“Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—(Marketwire – Jan. 16, 2008) – Late Wednesday, at the closing session of a conference sponsored by the Princeton Theological Seminary which considered the headline grabbing claims made last year in a documentary film and book that the tomb of Jesus and his family have been found, the widow of archaeologist Yosef Gat, Ruth, rocked the proceedings.
Ruth Gat attended the Princeton conference to accept a posthumous lifetime achievement award for her husband, a major figure in Biblical archaeology. As top scholars from around the world listened she stated, “My husband, the lead archaeologist of the East Talpiot tomb in southern Jerusalem, believed that the tomb he excavated in 1980 was, indeed, the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.” Gat’s widow said that her husband believed that the bone boxes that he removed from the tomb contained the mortal remains of Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene and Judah, son of Jesus. “The reason he never published his opinion,” she said “was because, as a Holocaust survivor, he feared that the announcement might spark anti-Semitism around the world. As a result, he took his secret to the grave.”
Gat’s widow also stated that she was happy that the world has become a more civilized place and that Gat’s opinions could finally be aired at a scholarly conference and in an atmosphere of reasonable debate.
The Princeton conference proved to be a scholarly re-assessment of the evidence. Until now, international perception of the academic consensus has been that the Talpiot tomb “could not be” the Jesus family tomb. In contrast, 50 of the top scholars in the world now concluded that the Talpiot tomb “might very possibly be” the tomb of the “Holy family.” Although some academics continue to deny the possibility, leading New Testament scholars such as Professor Jane Schaberg (Mercy), Professor Claude Cohen-Matlofsky (University of Toronto), Israel Knohl (Hebrew University) and Professor James Tabor (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) all indicated that they thought it was “likely” that the Talpiot tomb was indeed the lost tomb of Jesus.
Another revelation concerned Andrey Feuerverger, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Toronto, who had done the initial statistical study that concluded a 600:1 probability in favor of the tomb being the Jesus family tomb. At the conference, Professor Feuerverger revealed for the first time that his statistical model has now been peer-reviewed and accepted by the leading statistical journal Annals of Applied Statistics and will be published in their first issue of 2008 in February.
The conference concluded with a unanimous vote to empower Prof. James Charlesworth of Princeton to head an archaeological team for the purpose of re-investigating the Talpiot Tomb site.
Reached in Jerusalem, director/author Simcha Jacobovici said, “we feel totally vindicated. My work with James Cameron was the catalyst for an international symposium that has finally considered the evidence and is opening the door for further research. It’s time that the world seriously considered that the Jesus family tomb may very well have been located.”
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