In the latest step toward full rejection of international Anglican Communion (AC) oversight, the House of Bishops of the American branch, the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) has passed 3 resolutions rejecting the authority of the AC in directing the ECUSA to refrain from consecrating any more active homosexual bishops or regularizing same-sex union blessings. The AC, which represents nearly 80 million congregants in nearly 50 national bodies, is far more conservative than the ECUSA, which consecrated an active homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson in 2005, and elected Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori as its presiding bishop in 2007. Jefferts Schori supported Robinson's consecration, affirms the ecclesiastical legitimacy of same-sex unions, & affirms advancing active homosexuals in positions of ECUSA leadership.
At the recent meeting of international bishops in Africa, the primates concurred in ordering the ECUSA to refrain from further actions separating the ECUSA from the rest of the AC, & asking for dialog & negotiation to repair the rift & accommodate US congregations that felt they could not be represented by the current ECUSA heirarchy because of its more liberal views & actions.
The House of Bishops has asked for an emergency meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who presides over the AC. The House of Bishops resolutions expressed their desire to remain a part of the AC, their belief that the only authority to refraim the disputed actions must come from the annual ECUSA General Convention & therefore cannot be granted by the House of Bishops, & specifically declines to submit to the primate directive issued from Africa.
On the heels of the Discovery Channel's controversial Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary, a new documentary from the conservative Grizzly Adams Production Company (GAPC), The Fabric of Time presents a positive case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. GAPC is known for producing "family" oriented entertainment on conservative Christian issues such as the end times & stories of faith & courage. The new GAPC DVD provides approximately 120 minutes of information on the evidence for the resurrection, including interviews with scholars, a chronicle of the different kinds of historical evidence available (eyewitness testimony, etc.), & even a tie-in to the controversial Shroud of Turin, which some scholars say could be the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' body when he was resurrected & which still bears traces of evidence from the actual event.
Scholar Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Research Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy and Theology, at Liberty University, is quoted extensively in the documentary. He says, "There is growing proof that the events depicted in the Gospel accounts are true, with more evidence being revealed regularly, thanks to modern research, analylsis & scientific advances." He continues, "Science, combined with written descriptions, by non-Christians, of the events of Jesus' life & death, maike it clear that Christian beliefs are grounded in fact."
Buddhist monk & member of the CPPCC Master Gen Tong commented, "We really have some legal stipulations in some legal documents, but I don't think they are enough for providing a sound legal basis in our fight against cults." Although most religious observers see the call as a further step in the oppression of religious freedom, but Tong says the move will respect the international norm of human rights & protect people from the harms of cults.
On March 4, the Discovery Channel aired a documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, in which the claim is made that at Talpiot in south Jerusalem, nine ossuaries were discovered that most probably included the bones of Jesus, his mother, his wife, his son, and other relatives. While the documentary was skillfully filmed and interesting to view, its conclusions -- however sensational -- only continue the long-running media attack on the historical Jesus, which might truly be termed “More Junk on Jesus.” One might have thought that this had culminated in that book of falsehoods, The Da Vinci Code, but no, the misinformation on Jesus continues, usually just in time for the church’s seasons of Christmas or Lent/Easter.
Nearly every interested archaeologist or historian in the world has found the documentary’s conclusions unfounded, and here are the most important reasons:
(1) Nothing is new here: scholars have known about the ossuaries ever since March of 1980, so this is old news recycled. The general public learned when the BBC filmed a documentary on them in 1996, when the “findings” tanked again, though more recently, James Tabor’s book, The Jesus Dynasty, tried to revive in-terest. But now James Cameron (The Titanic) and Canadian director Simcha Jaco-bovici have climbed aboard the sensationalist bandwagon as well, the latter co-authoring a newly-published book, The Jesus Family Tomb, which is equally as worthless as the previous.
(2) All the names – Yeshua (Joshua, Jesus) son of Joseph, Jose (Joseph), Maria (Mary), Mariamene e Mara, Matia, and Judah son of Jesus -- are extremely com-mon Jewish names for that time and place, and thus nearly all scholars consider that these names are merely coincidental, as they did from the start. Some even dispute that “Yeshua” is one of the names, suggesting “Hanan” instead. One out of four Jewish women at that time, for example, were named Mary. There are 21Yeshuas (Jesuses) cited by Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, who were important enough to be recorded by him, with many thousands of others that never made history.
