Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Post #1000, a rebuttal of the lost tomb of Jesus nonsense

This is my 1000th post on Dangerous Idea. I guess I've actually hung in there as a blogger. Do I get a prize?

Anyway, I hope no one was thinking of being taken in by the "lost tomb of Jesus" business, but just in case, I have a link to Gary Habermas' response. Even religious skeptics should be heading for the lifeboats on this one.


Victor Reppert said...

Let's get this on its proper line. Yes, I did think that there was a problem with the ossuary of James if these names were so common. What was the evidence that this was James' ossuary?

Jason Pratt said...

Congrats on the 1000th post, btw!

I agree, I was never very impressed by the James stat argument. It's been a while since the last time I checked up on the James ossuary, but from what I recall the argument in favor of identification (which runs mostly independent of arguments in favor of its forgery, which is a provenance question) boils down to:

a.) incidental details of the ossuary match up with conditions of the traditional burial location of James (keeping in mind, these might be forgable);

b.) there _is_ in fact a traditional burial location known about in this case, to synch up to (I mean generally--I don't know whether there is a specific place enshrined somewhere, nor if so whether any attempt has been made to verify the contents are missing);

c.) the oddity of having a second familial identification in the inscription (again keeping in mind this might be forgeable). Who was this Yehoshua (or was it Yeshua? I forget which form was on that ossuary) who was important enough to be mentioned as James' brother but who didn't need to be identified any more than by 'Joshua'? (But of course it might have been done for any of several imaginable reasons.)

d.) the identification doesn't raise large-scale historical problems in accounting for the shape of other extant data (textual claims, etc.)

Far from the most solid of cases, but better than the Jesus Family Tomb case. {shrug} It's even better on the stats, since there are two definite relationships testified to on the Jacobian ossuary, for matching up with known data elsewhere, whereas at the end of the day there is really only one definite relationship on the Joshuan ossuary for matching up with known data elsewhere. (Assuming the name is even 'Yehoshua/Yeshua' and not something else; and assuming the famous Jesus' own close associates would call him son-of-Joseph rather than from-Nazareth or son-of-Mary or something like that.)


exapologist said...

I remember some of my fellow christian grad students (I was still a christian at the time) who told me about going to a talk by Ben Witherington III on the ossuary. He got them all pumped up about it. He went into the details of the evidence, and how it was very clear that it was authentic. He also talked about how God provided this amazing piece of evidence in order to help our faith.

Anonymous said...

Which ossuary are you referring to? Ben Witherington recently posted this comment on this blog:

"This stands in contrast to when Andre LeMaire was prepared to put his good reputation on the line to say that the James ossuary is genuine (and this word just in. He still thinks that, and the recent evidence presented in the trial in Jerusalem of genuine patina from the word 'Jesus' on the James box inscription provides further evidence for this conclusion)."

exapologist said...

Hi Ben,

I'm referring to the supposed ossuary of James that you mentioned. Your news is of course very intriguing. I would be interested in reading about the relevant news story, if you happen to know about it. I'll go to W's blog to see if he has a link (or at least a reference).



Jason Pratt said...

BW3 is a good guy, and can be very competent at times, but... well. Let's just say that I wouldn't be referring to the James ossuary as an amazing piece of evidence provided by God to bolster our faith--even if it's genuine. It would be a great archaeological find, sullied (or enhanced, ymmv) by the surrounding provenance gunfights over whether it's a forgery or not. But what kind of faith is it supposed to be bolstering? An ossuary is nice, but the only shot it can possibly land is against the Jesus Mythers; and if I have to rely on a stone box to defend my faith against _their_ pitable attempts, I'm in trouble already. {s}

But, otoh, I can see how a simple 'there it is, duh' fact would be helpful in inocuating people who don't have the training to zero through the various Jesus Myth proponents, who themselves seem to be getting more vocal nowadays. So maybe I shouldn't diss it so much for practical apologetic purposes. {shrug}


The Uncredible Hallq said...

Even religious skeptics should be heading for the lifeboats on this one.

Untrue. Most skeptics never got on that ship to begin with. All the atheists that I remember see commenting on it trashed it quickly... Lippard, Carrier, PZ... this thing reeked BS from the start, and I like to think that most serious skeptics of traditional religion have good general-purpose BS meters, not just BS meters for traditional tripe.