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Monday, February 26, 2007

The Talpiot Tomb

As things progress on the subject of the tomb, I thought I'd re-do this post, to direct readers to more helpful sources of information ...

* Prof. Mark Goodacre at the NT Gateway Weblog has his current posts on the subject under this link - The Talpiot Tomb

* Prof. Tyler Williams has lots of info on the tomb at Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot

* Prof. Ben Witherington discusses the subject, with comments from Prof. James Tabor

* Prof. James Tabor's Jesus Dynasty Blog

The Talpiot Tomb is a tomb discovered in Talpiot, Israel, in 1980 that is alleged to have been the burial place of Jesus ..... Inside were found ten ossuaries bearing the inscriptions of names ..... Five of the ten names (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, and Matthew) are claimed by some to be associated with figures from the New Testament ..... The BBC first aired a documentary on the Talpiot Tomb in 1996 .... A second documentary about the tomb, titled The Lost Tomb of Jesus, has been produced by James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, and will premiere on The Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007 ... - Wikipedia


Blogger cowboyangel said...

Don't tell me: Leo plays Jesus and Kate plays Mary Magdalene, right?!

5:22 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

He's most famous for that movie, but I like his movie Aliens much better ... Michael Biehn plays Jesus and Sigourney as Mary M :-)

6:46 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I find it interesting that James Tabor, a scholar whom I admire btw, is urging caution on this. He was in on an ossuary find himself not too long ago, and if I recall what he said in his recent book, he describes the incident that Cameron is referring to as one that the Israeli government is very nervous about. They've tried to downplay it for years. Being sensitive and concerned about the anti-semitism that could arise from it, they are very nervous about people coming out and going around claiming that they've found the tomb of the family of Jesus.

8:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

It's interesting that, as Mark notes, the same tomb was publicized about a decade ago, yet not much was made of it then. He seems skeptical of the claims that it's a tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, and I respect his opinion. I guess we'll here more about it soon.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

I think its all a little silly really. It really wasn't a lost tomb at the time it was made right? Since quite a few people wnated to get rid of those who were proclaiming a bodily resurrection of JEsus of Nazareth wouldn't it have made sense to simply point out that the family had a tomb and oh hey...a year after his death they all gathered (like they all did back then) to put his bones in an ossuary.

That would have pretty much done it for Christianity I need to feed them to the lions or have Saul trying to round them up and make them stop saying those things.

Why didn't anyone think to do this? Only one explanation really makes sense...

There was no body.

8:39 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Cura,

I'm glad you're back to blogging. Thanks for the comment - I didn't know that about putting the bones in an ossuary after a year ... which is why you're teaching the study group :-)

12:30 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

Hmmm... I already got very upset about people paying more attention to Dan Brown than real historians, so I think I'll pass on people paying more attention to James Cameron than to real archeologists...

Good point, Cura. Interesting point, too, Jeff.

5:29 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I wonder if it's like this in all areas - most people are more comfortable with popularized info, though some will then dig deeper.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I actually find a lot of the reaction to this to be more emotionally defensive than rational. If this doesn't turn out to be an elaborate set of forgeries, which it may very well be, it will turn out to be an significant archeological discovery.

Is it "proof" of anything? No, but I think it is a noteworthy find just the same.

It all comes down to Faith in the end. If one is inclined to reject the physical resurrection and other such things as irrational supernaturalism, this will be convincing evidence. If one is inclined to believe in the physical resurrection, this should't dissuade anyone's faith in it. At this point, it can't be proven scientifically one way or the other.

2:42 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I agree with you. From what I've read, some of the people involved with the find, like Dr. Tabor, have been getting very negative reactions from some Christians, which helps no one.

4:32 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Crystal, thanks for the new links.

But, wow, I'm pretty confused. Are you telling me that Ringo was one of Jesus' disciples? And Jesus had a child named Jude? So "Hey Jude" is really about Jesus' son, not John's son, though it was John who said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ? I mean, this is all pretty cool. And fairly significant. Imagine what Apple Records can do with this stuff.

But I don't think there's a CSI: Suffolk County, unless it's on the public access channel or something. Maybe they mean CSI: Miami? I mean, come on why in the world would ANYBODY ever send bone samples of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, out here to Suffolk County, New York? That's so incredibly screwed up, I can't even begin to go into it. We're talking about bloody Long Island! No way.

Woah - DNA from Jesus' bones. The bodily resurrection come at last. Gethsemane Park.

And James Cameron's involved. And an Orthodox Jew named Jacobovici. And an FBI Agent who says: "that a photo of the James ossuary, showing it in Golan's home, was taken in the 1970s, based on tests done by the FBI photo lab." So what's the FBI doing with photos of the James ossuary anyway? What's THEIR role in all of this? Where are Mulder and Scully when you need them!?!?

But everyone knows that James' bones were taken to Spain. That's why we have Santiago de Compostella! Why the Spaniards were able to drive the Moors out after 800 years! Why I walked on the Camino de Santiago! Why James is the Patron Saint of Spain and villages all over the country have festivals on July 25! You can't have James' bones in Spain AND in Israel.

