No Need to Yell, Only a Challenge for Some who Need to Step Up and Could (expanded) - Feb 24/25

Darrell L. Bock's picture

I spent most of the night watching all the reports on the tomb. Christians do not need to get so worked up about this. Several of the responders from the Christian side come across as too nervous about all of this, almost yelling in response to the calm presenters of this Discovery special. Part of this is because they have not yet seen the show and are having to respond to reports, sort of shooting in the dark. I have seen the show and the argument is full of problems that can patiently be set out for others (See Hollywood Hype blog).
For example, it does not take a biology degree to know that if someone tested your DNA it would not match with most other people in the populace, so the DNA argument being appealed to in the special proves nothing, giving us an expected result. Or as a Forensic Anthropologist said tonight on Anderson Cooper 360, it does not prove much at all. One could say the DNA testing proves next to nothing.
Nor does it take a geography degree to know that if Jesus' family came from Galilee, why would they have a family tomb in Jerusalem? Two simple observations that help to show how thin the argument from this special is.
The claim about statistics ASSUMES we have a family tomb. But one thing the non-matching DNA might show is that there is no family tomb present at all. What about a tomb with no family in it, but simply people from the area, some of whom might be family and others not? What about a tomb that is shared between families? All simple, basic historical questions, part of the process of doing historical work. Now the truth of any of these other scenarioes would rule out the "hyped" option.
So let us just ask some basic questions of this special that show the assumptions made to get to the statistical numbers are themselves not givens. Then the numbers mean nothing because they do not measure what they claim to measure. So no need to yell and scream, just ask good questions. Distinguish between fact and interpretation. Fact: we have a first century tomb that has ten first century bone boxes in them. Many of those boxes have names and two of them (one carrying a Jesus and one carrying a Mary are not biologically related). THAT is all we know from what the special presents. The rest is interpretation. Those who made the special say they want more investigation and seek the truth.
Meet the challenge. That is what I say. I think the facts that emerge will show there is nothing here, at least in term sof Jesus' family. What is there is another first century tomb with multiple bone boxes, of value to our understanding names and practices at the time, but that is all. Now let us turn to other issues this raises culturally. Yes, these bashing efforts are becoming all too common to generate hype for networks and fame and fortune for others. It is easy to get frustrated. I tell my students take your flu shot each Easter and Christmas to inoculate yourself from what is becoming a regular practice of Christian bashing during these holiday seasons. Do not be surprised. It is now a pattern to be expected. Now someone should challenge what HarperSanFrancisco is doing publishing so many "bashing books" and ask some tough questions of them. However, above all, what is needed is for some serious Christian funding to come forward to do some first class documentaries with top flight evangelical scholars and others who see all this other stuff as pretty thin on credibility.
Let us take up the challenge of showing the other side. Christian publishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. This would not impact their profits in any significant way (and does that really matter for this discussion?). In fact, 0.2% of the money generated by this industry would allow a quality prime-time special each year to be funded. Maybe showing that the discussion is not about profits but truth would help to balance out the motives question as key companies donate some of their money in order to simply make the case. Maybe we should not be so happy with organizations like the NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] for not stepping forward as an organization to meet the cultural challenge? Maybe they or folks like them should support the faith in a team effort on behalf of the case on the other side with a concerted effort. Why don't executives from these large Christian companies pool some resources together (as the cable networks do for these other efforts) and underwrite some first class media level work for TV consumption?
That is my challenge. Stop yelling and complaining. Produce something of quality reflecting top rank scholarship to show our culture that getting only one side of a story is not getting the entire story. Maybe that kind of effort can produce something of credibility and quality. This is what it will take to be of help to the culture. Think about it.

Comments

Hello Dr. Bock,

Let me just say first that I enjoy your books and scholarly work on behalf of the faith. Keep pressing on.

I like you am growing tired of these repeats attached on our Lord and on the faith of Christians. Like Dan Brown, Camerson saw an opportuity for sensationalism and making money. From what I have read over the past few days, there is no serious work by him and his associate. Their work is built on a house of smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, people glued to the media are often 'hood winked' by outrageous claims, back by science so-called falsely (doesn't it say in the Word that in the last days people will have 'itching ears?)

I sincerely hope that Christians can unite and put up a special on another media channel to show the facts and expose this yet another deception. I attend Saddleback Church in So. Cal, and I'm going to bring this to the attention of as many people there as possible to see if get we can get this done.

May the Lord continue to bless you and your work!

Paul M. Dooley

Thank you for this explanation. I do tend to get upset whenever Christian "bashing" happens - in any media. Have seen it so often in movies recently. But, we serve a great God and He certainly can protect Himself as well as us.
I, too, would like to see more documentaries that show "our side of the story".

