J Walking

J Walking

“Think Jesus meets Titanic”

I can almost see the conversation that James Cameron had with fellow filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici (aka, the Naked Archeologist) some years ago, “We need a project.”

“Yeah, something sexy and big.”

“Well, you know that DaVinci Code thing is big.”

“DaVinci Code… DaVinci Code… hmmm…yeah, not as big as Titanic though.”

“Certainly not as big as Titanic.”

“But what if it was true? You know, what if Jesus had hooked up with Mary Magdalene and had a kid? That would be huge. Huge!”


” Yeah, yeah… Jesus meets Titanic. I like it, I like it. We can sell that. What is the evidence?”

“Well, none really, just an old tomb dug up in 1980. The BBC already did a documentary on this but, you know, who watches the BBC?”

“Yeah, no one watches the BBC.”

The conversation above is actually imagined. But it is no less fanciful than the hyped “discovery” of Jesus’ “family tomb”. That “discovery” is actually so absurd it is hard to know where to begin. It is as if I said the Potomac river just parted in front of me and the Loch Ness monster emerged and handed me a bagel. Look, here is the bagel. It is an onion bagel.

For starters, there isn’t anything new. Although people associated with the project are tossing around words like “DNA analysis” and “statistical analysis” and “forensic evidence” to distinguish this book and documentary fromthe BBC’s 1996 Easter Sunday edition of Heart of the Matter, presented by Joan Bakewell (that attempted to make the same case), there isn’t anything new.


Take “DNA analysis” for instance. DNA analysis would certainly be extraordinary if someone actually had a verified sample of Jesus’ DNA to compare the “new” sample with. Since that is obviously not the case, all this proves is that the person whose bones were in the ossuary had DNA.

Let’s look at the “statistical analysis” question. Ben Witherington does a good job of tackling that one on his blog found here. But the bottom line is that there aren’t any new statistics now versus a decade ago and a decade ago here is what The Times of London wrote in response to the BBC documentary:

L. Y. Rahmani, an archaeologist who has catalogued almost all the 1,000 ossuaries found in Israel, said the BBC’s conclusions were absurd. The names Joseph, Mary and Jesus were common in antiquity, he said, and some ten ossuaries bearing the name of Jesus in either Hebrew or Greek have been found. Variations of Miriam, from which Mary is derived, and Joseph are far more common.

”The fact that in this case you have the combination of names in the same tomb is simply a matter of statistics,” said the former curator of the Antiquities Authority in whose warehouse the empty ossuaries were found and put on show for the press this week.


There are many, many more areas to critique. The most interesting part of all of this, however, is a simple question:

Why is it that so many people spend so much time and passion attempting to disprove Biblical faith and Christianity in particular?

There is not, for instance, a very big industry for disproving Buddha. Mohammad doesn’t have an industry devoted to disproving him or Islam. Why Jesus? Why is that Jesus’ name can people more frothed up more quickly than any other name?

There are certain easy answers – it has become the most politicized faith, it has the deepest roots in Western culture, it has been the root of past sins. But I think it lies far deeper than that. I think it lies in words written by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”


It is. Renowned theologian Bishop N.T. Wright writes of it this way:

“The Christian good news is all about God dying on a rubbish-heap at the wrong end of the Empire. It’s all about God babbling nonsense to a room full of philosophers. It’s all about the true God confronting the world of posturing power and prestige, and overthrowing it in order to set up his own kingdom, a kingdom in which the weak and the foolish find themselves just as welcome as the strong the wise, if not more so.”

That message is an affront, it is an offense. It requires a submission of human will to the will of a God who demands we see ourselves as worthless and priceless. It is a message that human hearts and human minds rebel against because of all that it requires – unconditional love received, unconditional love given…things the human heart has such trouble with. It is also a message that is true no matter how many times people think they have disproven it and a message grounded in timeless truths like an empty cross and an empty tomb.

Comments read comments(18)
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posted February 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm

And what’s the evidence for the Bible’s veracity?

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posted February 26, 2007 at 8:45 pm

For that matter, why must the resurrection of Jesus be factual? Would it invalidate the meaning behind Jesus life to find out that his later followers trumped up a story about him rising from the dead? If so…why?

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posted February 26, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Markus, this article ( at The American Thinker, and subsequent ones give a short but thorough lesson in textual criticism. By any scholarly standards, the Bible has abundant evidence for its historical veracity. However, those who will not believe because they do not want to believe are not persuaded no matter what evidence is shown to them.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted February 26, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Notice–it is always the elite, the rich, the well-connected who can’t stand a crucified and risen Saviour. This Hollywood crowd is no different. On the other hand it is the poor, the broken, the unwanted who find their solace at the foot of the cross and on Easter Sunday. I will gladly and gratefully stand with these “lepers” of the earth rather than the Hollywood deceivers and fabricators of wealth and fame. One Francis of Assisi and one Mother Teresa is worth more than a thousand Hollywood directors seeking loot and headlines.

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John S.

posted February 27, 2007 at 1:14 am

RJohnson64 — if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, the Christian faith is pointless. Says who? The apostle Paul: “If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. . . . If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.” (I Corinthians 15:16-20)

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posted February 27, 2007 at 1:30 am

If we apply today’s scientific standards of proof, there is no credible evidence that Jesus ever existed; on the other hand there is something quite positive about a creator who unconditionally loves us just as we are, and by unconditional I mean there is nothing we can do which separates us from the love of God, including not believing in the Southern Baptist’s view of Jesus; if only the “Christians” would actually follow this belief.

