The Jesus Discovery: The Resurrection Tomb that Reveals the Birth of Christianity
James D. Tabor, Simcha Jacobovici
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The Jesus Discovery shows how a recent major archeological discovery in Jerusalem is revolutionizing our understanding of Jesus and the earliest years of Christianity.
The story of a stunning new discovery that provides the first physical evidence of Christians in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and his apostles
In 2010, using a specialized robotic camera, authors Tabor and Jacobovici, working with archaeologists, geologists, and forensic anthropologists, explored a previously unexcavated tomb in Jerusalem from around the time of Jesus. They made a remarkable discovery. The tomb contained several ossuaries, or bone boxes, two of which were carved with an iconic image and a Greek inscription. Taken together, the image and the inscription constitute the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection.
Since the newly discovered ossuaries can be reliably dated to before 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, they also provide the first evidence in Jerusalem of the people who would later be called “Christians.” In fact, it is possible, maybe even likely, that whoever was buried in this tomb knew Jesus and heard him preach.
The newly examined tomb is only 200 feet away from the so-called Jesus Family Tomb. This controversial tomb, excavated in 1980 and recently brought to international attention, contained ossuaries inscribed with names associated with Jesus and his immediate family. Critics dismissed the synchronicity of names as mere coincidence. But the new discovery increases the likelihood that the “Jesus Family Tomb” is, indeed, the real tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Tabor and Jacobovici discuss the evidence in support of this interpretation and describe how both tombs appear to have been part of the property of a wealthy individual, possibly Joseph of Arimathea, the man who, according to the gospels, buried Jesus.
The Jesus Discovery explains how the recent find is revolutionizing our understanding of the earliest years of Christianity. Tabor and Jacobovici discuss what the concept of resurrection meant to the first followers of Jesus, particularly how it differed from the common understanding of the term today. Because the new archaeological discovery predates all other Christian documents, including the gospels, it offers a dramatic witness to what the people who knew Jesus believed.
There is no doubt that this is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made. The Jesus Discovery is the firsthand account of how it happened and what it means.
act as the fifth station of the cross. But the gospel of Mark significantly adds that this Simon was the father of “Alexander and Rufus,” naming his two sons, as if ancient readers might know them (Mark 15:21). Is it possible that archaeologists have stumbled upon the family tomb of Simon of Cyrene and his son Alexander, the very ones mentioned in the New Testament gospels? One might think this very possibility would be an occasion for excitement and celebration. Surely this ossuary would be on
them, and anointing them with oil. Nothing is said about the cost of the oil and the objection is not the waste but that Jesus would permit himself to be touched by a sexually promiscuous woman and not realize, were he a prophet, her sinful status. Simon objects and Jesus rebukes him, commending the woman for her uninvited hospitality in welcoming him, washing his feet, and loving him. He declares: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is
woman. The Jesus tomb speaks volumes, even through its six simple inscriptions. Here we find Mariamene Mara buried side-by-side next to Jesus and what we believe to be their child Judah—together in death as in life. These archaeological facts are quite touching and moving in terms of their implications once one can clear away the theological dogma and mythological notions of bodies—bones, flesh, and all—being taken up to heaven. To find oneself in the presence of the historical Jesus and the tomb
CJO, no. 455, and Cotton, CIIP, no. 93. 25. In the 3rd century CE at Bet She’arim brief expressions of encouragement and consolation occur on 40 out of the 220 inscriptions at the site; see Rahmani, CJO, p. 17. 26. Hundreds of dedicatory inscriptions all over the Mediterranean world have been found that read “To the Most High God.” See Stephen Mitchell, “The Cult of Theos Hypsistos between Pagans, Jews, and Christians,” in Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity, ed. Polymnia Athanassiadi and
University Press, 2007). 20. For a typical defense of the idea that Jesus was not married by an evangelical Christian writer see http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2003/11/Was-Jesus-Married.aspx. 21. Josephus mentions a similar story about his own precociousness at age fourteen, see Life 9. 22. See Sarah Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (New York: Schocken Books, 1995). 23. Josephus, Wars 2.121. 24. Philo, Hypothetica 11.14. 25. Pliny the