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.
Often overlooked is the massive volume of conference papers from the Fourth Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins on the theme of “The Tomb of Jesus and His Family?” which is must reading for anyone wanting to be on top of all the evidence pro and con. Some might consider it “expensive” at $48 but this is a quality academic book of nearly 600 pages
Charlesworth, James H. ed. The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls: The Fourth Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.
A good place to begin in getting a comprehensive overview of the entire Talpiot tomb subject from my perspective is the paper I gave at this conference before a Who’s Who of academic scholars gathered in Jerusalem for the occasion:
“The Talpiot ‘Jesus’ Tomb: A Historical Analysis.” In The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls: The Fourth Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins, eds., James H. Charlesworth and Arthur C. Boulet. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013, pp. 247-266. https://jamestabor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/PrincetonTalpiotJDTMarch15.pdf
I then 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 their 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 (bibleinterp.arizona.edu). There is a special section in the sidebar titled “Tombs at Talpiot” with a collection of 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 all of the following as fundamental to any informed discussion of these subjects: https://bibleinterp.arizona.edu/article-topics/25
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