I've been reading a number of blogs about this Discovery Channel documentary. I love the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel. They have great documentaries that are both entertaining and informative. But I wonder, are their other historical documentaries as flawed as their Bible documentaries? Should I treat a documentary on the rainforest with the same skepticism as I do their Bible documentaries? It seems to me if they are untrustworthy in their production of this historical information, perhaps they are just as flawed with their other information. Now I know something about the Bible, so I can see right through their flawed Bible documentaries. But I know nothing about the South American tree frog. So if they had some on-the-fringe tree frog "expert" fill my head with hogwash I wouldn't know the difference. If I were a non-Christian watching the Discovery Channel and came upon this documentary, whose to say I wouldn't believe it. I think this is irresponsible journalism on the part of the Discovery Channel and they should be held accountable in some way.

Bill McRae's picture

so are you saying that their is no jesus

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Absolutely not. I am saying the claim made this week that we have found a tomb in which the bones of Jesus were placed in a bone box a year after his death is neither proved nor true. A resurrection is still the best explanation for the origin of the church, which explains why the church has said Jesus is alive.

I'm betting you've already seen this, but just in case, Ben Witherington has finished the book (The Jesus Family tomb) and his latest post is excellent and concise.

why do you care people only want to make a buck

Hi Dr Bock,

Thank you for writing this reflection, i'm so inspired that i decided to translate it into Bahasa Melayu or Malay language for consumption of folks in south east asia... hope tat i did it some justice here

http://hedonese1.blogspot.com/2007/02/betulkah-itu-makam-yesus.html

Greetings,
I do appreciate your wisdom. We definitely need Believers to step forward to produce some scholarly rebuttal to these attacks on our Lord. We certainly do not lack those, like yourself, who are fully qualified to give a reason for the hope that is within us.

Dr. Bock,

Thank you for your explanations and time. As Christians we do indeed get our feathers ruffled too quickly. My little piece of humble input would indeed be very much along the same lines.

Assume that in 2000 years, if our Lord hasn't returned by then, one would find an upper-class tomb in California with the names Michael and Mary. And we knew of a middle-class couple with the same names that used to live in Dallas at roughly the same time. Would you then be able to say 'the tomb in California is theirs'. One would probably would not. This story is the same. Very common names for the time and region. Very large extrapolation and statistically one would have a better chance at winning the lottery.

Yours in Christ.

Dr. Bock, I know you believe that Jesus was resurrected. But could you, for the sake of argument, outline what a legitimate discovery of Jesus' body would look like? My concern is that, thin as the evidence for this particular tomb is (and I agree, it is), there are assumptions that might prevent any tomb discovery from disproving the accounts of the resurrection in the NT.

Do you think there could be an archaeological find which, while not putting the nail in the proverbial coffin, might seriously challenge the accounts in the NT? (The problem being that we're relying on these documents to interpret the archaeology and vice versa.)

And...if there is no such possible find, what does that say about the historical grounding of the belief in the resurrection?

Thanks!

Your comments about the Jesus documentary were certainly helpful. I wonder, however, the same thing that you do: why do no religious media groups come together to "defend their faith"? If the Bible is true, there should be no reason to get riled up about this box or that document that makes claims to the non-resurrection of Jesus. And yet, Christians are insecure about claims that Jesus' bones have been found. Why is this?

Last night my family decided to not watch the docudrama on the Discovery Channel because they did not see any relevance. They believe that regardless of definition, the resurrection occurred; whether that was a literal glorification of the mind, BODY, and soul or a figurative glorification of just the soul. There faith requires no more information other than that which they have already received from the Bible.

I believe that the Bible is the living word of God, and I believe it to be accurate to a degree of scientific certainty. I believe that the Bible has been scientifically proven correct as not just a religious book, but a text book of ancient history. With as much information is can be proven, I don’t not find it difficult to take the rest on faith. I do this because I believe that the book is correct word for word. However, I would find it truly troubling to my faith to discover that the glorification as I understand it to have occurred may not have happened the way it was recorded. As far as I know the Bible mentions two times when whole body glorification occurs. The first is with Elijah and the chariot of fire and the second is Jesus Christ. Is that correct?

