Dig him up!
March 11, 2002 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Dig him up! Dig up that corpse! If you really love Jesus Christ, you'll haul his bones out of the ground to prove my daughter wrong! Dig up his grave! Pull out his tongue!
posted by obiwanwasabi (42 comments total)
Wouldn't finding the body of Jesus disprove the Christian religion, being that one basis of it is that Jesus Christ as God rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven, body and all, thereby defeating the human nature of death? And I believe Mary's body is taught to have been ascended into Heaven as well.

Personally, I think she's on a wild goose chase. A creepy one.
posted by tomorama at 4:32 PM on March 11, 2002

Hopefully, with the modern DNA testing, the'll be able to tell who the father was. Imagine the child support issues, expecially regarding the global willful neglect!
posted by phatboy at 4:34 PM on March 11, 2002

What *are* you babbling about, obiwan?

As for the article, I can't possibly imagine how DNA testing and carbon dating by themselves could prove that Jesus is buried in the grave. In order for DNA to conclusively settle anything, she'd have to possess a sample from a known relative of Jesus...maybe she should talk to the Priory of Sion?
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:37 PM on March 11, 2002

Well, if scientists could be allowed to examine the Shroud of Turin, we could perhaps get a DNA sample from the bloodstains (as well as carbon-date the shroud itself), and then compare to these remains. And then, of course, we clone him to see what he looked like.
posted by bingo at 4:43 PM on March 11, 2002

....and that's assuming that there is a complete string of DNA there to record on the shroud. ...and that's assuming that the shroud of turin is actually THE shroud of turin that Jesus was wrapped in. and on... too many assumptions.

unless somewhere in the genetic code we could tell that it was actually Jesus... but no matter how you rearrange the letters G A T C, they never spell Jesus. ...but you can spell Gattaca.
posted by tomplus2 at 4:55 PM on March 11, 2002

Sounds like the real-life version of 'Another Roadside Attraction' by Tom Robbins. Well, a teensy bit anyway.
posted by mathis23 at 4:57 PM on March 11, 2002

MrBaliHai- As mentioned in the article, the archeologists ALSO thinks they have found the burial spot of Mary. From what I can gather from this article, they will compare the blood of the suposed burial site of Mary and the suposed burial site of Jesus.
posted by jmd82 at 4:58 PM on March 11, 2002

They already C-dated the Shroud of Turin.

They want to compare the DNA of the bodies enshrined in two locations.

What will this reveal?

If the DNAs show similarities or even direct parent-child relationship then the two shrines are related to one another. How they are related and whether or not Jesus and Mary are involved will NOT be answered.

If the DNAs show no similarity then the shrines are unrelated. They still don't answer whether or not Jesus and Mary are involved.

If anything, DNA sampling of old burials is always a nice thing to do. It gives context to the site the complements carbon dating and forensic examination, among other techniques.
posted by linux at 5:01 PM on March 11, 2002

I think Obi was making a Simpsons reference. :)

Plenty of people have examined the Shroud. It has been carbon dated and DNA samples have been taken :)

As to the current research being proposed...I don't see how it could prove anything. Proving that Jesu, son of Joseph was a real person is entirely different than proving he was a messiah...something which cannot possibly be measured.

Not that I think proving either of them is particularly important. The people that believe, will continue to believe. The people who do not are unlikely to be swayed by pseudo-science.

Also, it's just creepy to go digging people up to satisfy some twisted sense of curiosity. Yech.
posted by dejah420 at 5:03 PM on March 11, 2002

First, I don't see how DNA testing could verify the identity of JC, being as how we haven't got any DNA from any of his relatives to compare it against (oh, unless we could get the Almighty to submit a blood sample, maybe). Unless you assume that this other body that this researcher says is Mary is, in fact, Mary, in which case if their DNA matches you could say that Yes, obviously he's Jesus because his DNA matches Mary and obviously she's Mary because her DNA matches Jesus.

Second, and at the risk of launching a religious war, I would personally say that the central belief of Christianity lies not in the resurection but in the redemption -- that is, the idea of Christ's having taken the sins of the world upon himself, giving us the chance to get ourselves straight with God even if we haven't led the best of lives so far. All the rest of it -- the miracles, the resurection, etc -- are by way of establishing JC's bona fides: "Of course he's the Son of God, he rose from the dead and made the blind see." In this age of rigorous proofs, however, it takes more than anecdotal evidence to be sure of things like this, so we have to take it on faith anyway.

