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Prejudging and Missing the Point

   Mark, an anonymous poster over on TQuid’s blog, has commented about From Toronto to Emmaus:

I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and appreciate some of the stuff you do. This probably doesn’t go in this comment box, but I’m not sure where else to put. I know that you are associated with Mr. James White, and I just have a quick question about something he is doing. While I completely agree with his position regarding the tomb controversy, what is the deal with his new book. He is supposedly publishing a scholarly, well-research book of 160 pages after writing for a grand total of 15 days. I appreciate a lot of the stuff that he does, but how can anyone take him seriously when his book is written in such a ridiculously short time. Anyone who has written a scholarly book knows that these things take months, if not years to fully research and write. Can you possibly explain why he would do something so silly as write a “scholarly” work in 16 days. This book will only serve to make non-Christians view Christians as even more ridiculous than they already do. It kind of makes me wonder how long he spent researching and writing those other books. Anyway, thanks for what you do and for the input.

   It would be nice to think someone might actually read the book, but that’s the way things go. I was falsely accused by an LDS scholar of pre-judging Peterson’s new book on Muhammad, for example, when I had only indicated I had ordered it (it arrived two days ago) and would be reviewing it when it arrived, and that I would find it interesting to read an LDS take on Islam (let alone one published by Eerdmans).
   In any case, Mark has missed the point. Yes, the book was written in a very brief period of time. However, has he read The Jesus Family Tomb? I did. Does he know what areas of study a response to it would involve? If he has read it, he would know it would involve the following: church history, Second Temple history (first century Palestine), Gnostic literature, Greek, Hebrew, DNA analysis, statistical analysis of names, ossuaries, and general apologetics information. My library already contains a great deal of information relevant to the topic, including the TLG CD-ROM, for example, the early church fathers, all the major Gnostic works, etc. What I did not have, I obtained. A&O spent hundreds of dollars on original resources. Folks were sending me scans from very difficult to obtain sources in major libraries across the country within the first few days of the work.
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As a Traveler Rejoices Upon Arriving at His Destination…

…so is the end of a book for him who toils at writing. That’s a fairly close recreation of a common colophon found in handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament, and I fully understand the sentiment. And with that I am announcing that I have finished writing From Toronto to Emmaus: the Empty Tomb and the Journey from Skepticism to Faith. What an intensive sixteen days! The final came out, ironically, to the exact same size as Pulpit Crimes, 158 pages! That’s about ten pages a day, and if you know much about writing, especially writing material that requires documentation, you know I will probably be taking a few days off to recoup! But it has been wonderful to get to tackle this subject, and I must admit, I do not believe I have ever enjoyed writing a chapter more than the final chapter of this book wherein I get to speak of my faith in the risen Lord! Just wonderful.
   So, we should be making a pre-order page available soon, so keep checking the blog for details!
   Also, I mentioned on the DL that I put together a bulleted list of the major problems with the Talpiot theory. Here it is:

Summary of Errors, Problems, Contradictions, and Half Truths in the Tomb Theory

· The book and film were not subjected to serious scholarly examination prior to release to the public.

· Many scholars cited in the film and book have affirmed that they were not told the full story, and that their statements have been used out of context.

· The theory uses double standards in its tremendously inconsistent use of the New Testament, at times accepting its accuracy on one point, then rejecting it on the next, without following any logical standards.

· The film and book demonstrate a consistent willingness to document only particular facts related to its conclusions, ignoring those facts that are contrary to its conclusions.

· The central argument of the film (that Mariamne is the original name of Mary Magdalene) is subject to numerous counter-arguments and explanations.

· The inscription on the Mariamne ossuary can be read at least three ways, and the first two, which leave the entire theory without any ground, are more likely than the third, upon which the theory depends.

· Even taking the inscription as the theory does, there is no reason whatsoever to believe a fourth century work of fiction, The Acts of Philip, is relevant to first century Jerusalem.

· The Acts of Philip nowhere refers to, or identifies Mariamne as, Mary Magdalene. The name Mary Magdalene never appears in The Acts of Philip.

· The Acts of Philip say Mariamne could turn into an ark of glass and a pillar of fire. Do the theorists think Mary Magdalene could do this?

· The film misrepresents Francois Bovon of Harvard who has confirmed that he is only referring to the Mariamne/Magdalene connection in the realm of literary parallels, not history.

