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FRONT PAGE  |  5/6/2016
Choice News MONDAY, OCT 21, 2002  |  40 comments
Oldest archaeological evidence of Jesus?

The Aramic inscription reads from right to left, "James (lit.: Jacob), son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Naming the brother as well as the father on an ossuary was "very unusual," says scholar Andre Lemaire.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — A burial box that was recently discovered in Israel and dates to the first century could be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus Christ, according to a French scholar whose findings were published Monday. An inscription in the Aramaic language — “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” — appears on an empty ossuary, a limestone burial box for bones.

ANDRE LEMAIRE SAID it’s “very probable” the writing refers to Jesus of Nazareth. He dates the ossuary to A.D. 63, just three decades after the crucifixion.

Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions at France’s Practical School of Higher Studies, published his findings in the November/December issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

The Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer, a Bible professor at Catholic University who studied photos of the box, agrees with Lemaire that the writing style “fits perfectly” with other first ...

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News Item11/10/02 12:36 AM
Walt Brubaker | Henderson, NV  Contact via email
Renee, you've brought up some good questions that perhaps I can shed some light on:

1. "I don't see those beliefs [about Mary] being supported by Scripture".

Our Christian faith is supported by, but not limited to, what is in Scripture. Many doctrines, such as the Trinity, are only hinted at in Scripture, but came into fullness under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with time.

Christianity was originally a religion passed along by preaching, at least for the first 350 years, before the Bible was codified and approved by the Catholic Church in the Councils of Carthage and Hippo (389 and 391 A.D.). Even then, it wasn't widely read until the invention of the printing press by the Catholic Johann Gutenberg in the mid-1400s. His first book published was the Bible.

Certainly nothing in Scripture contradicts the Traditional teachings about Mary. But everyone who knew the people who knew her said she was a perpetual virgin. With tens of thousands of nuns who have taken the same vow in this world, that isn't so hard to believe, is it? We Catholics are around quite a few consecrated celibate priests and nuns, so I guess the tradition about Mary is easier for us to accept.

2. "Why give non-canonical writings a higher authority than Scripture?"

Heaven forbid! Tradition is never antithetical to scripture, but preceded it. Tradition can be used to "fill in the blanks" in areas where Holy Scripture is unclear.

One example is John 6, where Jesus tells his followers three times that they have to "eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man". Apparent cannibalism?! His apparent literalness drove followers away back then, but did he really mean it? The answer can be found by Tradition, by observing what Jesus's followers did in response. They instituted a Tradition called "Breaking of the Bread", known today as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper. They took the bread to be actually his body, and the wine to be actually his blood.

Another factor to consider is that those same Church Fathers you mention were the ones who certified what was Holy Scripture and what was not. They can't be too far wrong, or else why would you trust their word on which writings are inspired Holy Scripture?

Neither God nor Jesus based their Church on a written Bible, but instead based Christianity on people and oral preaching. The Bible itself does not claim inerrancy, nor does it mention Jesus writing anything down or asking people to write things down. Instead, the Bishops of the Catholic Church, over a period of years in the mid- to late-300's had a series of meetings to determine which writings were inspired, and which were not.

Those writings were then translated into Latin by St. Jerome around 400A.D. (who also averred Mary's perpetual celibacy), and the result was copied by hand by Catholic monks for over a thousand years. Every time the Mongols or Islamics, or Norse armies would invade and burn cities, the monks would hide or bury the books, protecting them with their lives. If you like the Bible, thank a Catholic!

I have read several books by the early, pre-Nicene Church Fathers and found them fascinating. I recommend them to you. Since this (pre-325 A.D.) period is long before the Reformation, it is a patrimony we all share. These great early Christian leaders (most of them martyrs) have many things to teach us today.

St. Augustine, in particular, was adamant about including the Books of Hebrews and Revelation in the final list. We would not have those two books in the New Testament today without him. So don't discount St. Augustine's understanding of Mary. He heard it from people who heard it from people who heard it from her.

3. "Would someone interpret this sentence for me?"

