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Jesus Family Tombs??
Well, on this eve of the Jubilees/Qumran Pesach [March 20th was on a
Wednesday this year, thus kicking off our "Essene" calendar with Nisan
1/Wed/Spring Equinox--the kind of "perfect" sequence those DS folk loved] I
sure many of you have seen the AP and Reuters stories that circulated
today--at first I thought it was just an April Fools Day prank but in
checking a bit it seems the basic story is solid--i.e., the facts as reported
below. Although we all know the names mentioned are common, it does seem
that their presence in a single site should have been at least publicized and
discussed when they were discovered in 1980. It is also interesting to see
all the clerics rushing to assure everyone that this could not be that
family. I think Joseph Zias, who probably knows the most about this, is
out of the country (Israel I mean), but perhaps we can get a report from him
upon his return. Any comments in the meantime?
Copyright 1996 Associated Press
April 02, 1996; Tuesday 21:30 Eastern Time
SECTION: International news
LENGTH: 667 words
HEADLINE: 'Jesus' Casket Found In Israel AP-Jesus-Tomb
Deep in the warehouse of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on a dusty
crowded shelf, is a box that is empty except for a great question that it
The limestone box, catalogue No. 80.503, once contained human bones and is
engraved in barely legible Hebrew: ''Jesus, son of Joseph.'' Officials
reporters to see it Tuesday, after researchers for the BBC stumbled on the
ossuaries last month and speculated they may have been the caskets of Jesus
Christ and his family.
The 2- by 1-foot box, called an ossuary, was found along with nine others
including two bearing the names Mary and Joseph by Israeli archaeologists in
Jewish burial chamber in Jerusalem in 1980 and then packed away in the
with hundreds of other caskets. The bones that were in the caskets were
The find ''will electrify the centuries-old debate: did Jesus' body really
rise from the dead on Easter morning?'' BBC reporter Joan Bakewell wrote in
Sunday Times of London.
But Israeli archaeologists and Bible scholars said Tuesday that Christians
have no reason to worry that one of the pillars of their faith Jesus'
resurrection is about to crumble.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph were among the most common Jewish names in biblical
times and that their appearance together in one place had little
Biblical scholar Father Jerome Murphy O'Connor of Jerusalem's Ecole
said there was no way to prove that the ossuary had contained the bones of
But, he said, if such proof could be made, ''the consequences for the
would be disastrous.''
The burial chamber was discovered in March 1980 during a salvage dig in
Armon Hanatziv area in southern Jerusalem before construction of a new
Archaeologists found 10 ossuaries, bones included, in the underground
chamber and six niches, said archaeologist Zvi Greenhut of the Antiquities
Greenhut said the combination of the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph on the
ossuaries did not prompt archaeologists at the time to probe further. ''The
names are common names. There is nothing unique in the appearance of all
together,'' Greenhut said.
He said that among the about 1,000 ossuaries from biblical times unearthed
Jerusalem, six carry the inscription ''Yeshua,'' or Jesus. Of those, two are
engraved with the words ''Jesus, son of Joseph.''
He said about 25 percent of the women's caskets bore some form of the name
Mary and that Joseph was the second most common man's name of the period.
The BBC will screen its story on the ossuaries as part of its ''Heart of
Matter'' religious series on Easter Sunday.
Ray Bruce, director of the independent television company CCTV that
the program, said a check of a catalogue of ossuaries found that the names
appeared only once in that combination.
April 2, 1996
By Ilene Prusher
JERUSALEM (Reuter) - An Israeli antiquities expert Tuesday cast doubt on
published claims that boxes which once held the bones of Jesus, Mary and
Joseph had been found deep in the soil of Jerusalem.
``Well, it's a nice news story for Easter,'' mused Motti Neiger,
spokesman of the Israel Antiquities Authority. ``But the archeological
evidence shows that chances of these being the actual burials of the holy
family are almost nil.''
A BBC reporter discovered boxes apparently inscribed with the names
``Jesus,'' ``Mary'' and ``Joseph.'' A report on the find by the Sunday Times
of London lured a flood of correspondents Tuesday to a dusty, airless
basement of the Israel Antiquities Authority for a glimpse.
The engraving on one box appears to read ``Yeshua Bar Yohosef,'' or Jesus
son of Joseph.
But the inscription was so barely legible that the Israel Antiquities
Authority was never sure who it had when it removed the box from an East
Jerusalem plot in 1980.
Archeologists say that one in every four women during the 1st century was
named Mary, and at least one other ossuary recovered from the period was
labeled Jesus son of Joseph.
``We can't find any parallels to this combination of names, but there is
still not enough evidence to show that this is the family,'' said
archeologist Zvi Greenhut, as he lifted the lid of the box apparently marked
He opened the box to reveal an empty inside encrusted with mud. In
keeping with Israeli law, the bones were turned over years ago to rabbis who
gave them a Jewish burial.
Moreover, no one seems to know precisely where the bones were buried. The
archeologist who excavated them is dead.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem is traditionally
regarded as the site of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection.