The Jesus Tomb

Perhaps you’ve heard about the “Jesus Tomb” thing being promoted by James Cameron? Initial reactions are mixed and have not been helped by James Cameron’s involvement or its Dan Brown-y narrative. But some respected voices (notably James Tabor, a NT scholar from UNC) are suggesting we should perhaps take it seriously. I give you the theory. No endorsement should be implied. Let’s discuss strengths and weaknesses.

Six inscribed ossuaries (“bone coffins”) uncovered in a Jerusalem tomb (the Talpiot tomb) contain the following names (there are three others without names):

  • Yeshua bar Yehosef “Jesus son of Joseph”
  • Maria “Mary”
  • Yose “Joseph”
  • Mariamene he Mara “Mary also known as Mara” (the only inscription in Greek)
  • Matya “Matthew”
  • Yehudah bar Yeshua “Jude son of Jesus”

Here’s an argument being made in favour of the ossuaries belonging to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. Again, no endorsement is implied.

1. If Jesus’ family had a family tomb, it would likely be in the Jerusalem area as we know the surviving members (e.g. James) were active in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus.

2. Whilst the names on the ossuaries are “common,” it is their statistical grouping that is interesting. We have two Mary’s, Jesus son of Joseph, Jude son of Jesus, Joseph, and Matthew. Apparently there is a 1/253,403 chance that these six names would be grouped together (another statistician arrives at 1/600). Also, “Mariamene,” “Yose,” and “Maria,” are rare forms, generally associated with Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ brother Joseph, and his mother Mary respectively. Also, “Mariamene he Mara” may have been associated with Mary Magdalene (see Origen) and may also be a title (taking Mara as “lord”). (Matya (Matthew) is the wild card. No Matthew is attested in Jesus’ family.)

3. Patina tests have been carried out on the ossuaries (patina is the ancient “dust” that collects on objects) and seem to corroborate their authenticity. The tomb was discovered as part of as controlled excavation. Also, when the tomb was first found, ten ossuaries were recovered: it is possible that the famous James ossuary (“James son of Joseph brother of Jesus”) is the missing ossuary.

4. Note that the father Joseph is not buried in the tomb. One could presume that he died and was buried earlier.

5. DNA tests on the “human residue” in the boxes show that Mariamene (Mary Magdalene?) is not related to Yeshua (Jesus).

The potential shockers in all of this would be that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a son and that the ossuary of Jesus Christ has been found. There are no bones, however. According to Orthodox tradition, the bones were buried when the tomb was discovered in 1980.

I would like to stress that the jury is still way out on this one. Read a counter-story here. But with a heavyweight like Tabor batting for the Cameron team, any rebuttals must be carefully and soberly made. Let’s have them.


  1. Lamanite DNA? Small fry.

  2. re your #2, I have seen articles which said 600 to 1. Why this difference in stats?

  3. You should check out the official movie site ( – it talks all about the stats and the findings.

  4. It is my understanding the the James Ossuary, althoguht shown to be authentic, the etchings in it were new, and not authentic. What about these etchings?

  5. If this is at all genuine, it’s just an astounding archaeological discovery. The rediscovery of the lost tomb of Jesus Christ? Way more amazing, way less likely than the rediscovery of Troy.

    I’ve long heard arguments from bible folks that the texts about the physical resurrection in the New Testament probably date later than much of the rest of the text. If that’s correct, it would obviously coordinate in a satisfying way with the new argument from the ossuaries. For folks who know, how credible is the argument that the resurrection texts are relatively late additions? Or is that argument based simply on the fact that resurrection would be a miraculous event?

  6. Julie M. Smith says:

    Re #5:

    It is generally accepted that Mark 16:9f is a later addition. However, I know of no manuscript evidence that the resurrection accounts in the other gospels are later additions.

  7. JNS, I think that idea comes from the two different endings of the Gospel of Mark, but so far as I know, both end with the Empty Tomb…

    Looking at their website, they say the book also identifies the origins of the Templar knights and the Free Masons?

  8. Also, what percent of ossuaries in the area and from the era have inscriptions? The last I heard it was only 20% To have that many ossuaries with inscriptions is either amazing or suspect, or both.

