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Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus Tomb - Not!

This post concerns the article on the Discovery Channel website regarding the current "Jesus Tomb" brouhaha. In the final analysis, it's amazing how Discovery, et al., can continue putting out such malarkey over the years without any damage to their credibility.

If you read that article closely, you will see a perfect example of intellectual legerdemain in action. Firstly, they say there's DNA evidence "suggesting" the tombs are those of Jesus, et al. What is this evidence? They took the DNA of the bones and compared it to what? Did they have some DNA evidence that had already been scientifically determined to be that of Jesus? Wow! That IS big news!

From this article, what this so-called evidence appears to be is that the bones in two of the ossuaries - one reading "Jesus" and one "Mary" - are not related. Therefore, goes this incredibly specious argument, they are the bones of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene! The guy who is making all these definitive connections, Jacobovici, was involved in the Jame ossuary hoax - how credible is he? In his declarations, he is already assuming a priori that these tombs are proved to have been those of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Considering that Jacobovici is now trying to prove that the James ossuary came from the same tomb, my suspicion is that all of this sleight-of-hand is an attempt on his part to resurrect his own reputation.

I find it interesting that there is no mention of the work of James Tabor called The Jesus Dynasty, which, not having read, I am assuming is based on the same tomb and which was widely touted on all the talk shows some years ago. Why is he not being mentioned now? Could it be because his work has been discredited since then, and the producers don't want anyone to realize the connection? (This is speculation on my part, obviously, since I haven't followed that debate.)

Furthermore, what about the Jesus tomb found in 1945 in the same Talpiot Quarter of Jerusalem, as I mention in my article on the James ossuary? It had charcoal crosses on it - so why couldn't THAT be the tomb of the "real Jesus of Nazareth?" Perhaps because, as the archaeologists themselves have repeatedly stated about this "new" find (from 1980), there is no real, solid and scientific evidence to that effect? I.e., the archaeologists on neither tomb have made these definitive connections - and that's an important point. Nowhere does Discovery even mention the 1980 tomb's archaeologist Amos Kloner, who pointedly stated, ""It's a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever."

If the inscriptions are from the Herodian period (1 BC to 1 AD), per Frank Moore Cross, how the heck are they relevant to Jesus and his family? Even if Jesus himself had been born and named by then, did someone predict his marriage to Mary and the name of their son, born decades later, such that these inscriptions were made before either event had occurred, in anticipation that both would be buried there? What nonsense!

As to the conclusion by "Jodi Magness" that the New Testament writings demonstrate Jesus "likely" lived during the 1st century AD/CE - wow! I'd never heard that before. What stellar reportage.

And what is "Matthew" doing in this family tomb? Say, now, that's why the book of Matthew is so "accurate" - because Matthew was in reality one of Jesus's lost siblings! (FYI, that's sarcasm, because the book of Matthew and the other gospels reveal the writers did NOT have familiarity with the topography and geography of Palestine at the time, proving they could not have lived there and been eyewitnesses to the events. For more on the problems with the New Testament, please see my book Who Was Jesus?)

Discovery reports that a scholar has stated that the name "Mary," as in "Mary Magdalene," was probably "Mariamene" or "Mariamne." Well, that's good enough for Discovery, apparently, to conclude that these bones belonged to Mary Magdalene! Never mind that the name "Mary" was common in Jerusalem at the time - and has been found on numerous tombs and ossuaries, including two in this so-called Jesus Tomb itself.

As concerns the silly statistic regarding the names (600 to 1), again, the fact is that the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph were VERY common at that time. The name Mary, in reality, was apparently SO common that there are THREE Marys mentioned in the gospel tale! Indeed, there are few other named females in the gospel tale, such as Anna and Salome, and these are relatively minor characters. Hence, for the major female characters in the gospel drama, we are faced almost exclusively with Marys! What are the odds for that? Could it be that the gospel writers hit upon the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph PRECISELY because they WERE so common? It would be much easier to place them into history because of this commonality - the results of such efforts being that here we are some 2,000 years later squabbling about which "historical" Jesus, Joseph and Mary these characters were!

Based on this sketch at Discovery, what it comes down to here, apparently, is that, because the two sets of bones in the 1980 Talpiot tomb discovery are not related, they are THE Jesus and Mary of New Testament myth. From there, we have the set of bones belonging to a "Judah son of Jesus" that must be those of the son of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene! (As an aside, would Jesus and Mary - had they actually been married and parented a child together - really name their son after the person [Judas] who betrayed Jesus to the authorities?!)

Discovery Channel is obviously the World Weekly News of television. I'd say the National Enquirer, but that august publication is actually far more accurate in its reportage.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Jesus's Tomb Found - Really?

Those of us who have been studying the Jesus myth for long enough not only have seen this coming, but we've already addressed it, because the "Jesus's tomb found!" crowing is as old as the hills. This latest load of hooey pops up, of course, right in time for Easter, when we will be bludgeoned with the hideous tale of the gentle Lord and Savior of the cosmos being brutally beaten and sacrificed - to himself, in an expiatory ritual somehow designed to remove the sins of the weak and beggarly creatures this all-powerful Lord created in the first place.

