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The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History [Hardcover]

Jacobovici & Pellegrino
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Book Description

Feb. 15 2007

The Jesus Family Tomb tells the story of what may very well be the greatest archaeological find of all time—the discovery of the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Following the accidental bulldozing of a tomb during the building of a housing complex in suburban Jerusalem in 1980, archaeologists from the Israeli Antiquities Authority were immediately called to the scene. Inside, the archaeologists found ten ossuaries—limestone boxes that served as first-century coffins. Six had inscriptions, including Jesus, son of Joseph; two Marys; and Judah, son of Jesus. The team concluded that the unusual group of names was merely coincidence. After removing and cataloging the ossuaries, they left the tomb to the builders to finish what they had already started.

Twenty-five years later, Simcha Jacobovici, an Emmy award-winning journalist, tracked down the ossuaries in the Israeli Antiquities Authority's warehouse and decided to investigate this remarkable collection of names. Simcha mapped and then located the original tomb, which, to his surprise, was still intact. Granted unequaled access, he soon found that the archaeologists were unaware of key evidence that made this the discovery of a lifetime.

This is a story that is destined to grab international headlines and raise fundamental questions about the historical Jesus. Are the "Jesus" and "Mary" referred to in these inscriptions the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the gospels? Readers are taken on a remarkable journey: from telling statistical analysis, to a time-bending trip across two millennia, and an investigation of the patinas and DNA of the tombs that makes an episode of CSI look mundane. The Jesus Family Tomb arrives at an extraordinary answer to an ancient mystery.

A riveting combination of history, archaeo-logy, and theology, this book will change the way we think about God, religion, and everything we have learned about the life and death of Jesus.



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Review

“A slick and suspenseful narrative. . . . Jacobovici is a maverick, a self-made Indiana Jones.” (Newsweek)

“Absolutely fascinating . . . many would argue the biggest story or one of the biggest stories of our lifetime.” (Today Show)

“This discovery is potentially the last nail in the coffin of biblical literalism” (John Dominic Crossan, author of God & Empire)

About the Author

Simcha Jacobovici is an Emmy-winning documentary director and producer and a widely published writer and lecturer. His articles have appeared around the globe in publications such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Currently the host of The Naked Archaeologist on the History Channel, Simcha Jacobovici lives in Toronto.



Charles Pellegrino is the author of numerous internationally bestselling books. Her Name, Titanic sold over a million copies and was one of the nonfiction sources for James Cameron's movie Titanic. Several of Pellegrino's books have been adapted for Time Life and National Geographic specials, including Unearthing Atlantis. He has a Ph.D. in paleobiology and is one of a small number of scientists who brought forensic science methods into the field of archaeology. As a forensic archaeologist, he has worked on the Titanic, in Pompeii and its sister cities, and at New York's Ground Zero.


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!!! July 5 2007
Format:Hardcover
I find it strange that all the previous reviews have disappeared. I try to avoid conspiracy theories but the film aired once on Discovery and all subsequent airings were pulled. Now, the reviews have gone blank. I'm sure it is all a big coincidence. This is the most exciting discovery ever - the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and much of his family. We're talking archaeology, not fantasy. And yet, it reads like a detective story. So far, all I've seen are personal attacks against the authors by people with an axe to grind. But truth seekers have embraced the investigation. The evidence all seems to point in one direction. The tomb of Jesus is not under the Holy Sepulchre but halfway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in modern Talpiot.
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I think the case for this being the tomb of Jesus was well put. I don't see any bias on part of the authors to manipulate the evidence and I think everything they did was done professionally.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good case-incomplete pleading. July 11 2007
Format:Hardcover
Critics of this book about Jesus Family Tomb, as to it's observations and conclusions, make essentially the following arguments:
1. That the Jesus family would be buried in Nazareth, not Talpiot;
2. That the Jesus family couldn't have afforded a tomb like the Talpiot tomb;
3. That the "Jesus son of Joseph" ossuary is not inscribed "Yeshua" (Jesus) at all;
4. That the "Mariamne" ossuary didn't contain the remains of Mary Magdalene, but of two other women.