  9. Matt, yeah, the book and TV show are sure to sensationalise. But the argument I summarised above is made by someone less prone to do that. Doesn’t mean it’s right, though. I’ll take another look at the stats.

  10. mami, don’t families often follow a uniform set of funeral practices, even if those practices are somewhat unusual in the broader culture?

  11. Jonathan Green says:

    If the tomb were real, why didn’t it become a site of veneration? All those early Christians just “forgot” that it was there? I understand that Jerusalem went through some rough patches at the time, but I have a hard time believing in that level of historical myopia. People spend thousands of years scouring the Holy Land for physical or documentary evidence of the most famous man ever, and come up with absolutely nothing, until now?

  12. I’m not sure if in the tombs in the area that holds true. It is not that uncommon to find one ossuary in a tomb that is inscribed where the others are not. That is why I ask? What is the norm findings of archaeological research on the topic?

  13. Steve Evans says:

    My Bill Maher take on this:

    The documentary is clearly an attack on the concept of Christ’s resurrection (or, if that language is too strong for some, let’s say that the documentary advances claims that are inconsistent with traditional Christian notions of resurrection). Fundamentally, anyone who believes in the resurrection of Christ will not, in all likelihood, be convinced by Cameron’s documentary, no matter how persuasive the evidence. And anyone who doesn’t believe in the resurrection of Christ will be convinced or not convinced depending upon the quality of presentation. So really — what does this mean for the average believer? Very little. Certainly it means little to the average mormon, who has been dealing with real-world attacks on her religion’s historical claims for many years.

    Ultimately, the ossuary can never be proven to be Christ’s. It simply can’t; that level of certain proof is simply not available for something so old and distant.

    Can the tomb be shown to be possibly that of Jesus Christ? Of course. That’s a lower standard, and one that Dan Brown-types will seize upon quite readily.

    At the end of the day, what do you think the real-world implications are of this film, Ronan? Because I can’t think of any.

  14. Jonathan,

    But what about the Shroud of Turin? What more evidence d o you need? :)

  15. Steve, I think the legitimate goal of the researchers here is a middle-ground position between certain proof — impossible in any context, regardless — and possible proof, which you offer as a lower standard. Specifically, I’d say that the legitimate goal is to show that the ossuary in question is probably Jesus’s. A tricky concept for lawyers and philosophers, perhaps, but a familiar one for scientists and statisticians…

  16. Steve Evans says:

    JNS, that’s the researcher’s goal, perhaps, but not Cameron’s. Let’s not veil this documentary under the guise of unmotivated, unpolitical science…

  17. Yeah, the documentary. Eh. I’m interested in the stuff by people who don’t belong in the National Enquirer.

  18. Where do the researches get the idea that Jesus would have a family plot in Jeresalem? He was not from Jeresalem, he spent most of his adult life wandering all over. Why would his family move to Jeresalem, what indicates they did? His brother James was in Jeresalem as part of the early church but where is there evidence of any of his family moving or living there?

    There must be something, I’m just not up on that type of thing.

    So Jesus’ family didn’t like Joseph’s tomb so they moved him to the family plot. If it was in Jeresalem why didn’t they use the family plot to begin with?

  19. Steve Evans says:

    My question: does Jesus have to be frozen and shattered to be killed, or does he need to be dumped in molten steel? Hopefully Cameron will address this.

    “Now I know why you cry… but it is something I can never do” (thumbs up).


    The research behind it interests me. I have paid no attention to the Cameron hype; I only perked up when I read some of Tabor’s arguments.

    Real world application, Steve? Well, I don’t think the Christian world is split between believers and unbelievers. There are people in the middle who will be swayed by this and that, and this is definitely a that.

  21. Steve #19, the correct answer is: “boiled in coffee, while being forced to smoke a cigarette, eat fruit out of season, and drink cheap vodka. Simultaneously.”

  22. Steve Evans says:

    Ronan, fair enough. I can’t separate out the Cameron hype, because it’s the only way I would ever have heard of Tabor’s arguments. Doesn’t the medium have some effect on the message here?

