Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Debunking by Ignoring

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

It is fashionable today to see the Christian religion as a massive cover up and the real story is supposed to have gone something like this: Jesus was a pious, Torah-observant Jew whom Paul got hold of and cranked up a few notches into a God-like deity, called him the Christ, and then handed on to the Gentile world a new religion. By the time of Constantine and Nicea, the original vision of Jesus was wiped off the map. That’s the common story. Good grief, Thomas Jefferson’s views were about the same thing. Barrie Wilson is the most recent proponent of this story. (See How Jesus Became Christian
)
.

I will make a brief case that this author debunks orthodoxy by ignoring contrary (and expert) opinion. Where else do you see this?



It would take a dozen posts or so to dismantle all the theories Wilson requires to argue his case, but a few major points need to be made:

First, how a reputable scholar can write a book on the development of christology and ignore the work of Larry Hurtado is not only inexplicable but irresponsible.

Second, Hurtado’s work completely undermines Wilson’s book: Hurtado, working with the texts and the best of scholarship, demonstrates that Jesus was worshiped alongside God the Father within a decade or so of Jesus’ own death and this worship was found among Aramaic-speaking Jewish believers.

Third, Wilson has an axe to grind against the apostle Paul and it is unfortunate because Paul was also a faithful Jew — and the diversity within Judaism is insufficiently explored in this book.

Fourth, Wilson thinks James represents the movement most faithful to Jesus, but what he fails to examine is that James’ use of “Lord” reveals that he called Jesus Christ “Lord” and this term was Judaism’s translation of “YHWH.” This undercuts the thesis of Wilson too.

I was disappointed in this book. We’ve got our share of books all arguing the same thing and one expression unites them: conspiracy theory. The oddest thing about this book is that he debunks orthodoxy by completely ignoring everything that goes against his theory.

Conservatives and liberals alike … one way of winning your argument is to silence all the opponents, especially the ones with the most potent arguments.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(33)
post a comment
Kyle

posted January 3, 2009 at 1:59 am


In light of the recent discussion of blurbs, this is from the back of the book in question.
?A tour de force.?
? Simcha Jacobovici, Producer/Director, The Lost Tomb of Jesus
Need anything more be said? Also if you buy it now at Amazon, you can buy it together with a book by Jeffrey Butz and another by Jimmy Tabor.
The sad thing is that this type of ignorant “begging the question” scholarship often gets read by many and touted by the media as mainstream among scholars. This method seems to work on the average reader as well. Simply look at the reviews at Amazon which are highly positive and usually amount to “This debunks Christianity” or “If Christians would read this their faith would be crucified.” It’s sad that such poor scholarship so often wins the day.
Here’s an example of one of the reviews at Amazon:
“Validation would be an understatement, in regards to Wilson’s new book, “How Jesus Became Christian”. First opening the Tomb in 1981, then Tabor’s book, now Wilson’s; the world has a true view into the first century CE at last!
THANK YOU!”
This review gives the book five stars and 7 of 8 found it helpful as a review (which means they agreed with what it said basically since it in no way reviews the book). Did they simply miss out on the multitude of scholarship from the whole spectrum of faith perspectives who wrote off the Talpiot tomb fiasco as ridiculous? Do they not realize how radically different are the conclusions of Tabor’s “Jesus Dynasty” and the claims of the Talpiot tomb, or do they really believe as they imply that they build on each other?
What a shame…



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 3, 2009 at 5:08 am


It’s amazing to me how many students in my college classes are absolutely convinced that the DaVinci Code is real history. I teach a churh history course in a state college and the prevalent belief is that Christianity as we know it is based on a cover up. I find John Henry Newman’s The Development of Christian Doctrine to be helpful here. BTW, the number codes on Beliefnet are among the hardest to decipher. Or I need new glasses.