I believe the first three of these allegations against the book's premise don't carry much water. The fourth argument actually supports the conclusion that this is the real thing. My comments on these points:

1. Talpiot is the right place for Jesus' family tomb- Per Luke, 2:3-4, the family's LEGAL residence was Bethlehem, not Nazareth. The fact that Joseph and the pregnant Mary could not take the census in Nazareth but had to take it in Bethlehem indicates that Bethlehem was their DOMICILIUM under Roman Law. That basically means that they had no intention to reside in Nazareth permanently. Therefore it would have made little sense for them to have a family tomb in Nazareth, that they wouldn't be able to frequently visit at a later stage in their lives. They would have wanted a family tomb close to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, easily accessible also to future generations of the family. The fact is indeed that Mary and her children moved to Jerusalem around 30 AD.

The traditional name of Jesus in Hebrew, as reflected also in the Talmud, is "Yeshua Hanotzri." This appellation stemms from "Netzer" (Shoot or Branch). It alludes clearly to Isaiah 11:1, indicating the Royal birth of Jesus, to substantiate his claim for Jewish messianship. Not to indicate the place he comes from.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  94 reviews
86 of 102 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Case, Imperfect Pleading March 11 2007
By Itamar Bernstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book basically describes the making of a TV documentary, during which the Talpiot tomb, discovered in 1980, was relocated and reopened briefly. Good pleading of a case requires a clear, logical, well-organized, and comprehensive presentation, including all material evidence. In my opinion the documentary and the book incompletely, dispersively, obliquely and sometimes over-dramatically present the inherently strong case of that tomb. It sometimes relies on anecdotal, long shot evidence (such as the Acts of Phillip connection) or remote speculation (such as the Didymus Judah Thomas-Judah son of Jesus connection) while ignoring direct, compelling evidence (such as symbology) right under its nose. The documentary still deserves much credit for exposing this previously hardly known discovery on a mass media scale to the general public. However, the grand exposure also drew criticism of the magnitude of the find. The critics basically argue:

1. That the Jesus family would be buried in Nazareth, not Talpiot;
2. That the "Jesus" ossuary would have been inscribed "of Nazareth";
3. That the Jesus family couldn't have afforded a tomb like the Talpiot tomb;
4. That the "Jesus son of Joseph" ossuary is not inscribed "Yeshua" (Jesus) at all;
5. That the names inscribed on these ossuaries were supposedly common;
6. That the "Mariamne" ossuary didn't contain the remains of Mary Magdalene, but of two other women.

I believe the first five of these allegations against the book's premise don't carry much water. The sixth argument actually supports the conclusion that this is the real thing. My comments:

1. Talpiot is the right place for Jesus' family tomb- Per Luke, 2:3-4, the family's LEGAL residence was Bethlehem, not Nazareth. The fact that Joseph and the pregnant Mary could not take the census in Nazareth but had to take it in Bethlehem indicates that Bethlehem was their DOMICILIUM under Roman Law. That basically means that they had no intention to reside in Nazareth permanently. Therefore it would have made little sense for them to have a family tomb in Nazareth, that they wouldn't be able to frequently visit at a later stage in their lives. They would have wanted a family tomb close to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, easily accessible also to future generations of the family. The fact is indeed that Mary and her children moved to Jerusalem around 30 AD.

2. The traditional name of Jesus in Hebrew, as reflected also in the Talmud, is "Yeshu Hanotzri." This appellation stems from "Netzer" (Shoot or Branch). It alludes clearly to Isaiah 11:1, indicating the Royal birth of Jesus, to substantiate his claim for Jewish messiahship. Not to indicate the place he comes from.

There's actually no evidence in Jewish sources, such as the Old Testament or the Mishna and Talmud, that a place called "Nazareth" even existed in or before the first century. I'm not disputing the evidence per the NT, that there was indeed a place called Nazareth. But to the best of my knowledge, there's no mention of Nazareth at all in any ancient writings outside the New Testament. So the place existed, but nobody knew about it. And those in close proximity in Galilee who did know about it, obviously thought derogatorily of it , cf. "can anything good come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46.) Therefore there was no reason to call Jesus "of Nazareth." Either in life or on an ossuary. He was called "Jesus the Branch" (of David) in Hebrew/Aramaic.

The line of argumentation detracting this discovery around the supposed Nazareth origin of Jesus' family may therefore be based on a very shaky foundation.

