Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Response to the "Jesus Tomb" Theory

A new book on the "Jesus Tomb" is out: Buried Hope or Risen Savior? The Search for the Jesus Tomb, edited by Charles L. Quarles.  The publisher, Broadman and Holman, describes the contents:

Buried Hope or Risen Savior? argues for the credibility of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, engaging the issue in relation to the recent “Jesus Family Tomb” claims that continue making headlines around the world.

Among the contributors, Steve Ortiz (professor of Biblical Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) discusses the general background of this type buriedhopeof tomb and the archaeology of the Talpiot tomb site. Craig Evans (New Testament professor at Acadia Divinity College) writes about ossuaries and tomb inscriptions. Richard Bauckham (New Testament professor at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews) gives the history of Jewish names, extrabiblical writings, and Mary Magdalene. William Dembski (SWBTS research professor in Philosophy) discusses the statistical ev idence for the names found on the Talpiot tomb to have been “Jesus.” Mike Licona (North American Mission Board director of Apologetics and Interfaith Evangelism) responds to claims that finding the bones of Jesus would not disprove Christ’s resurrection. Gary Habermas (Apologetics & Philosophy chair at Liberty University) summarizes the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And Darrell Bock (New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary) addresses the importance of the resurrection and how Christians should respond to challenges upon their faith.

On his blog, Justin Taylor notes the chapter by Ortiz, "The Use and Abuse of Archaeological Interpretation," and he provides this extract from pages 29-30:

The scripts for all of these amateur portrayals are similar and follow the same basic 10 points:

1. The prevailing hypothesis affirmed by the consensus of the scholarly community is wrong.

2. The "discoverer" is not a trained archaeologist but is self-taught, and he knows the "true story" that all others have overlooked.

3. An expedition is planned for one season, and (lo and behold) at the first attempt they find exactly what they are looking for.

4. This is all documented while a camera crew happens to be filming the discovery.

5. The process is "detective work" that has been missed by the academic community, and they (amateur archaeologists) are the ones who are able to unravel the mystery or solve the problem that has perplexed the experts.

6. No new data is presented, only a reworking of previously published data. A corollary is that not all the data is consulted.

7. Upon the presentation of the discovery, the scholarly community scoffs at the find, and it is claimed that there is a secret monopoly by those in power to suppress the information.

8. The amateurs sensationalize the "discovery" by claiming that it is so revolutionary that it will change our way or thinking and our lifestyle.

9. The old "discovery" is presented to the media as a "brand-new" discovery.

10. Usually a book or movie comes out within a week of the "new" discovery.

The presentation of The Lost Tomb of Jesus follows the above script.

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2 Comments:

  • I wonder if this is swatting a fly with a hammer. After all, nobody – even purely secular archaeologists – bought any of the Jesus-Tapiot Tomb theory. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an immediate and broad based response like the one which erupted about this when the program was aired.

    I’m sure the book is done very carefully and is convincing. But, if this book is aimed that those people who were initially convinced by this theory, I hope they didn’t print more than five copies.

    I’m still amazed that James Tabor’s archaeological reputation seems basically intact.

    By Blogger Al Sandalow, at Tue Feb 26, 01:48:00 PM  

  • Al - you make a good point with the hammer comparison. On the other hand, this isn't the first time that the media and the public have been taken for a ride and it won't be the last time. It's good for people to understand how poorly supported theories can get so much attention. Ideally, the media would take the lessons from this "discovery" to heart and would refuse to give airtime to such unvetted sensational theories, whether they come from the right or left.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Wed Feb 27, 09:24:00 AM  

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