The official website for “The Jesus Discovery” is now up. And down (bandwidth limit exceeded). An interview with the authors is here, when the site is back up.

The Jesus Discovery book by James Tabor has skyrocketed to #1 in all of its categories at Amazon and an overall rank of #174.

More than a dozen photos from the press conference are online. (HT: Joseph Lauer). Apparently
James Charlesworth, lead academic consultant to the team, skipped the show.

In a comment on Eric Meyers’ post, Tabor advances the view that Jesus’ body was first buried at the Holy Sepulcher site and then moved to the Talpiot tomb.

Robert Cargill suggests that the “fish” is a tomb nephesh and he claims (in the comments) that two photos supplied by the authors have been doctored or of different “fish.”  (I’m not convinced.)

Antonio Lombatti provides an image of another fish inscribed on an ossuary.

James Tabor confirms Gordon Franz’s observation that everyone has the fish turned the wrong way. If so, why were all of the photos released as horizontal shots?

Jodi Magness is chagrined to see archaeology “hijacked in the service of non-scientific interests.” In a comment, Tabor disagrees that such is the case and he writes of the fish etching that “at least half a dozen art historians have agreed with the Jonah interpretation.” Stephen Goranson notes that none of them have been quoted and he wonders if “signed non-disclosure agreements help scholarship.”
Michael Heiser explains why the process of using the “clueless archaeo-media” is rejected by scholars as a pursuit for cash and not for accuracy. “It’s the methodological equivalent to using mainstream media connections to announce a cure for cancer without clinical trials, or presenting one’s off-the-radar conspiratorial theory (the academic word would be avant garde) about Zionism instead of getting critical feedback from field experts first. But that’s boring and doesn’t generate sales.”
James Davila is pleased with the scholarly response to the announcement and that the media appears to be heeding it (unlike in times past).
Summaries of responses are also provided by Tom Verenna, Mark Goodacre and Stephen Smuts.

Gordon Franz was at today’s press conference and has written a short piece on the experience and his amazement at some of the responses he has read. He writes:

I was at the press conference at Discovery Times Square on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 for the unveiling of the new book The Jesus Discovery by James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici.

I am not a supporter of Simcha’s ideas, in fact, I have critiqued some of them on my website (see the Cracked Pot Archaeology section at www.lifeandland.org). But what I have found amusing is the misstatements and misunderstanding on some of the blogs by leading scholars. First of all, you should get the book and read it before you comment, or at least look at the pictures! It will save you some embarrassment.

Simcha had an exact replica of both ossuaries in question made by the museum staff at Discovery Times Square. This was accomplished by the measurements and photographs taken with the impressive robotic arm. I am grateful for Walter Klassmen for showing me how it worked. This tool will have many applications in the archaeology of Israel and Simcha should be commended for working closely with this expert to produce such a valuable tool.

The first thing that struck me on the ossuary is the orientation of the “fish.” On all the blogs and news articles I have read, the picture of the “fish” is facing the wrong way. Sometimes it is horizontal, either facing left or right, and made to look like a swimming fish. Or the “fish” has the round ball (Jonah, according to Simcha) facing upwards, thus making the “fish” look like a funerary monument.

Usually pictures of Absalom’s Pillar are shown to bolster the case for this view. The fact of the matter is that the “fish” is facing down! So we should orient the picture correctly before we continue the discussion.

My initial impression is that the “fish” looks like an ornamental glass vessel, perhaps a pitcher or flask of some sort. The Ennion vessel found by Prof. Avigad in the Jewish Quarter comes to mind (page 108 in Discovering Jerusalem). Perhaps some glass expert might suggest a better parallel from this period than the Ennion vessel, but this is worthy of consideration.


Ossuary etching compared with Ennion pitcher, both from Jerusalem. Left image: Associated Producers Ltd./Haaretz; Right: Avigad, Discovering Jerusalem, p. 108.