So, I don't see how we could ever "prove" that this body is Jesus, and I don't see how if we could it would really make a difference, being as how it's all faith anyhow. This sounds like a pointless wild goose chase guranteed to piss off the maximum number of people in the most volatile area possible without even the smallest hope of any real benifit to anybody.
posted by hob at 5:04 PM on March 11, 2002

I think Obi was making a Simpsons reference.

I say, "Ah."
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:11 PM on March 11, 2002

they could find jesus buried with his wallet and driver's license intact, video of the last supper, roman court documents from his trial--whatever--and nothing would change either way. Pics of him and God might sway a few people into believing, but i don't know any Xtians that would use their bible for kindling should his dead body be found.

even though...

Hob, if there was no resurection then the apostles Lied. Dead guy instead of son of god....You don't think that would matter? With no resurection there is only a martyr, not a redeemer.

that said, what a crock for people to waste money on. The aim of the researcher...not the DNA testing. Thats cool. But the goal in doing it is absurd.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:17 PM on March 11, 2002

Ah, but we do have DNA available! Ron Wyatt, in his discovery of the Ark of the Covenant (not be confused with his discovery of Noah's Ark) found Christ's blood on the mercy seat.

Unfortunately, the Widow Wyatt refuses to release the results of the DNA tests, so we won't be able to compare them. The March of Progress hits another speedbump!
posted by ahughey at 5:18 PM on March 11, 2002

Hang on, didn't I just see the movie?
posted by NsJen at 5:20 PM on March 11, 2002

I would personally say that the central belief of Christianity lies not in the resurection but in the redemption
In and attempt to throw this thread of course, I always thought that part of God's plan for redemption was the death and crucifixtion of Jesus. ie, without the resurection, we would still be living by Jewish law (well, assuming you are of Christian-Judeo belief)
posted by jmd82 at 5:23 PM on March 11, 2002

Sometimes the best stuff can be found right here on metafilter. A thread from last march, covers the cloning aspect of this inquiry.

I don't think that the tomb should be desecrated.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:23 PM on March 11, 2002

Also, if Jesus' body was to be found, ie God came down and told us that body IS Jesus, then I would definitely not believe in the Bible, or at least the NT. On a brighter note, it would solve the eternal question "is there a God?"
posted by jmd82 at 5:26 PM on March 11, 2002

Interesting that this came up. It's ironic, and largely unremarked in the West, that much of the sectarian violence in Kashmir has centered on this tomb. According to Dangerous Places, whatever the official position of Islam, the popular Kashmiri belief is that the tomb does hold Jesus (who is, of course, a prophet on par with Mohammed in this Abrahamic religion). There's a decent (if hard to navigate) Tomb of Jesus site with a photo for those interested.

Proving the body is actually Jesus would be, as noted above, a neat trick. We could certainly, however, determine whether the body is that of a semitic person (Arab or Jew) from the area of Palestine. Indeed, we might be able to find DNA consonance with the known descendants of King David, since Jesus was himself one.

tomorama, I think only a few Christian sects are so bound to the text of the Bible that their beliefs would be wholly "invalidated" by archaeological evidence that differs. After all, the basis of "the Christian religion" is not worship of Christ, but worship of God as revealed by Christ (with allowances for differing interpretations of the Trinity, etc.). In any event the whole basis of faith is impermeability to scientific "proof" as you suggest.
posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on March 11, 2002

I would hazzard to guess that any true believing Christian would have no problem with them "desacrating" a tomb for purposes as to try an discover whether the bones were those of Christ.

What better reason would someone have to investigate a tomb?

Christians shouldn't mind such nonsense since we wouldn't believe that those are his bones anyway. He took them with him when he Ascended.

And non-Christians, well, I would think that they'd be twice as quick to run the samples through the fancy machine simply to spite their neighbors.

Call Geraldo and open the tomb!
posted by tsarfan at 5:33 PM on March 11, 2002

This will trace him to his origin... and resolve the raging controversy over the identity of the place forever

I suppose it's silly to ask, but how could definitive DNA testing results, one way or the other, really resolve anything about the place? This mosque is in the middle of Kashmir -- a land where a Hindu rajah once ceded his land, peopled mostly with Muslims, to India, and where fighting has raged almost continuously since that time. It seems like the only thing that might be decided from such results is whether Christians, eager to preserve the final resting place of Christ, would join in the fighting. More war. More hate.

