Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jesus Family Tomb

Bauckham’s guest post has been postponed till tomorrow. Until then, I offer part 21 in my Jesus and the Eyewitnesses series, this time looking at chapter 12.

Some background for Bauckham’s guest post may be in order, however.

First, do have a look at James Tabor’s blog. He is one of the experts listed in relation to the movie and is of the following opinion: ‘[T]here can be little doubt that in March of 1980 a bulldozer accidentally uncovered the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth’.

Second, have a read of Ben Witherington’s blog and the recent relevant posts (especially this one). An earlier version of the material that shall appear here tomorrow is to be found in the most recent.

Also check out the posts on Tyler Williams’ blog here.

There is no doubt much more that I could link to, so if anyone has any special recommendations please do note them in the comments.

What do I think of all this? To keep it short and sweet: Tabor has ‘little doubt’. I have a good deal more. I think it historically unlikely that the tomb is that of the ‘Jesus family’. I would add, however, that the discussion being generated is a good thing.



At 2/28/2007 9:51 PM, Anonymous Apolonio said...

Hey Chris,

Would we be able to distribute Bauckham's response to our churches?

At 2/28/2007 10:00 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi there,
I don't see why not. I would add that, given the draft I have already seen, Bauckham is not attempting a full scale refutation of teh claims, but is rather performing an onomastic analysis.
All the best,

At 3/01/2007 9:15 AM, Anonymous J.Jones said...

James Tabor is the Erich von Daniken of Palestinian archaeology.

At 3/01/2007 2:46 PM, Anonymous Bloggy said...

Does anyone know what the general scholarly view is of James Tabor and his theories pertaining the Jesus Dynasty, and the lastest episode concerning the tomb? I attend UNCC as a philosophy student, and occasionally I do interact with some of Tabor's grad students, including one who has been in that tomb recently with Tabor. The attitude I get from most of his students is that his scholarship is impeccable and his theories are something close to watertight.

I'm familiar with evangelicals views of him (Darrell Bock, Gary Habermas, etc), but not too familiar with scholars outside of evangelical circles as I'm way more up to date on what's going on in 20th century anglo-american philosophy than biblical studies/religious studies/etc.


At 3/02/2007 12:55 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Davis,
Well I must admit that I don't yet know too much about Tabor. It seems that he is a serious scholar (i.e. not merely a Michael Baigent), but nobody is impeccable and watertight, and I think James would be the first to admit this. Furthermore, if J.C. Interpolation O'Neill can write Who did Jesus think he Was?, then that goes to prove that even brilliant scholars can sometimes publish, um, things that aren't too helpful!

At 3/02/2007 2:49 AM, Anonymous Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Witherington claims that Tabor, at one time, was involved with the Armstrongs' Worldwide Church of God. If this is true -- even if he has recanted -- it certainly shows a lack of critical thinking on his part, and a wilingness to embrace some *ahem* rather extremely unlikely ideas.

At 3/02/2007 2:53 AM, Anonymous Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

My apologies, the claim was made by Jordan Potter, not Witherington. If it is true, it remains a serious indictment.

At 3/12/2007 9:41 PM, Anonymous Charles Gadda said...

One thing that should be clear, after all the hubbub of the past week, is that the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" film is a hoax.

To begin with -- and this is something that has not been pointed out enough, although it lies at the core of the fraud -- the name "Jesus" is not legible on the so-called "Jesus son of Joseph" ossuary, as any serious semitics scholar will immediately tell you if you show him the tracing. The original transcriber himself (see the Israeli Catalogue of Ossuaries) put a question-mark after his reading, and two dots over the "Jesus" part of the name, thus indicating in standard fashion that he was making a conjecture (in this case one that is obviously remote). The film's producer, however, carefully omitted this fundamental point from his statements to the press, instead saying that the reading had been "conclusively confirmed" by unnamed experts. For details, see

As for James Tabor and his lack of judgment (which is putting it charitably), he is the same character at the center of the recently debunked claim that an "Essene latrine" has been found near the site of Khirbet Qumran. This site, readers will recall, is the place where so-called traditional Qumranologists (including, it would appear, Tabor himself) continue to insist, in the face of mounting contrary evidence, that a sect of Essenes lived.

Tabor also appears to be involved in the current biased and misleading exhibits of the Dead Sea Scrolls traveling around the United States. For details, see and the other postings published by the authors of that blog.

For Tabor's "Essene latrine" efforts (also based in part on a misleading use of DNA evidence), see K. Galor and J. Zangenberg at, or the most recent article by N. Golb on the Oriental Institute website,

Professor Jim Davila’s blog (March 6, 2007) quotes Tabor as asserting to him in an email: "I have never excavated even one tomb, and I am not even an archaeologist and have never claimed to be such."

Yet Tabor himself, in an article published in the Charlotte Observer, excerpted on the same paleojudaica blog a year ago (February 13, 2006), wrote: "As an archaeologist, I have long observed and experienced the thrill that ancient discoveries cause in all of us. The look on the faces of my students as we uncover ancient ruins from the time of Jesus, or explore one of the caves where the scrolls were found, is unmistakable."

Tabor's Ph.D. was awarded to him by the University of Chicago’s Department of New Testament and Christian Literature (which is housed in that institution’s Divinity School building). The title of his dissertation was "Things Unutterable: Paul’s Ascent to Paradise". He clearly has no training as an archaeologist, historian, or semitics scholar, and we will no doubt be left to wonder at the motivations that led him to become involved in these phony scams.


Post a Comment

<< Home