3. Talpiot is located about 2.5 miles North of Bethlehem. Jesus' family, of Davidic descent according to the New Testament, could have held the burial cave there even before it moved to Nazareth. Davidic birth was absolutely the most exalted in Judaism, always. The suggestion that any person of Davidic descent could be of the lowest social echelon, that couldn't fund or get funding for a burial cave, doesn't make much sense, if any. There's substantial evidence to the contrary, e.g. 1. Jesus had some very wealthy active supporters like Joseph of Arimatea and Nicodemus (known as Nakdimon ben Gorion in post biblical Jewish sources-one of the richest Jews in Judea;) 2. Josephus, A.J. XX, 9:1. Note the prominence of James, brother of Jesus.

4. The inscription on the Jesus ossuary does say "Yeshua bar Yehosef" ("Jesus son of Joseph")to my eye. All letters but one are quite clearly there. The only letter which is somewhat more difficult to discern at first blush is the second letter- "Shin". That's because it's written in a somewhat irregular form (in a regular Shin there are three teeth in the fork, pointing upwards. Here there are two teeth, pointing sideways to the right.) But that particular irregularity appears also on other ossuaries- notably numbers 9 (this one has two "Shin"- one with three teeth pointing to the right, and one with TWO teeth pointing to the right. Exactly like the subject inscription) and 121 in the Rahmani catalogue, which both feature also a "Yeshua."

Still, the name "Yeshua" on this ossuary is among the most, if not the most, difficult to read names of all ossuaries listed in Rahmani's catalogue of Jewish ossuaries. It is almost written as a person's complex signature on a check. Contrast that with the patronymic following the first name. This is written in a simple straightforward fashion, which is very easy to read. There's no other example in Rahmani's catalogue of a first name that has to be deciphered, and a patronymic that's so plain and clear. Is this merely a coincidence?

5. Mr. Huston on 3/13/07 made the following comment to my post:

"The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, 'Mariame,' was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words 'kai Mara,' meaning 'and Mara.' Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

According to Pfann's reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of 'Mary the teacher,' but rather of two women, 'Mary and Martha'.'"

Here's my thought about that:
If the Mariamne ossuary indeed housed the bones of Mary and Martha, these are two sisters of NT fame. One of them could have been married to "Jesus son of Joseph." -Whether or not she was Mary Magdalene (Maybe the Mary who anointed Jesus' feet and then dried them with her hair- very intimate scene.) The other sister would than also automatically belong in the family. It still fits. Actually it increases the statistical odds that this is the real thing quite substantially.
This is a very intriguing possibility indeed, fitting perfectly with John 12:3. Intimate contact with a man, as described in this NT passage, was allowed only to a woman who was an immediate blood relative of that man, his wife (...or a working woman.) That's all. Therefore Mary of Bethany was quite possibly by elimination Jesus' wife or in the process of becoming his wife. In that context, Margaret Starbird already theorized that similar anointing with spikenard oil was part of pre marriage ritual of a Davidic king, per certain passages in the Song of Songs. Note also that intercourse by itself was sufficient under Jewish Law in certain circumstances to constitute valid marriage. That practice, termed Bi'ah marriage, was abolished in the 6th century, but it was lawful in Jesus' time.

Mary of Bethany could have become pregnant by Jesus while he stayed at her house, shortly before his crucifixion. In that case it's quite possible that she bore Jesus' son posthumously and named him "Judah." And in that case both she and her sister Martha would have become part of Jesus' family, which earned them a place in the Talpiot family tomb..

Reminds me of the reaction to this find of a BBC reporter in 1996- "It seems like all balls in the national lottery coming one by one."

On the other hand, if the Greek inscription on that ossuary refers to one woman, not two, another matter raised by the book relates to the meaning of the inscription "Mara" following the "Mariamne" on it. My comments:

Any Jew in the first century would probably know instinctively that "Mara" is a very exalted appellation indeed. The Dead Sea Scrolls in at least two places that I saw have the expression "Mara Alma"- the exact equivalent of "Adon Olam" in Hebrew ("Master of the World".) That is one of the most common substitute names for "Yahwe", the ineffable name of God, in Judaism, to this day. Jews repeat this substitute name many times every day, in prayers.

