Initially I thought that this was so inane that it was not worth spending much time on, but it seems to be getting a lot of press in the mainstream media. There is a claim that the remains of the “Holy Family”, including Jesus, Mary and Joseph was found in 1980 in a tomb in Jerusalem:
There are lots of holes in the findings, such as the availibility of material to perform DNA testing on, the possible contamination of the samples, the assumptions on lineage etc. Historical incongruencies between the NT and the uncovered remains are also numerous. Either the NT is total nonsense, or the conclusions reached by the authors of this book are wild speculation. The names of those found in the tomb coincide with that of Jesus and His family, and with about 25% of people living in the area at the time. The family was from Galilee, so it is improbable that they would have a family tomb in Jerusalem. There are other unaccounted for remains there, such as Matthew. The use of crosses on ossuaries was commemorative, but likely only after the recording of the Gospels. Most of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD, and whatever remained was looted, so the remains here, although dated to the 1st century, could have been after that.
But even conceding the psotive lineage tests, the authenticity of the dating etc, the primary factor remains, why is this necessarily the family of the Biblical Jesus, and not another family of the time?
There are other inconsistencies too. There is no historical account for Jesus having been married or conceiving a child. But even conceding that He did would not matter that much, although I am sure one could make a healthy living testing people’s DNA to see if they are descendants of Jesus.
Joh 21:25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
The biggest contradiction is in the ascension of Jesus into heaven while still “human”. That would have left no physical remains.
Mar 16:19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
Luk 24:51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
Act 1:9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
Act 1:10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
Act 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
The implications are clear, find the remains of Jesus, and the core doctrine of Christianity, the hope we have in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, is disproved. If proven beyond all doubt, it will mean the end of Christianity.
I don’t think it will do much to say that one will believe regardless of what shows up. As with all objections to Christianity, it needs to be dealt with rationally and logically. And as with the other objections, it comes up short, for some of the reasons mentioned above.
I want to shortly mention another issue here. We are constantly assured that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Well, this case certainly shows that the scientists involved are trying. They are trying to draw a very strong inference from the scientific data that there is no God, that Jesus was just another human being. And this proves a point that I had long supported, the humanity of Jesus is, as with creation and common grace, an intersection of God and our observable world.
If science can attempt to disprove the existence of God based on such a supposed intersection, then why can it not infer His existence by appeal to the very same intersections? It goes back to how atheists wish to frame the argument. Proof for God is not scientific, while proof against Him is. They stack the deck in favor of naturalism as long as it supports their presupposed outcomes.
So, I’ll leave it up to the reader to make up his or her own mind about whether Christianity is dead based on the interpretation of these archeologists.
For me, it seems all too typical of the various forgeries of artifacts, and wishful thinking by the opponents of Christianity.