You have a significant amount of intellectual honesty, as your writings show. You deserve respect for being so honest.

One thing that could benefit all us Christians is to maintain a civil dialog, something you have done.

Peace be with you, my Christian sister.


News Item11/9/02 3:30 PM
Renee | Belleville, MI  
I don't expect to get a response to this, since D. M. has apparently "left the building."

However, I must say that I know very well what Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans believe concerning Mary. I just don't see those beliefs (perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, sinless life, etc.) being supported by Scripture. I also don't understand why Scripture always takes a back seat to Tradition when there is a conflict between the two.

>>"don't you believe that your Pastor gets inspiration from the Holy Spirit."

No, I don't. I believe that the Holy Spirit leads and fills believers in Jesus, but that is not the same as inspiration, especially as that word applies to Scripture.

>>"I knew you wouldn't believe what!"

If you mean that you knew I wouldn't believe that the "church fathers" believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, then you're wrong. I've seen some of the writings you referenced, and I agree that they believed what you said they did. I just don't see why I should give the non-canonical writings of these men a higher position of authority than Scripture. The Protestant Reformers relied on Augustine for many of their arguments; does that mean Augustine was right about _everything_? Of course not. Even true Christians can hold erroneous beliefs.

>>"But, If you have a shread of intellectual honesty you would at least find out way they arn't true."

Um, can someone interpret this sentence for me?


News Item11/9/02 11:48 AM
D M Stannard | Texas  Contact via email
Here's a shock Renee! I don't entend to tell you anything of the kind. How do you know that these writing weren't inspired, don't you believe that your Pastor gets inspiration from the Holy Spirit. It pretty arrogant to believe that only you have the HS sowed up. I was burdened to tell you the truth as I believe it. With Jesus I'm clean! Now you know a little bit about what your Catholic (Roman rite, Greek rite, Ukranian rite) Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serian Orthodox, Anglican rite (this listing isn't all of them)neigbors believe about Mary. I knew you wouldn't believe what! But, If you have a shread of intellectual honesty you would at least find out way they arn't true. Nuf said... Adios.

News Item11/9/02 10:41 AM
Renee | Belleville, MI  
Thank you, D. M! Now, can you tell me why I should give these writings by the "church fathers" (which were not inspired by the Holy Spirit) a higher place of authority than the Bible (which IS inspired by the Holy Spirit)?

News Item11/8/02 10:13 PM
D M Stannard | Texas  Contact via email
1- ...And Joseph [was chosen].. and the priest said to Joseph."you have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord." But Joseph refused saying."I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl" (Protoevangelium of James- A.D 120)

2-Hilary of Poitiers-" If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary's son and not those taken from Joseph's former marriage..." (A.D 354)

3-Athanasius- "...Proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary (Discourses against the Arians 2:70(A.D. 360)

4-EPIPHANIUS-"..was born perfectly of the Holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit(The Man Well-Anchored(A.D. 374)

5-St Jerome ".. that he [Victorinus] spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary but brethen in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship, not by nature."(Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary- A.D.383)

6-St Jerome goes on to mention Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr, but I dont have quotes.

7-St Ambrose- ".. for neither have you sweeter children[than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolstion of being able to bear another son(Letters 63:111-A.D 388)

8-St Augustine-"..In being born of a virgin who chose to remain a virgin..."(Holy Virginity 4:4 -A.D.401)

9-St Cyril of Alexandria-"Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing.."(Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4- A.D. 430)


News Item11/8/02 1:58 PM
Renee | Belleville, MI  
D. M., you still haven't given us names or quotes from these "Early Church Fathers" you keep referring to.

News Item11/8/02 9:27 AM
D M Stannard | American by birth...Texan by the Grace of God  Contact via email
In response to A. Haig. No matter what you say "Buster"!, there is no way to slant the fact that the "EARLIEST CHURCH FATHERS" believed that Mary had no other children. They after all, had reference to written and spoken information that we don't have. True the Bible doesn't speak directly to these facts, so why not ignore any other extra Biblical(historical) source that says otherwise... Now thats Wisdom!