  23. Tabor just reminds me that up until 9/11 Steve Jones was respected for being a conservative scientist during the whole cold fusion thing..

  24. ROnan, the stats I’ve seen in almost every article are as follows:

    Then Jacobovici commissioned a statistical analysis by an expert at the University of Toronto, who calculated the probability of this combination of names appearing on ossuaries in the same crypt at 600 to 1 (see here)

  25. Ronan, long time no post (for me that is).

    I’m glad anytime “biblical” archaeology gets in the news, even when sensationalized. The debates generate more interest in the bible and that’s never bad.

    Tabor’s work is excellent and intriguing, although I found his Jesus Dynasty a bit unsophisticated and uncritical of source materials.

    I understand that unearthed bone boxes are so ubiquitous in Israel that they are often used today for plants on back porches. And the names (albeit, Anglicized) Jesus, James, Joseph and Mary are extraordinarily common for the period in question. In fact, at Emory’s Carlos Museum this summer an exhibit is coming that has among its collection an ossuary inscribed “Jesus son of Joseph,” but no one is claiming it belongs to Jesus of Nazareth.

    The patina evidence is interesting to tie in the James ossuary, raising a possibility argument to another level, but not probable by any means. And, the James ossuary is mired in controversy, so appealing to it is interesting, but again not probable.

  26. A couple comments:
    1. DNA recovered in a setting like this is much more likely to be contaminant DNA from people who have handled the remains, grave-robbed, or been present for excavations.
    1a. Ossuaries are coffins for secondary treatment and thus are stripped of most DNA-contributing materials as well as being contaminated during transfer
    2. Determining the probability of a family having a certain constellation of names in a poorly documented cultural milieu is an invitation for statistical charlatanism. You have to determine whether there are cultural reasons to have those names clustered the way they are, and such cultural reasons would destroy your statistical credibility. You cannot treat them as randomly or largely randomly occuring names. And you can’t even estimate the baseline prevalence of the individual names because of the limited records from the period. In this case, even though I often use statistics, I think you would be foolhardy to maintain a statistical reason for accepting this tomb as authentic. The probability could probably range from 1/50 to 1/million–you have no idea.
    2a. Could this be a tomb of a family that chose to name themselves after the holy family?

  27. Matt,

    Tabor is not a loon. The theory sounds reasonable to me on a scholarly level, reasonable enough to consider it, so let’s sweep Cameron aside and test it. (Tabor is a consultant on the film but has no financial connection with it.)

    One immediate gripe I have is over the DNA testing. How much was the “human material” contaminated by excavation?

    Let’s say the weight of evidence was that this is the Jesus Family Tomb. What would that mean? Jesus was married and had a son. (Expect an albino monk to be dispatched any moment.) Jesus’ bones were once in a box. (I say once because all the bones were reburied after excavation.) That’s the stinker, ain’t it? The very earliest Christians believed in the bodily resurrection; therefore, the proponents of this theory would have to believe that the deception began very early. I know that for some scholars the early belief in the resurrection is exactly what makes it credible. Whoppers like that take time to develop.

    My prediction? Christianity will survive.

  28. smb,

    If you think (2a) is credible, why couldn’t it be the holy family?

    (Really, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here.)

    On the stats:

    The rare forms “Mariamene,” “Maria” and “Jose” may lower the odds somewhat. Also, the ubiquity of ossuaries means we do have a good sample of Jewish names in Jerusalem at the time. Here’s an analogy I read:

    Imagine a football stadium filled with 50,000 people—men, women, and children. This is an average estimate of the population of ancient Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. If we ask all the males named Jesus to stand, based on the frequency of that name, we would expect 2,796 to rise. If we then ask all those with a father named Joseph to remain standing there would only be 351 left. If we further reduce this group by asking only those with a mother named Mary to remain standing we would get down to only 173. If we then ask only those of this group with a brother named Joseph only 23 are left. And finally, only of these the ones with a brother named James, there’s less than a 3/4 chance that even 1 person remains standing.

    Of course, adding James relies on the James ossuary.

