Jesus and family found in tomb?

Family tomb of Jesus?

Jesus of Nazareth?
Jesus of Nazareth?

If you think the Da Vinci Code was controversial, wait until you learn about "The Lost Tomb of Jesus". Combining the popularity of CSI and NUMB3RS, Academy Award winner James Cameron has put together a documentary about a family crypt possibly containing the bones of Jesus. Ten ossuaries (stone boxes) were labeled with the names of Jesus and those believed to refer to his mother, father, brothers, wife, and son. Amos Kloner estimated that the tomb contained 35 bodies. (Antiquot,Jerusalem, Vol. 29, pp. 22)

Put on your thinking caps

Faith does not require evidence. If you wish to review the evidence, though, you can start by going to http://www.discovery.com/tomb. Discovery also has a web site with flash navigation to maps, family trees, videos, etc. Be sure to click on "Download Documents" found by choosing "explore tomb" then "enter the tomb". The link is the middle one at the bottom (pdf). There is a discussion forum, too.

How scientific is the evidence?

Please use our comments box to discuss this event as it unfolds. I find I can learn about critical thinking and scientific methods by listening in.

Timeline of events

March 28, 1980

Talpiot, Jerusalem Construction work uncovers untouched tomb.

March 28- April 14

Israeli Antiquities Authority excavate tomb. Site survey and mapmade by Shimon Gibson


"A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in the East Talpiot" published by Amos Kloner


Simcha Jacobovici researches "James son of Joseph, broher of Jesus" ossuary


Jacobovici meets Kloner and learns of "Jesus son of Joseph" ossuary

June 18, 2003

"James" ossuary declared a forgery by Israel Antiquities Authority


Jacobovici discovers futher information about other ossuaries related to New Testament

March 21, 2005

James Cameron discusses financing a film

September 15-16, 2006

Robotic cameras lowered down "breathing pipes" capture images of a different tomb - one that has not been excavated and still holds numerous ossuaries.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Here is an opinion voiced by Carl Zimmer. Carl Zimmer is a science writer. His articles appear in the New York Times.

Now it seems to me, as a journalist, that Jacobovici's job as a journalist would be to report on peer-reviewed research published in a scientific journal by a team of experts who had no financial stake in the success of a show. Once he starts commissioning DNA tests of his own, he's taking on an entirely different set of responsibilities. For example, it's up to him to make sure that the DNA has not been contaminated by archaeologists. Scienceblog.com

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Ossuaries are bone boxes

For a 90-year period, from 20 B.C. to A.D. 70, the Jewish burial custom was to place the body in a cave for a year or so and then retrieve the bones and put them in a bone box (ossuary) that could then be placed in a niche in the family tomb.
One such ossuary was featured in the media in 2002. It had an inscription translated to mean "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus".

Researching the James ossuary

James Ossuary: The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.
James Ossuary: The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.
I did a google search for james ossuary and the most authoritative link was to the Wikipedia entry titled "James Ossuary". I think Wikipedia is a good place to start in researching a topic but also follow their links to source material.

"The dealer who sold it was a man of questionable reputation who had a history of inappropriate dealings with various museums and government agencies. I'm more convinced than ever that the artifact has been tampered with, and that the part of the inscription that reads 'brother of Jesus' is a forgery inserted at a later date," said Eric Meyers, an archaeologist at Duke University. National Geographic

The Royal Ontario Museum issued a statement about the Oded Golans's arrest/James ossuary
The Discover Channel is selling a DVD about the James ossuary. A website called catholic.com has a library entry labeled "Burial Box of St. James Found?" Information about the James ossuary can also found at biblicalstudies.com.

posted on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 8:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You can find original footage of Simcha Jacobovici and articles on history and research on the official website:

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 10:24am
Chris Rosebrough's picture

I’ve written a comprehensive rebuttal to claims and evidence of this film. Please read it and decide for yourself.

You will find it at extremetheology.com

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 11:56pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I enjoyed your analysis and hope our readers will check it out. I was searching various news sites for more discussions about this topic and had to chuckle that they are usually placed in the "entertainment" section.

posted on Thu, 03/01/2007 - 1:35pm
Chris Rosebrough's picture
Chris Rosebrough says:

Yep... Destroying the Christian Faith is now considered "Entertainment" complete with corporate sponors. It is surreal.

posted on Wed, 03/07/2007 - 5:20am
Kate Larson's picture
Kate Larson says:

The Archaeological Institute of America (the largest organization of professional and amateur archaeologists in this country) has posted a nice article that explains and refutes the claims made by the media circus with archaeological and literary evidence from the period. One of the primary points made by Jodi Magness, the author of the article and a well known scholar of first century Israel, is that the filmmakers have utterly ignored standard scientific procedures and processes. I'd encourage anyone curious about what people who work in this discipline - not media - are saying about these ossuaries to read it.

A main theme I keep hearing about this topic is that the producers of the documentary have "uncovered" these ossuaries which were "kept secret" for 25 years by scholars/the Catholic church/the Israeli government (speculation runs rampant). It's important to note that the ossuaries were published, according to standard archaeological practice, back in the early 80s by the lead archaeologist on the project. The ossuaries were kept in the Israel Museum, and one of them was even on display - that's how James Cameron found out about it! Historians and archaeologists decided long ago that this was not a particularly interesting or sensational find.

This entire frenzy highlights just how aware we all have to be of our sources of information and their motivations in this global information age.

posted on Wed, 03/07/2007 - 11:04am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Looks like even The Discovery Channel itself is backing away from the film.

posted on Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:15pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Thanks for the link, Gene. I especially got a kick out of the term, "archaeo-porn". The scientist written blogs crucified the methods employed by the Discovery team. (read Scientific American, here) The common comment was that this production was a waste of time to watch. Hopefully viewers will get that science is not using the media to present your case, but to use peer reviewed publications. The details of this discovery were published long ago and the reaction of the scientific community was, "nothing here to get excited about".

posted on Sat, 03/10/2007 - 9:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is impossible

posted on Sat, 03/10/2007 - 11:58am
Duffy's picture
Duffy says:

I also think it is impossible. need more proof

posted on Sat, 03/10/2007 - 4:51pm
Marco's picture
Marco says:


Are the dna results available somewhere, the lab results, the actual dna sequence, haplogroup etc ?


posted on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 4:35am

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