Local residents told the BBC News website they were pleased with the attention the tomb has drawn. "It will mean our house prices will go up because Christians will want to live here," one woman said. ...
They do not realise that if this was true (which it isn't), then there would be no Christians! That is for the simple reason that Christianity would never have got off the ground if Jesus' body was known to be buried in a large tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
But as Christian apologist William Lane Craig points out, it was common ground with the earliest Christians and their Jewish opponents that Jesus' tomb was empty, i.e. "the earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the historicity of the empty tomb [Mt 28:11-15] ... there was nobody who was claiming that the tomb still contained Jesus' body" :
"I had spent the first part of our interview peppering Craig with objections and arguments challenging the empty tomb. But I suddenly realized that I hadn't given him the opportunity to spell out his affirmative case. While he had already alluded to several reasons why he believes Jesus' tomb was unoccupied, I said, `Why don't you give me your best shot? Convince me with your top four or five reasons that the empty tomb is a historical fact.' Craig rose to the challenge. One by one he spelled out his arguments concisely and powerfully. `First,' he said, `the empty tomb is definitely implicit in the early tradition that is passed along by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, which is a very old and reliable source of historical information about Jesus. `Second, the site of Jesus tomb was known to Christian and Jew alike. So if it weren't empty, it would be impossible for a movement founded on belief in the Resurrection to have come into existence in the same city where this man had been publicly executed and buried. `Third, we can tell from the language, grammar, and style that Mark got his empty tomb story [Mk 16:1-8] - actually, his whole passion narrative-from an earlier source. In fact, there's evidence it was written before A.D. 37, which is much too early for legend to have seriously corrupted it. `A. N. Sherwin-White, the respected Greco-Roman classical historian from Oxford University, said it would have been without precedent anywhere in history for legend to have grown up that fast and significantly distorted the gospels. `Fourth, there's the simplicity of the empty tomb story in Mark. Fictional apocryphal accounts from the second century contain all kinds of flowery narratives, in which Jesus comes out of the tomb in glory and power, with everybody seeing him, including the priests, Jewish authorities, and Roman guards. Those are the way legends read, but these don't come until generations after the events, which is after eyewitnesses have died off. By contrast, Mark's account of the story of the empty tomb is stark in its simplicity and unadorned by theological reflection. `Fifth, the unanimous testimony that the empty tomb was discovered by women [Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-11; Jn 20:1-2] argues for the authenticity of the story, because this would have been embarrassing for the disciples to admit and most certainly would have been covered up if this were a legend. `Sixth, the earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the historicity of the empty tomb. In other words, there was nobody who was claiming that the tomb still contained Jesus' body. The question always was, 'What happened to the body?' `The Jews proposed the ridiculous story that the guards had fallen asleep [Mt 28:11-15]. Obviously they were grasping at straws. But the point is this: they started with the assumption that the tomb was vacant! Why? Because they knew it was!" (Strobel, L.P., "The Evidence of the Missing Body," in "The Case For Christ: A Journalist's Personal Testimony of the Evidence for Jesus," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1998, pp.296-298)
Here is what must be the final nail in the coffin (no pun intended!) of this theory (if one can even call it that) by two more leading secular archaelogists who conclude it is "a publicity stunt, and it will make these guys very rich" and "This whole case [for the tomb of Jesus] is flawed from beginning to end":
"'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt: Archaeologists Decry TV Film," Washington Post, Alan Cooperman, February 28, 2007; Page A03 ... Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt. Scorn for the Discovery Channel's claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and -- most explosively -- their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy. ... "I'm not a Christian. I'm not a believer. I don't have a dog in this fight," said William G. Dever, who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years and is widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars. "I just think it's a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated." ... Dever, a retired professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona, said that some of the inscriptions on the Talpiyot ossuaries are unclear, but that all of the names are common. "I've know about these ossuaries for many years and so have many other archaeologists, and none of us thought it was much of a story, because these are rather common Jewish names from that period," he said. "It's a publicity stunt, and it will make these guys very rich, and it will upset millions of innocent people because they don't know enough to separate fact from fiction." ... Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, expressed irritation that the claims were made at a news conference rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific article. By going directly to the media, she said, the filmmakers "have set it up as if it's a legitimate academic debate, when the vast majority of scholars who specialize in archaeology of this period have flatly rejected this," she said. Magness noted that at the time of Jesus, wealthy families buried their dead in tombs cut by hand from solid rock, putting the bones in niches in the walls and then, later, transferring them to ossuaries. She said Jesus came from a poor family that, like most Jews of the time, probably buried their dead in ordinary graves. "If Jesus' family had been wealthy enough to afford a rock-cut tomb, it would have been in Nazareth, not Jerusalem," she said. Magness also said the names on the Talpiyot ossuaries indicate that the tomb belonged to a family from Judea, the area around Jerusalem, where people were known by their first name and father's name. As Galileans, Jesus and his family members would have used their first name and home town, she said. "This whole case [for the tomb of Jesus] is flawed from beginning to end," she said. ...