(3) The wondrous mathematical odds hyped by Jacobovici that these names must refer to Jesus and his family are simply playing with numbers. To reach his con-clusions, one must believe that every link in a long chain of hypotheses he presents is true, when in fact every link is weak enough to break the chain.
(4) There is no reason whatever to equate “Mariamene e Mara” with Mary Magda-lene, as Jacobovici claims. Using a late, apocryphal, fifth-century romance like the Acts of Philip to try to demonstrate this shows how far he has to reach. In fact, a better translation of “Mariamene e Mara” is “Mary also called Mara.” And so what if her DNA is different from that of “Yeshua” ? That particular “Mariamne” (as it is usually spelled today) could indeed have been the wife of that particular “Yeshua,” who was certainly not Jesus, or wife/sister/daughter of any other male in that group!
(5) Why in the world would the “Jesus Family” have a burial site in Jerusalem, of all places, the very city that crucified Jesus? Galilee was their home. In Galilee they might have had such a family burial site, not Judea.
(6) Equating “Maria” as Mary the mother of Jesus? Church tradition and the earli-est Christian historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, are unanimous in reporting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, died in Ephesus, where the apostle John, faithful to his commission from Jesus on the cross, had accompanied her.
(7) The “Jesus Family” simply could not have afforded the large, ornate crypt un-covered at Talpiot. This is the burial site of a prominent, wealthy family from Jeru-salem, not a carpenter’s clan from Galilee.
(8) If this were Jesus’ family burial site, what is Matthew doing there – if indeed “Matia” is thus to be translated?
(9) How come there is no tradition whatever – Christian, Jewish, or secular -- that any of the Holy Family were buried at a family plot in Jerusalem?
(10) Please note the extreme bias of the director and leading persona in this docu-mentary: Simcha Jacobovici. Apparently, the man is an Indiana-Jones-wannabe who seems to sensationalize anything he touches. You may have caught his TV special, The Exodus Decoded, in which the man “explained” just about everything that still needed proving or explaining in the Exodus account in the Old Testament! It finally became ludicrous, and now he’s doing it again, though in reverse: this time attacking the Scriptural record. – As for James Cameron, how do you follow the success of The Titanic? Well, with an even more “titanic” story. He might have known better, and the television footage of the two making their drastic statements in a preceding press conference on February 26 was disgusting, as was their subsequent claim that they “respected” Jesus. Their dramatic recreations in the documentary favoring their hypotheses, the statements of experts taken out of context, the misquotations of some of those experts, and their selective editing are all a disservice to the truth.
(11) Even Israeli archaeologists and authorities, who – were they anti-Christian – might have used this “discovery” to discredit Christianity, did not do so. Quite the opposite. Joe Zias, for example, for years the director of the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem, holds Jacobovici’s claims up for scorn and his documentary as “non-sense.” Those involved in the project “have no credibility whatever,” he added. – Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, called the conclusions in question “completely impossible…nonsense.” In a Jerusalem Post interview, he added, “Three or four ossuaries have been discovered with the names, ‘Jesus, son of Joseph.’” David Mevorah, curator of the Israel Museum, calls the results “far-fetched.” -- William Dever, one of America’s prominent archaeologists, said, “This would be amusing if it didn’t mislead so many people.”
(12) Finally, and most importantly, there is no external literary or historical evi-dence whatever that Jesus’ family was interred together in a common burial place anywhere, let alone Jerusalem. The evidence, in fact, totally controverts all this in the case of Jesus: all four Gospels, the letters of Paul, Peter, and other apostles, as well as the common testimony of the early church state that Jesus rose from the dead, and did not leave his bones behind in any ossuary, as the current sensational-ists claim.
Bottom line: this is merely naked hype, baseless sensationalism, and nothing less than a media fraud, “more junk on Jesus.”
Academy Award winning director James Cameron and Emmy Award winning investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici have joined forces and produced a documentary film claiming to have identified the tomb and physical remains of Jesus of Nazareth. The show is entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus and it first aired on March 4, 2007 on the Discovery channel.
If true, Christianity as we know it is doomed. In 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 the apostle Paul (who claims to be an eye-witness of Jesus’ resurrection) says, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ.”
In short, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central pillar of proof put forward by the New Testament authors to substantiate Jesus’ claims to deity and the forgiveness of sins offered to humanity through Jesus shed blood on the cross. The Apostle Paul argues that If Jesus didn’t bodily rise from the dead then Christianity is a false religion and should not be followed or observed.
The important question that needs to be answered is “Did Cameron and Simcha find Jesus’ remains, or is their case as ‘unsinkable’ as the Titanic?”
