While everybody has been discussing the PBS film on Mormons, a recent archaeological discovery in Israel might be of some interest: Herod’s tomb has been found. Unfortunately, no body was found, but the excavators at the site are quite sure that the tomb does indeed belong to Herod.
Herod is that bad guy in Matthew that you’ve all read about – the infanticidal maniac who “pharoah-ed up” and thought he could rid the Jewish faith of its Davidic Messiah (a threat to his seat within the Empire) by slaughtering all the babes of Jesus’ would-be neighborhood. Luckily Joseph and Mary bolted just in time, Jesus was born, lived, died, and here you are now gathering up precious pearls of truth. Well, add one more pearl of great price to your necklace: Herod was probably a real guy.
Not that I doubt the historicity of the NT per se; I actually find it more historically entrenched than the OT, but I suspect that the infanticide about which we read in Matthew may have been an invention of sorts so that it fit with the Exodus tradition – Matthew seems to coincide his account of Jesus with Moses on several levels – macro and micro. Regardless, I think it’s cool that they concluded that this is Herod even without finding a body.
So rejoice, ye Mormons, for one more artifact has been dug up which ads a kernel of rationality to your faith – which is a good thing.