report abuse
 

Anders Branderud

posted January 3, 2009 at 5:37 am


Quote by Paqid Yirmeyahu:
The “panel of Israeli scholars” who asserted that the Yaaqov ossuary was a fake (Nina Burleigh, “Hoaxes from the Holy Land? Op-Ed article, 11.29) comprised Prof. Yuval Goren, Dr. Ayalon and their colleagues. Consider the scathing criticism of this “panel of Israeli scholars” in the report by world-renowned scientist and expert petrologist witness at the trial, Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Wolfgang E. Krumbein, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany:
“The conclusions noted in the reports by Goren, Ayalon and their colleagues, originate from a series of errors, biases, mistaken premises, use of inappropriate methodology, mistaken geochemistry, defective error control, reliance on unconfirmed data, disregard of information (such as the cleaning and preservation actions performed on the items), and the use of a comparative isotope methodology despite the fact that the two inscriptions fail to meet the cumulative prerequisite conditions for such tests and comparisons. Unfortunately, it is not rare to find such errors in scientific research. The publishing history of Goren et al. hints at the fact, that external referees also had doubts about the conclusions derived by Goren et al..” (2005.09, Preliminary Report, External Expert Opinion on three Stone Items, Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Wolfgang E. Krumbein, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany).
This is the “panel of Israeli scholars,” upon which Nina Burleigh and all other critics of the Yaaqov ossuary entirely rely (yet, she barely even mentions these in passing) in their determined campaign to preserve contra-historical Christian theology contradicted by physical evidence.
Prof. of Statistics Andrey Feuerverger has demonstrated that, contrary to the mathematically-challenged critics of the Yaaqov ossuary, the chances that the ossuaries in the Talpiot Tomb aren’t those of the family of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua are 1:1600 (Feuerverger, Prof. Andrey ? The Final Word, http://projecteuclid.org/aoas).
With Prof. Krumbein’s finding that the there is no evidence suggesting that the Yaaqov ossuary is fake, combined with the forensic evidence placing the ossuary in the Talpiot Tomb (www.netzarim.co.il, see History Museum, Mashiakh, Talpiot Tomb Burning Issues), Prof. Feuerverger’s figures must be adjusted even further upward. Those statistically-challenged critics of the Yaaqov ossuary are trying to convince people to believe the one chance instead of the more than 1599.
A number of archeologists and other scholars concur with Professors Krumbein and Feuerverger.
Against world-renowned scientist Prof. Krumbein, undisputed statistician Prof. Feuerverger and a number of concurring scholars, we have a disgraced “panel of Israeli scholars,” and a self-promoting journalist, Nina Burleigh, who has no expertise or education even remotely related to archeology and is certainly no scientist, brazenly and nakedly misrepresenting scientific findings to peddle her own book of fiction as an expose.
From Anders Branderud,
Geir Toshav, Netzarim (www.netzarim.co.il)



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 3, 2009 at 7:33 am


I will make a brief case that this author debunks orthodoxy by ignoring contrary (and expert) opinion. Where else do you see this?
Oh wow … do you really want me to get started here?
Think origins…



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted January 3, 2009 at 8:52 am


one way of winning your argument is to silence all the opponents, especially the ones with the most potent arguments.
So do you think they read their opponents and dismiss them, so they just ignore them, or do they ignore them from the beginning? If it’s the latter, do you think they realize they’re being intellectually dishonest, or do they think they’re just being efficient?



report abuse
 

Allie

posted January 3, 2009 at 10:31 am


I think they’re being both intellectually dishonest and effecient, ChrisB. The problem with “debunking by ignoring”, therefore, isn’t that they’re really not debunking at all!
It’s like any misguided belief structure: one ignores the inconvenient facts that challenge, if not give the lie to, one’s belief structure. If he were to take those facts into consideration, he might have to reexamine his beliefs. In this case, it soulds like this author (and I read the excerpt on Amazon; shoddy scholarship 3 pages in!) has an axe to grind against Christianity, and is ignoring all the inconvenient facts of scholarly consensus, majority opinion on archaeological findings, the Talpiot disaster, etc., in order to get his ill-informed opinion an audience (the audience of others with axes to grind against Christianity).
Who’s the conspiracy theorist now? The majority of concurrent scholars, or the ones ignoring the evidence?