Although the film hasn’t aired, there is enough ‘evidence’ posted on the internet already to begin drawing conclusions.
In 1980 a tomb was discovered in Talpiot inside of modern Jerusalem that contained 10 stone ossuaries (bone boxes). Six of the ossuaries had names carved on them identifying the occupants.
The names are as follows.
1. Jesus son of Joseph
2. Mary - Written in Aramaic
3. Mary - Written in Greek as Mariamne
4. Jose - a ‘rare’ nickname for Joseph
6. Judah son of Jesus
At first glance these names have a striking similarity to the names of people from the New Testatment. Although critics are already pointing out the fact that these names were very common names for people who lived in and around the holy land during the 1st century, Simcha and Cameron’s documentary uses DNA evidence and statistical analysis in order to draw the conclusion that this is Jesus’ family tomb. They claim that the odds of it not being Jesus' tomb are HIGHLY improbable. See Simcha’s ‘Football Field’ Analogy.
Taken at face value, Simcha and Cameron appear to have built a rock solid case against Christianity. However, if you spend even a little time critically analyzing their claims then you realize that Cameron and Simcha have done nothing more than build a Da Vinci Code-like house of cards that crumbles as soon as you blow on it.
Faulty Assumptions and Alternative Histories
The film’s statistical analysis is its strongest proof for the Talpiot Tomb being Jesus' family tomb . However, in order for their statistical interpretation of this evidence to be true, we must assume five things about the occupants of the tomb. These assumptions in some cases require us to rewrite history or subscribe to an 'alternate history'. Here are the five 'alternate history assumptions' that must be true in order for the film's statistical analysis to have any weight or merit.
1. We must assume that the Jesus and Jose of this tomb are brothers.
Why? Because if they are not brothers then the statistical chance of this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth becomes very low.
2. We must assume that Mariamne is Mary Magdalene.
The statistical case for the Talpiot tomb being Jesus' family tomb almost totaly hinges on this assumption.
The evidence put forth by the filmmakers to support this assumption is a 4th Century Gnostic text entitledThe Acts of Philip.
But as you will see later in this article there is absolutely no chance that the Mariamne in the Talpiot tomb is Mary Magdalene.
Not only is the Acts of Philip a non-credible source for supporting their claim, but also the film's producers actually ignore one of their own expert's findings regarding the name inscribed on Mariamne's ossuary.
3. We must also assume that Jesus of Nazareth was married to Mariamne and together they had a son named Judah.
Again there are no credible 1st Century documents that support this assumption. This assumption is more akin to the Da Vinci Code than sound historical and archaeological scholarship.
4. We must assume that the Matthew found in this tomb was somehow related to Jesus’ mother but is not her son.
We have no documentary evidence of a Matthew in Jesus’ family. Therefore, the filmmakers have to find a way to ‘explain him away’. His presence in the Talpiot tomb messes up their theory that this is Jesus’ family tomb. So they had to fabricate a theory that would explain his presence. The filmmakers also have to explain why certain people are missing from the tomb. This leads to the next assumption.
5. We have to assume that the James ossuary originated from this tomb even though there is no solid evidence that links it to this site.
This is critical because if this tomb is Jesus’ family tomb, then three of Jesus’ brothers are inexplicably missing from this site. They are James, Judas and Simon. The filmmakers go out of their way to attempt to prove that the James ossuary belongs to this tomb because that reduces the number of missing brothers to only Judas and Simon. See The James Ossuary for a summary of this controversial artifact.
In order for the James ossuary to be part of the Talpiot Tomb it cannot have been unearthed prior to March of 1980. That is when the Talpiot Tomb was discovered. New evidence and testimony submitted in the Antiquities Fraud Trial of Oded Golan, the owner of the James Ossuary shows that the ossuary was photographed in the 1970s. The Toronto Star reported today...
"Former FBI agent Gerald Richard testified that a photo of the James ossuary, showing it in Golan's home, was taken in the 1970s, based on tests done by the FBI photo lab. The trial resumes tomorrow.
Jacobovici conceded in an interview that if the ossuary was photographed in the 1970s, it could not then have been found in a tomb in 1980."
The end result of all of these assumptions is this family tree/tomb inhabitants chart:
This chart is taken from the film's official discovery channel website: Family Tree. Please notice that this chart is still unsure as to how Matthew and Mariamne are related to the other inhabitants of the tomb. The reason for this uncertainty is twofold. First, the presence of Matthew and Miriamne do not fit the written records of Jesus' family. The second is a direct result of the DNA evidence collected by the filmmakers.
