Thu 24 Jan 2008
Update: The write-up by the various scholars is now available on the official Princeton university site along with a list of signing scholars here: Symposium on Afterlife and Burial Practices in Second Temple Judaism
Recently TIME Magazine reported on a conference held in Jerusalem to discuss (again) the Talpiot Tomb, aka the “Jesus Tomb”. In their story titled Jesus ‘Tomb’ Controversy Reopened, it implies strongly that the case on the Talpiot Tomb is still open, and that the chances that this really was Jesus’ tomb are quite plausible: “After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from “no way” to “very possible”.”
However, a post by the conference participants on the Duke University Religion Department blog (Update: See here also) clears up TIME’s muddle significantly for us. Besides citing a few of the reasons already covered ad nauseum that this is highly, highly unlikely (to the point of ridiculousness) to be Jesus’ tomb, the blog post also throws a bit more light on TIME’s “smoking gun”. TIME said:
There was a revelation of sorts. The widow of Joseph Gat, the chief archeologist of the 1980 excavation electrified the conference by saying: “My husband believed that this was Jesus’s tomb, but because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, he was worried about a backlash of anti-Semitism and he didn’t think he could say this.”
The scholars reply:
The smoking gun at the conference was the surprise appearance of Ruth Gat, the widow of the archaeologist who excavated the tomb in 1980 and died soon afterwards … However, Joseph Gat lacked the expertise to read the inscriptions. His supervisor and other members of the Israel Antiquities Authority believe that Gat could not have made such a statement in his lifetime since the inscriptions seem to have been deciphered only after he had passed away.
I have already written previously on the so-called Jesus Tomb here: The Jesus Tomb (now moved from a separate HTML page to a proper WP blog page) and another good resource is Gary Habermas’ The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Response to the Discovery-Channel Documentary.
If you really need more information, Habermas also has a new book out on the subject: The Secret of the Talpiot Tomb: Unraveling the Mystery of the Jesus Family Tomb … but personally, I have better ways to spend my time than reading more about this nonsense.
[Thanks to this Christian Post article for the heads-up re the Duke University blog post.]