I have no knowledge of Greek, so I can only discuss the two propositions. Assuming that the ossuary does say "Mary and Martha", here's what I think the names are:
* 1."Jesus son of Joseph"("Yeshua bar Yehosef" in Hebrew/Aramaic script;)
* 2. "Mary" ("Marya" in Hebrew/Aramaic script);
* 3. "Joseph" ("Yose" in Hebrew/Aramaic script. Precise nickname of Jesus' second brother- cf. Mark 6:3);
* 4. "Mary and Martha" ("Mariame kai Mara" in Greek)-they must have been sisters because Jewish law didn't allow burial together of two unrelated women;
* 5. "Matthew" ("Matya" in Hebrew/Aramaic script)- Name of Jesus' first cousin, son of his father's brother Alphaeus/Clophas. As James Tabor suggests in a different context, Matya could also well have been Jesus' half brother, considering a certain specific rule of the Torah (Deuteronomy 25:5-10.) This rule was applied in Jesus' time- see Matthew 22:24-28;
* 6. "Judah son of Jesus"("Yehuda bar Yeshua" in Hebrew/Aramaic script.)
* Therefore out of eight names actually inscribed on these ossuaries (including the "Joseph" father of Jesus on the first ossuary) four names undoubtedly relate to Jesus' immediate family, and three other names relate to the same with a somewhat lower probability. In any event, they all relate to Jesus' extended family.
* The eighth name is "Yehuda bar Yeshua"- must have been the son of Jesus and one of the sisters Mary or Martha. More likely Mary, as explained above.

6. While the full versions of all these names were indeed common in Jesus' time, the derivatives, nicknames and contractions were not. Thus "Yeshua" for Jesus was less common than "YeHOshua;" ditto "YeHOsef" instead of "Yosef" for Joseph; "Marya" for Mary was extremely rare in Hebrew/Aramaic script; "Yose" for Joseph is unique. Therefore out of these eight names, two are irregularities, one is a particularity, and one a singularity.

BOTTOM LINE- Ask yourself inversely a hypothetical question- If the Talpiot tomb hadn't yet been found, how would Jesus' family tomb have looked , which ossuaries would it have contained, to when would it have been dated and where would it have been located.

I would have thought of a tomb just like the tomb we're discussing. It fits perfectly with what I'd have expected Jesus' family tomb to be. Right place, right period, right names. I therefore believe that this matter, delicate as it obviously is, warrants further investigation. This could include opening and examination of the adjacent tomb, and forensic examination of the skeletal remains found in the Talpiot ossuaries, and apparently reburied back in 1980. These could hopefully be relocated by comparison to the mithochondrial DNA samples already taken from two of these ossuaries.

Itamar Bernstein
72 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book, but short on proof. March 9 2007
By Aethelred - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
1. FACTS

On 28 March 1980 a tomb was discovered in Talpiot, Israel ( a suburb of Jerusalem) by workers building an apartment complex. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was called in and preceded to excavate the tomb over the course of several days.

The tomb contained 10 ossuaries of which six were inscribed and four were not. An ossuary is in essence a "bone box" used to house human remains. After a person died, their remains were wrapped in fabric and placed in a temporary location (inside a tomb generally on a specially designed shelf) for a period of about one year to allow all soft tissue to decompose. After soft tissue decomposition was complete the person's bones would then be placed in an ossuary which would be positioned in a permanent location, which would generally be in the same tomb.

The use of ossuaries was confined to the period of c. 40 BC to AD 70. Christ was crucified in c. AD 30.

The IAA cataloged the ossuaries as 80-500 to 80-509, they are inscribed as follows:

80-500 - Mariamene

80-501 - Judah, son of Jesus

80-502 - Matthew

80-503 - Jesus, son of Joseph

80-504 - Yosa

80-505 - Maria

80-506 - not inscribed

80-507 - not inscribed

80-508 - not inscribed

80-509 - not inscribed

2. CLAIMS

Simcha Jacobovici began his investigation of the Talpiot tomb in 2002, he enlisted the help of Charles Pellegrino, James Cameron and others. Jacobovici seems to have concluded early on that this was the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and some members of his family.

He states that the odds that this is not the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth are 1 in 600.