  29. The inscription on the James Ossuary is late and it comes from a known forger. I do not understand why it is even being brought into the conversation (especially as an attempt to establish credibility).

  30. I don’t mind your satan worship. I also wouldn’t mind if it were the holy family.
    2a merely demonstrates the point of confounding that i was attempting to indicate.
    you’re assuming that ossuaries give a full picture of name distributions.
    the analogy does nothing but express the statistical fallacy in familiar terms.

    By analogy, if Mary and Joseph are common names among a subpopulation of jerusalem-residing jews and that subpopulation for sub-ethnic reasons tend disproportionately to name their sons Jesus and James, then the traditional statistical estimates of probability will be thrown off substantially, particularly if ossuaries are less likely to be preserved as the result of that same sub-ethnic status.

  31. Sam MB, of course such possibilities exist. Any analysis that isn’t based on experimental evidence always has to accept the possibility of explanations like the one you offer. On the other hand, you do have to take such explanations only for what they are worth — as you must do with the original evidence. In this case, the scenario you’re proposing requires additional sociological facts that are not in evidence. Given that, and the timing (70 AD) that largely precludes the most straightforward alternative possibility of families named after the Jesus family, it’s at least unclear that offering a scenario like the one you do is enough to substantially discredit the working hypothesis. On the other hand, if your point is that we shouldn’t take the probability numbers (1/600 or whatever) all that seriously, I absolutely agree — since we don’t seem to have a terribly solid sense of the population distributions for the names in question. What is instead safe to take seriously is a more qualitative judgment, like: this collection of names is really pretty unlikely.

  32. RT: I agree. We just don’t know enough to reach any conclusions. The statistical analysis has no credibility. However, there is one fact that speaks pretty loudly to me: What is the chance that a criminal crucified under Roman law from Nazareth would be placed in a family Ossuary just outside Jersualem? About 0 I would say. A mass grave is far more likely. The tradition of the tomb suggests that a benefactor provided the tomb, in which case it wasn’t a family tomb or ossurary.

  33. Christopher Smith says:

    JNS, the resurrection accounts are one of the few aspects of the Jesus narratives that are very well attested in the earliest literature, the epistles of Paul. Crucifixion and resurrection are arguably the most basic elements of the Christian tradition. Some rationalist scholars don’t like this conclusion, but I think it is grounded in good historical methodology. Of course, that doesn’t say anything about the resurrection’s historicity.

  34. HP/JDC,
    James Tabor believes the James ossuary is bona fide. I confess to having ignored that debate for about a year. Has he lost his mind?

  35. Blake,
    I think the idea would be that the family ossuaries were gathered in the tomb later in the first century.

    As for the stats… Tabor sees that as an independent thing. There are two questions: 1. How likely is this cluster? 2. Does the cluster fit the Jesus family? The answers given by Tabor (and the film) are, “unlikely,” and “yes.” Proof positive? Of course not.

    Anyway, don’t shoot the messenger!

    As for me I’d like to stress that Jesus can be found on I-95.

  36. John Dominic Crossan:

    I myself am not convinced — but could be persuaded — that this is the family tomb of Jesus. Were I convinced, it would neither destroy my Christianity nor destroy my faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

    I have always believed that resurrection is a metaphor but a metaphor about the body of Jesus, a belief that he was crucified by Rome and raised by God so that, in other words, God is — as always — on a collision course with Empire.

    Finding the bones of Jesus would not disturb my faith but finding they bore no wounds — ah, that would be another matter.

    Alas, I don’t think Mormons can believe in a metaphorical resurrection. I wonder if other Christians really can too.

  37. Ronan,
    I couldn’t say. I think that those who buy into the James Ossuary being genuine must have their reasons, but I don’t believe that evidence bears out their conclusions. The man behind the James Ossuary stands accused of also forging the Josianic temple inscription and the Solomonic temple pomegranite. We have every reason to doubt the 1st century origin of the inscription on the James Ossuary. Everything about that particular Ossuary is as fishy as it comes. I have no explanation for Tabor’s credulity.

