What if the tomb wasn't empty?
Faith and facts have almost nothing to do with one another. Sure now and then someone will claim that they do. But at the core they are in completely different universes. For the true believer in Jesus there is no fact that will convince them that they were in error. As has been said, you can’t reason someone out of a belief if they weren’t reasoned into it in the first place.
Now and then I’ve asked Christians what piece of evidence it would take to convince them that their religion was false. I’ve never received an answer that was close to coherent.
Now I don’t know if the following theory is true or not. It really doesn’t matter if it is. And please note that all the information I use here comes from a Christian web site.
Basically “a panel of experts, as well as producer and Oscar-winner James Cameron” have said that they have discovered what they believe to be the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now it is difficult to prove the theory. But the evidence does begin to add up. First the tomb did belong to a man named Jesus. Not uncommon. But he is also “Yeshua bar Yosef” or Jesus, son of Joseph. That is not common at all. While tombs belonging to someone named Jesus have been found before none had this connection. And in tomb was his mother, a woman named Mary. Again it is getting a little too close for comfort.
Two other males were found in the tomb and believed to be brothers to the owner of the tomb. We do know that the New Testament said Jesus had brothers. In fact the author of the book of James is said to be one of them. All in all this is still not quite there. It could be one massive coincidence. But there is one more body as well.
And this one is interesting. It is identified as belonging to Mariamene e Mara and the experts say this means Mary Magdalene. And that brings up another problematic issue for Christians. Under the customs of the day only family members could be buried in the family tomb. So this Mary Magdalene would have to be a relative or the wife of the tomb’s owner. They could check the mitochondrial DNA and determined that woman was not related to the tomb’s owner via the material bloodline.
That doesn’t prove they aren’t related via the paternal bloodline but this is another coincidence that is starting to get rather astronomical.
Another body was also found in the tomb and this one was identified as “Judah, son of Jesus” which would also indicate that the other female body belong to the mother of Judah, or the wife of Jesus.
One archeologist who helped excavate the tomb says he doesn’t think that this could be the tomb of Jesus because “They were a very poor family...” and wouldn’t own a tomb. But this doesn’t mean the tomb wouldn’t have been bought or donated by followers of Jesus. And the New Testament speaks of that happening.
But we don’t know if that every took place. We don’t know if Mary and Joseph were poor. The New Testament says lots of things which are not necessarily true. Maybe it is all one massive coincidence and maybe it isn’t. Everyone involved says that far more investigation has to be done before any definitive conclusion is reached.
But here is what I contend. Even if the tomb were discovered and the body was still attached to the cross Christians would find a reason to ignore it. The evidence is not important.
And I suspect there are some very nervous officials in Israel doing their best to assure that the evidence comes out against this being the tomb of Jesus. As long as all this is 2,000 years in the past it is better for everyone. But if officials from the Israeli agency that investigates archeological sites were to come out and say this was the tomb of Jesus all hell would break out. Many Christians don’t like Jews as things stand and if Israel or Jewish officials are involved in debunking the resurrection there will be hell to pay.
So while I think Christians will ignore this story, even if the evidence continues to mount that it is Jesus in the tomb, I suspect the opposite will happen it the evidence goes the other way. If the consensus is that this probably isn’t the tomb of the Jesus of the New Testament they will seem to find that a verification of the story of the resurrection.
If this isn’t the Jesus tomb that is not proof that the tomb doesn’t exist somewhere. And if there is no tomb that doesn’t mean there isn’t a grave, perhaps one of the countless graves that have been discovered over hundreds of years with no name at all. So this one tomb can only disprove the resurrection. It can’t prove it. But logic and reason don’t work well in the realm of faith. So in the end it won’t matter to the Christians.
But here is what we do know. The tomb was real and the boxes containing the remains were genuine. The names attached to the boxes are not disputed and statisticians says that the odds of the tomb belonging to another family with the same names is about 1 in 600.
It is noted that 71 tombs belonging to a man named Jesus have been discovered in Israel. But none said he was the son of Joseph, none had him buried with his mother Mary and none indicated that a wife, buried with him, would be Mary Magdalene. It will be interesting to watch. I think the evidence is interesting but not fully persuasive myself. But as I said I don’t think it will matter to believers even if the evidence were indisputable. They will find a way to ignore it. They do with everything else.
Photo: This is the tomb in question.