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“Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again

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Geza Vermes, Fellow of the British Academy, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies, Oxford University

I attended the Princeton symposium held in Jerusalem on “Jewish views of the afterlife and burial practices in Second Temple Judaism,” subtitled, “Evaluating the Talpiot tomb in context.” Many of the papers delivered on the main subject (afterlife and burials) were illuminating. In my judgment, the arguments advanced in favor of the Talpiot burial chamber being the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth are not just unconvincing but insignificant. Discounting a handful, headed by James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici, the maker of the documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, most of the fifty or so participants shared this opinion. Among them figured leading archaeologists such as Amos Kloner (who published the results of the Talpiot excavations), Eric Meyers, Jodi Magness and Joe Zias. Scholars being scholars, they were bound to ask for further research. However, as things are, the matter is and, short of substantial new discoveries, must remain closed. The press’s claim that the experts were deeply divided is a distortion of the truth.

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