He concludes that an ossuary with the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" was also from this tomb and that this would increase the odds that this is not the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth to 1 in 32,000.

He concludes based on DNA testing that ossuary 80-500 inscribed "Mariamene" is that of Mary Magdalene, that she was married to Jesus and that they had a son named Judah (ossuary 80-501).

3. HISTORICAL PROBLEMS

While Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem and the Gospels record that He was placed in a tomb located near Jerusalem, His family was from Nazareth and it would be expected that they would have been buried in that area.

Jacobovici uses Apocryphal sources such as the "Gospel of Phillip" to further some of his claims regarding the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus and to draw conclusions on the life of Mary Magdalene. The "Gospel of Phillip" and other Apocryphal sources used were not written until the 3rd and 4th centuries.

4. STATISTICAL PROBLEMS

Jacobovici concludes, based on the collection of names present in the Talpiot tomb, that the odds are 1 in 600 that this tomb does not belong to Jesus of Nazareth. He does this by calculating that number of times that a name found in this tomb has been recorded on other ossuaries times each name.

Example: "Maria" is found on 1 in 24 ossuaries, "Mariamene" on 1 of 193, "Jesus, son of Jospeh" on 1 in 79, et cetera. 24 x 193 x 79 = 365,928.

These numbers are then corrected downward to account for known family members of Jesus who were not found in the tomb, uninscribed ossuaries and other factors and odds of 1 in 600 are reached. A very conservative approach was taken in calculating these numbers, but a flawed premise was used in assigning values to several of the names found.

Mary was a very common name in First Century Judaea, about 1 in 4 females of that period were named Mary. There are a number of women named Mary recorded in the Gospels, two of whom are Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, because of these facts very little statistical value can be placed on the "Maria" and Mariamene" ossuaries found in the Talpiot tomb.

It is assumed that Matthew was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus because she had several people named Matthew in her family history. However, there is no historic basis for assigning any statistical value to an ossuary inscribed "Matthew" that is contemporary with Mary and her family.

It is assumed that the ossuary inscribed "Yosa" belonged to a brother of Jesus who is refered to by that name in the Bible. However, as there is an ossuary inscribed "Jesus, son of Joseph" in this tomb and "Yosa" is a short version of "Joseph," it is fair to assume that the "Yosa" ossuary belongs to the "Jospeh" mentioned on the "Jesus" ossuary. As such no additional statistical value should be placed on the "Yosa" ossuary.

As there is no mention of a "Judah, son of Jesus" in the Gospels or any other record of the life of Jesus, Jacobovici correctly assigns no statistical value to that ossuary.

That leaves only the "Jesus, son of Joseph" ossuary. 1 in 79 ossuaries have the inscription "Jesus, son of Joseph" on them. This seems to place the odds that this is not the ossuary that contained the bones of Jesus of Nazareth at 1 in 79, however there are at least two other ossuaries that bear the same inscription, are the odds 1 in 79 that each of these is not the ossuary that contained the bones of the Biblical Jesus?

As there are at least three ossuaries that bear the inscription "Jesus, son of Joseph," so the odds against this being the ossuary of Jesus would be 3 to 1. If you wanted to factor in a Mary in this tomb to odds would rise to 1 in 1.2.

The fact is Jesus, Joseph and Mary were all very common names in First Century Judaea and it should not be seen as unusual that these names would be found together in a tomb of this size.

5. DNA PROBLEMS

Small bone fragments were recovered from ossuaries 80-500 and 80-503. These fragments were sent to a DNA lab for analysis and mitochrondial DNA was extracted and tested. These tests showed that Mariamene and Jesus, Son of Joseph were not mother and son and that they did not have the same mother. Due to the limits of what mitochrondial DNA can show, this was the only data that could be obtained from these tests. Jacobovici inferred from these tests that Mariamene and Jesus, son of Joseph must have been husband and wife, however this is a flawed conclusion.

The DNA testing does not preclude that Mariamene could have been married to any of the males in this tomb and not a blood relative or that Jesus, son of Joseph could have been married to any of the females in this tomb and not a blood relative. It also does not rule out that Jesus, son of Joseph could have been the father, grandfather, uncle et cetera of Mariamene.

