The tomb of Jesus and his family?
Religious implications if the tomb
actually belonged to Jesus' family
Implications of these discoveries:
Jacobovici, the "Naked Archeologist" said that nobody's belief in the resurrection should be shaken by
these developments. He said:
"What convinced people in the New Testament of the resurrection was
Jesus' appearances, not his disappearance from the tomb. I am not a
theologian. I didn't want to take anyone on." 1
However, there are other considerations beyond the resurrection of Jesus. If
it can be proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the tomb contains the remains of
the family of Joseph and Mary, and further DNA testing might well show whether:
||Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary.
||James, the brother of Jesus, is also the son of Joseph and Mary.
If Joseph is shown to be Jesus' father and if Mary is shown to be James'
mother, then some long-held Christian beliefs would have to
|Having Jesus' remains on earth would indicate that he might not have
ascended to Heaven. That is the belief of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.
The passage in Acts 1:9-11: would then have to be interpreted as myth; Jesus'
ascension would have to be considered spiritual in nature. He would not now be
present in bodily form beside God in Heaven.|
||Alternately, Christians might argue that:|
||As determined by the early Church councils, Jesus is 100% God and
||The description of Jesus' bodily ascension to Heaven in Acts 1 is
||The human part of Jesus might later have returned to earth to live.
||The God part of Jesus might have remained in Heaven, with God the
||Jesus may have subsequently died and be buried in the family tomb.
||The writers of the books in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
may have simply not recorded Jesus' return, death and burial, just as
they recorded nothing of his youth and early adulthood.
||Having the remains of Mary, the mother of Jesus, on Earth would indicate
that the Roman Catholic church's teaching is wrong. Pope Pius XII wrote in
"... we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely
revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary,
having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and
soul into heavenly glory. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare
willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let
him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic
||Pope Pius declared the assumption of Mary into heaven "ex
cathedra" This means that it is an infallible teaching, free of
error. If it is
wrong, then the concept of the papal infallibility is also in doubt.
||If DNA testing shows that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus,
Matthew, James etc. then the concept of the virgin
birth would have to be abandoned. So too would be the Catholic and Orthodox teaching
that Mary and Joseph led a celibate life and that Mary had no additional
children beyond Jesus.
Testing of Jesus' DNA would indicate whether his bodily structure is
different from that of a normal human being. Most Christian denominations
teach that Jesus was 100% human and 100% deity. It would be interesting to
determine whether his deity affected his DNA. If Mary was a virgin when she
conceived Jesus, then Jesus' entire DNA would have come from her. There must
have been some contribution from the Holy Spirit because otherwise Jesus
would have been female. At a minimum, the Holy Spirit would have had to
contribute a "Y" chromosome. DNA testing might indicate what additional coding
the Holy Spirit made to Mary's DNA. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit might
have created a pre-fertilized ovum -- a unique embryo with no DNA from Mary.
||If Christianity could be so wrong concerning Jesus ascension, Mary's
virginity, etc., some Christians are probably going to ask whether other
church teachings about such miracles -- such as the six day creation, the flood of
Noah, the resurrection of Jesus, etc. -- are also events that never happened,
but are to be understood spiritually.
Fortunately, for devout conservative Christians, it is probable that very few
will believe the archeological and DNA evidence. Their faith is secure.
If Jesus bones were in the tomb, what does this say about his bodily
Jesus' bones on Earth would indicate that that Jesus' ascension to
Heaven, as described
by the author of the Gospel of Luke in his Book of Acts cannot be interpreted
literally. The author wrote:
Acts 1:9-11: "And when he had spoken these things, while they
beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And
while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men
stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why
stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you
into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into
heaven." (King James Version)
The discovery of Jesus' bones would be incompatible with his bodily ascension
into heaven. Note that the ascension is attested to only once in the New
Testament. Many conservative Christian theologians do not accept a fundamental
doctrine that is based on only a single passage from the Bible. It needs to be confirmed by
The passage in Acts could be a
simple error or forgery. It could have been a piece of folklore about an event
that never happened in reality. It could have become incorporated as part of the legends associated with
Jesus and finally written down in Acts circa 90 CE.
If scientists are eventually able to prove that Jesus' bones are on Earth,
then the Church could simply reinterpret this passage in Acts. They could teach
that Jesus was 100% man and 100% God during Mary's pregnancy, at his
birth, as a child, as an adult, during his ministry, and at the time of his
execution, death, resurrection, and post-mortem appearances with his disciples.
Later, at the time
of his ascension, his "God part" rose to Heaven, while his "human part" remained
on earth. At some later time, perhaps in old age, he died for a second time and was buried.
Religious groups do not like to change their teachings. However, if proof of
Jesus' bones were obtained, they could make a correction. Fortunately for Christian faith groups, there appears to be no way to prove
beyond a shadow of a doubt that the tomb at Talpiot contains Jesus' bones.
Stuart Laidlaw, "Jesus tomb claim sparks furor," The Toronto Start,
Pope Pius Xii, "Munificentissiumus Deus," Vatican, 1950-NOV-01, at:
"Toward a Common Date for Easter," World Council of Churches /
Middle East Council of Churches Consultation, 1997 at: http://www.elca.org/ea/
Laurie Goodstein, "Crypt Held Bodies of Jesus and Family, Film Says," New
York Times, 2007-FEB-27
"Who was the real Jesus?" Y-Jesus magazine, at:
Ben Witherington III, "Tomb of the (still) unknown ancients: More Jesus hype of
the 'Da Vinci Code' type," Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal, 2007-MAR-02, at:
Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-FEB-26
Latest update: 2010-JUN-14
Author: B.A. Robinson