Melbourne scholar says Jesus tomb claims "bizarre"

This week CathNews presents the top stories from 2007. Today's edition reprints a selection of stories from January and February 2007. This article was originally published on 28 February 2007

Melbourne New Testament expert, Fr Brendan Byrne, has described as "bizarre" claims in a new documentary that an ancient tomb unearthed in Jerusalem 27 years ago was the burial tomb of Jesus and his family.

The James Cameron-produced documentary, The Burial Cave of Jesus, by the US Discovery Channel, says the crypt contains coffins with residue of the remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and their son, Judah, the Age reports.

But Fr Byrne says the claims are "pretty bizarre", noting that the Bible said Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.

"If they found bones, it would be problematic, because it would suggest Jesus didn't rise physically from the dead," he added.

"But Jesus and Joseph and Miriam and Judah are four of the most common names of the time. To assert that this group of names is the family of Jesus is a very remote possibility."

The tomb in question was discovered in 1980 when construction workers accidentally uncovered the crypt, with 10 stone coffins, six of which had inscriptions.

Archaeologists have reportedly deciphered the names on the tombs, including Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) son of Joseph, Mary, Mary and Judah, son of Yeshua.

Unveiling two of the coffins he claims belonged to Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the Titanic movie director Cameron said. "I think this is the biggest archaeological story of the century".

"It is absolutely not a publicity stunt."


Titanic controversy over remains of the deity (Sydney Morning Herald, 28/2/07)

Christian heresy of the Talpiot tomb (Jerusalem Post, 27/2/07)
Jesus 'remains' report is seasonal anti-Christian propaganda - cleric (Interfax, 27/2/07)
Did these stone chests contain the body of Christ and his wife? (The Age, 28/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Discovery Channel
Jesus Family Tomb website
James Cameron (Wikipedia)

St Paul's tomb unearthed (CathNews 7/12/06)
Ned Kelly's bishop's tomb found under Cathedral pews (CathNews 16/10/06)
Tomb raiders hit jackpot with archbishop's teeth (CathNews 11/10/06)
Israeli archaeologists uncover 'oldest church' (CathNews 9/11/05)
Archeologists discover St Paul's tomb (CathNews 18/2/05)
Group discovers John the Baptist cave (CathNews 17/8/04)

7 Jan 2008