One would expect that since the filmmakers make a point of mentioning DNA evidence that they’d be able to use that evidence to support their assumptions. But they don’t. The official Discovery Channel site says this, “By studying the DNA bone fragments and residue from ossuaries, scientists may be able to determine familial relationships between the various people buried in an ancient tomb. In the case of the Talpiot tombs, researchers were able to extract usable tissue samples from only two of the ossuaries - the “Mariamne” and “Yeshua bar Joseph” boxes. Those two samples were sent to the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, a facility that specializes in analyzing ancient remains.. The lab was able to recover mitochondrial DNA from the samples and determined that the two individuals were not maternally related. According to the lab’s Dr. Carney Matheson, because the two sets of remains were found in what is suspected to be a familial tomb, the two people “would most likely be husband and wife.”
In other words, the only thing the DNA evidence proves is that the Jesus and Mariamne found in this tomb are not maternally related. The film's producers argue that this proves that Mariamne was married to Jesus. But, it is entirely possible that she could have been the wife of Jose, Judah or even Matthew.
Why There is Absolutely NO Chance that Mariamne is Mary Magdalene.
In order to make the claim that Mariamne is Mary Magdalene, the film’s producers have literally had to manufacture evidence and ignore practically every established rule that relates to historical evidence and primary source documents.
The only way the film’s producers could build their case is by setting aside the eye-witness testimony of the New Testament Gospels which never once refer to Mary Magdalne as Mariamne. They instead favor an obscure 4th century gnostic document called the Acts of Philip in order to make their claim that Mary Magdalene and the Mariamne of the Talpiot Tomb are one in the same.
By doing this, the film’s producers are literally expecting us to believe that a document written nearly 300 years after Jesus and Mary Magdalene walked the Earth is more credible and more accurate than the New Testament documents which were written by eye-witnesses shortly after the events they record, during the lifetimes of those who could have overturned their testimony by contrary evidence.
This is absurd!
Furthermore, if you actually take the time to read the Acts of Philip you will notice some very funny things.
The first thing you'll notice is that the book itself very fanciful.
The book’s narrative claims that Jesus sent out a group of followers to spread his message. The followers were Philip, Bartholomew, and a woman named Mariamne who is identified as Philip's sister. Among their accomplishments was the conversion of a talking leopard, a talking goat, and the slaying of a dragon.
Yes, that is right. Bartholomew, Philip and Mariamne went out preaching Jesus’ message to talking leopards and talking goats!
Secondly, the Acts of Philip never even once refers to Mariamne as Mary Magdalene. Granted, some scholars speculate that Mariamne could be Mary Magdalene, but the text never actually says that. Therefore, the film’s producers are literally overstating the evidence supplied to us in the Acts of Philip.
Furthermore, the film’s producers contradict their own expert L.Y. Rahmani when they claim that the inscription on Mariamne’s ossuary says “Mary the Master.”
According to the film’s own evidentiary documents which are available for download from the Discovery.com website, the name on Mariamne’s ossuary literally reads “of Mariamne who is (also called) Mara (Mara is a contraction of the name Martha)” This linked document includes the second page of the Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries by L.Y. Rahmani. In the notes you will see what the film’s own expert says that ossuary says.
One last point, the film claims that "Maraimne e Mara" means Mary the Master. But the only way they could make this claim is if they mix languages. Mara means master in Aramaic, but the ossuary incription is written in Greek. In order for the film makers to be correct abou the ossuary text reading “Mary the Master” we have to believe that the inscription, although written in Greek, is supposed to be understood as being half Greek and half Aramaic. This is preposterous. Since the inscription is in Greek, if it was supposed to say "Mary the Master" it would have to say "Mariamne Ho Kurios" NOT "Mariamne e Mara."
No matter how you slice it, the fact remains that there is no possible way to link Mary Magdalene and Mariamne e Mara from the Talpiot tomb.
The film’s producers are either being naive or intellectually dishonest by claiming that they are one and the same person.
The Cards Come Crumbling Down
Another linch pin in Cameron’s and Simcha’s statistical analysis is the assumption that Jose is the brother of Jesus. If the Jose of the Talpiot Tomb is Jesus' brother, then the statistical case for this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is much stronger. If Jose is not Jesus' brother then their statistical case case begins to crumble.
