Jesus’ Body Has Been Found – AGAIN?

March 12, 2007

James Cameron
Three-time Academy Award winner, director, producer, and screenwriter James Cameron has a diverse blockbuster history. Cameron has written, produced, and/or directed many films – including: Solaris, Aliens of the Deep, Titanic, Terminator 1, 2, & 3, True Lies, Aliens, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and many others. Now, Cameron’s taken a bold step and produced The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Why is he producing such an explosive and controversial documentary? Who knows? But what is Cameron’s latest documentary claiming?

The Find
Twenty-seven years ago on March 28, 1980, Israeli construction workers were developing an apartment complex when they discovered a two thousand year old tomb – revealing ten stone caskets. Twenty years later, archeologists deciphered the names on six of the ossuaries, or coffins, (the remaining four did not have any inscriptions): Yeshua bar Joseph (Jesus, son of Joseph), Maria (presumably Mary, mother of Jesus), Mariamene e Mara (“Mary known as the master” who is supposedly Mary Magdalene), Matia (supposedly Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples), and Jofa and Judah – son of Jesua (supposedly the sons of Jesus). By conducting a series of DNA tests, and archeological evidences, Cameron’s crew concluded the true identity of the body labeled “Yeshua bar Joseph” to be Jesus Christ. (Tim McGirk – Time Blog, Jennifer Viegas – Discovery News, & Discovery.com/tomb)

What are the implications of this discovery, if it’s true? Simple. “Without the Resurrection, Christianity will become an empty vessel.” (David W. Boles – Urban Semiotic) If Cameron’s claims are accurate, Jesus didn’t rise form the dead and thus, He wasn’t really the Son of God – as he claimed to be. Therefore, Christianity would have no foundation and ultimately collapse. Since “Cameron has the whole story well tied down,” (Joe Fay) he has to have some pretty astounding evidences. So what proof does Cameron and his cohorts have?

Evidence: The Ossuary is Named
First of all, one of the ossuaries in the tomb is labeled “Yeshua bar Joseph.” Who’s to say Yeshua bar Joseph (Jesus, son of Joseph) is the same Jesus as Jesus Christ? And for that matter, an inscription cannot clarify anything. Anyone can label a coffin. Just because there is a name on a ossuary, doesn’t mean it’s really the person it claims to be. Jesus was actually a popular name two thousand years ago. In fact, the name Jesus has been discovered on at least ninety-nine tombs and twenty-two ossuaries. (Dr. Gary R. Habermas) And specifically, the name ‘Jesus son of Joseph’ has been found on three or four ossuaries already. (David Horovitz – Jerusalem Post) Similarly, Mary was the most common female name in the ancient Jewish world. (Dr. Gary R. Habermas) Just because an old stone box has the name Jesus’ on the lid, doesn’t mean that the body it contains is the Jesus of the Bible.

Evidence: DNA Samples
So, what else does Cameron have? Supposedly Cameron and his crew have DNA evidences proving that the remains truly are Jesus’. But how could they actually use DNA to prove that a two thousand year old body really is Jesus Christ, when they have no DNA to compare it to? After all, we don’t have any of Jesus’ blood samples. When researching that dilemma, it’s easy to find people claiming that Cameron has DNA analysis that proves that the body is the body of Jesus Christ. But it’s difficult to find some ‘evidence’ and reasoning behind their alleged DNA analysis. Turns out, a team headed by Carney Matheson, a scientist at the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, examined the remains. Interestingly, the scientists could get adequate DNA samples from only two of the ossuaries – the ossuaries of Yeshua bar Joseph and Mariamene e Mara. They concluded that the body in the ossuary labeled “Jesua bar Joseph” and the body labeled “Mariamene e Mara” were not blood relatives. Cameron claims they were married, since relatives were normally placed in the same tomb, which could be true. The fact that Mariamene e Mara could have been married to one of the other men in the tomb has been ignored. Even so, because they aren’t related, doesn’t guarantee that the two were married. Similarly, just because the body labeled “Judah, son of Jesua” doesn’t mean that the body is the son of Jesus and Mary Madeline. (Jennifer Viegas – Discovery News)

Evidence: Statistics
Finally, professor of statistics and mathematics at the University of Toronto Andrey Feuerverger played with numbers and supposedly calculated the chances of the tomb actually being the tomb of Jesus’ family. But it’s strange that scientists would rely on statistics to prove their theory. After all, the chances of the process of evolution occurring are 1:10:1030 (one to the ten to the tenth to the thirtieth). (Dr Roger Penrose – Cambridge University for statistics) In other words, if you could write a million zeroes a second, it would take you a few billion years to write the number down. Interestingly enough, just about every scientist considers something to be impossible if the odds are greater than 1050. So it seems that scientists can pick which stats to follow and which to ignore – if it fits their agenda.