News Item11/8/02 8:08 AM
Renee | Belleville, MI  

Maybe it was because everyone else (including Jesus' brothers) had abandoned him. John was apparently the only male disciple (or at least, the only one of the Twelve) present at the cross.

Anyone else care to address this?


News Item11/8/02 3:02 AM
A. Haig | Sydney, Australia  Contact via email
In response to Nsikan, firstly, that Mary had other children is not just "surmised by some". It is plainly and directly taught in scripture. Those who reject the idea, do so because of their commitment to extra-Biblical traditions invented by men, not because of any ambiguity in scripture. That is why all the facts in the world will not persuade them of the obvious.

As to why Jesus asked John to take Mary as his mother, obviously as the oldest son and with his father probably deceased, the responsibility for looking after Mary had fallen to Jesus. Why he chose John for this task, rather than his brothers, we can only speculate. We know that earlier on, his brothers did not believe in him (Jn. 7:5). We do not know when they came to faith, or even if all of them did. Perhaps they were all still unbelievers at this time, and Jesus wanted Mary left in the care of a believer. We know that Jesus had a special relationship with John, hence he is called "the disciple Jesus loved" (see Jn. 21 verses 20 & 24). But in any case, all this is speculation. What is not speculation, is that Mary had other children. We cannot overthrow the plain teaching of scripture on this matter on such a basis.


News Item11/8/02 12:03 AM
Nsikan | London  Contact via email
The simple question I would like to ask is if Mary had other children as being surmised by some, why did Jesus on the cross refer to 'the disciple he loved so much' to take Mary as his mother and told Mary to him as her son, and the bible records that from that day on, Mary went to live with that disciple...Why?

News Item10/25/02 2:24 PM
Re: Perry's comments
Hmmmm.... Much like Nimrod and the tower of Bable.

News Item10/25/02 2:52 AM
A. Haig | Sydney, Australia  Contact via email
Let's put paid to the nonsense of DM Stannard once and for all.

Firstly, the statement in Mt. 1:25 is not just in the KJV. It's also in the NIV, NRSV, NASB, and practically all other translations, and more importantly, it's unambiguously in the Greek.

Secondly, the counterexample of II Sam. 6:23 doesn't work. This verse tells us that Michal did not have children until she died, and of course by implication we understand that after she died she obviously didn't have children. In the case of Mt. 1:25, though, the implication is quite the opposite. A wife would normally consumate her marriage to her husband. That is the normally understood thing. This verse tells us that this did not happen until she gave birth to Jesus. But the implication as to what happened afterwards is obvious to anyone willing to accept it.

Thirdly, the argument about the meaning of brothers and cousins in Aramaic and Greek does not hold water. Some of the references to Jesus' brothers are in dialogue (e.g. Mt. 12 verse 47), but other references are in narrative (e.g. verse 46). While it is plausible to suppose that the dialogue was originally in Aramaic, it is not plausible to suppose the narrative was. Furthermore, this argument supposes that the writer of Matthew (and the writers of the other gospels), who was himself almost certainly a native Aramaic speaker, was not sufficiently aware of this difference in the languages as to be able to make an accurate translation. It also casts doubt on the ability of the Holy Spirit to ensure the correct word is used.

Fourthly, Stannard seems to be very confused about the difference between Holy Matrimony, and fornication. He refers to a Mary, if she had sexual relations to her husband, as a "woman whose been around the block" (sic). But the Bible says "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled" (Heb. 13:4). So Stannard thinks that that having sex in marriage would defile Mary, but the Bible says that she would be undefiled. Who do you believe?

The great thing about typological arguments not stated in scripture, is that you can "prove" anything you want by them. What you can "prove" is only limited by your imagination. Perhaps the boat that Jesus travelled in represents the church, since it carried him. Perhaps the ass Jesus rode on on Palm Sunday represents the church. And so on, and so forth. But where a typological argument leads to a direct contradiction in the plain sense of scripture, then it must be wrong.

