Box holding the bones of Jesus' brother was stolen, then a steal
The discovery of an ossuary that provides the best evidence that Jesus truly existed makes the front page of many major newspapers today. Most recount basic facts and reaction also found in our story yesterday, but a few more details and reactions have emerged as well, especially regarding the bone box's history.
The discoverer and lead researcher, André Lemaire of the Sorbonne University in Paris, says the owner bought the ossuary 15 years ago from an Arab dealer who said it came from Silwan, a Jerusalem suburb with many ancient tombs. The owner paid between $200 and $700 for what is now being called "the most important find in the history of New Testament archaeology."
Lemaire told The Washington Post that the owner "didn't know about Christian traditions." The reason he asked Lemaire (whom he met by chance at a reception last spring) to take a look was because the inscription on the ossuary seemed extraordinarily long.
After translating the stone etching, Lemaire only told the owner that it was "interesting."
Actually, The National Post of Canada has a bit of a different story of the ossuary: "An Arab villager found the ossuary 16 years ago near Jerusalem. … The villager brought the box to a dealer, who resold it to a collector for about $1,500."
"No one wants an ossuary in their home," says Simcha Jacobovici, a Canadian filmmaker who is making a documentary about the ossuary for the Discovery Channel. "People are creeped out."
While the documentary is due out around Easter, the ossuary may actually be on display in North America as early as next month, reports The Baltimore Sun. The first likely stop? A Toronto gathering of archaeologists.
Reaction among archaeologists not privy to the findings earlier (Ben Witherington, for example, got a sneak peek and is quoted in almost every news story) is generally very positive.
"'It will be extremely important if it's authentic," Harvard University archaeology professor Lawrence E. Stager tells The Boston Globe. "Everything that they've put in this nontechnical article seems to point in that direction. … Of course you'll never prove or disprove the miracles, but to give [Jesus] an actual authentic setting of place and persons is no small accomplishment."
The New York Times says biblical scholars are particularly happy that the research was headed up by Lemaire.
"Since the research comes from André Lemaire, I take it very seriously," says James C. VanderKam of the University of Notre Dame. "If it is authentic, and it looks like it is, this is helpful nonbiblical confirmation of the existence of this man James."
James? Isn't the big deal that it's nonbiblical confirmation of the existence of Jesus?
Eric M. Meyers, archaeologist and director of the graduate program in religion at Duke University, shrugs that the ossuary "doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know" about Jesus — namely, that he existed.
Still, there are naysayers. Or naysayer. The only one identified so far is Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach, who tells the Associated Press the discovery is "too perfect" and was likely created by an "extremely clever" forger.
"Jesus' existence is a very shaky thing," Eisenman tells the AP, which rightly notes that "few other scholars would agree."
- Archbishop's visit comes during division | George Carey clashes with liberals over same-sex unions (The National Post, Canada)
- Also: Canadian same-sex unions could lead to global problems: Archbishop (Canadian Press)
- Ads renew 'ex-gay' debate | Rights groups oppose ministry to change orientation (The Washington Post)
- Religious groups split on Tacoma gay rights initiative | In April, the Tacoma City Council approved an ordinance banning discrimination against gays, lesbians, transvestites and people who undergo sex changes. Initiative 1 would repeal the ordinance (Associated Press)
- Porn store owner: Jesus told me to close shop | Man burned $10,000 in pornographic materials (Associated Press)
- Miss America abstinence | What's wrong with waiting until marriage? (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
- Accreditation for an Liberty University law school likely to take years | Jerry Falwell hopes to eventually transform law and add diversity to the American judiciary (The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)
- Also: Accreditation could be long process for Liberty law school (Associated Press)
- Some religious groups oppose bilingual education proposal | Colorado Council of Churches said the ballot proposal restricts parental choice and devalues other cultures (Aurora [Colo.] Sentinel)
Garrison Keillor's hymn sing:
- Keillor hymn contest mixes sacred with humorous | The mostly favorite Lutheran hymns were interspersed with Garrison Keillor's poetry reading and a monologue, and he kept his audience chuckling. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Also: Keillor's hymns | A list of hymns sung Sunday at Central Lutheran Church during its old-fashioned hymn sing, headlined by Garrison Keillor (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to email@example.com
See our past Weblog updates: