The Jerusalem Post reports on April 11, 2007 in its online edition that the experts James Cameron cited in his “Lost Tomb of Jesus” film are backtracking quickly. Mr. Cameron appears to have… eh… interpreted their findings in a way these experts now find uncomfortable. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1176152766396&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull.
First, the statistical expert, Professor Andrey Feuerverger (related to Farfhegnugen?) did not actually say there was a 600 to 1 chance that the tomb was not that of Jesus and his family. Rather, he merely claimed that there was a 600 to 1 chance that such a cluster of names would appear together “under given assumptions”. Israeli archeologists note that the names of Jesus and his family were common in those times. I know that right here in Milwaukee there are a couple of pages of Godfreys in the phonebook. Wouldn’t surprise me if there were several Marys and Josephs back then . . .
Second, Shimon Gibson, one of the archaeologists who excavated the tomb in question, Talpiot, says, “Personally, I’m skeptical this is the tomb of Jesus and I made this very point to the filmmakers.” Oops…
Third, Prof. Hank Moore Cross, who was quoted in the film as saying he had no real doubt that one of the ossuaries read “Jesus son of Joseph” also communicated to the film team by email that he doubted this was Jesus’ tomb, because of how common the names of Jesus and his family were. He said, “You know the saying: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Fourth, Dr. Carney Matheson, the DNA scientist quoted in the film saying that the two individuals found were likely husband and wife, later said “the only conclusions we made were that these two sets were not maternally related. To me it sounds like absolutely nothing.”
It’s absolutely amazing to me that such claims come only to be completely debunked within a relatively short span of time. Christianity is refutable: show that the resurrection didn’t happen, and the whole structure comes tumbling down. Unfortunately, the resurrection is a cornerstone well-attested and not easily moved. Truth is truth, even if it points in the direction of the supernatural. Good news for those of us who believe.