As outlined in my books The Christ Conspiracy and Suns of God, the creation of holy relics to bolster a flagging faith constitutes ancient priestcraft of the first order. No self-respecting priesthood could be without such fabrication, and this latest bit of legerdemain is hardly anything outstanding within this long line of chicanery and treachery.

Let us look more closely at the sleight-of-hand being foisted upon us in this newest attempt at anchoring the mythical into history. First, some years ago when another such piece of priestcraft, the so-called James ossuary, was being touted as the missing "proof" for the existence of Jesus Christ, I wrote a long rebuttal called "Bone Box No Proof of Jesus," which was published in a three-part series in Secular Nation at the suggestion of Dr. Robert Price. In this article - written in 2002 - I discuss the fact that ossuaries of this type were not uncommon and that inscriptions with the names of "Jesus" and "Mary" were likewise to be found abundantly. I even addressed this latest purported "tomb of Jesus":

... as [archaeologist] Avi-Yonah states regarding the numerous bone-boxes found in the Tombs at Dominus Flevit, which contained "122 ossuaries of the usual type [square]," common names included Jeshua or Yeshua (Jesus) and Maria (Mary). (EAEHL, II, 636.) In one of the surviving family tombs in Jerusalem are 18 ossuaries with Greek inscriptions, one of which contains the names "Joseph" (twice) and "Maria." (EAEHL, II, 635.) By the typical media and religious standards this tomb should have been exalted as that of Jesus's family.

In another example, in the "Tomb Cave in the Talpiot Quarter, discovered in 1945," are found large charcoal crosses on one of the ossuaries, while "two other ossuaries had Greek inscriptions reading IhsouV iou. IhsouV alwq," a phrase that contains the name Jesus twice. "The excavator interpreted the crosses and the inscriptions as expressions of sorrow at the crucifixion of Jesus, an interpretation not accepted by other scholars." The tomb itself dates to the beginning of the first century and demonstrates the commonality of the name Jesus before the purported time of the Christian messiah. (EAEHL, II, 635.) If this Jesus tomb had dated to a few decades later, no doubt the media and faithful would have had a field day in presenting it as the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, thus "proving" the biblical fable, although these two tombs mentioned herein would certainly infuriate the keepers and believers in the "Holy Sepulchre," yet another profitable tourist attraction. It would be surprising that no such incautious and mirthful rush to judgment has occurred concerning this particular Jesus tomb. In reality, at least one sloppy sensationalist author has claimed this tomb to be that of "Jesus of Nazareth," asserting that the tomb also contained the ossuaries of not only a Jesus, but also a Joseph, two Marys and a Jude. The excavation report, however, does not mention these other burials, leaving the question as to whether or not this particular author is prone to fiction, as is suggested by his other writings as well. As is evident, looks can be deceiving, such that caution should be utilized in regard to artifacts.

In Jerusalem there is even a "Tomb of Jason," complete with an ossuary and a scratched image of a warship, which could lead to the conclusion that this is the tomb of the Jason of Greek mythology. "On the walls of the porch are charcoal drawings of ships, a Greek inscription, and several Aramaic inscriptions, the longest of which consists of three lines lamenting Jason, the deceased." (EAEHL, II, 630) Using coins and pottery, the tomb is dated to having been used between the Hasmonean (2nd-1st cent. BCE) and the Herodian eras (37 BCE-70 CE). Although it is evidently the tomb of a real person of that era, true believers in the demigod Jason of Argonaut fame could attempt in the same manner as Christians to "prove" the existence of Jason and his Argonauts, such as Hercules, as "real people."

Indeed, the creation and/or discovery of the tombs of various gods has been a mainstay throughout the world for millennia and centuries, with the Egyptian god Osiris, for example, purportedly buried in dozens of places. The same has occurred with Jesus, as his remains are alleged to be found in Kashmir and Japan, to name a couple of tourist traps. I further explore this issue in my article "Jesus in India?"

Moreover, one of the individuals in this newest scandal happens to have been involved in the James ossuary hoax. Hence, we could hardly consider this find to be any more credible than that one. We also must make note of the fact that the senior archaeologist on the pertinent excavation, Professor Amos Kloner, says of this fictionalized tale - the new "documentary" of which astoundingly includes famed director James Cameron - "It's a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever."

As an aside and postscript, if Ray Santilli can be busted for the "Alien Autopsy" hoax, then James Cameron should likewise be found culpable for foisting this fraud upon an unsuspecting public. It rankles me to no end that, when it comes to religious tomfoolery, no one is held accountable for their fraudulent behavior.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Muslim Misogyny

I spied a Muslim woman in a store recently, dressed in a black hijab. Over the years, I have beheld many Muslim women in major cities, but I remain disconcerted by the sight. This particular woman kept looking at me, wondering, I suppose, why I was peering at her every so often. I look because I am curious - and appalled.

Unlike countless people who preach "tolerance," I know too much about Islam, which has proved itself one of the most sexist and misogynistic ideologies human beings have ever conceived. In fact, the entire purpose of Islam often appears purely to repress and oppress women. An examination of the blatant sexism and misogyny within Islam would require an entire tome, such wretched perspective occurring so continually throughout Muslim doctrines.