6. PROBLEMS WITH LINKING THE JAMES OSSUARY TO THE TALPIOT TOMB

Jacobovici uses samples from the patina on the James ossuary and samples from two of the Talpiot ossuaries to suggest that the James ossuary in the missing 10th ossuary from this tomb. This would increase the odds of this not being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth to 1 in 32,000. It is true that the patina on the James ossuary is quite similar to that found on the Talpiot ossuaries. However, Amos Kloner, the archeologist who supervised this excavation, says that the 10th ossuary was not inscribed and that it is not missing. He states that it was given to the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.

There is also a photograph of the James ossuary that is printed on paper that a leading photo lab states was used in the mid 1970s, the Talpiot tomb was not discovered until 1980.

7. CONCLUSION

I believe that it is important for Christians to keep an open mind with regard to finds in the Holy Land. These finds can be useful in terms of the information they shed on life in Biblical times. I also do not believe that Christians should avoid looking at new facts when they come to light. I know several people who refused to watch the Discovery Channel program on the so called "Jesus Tomb." To me it is unfortunate that Christians would feel threatened by facts. If the claims of Simcha Jacobovici were so strong that they would damage our faith, those would be facts we should want to know about. If on the other hand his claims had holes in them (as I believe is the case), confronting those claims with sound facts can only be helpful to those Christians who might otherwise be taken in.

While the discovery of a tomb bearing the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph is interesting, there is no reason to connect the contents of this tomb to the Biblical Jesus.

When asked about this tomb, Amos Kloner (who was in charge of the tomb in 1980) said "It makes a great story for a TV film. But it's completely impossible. It's nonsense. There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle class family from the 1st century."
54 of 67 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I saw it, I read it, I put it back. April 24 2007
By Ginro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Following on from a discussion that took place here recently, and makes for interesting reading, in one of the comments sections, after much thought I decided that having read the book (contrary to the usual accusations thrown at critics) I really ought to put up my own review.

So read on, you are about to meet it (;-p)

The book is full of what can only be described as flawed assumption, speculation, guesswork, insinuation. The claim is basically this: The authors found that a tomb had an ossuary which possibly read 'Jesus son of Joseph', another one named 'Mary', and an ossuary named 'Judah son of Jesus'. They then leapt to the conclusion that they have stumbled upon the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and the ossuaries therefore prove that Jesus was married and had a son. They begin with a conclusion and then work backwards to find the 'evidence' that fits. This project and its conclusions have been roundly condemned by many people qualified to do so, as the articles in the Washington Post, American Scientist, and many other journals and articles etc more than adequately show.

The only things consistent about this book are the repeated factual errors and guesswork. If people wish to believe what this book purports to claim, that is their prerogative. However, some have a habit of jumping to exaggerated conclusions based on insufficient data and that is exactly what the authors of this book have done. In the sciences it is always important to examine all arguments regarding certain claims, putting personal feelings to one side, not supporting or denying things simply because it might be what one wants to hear.

Let me use an analogy: at first glance you might see what appears to be a perfect diamond. But it is only upon closer examination to make sure that it is perfect, twisting and turning the diamond in order to view it through its many facets and from different angles, that the flaws are revealed. In the case of this book and its premise, the flaws are many. Let's look at several examples:

1. The Acts of Philip does not refer to Mariamne as Mary Magdalene. Her name doesn't appear anywhere in The Acts of Philip.

2. The book states that John the Baptist was beheaded ... by Herod the Great. Wrong Herod. It was Herod Antipas actually.

3. The book states that Ireneaus wrote about the Gospel of Mary. Do your homework and you'll find that he didn't.

4. The book claims that the Gospel of Mary was found at Nag Hammadi in 1945. Wrong again. It was acquired in 1896, in Cairo.

5. The book claims that the name 'James' wasn't used as the English version of Jesus' brothers name until the 1611 A.V. of the bible. Wrong. The name is considerably older than that and if you don't believe me check out the Wycliffe Bible which was first written in 1381.

6. The book states that three skulls had been placed on the floor of the tomb symbolizing the real Golgotha. Now, that is a real leap of faith and imagination, as it is nothing more than pure guesswork and an assumption they can read the minds of people long dead.