"And then one Thursday evening, nearly 2000 years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change..."
posted by Bixby23 at 5:37 PM on March 11, 2002

Everyone knows that the body of christ is locked inside a refrigerator at the bottom of a quarry filled with water in Indiana.
posted by Settle at 5:42 PM on March 11, 2002

I feel sorry for the folks in Kashmir. Things are bad enough, now a group of Christian researchers are about to bounce into a centre of sectarian and religious violence and stir up the pot. Lovely.

Now all we need are some Shaolin monks thrown in and we've got a party!
posted by Salmonberry at 5:47 PM on March 11, 2002

Is nothing sacred? Not even the remains of Jesus Christ Himself?

I suppose they could clone him. That possibilty might win over the religious right to the side of modern genetic science. hmmm.
posted by plaino at 6:34 PM on March 11, 2002

This sounds like a pointless wild goose chase guranteed to piss off the maximum number of people in the most volatile area possible without even the smallest hope of any real benifit to anybody.

sounds like a capsule-history of christianity to me.
posted by milkman at 6:59 PM on March 11, 2002

And in contrast, Jewish groups embraced a new commentary that accepts the possibility that Moses and Abraham may have never existed. (Sorry no link. I hate it when the NYT runs an article that never gets onto their website.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2002

What was Jesus doing in Kashmir?
posted by semmi at 7:29 PM on March 11, 2002

Hob, if there was no resurection then the apostles Lied. Dead guy instead of son of god....You don't think that would matter? With no resurection there is only a martyr, not a redeemer.

As I said, part of his bona-fides. The resurection is just to show that he was the son of God, and not just some schmuck that got nailed to a tree. I mean, the whole "believe, and you'll go to heaven" is more credible coming from Jesus the Christ, son of God than from Joshua the son of Joseph the Carpenter, right?

Point is, if you Believe, then you're saved. The fact that Jesus did lots of flashy good stuff just makes it a bit easier to believe.
posted by hob at 7:31 PM on March 11, 2002

Need a DNA sample? Plenty of conspiracy aficionados out there who would be more than willing to point you in the right direction.
posted by gimonca at 7:34 PM on March 11, 2002

hob- you make it sounds as if "believe, and you'll go to heaven" applies to the BC era, too by your Joshua the son of Joseph remark. I bring this up b/c if this were true, then why even send down Jesus? I mean, weren't there enough flashy good stuff in the OT? You got the parting of the sea, all the plagues, etc. If you want grand scale-miracles to prove get someone to believe in God, I'de say refer to the OT...
posted by jmd82 at 7:45 PM on March 11, 2002

Why don't you just have any street corner priest transmute wine/bread into the blood/body of christ and use that as a basis to compare the DNA?

just being a bit of a wise-ass, don't mean to dis anybody's beliefs no matter how bizarre and morbid I personally find them
posted by willnot at 8:30 PM on March 11, 2002

None of this should matter to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, because it should primarily be based upon faith. Faith is the only solution to the epistemological problem of knowing whether or not God is real.

Even if a being came down from the heavens, performed wonders, and claimed to be God, would you believe, based upon this evidence? I would doubtless be skeptical, and to even accept this visual evidence would require a leap of faith.

The same goes for any so-called scientific evidence that claims to 'disprove' something based upon faith which is thoroughly unscientific. Science and faith operate on two different principles, they are two ships passing in the night.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:10 PM on March 11, 2002

Faith *is* the solution, but, i also believe that sinse God created science and the laws of nature as we know it, science does NOT run contrary to my beliefs, or to God Himself. Therefore, *if* it could be proven Jesus did NOT assend into heaven, i would have a problem w/ my entire set of beliefs and faith as i know it sinse science can NOT run contrary to the existance of God, even if seems i'm the only Christian here to whom Jesus not being resurected would pose a problem to my faith.
In my few short months of philosophy at college, i've found faith is not only the solution to epistemology (which goes beyond whether we can know God exists), but also to the problem of evil, determinism (sinse i believe in free will), etc. Of course, i've also learned the skeptic's point of view and that it is easy to not believe in God as much of philosophy wishes to disprove the very existance or possibility of God.
posted by jmd82 at 9:27 PM on March 11, 2002

New Info!!!:
The body recovered is really that of Jesus 'H' Christ, the disowned, unspoken-about, black-sheep in the family!
posted by HTuttle at 9:31 PM on March 11, 2002

you make it sounds as if "believe, and you'll go to heaven" applies to the BC era, too

well, Before Christ there wasn't a Christ to believe in, was there? I've often wondered if there was some sort of retro-active dispensation thing for people born before Christ, seems kind of harsh otherwise :)

As for what you gotta believe, it's this simple. All that stuff about not buggering one another and cutting bits off is just smoke, IMHO.