Finding a tomb containing the bones of Christ would be a devastating blow to my faith and to my moral compass as I know it. Do you believe that the physical body of Christ could be in a 2,000 year old tomb? And if so, would you find that to be in direct contradiction to your faith.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Darrell,

I share your desire and eagerness to portray the full truth to the public in response to the media half-truths (which I think are worse than lies!). Yes, funding would be great, but might it not help to get funding if there FIRST were a "grass roots" effort, that started say on this blog, to get a few qualified professionals to volunteer a modest amount of time (say one hour per week) to catalog the half-truths, research them a bit, provide quantitative and qualitative evidence that clearly shows that these are not whole truths but "hole" truths, and THEN, after we have this "business plan", so to speak, go look for funding. Even if funding does not materialize soon, the data and information gathered could be published as a book, which is at least a step in the right direction! I'm just concerned that waiting for funding may result in nothing getting done.

Coming from the business world, I know that even the richest folks are leery of funding something that has no convincing plan. I'll be happy to volunteer an hour of my time every week and to provide a free webconferencing medium for folks to meet online, talk, chat, and share documents. I can volunteer my quantitative expertise in the statistical area (since I have a Ph.D. in mathematics and teach business/executive seminars in project management, operations and statistics - by the way, see the post I made on this blog today regarding my correspondence with Dr. Andre Feuerverger).

What do you think?

Joe

Darrell L. Bock's picture

The seed was planted. Let's keep rolling. This site is designed to collect the information. Maybe some roots will take hold and we will get some grass and traction.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

OK, Darrell, I've never done blog-based management, so I'll leave that to an expert like you! My thoughts were merely intended, in the spirit of conventional management, to create some rain and sunlight so the grass could take root and be nurtured! :-)

My offer to provide statistical/mathematical expertise and free web conferencing still stands should it ever be needed.

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Thanks so much.

Thanks for adding some perspective here Darrell. After watching the film and the Koppell follow up, I am not so sure why so many Christians are worried about this. I was thoroughly unconvinced by the presentation and cannot see why others would be.

I have enjoyed reading through your blog and appreciated your comments in Koppell's discussion. Thanks for providing links and comments that I was able to reference in my own post!

God bless.

It is amazing to me how gullible some people are. And yet I should not be so amazed. We live in a society infected by post modernism. Thank you for your two articles.

Prof. Bock,

Tremendous showing on the Koppel debate. Thank you for representing your position (and mine) so well.

Am I correct in thinking that there is no reference even in the Gnostic texts of Jesus' son, Judah?

BTW, I was pleasantly surprised to find you engaged in this debate. A few years ago I served as an Instructor in a small Bible college. I used your text, Jesus According to Scripture, as the text for the Life of Christ course I taught. Great text for the course!

-Daniel

Dr Bock - Thanks for the thot provoking challenge! I have taken the liberty to translate the blog post into Bahasa Malaysia or Indonesia here for the Asian audience.

Hope tat it wud do justice to ur post:

http://hedonese1.blogspot.com/2007/02/betulkah-itu-makam-yesus.html

Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth--

I agree that these days it's pretty easy to make a movie telling the world that Jesus actually dated Paris Hilton, or some other such sensationalist nonsense. It strikes me that over many periods of the 2000 year old Christian history (and even before that!), the secular world has found ways to mock and ridicule Christians. Noah and his ark would be a prime example of that. On the other hand, here we are, at this point in history, 2000 years after Jesus, and lots of people really want some hard evidence-- something, anything that they can grab on to and say "Ah ha! So there really is verifiable, extra-Biblical scientific data that proves [ fill in the blank ] about Jesus".

The thing it seems to come down to is that even if you put your trust in God, the Trinity, the Bible, etc, there's still a real divide between Christian communities. Without going into something you're probably well acquainted with, I very generally mean the difference between the contemporary fundamentalist Christians on one end, and the "progressive" church communities like the Unitarians and such on the other. How is a Christian really suppose to know what is the "truth" about Jesus and the rest of the Bible? Oh sure, experts of every kind will grandstand about it, and many even have done academic research, and have assembled fragments of information to point toward the "truth"... but basically these days what I sense is a kind of PR war that goes on amongst Christians for who has the intellectual rights, so to speak, on what the Bible is all about.

Which brings me to what you've said in your blog. When you say "do some first class documentaries with top flight evangelical scholars and others who see all this other stuff as pretty thin on credibility," who exactly is invited to that party, anyway? To make documentaries and the like that are compelling to thinking Christians and even the secular world, wouldn't you want people who are not only evangelical scholars and people who are out to basically discredit, but also people who are all over the spectrum-- like the "progressives", or the secular antiquities academics? Heck, why not even bring in people from other faiths, since they won't have the kind of emotional/spiritual attachment that we have? Maybe their eyes could help us see things from yet another perspective...? Or do you mean to suggest that if Hollywood poses the question and suggests any kind of answer whatsoever, the first move of all Christians should be to deny it, either by yelling or otherwise, and vigorously move to discredit it?

