Skeletons in the Closet

by Feb 27, 2007

education_26040_3_thumbnail.jpgNext week the Discovery Channel will air a documentary showing the bones of Jesus. How do they know? A tomb discovered 23 years ago with the names Jesus, Mary, Matthew, Josa, and Judah.

The problem? More than 20% of all Jewish women in the 1st century were named Mary, and more than 5% of all Jewish males were named Jesus. (Judah and Matthew were also very popular). This makes it very unlikely that this tomb has anything to do with the people mentioned in the New Testament.

Along with these statistics, New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has many more reasons why we should doubt the claims of this documentary.

Update: Now secular scholars are also ripping the documentary to shreds, calling it nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”

Update 2: The quote of the week on this subject goes to the Boston Globe: “However astonishing Jacobovici’s claim may be, it is, at the end of the day, impossible to disprove. Who knows? Then again, we cannot say with absolute certainty that Jesus did not rise from the dead and settle in New Jersey.”

Update 3: Here’s the most pithy analysis I’ve seen so far: “I call it ‘archaeoporn,’” stated William Dever, an archaeologist with 40 years experience of digs in the Middle East. “It’s exciting, but in the end, it’s wrong. It isn’t a long lasting relationship.”