This leads us to ask an important question... Why should we believe that the Jose found in this tomb is the brother of Jesus?
Answer: We shouldn’t!
The evidentiary documents provided by the filmmakers themselves say that Jose is Joseph and that he is most likely the father of Jesus and the grandfather of Judah. This is not my speculation, this is the testimony of L.Y. Rahmani, who is one of the film's own experts .
Here is what L.Y. Rahami said, “The similarity of this ossuary and its inscription with that of Marya... both from the same tomb, may indicate that these are the ossuaries of the parents of Yeshua and the grand parents of Yehuda.”
Below I am reproducing a screen shot taken from the documents provided by the filmmakers:
When you download the document itself, you see that it says "The similarity of this ossuary & its inscription with that of Marya on No. 706, both from the same tomb, may indicate that these are the ossuaries of the parents of Yeshua (No. 704) & the grandparents of Yehuda (No. 702)."
Fact: the evidence provided by the filmmakers themselves leads us to conclude that Jose (Joseph) of the Talpiot tomb is the father of Jesus, noy his brother. As you will see later, this will have a profoundly negative impact on the film’s statistical analysis.
With this evidence in mind, below you will find a more plausible reconstruction of the family tree of the Talpiot Tomb’s inhabitants. Notice that this family looks a lot different than the family of Jesus of Nazareth.
Not only is this a more plausible reconstruction of the family tree for the inhabitants of the Talpiot Tomb, it perfectly fits the evidence that the tomb itself presents us as well as the expert opinion of L.Y. Rahmani.
In this reconstruction, Joseph, whose nickname is Jose, is present in the tomb along with his wife, two of his sons, Jesus and Matthew, his daughter-in-law Mariamne and his grandson Judah.
This family tree does not require us to account for missing brothers and sisters, stolen ossuaries, or marriages that were not supposed to have taken place; to throw out eye-witness documentary evidence; to believe in the Easter Bunny, or to find a way to explain away people like Matthew who "aren’t even supposed to be in that tomb.”
This is clearly not the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead it is most likely the tomb of a middle-class or wealthy 1st Century family from Jerusalem. (Which is what scholars have been saying this tomb is since 1980.)
In short, Simcha and Cameron are engaging in the archaeological equivalent of ‘identity theft’ by trying to force the evidence into proving that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.
Although Jesus of Nazareth had a father named Joseph, he did not have a brother named Matthew, nor was he married, nor did he have a son. If we had found Jesus’ family tomb we would have found his brothers James, Jose, Simon and Judas along with his father Joseph and his mother Mary. The reason James, Simon and Judas are missing is quite simple, they are not buried there because this is not their family’s tomb.
The Statical Analysis Falls Apart
The film's statistical underpinnings also collapse as soon as you properly consider the tomb’s evidence.
The film claims that the probability of the Talpiot Tomb being Jesus’ family tomb is 600 to 1 or 599 times out of 600 it would be Jesus’ Family tomb.
The way they came up with that figure is by determining a probability for each of the names mentioned in the tomb, then multiplying those probabilites by each other then adjusting the figure for unintentional biases and all possible first century tombs.
Since neither Matthew nor Judah were "explicatively" mentioned in the Gospels, they did not use their probabilities in the statistical analysis.
Here are the probabilities that the filmmakeres came up with for each person found in the tomb.
1. Jesus Son of Joseph - 1 in 190
2. Maria - 1 in 4
3. Mariamne - 1 in 160
4. Jose - 1 in 20
The combined 'raw' probability of all of these people appearing in the same tomb is 1 in 2,400,000.
They then divided 2,400,000 by 4 to adjust for unintentional historical biases and were left with 1 in 600,000.
They then divided 600,000 by 1,000 to adjust for all possible first Century Jerusalem Tombs.
Their final figure was 600 to 1 in favor of it being Jesus Tomb.
Sounds convincing doesn't it?
Yet, notice that they removed Matthew and Judah because they were not ‘explicatively’ mentioned in the gospels. Yet, they are keeping Mariamne in their formula despite the fact that she is also NOT ‘explicatively’ mentioned in the gospels. This is the equivalent of ‘cooking the books’ with bogus data.
Since I've already shown that there is absolutely no way to equate Mary Magdalene with Mariamne we can remove Mariamne from the statistical equation.
Let’s see how that affects the results.
Once Mariamne is taken from the equation the raw statistical computation falls to 1 in 15,200
After adjusting for unintentional biases and all possible First Century Jerusalem Tombs the probability of the Talpiot Tomb being Jesus’ family tomb is only to 3.8 to 1.
