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on September 2, 2012
I had read The Jesus Family Tomb and had seen the the TV programs dealing with each of the Talpiot tombs and felt that this book would probably not have much more to offer.

I was wrong.

This book presents strong arguments to support the hypothesis that the two tombs in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem are quite special. When analyzed in tandem, they represent not just a clearly pre-70 CE Christian burial area and a tomb that might have some interesting coincidence in name inscriptions, but instead two tombs that each held the bones of people we know from scripture.

This is a book that deals with history, not theology. Indeed, the authors firmly point out that the findings they present in no way counter one's belief in resurrection. Indeed, their report includes the earliest yet discovered symbols of Christian resurrection.

This is exciting stuff!

Their research used techniques ranging from "good ole archeology" to the study of ancient scripts, to the most modern of techniques, including robotic cameras and advanced DNA analysis techniques.

This book is perfect for three groups of people: those who are not at all familiar with this subject; those who are reasonably in agreement with the information presented in the earlier book and TV shows; and, perhaps most importantly, those who know something about these prior efforts and are in strong disagreement.

Beside enjoying the results of all the research James Tabor & Simcha Jacobovici presented here, I was highly impressed by the pace of the book and even more so by the logical progression of findings, building to the final conclusions.

This book doesn't have to change your mind or your beliefs. Just read it with an open, historical rather than theological, mindset and I think you will find this intriguing.
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on February 29, 2012
Right out of the gate, the discovery that this book describes has been viciously attacked by academics and conservative Christian leaders, as was the previous book and documentary on the original Talpiot tomb. Sadly, those on the attack often do so without fully examining all the evidence. On the day of the press conference, scholars such as Jodi Magness were already resorting to near histrionics ("it pains me to see archaeology hijacked in the service of non-scientific interests, whether they are religious, financial, or other"). It is ironic that Magness and others who accuse Tabor and Jacobovici of using unscholarly methods resort to such unscholarly ad hominem attacks.

That being said, yes, the authors of this book have gone against the grain of the laboriously slow, methodical scholarly approach. And for that the world should be thanking them! If their theses and conclusions are false, the academics have plenty of time to refute them. What is interesting is that in the years since the initial release of information on both the so-called "Jesus Family Tomb" and the "James" ossuary, the scholarly refutation of these finds has been eroded by increasing evidence supporting their authenticity. The trial of Oded Golan on charges of forging the inscription on the James ossuary is presently completely collapsing. The supposed "commonness" of the names on the ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb is being stood on its head by the latest statistical research. The grouping of these particular names is not statistically probable, adding to what is now a likelihood that these ossuaries do belong to Jesus and his family. Now, the latest evidence from the neighboring "Patio tomb," discussed in this book, adds further evidence in support of the initial claims of Jacobovici and Tabor. The old adage, "where there is smoke there is fire" is very germane here.

We are living in exciting times when revolutionary discoveries in many fields can now be made by amateurs and brought to "market" very quickly, bypassing the academics with vested career and political interests which hinder the pursuit of metaphysical truth. James Tabor, while not a professional archaeologist, is a professional scholar, and is to be commended for his ongoing bravery in continuing to pursue this research. Tabor has a lot to lose; not least his reputation among his peers. But Tabor is a very rare academic who puts the pursuit of truth above political and theological considerations, and for that he has my greatest admiration.

If these tombs are in any way related to Jesus and his family and earliest followers, this is pure dynamite theologically. As a Christian pastor, as well as a teacher, I welcome this information with open arms, as should all Christians. In these findings we have potentially invaluable physical verification of the existence of Jesus and his movement. The Jesus deniers will no longer be able to say Jesus is a myth invented by the early Christians.

Of course, there will always be fundamentalist Christians who decry these findings as undercutting the Christian dogma of the bodily resurrection. But if, in fact, Jesus' bones were permanently laid to rest in the Talpiot tomb, this is by no means a refutation of his resurrection, merely a refutation of one line of the Apostles' Creed ("I believe in the resurrection of the body"), a dogma vehemently denied by none other than St. Paul, who said, "Fool! . . . What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. . . . It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body . . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God . . ." (1 Cor. 15:36-50).

I sincerely thank James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici for their bravery in the pursuit of truth. Their work has certainly not eroded my personal faith in Jesus and his resurrection, but enhanced it. At the least, their work is providing an invaluable service in confirming the historical existence of Jesus the Nazarene and the true nature of the Nazarene movement in Judaism.

