So I have officially seen the docu-drama myself now (I saw it when it originally aired on Sunday night, but this is the first opportunity I've gotten to write about it). I also feel like I've been "tested by fire". I spent my lunch hour on Monday with a bunch of co-workers, including some very devout Jews who, needless to say, do not accept Jesus as Messiah, one of which was absolutely convinced that this was indeed Jesus' tomb. These people are my friends, but we definitely had an interesting dialogue about how much could really be concluded from this so-called evidence.
If you did see the show, I hope you also watched the Ted Koppel interview afterwards. I'm not sure if they are reshowing this part along with the main docu-drama every time the show it or not. I hope so. If you have the opportunity to watch the Ted Koppel portion, I encourage you to do so, because he illustrates a number of problems. Now moving on to my comments:
A lot of what needs to be said about this documentary I already said in my original post. But upon watching it, there were a few more things I wanted to point out. First, for anyone who watched it, quick, off the top of your head tell me even one piece of evidence they gave that this was actually a family tomb...
You may have guessed it already, but they did not provide ANY evidence that this was a family tomb. They just assumed it at the get go. But it's like a stack of cards. The fact that it is a family tomb is the card supporting the entire rest of the structure. For example, what is the significance of having two people in a tomb whose DNA does NOT match if it is not a family tomb? The producers of this show conclude that they must have been married. But if it wasn't a family tomb to begin with, how can you conclude that they were married if there's no reason to believe they were related to begin with? In other words, they start out by ASSUMING its a family tomb without evidence, then later on conclude, "Well, since we KNOW its a family tomb, these people without matching DNA must have been married." All of their conclusions are dependent upon their starting premise, but they have no evidence for that starting premise. Remove it, and the entire stack of cards falls.
Also, I did not realize when I wrote my last post just how weak the DNA evidence was. All the showed was that these two people did not have the same MOTHER. They could have had the same father. They could have been cousins. They could have been mother/son or father/daughter. In short, they proved virtually nothing.
My wife brought up another good point while we were watching the show. Jesus had a brother named Joseph. Let's assume for the sake of argument that this was Jesus' family tomb. How do we know the "Joseph" in "Jesus, son of Joseph" was Jesus' father and not His brother? Its not exactly beyond the realm of possibility that Joseph would name his son after his brother. And speaking of Jesus' father, where was he? This was a patriarchal society. The producers claimed that Joseph died in Nazareth and was buried there. But if that is true (which, by the way I believe it probably is), it is absolutely inconceivable in this type of society that the rest of the family would have left their father's bones all the way up in Nazareth and completely abandoned him, choosing to buy a family tomb a great distance away and all be buried without him.
Anyone who has read much of my writings also has probably caught in that I like to point out contradictions in someone's argument, and this show was no exception. Did you notice what they first said when discussing the "ornamentation" on the outside of the tomb (i.e., the chevron and the circle)? They said that this is rare, and the fact that they decorated the outside of the tomb tends to suggest that they felt it was someone important inside. Now what about their discussion of Caiaphas' ossuary? Do you remember what it looked like? It was HIGHLY ornamented. This, of course, was because he was the High Priest and was considered to be someone important. How did this compare to the Jesus ossuary? The Jesus ossuary was not decorated at all. In fact, they described the writing on it as "graffiti". It was sloppy! Is this consistent with someone who was held in such high regard? So we are supposed to believe that they decorated the outside of the tomb because he was so imporant, but couldn't even put forth the effort to write cleanly when inscribing his name. Is ornamentation an indicator of social importance or not? You can't have it both ways.
Something that was touched on in the Ted Koppel interview was the so-called "missing ossuary." The producers of the show want you to believe it was the ossuary marked "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." So let's assume for the moment that it was. At the beginning of the show they said that there were 10 ossuaries in the tomb. 6 had inscriptions, 4 did not. Let's count up the names they found on them: (1) Jesus, (2) Marianme (the one they claim to be Mary Magdalene), (3) Mary (supposedly Jesus' mother), (4) Matthew, (5) Jose, and (6) Judah. Wait a minute! That's all six! That means that the other four were unmarked, and whichever one went missing had to be one of those four. In fact, the archaeologist who removed them from the tomb confirmed that the one that subsequently went missing bore no inscription. So even if this "James" ossuary was the missing one, that means that at the time it was in the tomb it had no inscription. In other words, the inscription is a forgery. What a surprise, that's exactly one of the allegations that had been made about it long before this Discovery Channel show ever came out.
My last point deals with Marianme. They claim this is Mary Magdalene because it is supposedly a rare form of the name "Mary", and this is how Mary Magdalene is referred to in the Gospel of Philip. Of course, in the Ted Koppel portion, one of the theologians pointed out that the Gospel of Philip was from the FOURTH CENTURY, hundreds of years after Mary Magdalene was alive. In response, the consultant on the show (whose name I unfortunately cannot remember) said that the earliest transcript he was aware of that used this name for Mary Magdalene was from the second century. Simcha Jacobovici, the investigative journalist behind this whole thing, commented that his father's name didn't change 100 years after he died, so he assumes that if that's how Mary Magdalene was referred to 100 years later, then that was her name 100 years earlier. So what is the problem with this? How do we know about Mary Magdalene in the first place? Because she is mentioned in the canonical Gospels, all of which are FIRST Century documents. It doesn't take a Greek scholar to figure out that if the first reference to Mary Magdalene as "Marianme" is in the second century, that means that she was NOT referred to this way in the first century canonical gospels! So the earliest reference to her do NOT use this name for her!
I could go on and on with the enormous number of problems with this show, but then this would turn into a book rather than a post on the blog. I think enough has been said, and frankly there are so many other people blasting gaping holes in this theory, I think the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. It was an entertaining piece of fiction, but it was fiction nonetheless.