The discovery provides the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art, all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE….
We believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. We argue in this book that both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who according to all four New Testament gospels took official charge of Jesus’ burial….
We now have new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus’ earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away. This might sound like a contradiction, but only because certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed. When we put together the texts of the gospels with this archaeological evidence, the results are strikingly consistent and stand up to rigorous standards of historical evidence.
James Tabor stated in a comment here yesterday that he is “not sure how finding the earliest evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection would negate Christianity,” but the book excerpt above shows otherwise. In their interpretations of the evidence, the authors claim that the evidence refutes “certain theological traditions” about the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They claim that Jesus’ followers denied his physical resurrection. Yet the traditions of his resurrection go back to one of the earliest books in the New Testament (ca. AD 50). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
These verses and the rest of the chapter make it clear that Paul is speaking of a bodily resurrection.
The same Christ that was buried was raised. The Christ that appeared to the disciples could be seen.
If Jesus’ body is still in the tomb, our faith is in vain. A spiritual resurrection is no resurrection at all.
The Huffington Post article features 10 photos and one video clip.