Reviewed by the Rev. Jeffrey J. Bütz, S.T.M., author of The Brother of Jesus
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on April 1, 2012
As with all Dr. Tabor's books, The Jesus Discovery is well written and clearly lays out the facts. The discovery and exploration of a second tomb close to the original "Talpiot Tomb" strongly backs up the original theory that the first tomb belonged to the man whose name has come to us as Jesus, and his family. I personally was skeptical about the claims for the first tomb, although I could see why the archaeologists believed it was what they said it was, but with this additional information it's much more clear that they were correct.

Anyone with an open mind can see all the facts for themselves. There are many people who will adamantly refuse to try to understand anything outside their own comfort zone, and thinking in new and different ways about religious beliefs is very difficult for many. Those people have already gone out of their way to try to discredit Dr. Tabor and Dr. Jacobovici and all they've done is make themselves look desperate.

The only real down side to the book is the horrible, horrible cover. I think it's supposed to look like a Torah scroll with an image of Jesus faintly superimposed on it. What it actually looks like is... well, people have seen it as someone's bare behind and people have seen it as a closeup of female anatomy. One has to wonder whether the publishers were trying to sabotage the book from the get-go! One should not judge the book by its cover, but with a cover this blatantly awful, that's not easy to remember.
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on April 19, 2015
‘Good history is never the enemy of informed faith.’ Seems true enough to me but for many Christians the physical resurrection of Jesus is an essential principle of their religion. ‘The Jesus Discovery’ would be a difficult read for these followers as it suggests that if such a resurrection did take place, it would have been of the spiritual, astral form of Jesus, a visionary experience for his disciples.

I was raised as a Catholic, but never felt at home amidst all the dogma, even as a small child. I left the Catholic Church, mentally, when I was 13, but was still forced to be physically present at endless masses, benedictions etc. all of which gave me time to study the Bible. I discovered that the gospels of the New Testament were not one unified story and that the actual teachings of Jesus appeared to differ dramatically from the vengeful Jehovah of the Old Testament and also from the teachings of the Catholic Church. All fascinating. I went off on my own path but retained a strong interest in the historical Jesus. Did he exist? If so, what actually happened 2,000 years ago? ‘The Jesus Discovery’ provides some possible answers.

James D. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici approach their subject with sensitivity and respect. ‘The Jesus Discovery’ gives a very clear and readable account of their investigations into a sealed tomb dated to the first century CE (AD under the old system). I was amazed by the discovery of the ‘sign of Jonah’ on one of the ossuaries contained inside the tomb. For me, this suggests that the early followers of Jesus believed in direct mystical inner experience, raising their consciousness to find enlightenment, exactly matching a ‘visionary’ resurrection.

There are further fascinating discoveries of great interest to anyone, like me, who wants to find out about the lives and beliefs of the early Christians. I appreciated the thorough research that the authors put into this book and their non sensational approach. A must read for all truth seekers.
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on June 19, 2014
Well-written and engaging account of the investigation of the supposed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea ("the patio tomb") discovered close to the so-called Jesus Family Tomb (or "garden tomb") which was excavated some years ago. No rational person could deny that if Jesus and his family were historical personages then they lived, died and were buried. On the basis of the names inscribed on the ossuaries, the garden tomb seems as likely a place as any for their bones to be found. It also seems entirely reasonable for Jesus's followers to want to be buried as close as possible to the Holy Family. It can therefore be argued that the existence of the patio tomb validates the claims made for the garden tomb and vice versa. While I am no fan of Dan Brown, he may have been onto something when he claimed that patriarchal elements in the Church have minimised the importance of Mary Magdalene. Tabor's researches suggest that, if not Jesus's wife, she must at least have been an Apostle of great influence. If you are interested in what the very first Christians actually believed, you need to read this book.
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on June 18, 2012
This was one of those books that was very difficult to put down. I found myself highlighting it on almost every page. I've read most of the books that deal with this subject, including the massive Eisenman works. Tabor is a treasure; he writes well, and he is rigorous. One can understand why he generates so much rancor--he has hit the jackpot when it comes to archaeology, and he is not a professional archaeologist. That has to hurt.