7. Since edited.

And why is it that so many have complained about the way their words and work have been misused by the authors of this book? Take two who have done so, Tal Ilan and Francois Bovon who, from the book give the impression of support but which they have denied publicly, and the former angrily so. The way all these people have been treated appears very unethical.

a. Tal Ilan has stated: "I think it's completely mishandled. I am angry." (Source: Scientific American, March 2nd 2007)

Francois Bovon's exact words on the matter are these:

b. "I must say that the reconstructions of Jesus' marriage with Mary Magdalene and the birth of a child belong for me to science fiction" He goes on to say that when he referred to the name for Mary Magdalene he was not referring to the name in a historical sense, but simply in reference to a literary tradition, which is another matter entirely. (Source: SBL Forums)

A quote from a scholar made in respect of arguments surrounding the validity of the 'Gospel of Judas' (late 2nd century) might put the 'Acts of Philip' (4th century) in a better perspective:

c. "Dr Simon Gathercole from The University of Aberdeen, said: "The so-called "Gospel of Judas" ...contains a number of religious themes which are completely alien to the first-century world of Jesus and Judas, but which did become popular later, in the second century AD. An analogy would be finding a speech claiming to be written by Queen Victoria, but in which she talked about The Lord of the Rings and her CD collection." (Source: The Times, April 6th 2006)

What Dr Matheson had to say with regard the claims about the DNA:

d. "In the report it concludes that these two profiles from two different individuals were not maternally related. That is all the report states." (Source: An email sent by Dr Matheson to Dr. White. Link available.)

e. "The only conclusions we made were that these two sets [from the 'Yeshua' and 'Mariamne' ossuaries] were not maternally related. To me it sounds like absolutely nothing." (Source: Scientific American, March 2nd 2007) Compare these statements with the claims in the book p.172.

Whose DNA was it? No-one has a clue, as the ossuaries used to be re-used and it is thought that the tomb might have housed up to 35 individuals in total. And that is another reason why it "sounds like absolutely nothing."

With regards the statistical findings we have, from the Wall Street Journal, March 9th 2007:

f. "As you pile on more assumptions, you're building a house of cards," says Keith Devlin, a Stanford mathematician and NPR's "Math Guy." (Scientific American also challenged the calculation on its Web site.)

And Prof Feuerverger's views in the same article:

g. "When I was doing the calculation, I was naively unaware of the extent to which the filmmakers might be depending on the ultimate result of it," he says. "I did carry out the calculation in every good faith. I hoped it would be interpreted in that light."

They give the impression that, amongst others, Amos Kloner (e.g. p.12) supports the ideas this book presents. That is very disingenuous as he absolutely does not. His views on this are widespread, and here is a quote with regard this matter:

h. "The name 'Jesus son of Joseph' has been found on three or four ossuaries. Give me scientific evidence, and I'll grapple with it. But this is manufactured." (Source: Jerusalem Post, February 27th 2007)

i. Joe Zias' own thoughts on this subject, highly recommended, can be read in full on his 'Viewers Guide to Understanding the Talpiot Tomb'. Copy/Paste that into your search engine to find it, or see the link in my earlier comment.

With regards the use of ancient documents in the book:

They use parts of the NT to support their claim, but where it contradicts what they claim...silence. They use parts of the apocryphal texts in the same way. But you cannot be selective with use of evidence. If the claim that the NT is unreliable was to hold any water, it means it has to be dismissed. You cannot make that claim, and then start quoting it where it might support your argument. It also means that the apocryphal documents have to be dismissed as well because it is apparent they base much of their information about Jesus on the NT accounts. Now either the NT is reliable, in which case they must acknowledge that many statements within it clearly disprove what they say, or it is not reliable, in which case they are not in a position to use it as a basis for their arguments and again that would severely harm their case. If you are going to quote only elements of the NT as reliable and others as not, you MUST provide clear definitive proof to support that contention. They do not, because they cannot. Instead they try to have it both ways. Again it betrays poor standards and an amateurish attitude hellbent on trying to make the text fit the theory rather than depend upon clear definitive evidence. This appears, once again, completely unethical.

So, there is the inability to get even the most simple verifiable facts correct. And with that being the case, how can the authors be trusted where we cannot fact-check their statements? Additionally, many different people have independently gone on record saying that their work has been misused, misinterpreted, mishandled, their testimony twisted. Then there is the illogical and blatantly biased use of ancient text. This book is shoddy, lazy, and draws sensationalist conclusions without bothering to examine the fact that there are other explanations that far better match the evidence without having to use and distort the contributions of people who have worked genuinely hard in these fields.

