Canadian-Israeli director Simcha Jacobovici has come up with the view that some nails found in a Jewish tomb are the nails that crucified Jesus.
How does he arrive at this conclusion? They have been found in a burial cave that contained two ossuaries – one with the name Caiaphas and the other with the name Joseph son of Caiaphas. His argument is that the name Caiaphas is an unusual name and that therefore this is the tomb of the High Priest Caiaphas who is seen in the Gospels condemning Jesus.
Jacobovici’s thesis is that Caiaphas having sided with Jesus’ execution then had some remorse and ended his days as a Messianic Jew according the Israeli newspapaer haaretz:
Jacobovici’s main claim is that the character of Caiaphas must be reconsidered. According to him, Caiaphas may have changed his mind about Jesus after the crucifixion, and his descendents thought it appropriate to bury the father of Christianity with the nails alongside other items meant to accompany him to the next world.
Jacobovici says that Caiaphas even became a member of the Judeo-Christians – those who maintained their Jewish identity while claiming Christ was the messiah (but not God). Jacobovici says that evidence of Caiaphas’ paradigm shift can be found in multiple places, including the mysterious symbols that were engraved upon the ossuary.
He also argues:
And since Caiaphas is only associated with Jesus’s crucifixion, you put two and two together and they seem to imply that these are the nails.”
It’s a great tale. It would even be nice it were true. The trouble with this is that there is no way of knowing any of this.
Firstly, the Israeli Antiquities Authority:
cast doubt upon suggestions that the grave was definitively the burial place of Caiaphas, and said nails are commonly found in such locations.
Of course in addition how on earth would we know? it’s a bit like the Empress Helena in the sixth century “discovering” the True Cross in an excavation- possible but so unlikely. Of course, it is reported she also found the nails that crucified Jesus.
Secondly, we have nothing that tells us that Caiaphas changed his mind. Surely, if he had we wouldn’t have seen the persecution of the early church in Jerusalem!
Thirdly, you can’t argue that because we only have one example of Caiaphas being involved in a crucifixion that he wasn’t involved in any others! How would he have got hold of the particular nails that crucified Jesus in the first place? Was his change of heart so soon after the execution? Again there is no sign of it.
As I have said, I have no problem with Caiaphas changing his mind and becoming a follower of Jesus – but I am afraid I think that this is just wishful thinking by a film maker.
This is therefore number 9 in my series of TQTWTAIN (Theological Questions To Which The Answer Is No).