There continues to be significant discussion about the purported tomb of Jesus’ family. Here are some of the highlights.
The Pulpit Magazine has a helpful list of quotes from various experts about the issue. Many experts have weighed in on the issue, making it the most one-sided debate I’ve seen in a long time.
Stephen Pfann has posted an article in which he concludes that the “Mariamene” ossuary should actually be read “Mary and Martha” (and see the response of James D. Tabor). Pfann is one of the top scholars in inscriptions from this period, and it is guys like him who should have been consulted before sensational conclusions were published. He also has written an essay on “The Improper Application of Statistics in ‘The Lost Tomb of Jesus.’” He promises a detailed review in the future.
The SBL Forum has several good articles on the issue, including:
Jonathan Reed says, “Like many biblical scholars and archaeologists, to use William Dever’s phrase, I don’t have a dog in the fight over faith and resurrection. But, as a field archaeologist and professor of biblical studies, I do have a stake in what archaeology is made to do and how scholars are manipulated on television. It smacks of exploitation.” It’s short and worth reading in full. Tabor has responded here.
Christopher A. Rollston writes on “Prosopography and the Talpiyot Yeshua Family Tomb: Pensées of a Palaeographer” in which he concludes:
Thomas Lambdin’s famous dictum is that within the field we often “work with no data.” This is a hyperbole, but the fact remains that we do work with partial data, and sometimes the data we have are just plain opaque. With the Talpiyot tomb, there is a dearth of prosopographic data, and this is a fact. Based on the prosopographic evidence, it is simply not possible to make assumptions about the relationships of those buried therein, and it is certainly not tenable to suggest that the data are sufficient to posit that this is the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Finally, it should be stated that at this juncture there is nothing in the statistical or laboratory data that can sufficiently clarify the situation, and I doubt that there ever will be.
Tabor responds to the articles of Magness and Rollston in which he concludes that the possibility that this is not Jesus’ family tomb should not be dismissed but is worthy of further investigation. I think all scholars like the idea of further investigation, but why this is being done after the “conclusion” was foisted upon the public in dramatic fashion is still a mystery.
As of now, Tabor has two blog posts pending, including one that promises “breaking news.”