Yesterday I happily received my copy of the long awaited book, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? edited by James H. Charlesworth (Eerdmans, 2013). From my initial perusal I highly recommend this impressive and comprehensive work for any of my readers who have followed the “Talpiot Jesus tomb” discussion since the publication of my book, The Jesus Dynasty in 2006 and the release of the book and film by Simcha Jacobovici The Family Tomb of Jesus and The Lost Tomb of Jesus in 2007. This thick 592 page volume consists of papers delivered at the Princeton Theological Seminary Symposium on “Evaluating the Talpiot Tomb in Context.” The focus of the conference was a singular one–as stated by Prof. Charlesworth in his opening remarks–”Is the Talpiot “Jesus” tomb that of Jesus of Nazareth?–What is the Evidence Pro and Con?” This international gathering of scholars was held at the Mishkenot Conference Center in Jerusalem, January 13-16, 2008. The fields of expertise were diverse–historians, biblical scholars, archaeologists, physical scientists, statisticians, epigraphers–and the points of view expressed represented a full range of possible opinions. The conference itself was not without its controversies–see my blog post report here and my response to the confusion and storm of criticisms after the conference on the Society of Biblical Literature website here. It is nice to finally have the papers with full documentation and notes, some of which were submitted by those who could not attend but nonetheless sent in their contributions. My own contribution, “The Talpiot “Jesus” Tomb: A Historical Analysis,” is one of the 30 contributions–including a most intriguing typesetting error. My hope is that we can now consider the results of the conference in a calmer and more objective atmosphere at the close of 2013. The only unanimous resolution at the Princeton Jerusalem conference was a voice vote at the closing session that urged exploration of the adjacent “Patio” tomb, just north of the “Jesus” tomb. The results of that effort, subsequently carried out by Rami Arav, Simcha Jacabovici, and me, we survey in our 2012 book, The Jesus Discovery. I look forward to reading this volume in its entirety over the semester break and I will offer comments and evaluations of all of the contributions in series of reviews on this blog. Simcha Jacobovici, who attended the conference but did not present a paper or response, has already published his initial evaluation of the volume here. Below are preview shots of the Table of Contents:
I was totally surprised by today’s e-mail edition of Bible History Daily distributed by the Biblical Archaeological Society! Featured was a new DVD, “Jerusalem Discoveries from the Time of Jesus,” putting together four of my BAS lectures, dealing with some of the most controversial topics related to my research–the James ossuary, The Talpiot tombs, and Pixner’s theories regarding the Essene Gate and the “Church of the Apostles.” I am referred to as a “renowned biblical scholar,” which some of my colleagues might want to debate, but I thank BAS for the compliment. I should point out that those of us who do these BAS lectures receive no royalties but any proceeds go to supporting the worthy work of the non-profit Biblical Archaeology Society. You can read details regarding this particular DVD here.
Sometimes a map is worth more than a thousand words. For an overview evaluation of the Talpiot “Jesus tomb” and its possible connection to Jesus of Nazareth see my published article Talpiot Jesus Tomb: A Historical Analysis.
The latest from veteran reporter Matthew Kalman, following up on yesterday’s breaking story:
Stain of stupidity: The red smear left by the application of silicon by the Israel Police Forensics Laboratory in their fruitless attempt to prove forgery has contaminated the word “Yeshua” (Jesus) inscribed on the ossuary and destroyed much of the little patina that remained
It could be the earliest inscription of the word “Jesus” ever found, but we may never know. In their fruitless zeal to prove that the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was forged by Oded Golan or an Egyptian craftsman working under his direction, the Israel Antiquities Authority permitted a series of destructive tests that proved nothing and may have destroyed the chances of ever knowing the truth. The worst contamination can be seen in the reddish stain now smeared across the word “Yeshua” (Jesus) in the photograph above.
Read the rest of his story here.
I landed last night in Charlotte returning from my trip to Israel to pick up the breaking news from Jerusalem that the highly controversial “James Ossuary” has been returned to its owner Oded Golan. Veteran reporter Matthew Kalman who has covered this story more closely than any other correspondent has a full story with some remarkable photos in the New York Daily News that is sure to get picked up around the world throughout the day:
Photo by Yuval Pan: Oded Golan unpacking his treasured ossuary and inspecting the damage
Public will be able to see limestone box that may have been casket for Jesus’ brother Ancient burial box is inscribed ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’
The stone burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” has been hidden from public view at the Israel Antiquities Authority since 2003. But now it has been released to be displayed around the world, following a 10-year legal battle in which Israeli authorities failed to show that collector Oded Golan faked the ancient Aramaic lettering on the box. Golan bought the box for a pittance in the 1970s from an East Jerusalem antiquities dealer and had it for more than 25 years before Sorbonne professor Andre Lemaire pointed out the staggering significance of the letters scratched in the side.
Read the full story here. Kalman has also just posted a follow-up story charging that the Israeli authorities have seriously damaged this ancient artifact, see his blog post “Scientific Vandalism: How the IAA and Israeli Police Wrecked the James Ossuary here. Kalman’s blog remains one of the most extensive archives covering the controversies surrounding the James ossuary.
I have written extensively on this ossuary in my books (The Jesus Dynasty and The Jesus Discovery) as well as on this blog, if you are feeling a bit fuzzy on the details. See my posts “A Readers’s Guide to the Unfolding James Ossary Story” and “Brother of Jesus Inscription Is Authentic.” The most extensive collection of articles, pro and con, regarding this controversial artifact are at Bible & Interpretation, here and here.