Refutation of “Christ Revealed” docu-series Ep. 8

I apologize to my readers for posting this SUPER late. I started the review of this docu-series about 2 months ago, yet when I just had 2 more to do, several things came up and I got really sidetracked. And for that, I apologize.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a very short review…. because there is nothing substantial in this episode. As much as I was hoping this docu-series to present something new or worthwhile, it thus far as done nothing but disappoint me. I’m glad there is only one more episode after this.

Anyway, enough about that… let’s do this!!

First Interviewee: Gabriel Barkay

Biblical Archaeologist

Starts off with a long intro to Barkay and talks of the Temple Mount and geopolitics, but skipping all of that, we’re only interested in the historical proofs for Jesus.

Barkay eventually gets around to talking about the Holy Sepulcher (the alleged burial spot of Jesus) and will give Gentempo a tour. About 23 minutes in he says that most of it is Medieval dating back to the 12th century, but the first building was constructed by Emperor Constantine in he 4th century.

Barkay eventually admits that there are competing sites that claim Jesus was buried there such as The Garden Tomb (he left out the Talpiot tomb, perhaps by accident) to which he said they are a half an hour walk away from each other. Gentempo asks if there is any census conclusion if one site is more valid than the other. Barkay jokes that he was not at the burial thousands of years ago, he can only rely on the historical evidence. Barkay says that we have a very important historical piece of evidence from the 1st century: Flavius  Josephus. But Barkay doesn’t connect anything Josephus said to where Jesus was buried. Rather all Barkay does is note that Josephus mentioned two walls of Jerusalem. Gentempo notices this and again, of the two cites mentioned, he asks for expert conclusions of where Jesus was buried. Barkay says hat Jesus would have had to been buried outside of the city of Jerusalem “because no Jews were buried inside the city according to Jewish religious law.” He notes that the law says a burial site must be 50 cubits outside the city, therefor it is important to learn where the city limits were of Jerusalem at that time. That line where the second wall would be is heavily debated, because the areas of Jerusalem are too widely populated that excavations cannot be done, and Josephus’s mention of the second wall is only found in one sentence. 

Barkay says that Christians shouldn’t care where Jesus was buried concerning that they all believe he had risen. But then he says, “As an archaeologist, I can say for sure that the traditional location in the Holy Sepulchre is a very good one.” He says that it is “most probably” just outside the second wall and inside the sepulcher there is one rock cave (a burial cave) dating back to the second temple period. “That helps the potential identification. Point number 3, and this is very important, that is a place about which we have a tradition from the 4th century and on.” He says that the earliest Christians passed along the location (basically by oral traditional) until the church was made in the 4th century.

Oh boy…..

First of all, a tradition starting 200-300 years after the supposed burial event is supposed to be important? Here is what Barkay left out: the Holy Sepulchre has long been held by scholars to be a fabrication, initiated by Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine. Helen was tasked by Constantine with “finding” Christian holy sites in the 4th century and building them up for his propaganda campaign. There is no honest basis for it being genuine.

(At least Barkay mentions Helen later on when giving Gentempo a tour of the Sepulcher.)

“That [3 century] gap is a problem, but again archaeological I can not say anything against the possibility that the Holy Sepulcher is the authentic place.”

And as a respectable archaeologist should say: with no archaeological evidence confirming the authenticity of the site, one cannot say anything promoting the assurance or likelihood of the Holy Sepulcher being the authentic spot.

Roy Hoover notes, “the location of Arimathea has not (yet) been identified with any assurance; the various ‘possible’ locations are nothing more than pious guesses or conjectures undocumented by any textual or archaeological evidence.”

Being a potential burial site is quite a gap from being the definite burial site. All Barkay’s conclusion that the Sepulcher is the likely spot is only resting on “traditions”…. cuz when have traditions ever been wrong, amirite? For an archaeologist, you’d hope that their conclusions would be based on an archaeological discovery instead of “traditions.” Seriously, why is it that when it comes to Jesus, some experts set the bar so bloody low?

Bakay rules out The Garden Tomb because the tombs are centuries older and the story is Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, which was said to be a new tomb. Ergo, the tomb would have to be more contemporary than the Garden Tomb.

According to whom was Jesus buried by Joseph of Arimathea? Do we have any contemporary sources confirming that story? Or is Barkay falling back on traditions again instead of evidence?

