By Jared Preusz
Students, faculty and community members gathered Saturday to see and hear discussion and lectures on the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the 2007 Easter Conference in the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium.
The conference, sponsored by BYU”s Religious Education and the Religious Studies Center, featured a keynote speaker, Elder F. Enzio Busche, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and a panel discussion with four BYU professors.
During the conference”s keynote address, Elder Busche explained that to “Behold the Lamb of God” means to not let fear get in the way of progression.
“When we grow in our personal state of enlightenment, the veil that separates us from God becomes thinner and thinner,” Busche said. “We feel more of his light and of his love, which kindly takes away all of our own fears.”
Elder Busche said it is impossible to have fear and love at the same time and a choice must be made between the two.
Many people in the world still do not soften their hearts to the message of the gospel because of trials and fear, he said.
“In the middle of all this suffering, pain, agony, helplessness, and fears that have surrounded us in the history of mankind, many of our fellow citizens have lost their feeling for the reality that Jesus the Christ has been resurrected and is alive and is ready to reveal himself to anyone who is open to him showing the way for a rewarding and exciting life,” Elder Busche said.
Forgiveness helps us to truly understand the meaning of the Atonement, Elder Busche said.
While Elder Busche focused on personal progression through Christ, the conference”s panel discussion, whichconsisted of four professors from Religious Education, Thomas Wayment, Frank Judd, Richard Holzapfel and Jeffrey Chadwick, cleared up many of the misconceptions about the lost tomb of Christ that surfaced after the release of a Discovery channel documentary and a book on the topic. Both the book and documentary claimed that the bones of Christ were buried in a container known as an ossuary.
The professors said, in making these claims, the authors and filmmakers ignore the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Jewish burial practices, bones were not placed in an ossuary until a year after the deceased person was laid in a tomb.
“Even if we take a look at the discussion that the authors have given, then we can understand the family under the disciples of Jesus discovered that Jesus” body was alive again on the third day,” Frank Judd said. “So since it was alive again on the third day, it is not even likely that an ossuary of Jesus existed in the first place.”
Jeffrey Chadwick talked about the inscription on what the authors of the book believe is the ossuary of Christ. The inscription says “Jesus, Son of Joseph.”
He used examples of the Aramaic language to prove that the inscription does not relate to Jesus Christ or to his stepfather, Joseph.
“The film fails in its logic,” Chadwick said. “It was not our Jesus and not our Joseph.”
The most likely site for Christ”s burial was at or near The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, the panel of professors agreed.
Richard Holzapfel closed the panel discussion by talking by expressing his gratitude for the opportunity, created by this controversy, to bear testimony of the gospel.
“Next Easter we expect another controversy,” he said. “But this is all good news, because every time that Jesus makes the cover of Time Magazine or on national television, it gives us, committed disciples of Jesus, another opportunity to bear witness and become part of the dialogue and to increase our own witness of these events.”