Keeping Up with the Latest on the Talpiot “Jesus” Tomb

I find it somewhat amazing that so many freely expressing opinions on the controversial Talpiot “Jesus” tomb and/or the “James ossuary” have not kept up with even the most minimum of the latest research on the topic. I find this is the case even with all too many of my academic colleagues, not to mention a host of others, most with an evangelical Christian bias, who regularly “trash” the idea that this tomb might arguably be that of Jesus of Nazareth. It seems everything but the facts are brought into play here.

I was reminded of this today with the publication of the excellent article by Prof. Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliot of the University of Wyoming, reviewing the latest published views of my colleague Jodi Magness. In her latest book, Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, Prof. Magness offers a spirited argument that there is little to no likelihood that the Talpiot tomb, or the James ossuary, have any connection with the Jesus movement. The problem is, as Kilty and Elliot so clearly demonstrate, is her argument and even her information is as flawed as it is outdated.

Most of what Prof. Magness argues has been addressed previously, see for example my exchange with her now archived at the SBL Web site here.

No one can keep up with everything in our rich and ever complex field of biblical/archaeological studies but on a subject as controversial and as potentially important as this, it seems a minimum expectation for those wanting to engage in discussion would be to be up to speed on at least the basic research. Lamentably, such is not the case.

Here are a few of the basic articles, all readily available at the Web site, that are fundamental to any informed discussion of these subjects. If one is not willing to spend an hour or so reading through these I have to honestly question to what degree such a person is interested in a high level and informed discussion based on facts. As I say to my students on any topic we cover–read, read, please read–then express your views!

M. Elliott and K. Kilty, “Inside the Numbers of the Talpiot Tomb.”

M. Elliott and K. Kilty, “Probability, Statistics, and the Talpiot Tomb.”

Jerry Lutgen, “The Talpiot Tomb: What Are the Odds?”

M. Elliott and K. Kilty, “Talpiot Dethroned.”

Eldad Keynan, “Jewish Burials.”

Oded Golan, “The Authenticity of the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet Inscriptions.”

A. Rosenfeld, C.Pellegrino, H. R. Feldman, and W.E. Krumbein, “The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries.”

M. Elliott and K. Kilty, “The James Ossuary in Talpiot,”

Eldad Keynan, “Obscurities Around the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher

Claude Cohen-Matlofsky, “Onomastics and Statistics in Second Temple Judaism