When you consider that Jose is probably Jesus' father Joseph, then we realize that he is already accounted for in the formula for Jesus. Remember that the probability of 1 in 190 was for Jesus son of Joseph. If we were just accounting for Jesus then then the formula would only be 1 in 8. Therefore, Joseph should not be counted twice in this equation. When you change the equation accordingly and adjust it for biases, the statistical chance that the Talpiot Tomb is the THE tomb of Jesus of Nazareth falls even further to only .19 to 1. In other words, there is a greater chance that the Talpiot tomb isn't the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth than it is.
Simply put, the real statistical probability that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is so slim as to be thoroughly unconvincing. Simply put, the REAL statistical probability that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is so slim as to be thoroughly unconvincing. There is a better chance of Hilary Clinton joining the Republican party than of this grave site being the actual tomb of Jesus Christ.
These more accurate figues also show us that statistics are only as good as the assumptions that you are operating with. Faulty or biased assumptions can skew and distort statistical results so badly that those results can be misleading or untrue. This is why Mark Twain reminds us that there are three types of untruths: "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics".
The Statistical Probability that All Five of Film’s "Alternate History Assumptions" are True
Now it is time to have some fun. Since Simcha and Cameron are defending the film’s conclusions based upon its statistical ‘soundness’, let's test their assumptions using their same statistical methods.
Assumption 1 - That the Jesus and Jose of the Talpiot Tomb are brothers. 1 in 3 chance they are brothers.
Assumption 2 - That Mariamne in the Talpiot Tomb is the Mary Magdalene of the New Testament Gospels. 1 in 1000 chance she is.
Assumption 3 - That Jesus of Nazareth was married to the Mariamne of the Talpiot Tomb. 1 in 1000 chance that he was.
Assumption 4 - The Matthew found in the Talpiot Tomb is related to Mary but is NOT her son. 1 in 10 chance that he is.
Assumption 5 - The James Ossuary is originally from the Talpiot Tomb. 1 in 2 chance that it is.
When we calculate the statistical probability that all five of these "alternate history assumptions" are true the raw score is a 1 in 60,000,000 chance that all five are true.
When we adjust the probability for unintentional historical biases and all possible first century Jerusalem tombs we are still left with a 1 in 15,000 chance that all five of the films assumptions are true. In other words, 14999 times out of 15,000 Simcha’s and Cameron’s assumptions regarding the alternate history that is necessary to conclude that the Talpiot Tomb is that of Jesus Christ will be false.
The Bottom Line
A careful analysis of the facts proves that Simcha and Cameron have not found the 'lost tomb' of Jesus of Nazareth. Their 'evidence' is far from conclusive and their statistical analysis is mired by faulty assumptions and bad scholarship. Simcha and Cameron’s efforts, although they make for provocative television do not even meet the minimum standards of evidence necessary to overturn the Biblical record.
Contrary to what Simcha, Cameron and their liberal theologians would have you believe, the evidence for Jesus' bodily resurrection from the dead as laid out by the eye-witness testimony of the New Testament documents still stands.
--- Update February 28, 2007 - 10th Ossuary Was NEVER Missing.
The case against the Cameron’s and Simcha’s claims is picking up even more steam and I’ve had to adjust the probability of the the James Ossuary belonging to the Talpiot Tomb.
The film is claiming that the James Ossuary more than likely originated from the Talpiot Tomb because one of the 10 original ossuaries disappeared and is missing. According to Simcha the James Ossuary first surfaced in 1980, therefore it must be the missing Talpiot ossuary.
Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post published an interview with Prof. Amos Kloner. He is the man who oversaw the archeological work at the Talpiot Tomb in 1980. He was asked directly about the “missing ossuary” and the chances that the James Ossuary originated from Talpiot. Kloner told the Jerusalem post that there never was a missing ossuary and that the Jsmrd ossuary does not fit the dimensions of the ossuary in question.
What of the assertion that the 10th ossuary disappeared from your care and may be none other than the "James" ossuary?
Nothing has disappeared. The 10th ossuary was on my list. The measurements were not the same (as the James ossuary). It was plain (without an inscription). We had no room under our roofs for all the ossuaries, so unmarked ones were sometimes kept in the courtyard (of the Rockefeller Museum).
As a result of this new information we could justify raising the probality of Assumption 5 from 1 in 2 to a higher figure such as 1 in 10 or even 1 in 100.