report abuse
 

Allie

posted January 3, 2009 at 10:34 am


Ooops.. meant to say “Is that” in the “isn’t that they’re not really debunking at all” and a couple letters got in there by mistake. Darn posting before breakfast!



report abuse
 

Ted M. Gossard

posted January 3, 2009 at 10:39 am


RJS,
I can’t even guess what you’re getting at, but that surely reflects my lack of reading and education. But it seems like if they’re really interested in origins, they’ll consider such work as Hurtado’s.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 3, 2009 at 10:43 am


Ok Ted – Think Creation Science…



report abuse
 

Ted M. Gossard

posted January 3, 2009 at 10:59 am


RJS,
I’m with you on your posts on faith and science, and look forward to reading several of those books, like Back to Darwin, written by some theistic evolutionists, who refute naturalistic evolution, etc. (This did occur to me in your use of the word “origins” here, that you might be going there, but I dismissed it)
Surely you’re not saying that they’re lumping Scripture and all of its writings in a category to be dismissed on the basis of creation science’s “literal” interpretation of Genesis? That any interpretations of Scripture are FAITH matters and not grounded in serious historical study or any serious study for that matter.(?)
Sorry if I’m a poor student.



report abuse
 

Ted M. Gossard

posted January 3, 2009 at 11:16 am


I had to add an aside. That’s a quick and perhaps sloppy way of describing that book. They surely see the naturalistic assumptions and beliefs of scientists affecting their science, while I would guess they would see their theistic assumptions impacting their own science, yet at the same time acknowledging that the scientific basis for evolution is solid.
But I await your answer, RJS. :)



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 3, 2009 at 11:27 am


Certainly, Karen Armstrong can be added to this list. In A History of God she says, “After his death, his followers decided that Jesus had been divine. This did not happen immediately; as we shall see, the doctrine that Jesus had been God in human form was not finalized until the fourth centtury.” p.81.
These books are popular because people are always looking for an excuse not to follow God. I don’t suppose there’s anything that would change that. And ignoring arguments to the contrary just shows what their true motives are – not to find the truth, but to invent it.



report abuse
 

Pamela

posted January 3, 2009 at 11:29 am


Oooops! That last post was by Pamela.



report abuse
 

joanne

posted January 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm


i think such scholars seek to discredit christianity as it has become because of how the faith has deviated from the beauty of Jesus as he lived his life on the earth. One way to do that is to say the Jesus was hi-jacked by Paul and the disciples.
christian faith is associated with defending slavery, subordination of women, inquisition, crusades, and various other anti-intellectualisms.



report abuse
 

Darren King

posted January 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm


There is no doubt that many “scholars” do ignore evidence that contradicts their presuppositions and their ultimate conclusions. The interesting question is – and its one of human nature more than anything else – to what extent do they believe their own hype? My guess is, while a few may admit some degree of intellectual dishonesty, at least to themselves (while trying to sleep at night), the majority probably rationalize and justify their process.
Which just goes to show how far we are from objectivity.
By the way, another pet peeve of mine is when scholars (think the Jesus Seminar folk and the like) create much more elaborate counter-explanations (seemingly out of thin air, as opposed to be being based on historical accounts), simply because they cannot handle a biblical presupposition that the miraculous can happen. And the media lets them off as if this is good historical analysis? Please.



report abuse
 

Ted M. Gossard

posted January 3, 2009 at 2:17 pm


This doesn’t excuse the scholars, but it’s another case of humans suppressing (holding back) from themselves the truth in their unrighteousness. We should expect this as par for the course. Just like I should expect amorality or immorality (from my Christian perspective) at every turn.
People aren’t going to just gladly accept the gospel apart from a work of God’s grace in their lives. So this plays in terms of scholars as well. Why should they consider a book that teaches resurrection and God and miracles? A bias against such and toward skepticism is surely easy to accept and that plays out either in modern or postmodern terms.



report abuse
 

Tony Hunt

posted January 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm


That is exactly what I have found to be true of J D Crossan’s Historical Jesus, Christian Origins, and Pauline stuff. I just picked up his recent book on Paul – a rather expansive book to be sure – and found not one referrence to a number of Pauline experts falling on the left-to-mid-to-conservative spectrum. It must be so easy to do history when you can cut up partially preserved documents into 4 redactions, with different communities, and different theologies, with no recourse to dialogue with other scholars. It seems that this is what this book you are talking about does.



