The “Jesus ossuary” story that has been going around the past couple days strikes me as more media-generated nonsense. According to a new Discovery Channel documentary executive produced by Titanic director James Cameron, and an accompanying book, archaeologists digging in Jerusalem in 1980 discovered a family tomb that had the bodies of Jesus, his wife Mary Magdaline, their son Judah, Joseph his father, Mary his mother, and several others. The documentary airs this Sunday at 9pm ET/PT.
Most scholars I’ve read are dubious about the claims made by the filmmakers. One in particular is Paul L. Maier, who serves as professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University as well as vice president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Maier is also author of the novel A Skeleton in God’s Closet–a novel that now bears striking resemblance to reality–in which an archaeologist discovers the reputed skeleton of Jesus outside of Jerusalem and all sorts of religious controversy erupts. Maier responds to the Discovery Channel documentary here.
Also recommended is New Testament scholar Ben Witherington’s blog here.