Thanks for your blog,

David

Darrell L. Bock's picture

David:

My take on this is that the argument for the other half of the story shoudl be the focus of such a production. It might involve several kinds of participants and perspectives, but the goal woudl be to show that what is often sold as the truth is not all there is to consider, that a stong case can be made for another view of things. What often happens is that the same basic texts are appealed to, but they are assembled in a completely different way. The point would be to see which synthesis makes the most sense (recognizing at the same time that judgments are also impacted by worldview perspectives). What is needed is for people to realize there is a very credible take on this material that they may not have heard before.

Anyone who reads Hebrew or Aramaic can look at the tracing for the "Jesus son of Yosef" box (it's on the Discovery Channel website) and immediately see that the name "son of Yosef" is clearly discernable towards the left, but that the letters yod, shin, vav and ayin (Yeshua) are only (at best) by remote conjecture to be found in the scrawled writing etched into the stone following the big X-like marking on the right.

Indeed, in the Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries where the tracing of the inscription was first published, the transcriber carefully puts a dot over the letters yod and shin, indicating in standard fashion that his reading is conjectural, and he puts a question-mark after the entire name Yeshua meaning that he is doubtful of that entire part of his transcription. He was clearly groping, because the letters vav and ayin are also not discernable and he should have put dots over that part of the transcription as well. As everyone knows, there is another ossuary with the name Yeshua bar Yosef legibly inscribed on it, and it seems that the transcriber may have been influenced by that one in trying to figure out what this one says.

As for James Tabor, the Charlotte-based professor who is promoting the "Lost Jesus Tomb" film, he is the same character at the center of the claim that an "Essene latrine" has been found near the site of Khirbet Qumran, where so-called traditional Qumranologists (including, it would appear, Tabor himself) continue to insist, in the face of mounting contrary evidence, that a sect of Essenes lived. Tabor is also involved in the current biased and misleading exhibits of the Dead Sea Scrolls traveling around the country.

For details, see http://jesus-crypt-fraud.blogspot.com/ and the other postings published by the authors of that blog.

For Tabor's other recent attempt to hoodwink the public, see also pp. 9-10 of the most recent article by Professor Norman Golb on the Oriental Institute's website, http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/projects/scr/.

Professor Jim Davila’s blog (March 6, 2007) http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/ quotes Tabor as asserting to him in an email: “I have never excavated even one tomb, and I am not even an archaeologist and have never claimed to be such.”

Yet Tabor himself, in an article published in the Charlotte Observer, excerpted on the same paleojudaica blog a year ago (February 13, 2006), wrote: “As an archaeologist, I have long observed and experienced the thrill that ancient discoveries cause in all of us. The look on the faces of my students as we uncover ancient ruins from the time of Jesus, or explore one of the caves where the scrolls were found, is unmistakable.”

Tabor's Ph.D. was awarded to him by the University of Chicago’s Department of New Testament and Christian Literature, housed in that institution's Divinity School building. The title of his dissertation was “Things Unalterable: Paul’s Ascent to Paradise”. He clearly has no training as an archaeologist or historian, and we are only left to wonder at the motivations that led him to become involved in these phony scams.

Dr. Bock,

As one of your former students and a graduate of DTS with an MABS, currently working to complete the M.Div. Equivalency for entrance into the DTS D.Min program, I still consider myself a "young puppy" scholar "cutting prudent theological teeth." I have a lot of respect for you, your work, and admired your refrain in the Ted Koppel interview with Simcha Jacobovici, you and others on the Discovery Channel Docudrama "post-mortem."

I found it interesting that even the scientific community represented on the show dispelled Simcha's work in uncovering Jesus’ alleged tomb (e.g., archeological methods, hypothesis, forensic evidence, etc.), calling it "Archeological porn" viewed from a Hollywood intellectual model.

In contrast to the scientific experts, the theological representatives refrained from Ad Hominine attacks and attempted to establish opportunities for dialogue. You did a good job of pointing out the film maker's lack of understanding concerning what Christians believe about the resurrection and reinforcing the Christian position as one of faith. However, I felt the discussion lacked validation for why we believe what we believe. All of the theological representatives referenced that history dictates otherwise concerning Jesus' record about the resurrection than that of James Cameron's film (e.g., Christian view is Jesus' resurrection was bones and all, etc., not just a spiritual ascension), but no data was given to support the Christian view of the resurrection, only verbal positions were emphasized. With anticipation, I patiently waited for you to send in your F-16's and M-1 tanks to destroy their scud missiles; but instead, you chose only to fire "B-B's."