If we go with the more conservative figure of 1 in 10 this raises the probability that all five of the films alternate histories is true to 1 in 75,000.
The re-evaluation comes more than 2 decades after their initial research & is far more commendatory than the initial observations made by the Passantinos & Martin. Although the Passantinos & Martin originally said the movement was not a non-Christian cult, & that at best Nee & especially Lee's writings were contradictory, they were strongly critical of the movement's theology as they understood it from examination of published materials. Although neither the Passantinos nor Martin wrote on the movement subsequent to 1981, for many years CRI offered a fact sheet on the movement that repeated the main criticisms from the Passantinos & Martin.
More than 3 years ago, Gretchen Passantino (who has directed AIA since her husband's death in 2003), Hank Hanegraaff (who has directed CRI since Martin's death in 1989), & Elliot Miller (who has edited the Journal since its inception), responded positively to a request by Living Stream Ministry, the publishing support for the movement, to begin a dialog & re-evaluation of its teachings & theology.
In the years since the initial critiques, the Passantinos, Miller, & Hanegraaff had increasingly appreciated the importance of understanding what people mean by their words through direct dialog, observation, & interaction, not merely or even sometimes best through their published words. Both CRI & AIA in recent years adopted policies mandating direct interaction with controversial individuals & groups as a pre-requisite to formal published criticisms. Passantino explains, "Our ground-breaking work in such areas as satanism & neo-paganism, as well as concurrent work with others in apologetics on the Worldwide Church of God and other movements & issues reinforced this principle & made us very open to re-evaluate this movement, whose written materials had always been problematic & open to divergent analysis among apologists."
Over the past 3 years, CRI & AIA have had unlimited access to the local churches’ written materials, hundreds of hours of direct dialog with leadership, and unrestricted access to rank-and-file members. CRI & AIA have also devoted hundreds of hours to theological analysis & research, including consultation with leading theologians & bible scholars from multiple graduate institutions. "Not only do we have a far better, more comprehensive understanding of the beliefs of the movement,” noted Passantino, “we also see clearly how our criticisms, even though they were among the mildest from the apologetics community, misunderstood & misrepresented its core of orthodoxy."
In the 1970s and early 1980s the Passantinos (in 2 small booklets) characterized Lee's teachings as at best contradictory & at worst heretical, & along with Martin (in The New Cults) strongly criticized their theology while stating they were not a non-Christian cult. Other researchers beginning in the 1970s branded the movement a cult & warned of psychological, sociological, & criminal errors attributed to the movement as well as charges of theological heresy. As recently as 1999 authors John Ankerberg & John Weldon included the movement among groups that were dangerous, destructive, & criminal in their behavior as well as heretical in their theology in their Encyclopedia of Cults & New Religions.
Since the movement had its origins & a strong contingent of believers in mainland China, the atheistic communist Chinese government made use of the negative reports as partial justification for criminal charges & convictions against Chinese Christians associated with the movement. The egregious charges made in Ankerberg & Weldon's book, echoing those made in earlier decades (such as in The God-men by Neil T. Duddy) have been seen by the movement as extremely dangerous for its members in mainland China, who continue to face government restriction, charges, & convictions for their church work. As part of countering this threat, key local church teachers (they reject a formal leadership hierarchy but obviously defer to certain members as especially important resources for leadership & teaching) approached a variety of apologetics leaders seeking dialog & reassessment. AIA & CRI welcomed the opportunity & joined together to pursue the process .
In recent years the churches & LSM have made progress in receiving recognition in wider Christian circles in America. Fuller Seminary conducted a similar dialog & examination to that of AIA & CRI & concluded, “the teachings and practices of the local churches and its members represent the genuine, historical, biblical Christian faith in every essential aspect” (Fuller Statement). LSM was accepted into full voting membership in the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).
In dialog with local church leaders & LSM, they & AIA & CRI agreed that the initial strongly critical evaluations of the earlier decades by the Passantinos & Martins were due to a combination of factors that did not include deliberate misrepresentation or sinful intention on either side. Rather, the inadequate criticisms had much more to do with factors such as the lack of direct interchange; the cultural, linguistic, & ecclesiological differences between Christianity in China & America; & the relatively immature status of analytical religious analysis on both sides.