I glance at these women because I am searching for a reason why, in a country as free as any on Earth, they would deliberately cover their hair - or worse, their faces. I frankly feel like walking up to them, pulling the hijab or burkha off them, and saying, "You're free now!" Unlike the deranged savages who exhort their followers to slap, beat, rape or kill uncovered women, however, I cannot engage in violence against another's person.

I also can't turn my face away from Muslim women, because I see such suffering there. In consideration of the disgraceful treatment of women within Islam, I do not think it too harsh to say that Islam is to women what Nazism is to Jews. To me, the hijab is equivalent to the yellow star. As but one sickening example of this horrid notion, every day the genitals of thousands of girls and women are hideously mutilated, per "traditions" largely but not exclusively found in Islamic countries. Each day, women are viciously killed in the name of "honor," completely destroying any meaning of that word. Millions of women are enslaved, beaten, abused in every way imaginable. And on and on it goes, unrelenting, with only a miniscule minority objecting.

Where is the humanity when this type of suffering goes on day in and day out? Why no outcry about this human rights violation? Does the silence exist because "God" is continually invoked in order to justify this vile behavior? What good is "God" then, if such obvious evil is allowed to flourish in "his" name?

As the Greek sage Epicurus (341-270 BCE) said:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
Humanity will only exhibit truly enlightened behavior when it ceases to allow criminal cowards to veil themselves with the patently unprovable and frequently puerile concepts of God. No matter how much one hides behind the sacrosanct concept of God, the fact will remain that abusing women is not religion.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Benny Hinn: Used Religion Salesman

I recently watched a video expose of the superevangelist Benny Hinn, whose tax-free enterprise rakes in some $250 million a year. It is apparent that Hinn is a showman, but he is also quite evidently a conman who is dishonest in his presentation of the "miracles" that fuel his enormous organization.

If the fruits of the labors of telephone psychics are taxable, it makes NO sense to allow the circus run by Benny Hinn to exist tax-free. In fact, it makes little sense not to tax religious organizations, other than because of their charitable occupations. Does God really need the tax break? Why does the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God need money in the first place to spread His Word and Gospel? Hinn, it should be noted, is evidently very stingy with his hundreds of millions when it comes to charitable activity.

Oddly enough, I like Hinn's show, as much as I liked Steve Martin's "Leap of Faith" movie about a conman who fakes miracles in order to make a living. Obviously, in the name of honesty and ETHICS, Hinn's gig should be presented as a SHOW, not reality, because THE FACT IS THAT BENNY HINN IS HURTING PEOPLE with his bogus antics. The offenses that Hinn commits would be VERY scandalous if a medical doctor engaged in them. But, because Hinn invokes God and rants on about the Lord and Savior, etc., ad nauseam, he gets away with such atrocious behavior. Perhaps all conmen and criminals should invoke God - they could then get away with it too! Hinn has obviously gotten help from powerful people as well, so it seems clear that the powermongers gleefully encourage this type of fleecing of the sheeple.

While watching this Benny Hinn expose, I was struck by a few other things. At one point while "healing" someone, Hinn shouts out, "Cancer cannot stand in the presence of the Holy Ghost." So, why does cancer exist in the first place? Is the Holy Spirit not omnipresent? Where is the Holy Spirit not? Does the Devil cause cancer? Maybe the Devil is the cancer? So the Holy Spirit cannot go where the Devil is - until Benny Hinn steps in? Benny Hinn is necessary before the Holy Spirit can work? Or is willing to work? Is the Holy Spirit impotent without Benny Hinn? If not, why can't anyone anywhere access the Holy Spirit to heal themselves? Why are people diseased in the first place, if the Holy Spirit can heal everything? Why isn't the healing Holy Spirit already present to prevent disease?

After Hinn's quarter-of-a-billion-dollar yearly income was revealed, and his lavish lifestyle exposed, one of his naive supporters stated, "It costs money to travel, to bring the gospel of Christ around the world." Again, why would it cost money for human beings to spread the Word of God? Isn't God omnipotent? Can't God spread His Word without making poor people give up all their money? It is astounding that everyone is so eager to give up their money to the most powerful force in the universe, who, if real, surely would not need money.

Wow! What a racket!

At one point Hinn acted out a "miracle" of curing a blind boy, during which the boy was pronounced "healed" and promised a trust fund to take care of him through college. When confronted with the fact that none of this occurred and that the boy was not healed at all, in his reply Hinn referred to his non-medical advisors who tell him someone is "cured":

"When he comes up on the platform, I'm only able to know what happens because they tell me so."

So what happened to the Lord, who was supposedly speaking to Hinn the whole time? How come Hinn has to rely on his staff with no medical credentials?

It is so obvious that Benny Hinn is not speaking to or for "the Lord" and that he is not doing miraculous healings. It is a shame that Hinn is scamming not only himself but so many others. But, alas, it is not unexpected, as such scams and schemes have been going on for millennia with too many used-religion salesmen to count.