In-Depth Reading on the Talpiot “Jesus Family” 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 Jerusalem tomb might arguably be that of Jesus of Nazareth. It is clear that theology is as much of a factor in this discussion as any desire to sort through what we know. Where does one begin to get up to speed on the latest? The various articles on Wikipedia, to which many general readers, and even those in the press turn, are a mess of inaccuracies and confusion. 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.

My own most comprehensive treatment remains my  2012 book, The Jesus Discovery, co-authored with Simcha Jacobovici. It is thoroughly documented with extensive notes. I believe it remains the best place to start even though much has unfolded in the past five years. I might add here that there is new research forthcoming that promises to reset the landscape in some major ways.

I also recommend these five basic posts here on my blog that offer a broad overview of the subject of the two Talpiot tombs with responses to various colleagues and critiques:

The ‘Jesus Tomb’ Story: Does the Evidence Add Up.”

What’s What Regarding the Controversial James Ossuary?”

The Case for a ‘Jesus Family Tomb in Jerusalem: A Comprehensive Summary of the Evidence.”

An Eyewitness Account of the 1981 Discovery of the Talpiot ‘Jonah’ Tomb

Talpiot Tomb Talk: The Assumptions of Language and the Language of Assumptions

Another rich source for in-depth reading and reflection is the wonderful web site: Bible & Interpretation ( There is a special section in the sidebar titled “Tombs at Talpiot” with a two dozen major articles on the tombs that cover all sides of the issues that have been raised. I recommend that one begin with the papers  resulting from the discussion between me, Mark Goodacre, and Chris Rollston, at the 2014 ASOR Southeast Regional meeting in 2013 on “The Tombs at Talpiot: An Overview of ‘The Jesus Discovery.'”

I would highly recommend the following, more or less in this order, as fundamental to any informed discussion of these subjects:

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

M. Elliott and K. Kilty, “Regarding Jodi Magness and Talpiot

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