Is this Joseph of Arimathea even a real person?

Think about it. If there was a Joseph Arimathea, he would be the first man hauled in for questioning. Yet he vanishes completely from this (the earliest) history of the church, as if no one knew anything about him— or he didn’t exist at all. Yet unless he was found and confessed to getting rid of the body, the Christians would be next in the dock. And yet, though Christians would certainly be suspects in a capital crime of grave robbery, and though Acts records case after case of them being interrogated at trial before both Jews and Romans on other offenses (e.g. Acts 4, 5, 6– 7, 18.12-17, 23, 24, 25, 26, etc.), never once in this entire history of the church are they suspected of or questioned about grave robbery. It’s as if there was no missing body to investigate; no empty tomb known to the authorities. Which means the Christians can’t really have been pointing to one.

So with no historical evidence to substantiate his existence, added with the big plot hole, is it possible that Joseph of Arimathea is a complete fictional character? It is possible and very likely. His name likely has a symbolic meaning. Besides the fact that euschēmōn bouleutēs (‘ a prominent council-member’) is a pun (it also means ‘one who makes good decisions’), Arimathaia is probably an invented word, meaning ‘Best Doctrine Town’ (ari- being a standard Greek prefix for ‘best’, math- being the root of ‘teaching’, ‘doctrine’, and ‘disciple’ [e.g. mathē, mathēsis, mathēma, mathētēs], and -aia being a standard suffix of place). No such town is known to have existed. Although close alternatives have been suggested (e.g. that Mark means one of the many biblical cities named Ramah [‘ Hightop’], the most famous of which also had the more elaborate name Ramathaimzophim [‘ Watchers’ Peaks’], which in 1 Sam. 1.1 is spelled in the Septuagint Armathaimsipha, which with the sipha removed is only a couple of letters away from Aramathaia), the coincidence of Mark’s exact spelling with an apposite Greek meaning is more telling (Joseph comes from the place of the ‘best doctrine’ and thus makes ‘good decisions’ and receives the Kingdom of God by honoring Jesus with the legally required burial). For a summary of the various perspectives on this Joseph’s historicity, see William John Lyons, ‘On the Life and Death of Joseph of Arimathea’, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 2 (January 2004), pp. 29-53 (although see his updated remarks in Lyons, ‘Hermeneutics’).

Would the law allow Joseph to bury Jesus in his ancestral tomb?

The most important book of laws for this period was the Mishnah. After that, we have the Tosefta. Then came the tractate Senzahot, a compilation of Jewish laws pertaining to funeral rites and care of the dead, collected, probably by a community in Babylon, in the later third century CE.

The Torah Law is clear on the burial of executed men: “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day, for he who is hanged is the curse of God, so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.” This law is confirmed and elaborated in the Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin: when the crime was blasphemy (6.4h-i) the corpse was then hung on a pole for display, apparently like a slab of meat, resembling a crucifixion (6.4n-p). And whether executed or not, a body had to be taken down by sunset (6.4q-r), for “whoever allows his deceased to stay unburied overnight transgresses a negative commandment” (6.5c). Mark 14:64, Matthew 26:65-66, and John 19:7 all state the Jesus was tried for blasphemy and found guilty (Mark (10:33) and Matthew (20:18) even have Jesus predict he will be condemned to death by the Jewish council.).

The law is also very very clear that bodies are not to be left hanging. The Gospels say that Jesus was taken down on Friday… but omit the part where the law requires a burial on Saturday night. So if there was a Joseph of Arimathea, getting Jesus down and placing him in a tomb would be seen as a sense of spiritual duty, not out of compassion or pity of Christ, and place him in a temporary storage spot until being tossed in a public graveyard for criminals. It is important to bear in mind that after the body is taken down, the Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin (6.5e-f) goes on to explain the law regarding the burial of condemned men: “They did not bury the condemned in the burial grounds of his ancestors, but there were two graveyards made ready for the use of the court, one for those who were beheaded or strangled, and one for those who were stoned or burned.” The Talmud (Sanhedrin 47a) and Tosefta repeat the Mishnah. And it is important to remember that labor is forbidden on the Sabbath, including burial rites.

