Researchers say they have found caskets from a 1st-century tomb near Jerusalem that bear the names Joseph, Mary and Jesus, son of Joseph. But archeologists say the find is probably a coincidence.
The oblong limestone caskets, which contained no bones, were excavated in 1980 from a building site near Jerusalem.
They were rediscovered two weeks ago by researchers for a British television program, and found to have come from the same tomb.
“There is no proof that these belonged to the Holy Family, but the combination of names is interesting,” said Ray Bruce, director of CCTV, which produced the program.
But Israel’s Antiquities Authority and other archeologists dismissed the find as a coincidence, saying the names Joseph, Mary and Yehoshua - or Jesus - were common in the 1st century.
“They’re all very common, perhaps the most common names,” said biblical scholar Father Murphy O’Connor. “It would be a statistical abnormality if you didn’t find them in conjunction at some point.”
Scholars believe Joseph probably was buried in the Galilee. Mary is believed to be buried in Jerusalem. The Bible holds that Jesus’ body was taken to heaven.