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted January 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm


Joanne,
Though there are those who condemn Christianity for slavery and inquisitions or because they claim we’ve deviated from the true teachings of Jesus, those who seek to “refute” Christianity, when pressed, are usually seen to oppose it because it includes the supernatural and/or because it teaches that there is an external moral standard by which we will all be judged.



report abuse
 

Mike Mangold

posted January 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm


I’m not comfortable with Wilson’s timeline either since Thomas said to the resurrected Jesus in John 20:28 “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” So the divinity of Jesus was recognized VERY early on.
However I am not comfortable, for the same reason, with claiming “Lord” is the same as “YWHW” since Thomas says both, indicating a difference that is important to him and probably the other disciples. Maybe someone who is fluent in Aramaic can figure that one out better than I.



report abuse
 

Doug Allen

posted January 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm


Scot,
I have no comment on the Wilson book because I haven’t read it, but I certainly agree that when a scholar ignores his or her peers who disagree, he is not being scholarly and deserves robust criticism.
However, let me push on you a bit. Isn’t your easy dismissal of the “Thomas Jefferson” view- shorthand for some of the unorthodox views you describe- unfair? Jewish scholars have maintained similar views for centuries. So have Muslim scholars. So have many secular, and yes, many Christian scholars. Marcus Borg is one example who does not ignore his critics. I have read his books co-authored by NT Wright, and I respect both their positions, but am more in agreement with Borg. Allie #5 and Darren #14. Based on the scholarship referred to above, I think it is very unfair and unloving for you two to dismiss scholars who conclude differently from you as “intellectually dishonest” and as “hype.” I certainly am convinced that those of you here are honest and loving, and there is great learning shown by so many of you, but the boundaries of your orthodoxy, methinks, are defended too rigidly, too eagerly, too unlovingly for the actual knowledge available for making interpretations. Though I love this group, my connection is the Jesus creed and not orthodoxy because (unlike your hypothesis Chris B which may well apply to most others?), I see far too little evidence to be doctrinaire and dogmatic. It’s not the slavery, etc. because few human institutions are not stained by the unloving use of power. I guess that in the absence of a lot of hard evidence I value what the Quakers call it “inner light” highly. Futhermore, and this is crucial, I am appalled (might I have written it appauled?) by the logical outcome of orthodoxy, that God condemns innocent people to hell.
Doug



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted January 3, 2009 at 5:38 pm


Doug,
Thanks for your comment and, yes, we need to watch our language. My own view is that Wilson’s book is irresponsible; I thought the same of Ehrman’s refusal to interact with opposing views. There is a place, of course, for simple exposition without interaction but at least a tipping of one’s hat to the opponents is requisite.
I don’t think I was dismissing Jefferson so much as using him as an example of the long list of folks who have come to the same conclusion: Paul is the originator of a high christology that came to its orthodox fruition at Nicea. Yes, Jewish scholars have said similar things… I don’t know that much about Muslim scholarship on Jesus; I’ve read only one book on the topic.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm


Scot,
You’ve read the book – I haven’t. Is this book intended as a popular level book debunking Christianity, a scholarly work, or a semi scholarly work?
If it is not intended as a scholarly work has he published his ideas elsewhere and defended them in a more complete form?
I’ve read Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” and some of the work behind it, most notably Metzger’s books. Ehrman appeared to twist and shape his wording to cast all in the worst possible light as he popularized the scholarship, but there was sound scholarship at the root once one saw past the hype.
I have not read any of Ehrman’s other books – so I don’t know about those.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted January 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm


RJS,
Pitched at the same level as Ehrman’s. The level, in my judgment, required interaction.