Personally I agree with this article below that "The Discovery Channel, like most of the national TV elite, displays a dramatic bias in target selection when it comes to religion" and especially "Christianity":
"What Bones of Jesus?, "Human Events, L. Brent Bozell III, 02/28/2007 ... The Discovery Channel, like most of the national TV elite, displays a dramatic bias in target selection when it comes to religion. There are no controversies over the historical claims of Islam, Judaism or any other religious faith. But Christianity is another story. It is routinely the subject of sensationalistic TV exposes, complete with breathless claims about how Jesus "might be" the son of a Roman soldier, or he might have survived the Crucifixion. And now he's a dad, with kids. What's worse is that these shoddy alleged exposes always air in the most sacred Christian seasons, like Lent. Last year during Lent, on April 2, 2006, "Dateline NBC" offered part of its show to alleged Jesus-debunker Michael Baigent, even as reporter Sara James declared: "Baigent acknowledges there's no proof of his theory, but points out that it was possible to survive crucifixion." If the Discovery Channel fails to cancel this slanderous 'documentary,' it will have to explain why it is intentionally misleading the public. This network should be embarrassed by this plunge into sensational speculation masquerading as 'science.' To slander Christianity at the start of the Lenten season is unconscionable. This isn't news. It's sensationalism on a stick. Or in this case, on a cross. ...
I also agree that deep down these attempts to discredit Christianity are motivated by the need "to find any justification for why their lives do not need to be accountable to a holy God":
"Jesus' bones 'publicity stunt'," Independent Online, February 28 2007, Irene Kuppan ... Taryn Hodgson, national co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network - a network of Christian ministries in the country - said: "The credibility of Cameron's research, like that of The Da Vinci Code, will sink like the Titanic. People will try to find any justification for why their lives do not need to be accountable to a holy God." ...
I regard these increasing attacks on Christianity (for that is what they are) as an aspect of The Great Tribulation that I believe we are now entering, when, as St. Paul predicted, "in later times ... hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (i.e. cauterized) will propagate false teachings about Christianity that are ultimately those of "demons" with the aim that "some will abandon the faith":
1 Tim 4:1-2 1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
And if Christianity is true (which it is) these "evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived":
2 Tim 3:1-5. 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But, as I read in my study into The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the other morning, they will, if they don't repent, discover to their eternal cost that Jesus' bones were not lying in a tomb, but His body was in fact raised into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11), from where He will return to justly "pay back trouble to those who trouble" Christians:
2 Thess 1:6-10. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
As I responded on my now-terminated Yahoo discusssion group, to an anti-Christian named Bill who called God "incompetent":
Some people are brave, or foolish, because they take on the Mafia. Other people are very brave, or very foolish because they take on Osama Bin Laden. But those who, like Bill, take on God, are either infinitely brave, or infinitely foolish!
