Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Odds are 1 in 600...

If you were being prosecuted in a court of law for murder, would you want to be convicted on a statistical probability? Lets say, for example that the prosecution says, "The murderer was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The defendant was was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The odds are only 1 in 600 that anyone that night would fit that description, so the defendant must be the murderer".

First of all, the prosecutor would be laughed out of the courtroom. Second of all, better evidence is needed to convict someone of murder. Statistical probabilities are not going to go very far in a court of law.

Enter James Cameron. (right) He and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici have put together a documentary on a tomb that was discovered 26 years ago in Jerusalem. In the tomb was found some caskets, or ossuaries, that have inscribed on them the names of Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, and another Mary called "Mariamene", supposedly Mary Magdalene. The filmakers had some experts in statistics run the chances that these names would be found together and the results were 1 in 600. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici say that this is conclusive and proves that Jesus died and was buried rather than raised from the dead.

Now, first of all, I want to address the name "Mariamene a mara". They say that this is Mary Magdalene. Nice try guys. First of all, "Magdalene" is not Her last name, but rather refers to where she is from. Mary of Magdala (Magdala near Tiberias, on the west shore of Galilee), like Jesus of Nazareth, or Joseph of Aremathia. The Filmmakers haven't even addressed what Mariamene a mara even means. Do a search of Google, look at any Greek dictionary... it can't be found.

Second of all, these names were extremely popular hebrew names. Joseph of course is famous in the old testiment as Joseph son of Jacob, who went down into Egypt and was made second by Pharoah. Mary, is famous from the name Mariam, sister of Moses. Jesus, or Yeshua, is famous because of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land. Add to that the fact that after the time of Jesus, these names would have become even more popular because of their connection with the gospel accounts, and you could have lots of Josephs, Jesuses and Marys running around being related to each other, not to mention buried in a tomb together.

Third, the tomb was found inside Jerusalem's walls. Jesus was recorded as being born in Bethlahem, and lived in Nazareth. Mary, his mother, lived in that area as well. Same story with Joseph. Why would they be buried in Jerusalem rather than on their own family ground? And what about Mary of Magdela? Why would she be buried there as well? Why would Jesus' ossuary say "Jesus son of Joseph" while Mary Magdelene's says "Mary of Magdela"? Why wouldn't Jesus' say "Jesus of Nazareth"?

Fourth of all, the purpose of an ossuary was to make it easy to move the remains of the deceased. It was always Jewish custom to move the remains of relatives should they need to be moved, and it wasn't necessary that the remains be kept together because the hebrew people kept copious records of geneologies. So it's not entirely clear that any of the ossuaries that were found in the tomb were even related to each other.

Silly people. A 1 in 600 chance isn't good enough. It wouldn't stand up in a court of law, and it shouldn't stand up in the court of public opinion either.


the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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