But let’s just assume for a moment that statistics in regards to history can be trusted and take a look at what good ‘ol Andrey Feuerverger has done. “Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the tomb’s time period with the instances of every other name. He initially found ‘Jesus Son of Joseph’ appeared once out of one hundred ninety times, Mariamne appeared once out of one hundred sixty times and so on. To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by twenty five percent, a statistical standard, and further divided the results by one thousand to attempt to account for all tombs – even those that have not been uncovered – that could have existed in first century Jerusalem. The study concludes that the odds are at least six hundred to one in favor of the Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb. In other words, the conclusion works five hundred ninety nine times out of six hundred.” (Jennifer Viegas – Discovery News)

So, Feuerverger makes a bunch of assumptions, plays with numbers, and gets his numbers posted in a ‘leading statistical journal,’ and we then believe that the chances are too great to be ignored. “To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by twenty five percent, a statistical standard, and further divided the results by one thousand to attempt to account for all tombs… that could have existed in first century Jerusalem.” Feuerverger made two large assumptions, and then we believe that a body labeled Jesua is really Jesus Christ. Why?

Something else to consider is that Jesus was a Galilean, and a carpenter’s son. From a logical standpoint, Jesus would have been buried in the Galilee area, over eighty miles (one hundred thirty kilometers) to the north of where they found the tomb in Jerusalem! And again, from a logic standpoint, Jesus was a carpenter’s son. Meaning, Jesus wasn’t a millionaire. The tomb that is claimed to be the tomb of Jesus is a tomb for the rich. After all, the ossuaries (coffins) were limestone, and the cave was large (for a tomb). A carpenter’s family couldn’t afford such a lavish tomb. Amos Kloner, a Professor at Bar-Ilan University said, “There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem.” (Kloner: A Great Story, but Nonsense – Jerusalem Post and New Film Claims Jesus Buried in Talpiot – Jerusalem Post)

In addition, Feuerverger didn’t account for all the bodies that were not buried in a tomb, found or not found, labeled or not labeled. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, who’s to say he was buried in a tomb? If Jesus Christ remained dead, his body couldn’t have been in the original tomb. If it was, the Jewish leaders would have paraded his body to squash the growing Christian faith. Since they didn’t, they didn’t have the body. That means Jesus did rise from the dead, or the body had been moved. If Cameron’s claim is true, and Jesus’ body has been found, then the body had to have been moved. If it was moved, why couldn’t it have been buried in a common grave and not an expensive tomb? Factor that into Feuerverger’s statistics and see where they go.

Why is it Getting Publicity?
James Cameron claims that he has proven that we have Jesus’ body – even though he has no real evidence. What’s the difference now than when the tomb was discovered in 1980 or when BBC a documentary on the tomb in 1996 (The Tomb that Dare Not Speak its Name)? Even then all claims were discredited. The difference now is that James Cameron is producing this documentary, who has three Academy Awards; Discovery has put their stamp on it; some doctors have put their stamp on it; and Cameron used a bunch of big words and hard concepts that is out of the reach of the general public. Those connections get “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” its airtime.

Real Authorities on the Subject
But what do the real authorities on archeology and related subjects have to say? When the tomb was discovered twenty-seven years ago, the highly accredited Jewish archeologist Amos Kloner who was in charge of the original excavations, determined the tomb was not the tomb of Jesus Christ and further that it was ‘un-likely Jesus and his relatives even had a family tomb.” (Father Jonathan Morris – FoxNews.com) Further still, not a single respected archeologist from the Holy Land has gone on record agreeing with Cameron’s claims. Amos Kloner also said, “The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any proof, and is only an attempt to sell.” He further told the Jerusalem Post, “It makes a great story for a TV film, but it’s impossible. It’s nonsense.” (Kloner: A Great Story, but Nonsense – Jerusalem Post and New Film Claims Jesus Buried in Talpiot – Jerusalem Post)

Stop Banging Pots and Pans
Again, So why is “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” getting so much coverage and praise? Who knows? James Cameron and his crew do not have one shred of any real evidence or any backing by anyone who would have authority on this issue. Cameron has some scribblings on six old stone boxes, DNA testing that proves two people are not related, and a guy who played with numbers, called them statistics and got his statistics posted in a statistical journal.
If Cameron and his crew acquire any real evidence, the Church will consider the evidence. But until then, James Cameron and his buddies should stop banging pots and pans.

Further Reading:
» Kloner: A Great Story, but Nonsense – Jerusalem Post
» New Film Claims Jesus Buried in Talpiot – Jerusalem Post
» ‘Lost Tomb of Jesus’ Claim Called a Stunt – Washington Post
» If James Cameron Were Honest About His “Discovery”
» The Lost Tomb of Jesus – Habermas Response


  1. Wow. So why does anyone believe James Cameron?
    It seems pretty easy to disprove his arguments… even though he doesn’t have much evidence…

  2. I don’t think very many people do believe him, and it is a good opportunity to explain the actual record of what we know of the historical Jesus. The Scriptures tell us that the Truth will set us free, well He does, and Jesus Who is the Truth, never has any thing to fear from faithful inquiry (Acts 17:11).

    The show just might draw some people to more inquiry, I am praying that it does. 🙂

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