Or was that the other James? I always get them confused.

This Prof. Witherington isn't too happy with James Tabor.

And who's Panthera, father of Jesus? What's that all about?

You guys ever read Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken? Now THAT was some serious Biblical archaeology sh*t. With aliens, too! I ate that stuff up when I was a kid. They made a movie out of it, if I remember correctly.

Wow. Ringo as a disciple. Life suddenly starts to make more sense.

5:23 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Just to clarify: I do believe Jesus was resurrected on the third day. But the whole DNA/cloning thing does bring up fascinating (and disturbing) issues.

Hope I haven't taken this too lightly. It's an interesting topic, and I'm glad you posted on it, Crystal. The different takes on it are confusing to me.

I agree with Jeff that it could be a significant archaeological discovery. And I agree with Liam about the problems of popularizing historical episodes.

I have to say that James Cameron's involvement leaves me pretty skeptical about the whole thing. Don't know the man personally, but it just doesn't feel right.

5:51 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


no more expresso for you! :-)

FBI conspiracy theories, 2000 year old DNA, and the director of the Terminator comparing a Liverpool Beatle tomb to Jesus' hypothetical family plot ... you couldn't make this stuff up!

6:33 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Yes, decaf for me. Sorry I've been so blabby lately.

Another article (short) on the subject. From Bruce Feiler, "author of Walking the Bible, Abraham, and Where God Was Born, and the host of the series Walking the Bible on PBS." Gives four reasons why the show is wrong. With a clip of him debating Jacobivichi, which I did not watch.

"This exploitation of quasi-science is hardly new, but it's still tawdry. The bottom line: There is more truth in Dan Brown's fiction than in James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovichi's fact."

4:13 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi William,

sorry, somehow I missed one of your comments.

I've been trying to keep up with the tomb stuff ... mostly reading Mark Goodacre's blog. He's a professor of biblical studies at Duke and has been doing a great job on making all the info understandable, even to non-scholars like me.

I think the tomb guys began with assumptions and interpreted data through those ... what seems clear evidence to them, is actually very debatable.

I gho back and forth between thinking the whole thing is depressing, to thinking it's cool, back to depressing, then to defensive-ism ... anybody have a trank-gun? :-)

8:30 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Why depressing?

6:29 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Depressing, I guess, because of the glee the possibility of proving christianity false seems to give some people. And to be honest, a fear that my faith might be affected.

11:31 AM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Well, you know, there always have been and always will be people who delight in trying to prove Christianity "false." Feiler said that at the beginning of his article. I sympathize with you, because it used to bother me and some of these people were my friends. But it's really between them, their hearts and G-d in the end, as it is with each of us. Some of us need to rage, some of us need to search . . . Their glee is not your concern. It's really THE OTHER PERSON'S issue, something inside of them that causes them to behave in such a way. Don't get defensive, don't try to convince. It only increases the negative energy.

As far as your own faith . . . well, I can't help you much there. I've always wrestled with it myself. "Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief!" At some point, though, I realized that my doubts were actually part of an ongoing, lifelong conversation with my creator. I cry out and bang my head against a wall and get stubborn and throw tantrums and am finally silenced and humbled. I get angry and want to know why things are the way they are. What can I say? Some families show love very vocally and argue and may even fight. Others show love very quietly. As you can tell, I'm not one of the quiet ones. I'd like to be, but I don't think it's going to happen. With all my heart, I believe that G-d will always honor our honesty, even if it's about our doubts. I think He/She prefers that to an outward appearance of faith that doesn't really exist.

Now, please turn to page 47 and join together as we sing "Lord, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace."

Sorry for the homily.

3:45 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I also believe God appreciates honesty - thanks, Fr. William :-)

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please allow me to state my opinion here, that the entire "Lost Tomb of Jesus" thing, both the film and the book, is clearly a hoax.
The name "Jesus" is not even legible on the ossuary in question, as any serious semitics scholar will immediately tell you if you show him the tracing. This is exactly why nothing was made of the find ten years ago. The original transcriber himself (see the Israeli Catalogue of Ossuaries) put a question-mark after that part ("Yeshua") of his reading, and two dots over the name indicating that he was making an (obviously remote) conjecture. The film's producer has evasively omitted to address this fundamental point in his statements to the press, speaking simply of unnamed "experts who have conclusively confirmed the reading". For details, see
As for James Tabor, he appears to be involved in the biased and mendacious Dead Sea Scroll exhibits currently touring the country, and he is also at the center of the now debunked "Essene toilet" campaign recently waged in newspapers all over the world. Misleading claims about DNA "evidence" are at the core of both hoaxes, perpetrated on masses of unsuspecting people to make a profit. This entire matter is analyzed at length at

2:29 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm not an expert in this area, but I'd tend to agree with some of your conclusions, based on what I've read elsewhere. I'll take a look at the links - thanks.

3:25 PM  

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