The alleged discoveries by a documentary filmmaker who says he may have found the remains of Jesus Christ and his family in Jerusalem are stirring a lot of debate and controversy, but among them lie another interesting claim – that the tombs contain the resting places of some of Christ's disciples.
The team of scientists, lead by biblical scholar James Tabor and documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, co-authors of the newly released book, The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find that Reveals the Birth of Christianity, claim the newly explored sealed tomb dating to the 1st century CE, which they examined in 2010 with a robotic camera, is proof that the nearby tomb discovered a year earlier contains Jesus' remains.
The tomb contains ossuaries with inscriptions containing the names Jesus, Mary, Joseph close to each other, and in the original Jesus Discovery book, it is claimed 10 small caskets – known as ossuaries – were found in 1980 that allegedly contained the bones of Jesus Christ and his family. One of the casket's inscriptions reads "Judah, son of Jesus," which the authors radically say indicate that Jesus started a family. Further analysis into the sites has been tricky, however, as Jewish religious authorities prohibit disturbing Jewish tombs.
Many scholars and experts remain skeptical of the discoveries – with one, Andrew Vaughn, executive director of the American Schools of Oriental Research, saying that "there's zero percent chance that their theory is correct."
The radical assertions of the findings stand in contradiction with some principal Christian beliefs, such as that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Furthermore, no Scripture ever mentions Jesus marrying or having children in over 30 years on earth.
However, what exactly the caskets and the different Christian-linked markings inside the tomb represent or reference remain up for debate – and even if the tombs do not actually contain Jesus' bones, they might hold the resting places of some of his original 12 disciples, The Telegraph reported.
One of the ossuaries, which seems likely to be from the earliest days of Christianity, carries an etching of a fish with what appears to be a human head in its mouth, possibly an image of Jonah, an Old Testament prophet. The story was of major significance to early Christians and is referred to in the Gospels because Jonah spent three days in the belly of the giant fish that swallowed him, just as Christ spent three days in the tomb.
The link is that the fish was not only a sacred symbol for early Christians, as it is featured in some of Christ's miracles, but many of the disciples were also fishermen. Also, the Greek word for fish, "ichthys," is held to be an acronym for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior".
According to independent archaeologists, Jewish tombs from antiquity did not carry any depictions of fish, giving further credibility to the theory that the etching is indeed Christian, and might represent the resting place of some of the very earliest Christians – namely, Christ's disciples.