Tomb of Jesus (Tuesday links)

Here’s a round-up of some of the latest on “Jesus’ tomb.”  The main AP story is everywhere, including here, and there is a slideshow with about 50 related images hereABC News and the NY Times have their own stories.  The JPost story includes some quotes from Shimon Gibson and Dan Bahat.  JPost also has a review of the documentary and Larry King had an interview with the documentary’s producers, Al Mohler and James Tabor.  Some of the original data from Kloner’s dig and Rahmani’s Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, including a drawing of the burial cave, is available in a pdf file at the Discovery website.

Ben Witherington has a lengthy response, and a few additional points in the comments section.  Leen Ritmeyer has a brief response, as does Darrell Bock.  The historian Paul Maier wrote a book on just such a fictional scenario (Jesus’ body being found), and his comments are posted here.  Christopher Rollston has some good insights here, as does Aren Maier, Mark Goodacre, and Chris Heard

Apocryphicity claims the Acts of Philip is not referring to Mary Magdalene but to a different Mary. 

Michael Heiser wrote an article related to the “James, brother of Jesus” ossuary several years ago that has a number of relevant points about this particular tomb and the frequency of the names.

If you don’t want to wait for the movie (March 4 on Discovery Channel), you can buy the book now. 

It’s currently ranked #6 at Amazon.  In one year, you’ll be able to buy it for three bucks or less (just like the “Cave of John the Baptist” book, which was a similar one-night sensation).

I’ve started a short list of scholars who are believe or reject this theory.

Reject it:

Non-Christian scholars: Amos Kloner, Dan Bahat, Aren Maier, Joe Zias, Jodi Magness, William
Dever, Lawrence Stager

Christian scholars: Stephen Pfann, Leen Ritmeyer, Ben Witherington, Paul Maier, Steven Notley, Andreas Köstenberger, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor
Believe it:

Non-Christian scholars: James Tabor

Christian scholars: None known


Non-Christian scholars: Shimon Gibson (skeptical, but doesn’t rule out the possibility)

Christian scholars: None known

Update 3/1 and 3/2: Some scholars added to list.


7 thoughts on “Tomb of Jesus (Tuesday links)

  1. Thanks for all the information, Todd. That’s cool you included a piece of Darrell Bock’s writing on the subject. He just came to my school to speak for a lectureship and ETS over the weekend. He’s a great speaker.

  2. I guess it is true that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

    So far, only the press in Witherington’s native Kentucky have delicately raised the issue of the pot calling the kettle bla…that is, the pot calling the ossuary cracked in Witherington’s overheated protestations (the gentleman protests too much, methinks)against the latest “biggest New Testament find”* in his lifetime.

    Lexington County Herald, 2/27/07

    On his blog, Witherington fired a final salvo by referring to the Titanic and saying Cameron “has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now.”

    In 2003, Witherington and co-author Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, wrote in The Brother of Jesus that they believed an ossuary bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” was authentic.

    A few months after The Brother of Jesus was published, Israel’s Antiquities Authority decided that the ossuary was a fake. It charged the ossuary’s owner, Oded Golan, with fraud and illegally selling archaeological artifacts outside of Israel. His trial continues, 21/2 years after it began.
    Witherington said that he and Shanks stand by their conclusion that the ossuary is authentic and are not likely to change their minds, regardless of the trial’s outcome.

    * “This is probably going to be the biggest New Testament find in my lifetime, as big as the Dead Sea scrolls,” said Ben Witherington, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

    National Geographic News

    If Witherington can be such a zealot about HIS OWN wacky claims about HIS OWN phony ossuary, it would only be sporting of him to cut Simcha Jacobovici (Witherington’s former partner in crime. He was the man who helped Witherington hype his own phony “James Ossuary” about 4 years ago.) and James Cameron some slack.

  3. Just wanted to say a HUGE thanks for keeping all of us back in the States up to date on the “real” story =-) ! Miss Israel, IBEX, and your family…please tell them I said hi!

    Brittany Good
    IBEX Sp. 06

  4. I like the list idea but to be fair I believe you should not include anyone who will benefit financially from the movie. This would obviously include Tabor therefore he can not be considered a “scholar” in support.

  5. I guess I assumed that since Dr. Tabor believes that Jesus had an earthly father and that his bones had possibly been found that he would not consider himself a Christian. It certainly doesn’t fit the historic or biblical definition of a Christian. But my intent was not to label him something other than what I thought he considered himself.

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