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted January 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm


RJS, maybe this is naive, but I think a popular work would be most responsible for at least referring to opposing views. Readers of a scholarly work are well aware of the arguments that exist, but not the readers of popular works. To ignore the opposition entirely is to allow readers to believe theirs is the only position.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm


ChrisB,
One would hope so – but it is not generally done. Which is why I tend to consider such questions as how we know, who we accept as authority and how we evaluate authorities as such important questions. Skeptical discernment…how to get people to think.



report abuse
 

Kyle

posted January 4, 2009 at 3:58 am


Doug,
I agree with you about Borg. We differ in that I disagree with probably 80% of what he says, but he takes opposing views seriously and integrates them into his own work at times. I think the same can easily be said of Wright (although I conversely agree with about 80% of his work, haha).
There is a difference though between a J.D. Crossan and a Robert Price (or Wilson and Tabor). Crossan will often look at the evidence, present it to the reader, and then completely throw it out the window by suggesting something else that he argues makes a more compelling argument, no matter how radically different it may be from his peers. Crossan is highly informed, and does not intend to mislead the reader through such moves, but instead to present a radically different view that he believes also makes sense of the evidence. Authors such as Robert Price take a different tact. They blow off any mainstream scholarship (often by simply pandering to their intended crowd and saying that mainstream scholarship is too confessional) without comment so that they can instead present their radically fringe views which have no support among his peers (such as Jesus as myth, 1 Corinthians 15:3ff as a post-Pauline interpolation, etc.). The latter move in my opinion either shows that the author is intentionally misleading the reader, or that they are simply unread in their field of writing.
Scot and RJS and others,
I find Ehrman to be an exceptional scholar when he stays in his field (i.e. textual criticism), and when he knows his work will be reviewed by his peers. Despite disagreeing with some, if not most of his conclusions, I’ve found what I’ve read in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture to be outstanding. Of course, when he leaves this field to venture into pop anti-theology (such as in God’s Problem), he fails miserably. He’s not a theologian (biblical, systematic or dogmatic), but since people know he’s a bible scholar they assume he must also be an expert in theology. He also clearly has anti-evangelical or even anti-orthodoxy bias, so if you give him an inch he’ll take a mile. This is rather clear in Misquoting Jesus. Knowing his audience is uninformed he makes large leaps from the evidence to his contentions…such leaps that he never would have made in academic works such as the one mentioned above. Dan Wallace (who is every bit as much an expert in the field) has done an exceptional job of pointing this out. So has Nicholas Perrin. If anyone is interested in how professional textual critics (i.e. his peers) view his popular work Misquoting Jesus, then they should search for Dan Wallace’s review at bible.org, read the reviews of the work at the outstanding textual criticism blog “Evangelical Textual Criticism,” including comments from Peter Head, P.J. Williams, Simon Gathercole and others, or simply buy Nicholas Perrin’s helpful book “Lost in Transmission?”



report abuse
 

Darren King

posted January 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm


Doug,
What I was referring to was this tendency for some scholars to claim that history points to a certain development, while failing to see that this particular construction takes much more work, and is far less simple (based on the evidence), than the original assumptions.
For instance, when one assumes that the supernatural is impossible (meaning never-ever could happen, period) then one is forced to come up with all sorts of added “evidence” to explain certain things in the New Testament. But the point is that this is not valid historical analysis. If you have to say “I don’t know”, fine, do it. But don’t write into the historical record all of these later church editions and additions unless there’s actual evidence for this – beyond one’s one sense of “I wish it were so”.
And friend, I want to challenge you on this idea that calling a spade a spade here is “unloving” and “unfair”. I wasn’t saying a particular scholar was lacking as a human being. I was merely pointing out that this kind of behavior is not scholarly. Writing evidence into the historical record to make Jesus whom you’d like him to be is not scholarly. That’s not mean, that’s just telling it like it is.



