Crucifixion nails found in tomb! [insert skeptical expression here]

Quality journalism needs a resurrection I say. Because it is sure looking dead and buried in a quagmire of derivative sensationalism. See here what the Sydney Morning Herald had to say this morning:

JERUSALEM: Two nails used in Jesus’s crucifixion have been discovered in a 2000-year-old tomb, a documentary maker has claimed, sparking intense debate among historians.

The rusted, bent iron nails were found more than 20 years ago in a tomb outside Jerusalem that contained a number of ossuaries, or boxes containing bones.

Two boxes were inscribed with the name Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who presided over Christ’s crucifixion, the New Testament says.

Excuse me? Just what did the New Testament say? That two boxes were inscribed with the name Caiaphas? Here we have some journalistic yoga wouldn’t you say! Buried at the very end of the article, in the very last line, as a seemingling insignificant point:

The nails were discovered in 1990 before disappearing. Jacobovici claims to have tracked them down to a laboratory in Tel Aviv. The documentary, The Nails of the Cross, airs in the US next week. Jacobovici’s claims have been dismissed as a publicity stunt.

A publicity stunt that jounralists are only too willing to cooperate with it would appear. Time Magazine was somewhat less disingeneous, reporting:

Just in time for Easter, an Israeli television journalist has produced a pair of nails he says may have been used to crucify Jesus Christ. “We’re not saying these are the nails,” says Simcha Jacobovici, holding aloft a pair of smallish iron spikes with the tips hammered to one side. “We’re saying these could be the nails.”

Just in time for easter indeed. I think I’ll put this one on the shelf next to the rest of my Easter conspiracy collection: Gospel of Judas (Lent 2006)Jesus Family Tomb (Lent 2007)Bloodline (Lent 2008), and Crucifixion nail found at Knights Templar stronghold (Lent 2010).

17 Comments

  1. What, only two? cf. John Calvin, ‘On the Necessity of Reforming the Church’ (1543):
    “As to the matter of relics, it is almost incredible how impudently the world has been cheated. I can mention three relics of our Saviour’s circumcision; likewise fourteen nails which are exhibited for the three by which he was fixed to the cross; three robes for that seamless one on which the soldiers cast lots; two inscriptions that were placed over the cross; three spears by which our Saviour’s side was pierced, and about five sets of linen clothes which wrapped his body in the tomb. Besides, they show all the articles used at the institution of the Lord’s supper, and an infinite number of similar impositions. There is no saint of any celebrity of whom two or three bodies are not in existence. I can name the place where a piece of pumice stone was long held in high veneration as the skull of Peter. Decency will not permit me to mention fouler exhibitions. Undeservedly, therefore, are we blamed for having studied to purify the church of God from such pollutions.”

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  2. I love Simcha Jacobovici and The Naked Archeologist. He is not above sensationalism but in the end seems to be interested in the real situation. Those guys in the Middle East are great at producing “authentic” artifacts. And I believe there were no metal nails in the days of Jesus crucifixion?

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  3. I once remember a college history professor remarking that if you gathered up all the piece from Jesus’s cross that are out there, you’d have enough wood to build a house.
    What’s the big allure of such relics anyway? Even supposing that these nails were authentic….so what?

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  4. On a tangent, I sometimes wish I was one of those people who could pick up an item and get impressions from the energy in/on it. Wouldn’t it be fun then to hold some of these old things and get a story? ;~)

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  5. Paula: Psychometry? It’s actually a rather common ability and that can often be developed with practice. I’m not sure what faith you are, so I’m not sure if it would be “theologically acceptable” for you to do such a thing. But like I said, it’s often something that can be learned to some degree or another.
    I imagine it might be difficult to do with an alleged relic though. Expectations might bias one’s perceptions.

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  6. Matt: If I was going to use a talisman, I’d be more inclined to make my own from scratch rather than using a relic. I certainly wouldn’t use a Christian relic. I’d actually find that disrespectful, personally. 😉

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  7. Jarred, I am well read, well “experienced” and do anything I want! There is no category for me at this point. I explore anything that interests me and that works. Right now the Kabbalah explains Jesus and the Universe to me better than church. I also like Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I find “truth” in so many places. If it’s true I like it, if it’s a lie I reject it. I don’t rely on people to tell me the difference anymore. At the Museum of Science and Industry a couple of weeks ago, I pondered an exhibit which included a piece of Abraham Lincoln’s hair. (The display was not about Lincoln but about hair.) The sample drew me and got my attention. I kept trying to get some impressions but that is difficult when you have two 6 years old little girls (granddaughters) running off to the next display! I also appreciate we are not all clones and that we will have different talents and interests. Makes groups like Matt’s interesting.

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  8. I would see a difference in a talisman and a relic. With a talisman a power source is created while with a relic a power source is drawn upon.

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  9. Paula, I, too, have found Dr CPE’s writing helpful on my journey. Her exploration of story, in Women Who Run With the Wolves” had a powerful impact at one stage of my life. I felt that God used it’s resonance with my European ancestral background to speak very clearly to me about some things.
    I would say that knowing Christ has totally enriched my appreciation of connection to heritage and being a spiritually liberated woman (or at least one in the process of being liberated, LOL!) 🙂

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  10. Paula, what you’ve described as the difference between “talismans” and “relics” probably needs to be framed within the difference between “religion” and “magic” more generally.
    Sociologists have long noted that what’s commonly referred to as “religion” tends to be more passive (involving submission of will) and what’s commonly referred to as “magic” tends to be more active (involving assertion of will). Thus, might it be that relics are used the way they are, more by virtue of their “religious” context than anything else? And visa versa talismans given their “magical” context? If this is plausible then I think it is fair to say they are functionally equivalent within their systems, provided we recognize the systems are different in the important respects outlined above.
    Of course, remembering in all this that we can’t generalize too much as relics and talismans are equally rejected within protestant Christianity. I’m speaking here more of Catholicism. Though I note Jesus used mud and spit so that could open up a real Pandora’s box.

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  11. Hi Matt, I was speaking of Catholicism also. Yes, I agree with your point of passive and active in the belief systems.
    Lucy, Thanks! I am glad you appreciate Dr. E also. What I like about her is her practical spirituality and her understanding of women. Men don’t get our instinctive nature much of the time. In the olden days I think it got us burned at the stake. I love WWRWTW also. Dr. E has reconciled so much for me also. I also like The Red Shoes CD.
    Power is a fascinating subject.

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  12. Oh, and I remember reading once that poultices using dirt and spit were already known and used in those days. Don’t remember the source so take it for what it’s worth. ;~)

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