Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Cradle of Christianity

This past week I visited an exhibit called The Cradle of Christianity on display until October 16, 2007 at the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The exhibit is not huge, in my estimation, but there are several interesting artifacts in the collection organized by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

First there are the three ossuaries baring the names of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Yes, those ossuaries. To their credit, however, both the Museum and the audio provided by Emory professors make very clear that these ossuaries did not belong to the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus of the Bible. Those names were very common in that region and in that time period and there is no evidence to suggest that these boxes ever contained the bones of those individuals. There is a fourth ossuary on display, however, that does have Biblical significance and that is an ossuary with the name Caiaphas inscribed on it. The exhibit does claim that this ossuary held the bones of the Caiaphas of Biblical fame.

Other items of interest include water vessels similar to what Jesus would have had the servants fill with water when He turned the water into wine, tableware from that time period such as what might have been used at the Last Supper, a stone slab with Pontius Pilate's name inscribed on it, a portion of a temple block with wording that prohibited entry by Gentiles, a stone baptismal font for full immersion baptism, a jar that held the dead sea scrolls, and a segment of the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. Unfortunately, this last item contained writing concerning the building of the temple, rather than a portion of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, it was amazing to see how clear and sharp the Hebrew writing was even after so many years.

The exhibit was very well done and I thought rather respectful to those who believe the Bible to be true. I suppose it would not be in their self-interest to downplay the significance of these items but nevertheless I appreciated the many references to the Bible and the overall tone of the presentation. The $16 dollar price might be a bit steep for what seemed to me to be a rather limited exhibition, though.

Related links:

Article in the Emory Report

Information about the exhibit by the Carlos Museum

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