Claims that the family tomb of Jesus has been found in the East Talpiot section of Jerusalem have sparked bitter debate for a second time by a scholarly conference organized in Jerusalem by the Princeton Theological Seminary to assess the likelihood that the Talpiot tomb is indeed the tomb of Jesus. You can follow the heated discussion using the links below.
• 15 Scholars Protest “Vindication” Claim
Statments in Response
• Simcha Jacobovici Responds to His Critics
Statments in Response, cont’d.
• Charlesworth Comments Reported by The Jerusalem Post
The first furor occurred in March 2007 when the Discovery Channel aired “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which claimed that the Talpiot tomb not only contained the ossuary (bone box) of Jesus but also that of Mary Magdalene, who the program claimed had been Jesus’ wife, and also that of a Judah son of Jesus, who the program suggested had been the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Now a second wave of controversy has been sparked in the wake of a scholarly conference organized in Jerusalem by the Princeton Theological Seminary to assess the likelihood that the Talpiot tomb is indeed the tomb of Jesus.
Even though most of the conference attendees felt that the Talpiot tomb was unlikely to have been the tomb of Jesus, Simcha Jacobovici, director of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” issued a press release claiming that the conference had “vindicated” his program. Several conference participants then issued a statement to the contrary. Here you can read the scholars’ statement, Jacobovici’s press release and initial comments by several scholars. Not surprisingly, those comments have led to more comments and reactions.
In addition to claiming that the Talpiot tomb contained the ossuaries of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judah son of Jesus, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” program further suggested that one ossuary, originally discovered along with nine others in the Talpiot tomb but which has since been lost, was in fact the “James brother of Jesus” ossuary that first made headlines of its own in late 2002. “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” was directed by filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and produced by James Cameron, the director of the blockbuster movie “Titanic.”
Many scholars immediately criticized the program, saying it contradicted much of what we know historically and that it made numerous dubious assumptions.
At the end of the scholarly conference organized by the Princeton Theological Seminary, Ruth Gath, the widow of Yosef Gat, the original excavator of the Talpiot tomb in 1980, told the audience that her husband had believed that the tomb was indeed that of Jesus but had kept his views private for fear of stoking a worldwide anti-Semitic backlash. Despite Ruth Gath’s revelation, most of the conference attendees felt that the Talpiot tomb was unlikely to have been the tomb of Jesus.
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