In the NT104 New Testament Exegesis DTS course (I have enjoyed the book you and Fanning edited, "Interpreting the New Testament Text"), we perform laborious word studies, validations, exegetical papers, etc., and like a skilled surgeon, carefully evaluate all the source materials and theological views, textual criticism, and deal with issues such as validating whether or not the dividing wall in Ephesians was metaphorical or the actual wall that divided the Jewish court from the Gentile court (you know the routine), we don't just say from silence what we believe, but validate what we believe with source materials.

In any event, this statement sounds harsher than I intend and maybe I am alone in my critique, but I walked away from your discussion without any validation from extra-biblical or biblical record about our Christian eschatology and why any of you could dispute Simcha Jacobovici’s claim that he may have the authentic tomb of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, and their alleged son. You only stated your opinions but did not validate source data concerning why you held to those positions. I suspect Simcha and his colleague walked away feeling the same way. One caveat, I was "flipping the channels" and did not see the first part of your discussion so I may have missed something. What I was hoping for was not "the Bible says..." that is not what I mean. Opponents and the film maker would have accused you as narrow-minded Bible thumpers, and may have prevented further dialogue with them. Perhaps you could have said, "John says, Romans says, Matthew says, Josephus says," and directed the film makers attention to some of the NT post resurrection witnesses who recorded seeing Jesus in the flesh in Matt 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-31; John 21:12-13 (he ate bread and fish) and Acts 2:29-36; 13:29-37.

You did well to illustrate that Jesus' resurrection was "bones, flesh, and all" and not a Gnostic one like the North Carolina professor tried to claim the "theological people he knows" teach about what Paul says about the resurrection. However, again, except for word usage by Paul, there was little reference to the biblical data by you to validate your position. As you are more aware and astute than I, there is extra-biblical historical evidence concerning Jesus' tomb and the Jewish and Roman authorities’ attempts to defame the truth about the resurrection. The authorities had sufficient political muscle and the military means necessary to locate Jesus' body within the community had it not been raised from the dead. The late first century Jewish historian, Josephus, pointed out that despite all of this influence and power, Jesus' body was never found by the Jewish or Gentile authorities. He also confirmed that many of Jesus' disciples saw him alive, raised from the dead as was predicted thousands of years before by the OT prophets (cf., Antiquities 18.3.3). When the gentlemen seated next to you mentioned, "this is not the first time, the second time, the third time," etc.; concerning Hollywood’s attempts and secular societies attempts to falsely overshadow historical fact about the resurrection, it would have been nice for one of you to have referenced source materials to validate to the unschooled audience what some of those past Anti-Christian attempts and efforts were in respect to the Christian view of the resurrection.

The following summary is by no means a critique of the film (yet I intend to write one in the future) but I do agree with you that James' and Simcha's film has to many "ifs" in the Docudrama for any of the hypothesis to be explicitly validated. Though the film maker's raised interesting questions, it is disturbing that some of the sources they base evidence upon claim their analysis or statements were taken out of context by the film makers. Perhaps their film is more about making money and trying to establish a romantic connection between Dan Brown's book, "The DaVinci Code," and the views of the "secret society" to support a view that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a son, rather than the unbiased analysis they proclaim to hold. Contrary to the film, we can know based on the NT biblical data, that Jesus' flesh and bones are in heaven and not currently existent on the earth, and that believers will receive a glorified body one day (cf. Ps 2:7; Luke 24:39; Acts 13:34; Rom 8:23; 1 Cor 15:42-44; 2 Cor 5:1-5; Heb 9:24).

Again, I hope I didn't sound critical, I respect you (as most of the theological community does) as one the brightest scholars of our time and thank you for your willingness to take a stand on national TV for the faith. So, please do not deduct any extra points off a future paper should I take additional courses from you in future DTS work :0) I am proud of you and wish TV would allow more conservative scholars from the Christian faith an opinion in such issues. In the past, they have primarily weighted biblical expertise from liberalism so it is good to see you up on the stage in the good fight for the sake of the Gospel.

Shalom,

David Brown

Darrell L. Bock's picture

David:

The issue here is that citing the Bible is part of what is a problem for someone like Tabor, so evidence from 2 Maccabees for the jewish view (which is part of what the church also held is very important to this discussion. Not only that, some of the texts you cite are even debated as being an original part of the books in question (e.g., Mark 16:1-14; many see this gospel ending at v. 8- and they might be right). I know how Tabor and company would handle John. So evidence for the belief in a bodily resurrection from outside the Bible to show the context of the biblical references is very key to this kind of an argument, I hope this helps you to understand how the argument can be made in such a context.

