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The tomb of Jesus and his family?

Information about the tomb

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Sponsored link.

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This image was supplied by the Discovery Channel to the Toronto Star

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About the tomb:

According to Amazon.com:

In 1980 [-MAR-28], workers at a Jerusalem construction site accidentally uncovered a cache of bone boxes from early Christian times. When reports about the crypt discovery leaked out 16 years later, the London Sunday Times headlined the story as "The Tomb That Dare Not Speak Its Name." 1,2

Archeologists were given three days to document the tomb. They found ten limestone ossuaries and three skulls. Six of the ossuaries have names etched into them:

bulletYeshua bar Yosef (Aramaic for "Jesus, son of Joseph")
bulletJudah son of Jesus.
bulletMaria (Latin version of the Hebrew "Miriam;" Mary in English)
bulletMariamne e Mara (Greek for "Mary known as the master"). It would have been most unusual to call a woman a "master." However, Mary Magdalene was considered a very important leader in the primitive Christian movement, according to some non-canonical gospels).
bulletYose (Hebrew for Joseph).
bulletMatia (Hebrew for "Matthew"). 3

These are all names in Jesus' family. Maria is the Latin form of Mary; Mary, the mother of Jesus, was referred to as Maria after the crucifixion by Pagans in the Roman Empire who had became Christians. Mariamne is the Greek form of Mary -- the name that she would have used during her preaching. Jose was the nick name used for Jesus' little brother Joseph.

In 1995, a crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation was researching an Easter TV special in Jerusalem. They found the collection of nine ossuaries in an Israeli Antiquities Authority store room; one of the ossuaries had disappeared. The resulting program appeared on a BBC Heart of the Matter newsmagazine 1996.

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Further discoveries:

Since the BBC documentary:

bulletRecent DNA tests were conducted for the documentary at Lakehead University on two ossuaries: one inscribed Jesus son of Joseph, and the other Mariamne. The tests confirm that the two were not related by blood. The Discovery web site states:

"Since tombs normally contain either blood relations or spouses, Jacobovici and his team suggest it is possible Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a couple. "Judah," whom they indicate may have been their son, could have been the "lad" described in the Gospel of John as sleeping in Jesus' lap at the Last Supper." 2

The DNA residue in the remaining ossuaries were not tested for the documentary.

bulletRobert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in New York, performed forensic testing on the patina. He found that it matched the patina on the James ossuary. This indicated that the two bone boxes may well have came from the same tomb. Thus, the James ossuary might be the tenth bone box.
bulletFrank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, told Discovery News:

"The inscriptions are from the Herodian Period. The use of limestone ossuaries and the varied script styles are characteristic of that time."

bulletDiscovery News reported that:

"Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the University of Toronto, recently conducted a study addressing the probabilities that will soon be published in a leading statistical journal."

"Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the tomb's time period with the instances of every other name. He initially found "Jesus Son of Joseph" appeared once out of 190 times, Mariamne appeared once out of 160 times and so on."

"To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by 25 percent, a statistical standard, and further divided the results by 1,000 to attempt to account for all tombs even those that have not been uncovered that could have existed in first century Jerusalem."

"The study concludes that the odds are at least 600 to 1 in favor of the Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb. In other words, the conclusion works 599 times out of 600." 2

bulletIf it can be proven that the James ossuary also came from the same tomb, then Feuerverger calculated that there is a 30,000 to one chance that the Talpiot Tomb belong to the family of Jesus and Mary. That is as certain as one could get for an event in the first century CE.
bulletThe inscriptions and the ossuaries have been determined to be from the first century CE. 4

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A related tomb?

Discovery News also reported that:

"The researchers discovered a second, as-yet unexplored tomb about 65 1/2 feet [20 meters] from the Talpiot Tomb. During the documentary, they introduced a robotic camera into this second tomb, which captured the first-ever recorded footage of an undisturbed burial cave from Jesus' time. The team speculates that this other tomb could contain the remains of additional family members, or even disciples, though further examination and analysis are needed. 2

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References used:

  1. Jennifer Viegas, "Jesus Family Tomb Believed Found," Discovery News, at: http://dsc.discovery.com/
  2. Pope Pius Xii, "Munificentissiumus Deus," Vatican, 1950-NOV-01, at: http://www.ewtn.com/
  3. Laurie Goodstein, "Crypt Held Bodies of Jesus and Family, Film Says,"  New York Times, 2007-FEB-27
  4. "Jesus' tomb: Fact or fiction," Y-Zine, at: http://www.y-zine.com/

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Site navigation:

Home page > Christianity > Christian personalitiesJesus > here

or Home page > Religious information > GodJesus > here

or Home page > Spirituality > GodJesus > here

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-FEB-26
Latest update: 2007-FEB-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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