I don’t know why, but I love to learn about archaeology, especially religious archaeology. A few years ago, Simcha Jacobovici came out with a documentary and book called The Jesus Tomb. In it, he makes a claim that the bones of Jesus may have been located in a tomb unearthed in Jerusalem. Of course, the Da Vinci Code, while fiction, makes a claim that Jesus and his wife, Mary Magdalene were actually buried in France. A few months ago, I watched a documentary called Bloodline, which actually goes further, and makes the case that yes, indeed, the bones of Christ and Mary are found in France. (You can learn more at the official website.) I just came across a third source, which claims that Christ’s bones are actually located in India. See this website.
I probably should give a review of these 3 sources. Of the 3, I liked The Jesus Tomb best. Jacobovici does DNA tests on the bones, chemical tests on the ossuaries, and uses statisticians to try to locate the probability of find a tomb with Jesus, two Mary’s (mother and wife), a brother James, and son of Joseph. You may disagree with his results, but he did make a valiant effort to be scientific about it. (A note about an ossuary. Apparently at the time of Christ, people were often buried in a tomb. After about a year, the body would decompose, leaving only the bones. To save space, it was a custom to take the bones and “re-bury” them in a much smaller limestone box. The largest bone in the body is the upper leg, so the box would only need to be about 2 feet long, and the bones would be placed there to save considerable space. Often names were etched into these limestone boxes to identify the bones.)
Bloodline was dreadful. Honestly, it was so hokey, I actually couldn’t pay attention to the whole thing. It was supposedly a real life cloak and daggar documentary. The producers would set up interviews with experts of Jesus’ bones in France, and they would either end up dead prior to the interview, or would just refuse. Of the experts they managed to actually interview, most seemed like whack-jobs to me. I give it no credibility.
I have just briefly skimmed the India site–I came upon it a few weeks ago. I don’t quite know what to make of it yet. I have heard people compare Christ to Buddha, and some claim they might have been the same person. I do know of an ancient tradition that the Apostle Thomas (yes, Doubting Thomas) served a mission to India. (Apparently, these claims about Thomas seem pretty credible.) I also know that India has an ancient Christian history. Really, I need to learn more, but it is interesting to me.
So, with Christ being resurrected, Christians would obviously find these 3 sources as problematic. If Christ was really resurrected, there should be no bones, right? I must say I was really intrigued by Simcha Jacobovici’s position. Simcha is a Jew, and said that if the bones were really discovered, then it would actually give credibility to Christianity, because it would in fact give proof that Jesus was an actual person. (Of course, there are many who claim Jesus never existed, citing lack of evidence.)
So, it got me thinking. Obviously, all 3 can’t be right. But what if one of them is right? Critics of Christianity would loudly trumpet the fact that the resurrection couldn’t have happened if the bones were found. They already make claims that say this discovery “would shake the foundations of Christianity”, seeming to imply that Christianity would somehow disappear. But would it really disappear?
I don’t think so. Let’s assume for sake of argument that one of these positions was scientifically proved correct–Jesus bones have been positively found. Now, while I am sure it would cause much re-evaluation among Christians, I do not believe Christianity would vanish. I suspect that many Christians would have to re-evaluate the resurrection. Here’s some possible scenarios that I see happening.
(1) The resurrection is actually not a physical resurrection. I believe many people already believe this. When we look at it, it’s a little tough to reconcile with the scriptures, because Jesus ate fish and honey after his resurrection. “Touch me” was his reply–so it does seem to be a fact that he was physically resurrected. But perhaps this physical resurrection would only apply to him, and not us?
(2) Perhaps there was some sort of stem-cell/cloning technique for the resurrection. Perhaps Jesus “corruptible” body is on the earth, but his new “celestial” body looks/feels the same, but is basically a perfected clone of his human body.
(3) Perhaps the resurrection is not important at all. Perhaps the Gnostics had it right, and the body is not needed in heaven. Perhaps, Jesus true purpose is not the resurrection, but rather his purpose was to teach spiritual truths. In this scenario, the resurrection is meaningless, and Christ’s atonement and teachings are what really matters.
I’m sure there are other options. Can you think of some? If Christ’s bones were truly found, would it really spell the end of Christianity, as skeptics claim?