I wonder why my comments were still not posted - is there a problem?

My view is that if one's faith depends on something that can be proven untrue, then that faith needs to grow. For example, some believe that the world is flat because the Bible references "four corners"; and all the evidence to the contrary is a lie, trick photography, studio manufactured video, etc. Some believed that the Bible prophesied the end of the world on a certain date that has already passed at this time; so what do they do about their faith? The "bones" evidence is lacking a lot of credibility; but even if it were true, it would not negate the notion that Jesus lived on in spirit and defeated the Romans in a way those hoping for the Messiah could not have imagined. Jesus said that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God of the living. I don't see where it says in the Bible that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not die. But Jesus knew their essence was alive even if the bodies had been buried and become dust. If the bones of Jesus are discovered, it will not mean He did not conquer death.

id be glad if you continue the good work of finding the whole truth .do you have a website on this so that we can direct more to know trhe truth

Darrell;

I applaud your call for a calm response, versus a reflex reaction, to this movie. I have not seen the movie but I looked at the web site and agree with you that they have drawn far-reaching conclusions based on thin evidence. Are we to believe that there were no other families in Jerusalem with this combination of probably the most common names at the time? Is the fact that 60% of the coffins had names on them significant? Maybe, maybe not.

But I think that even if somehow scientists were able to prove that the bones were Jesus, it does not disprove the resurrection--because we do not know how God works in resurrection. We do not assume that our resurrection will be in our existing physical form, so why would we insist that Jesus' was? The accounts in the gospels all note that the disciples did not initially recognize Jesus. That could be because their minds refused to believe that Jesus could be alive, or it could be that the form he took in the resurrection was substantially different and they "recognized" who he was not because of his physical appearance but because "My sheep know my voice".

Second, I feel that Christians today are too obsessed with what we can prove that supports our faith. But if we can prove it--how can it be faith? Faith is the "Conviction of things hoped for and the assurance of things not seen." (Hb 11:1) We have been assured by Jesus that our message will not be universally accepted and that there are those who will seek to destroy us and prevent our message from being heard. Yet we act surprised at the increasing number Christian bashing books and movies that seem to challenge the so-called facts about Christianity. It's as if finally thinking we have won "majority status" we are stunned when society continues seek ways to undermine our core message--that God saves and God is life and Christ has suffered, died and rose in order that we could be reconciled with God. We should be truly concerned if people didn't try to bash our faith. But we will not "win converts" based on what we are able to prove. We make disciples when we respond to people's needs with God's love and message and when we continue to strengthem them and help them develop their faith through Bible study, worship, prayer, mission and outreach.

So I say to respond as Jesus would respond--we do not need to meet their tactics head on. We need to continue developing in our congregations and believers the strength of faith that will ward of the temptation to believe that science can prove or disprove faith. Our faith never has been and should not be about what we can prove. It is about a message to change people's lives through God's love. It is about developing a faith that sustains us through all of life's challenges and enables us to remain whole spiritually no matter what physical or emotional challenges threaten. It is about developing a society based on love of God and one's neighbor rather than on me and my needs. This is the message critics are really worried about in Christianity because it is a radical message and undermines the status quo. It threatens those who have power and who would crave power.

Sorry for the rant.
Peace
Cheryl

Was other tombs there around found with names or only this tomb?

Darrell L. Bock's picture

There have been many tombs found with names in them. A site, Dominus Flevit, on the Mount of Olives has a wide array of names. But this one had a number of names in one specific locale that might have been related to Jesus' family. That is what caused the stir. This is why analyzing the names is so important.

Dr. Bock;

I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I am in need of some information concerning defending the Scriptures against the claims of those who deny inerrancy by citing supposedly conflicting geological/archaeological data.

Here is an exchange I had with a fellow the other day:

(JOEBIBSTUDENT:)
“CONSIDER THIS. ONCE YOU¹VE UNDERMINED THE AUTHORITY OF GOD¹S WORD BY DENYING INERRANCY, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO ACCEPT? I MEAN, WHAT IS TRUE AND WHAT IS FALSE IN THE BIBLE? WHERE DO YOU START? AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHERE DO YOU STOP?”

(RESPONSE:)
"ARE YOUR INTERPRETATIONS OF GOD’S WORD INERRANT? IF NOT, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH INTERPRETATION TO BELIEVE? DO YOU ACCEPT THE BIBLE’S TEACHING THAT YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR A GARMENT MADE OF TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF CLOTH (LEV 19:19). (CHECK THE LABELS ON YOUR CLOTHES.) IF NOT, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH OTHER PROHIBITIONS IN THE BIBLE HAVE NO AUTHORITY? WHERE DO YOU START TO SEPARATE THOSE THAT HAVE AUTHORITY FROM THOSE THAT DO NOT? WHERE DO YOU STOP? (THE NT NEVER NEGATES LEV 19:19.)

