Article- Have They Really Found "Jesus' Family Tomb" postscript

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Postscript to Article on “Jesus Family Tomb”

There is a postscript to add to the “Jesus Family Tomb” article, as we have a little more information now about what the inscriptions really say. You might remember the example of “John, Paul, and George.” If you see those three names, you wouldn’t necessarily think “Beatles.” But if the group of names also contained a “Ringo,” then you might well think you were dealing with the Beatles. The filmmakers said that the occurrence of the name “Mariamne” constituted the “Ringo”; therefore it was likely that this is really the Jesus Family Tomb. You may remember that I put forth several arguments against that, which still stand. But the new information is about the “Mariamne” inscription on one of the boxes. Scholars had transliterated it in various ways, like “Mariamenou,” “Mariamne e Mara,” etc. Jacobovici says the inscription is “very clear.” Really? Not the way I see it. I’m no expert, but I did study Greek.


So what does it really say? A scholar living in Jerusalem by the name of Stephen Pfann (with whom we worked for about 8 years, and whom we call Steve) has put the matter to rest, as far as I am concerned. He has shown that what the hard-to-read Greek really says is “Mariame kai Mara.” Since “Mara” is short for “Martha,” the inscription says “Mary and Martha.” In other words, the box was used for the bones of two people. He also thinks that the “and Martha” part is in a different hand, thus indicating that another person wrote that part, probably several years later. (It was common practice to re-use these expensive ossuaries, instead of providing a fresh one for every deceased person.)


Now one of the filmmakers, Jacobovici, is bound and determined to prove that this is the Jesus family tomb. But in a recent interview (with Ruthie Blum of the Jerusalem Post), he makes a serious mistake. First, he impugns Steve’s scholarship by saying that Steve is delving into areas that are not of his expertise. (And what is Jacobovici himself doing?) One “area” Jacobovici is talking about is that Steve is not an expert on reading inscriptions. Maybe he’s not, but he is an internationally known expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even figured out the cryptic script on some of the scrolls. So he is an expert on deciphering hard-to-read ancient writing. I lived one floor above Steve for 8 years. I didn’t always agree with him, but one thing I can assure you about Steve: his scholarship is impeccable.


Now by Jacobovici’s own admission, he is not an archeologist. He says he is an “investigative journalist.” He says, “I’m not an archeologist; I interview archeologists. I’m not an epigrapher; I interview epigraphers.” So what does that tell you about his scholarship?


Now here is where I believe Jacobovici stumbles. He says:


            “What I find ironic is that ‘Mariame’ is also appropriate for Mary Magdalene.


            [actually it simply means Mary]. And if Pfann is right, what he’s done is to bring


            ‘Martha’ into the tomb, which only strengthens the hypothesis that this is the


            tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, because Martha is the sister of  Lazarus…and they


            may be related by marriage.”


Jacobovici has clearly confused Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany. In the Bible it is clear that these two Marys are not the same. Jacobovici’s thesis is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. That’s why he’s so adamant that this “Mariame” must be Mary Magdalene.


But in actuality, by “bringing Martha into the tomb,” as Jacobovici puts it, Steve has made it clear that this is NOT the Jesus family tomb. Because neither of these Marys was in the family of Jesus! Jacobovici himself said, “…when you’re buried in a family tomb, it is either because you are related by blood or by marriage” (JPost interview). Neither of these two Marys was related to Jesus’ family. The only possible relation would have been if Jesus were married to Mary Magdalene, and that’s what Jacobovici and James Cameron have not proven. But if it’s Mary Magdalene in the tomb, then the “Martha”  would be out of place.


I find that I like to write on subjects in the area of Christian apologetics. The Lord knows, we need a lot of it, because more and more it is beginning to look like the days of Justin Martyr (mid-second century), when he wrote his famous Apology addressed to the Roman emperors.


Okay, that’s the postscript. What I need is to hear from some of you about these articles I’ve been sending, especially this one. The only feedback I got was from a friend in Jerusalem. You don’t have to agree with me; you don’t even have to like the articles.  But I do need to know if you are reading them. So if someone will give me just a bit of feedback, I’ll at least know that I’m getting somewhere. Thanks.


Blessings to all of you. – Lonnie C. Mings



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