Believe in the book if you want to by all means, or not as the case may be, but don't jump to conclusions and don't rely upon guesswork, assumptions, and insinuation. Your own integrity deserves that much at least.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Archaeo-porn - fiction worthy of "the Da Vinci Code" Aug. 4 2008
By Honest Opinion - Published on Amazon.com
Simcha Jacobovici has written an exciting book that is guaranteed to be controversial. Unfortunately for Simcha, his name has never been well respected in archaeological circles, and I think that the disappointing reviews this book has gotten from respected archaeologists won't improve his stature.

The inconsistencies and poor research used in this book have been better documented elsewhere. Suffice to say that this book reads as if the author started with the assertion that he alone has uncovered the tomb of Jesus Christ. He then goes on to select only that research that can be interpreted to support this assertion, while selectively ignoring research that proves him absolutely wrong. After marketing this poor research by disguising it as archaeology, poor Simcha attempted to ignore the onslaught of contradictory evidence with an attitude of "if I don't see it, it isn't there". We all know what happens when pedestrians cross busy streets with that attitude.

Many devout Christians will be quick to denounce this book, while others that are initially prejudiced to support Simcha's claims will hail this book as nothing less than a masterpiece. That's to be expected, because both parties come to this book not to be educated, but to be vindicated in their own personal beliefs. Their minds are made up before they even hold this book in their hands. That's to be expected, isn't it?

But even a cursory read of this book makes you feel as if you are being deceived. He starts with a tomb located miles away from where Jesus supposedly died. Reading the names on the tombs, you see a list of the most wildly popular names found at that time. To claim that this is the tomb of Jesus Christ is like finding a Cuban parchment with the names George, John, and Tom on it and insisting it's about the first three U.S. Presidents. With enough generic evidence and good enough P.R., you can appear to prove anything.

Archaeology is like golf - at first, you think it looks easy; but after awhile you are shocked to discover that it takes years and years of training to get it right. Unfortunately, Simcha's degree is in International Relations, which qualifies him to best work in Public Relations or International Marketing. The rumors persist that he is still looking for a University to grant him an honorary degree in archaeology, something that a man of his personality would receive with estatic joy. Sadly, Simcha has no background or training in that field, and he still can't get published in any respected archaological journal.

After Simcha embarassed himself at the Princeton Symposium in January 2008, the kindest thing I can say about embattled Simcha is this: while he is very good at creating drama out of nothing, his impatient desire for the spotlight (which he craves more than Hitler wanted Poland) has caused him to trample archaeology under his feet.

I believe Simcha to be a kind and gentle person, but someone needs to take him by the hand and make him realize that SCIENCE, and not fictional sensationalism, is the way to receive acceptance and recognition by your peers.
45 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obvious Christian bias March 2 2007
By Sean Holderread - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I can't help but wonder how many here actually read this book? In all honesty, the reviews look more like a defensive backlash by the fervently religious. Obvious Christian bias. One individual stated:

"And when has fact, even scientific fact, ever dissolved truth? Even Flavius Josephus documented Jesus resurrection. The end of my book, "CSI Gethsemane to Golgotha" states, "Jesus was gone."

Hmm ... Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed the book. Well thought out and painstakingly argued. Whether you believe it or not, it's worth the read. Look forward to seeing the documentary Sunday night (March 4th).

Just an aside ... Nowhere does Josephus document any resurrection! The passage in question (Antiquities, Book 18, chapter 3, paragraph 3) is a known interpolation. The paragraph is absent from early copies of the works of Josephus. And it does not appear in Origen's second-century version of Josephus, contained in Origen Contra Celsum. Origen also states that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as the Christ" (Cels, i 47) and "he did not accept Jesus as Christ" (Comm. Matt., x 17). Josephus, himself, stated that he believed Vespian to be the Messiah. Yes, Josephus does mentions Jesus, but the rest is a later addition. Stop spreading apologetic rubbish! Good grief!

"The passage seems to suffer from repeated interpolations."- Catholic Encyclopedia
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