A little something I wrote for the paper in July 2005:

© Weekly World News

Nazareth, Israel–The subject matter of the text inscribed on several pieces of ancient parchment found in a millennia-old stone box buried in a yard in Nazareth was, at first, dismissed as nothing special. It wasn’t until an alert translator realized that this seemingly ordinary Aramaic text concerned no ordinary man.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said the awe-struck Ari Zakai, the University of Nazareth translator who made the historic discovery. “I realized I was holding in my hands nothing less than a copy of an invitation to the Bar mitzvah of Jesus.”

The Bar Mitzvah is the tradition religious ceremony celebrating the coming of age of a Jewish male, usually held around the time of a young man’s 13th birthday.

“Jesus—or Yeshua, which was His actual proper name in Hebrew, with Jesus being its rough Greek transliteration—was born in Nazareth about 6 B.C.E.,” explains Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin-Fisher, an authority on religious history and Weekly World News religion consultant. “Though there is little known concerning His early years, we always assumed that, like most Jews, Yeshua would have been have had a Bar mitzvah. Here, at last, we have proof positive.”

“The Bar mitzvah would have taken place, according to the modern calendar, in the year 7 A.D., which would translate to the year 3771 on the Hebrew calendar,” Rabbi Schmotkin-Fisher further explained. “Sometime in the Hebrew months of Kislev or Tevet, unless I miss my guess.”

Yeshua, or Jesus, of Nazareth grew up to be worshiped the world over as the son of God, the Messiah on whom an entire religion was based.

The small stone box was found by homeowner Chiam Plotnik while excavating for a swimming pool in his back yard in Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus.

Mr. Plotnik said, “Around here, ancient artifacts are about as common as rocks, so I didn’t give it a second thought. Who knew this one was such a find?”

Among the several pieces of preserved parchment was a hand-written invitation inviting the recipient to “join the proud parents Miriam and Yosef (the Hebrew names of Mary and Joseph) in celebrating the Bar mitzvah of Yeshua ben Nazareth (or, Jesus of Nazareth).” Refreshments, it noted, would be served and entertainment provided by Acimah and His Seven Lyres.

“A particularly fascinating find was what appears to be a list of gifts presented the Bar mitzvah boy,” said Rabbi Schmotkin-Fisher. “In addition to sums of shekels, as the coin of the realm was then known, Yeshua received numerous other traditional gifts, including several Roman Savings Bonds of varying sums, a Star of David on a gold chain, a pocket sundial, at least 7 writing quills, and a brand-new carpentry set.”

Father Joseph Mario Spumdilini, an expert in ancient Aramaic writings asked to evaluate this archaeological find for Weekly World News, was particularly excited by one document in particular. “I’m calling this one ‘Jesus’ Thank You Note,’” he told Weekly World News.

“Roughly translated, it reads, ‘Dear Aunt Muskah, Thank you very much for the great carpentry set. I am looking forward to using it to build something very soon. Dad is also very excited, saying he hopes that maybe now I will follow him into the family business. Of course, that’s been the plan all along. Thank you.’ And it’s signed ‘Yeshua.’

“The historic value of having a document written in Jesus’ own hand…well, it’s beyond priceless. As are several fragments that contain what we assume are quotes from His Bar mitzvah speech, including what appear to be early versions of His later teachings, including ‘Don’t do stuff to people you don’t want them doing to you,’ ‘Maybe if we, you know, didn’t hate our enemies they wouldn’t have to be our enemies,’ and ‘If you let someone keep hitting you, they’ll probably get tired of it and eventually go away.’”

Father Spumdilini notes that it will require decades of study to understand how this find will impact Christianity.

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