"IF YOU TEST THE GLOBAL FLOOD OF GEN 6-9 BY THE EMPIRICAL DATA, IT IS CLEAR THAT IF THIS CLAIMED FLOOD IS DATED ANYTIME IN THE LAST 10,000 YEARS, GEOLOGY SHOWS NO EVIDENCE OF SUCH A FLOOD. ARCHAEOLOGY SHOWS THAT MANY PEOPLES AROUND THE WORLD LIVED RIGHT THROUGH IT—EVEN IN MESOPOTAMIA. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OTHER SCIENTIFIC DATA WHICH FALSIFY THE CLAIM THAT THIS FLOOD IS A DIVINE REVELATION.

"WHEN YOU COMPARE THE BIBLICAL STORY OF THE FLOOD TO THE MESOPOTAMIAN STORIES, THE THEOLOGY IN GEN 6-9 CONTRADICTS THE THEOLOGY IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN STORIES, AND IT AGREES WITH THE OVERALL TEACHING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. A CHRISTIAN HAS EVERY RIGHT TO ACCEPT THE THEOLOGY AS DIVINE REVELATION, AND EVERY RESPONSIBILITY TO REJECT THE HISTORY BECAUSE THE EMPIRICAL DATA FALSIFY IT. THE HISTORY AS SUCH IS THE DIVINELY ACCOMMODATED “HISTORY OF THE TIMES,” BUT ACCORDING TO THE BIBLICAL TEST, IT IS NOT A REVELATION FROM GOD, AND THEREFORE NOT INERRANT.

"BY REFUSING TO TEST SUCH THINGS AS THE STORY OF THE FLOOD BY THE EMPIRICAL DATA, “CONSERVATIVE” (CONSERVING THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS) CHRISTIANS DISOBEY GOD AND HAVE WOUND UP IN AN IMAGINARY WORLD THAT BRINGS NO GLORY TO GOD BECAUSE IT IS A FLIGHT FROM REALITY. AND WHEN THE CHILDREN WHO ARE TAUGHT THIS EXTRAORDINARY IMAGINARY SCIENCE DISCOVER VIA LEARNING GEOLOGY OR ANTHROPOLOGY OR ARCHAEOLOGY OR GLACIOLOGY OR OCEANOGRAPHY OR SOME OTHER SCIENCE THAT THIS SUPPOSEDLY INERRANT SCIENCE IS FALSE, THEIR FAITH WILL INDEED BE STUMBLED AND EVEN UNTO PERISHING."

I have no problem responding to this person within the context of the Scriptures, but I could use some information (e.g., a Christian scientific website devoted to responding to claims such as these) to answer those who cite so-called geological/archaeological empirical data/findings to contradict the biblical account of the Flood, the historical accuracy of O.T., etc.

Thank you,
joebib

Thanks, Darrell. Thanks for contending for the faith. I'm encouraging friends to believe the observations of the over 500 eye-witness accounts that observed the risen Christ, over the report of a find of a supposedly 2,000 year old ossuary. Best to believe the reports of those closer to the actual event, than to attempt to construct a story from an unverified burial box, which unfortunately, cannot speak for itself.
Keep on promoting the historical Jesus and "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
- Paul

I think it's important to debate in a civil manner and as Christians we have to counter with facts rather than emotions. I've seen a couple of books out there already, check this one out www.JesusTombReview.com.

I'm sure in the coming weeks and months we'll see more people, Christians or non-Christians alike, address these issues point to point.

Professor,
While I agree completely with your conclusion that the Tomb of Jesus promotes an indefensible theory, I've just finished watching the first part of your interview with John Ankerberg, and to part of the second part. I must say that I am disappointed with the inaccuracies in the claims I heard on that program - at least with regard to the Discovery Channel "documentary" on the subject. Perhaps you were responding to claims that went beyond what was on the program, but...
The program didn't claim that the "Matthew" in the tomb was the disciple. They rejected that possibility. What they claimed is that because variants of the name "Matthew" appear so often in Mary's genealogy, it's possible that Matthew was a previously unnamed relative.
As for the use of the name "Judas" for a son of Jesus - the program suggested that "Judas" was born before the betrayal took place (ignoring Jesus's knowing what would happen and/or accepting the account in the gnostic gospel of Judas that Judas was actually Jesus's "best buddy." I don't buy the latter in the least, but I know someone who does). In fact, the program suggested that the boy was quite a bit older than 3 at the time of the crucifixion.
A third difficulty deals with the failure on their part to do more extensive DNA testing. You claimed they gave poor excuses, but one excuse they gave was reasonable - they didn't find any material in the other ossuaries that could produce DNA. Their description was that the ossuaries were virtually "vacuum cleaned" with the exception of those two.
There was also a comment about the resurrection, something to the effect that if Jesus's bones were still around after three days.... They were - because He didn't ascend into heaven the day He rose from the dead.
With so much mis-information being tossed about by proponents of the theory, I regret to see "my side" doing the same.