Then again, I'm just some guy; don't stake your eternal soul on my maunderings, 'cause just about any Professional in the God business will tell you otherwise.
posted by hob at 10:07 PM on March 11, 2002

To the forthright Christian, he will deny any corpse is Jesus unless his DNA proves to be god-like.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2002

As a Christian, I would probably have to re-evaluate my faith if the body discovered in that tomb is found to be that of my saviour.


It can't be proven.
If it could be poven, it wouldn't be.
If it was "proven," I would take quite a bit of proving to shake me, because

Whoever is in there obviously died a long time ago.

Comparing this body in this tomb to that body in that tomb and saying "since we think maybe this person is her and that person is Him, they must be because their DNA matches," is based upon circular reasoning. (think about this for a minute...we think we know that the dinosaurs lived so many millions of years ago because we compare their age to the age of the earth. and we think we know the earth is millions of years old because we date the minerals and etc...never supposing that, in reality, the earth is only about 8,000 years old and we have it all wrong. Where is the missing link, anyway? You'd think they would have found one by now...).

I doubt that they would ever get permission to examine the tomb anyway, but some of you are correct in saying that those who believe will probably continue to believe, and those who don't will continue to not believe. But there are many holes in this archaeologist's methods.
posted by schlaager at 10:43 PM on March 11, 2002

Hmm... all this kinda makes you wonder if there was somebody like the Georgia *crematory creep* working for Pilate way back then.

Pilate: "Dispose of the body in the empty tomb."

Ancient Crematory Creep: "Sure thing, Pilate."
posted by blackholebrain at 12:34 AM on March 12, 2002

I stand corrected re the Shroud of Turin. I saw a documentary on it a long time ago that said scientists had not been allowed to carbon-date it; I'm glad that's changed since then.

I am an agnostic who definitely does not believe that Jesus was the son of God. But still, supposing that he was...who knows what examining his DNA could reveal. Maybe there's a little sign in there that says "Yup, it's me!" All bets should be off, right? Same with cloning him...if he turns out to be an ordinary guy, it doesn't prove the original was NOT the messiah...but, assuming he WAS...why should the clone necessarily turn out to be an ordinary guy? Maybe he wouldn't be. Maybe we were intended to make these discoveries, run these tests, to push this situation to the limits of science, so that God can throw it all back in our faces by having us discover something about this body that we couldn't have possibly expected. I would love to be amazed like that.
posted by bingo at 1:55 AM on March 12, 2002

I'm with semmi. Ddi he walk there or fly? What the explanation for Jesus tomb being there?
posted by dabitch at 2:01 AM on March 12, 2002

What was Jesus doing in Kashmir?

posted by walrus at 6:38 AM on March 12, 2002

Maybe she could get a DNA sample from Jesus' brother, Bob. ;-)
posted by RibaldOne at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2002

I'm not sure where you're getting your information on dating, schlaager. Organic creatures can be dated with reliable accuracy using carbon dating (up to about 60,000 years). The process involves measuring the quantities of C-14 isotope versus the quantity of the non-radioactive C-12. The process is so accurate because the half-life of C-14 is quite measurable (roughly 5,700 years). For older items, there are other isotopes that are just as accurate, such as Potassium-40 (half-life of 1.3 billion years).

This means that dating remains that are in the 2,000-year range is quite accurate -- and that dating 100,000,000-year old fossils is accurate as well.

As far as I know, though, the DNA comparison would be very difficult, if not flat-out inaccurate. I would doubt any 'proof' from the findings, because I believe that without using precise and non-subjective scientific method, people are just going to find whatever it is they're looking for. And I somehow doubt that research on such a sensitive topic doesn't exude subjectivity.
posted by LuxFX at 12:36 PM on March 12, 2002

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