another Mary who the film-makers deem to be Jesus's mother, Matthew and Yose who they say were two of his four brothers, and son Judah. The existence of the boxes and the precise inscriptions they bore are matters of consensus, though how to interpret them certainly is not.

    Mr Jacobovici, with the support the Oscar-winning Mr Cameron, who acted as executive producer, says the initial discovery of the ossuaries failed to excite much interest in 1980 because archaeologists were not armed at that time with the knowledge and scientific tools that now exist. His theory relies on the recent retranslation by experts of the Mariamene as Mary Magdalene.

    The team carried out DNA sampling on matter remaining in the two boxes and claim it supports the contention that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were man and wife. And they turned to statistical advice from a professor in Toronto who concluded on the basis of the six names etched into the ossuaries that the possibility of this being the Jesus family tomb should be "taken very seriously indeed", putting the probability that the tomb housed an entirely different family at 600-1.

    But even as the felt was being pulled back yesterday, holes in the theory were becoming glaringly evident. The DNA available to investigators is very limited as the bones themselves have long since been reburied. The test carried out by the film-makers was mitochondrial - that is it only contained information on maternal inheritance, thus allowing the possibility that Jesus and Mariamene were brother and sister through the paternal line.

    Israeli archaeologists were also quick to point out that despite the statistical work commissioned by Mr Jacobovici, the names scratched into the boxes were all highly popular and common in the first century.

    "We know that Joseph, Jesus and Mariamene were all among the most common names of the period. To start with all these names being together in a single tomb and leap from there to say this is the tomb of Jesus is a little far-fetched, to put it politely," said David Mevorah, a curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem.

    Professor Kloner told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the name Jesus had been found 71 times in burial caves at around that time.

    ยท The documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, airs on the Discovery Channel on Sunday at 9pm.

  • #2
    and probably there was many people with name Jesus and there father was Joseph ....
    A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
    By: George Bernard Shaw


    • #3
      ....and wife mary


      • #4
        Archaeologists and clergymen in Israel have derided claims made in a new documentary produced by the Oscar-winning director James Cameron that
        contradict major Christian tenets.

        The Lost Tomb of Christ, which the Discovery Channel will run on March 4 in the United States, argues that 10 ancient ossuaries - small caskets used to store bones - discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family, according to a press release issued by the Discovery Channel.

        One of the caskets even bears the title, Judah, son of Jesus, hinting that Jesus may have had a son. And the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.

        Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron's documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church. The documentary is directed by Toronto filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici.

        Although the documentary makers claim to have found the tomb of Jesus, the British Broadcasting Corporation beat them to the punch by 11 years. In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

        "They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

        Osnat Goaz, a spokeswoman for the government agency responsible for archaeology, declined to comment before the documentary was aired. She said the Antiquities Authority agreed to send two ossuaries to New York, but they did not contain human remains. "We agreed to send the ossuaries, but it doesn't mean that we agree with [the filmmakers]," she said.

        The claims have also raised the ire of Christian leaders. "The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection," said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem. "The documentary," he said, "contradicts the religious principles and the historic and spiritual principles that we hold tightly to."

        Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film's hypothesis holds little weight.

        "I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this, Pfann said. "But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

        "How possible is it?" Pfann said. "On a scale of one through 10 - 10 being completely possible - it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."

        Pfann is even unsure that the name Jesus on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it is more likely the name Hanun. Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

        Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false.

        "It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave," Kloner said. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time."

        Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that the James Ossuary - the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel - might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box.

        "I don't think the James Ossuary came from the same cave," said Dan Bahat, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University. "If it were found there, the man who made the forgery would have taken something better. He would have taken Jesus."

        None of the experts interviewed by The Associated Press had seen the whole documentary. Repeated attempts to contact Cameron and Jacobovici were unsuccessful.


        • #5
          LOL - this is the same old thing based on the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (and/or similar books, don't sue me Dan Brown ). It's a great story but it's been debunked more times than I care to mention.

          File under "entertaining fiction".



          • #6
            Yup probably a lot of people called Jesus at that time. Also note that the guy claiming this is a film producer...


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