In fact, by using typology, I can prove just the opposite to Stannard. Let us assume that Mary does represent the church. The church is a virgin bride prior to the marriage of the lamb. But presumably, after the marriage of the lamb (Rev. 19:7), there will be some sort of spiritual union and consummation, which earthly sexual union in marriage typologically represents. Therefore, after Mary had finished carrying Christ in the world, which represents the present era in which the church dwells in the world, then after that she must have consummated her marriage with Joseph, which represents the consummation that will occur in future after the marriage of the lamb. QED!


News Item10/23/02 7:44 PM
Robert Perry | Longmont CO  Contact via email
Well, I looked it up in NIV, and it says the same thing. Joseph had no relations with Mary until she had borne him a son. Also look at Matthew 12:46, where Jesus' mother and brothers come to visit.

I think that the Word is more than sufficiently clear on this matter. Jesus appears to have had siblings, and his mother appears to have been truly married (Genesis 2:24, 1 Cor. 7:1-7).

If we choose to continue to advance the theory that Mary remained a virgin, let's remember that marriage involves "becoming one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) That's a word picture, folks, used by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16. The deal suggested by Mr. Stannard is not, Biblically speaking, marriage. Remember that David got companionship (1 Kings 1) without entering into marriage.

By the way, it is no surprise that Joseph is not mentioned during Jesus' ministry. The man would have been over 50 in an age when the average man lived only 40 years or so. Rather, it's a surprise that Mary lived that long.

That said, I really don't think that we need to indulge in speculation here, especially of the Romish variety.


News Item10/23/02 5:48 PM
D M Stannard | Texas  Contact via email
I prefaced my remarks by saying what "I believe". I can't speak for the Catholic Church. I described Mary as a symbol of the Church because she carried the Savior into the world in the same way as the Church carries the Savior to the world. Since she represents the Church(to most Catholics), her condition reflects the Church's conditions as it should be. She is not the unspoted Bride of Christ, but the Bride of Christ is foreshadowed by her. Don't tell me about "absurdities", for the Cross of Christ is an "absurdity" to the world. Mr Perry mentioned Matt 1:25 and this is from the King James Bible. Ya'll should recognize this by the way. "And knew her not "till" she had brought forth her "firstborn" son...". I have two things to say. First, the word "Firstborn" is a technical term used by Old Testament Jews to refer to the child that opened the womb and was specially consecrated to God. Second, does the following scripture: "Michal the daughter of Saul had no children "until" the day of her death" (2 Sam 6:23),mean that Michal had children after she died? And furthermore, in the "Protoevangel of James, which is apocrphal literature written in 120 ad, the story is told that Mary was a virgin consecrated to the Lord. That Joseph was an older man, who might have had other children, that agreed to wed Mary for company rather than sex. This would explain Joseph's early death. This would explain how Mary would ask "how can this be" (Luke 1:34). Surely she knew the facts of life, unless she had already made a vow of Chastity. Granted this is not on the same level as the Bible, but it should cause one to think! Later fellas!

News Item10/23/02 3:02 PM
josh landers | hurricane wv  Contact via email
I wouldn't think I'm any more reasonable or less gullible than the next guy, but with all the proofs the Bible possesses and maintains (e.i. prophesy, constant theme written by many diverse men (not one real contradiction), personal experience, etc.) along with the dead sea scrolls, walls of Jericho, Creation science (which i might add is so much more logical and provable than evilution and the compromise between the two) this ossuary, and the complete lack of evidence for and abundance of evidence against other "sacred" writings. How can any sensible man refuse to see? Do the Catholic writings have prophesy? no. Does it contradict the Bible? there is no question it does on all counts. It seems to use circle reasoning to show it has authority. I guess i'm calling out to you who have put your trust in something besides God's Word. Do you hear a voice in your head right now? maybe in opposition with what i'm saying?protesting with seeming assuredness what you already believe? Who's is it and is it rational? God gave us common sense and a conscience for a reason, so we are held accountable. This very moment of you reading may be brought up in the Judgement to testify against you.