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David Kuo

posted February 27, 2007 at 1:39 am

I highly recommend N.T. Wright’s three-volume work “Christian Origins and the People of God” – the writing is dense but the scholarship from this Bishop of Durham and former canon theologian at Westminster Abbey is beyond doubt. There is this great (and false) myth about that we know little of Jesus…it simply isn’t true. There is a veritable wealth of material about him.

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posted February 27, 2007 at 6:40 am A good place to look at for skeptics or otherwise. “You may be a fundie atheist if . . .” But what is worse Mr. Kuo, people that try in vain to destroy the truth in scrpture, these anti-Christ anti-resurrectionist’s, or what the Liberals and Progressives have done with the truth? Same origins of the attack, just different techniques. Give me an honest Christian-bashing hater over the poisonous koolaid offered up by the likes of Jim Wallis, Mel White and John Spong and John Crossan.

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posted February 27, 2007 at 2:04 pm

John S. stated — if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, the Christian faith is pointless. Says who? The apostle Paul: “If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. . . . If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.” (I Corinthians 15:16-20) ——————- So you are telling me that in order for the life teachings expressed in the NT to have value there must be an afterlife EXACTLY as described in the NT? Is it really all or nothing, as you (and Paul) seem to indicate? What if it turns out that the afterlife is not a reality, and that the later followers of Jesus were overzealous in their additions to his message? I mean, we’ve seen this before in many instances. How many people have claimed to have seen Elvis, or been “abducted” by aliens? Why must the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus be true in order for the philosophy expressed in, say, the Beatitudes to have their full meaning for you?

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posted February 27, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Deacon John M. Bresnahan states – “Notice–it is always the elite, the rich, the well-connected who can’t stand a crucified and risen Saviour.” Deacon Bresnahan, I would suggest that it is this statement that reveals an elitist attitude. Engaging in ad hominem attacks such as this do little to add credibility to your case, and in fact demonstrate the bankruptcy of your apologetics. It appears that you are unable to mount any kind of a rational response to the questions, so you demean those who dare to question that which you seem to blindly accept. I would put it to you…if this in fact does turn out to be the burial vessels of Jesus and his family, how does that damage your faith in his teachings?

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posted February 27, 2007 at 2:16 pm

What veracity in Christian Scriptures? There is no good paternal lineage for Jesus, and in fact it isn’t even human according to some of it. What about the wife a rabbi HAD to have to be a rabbi? And the children — did the royal lineage end with Jesus? Did Jesus blow past the first commandment to people? What about the fact that David’s lines are known to this day (they just had a reunion) and Jesus and Joseph are NOT in any of them? Judah ha-Nasi didn’t call him a relative. He could be the product of a human-divine paternal breeding OR be of David’s seed. But not both.

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posted February 27, 2007 at 2:59 pm

This finding contradicts all that we christians believe in. In a risen Christ, no bones left behind. False prophets are at it again and we are living in the days when there will be many. Sensationalism and conjecture, a true Hollywood story.

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posted February 27, 2007 at 4:12 pm

I don’t find your criticism of the statistical analysis very convincing. Yes, they were common jewish names, but that’s not the point. The point is that the probability of these 5 names occurring in the same tomb is very low: The name probability are the following: Jesus Son of Joseph: 1/190 Marianne: 1/160 Matia: 1/40 Yose: 1/20 Maria: 1/4 Combination probability: 1/190*1/160*1/40*1/20*1/4= 1/97,280,000 Matia is not in the Gospel: 1/190*1/160*1/20*1/4= 1/2,400,000 Correcting for unintentional biases in name frequencies: 2,400,000/4= 600,000 Number of first century Jerusalem tombs: ~1,000 1,000*1/600,000= 1/600 The odds for that tomb to be purely accidental are 1 in 600. In addition, the DNA analysis is interesting to confirm or infirm relationships between the remains and not to identify Jesus per se.

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David Kuo

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm


posted February 27, 2007 at 10:06 pm

How is the assumption that the presence of DNA markers with no materal linkage evidence of a marriage between Mary M and Jesus, at least those whose names are on the bone boxes? That is supposition with no evidence behind it (a leap of “faith” for the directors). Obviously there could have been a paternal DNA linkage. Same father, two mothers. Just as likely a conculsion, though far less sensational, and far less likely to garner publicity.

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posted March 4, 2007 at 10:44 am

It is odd that the Latinized name Maria is used and not Miriam. Highly unlikely this is a totally singular family crypt.

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posted November 11, 2007 at 2:33 pm

This guy is not even an archaeologist and look at all the discussion fairly intelligent people have been driven to.

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K. Sean Proudler

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:50 pm

If I were Satan, I would take complete advantage of man’s general stupidity. Get them interested in something, and then after that have them reject it. WHY ? Well I would do this if some other power, say a positive natured power, was trying to expose some vital truths. This would guarantee 100% that these ” TRUTHS ” would be completely and absolutely ignored. Once people are in a rejective state of mind, you could place them next to a mountain, after they have been convinced that there is no such a thing as a mountain, and they would still stick to this idiotic ” BELIEF “.
In other words, program the minds of the human idiots to always place the value of beliefs above and beyond the value of truths.
For instance, these following Codes are massive and revealing in number, yet a programmed mind, a mind which is governed by beliefs and therefore is incapable of thinking, will reject the facts in an instant.
However, for these petit minds, it is the subjects which are less than truth that will capture their attention, such as fiction stories, since that is as far as such a small mind can stretch.

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