· Bovon refers to the theorys claims that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child as “science fiction.”

· The film misrepresents even the existing text of The Acts of Philip by saying the book says Mary Magdalene (which it never mentions) would be buried in Jerusalem. It actually says Mariamne would die in the Jordan River (which does not flow through Jerusalem).

· The theory’s willingness to abandon first century documents directly related to Jesus and his original followers (the New Testament) in favor of a work of fiction from the Encratite community of Asia Minor three hundred years later is a clear indication of its bias.

· The film and book misrepresent the nature and capacities of forensic mitochondrial DNA testing.

· Simcha Jacobovici claims Carney Matheson concluded that the genetic testing shows Yeshua bar Yosef and Mariamne were married. Matheson denies this conclusion forcefully.

· Mitochondrial DNA testing can only address maternal relationships, not paternal ones. Hence, the two genotypes tested could have included a father/daughter relationship, a fact inexplicably left out of the discussion by the film and book.

· The names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc., have been found in other burial sites in Jerusalem in the past, including Dominus Flevit.

· All of the names in the Talpiot tomb are found amongst the top ten most popular names for men and women in the time period of the first century in Jerusalem.

· The argument that there is at least a 600:1 chance that this is the Jesus family tomb is based upon the assumption that 1) there is a Jesus family tomb in Jerusalem, and 2) it has been found. That is, the statistical argument assumes its own conclusion so as to have validity!

· There is no reason whatsoever to believe Jesus would own a multi-generational tomb in Jerusalem. He was from Nazareth, 120 miles to the north, in Galilee, and only visited Jerusalem.

· The theories propounded in the book concerning the Knights Templar are presented without even the pretense of factual or historical foundation, and as such, have as much validity as The Da Vinci Code. They are pure fiction.

· The alleged cross symbol on the Jesus ossuary is far more likely the simple “this side forward” mark to indicate which way to slide the lid so that it would fit.

· The idea that the Judah, son of Jesus in the Talpiot tomb, is the author of the Gospel of Thomas, which was written in AD 165, a century after the Talpiot tomb was sealed, is emblematic of the kind of scholarship represented in The Family Tomb of Jesus.

· The film and book desperately seek to avoid honestly stating the only possible ramification of their theory: that Christianity’s primary claim in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is false, and hence Christianity is a false religion.

Interpreter of Gnostic Texts: Simcha Jacobovici

It pains me to explore the content of the Gospel of Thomas, as if it actually contained historical facts (it does not). Simcha Jacobovici thinks it does, and has put forth a story grid to fit the facts from this Gnostic book. For example, on page 98 in The Jesus Family Tomb, Jacobovici creates a story around facts culled from this alleged gospel. He speculates the spiritual and physical journey of Mary Magdalene had been “unusually difficult”:

   “As recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, Simon and Peter, in sayings 22 and 114, eventually rose and spoke out against Mary Magdalene. Declaring that a woman was not worthy of spirit-life, the two men demanded that Mary be ejected from the congregation. And Jesus replied, with more than a hint of wry humor, ‘Behold! I shall guide her as to make her male, that she too may become a living spirit like you men- and…male and female [are made] into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female’ (Gospel of Thomas, saying 114).”

   The Gospel of Thomas can be found here. Let’s take a look at the citations offered.
 

  Saying 22:
   Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father’s) kingdom.” They said to him, “Then shall we enter the (Father’s) kingdom as babies?” Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”

   

Saying 114:
    Simon Peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.” Jesus said, “Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

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Evidence of Progress

   OK, I know this is dangerous. I am posting ten pages of a freshly written, completely unedited and unproofed chapter, but hey, I am used to the howls of my enemies, and I really don’t post here for them anyway. For those who are praying for this project, I thought I’d throw out a PDF of what I wrote last night–ok, only a portion of it, actually, ten pages. But it gives you a “feel” for the book. And I repeat myself, this is raw. Not even a first reading, let alone a second. In fact, some of you might find it mildly interesting that this is how I write. I set up my page to mimic the actual page size and I write in this format, directly to type-set margins. So this is the first draft, first run, of this material. Here is a pdf of the first ten pages of the chapter on the Mariamne/Mary Magdalene/Acts of Philip chapter.