So it is forbidden to bury a body on the first day of the festival, and Jesus was reported to have been killed on the first day of Passover. If Joseph buried him early, he would have broken the law. If he buried him late, he would have violated the Sabbath. So it is possible that he simply took the body and stored it away temporarily. Just like King David hoped in Ecclesiastics 12:14, he hoped that he died on the eve of the Sabbath so his body would remain untouched allowing his body to experience one more Sabbath. The point of the law is to separate wicked men from the righteous, so it is very unlikely Joseph would allow a condemned criminal rest indefinitely in his ancestral tomb.

So if people (like the women) saw Joseph taking down the body and putting away in his tomb, it is possible the followers of Christ could have mistaken that this “tomb” would be Jesus’ final resting place. A day later, Joseph has the body taken out and buried in a proper public graveyard for criminals. Then finally, when a follower of Christ visits the tomb of Joseph and finds it empty, being unaware that the body was moved, they could have taken that as a sign of his Resurrection and spread the word.

And thus Josephus of Arimathea, a duty-bound and god-fearing Jew who doesn’t finish the burial (Mark 15:43, 16:1) suddenly becomes a legend. First he becomes someone said to have actually abstained from condemning Jesus (but who still didn’t finish the burial: Luke 23:50-51, 24:1), then he’s a “disciple” of Jesus who gives a simple burial (Matt. 27:57-59), and finally, the transformation complete, he becomes a “secret disciple” who gives Jesus a king’s burial defying all credulity (John 19:38-40).

What would Joseph’s tomb be like?

Barkay was correct about the “rolling stone” not being round, and yet the Gospels portray the stone like it was round. Three of the four Gospels repeatedly and consistently use the word “roll” to describe the moving of the tomb’s blocking stone (“rolled to” proskylisas, Matthew 27:60; “rolled away” apekylisen, Matthew 28:2; “rolled to” prosekylisen, Mark 15:46; “roll away” apokylisei Mark 16:3; “rolled away” apokekylistai Mark 16:4; “rolled away” apokekylismenon Luke 24:2). The verb in every case here is a form of kyliein, which always means to roll: kyliein is the root of kylindros, i.e. cylinder, in antiquity a “rolling stone” or even a child’s marble. For example, the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9:20 “rolls around” on the ground (ekylieto, middle form meaning “roll oneself,” hence “wallow”). These are the only uses of any form of this verb in the New Testament.

So we have a problem. Archaeology is not aligning with the testimonies of the Gospels about what happened at the most important site in the whole shindig: the site were Christ rises from the dead. This is a bigger problem for those who maintain the belief that the Bible is inerrant / without error. Considering that the gospel authors were not eyewitnesses and merely relying on hearsay accounts, it is possible that certain details of the tomb were mixed up. Though historically inaccurate, this would not entail that the story did not originally involve a sliding stone, but the incongruity would still lend some support to an overall case against the authenticity of the story.

Tour of the Sepulcher

Barkay shares with Gentempo the history and structure of the Sepulcher. When he finally mentions that the site was excavated by Helen, Constantine’s mother. “Allegedly according to church father named Eusebius [Helen] carried out excavations here. She was like the modern archaeologist. She excavated and she always found what she wanted.”

wait, what did you just say? She always found what she wanted.

So like a Mormon archaeologist looking to find proof the Native Americans are a lost tribe of Jews (yes, those Mormon archaeologists definitely exist), Helen finds “evidence” she wants to find.

Barkay goes on to say that Helen found a lot of things, including the original wooden piece of the cross. How did they know it was from the Cross? Because out of all the wood they found, they presented them to a bunch of sick people, and only one piece of wood healed one person.

You’ve got to be kidding me. See what I mean about setting the bar too low? I guarantee you you can do the same experiment with shoes. Just get a massive pile of shoes, present them to a bunch of sick people, and one of them will feel better.

During the tour, to Barkay’s credit, he at least says things like the spot where Jesus was taken down from the cross are “alleged” stories, and things like the “hill of Golgotha” is mentioned only in the NT and nowhere else, hence why it is “puzzling” to archaeologists. He notes that the site traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus was built by the Russian Czars. Barkay also says a “alleged remnant” of the rolling stone from the tomb is also in the Sepulcher (which to me, looked as big and flat as a chess board) and Barkay says “oh and by the way, the rolling stone was not round.” Barkay says the name “rolling stone” is applied to any shape stone so long as it blocks the tomb doorway.