May God open your eyes.


News Item10/23/02 8:37 AM
joshua landers | hurricane Wv  Contact via email
I marvel at the logic presented by those who reject the Truth of God's Word. It reminds me of kids at school manipulating the conversation and twisting truth to make themselves sound right or set up their view point, not even noticing the very pillars on which they use to set up the conclusion of their reasoning is... well, many words could go right here - absurd, contradicting, glaring with blindspots - to name a few. I have seen this type of logic from Catholics, Muslims, and plain unreligious heathens alike. Not to out a "stupid/ignorant" label on any one system or group of people, but it is a clear example of the truth behind Jesus' statement against human nature in John:8:45: "And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." They didn't believe the truth BECAUSE it is the truth.


News Item10/22/02 5:35 PM
Robert Perry  | Longmont CO  Contact via email
First of all, I'm not quite sure that we can "parse out" the Biblical use of "half-brother" in this case. You'd have to find an example of a woman with multiple husbands, and then find out how Scripture refers to the relationship between her male children.

DM, if you could give a reference for early church/reformers believing that Mary had always been a virgin, that would be greatly appreciated. It still seems to be directly contrary to Matthew 1:25, though, which clearly indicates that Joseph eventually did "know" his wife in the marital sense.

Also, since when is Mary the spotless bride of Christ? Mother and bride? Ahem. My Savior is not Oedipus Rex. The church, not Mary, is the bride of Christ.


News Item10/22/02 4:11 PM
W. B. Owens | Memphis, TN  Contact via email
Once again, science proves the truth of Christ and his life, death, and resurrection!

1)I'm not sure how D. M. Stannard could deduce that Mary and Joseph having sexual relations while married could be the defilement of Mary. Does not the Scripture say that "a man will be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh?"(Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5) God told Joseph through an angel to follow through on his plans to wed Mary. God never intended Joseph not to sleep with Mary, or He would have stated such.

2)Certainly, Mary's womb was "a Holy, sanctuary of God himself"[sic]. But, the Scripture says "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple( or santuary) and that God's Spirit lives in you?"(1 Corinthians 3:16) If this is true, we are equals with Mary in regards to being a holy sanctuary of God himself.

All that said, we realize that God can use anyone, and he chose Mary to bring his Son, Jesus, into the world. Mary did wed Joseph, as instructed by the angel of the Lord. Many times the Scripture mentions Jesus' mother and brothers in the same sentence, with "brothers" here being relatives, not disciples. (Matt 12:46, Mark 3:31, Luke 8:19, John 2:12)

Read the Scripture and ask yourself this question. Does a woman sleeping with her husband defile her, especially when God tells them to marry? If not, then is it possible for her to concieve and have a male child? If so, is it possible that Jesus had a brother named James?!

Hail Jesus full of grace, the Lord IS thee!


News Item10/22/02 2:12 PM
D M Stannard | Texas  Contact via email
Here's what I think:
1-For any two men to be brothers they must have the same Father. I think you will agree that no one had the same Father as Jesus. Therefore when the Bible says Jesus had brothers it must mean half-brothers.
2-Greek has a word for cousin, but Aramaic doesn't. So some references for cousins would translate as brothers, when they shouldn't.(Gen 13:8)
3-The early Church taught that Mary was always a virgin.
4-The Protestant Reformers believed that also.
5-If Jesus was God, would his brother be god also?
6-Mary's womb was the Holy, santuary of God himself. Does it make sense that God would allow a mere man to defile it.
7-Mary is the symbol of the Church and as such is described as a spotless bride of Christ.
8-Ask yourself this question. How do you like to see the Bride of Christ, as a virgin, or as a woman whose been around the block. You decide.

News Item10/22/02 11:46 AM
Robert Perry | Longmont CO  Contact via email
Wonder what the Catholics doing this research think about this clear reference to Jesus' brothers?

(for those who don't know, Catholic theology holds that Mary never had relations with Joseph)

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