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Kay Lady:

I responded to this in the post details posted yesterday. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Darrell L. Bock's picture

This looks good to me.

Dr. Bock;

Allow me to post part of an exchange I had with a scholar on another website:

__________________________________________________

DOES THE BIBLE CONTAIN ANY ERRORS? A DIALOGUE

joebibstudent: “Consider this...once you¹ve undermined the authority of God¹s Word by denying inerrancy, how do you know what to accept? I mean, what is true and what is false in the Bible? Where do you start? And more importantly, where do you stop?”

Responder: "Are your interpretations of God’s word inerrant? If not, how do you know which interpretation to believe? Do you accept the Bible’s teaching that you should not wear a garment made of two different kinds of cloth (Lev 19:19). (Check the labels on your clothes.) If not, how do you know which other prohibitions in the Bible have no authority? Where do you start to separate those that have authority from those that do not? Where do you stop? (The NT never negates Lev 19:19.)"

joebibstudent: “So what if some of the data — be it scientific, historical, herbalogical, astronomical, or archeological — doesn¹t add up to my fallen reasoning? I¹m prepared to take those points by faith, and commit all the problem passages, the seeming injustices, all of my questions and doubts, and what I don¹t know yet to the all-wise Creator Who will fill me in on all of it in that day when I no longer see things dimly through a glass (cf. Deut. 29:29).”

Responder: "Your doctrine of the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is not stated explicitly in Scripture. You can only get to it by employing your fallen reasoning.

"Further, it is not a question of scientific data not adding up to your fallen reasoning. If you are going to obey God, you must “Test all things “( I Thess 5:21, 22) This is the NT counterpart of the OT Deut 18:21, 22, which says if a person claims to have a revelation from God, you should compare the outcome of that claimed revelation to the empirical facts. (God is assuming in this passage that your “fallen reason” is adequately reliable to tell if the claimed revelation matches or is falsified by the empirical data.) If the claimed revelation does not match the empirical facts, it is NOT a revelation from God.

"Inerrancy & the Flood:
If you test the global Flood of Gen 6-9 by the empirical data, it is clear that if this claimed flood is dated anytime in the last 10,000 years, geology shows no evidence of such a Flood. Archaeology shows that many peoples around the world lived right through it—even in Mesopotamia. There are a number of other scientific data which falsify the claim that this Flood is a divine revelation.

"When you compare the biblical story of the Flood to the Mesopotamian stories, the theology in Gen 6-9 contradicts the theology in the Mesopotamian stories, and it agrees with the overall teaching of the New Testament. A Christian has every right to accept the theology as divine revelation, and every responsibility to reject the history because the empirical data falsify it. The history as such is the divinely accommodated “history of the times,” but according to the biblical test, it is not a revelation from God, and therefore not inerrant.

"By refusing to test such things as the story of the Flood by the empirical data, “conservative” (conserving the tradition of the elders) Christians disobey God and have wound up in an imaginary world that brings no glory to God because it is a flight from reality. And when the children who are taught this extraordinary imaginary science discover via learning geology or anthropology or archaeology or glaciology or oceanography or some other science that this supposedly inerrant science is false, their faith will indeed be stumbled and even unto perishing."

___________________________________________________

Dr. Bock, I feel I can adequately respond to the above person in his interpretation of the Scriptures. But, I don't have conservative scientific/historic/geologic information at my fingertips. So my question is: do you have any documentation by conservative scholars which I could use to answer scholars like this person, who claim the Bible has errors in areas scientific/historic, who tout the geolocial record as denying the Noahic Flood, etc?

joebib

This "documentary" was shown in Sydney last weekend .... so it will be good to have some more information to spread around. I think what this shows is that Christians have to learn to be able to answer the questions and and defend their faith. But it also is opportunity ..... if we do it well. in Christ Dinah

I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say that if you take two samples of DNA from two people from the same area, they will match. I thought the point was that they will be an exact match, not just showing that they're from the same general area? I've only vaguely heard about this story, so I'm probably missing the details.

Good! Like it!

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