Crucifixion nails found in Israel? Probably not.

There’s been a shocking archaeological discovery in Israel. Nails from the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ have been found!

Well, no, probably not.

The claim comes from Israeli Canadian documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, the Washington Post reports. Jacobovici has done several documentaries on Christian subjects and came across an archaeological report from 1990 mentioning the discovery of nails in the tomb of a man named Caiaphas. For those who know their Bible, this is the same name as the Jewish high priest who plotted to arrest Jesus and then gave him to the Romans. The name is right, the date of the tomb is right, so the nails must be those from the Crucifixion, right?

The Post quotes Jacobovici as saying, “There’s a general scholarly consensus that the tomb where the nails were found likely belonged to Caiaphas. Nails at that time were a dime a dozen, but finding one in a tomb is exceedingly rare.”

Actually neither of these statements is true. The Post quotes an Israeli archaeologist as saying that the inscriptions in the tomb aren’t clear as to the occupant’s identity, and I myself have seen Roman nails turn up in tombs. They were pretty common objects, after all.

The timing of this announcement just before Easter and just before Jacobovici’s next documentary comes out (titled “Nails of the Cross” to air Wednesday on the History Channel), adds to the suspicion that Jacobovici is fooling either himself or us.

There’s also the question of why a Jewish high priest would take the nails of someone who he thought was a false prophet to the grave with him, or even how he got them in the first place since it was Jesus’ family and followers who removed Jesus from the Cross.

In the view of this former archaeologist, this story is more of the usual sensationalism masking as science that fills so much of the media. A bit like the spurious discovery of Caligula’s tomb.

Never fear. There are plenty are saints’ relics in Rome, including enough nails for a dozen Crucifixions. Gadling’s own David Farley has even written a book about the Holy Foreskin, which you can also visit in Italy. Actually there’s more than one relic claiming to be the Holy Foreskin, but that’s another story. . .

[Image of Roman nails courtesy user Takkk via Wikimedia Commons. These are not the same nails that came from the tomb mentioned in this article.]

The Jesus Trail

Here is a bit of low impact tourism that can provide you with some exercise, a history lesson–and a walk similar to one that Jesus might have made.

Instead of hopping on a bus to be taken to certain holy sites to see places where Jesus did his ministry, there is a walking option.

This go-at-you-own-pace trip is along a 40-mile path that brings you to sites like: Nazareth where Jesus grew up as a boy; the Arab village of Kana–where Jesus turned water into wine; the sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes where it is thought Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount; and to the location where it’s said that Jesus turned two fish and five loaves of bread into enough food for the multitudes.

There are sites important to Islam as well.

According to Laurie Copans who took the trip, it has appeal, partly because of the interactive quality. Listening to birds, feeling the breeze, and experiencing the topography adds meditative and reflective elements to the travle experience.

As one of the people interviewed for the article said, “The more intimate you become with the land, the more intimate the land becomes to you–the smells, the feel, the hills.”

The tricky aspect of this trail is that it’s not marked. Here are your options for doing the trip without getting lost.

  • Hire a tour guide
  • Download a Global Positioning System that coordinates with, or
  • Pick up a Map–but with the trail not marked, I say hire a tour guide.

For more details and contact information about how to follow the Jesus Trail, read Copan’s article. The photo is of Galilee from Mount Beatitudes by hoysameg on Flickr.

Hooters in the Holy Land

Next time you’re in Tel Aviv — tired from traveling, homesick, and looking for a little comfort food — you can sit back, relax, and experience some all-American hospitality, half-way around the globe. Hooters is opening its first location in Israel.

It’s a restaurant known, kind of, for its spicy chicken wings, but mostly for its servers — “Hooters Girls,” who bring you food and beer in low-cut blouses and short skirts. And, according to the man behind the move, Ofer Ahiraz, it can “suit the Israeli entertainment culture.”

“I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelies are looking for,” says Ahiraz.

While there will probably be minor changes to meet Israeli tastes — such as keeping the restaurants away from large religious populations, and making all the food kosher — the restaurants will look a lot like the chain’s other locations across the U.S., China, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and beyond.

Over the next two years the company plans to open additional restaurants in Colombia, Dubai, Guam, New Zealand and India.

So it’s official, the tackiest restaurant in the U.S. will now lead the way as America’s most ubiquitous cultural ambassador. Great.