Thursday, April 21, 2011

Must've missed the memo

It's Holy Week and we get this?
Two Roman nails dating back 2,000 years, found in the burial cave of the Jewish high priest who handed Jesus over to the Romans, may be linked to the crucifixion, an Israeli filmmaker has claimed.

The gnarled bits of iron, which measure around three inches (eight centimeters) each, were shown to reporters in Jerusalem on Tuesday at the premier of a television documentary series examining the question of whether they could have been the nails used to crucify Jesus.
I'm as skeptical of relics as the next guy; obviously there is no way of knowing if these are the nails or even if they are of any importance at all.  Frankly, I doubt they are - Caiphas was not such a fan of Jesus that he was liable to be a collector of His memorabilia.

That said, what's interesting about this story is that it comes out at Easter. Easter is traditionally the time of stories claiming the Jesus' tomb has been found*, of Gospels of Judas and Thomas, of wars over Easter Eggs, and of front-page interviews with liberal theologians who claim that Jesus never existed or if He did we know nothing about him and certainly He did nothing so unscientific as rise from the dead**. We almost never get a revelatory story that actually fits with the Easter narrative. I don't know what it means, but it does give me a sense of foreboding.

* such stories always limp away as soon as Easter is over.
** and always presented as if it's some sort of scientific discovery and not simply a philosophical presupposition of naturalism that the guy picked up in college in the 50s.


Professor Hale said...

I believe it would be difficult to establish anyting about those nails other than their general descriptions. Tombs of that period were used multiple times, opening and closing them as needed. workers and mourners would be coming and going unrestricted and none of them would have felt anything wrong about dumping trash there like a couple of rusted and twisted nails.

It is too much of a stretch to make the claim that every Roman nail in Israel was "the Nail".

On top of that, you have had 2000 years of tomb robbing, and artifacts and relics being carted back to Europe or destroyed by Moslems. Valuable metals would have likely been recycled into something new like arrowheads and wood, even from the cross Jesus Died on, would have been used as firewood that same week.

There is no reason to believe anything from that period survived. It wasn't considered important at the time or worth preserving. Furtunately, our faith doesn't depend on any of it.

I used to get a magazine called Biblical Archaeology Today. It was interesting until they became exclusive promoters of the "James the brother of Jesus" Osuary (bone box). The really interesting thing I learned from that magizine is that despite tremendous advances in forensic sciences, the best experts in their fields often disagree with each other and can occasionally be duped by clever forgers, who know as much about the forensic sciences, and how to spoof them, as the experts.

Professor Hale said...

Hmmm. Looks like spam.

El Borak said...

Good thing we don't step in it.