  38. I just purchased the book The Jesus Family Tomb last night and I’m reading it. It could have been a pamphlet, but, alas, the “gripping” story must be told with all of its hems and haws.

    About the James Ossuary, we should note that the text in question on that box is “the brother of Jesus” not the text preceding this phrase. I haven’t looked extensively at Tabor’s defense of the James Ossuary, but it is possible that it actually comes from the Talpiot Tomb and that the “the brother of Jesus” part was the only forged portion of it.

  39. re: Matya “Matthew”

    Is Matthew the Hebrew and Levi the Greek? I thought it was the other way around?

  40. Even if that is Jesus’ grave and Jesus’ body, I don’t think that necessarily disproves the resurrection.

    I was taught as a child that when we are resurrected, all of the matter that made up our physical bodies will come back together again. Whether you’re buried or burned or eaten by a shark, it will all come back together again.

    Now that doesn’t make any sense in practice. I imagine that the stuff I’m made of has been recycled many times and will be recycled again. For example, the human body is mostly water, right? Is this water unique to me? When I die, will it never be part of anyone else? Do I keep the same water throughout my life, or does it cycle through me? (I sweat and pee and then drink some more . . .) What about all of the hair and skin I lose and replace on a regular basis? What about the part of me that is eaten by a shark and integrated into its own bodily matter? You get the idea.

    I don’t know anything, and I am loathe to speculate. But I suppose a person could get an eternal physical body without necessarily having the moldy stuff from their grave leap out of the ground (or the shark’s bowels). My point is that a belief in resurrection does not mandate a belief in an empty tomb, does it?

  41. An empty tomb, yes, but not necessarily a tomb devoid of DNA, I would guess.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    Matthew is an anglicized form of an Aramaic name; Levi is Hebrew.

  43. Perhaps I am completely missing something but I am going to posit a question at the risk of demonstrating my ignorance. How could this pompous scholar and equally self-aggrandizing movie maker even make a conclusion that this find is what they says it is? So what if the combination of names happens to reflect what might be construed as a similarity. To my knowledge there is no possibilty DNA testing can be attributed to any specific person of that era(aside from notable historical figures entombed in a notable place under nearly impenetrable access. There exists no standard to compare any DNA to. There is no control to make a comparison against. The only way to find a control is to find the grave of Mother Mary. As she is the only DNA comparative for her son, named specifically, in canon or any historical records (obviously Joseph is out of the equation). And even if they found her DNA, where are they going to find the validating evidence that it is indeed her? Oh let me guess, someone tabulated her DNA sequence down on papyrus, or metal plates? Don’t forget Deity would have provided his only begotten with some unique DNA strand so perhaps they are looking for something divine within the DNA code…no wait, that would prove that he was in fact immortal and directly tied to Diety…no wait that would indicate that that he would not have been entoumbed there…no wait that would mean they wouldn’t find anytin…no wait, etc.

    The whole thing just screams absure sensationalism to promote another bogus product by Cameron et, al.

    Everything here appears to be conjecture.

    But then again, perhaps I am being obtuse.

  44. Opps I missed one thing. I realize that this whole premise seems to be based upon the similarity of the names and not on DNA, rendering my first complaint moot. Even if the names were similar, we have celebrity worship now. What are the chances of there existing celebrity worship then. The social idiosyncrasy of naming family after popular figures is (I’m certain) not a colloquial behavior of the modern era. Not to mention, why wouldn’t the ruling jewish elite have attempted to throw something contrived and misleading (like a phoney mausoleum) deliberately to create mass hysteria and incredulity, should someone come tripping acrossed it centuries down the road. Again, please feel free to shoot this up. I’m not above reproach or even blatant ingorance.

  45. Ed Snow says:

    Update on Emory’s Cradle of Christianity exhibit coming this summer. One of the ossuaries in that exhibit IS from the Talpiot Tomb, the one that says “Judas son of Jesus.”

    Here’s a link to the story that will appear tomorrow in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

  46. Matt W. says:

    Kevin, thanks for inspiring me to look more into the name of Matthew. Does this (page ten) seem accurate to you?

