Last week in this column I introduced the subject of the Jesus Family Tomb. According to the authors of the book by that title, this tomb, officially called the Talpiot Tomb, is the final resting place for Jesus of Nazareth. The authors claim that the odds for this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is 2.5 million to one in its favor. Startling odds. If it can be proven, the whole message of the New Testament is destroyed. So what are the facts?
The Talpiot Tomb was not discovered in 2007, rather it was found in 1980. At that time those who made the discovery did not think it anything remarkable. It wasn’t until Jacobovici and crew decided to skew some facts that this unremarkable discovery became the possible final nail in what they hoped would be the coffin of Christianity.
The tomb itself contained several ossuaries, which are bone boxes. The suggestion made by the authors of the Jesus Family Tomb is that after Jesus died, the disciples laid his body in the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and then returned later to steal the body, where they kept it hidden until the flesh decomposed and then later place the bones in this ossuary which they then placed it in the family tomb.
Now before we examine exactly what was discovered in the Talpiot tomb, let’s address this underlying allegation upon which the authors will spend the rest of their theory.
The suggestion that the disciples stole the body is not only one of the oldest lies regarding the resurrection (see Matthew 24:11-15), it is, if you think about it, a ludicrous one.
Nothing that we know about the disciples suggest that they had such deception in them. They were simple, honest men, who fled when they believed Jesus to be crucified. To steal his body and concoct a glorious resurrection doesn’t fit with any of the known facts we have concerning these men.
Second, according to Josephus, an early Jewish Historian, the guard at the tomb consisted of 30 Roman Soldiers and 1,000 Temple guards. The disciples, with little means, certainly had no way of bribing this many soldiers and certainly could not have overwhelm them. Furthermore it is inconceivable that 1,0030 trained soldiers would all be sleeping on duty, and if they were sleeping, how do they know who stole the body, if that is what happened. The explanation does not work on any level.
One more thought here. While men will die for what they believe to be true — we see this almost everyday with the Islamic Suicide Bombers — few would die for what they knew was a lie. We know from history these guys already fled in fear at the crucifixion. Now, to suddenly burst upon the scene as the bold proclaimers of a "resurrection" they staged, it simply doesn’t make sense. The disciples stealing and concealing the body only appeals to someone who chooses to ignore the facts of history. More next week.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.