report abuse
 

Tony Hunt

posted January 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm


Kyle,
I am glad you said that about Ehrman; “Orthodox Corruption…” is a solid scholarly book. As is his “Lost Christianities,” though to a lesser degree. What I have found to be the case with Ehrman is that he does lots of good work, but then jumps to non sequitors quickly.
But I would disagree with you about Crossan. If you look at his bibliographies, he does not interact with much opposing literature. If he did, and if he could maybe shave with Ockham’s Razor a bit more, I would be apt to really soak in more of his work.



report abuse
 

Doug Allen

posted January 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm


Darren,
Thanks for your comments. I think your attribution of intellectual dishonestly is a pretty strong judgment and for me to call you unloving is no better, so I apologize. I would like to explore objectivity which you menytion in post #15. RJS referred to this when she wrote, “why I tend to consider such questions as how we know, who we accept as authority and how we evaluate authorities as such important questions.”
In an effort to learn more about Barrie Wilson and John Hurtado, I learned what I could on the internet tonight. One thing I came up with that relates to objectivity is this discussion by John Kloppenburg, Alan Segal and Larry Hurtado-
http://www.slate.com/id/2132974/entry/2132989/
Past my bedtime so no more comments now except to say how amazed I was, Scot, that you replied to my comment yesterday almost instantly. I may have doubts about God’s omniscience, but hardly any doubts about yours!
Good night all,
Doug



report abuse
 

Darren King

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm


Doug,
Thanks for the gracious response. And, just to clarify, in my first post, if you read it carefully, you’d see that I was actually suggesting that the majority of scholars are NOT being intellectually dishonest. But neither are they being objective. That was one of the chief points I was making.
Peace,
Darren



report abuse
 

Mariam

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:18 pm


pamela#13
I think you are mistaken in assuming that the people who read these books are looking for a way not to follow god or to avoid the truth by making up their own. On the contrary I think many are looking for a reason to believe. They are seeking god but orthodox Christianity doesn’t make sense to them or suffers from the sort of guilt by association mentioned above. To say that people who have not been raised with or exposed to the same interpretations of faith that you have are deliberately avoiding following god is making an unfair presumption. People turn to these books because they are seekers. I mean for an athiest or for someone who really wants to turn their back on god why would you even bother trying to debunk or find alternative explanations to orthodoxy. If its all a load of rubbish why bother sifting through. Its because you want to believe it is not all rubbish and you are looking for a reason to believe. In general I think that these books are not south popular with those trying to find a way out but with those on the outside trying to find a way in. By all means take the authors to task for a lack of scholarship but readers should be engaged as seekers not heretics.



report abuse
 

Kathy

posted January 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm


Great discussion, but, off-topic, I miss the old Jesus Creed. I don’t have time to un-click pop-up adds and wade through this site. *sigh*



