Jesus Christ: Experts discuss story of crucifixion
Each year, Christians across the world gather to worship on Easter Sunday. Otherwise known as Resurrection Sunday, it marks the end of a weeklong celebration of Jesus Christ’s final days in Jerusalem, including his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Each of the four Gospels in the Bible — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — report women discovered Jesus’ empty tomb.
Luke wrote two men in “clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them” and said: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
“He is not here; he has risen!”
In Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul lists the people to whom the risen Jesus appeared, including a group of more than 500 people all at once.
Yet there remains little archaeological evidence for such a miracle.
The limestone Jewish ossuaries date back to the first century.
The fish is believed to be the sign of Jonah.
Archaeologists discovered ossuaries, bone boxes for the dead, in an ancient tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem in 1980.
They were bearing engravings which might represent the earliest evidence of Jesus rising from the dead.
Biblical investigator Simcha Jacobovici said in 2012: “For a believing Christian, it’s very, very, very good news.
“Why? Because here we have a Christian symbol, an icon, and the first recognised Christian symbol from the catacombs biblical symbol is the sign of Jonah.”
Questions have been raised over the veracity of the ossuaries.
Jesus was inundated with requests to ‘prove’ he was the Son of God or perform miracles, but refused, instead saying that the only sign would be the “sign of Jonah”.
Mr Jacobovici continued to explain the link between Jonah’s resurrection from the belly of a “great fish” to Jesus rising from the dead.
He said: “When he’s asked for a sign, he says ‘this is an evil generation, I will give you only one sign – the sign of Jonah’
“So we have an attested Christian symbol, found in Jerusalem, dating back to the time of the people that knew Jesus, 250 years earlier than anything in the catacombs.
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The Jesus Family ossuaries on display.
“Next to it we have the earliest and only statement of the resurrection faith ever found.”
One of the ossuaries bears an image which looks to be a large fish with a stick figure in its mouth.
Another, meanwhile, includes a Greek reference to “Divine Jehovah” raising someone up, something which is referred to in the Book of Jonah.
Images of the Jonah story become common on later Christian tombs, but rarely in first-century art.
Nails were also found in the ossuaries, later found to contain human bone fragments.
The tomb reportedly contained the ossuaries of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also of Mary Magdalene.
However, it did not take long for criticism against Mr Jacobovici’s finds to begin.
Scholars quickly pointed out that tombs containing ossuaries were typical of Jerusalem’s wealthy, and Jesus’ family was not wealthy.
Likewise, they pointed out that people from outside the Judea region would have been called by their city or region or origin.
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The ossuary is inscribed “Jesus son of Joseph”, yet the gospels invariably call him “Jesus of Nazareth”.
Another ossuary in the tomb contained an inscription “Judah son of Jesus”.
Mr Jacobovici and James Cameron, co-producer of the film ‘The Last Tomb of Jesus’, argued Judah was the son of Jesus and of his wife Mary Magdalene.
There is no suggestion in the Bible that Jesus had a child, nor that he had a wife.
Perhaps the most controversial point of all is the mere discovery of the bones.
Traditional Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and then ascended to heaven.
James Tabor, a historian at the University of North Carolina, told Live Science: “If you find the bones of Jesus, the resurrection is off.”