The Remains of Jesus Uncovered!
|by Regis Nicoll|
That’s right! At least according to award-winning filmmakers James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, whose documentary to that effect will be shown later this year on the Discovery Channel, among other places.
How did they come across such a sensational find? It all goes back to the 1980 discovery of a cave in a backwater neighborhood in Jerusalem in which six coffins were scribbled with the names: “Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus’ brother), Judah son of Jesua (Jesus’ son -- the filmmakers claim).” Then after DNA analysis and “close work with world-famous scientists,” Cameron and company concluded that the cave contained Jesus’ remains.
But there are several things quite odd about this. First off, the names Mary, Joseph and Jesus are some of the most common names in early Palestine. Second, although DNA could establish the relationships between the remains of those in the cave, it is incapable of singling out any one of them as being Jesus of Nazareth. Third, nothing is mentioned about crucifixion forensics. Fourth, Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who wrote the official report on the cave ten years ago, concluded that the "'possibility of it being Jesus' family [is] very close to zero.' Motti Neiger, spokesperson for the Israel Antiquities Authority, agreed 'that chances of these being the actual burials of the holy family are almost nil.'"
In fact, if this cave did contain the remains of Jesus it would be nigh impossible to verify 2000 years later. That said, in the days, weeks and months after Jesus’s death, it would have been certain--an important point to keep in mind.
Both the Jewish leadership and the Roman authorities were not only highly motivated to quash any resurrection ruse, but had the political muscle and wherewithal to extract confessions and find the body, if indeed it existed. That no body was ever found is reflected in the extra-biblical account by the Jewish historian, Josephus, in the late first century:
Now there was about this time Jesus… [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Antiquities 18.3.3)
I’m sure that Cameron’s film will get its share of media attention—maybe enough to put Anna and Britney “beneath the fold.” All the same, this whole exercise—a filmmaker doing archaeology—reminds one of a certain politician doing climate science. But that’s a whole other story.