The same applies to these (and indeed all) Jesus debunkers. They are infinitely foolish to take on God!
However, as I continued in my post to Bill, they are unwittingly being manipulated by Satan in "his attack upon the Church" (see `tagline'):
Bill is unwittingly acting out his part in Revelation 12 (see tagline).
But as the late Bible commentator William Hendriksen pointed out below, in his great commentary on the Book of Revelation, this "very brief span of time" which we are now entering or are already in "during which the devil marshals the armies of Gog and Magog ["borrowed from the book of Ezekiel [Eze 38:2] ... as a symbol of the final attack of Satan and his hordes upon the Church" - p.193] against 'the camp of the saints'"and they are about to finally destroy the Church, "this brief span is followed" or interrupted "by the second coming of Christ to judge the world"!
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
"The final assaults of the dragon (12:13-17). In this third symbolic picture, the dragon, having been hurled down to the earth, persecutes the woman because she was the one who gave birth to the male. This explains his attempt to destroy the woman and is in reality another phase of his wrath against her child. Let us be sure to notice this point. The woman received the two wings of the eagle (Ex. 19:5; Dt. 32:11; Is. 40:31) so that she flew to the wilderness. In that wilderness God had prepared a place for her (verse 6). Here she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, that is, for a thousand two hundred and sixty days (verse 6). Here she resides 'away from the face of the serpent'. The dragon, not yet willing to give up, tries to engulf the woman with a stream of water which he pours from his mouth; but the earth swallows up this stream. So the dragon is furious, filled with wrath against the woman. Yet, having failed, not only in his attempt to destroy the child but also in his assault upon the woman, he slinks away to do battle against the rest of her seed, those keeping the commandments of God and adhering to the testimony of Jesus. We interpret the picture as follows. Satan, having failed to defeat the Christ, continues his attack upon the Church. He directs his fury against the Church because the Church has brought forth the Christ. But the Lord protects His people: He bears them on eagles' wings. In the desert of affliction, this earthly sojourn, He has prepared a place for them and nourishes them with the manna of the Word. Here the Church resides 'away from the face of the serpent', that is, away from Satan's most direct and deadly attack. The devil cannot destroy her. This is the millennium of Revelation 20. True, the evil one tries to engulf the Church in a stream of lies, delusions, religious '-isms', philosophical falsehoods, political utopias, quasi-scientific dogmas, but the true Church is not fooled. Worldly people, on the other hand, are ready to swallow the entire river! This failure to deceive the Church makes the devil very angry. He is determined to direct his attack against 'the rest of the woman's seed', that is, against individual believers. This period of time during which the Church experiences both bad and good, the persecution of Satan and the special care of God which makes it impossible for the evil one to launch a direct attack on the Church and destroy it; this twilight period during which God's people are nourished with the manna of the Word and enjoy a certain degree of tolerance and security on earth, the Lord having prepared a place for them in the desert, is described as 'a time, and times, and half a time'. This is the period during which the witnesses (chapter 11) prophesy; the gospel is being proclaimed far and wide. It is followed by 'three days and a half' during which the witnesses are killed and their dead bodies lie in the High Street of the great city (Rev. 11:7ff.). This is the Battle of Harmagedon. These three days and a half are, in turn, followed by the judgment day. It is clear, therefore, that the period described as 'a time, and times, and half a time' begins at the moment of Christ's first coming-His birth, ministry, cross, coronation and extends to a point of time very near to His second coming in judgment. A careful study of Revelation 20 confirms our view. There, too, the long period during which the Church is nourished 'away from the serpent' so that Satan's influence is curbed is followed by a very brief span of time during which the devil marshals the armies of Gog and Magog against 'the camp of the saints'. There, too, this brief span is followed by the second coming of Christ to judge the world (20:11ff.)." (Hendriksen, W., "More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation," , Tyndale Press: London, Reprinted, 1966, pp.141-143).