Barkay says allegedly a lot, but that word will fly over believers head because they don’t rely on evidence. Theey rely on faith. So even after hearing “alledegly” and hearing that their previous expectation of the rolling stone was not round, they will still say as-a-matter-of-factly that this is the burial spot of Jesus.

Next Gentempo goes into the tomb of Jesus… and starts saying things like “in this very holy place, in the tomb of Jesus, um you can see through this glass here and behind this door here is the original stone that would have been there when Jesus was entombed here.”

CALLED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I said that even after listening to an “expert” like Barkay saying things like “allegedly X, Y, Z” and archaeologists unsure of certain things (like where the hell is Golgotha hill?), believers like Gentempo regardless will still say things as-a-matter-of-fact about the burial site like they know for certain it is the burial place of Jesus.

Later on, Barkay talks about the tombs and how they have been reduced in size when competing churches built through them. And yet Barkay states that the tombs strengthen the identification as the Sepulcher as the burial site of Jesus. When Gentempo says if this is “validation,” Barkay says it’s a “possibility.”

Got any evidence for the tombs being the definite burial site of Jesus Barkay????

Are you going to pretend you heard “validation” Gentempo????

The rest of the tour is just Barkay showing Gentempo around, much more talk about “alleged” artifacts and spots, but nothing substantial.

Second Interviewee: Kim Dorr-Tilley

Hollywood Talent Agent, Associate pastor at Bel-Air Presbyterian Church.

The only reason why Kim was included in this docu-series was to share her “inspirational” stories to “move the audience to tears.” In other words, she’s here for emotional persuasions instead of providing actual historical or archaeological proof of Jesus. Ergo, this is likely going to be very short. I’m not writing ~40 minutes worth of her stories, if any readers wanna know more about her they can read elsewhere. I’m only interested in any evidence presented of Jesus or God.

….

…. and nothing is ever provided in this entire talk.

The only thing I’ve seen in this entire discussion worth mentioning is Kim talking about God, love and presence….. at the point where she literally says that when a person gets cancer, God still loves them. While she notes that those seem like polar opposites, she nevertheless says “but faith teaches us that God is there.”

And that right there is why I’m an apistevist. Faith has delude Kim to the point where she can look at a  person with cancer and tell her that the being that gave them cancer loves them.

That. Is. Sick. And. Twisted.

If Satan gave a person cancer and claimed to love that person, would Christians believe it? Some would likely say “No because Satan is a liar,” well how do you know? Because God said so? Have you objectively checked to see if God is in error?….. or do Christians only think so because faith tells them so.

Kim: “But faith teaches us“—- let me share with you exactly what faith teaches people:

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – We live by faith, not by sight

John 20:29 – Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Romans 4:17 – As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Romans 1:20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Things hoped for, but not seen. Looking at things that are not seen. Not seeing what is seen. And this list ends with everybody’s favorite combination of logical fallacies; the circular argument of arriving back to an assumed conclusion.

Now that we are expected to see what is not there. Not only that, we are blessed if we make ourselves see what cannot be seen (Jesus said “blessed he who has not seen and believe” – John 20:29). This is not a reasonable request. These are not reasonable responses. Faith encourages and demands that we believe without reason, in fact we are blessed if we believe the most outrageous illogical inconsistent contradictory claims without any evidence at all. Because only accurate information has practical application, and it should be that positive claims require positive evidence and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Our beliefs should be tentative and subject to obligated change if the evidence demands. We should have some way to correct the flaws in our current perception and thus improve our understanding – THAT would be reasonable. Because if we love truth at all, then what should matter most is that we not allow ourselves to be deceived. But faith is the very opposite, it requires that we literally “make belief” that we ignore what we really do see and pretend something is there when it apparently isn’t. It means that we fool ourselves.

“So we follow God’s own Fool

For only the foolish can tell.

Believe the unbelievable,

come be a fool as well.” – a hymn by Michael Card

“Faith sees the invisible,

believes the unbelievable,

and received the impossible.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Worse than that, faith requires that we believe the unbelievable. As you can see this is reflected in popular literature among the faith biased – and this is not just a willful ignorance, this is dimension, a deliberately induced delusion. Fantasy is adopted as reality and truth is dismissed as irrelevant.

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