  47. Darwin,

    The alternate explanation that these people were named after Jesus and his family is difficult because of the timing. Some of the people in question would have been contemporaries of Jesus, so unless they changed their names to match would have been unable to name themselves after Jesus.

  48. Ed,
    Jesus Jr. in Atlanta!

  49. Ed Snow says:

    Yes, Ronan, 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

  50. Kevin Barney says:

    Matt W., I didn’t even think of it, but of course you would have interest in the etymology of your own name!

    The Hebrew form of the name is Mattathyah or Mattathyahu, which means “gift of Yahweh” or “gift of the LORD.” (Matthath means “gift” and the -yah or -yahu is a theophoric element indicating the name of God.)

    In some sources this full form is transliterated into Greek as Mattathias, but in the NT it usually appears in a shortened form, Matthaios. I believe this is based on a shortened Aramaic form of the name that was common in the first century.

    Anyway, the Greek becomes Late Latin Matthaeus, which becomes Old French Mathieu, which becomes English Matthew.

    The relation of this name to the name Levi is uncertain. It is unlikely that one was meant as a translation of the other, since both are Hebrew/Aramaic. It would be unsual for a man to have two Hebrew names. Matthew may have taken on a new name when he started following Jesus, or one might be a nickname, or Levi could be a tribal designation, “the Levite.”

  51. Oh honestly, how could you even know if the James Ossuary comes from the Talpiot tomb? The dealer/forger whom we have to thank for it said that it had been lying around his place since the seventies, which is before the tomb was discovered, no? Coincidence upon coincidence, with a forger involved and a (perhaps) overly credulous scholar do not compelling evidence make.

  52. Ed Snow says:

    HP/JDC, I assume you’re responding to me. There’s obviously a lot of falsehood surrounding the story of the James Ossuary. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if it did come from the Talpiot Tomb and the “hanging around my apartment as a planter since the 1970s” isn’t cover for a theft from the Talpiot Tomb. We’ll probably never know, unless this “patina thumbprint” thing holds water. I’m fairly certain the “brother of Jesus” portion is a forgery, but I’m open to other possibilities as to the James Ossuary.

    I should finish the book this weekend and may have stronger feelings one way or another afterwards.

  53. J. Daniel Crawford says:

    Ed, mostly I am just venting spleen over Tabor, who really should know better (I think). Then again, who knows.

  54. Matt W. says:

    Kevin, thanks, that was awesome! The Whole Levi as Surname thing also seems suspicious to me, since I’ve read elsewhere that Jews did not have Surnames…

  55. This whole thing is a joke. If Jesus’s family had a family tomb, then there would be a tradition surrounding it. There are dozens of traditions about Jesus’s life and death, and note one even hints at a family tomb. These artifacts aren’t any more related to Jesus than the “Nails from the True Cross” artifacts that litter European cathedrals (about which, Mark Twain said he saw enough to fill a bucket).

    It’s not that I don’t understand that the New Testament is basically fiction. It’s that there’s no way that 2,000 years later we’re going to find ourselves privy to information about Jesus that wasn’t known to his contemporaries and those in the ensuing generation.

    It’s anyone’s guess why Tabor wants to throw his reputation away. What a waste.

  56. It just occurred to me that there is in fact a way to detect if the tomb is in fact from Jesus! If the DNA shows that the male genetic data had to come from a divine being like God, that would pretty well clinch it!

  57. Matt W. says:

    DKL, browsing the internet yesterday, I found atleast 4 accounts of Matthew’s Death (and at least 2 reliqueries), and none of them put him in Jerusalem. Also, why would Matthew be in Jesus’ Tomb, since he is the son of Alpheus?

    The best thing that has come out of this is Kevin teaching me about the most important of all names, Matthew!

  58. Matt–I am highly skepitcal that this is anything genuine. But I think an ossuary with the enscription Matthew ahs nothing to do with it–why do you assume it is the NT Matthew?

    Why don’t they compare the DNA to Joseph Smith’s ?:) TH That should verify everything!