“A good example,” Passantino offered, “is the similarities between some of Nee & Lee’s teachings & those of some of the early church fathers & some expressions of eastern orthodoxy today.” She continued, “Neither Nee nor Lee claimed that their teachings about personal sanctifying transformation came from a familiarity with or adoption of the patristic or eastern orthodox teachings of theosis. With the comprehensive knowledge I had in the 1970s about heretical teachings on the subject from western aberrational groups, it was far more likely that I would identify Nee & Lee’s teachings with those rather than with patristic & eastern orthodox theology with which I was far less conversant.”
Revisiting the controversial teachings after a hiatus of more than 2 decades, AIA & CRI were able to more fairly evaluate the pertinent passages in their wider context & in complementary comparison with a wider body of orthodox theology. “We concluded,” Passantino said, “that one of the reasons we repeatedly encountered what we thought of as contradictions in Nee & Lee’s teachings so long ago, was that they really did not mean the heretical view, but meant to be understood as well within orthodoxy.” Direct dialog was key to unlocking the conundrum. Passantino, Hanegraaff, & Miller knew after their first meeting that these representatives were their fellow Christians. “As they affirmed orthodox theology, rejected heresy, & explained to us their theology,” Passantino offered, “I knew direct interchange was essential to fairly evaluate them.”
AIA & CRI affirm that the essential doctrines of Nee, Lee, the local churches, & LSM are fully within orthodoxy. AIA & CRI are fully aware that there are a number of secondary teachings & practices that distinguish them from many American evangelical Christian churches.
Friday, February 23 2007 @ 04:27 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
According to his brother Jermaine, who became a Muslim in 1989, pop superstar & controversial figure Michael Jackson may convert to Islam. The Jackson children were raised in a Jehovah's Witness family, but none of the adult children appeared to stick with the fringe Christian group.
Michael has previous associations with the Nation of Islam, which provided body guards for him during the trial at which he was acquitted of child molestation charges. Since the trial he has spent much of his time in the Muslim country of Bahrain.
Jermaine said, "When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books & he asked me lots of things about my religion & I told him that it's peaceful & beautiful." He continued, "He read everything & he was proud of me that I found something that would give me inner strength & peace. He could do so much, just like I am trying to do. Michael & I & the word of God, we could do so much."
Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 07:20 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Born on October 24, 2006 at not quite 22 weeks of gestation, Amillia Sonja Taylor weighted only 10 ounces & was not expected to survive. She was only 9 1/2 inches long. Normal gestation is from 37 to 40 weeks. "We weren't too optimistic," admitted Dr. William Smalling, "but she proved us all wrong."
The Florida baby, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization, had respiratory & digestive problems & a mild brain hemorrhage, but seems to have conqured them all. She is still on some oxygen assistance, but is taking all of her nourishment by mouth & seems to be thriving. Doctores expect her to have no serious or persistent problems as she grows up. She is now nearly 26 inches long & weighs 4 1/2 pounds.
Amillia is the first child for Eddie & Sonja Taylor of Homestead, Florida.
Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 07:04 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
When he was born 18 weeks early in 1988, Derek Cooper weighed only 17 ounces & spent his first few years battling heart & lung problems. At the time he was the earliest born child to survive his birth after only 22 weeks of gestation.
Now the healthy 19 year old who still suffers from autistic dyslexia is preparing to compete in the Special Olympics in Shanghai, China later this year. Cooper is a champion horse rider & will be competing in a number of equestrian events, including the difficult dressage on behalf of Great Britain.
Cooper is from Kilwinning, Ayrshire. His mother, Sarah (45), said, "I am so happy for him. I was scared when he was born that he would not survive, but look at him now."
Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 06:40 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Possible 2008 US Presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ) now says he believes the 1973 Supreme Court of the United States decision legalizing abortion throughout pregnancy for any or no reason should be overturned. This past Sunday, on a campaign stop in Spartanbrug, SC, McCain stated, "I do not support Rove. v. Wade. It should be overturned." This is in striking contrast to his position during his last run for the presidency in 1999, when he declared, "I would not support the repeal of Roe. v. Wade, which would then force a number of women in America to [undergo] illegal & dangerous operations."
Pro-life leaders are cautiously optimistic about what appears to be McCain's switch, noting that he could be growing in his understanding & convictions regarding preborn human life, or he could be taking a political tack without real conviction. "People can say whatever they want to," observed Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the pro-life Family Research Council. "I'd like to see more action." McClusky & others pointed to McCain's support for embryonic stem cell research funding by the government, & his absence in some higher profile pro-life issues.
McCain signed a letter to President Bush last week by 35 senators who have asked President Bush to veto any Democratically sponsored legislation that would liberalize current pro-life law.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26