report abuse
 

Itamar Bernstein

posted January 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm


I’ve been studying this find for years, long before it became public knowledge following the mass media exposure. I believe that it’s a serious find, which warrants further study.
The critics of this find’s magnitude basically argue:
1. That the Jesus family would be buried in Nazareth, not Talpiot;
2. That the ‘Jesus’ ossuary would have been inscribed ‘of Nazareth';
3. That the Jesus family couldn’t have afforded a tomb like the Talpiot tomb;
4. That the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary is not inscribed “Yeshua” (Jesus) at all;
5. That the names inscribed on these ossuaries were supposedly common;
6. That the “Mariamne” ossuary didn’t contain the remains of Mary Magdalene, but of two other women;
I believe the first five of these allegations against the book’s premise don’t carry much water. The sixth argument actually supports the conclusion that this is the real thing. My comments:
1. Talpiot is the right place for Jesus’ family tomb- Per Luke, 2:3-4, the family’s LEGAL residence was Bethlehem, not Nazareth. The fact that Joseph and the pregnant Mary could not take the census in Nazareth but had to take it in Bethlehem indicates that Bethlehem was their DOMICILIUM under Roman Law. That basically means that they had no intention to reside in Nazareth permanently. Therefore it would have made little sense for them to have a family tomb in Nazareth, that they wouldn’t be able to frequently visit at a later stage in their lives. They would have wanted a family tomb close to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, easily accessible also to future generations of the family. The fact is indeed that Mary and her children moved to Jerusalem around 30 AD.
2. The traditional name of Jesus in Hebrew, as reflected also in the Talmud, is “Yeshu Hanotzri.” This appellation stems from “Netzer” (Shoot or Branch). It alludes clearly to Isaiah 11:1, indicating the Royal birth of Jesus, to substantiate his claim for Jewish messiahship. Not to indicate the place he comes from.
There’s actually no evidence in Jewish sources, such as the Old Testament or the Mishna and Talmud, that a place called “Nazareth” even existed in or before the first century. I’m not disputing the evidence per the NT, that there was indeed a place called Nazareth. But to the best of my knowledge, there’s no mention of Nazareth at all in any ancient writings outside the New Testament. So the place existed, but nobody knew about it. And those in close proximity in Galilee who did know about it, obviously thought derogatorily of it , cf. “can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46.) Therefore there was no reason to call Jesus “of Nazareth.” Either in life or on an ossuary. He was called “Jesus the Branch” (of David) in Hebrew/Aramaic.
The line of argumentation detracting this discovery around the supposed Nazareth origin of Jesus’ family may therefore be based on a very shaky foundation.
3. Talpiot is located about 2.5 miles North of Bethlehem. Jesus’ family, of Davidic descent according to the New Testament, could have held the burial cave there even before it moved to Nazareth. Davidic birth was absolutely the most exalted in Judaism, always. The suggestion that any person of Davidic descent could be of the lowest social echelon, that couldn’t fund or get funding for a burial cave, doesn’t make much sense, if any. There’s substantial evidence to the contrary, e.g. 1. Jesus had some very wealthy active supporters like Joseph of Arimatea and Nicodemus (known as Nakdimon ben Gorion in post biblical Jewish sources-one of the richest Jews in Judea;) 2. Josephus, A.J. XX, 9:1. Note the prominence of James, brother of Jesus.
4. The inscription on the Jesus ossuary does say “Yeshua bar Yehosef” (“Jesus son of Joseph”)to my eye. All letters but one are quite clearly there. The only letter which is somewhat more difficult to discern at first blush is the second letter- “Shin”. That’s because it’s written in a somewhat irregular form (in a regular Shin there are three teeth in the fork, pointing upwards. Here there are two teeth, pointing sideways to the right.) But that particular irregularity appears also on other ossuaries- notably numbers 9 (this one has two “Shin”- one with three teeth pointing to the right, and one with TWO teeth pointing to the right. Exactly like the subject inscription) and 121 in the Rahmani catalogue, which both feature also a “Yeshua.”
Still, the name “Yeshua” on this ossuary is among the most, if not the most, difficult to read names of all ossuaries listed in Rahmani’s catalogue of Jewish ossuaries. It is almost written as a person’s complex signature on a check. Contrast that with the patronymic following the first name. This is written in a simple straightforward fashion, which is very easy to read. There’s no other example in Rahmani’s catalogue of a first name that has to be deciphered, and a patronymic that’s so plain and clear. Is this merely a coincidence?