  59. There is a fairly decent discussion of the issues related to these claims by Richard Bauckham here:

  60. Brian N. says:

    Just to set things straight, James Tabor does not teach at “UNC” he teaches at UNC-Charlotte. He has written one book on his own and co-authored two more. He has written no scholarly articles, but claims to have excavated “over 500 tombs” in Jerusalem alone. His main past-time seems to be making outlandish claims on TV and not backing anything up with scholarly literature. Why he’s considered a “heavyweight” is beyond me, to say nothing of why he has tenure and the position of department head.

  61. Kevin Barney says:

    If someone watches the documentary, please report on it here. (It conflicts with HBO’s Rome, my favorite show, so I won’t be watching it.)

  62. Kevin Barney says:

    There is a well written negative critique of the claim here.

  63. Interesting read. I take the negative critique as a pretty good expansion on my initial, gut-read of the situation; viz., absent a specific tradition about the tomb, there’s no plausible way to construe it as belonging to Jesus.

  64. michelle larsen says:

    My gut reaction watching the show (and I’m a typical Mormon mom) was—the DNA stuff was iffy and could be from anything, the pantina studies were more convincing, the names were so interesting and statistically compelling, the bones of Jesus arguement is crazy to me why people get so defensive. After experiencing pregnancy, and feeling an entire skeletal system develop from two cells–it is no less miraculous that we will experience something similar in the resurrection, “something new and holier”. The one point from the documentary that gave me chills was learning of Mary Magdeline. IF anything that comes from this I hope it is a better understanding of her, and why she was also called “Master”. And, what were all those documents in the tomb, and are they being guarded?

  65. Space Chick says:


    there is actually a shrine in Turkey near Ephesus that is commonly held to be the deathplace and burial site of Mary. Maybe we should attempt to gatehr some DNA from that location and compare against anything found in the “Jesus” ossuary.

    The fact that the Turkey site is a well-known tourist attraction strengthens the argument that IF the Jerusalem tomb site were genuine, or even suspected as genuine, it probably would not have been overlooked all these years, and would have been a popular pilgrimage location in it’s own right.

  66. Charles Gadda says:

    Contrary to what is being bandied about, the name “Jesus” is not legible on the ossuary. Indeed, anyone who reads Hebrew or Aramaic can look at the tracing they give for Yeshua bar Yosef and immediately see that the name “son of Yosef” is clearly discernable towards the left, but that the letters yod, shin, vav and ayin are only by remote conjecture to be found in the scrawled writing etched into the stone following the big X-like marking on the right.

    That is exactly why, in the Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries where the tracing of the inscription was first published, the transcriber carefully puts a dot over the letters yod and shin, indicating in standard fashion that his reading is conjectural, and a question-mark after the entire name Yeshua, indicating that he is doubtful of the entire transcription of that name. He was clearly groping, because the letters vav and ayin are also not discernable and he should have put a dot over that part of his transcription as well. As everyone knows, there is another ossuary with the name Yeshua bar Yosef legibly inscribed on it, and it seems that the transcriber may have been influenced by that one in trying to figure out what this one says.

    James Tabor, the religion professor promoting the “Lost Tomb of Jesus” film, is the same character at the center of the claim that an “Essene latrine” has been found near the site of Khirbet Qumran, 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 is also involved in the current biased and misleading exhibits of the Dead Sea Scrolls traveling around the country.

    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 Unalterable: Paul’s Ascent to Paradise”. He clearly has no training as an archaeologist or historian, and we are only left to wonder at the motivations that led him to become involved in these phony scams.

  67. What is the dna sequence found in the bone boxes that were supposed to be the burial box of Jesus amd Mariamne e Mara?I know they showed it on the tv program but I didn’t write it down.Mary magdalene was the sister of Phillip the disciple of Jesus.WHen did they get together.I have read in places on the net that Mary Magdalene was a priestess.Have you read the Sybillene Oracles?Could she have been an oracle?And was God an Avatar?You do know there was a cave on Mount Sinai where a hermit lived.Could Moses have been duped into believing he was God.You do know that Moses father-in-law,Jethro, helped him organize a governing body and with some of the laws.
    I think we take the bible for face value and don’t try to find out where it comes from.But if it makes man kind better I see nothing wrong with that.

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