… I must say that The Lost Tomb is not only professionally done; it also makes a persuasive and not easily refuted case—however much the natural conservatism of the scholarly world may pooh-pooh it—that the burial crypt in question indeed contained the bones (subsequently reburied in an archaeological mass grave and no longer recoverable) of Jesus, his mother, several of his brothers, and, as I have said, Mary Magdalene. This tomb was discovered in the course of construction in southern Jerusalem in 1980 and totally ignored by archaeologists and New Testament scholars.
It has been objected that since all four of the New Testament Gospels, the earliest of which were written scant decades after Jesus’ death, speak of his body’s disappearance from its tomb soon after his crucifixion, it makes no sense that his bones should then have been deposited by his family, at least some members of whom are said to have believed in his ministry, in a crypt whose existence would have been known. This is not a point that The Lost Tomb deals with, but I do not think it is a compelling one.
As The Lost Tomb does point out, Jewish burials in the time of Jesus occurred in two stages: first the body was interred in the ground or in a cave to decompose, and then, usually after a year, the bones were collected, put in a sarcophagus, and deposited in a family crypt. Assuming that Jesus’ body was stolen from its first interment immediately after his death, a likelihood hinted at by the Gospels when they go to the trouble of denying it (you don’t bother to deny what people aren’t saying), it would then have been reburied somewhere else while the story of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection began to spread. But its whereabouts would still have been known to whoever stole it, and it is not inconceivable, once it became accepted in Jerusalem that Jesus’ bones were not in his family’s crypt, that they could have found their way to it secretly.
Would such a scenario, if true, constitute a devastating blow to Christian faith in Jesus’ resurrection? Not being a Christian, I can’t say. It doesn’t seem likely, though. Archaeological evidence that many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible aren’t true has never been a problem for most believing Jews. Believing Christians are presumably as resourceful.…
I was speaking yesterday with a mutual friend about Simcha's latest, and I made the same points (regarding methodology) that Halkin does. I also noted that Shuka Dorfman and his crew at the Israel Antiquities Authority are, shall we say, not the easiest to deal with. Stories of Dorfman's intransigence are legion.
Is it the the tomb of Jesus? As Simcha shows quite strongly, odds are, it is.
Here is the NY Times review of the film.