5. Some critics make the following comment to my post:
“The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, “Mariame,” was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words “kai Mara,” meaning “and Mara.” Mara is a different form of the name Martha.
According to Pfann’s reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of “Mary the teacher,” but rather of two women, “Mary and Martha.'”
Here’s my thought about that:
If the Mariamne ossuary indeed housed the bones of Mary and Martha, these are two sisters of NT fame. One of them could have been married to “Jesus son of Joseph.” -Whether or not she was Mary Magdalene (Maybe the Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair- very intimate scene.) The other sister would than also automatically belong in the family. It still fits. Actually it increases the statistical odds that this is the real thing quite substantially.
This is a very intriguing possibility indeed, fitting perfectly with John 12:3. Intimate contact with a man, as described in this NT passage, was allowed only to a woman who was an immediate blood relative of that man, his wife (…or a working woman.) That’s all. Therefore Mary of Bethany was quite possibly by elimination Jesus’ wife or in the process of becoming his wife. In that context, Margaret Starbird already theorized that similar anointing with spikenard oil was part of pre marriage ritual of a Davidic king, per certain passages in the Song of Songs. Note also that intercourse by itself was sufficient under Jewish Law in certain circumstances to constitute valid marriage. That practice, termed Bi’ah marriage, was abolished in the 6th century, but it was lawful in Jesus’ time.
Mary of Bethany could have become pregnant by Jesus while he stayed at her house, shortly before his crucifixion. In that case it’s quite possible that she bore Jesus’ son posthumously and named him “Judah.” And in that case both she and her sister Martha would have become part of Jesus’ family, which earned them a place in the Talpiot family tomb..
Reminds me of the reaction to this find of a BBC reporter in 1996- It seems like all balls in the national lottery coming one by one.
I have no knowledge of Greek, so I can only discuss the two propositions. Assuming that the ossuary does say “Mary and Martha”, here’s what I think the names are:
* 1.”Jesus son of Joseph”(“Yeshua bar Yehosef” in Hebrew/Aramaic script;)
* 2. “Mary” (“Marya” in Hebrew/Aramaic script);
* 3. “Joseph” (“Yose” in Hebrew/Aramaic script. Precise nickname of Jesus’ second brother- cf. Mark 6:3);
* 4. “Mary and Martha” (“Mariame kai Mara” in Greek)-they must have been sisters because Jewish law didn’t allow burial together of two unrelated women;
* 5. “Matthew” (“Matya” in Hebrew/Aramaic script)- Name of Jesus’ first cousin, son of his father’s brother Alphaeus/Clophas. As James Tabor suggests in a different context, Matya could also well have been Jesus’ half brother, considering a certain specific rule of the Torah (Deuteronomy 25:5-10.) This rule was applied in Jesus time- see Matthew 22:24-28;
* 6. “Judah son of Jesus”(“Yehuda bar Yeshua” in Hebrew/Aramaic script.)
* Therefore out of eight names actually inscribed on these ossuaries (including the “Joseph” father of Jesus on the first ossuary) four names undoubtedly relate to Jesus’ immediate family, and three other names relate to the same with a somewhat lower probability. In any event, they all relate to Jesus’ extended family. Note that first century Jewish family tombs were usually a clan thing.
* The eighth name is “Yehuda bar Yeshua”- must have been the son of Jesus and one of the sisters Mary or Martha. More likely Mary, as explained above.
6. While the full versions of all these names were indeed common in Jesus’ time, the derivatives, nicknames and contractions were not. Thus “Yeshua” for Jesus was less common than “YeHOshua;” ditto “YeHOsef” instead of “Yosef” for Joseph; “Marya” for Mary was extremely rare in Hebrew/Aramaic script; “Yose” for Joseph is unique. Therefore out of these eight names, two are irregularities, one is a particularity, and one a singularity.
BOTTOM LINE- Ask yourself inversely a hypothetical question- If the Talpiot tomb hadn’t yet been found, how would Jesus’ family tomb have looked , which ossuaries would it have contained, to when would it have been dated and where would it have been located.
I would have thought of a tomb just like the tomb we’re discussing. It fits perfectly with what I’d have expected Jesus’ family tomb to be. Right place, right period, right names. I therefore believe that this matter, delicate as it obviously is, warrants further investigation. This could include opening and examination of the adjacent tomb, and forensic examination of the skeletal remains found in the Talpiot ossuaries, and apparently reburied back in 1980. These could hopefully be relocated by comparison to the mithochondrial DNA samples already taken from two of these ossuaries.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.