Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • James Cameron, Jewish Archaeologist Claim Discovery of Remains of Jesus, Jesus' 'Son'
  • Holy Land Scholars Slam Jesus Tomb Claims
  • Christian Persecution on the Rise throughout India
  • State Government in India Takes Aim at Christian Property

James Cameron, Jewish Archaeologist Claim Discovery of Remains of Jesus, Jesus' 'Son'

According to a Christian Post story, filmmaker James Cameron and Jewish archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici have claimed to have discovered the bodily remains of Jesus. On Sunday March 4, their findings will be revealed in a new documentary called “The Lost Tomb of Christ.” The filmmakers assert that they already have credible evidence that what they have unearthed are the remains of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and even a supposed son, Judah, who Jesus had with Mary Magdalene. Any existence of Jesus' body would negate his ascension and throw doubt upon his resurrection as well. The tomb in question was discovered about 27 years ago, and was intriguing for the names found inscribed upon the limestone boxes. The Aramaic inscriptions are believed to read: “Jesus son of Joseph," "Maria” (Mary), "Mariamene e Mara” (Mary Magdalene), "Matthew," "Yose (Joseph)" and "Judah son of Jesus." Through a statement, Cameron said: "It doesn't get bigger than this. We've done our homework; we've made the case; and now it's time for the debate to begin."

Holy Land Scholars Slam Jesus Tomb Claims

The Christian Post reports that archaeologists and clergymen in the Holy Land derided the claims in the new documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Christ." The documentary argues that 10 ancient caskets discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family. The burial site identified is in a Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the spot where it is traditionally believed Jesus' body spent three days buried. Christian leaders in the Holy Land are bothered by the claims. "The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection," said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem. Stephen Pfann from the University of the Holy Land suggested nobody's mind is likely to be changed by the documentary, regardless of view they hold of Jesus. "How possible is it? On a scale of one through 10... it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half." Pfann is even unsure that the name "Jesus" on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it's more likely the name "Hanun." Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television. "They just want to get money for it," he said. Other critics say the names on the coffins were so common in first-century Palestine that it's faulty to conclude this is "the Holy family."

Christian Persecution on the Rise throughout India

Five Bible college students were recently attacked by militants in India, and officials with the ministry Gospel for Asia say violence against Christians in that country is ongoing and on the increase. AgapePress reports the five students were from a Gospel for Asia (GFA) Bible College in the Indian state of Maharashtra sharing their faith on the streets of a local village. Reportedly, the five were approached by an anti-Christian mob that threatened to kill them. The Bible College students were severely beaten by the militants. All five of the assaulted Christians were taken to a local hospital and treated, and two of the men are listed in critical condition with severe head wounds. GFA founder K.P. Yohannan says the students' classmates are standing strong, despite the current climate of anti-Christian oppression and violence.

State Government in India Takes Aim at Christian Property

Christians in Chhattisgarh state said the district administration is harassing them by filing 271 property complaints against their institutions. Compass Direct News reports that local Christians said the state government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is misusing a state land law to target Christian workers in Jashpur at the behest of a BJP member of Parliament known for staging “reconversion” events in which Christians are pressured into reverting to Hinduism. Mainly targeting Catholic churches, educational institutions, hospitals and social work centers that help tribal people, these cases have been filed in the name of verifying the credentials of the land purchasers, said a public relations officer of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.