Tabor is also a patient and thorough author, and he brings a certain higher objectivity to this subject that perhaps some archaeologists find repulsive if not elusive. I think that the normal healthy skepticism of archaeologists can be a handicap for them when they don't have a nuanced understanding of other things, such as discursive theory, history, and mathematics. From what I have read, they may have an unwarranted reputation for attention to details. It's hard not to coome away from this whole controversy without a sense that prefabricated assumptions back in 1980-1981 led to much sloppiness.

One of the best parts of this book is that it anticipates and responds to its criticism effectively. Before I read the book I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the critics were saying. The book did a good job of shutting down that criticism, to my mind. The Patio tomb pretty much seals the deal, which is why there is so much controversy over the Jonah figure.

Readers can learn much from this book, maybe another reason for all the resentment. Pound for pound, ounce for ounce, it's more densely packed than other scholarly books about Jesus I have read. The book is clear, economical to the points it makes, and explosive.

One plug: readers may be interested in checking out Joseph Raymond's book called Herodian Messiah. Raymond is or was a trial lawyer, and he brings a critical eye to all the evidence concerning Jesus. He presciently pegged the term "Magdalene" in how it relates to a title, similar to the interpretation of "mara" in this book. Now with Tabor's take, I am beginning to think that Robert Graves really was on to something in his book, King Jesus.
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on May 1, 2015
I started this book with hopes of learning about this amazing discovery, but instead the book morphed into a veiled attempt to refute the resurrection of Jesus. I expect an academic to take a detached view of the facts, following them where they lead. It became apparent half way through that this wasn’t the case. The authors veered from facts to almost sheer speculation and out-and-out errors. For example, rebutting one assertion that first century Jews would not have moved Jesus’ body to Nazareth for burial, the book says Jews “were forbidden” to do this. Nowhere in the Law does it state this. There were strict rules for touching the dead, rules for cleanliness, etc, but they were not forbidden. It seems doubtful to me someone would move the body either, but not because it was forbidden.

One of their assertions is that the oldest complete New Testament we have is from the 4th century, the implication being the book were written much later that the events. There is a simple reason for the relative abundance of copies after this date—Christianity was illegal and there were periodic persecutions and manuscript burnings until Constantine converted around AD 312. Up until this point NT books were written on the inexpensive but not durable material of the day—papyrus. With Christianity’s new standing, it was now copied onto sturdier, but costly vellum. Contrary to what the authors asset, we do have extensive papyrus copies of portions of the NT dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. One fragment of the Gospel of John found in Egypt dates from 90 to 130 AD. Further, the NT was extensively quoted by the early Church Fathers in as early as the first century. Even Bart Ehrman, who writes extensive against the NT, admits that it is the best attested ancient document in terms of manuscript evidence.

The authors make a great deal out of the supposed source Q, a product of 19th century higher criticism, to the point of asserting it as fact. To date, no one has ever seen this source or found any reference to it, and somehow, for 1,800 years, everyone missed it “hidden in plain sight”. It is purely a product of speculation, wishful thinking, and literary wrangling. The implication is that the Gospels were not eyewitness accounts, but by writers that drew from Q to write their gospels. Thus, the “Jesus Discovery” authors can later write, when trying to make a case for Jesus being married, that the idea of Jesus not being married was “received tradition”. It wasn’t received tradition, but concluded from four eyewitness accounts. The New Testament says nothing about being married to anyone other than the body of believers, yet the authors have no qualms about building a case based on this “silence”. I gave up reading before they got to making the case of a spiritual resurrection. This theory is as old as the resurrection itself, originating with the Gnostics in the first century. Aside from Sadducees, first century Jews believed in a spiritual afterlife before Jesus came along. If all he did was rise as a spirit, it was no resurrection.

If the authors want to conjecture, they must deal with the minimal facts that most historians agree on: (1) Jesus was executed by the Romans, (2) the tomb where he was first laid was empty (the book’s case that this wasn’t the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea is irrelevant), (3) his followers claimed post resurrection appearances of Jesus, and (4) the Christian faith exploded in the first century. I didn’t expect the authors to deal with this, but I did expect them to stick closely to the facts. In the end, we have a cluster of inscribed ossuaries—we don’t know how they were placed in the tombs, by whom, or when, other than around the first century CE.

I appreciate the extensive work they did, but not their unwarranted speculations.
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on May 6, 2014
For students of archeology, history, and theology, this book is an invaluable blend. The author carefully constructs his argument, that Jesus and his wife Mary Magdalene and their son Judas, were buried together in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. As a nonbeliever myself, I am much more comfortable with a human Jesus who lived much as other Jewish men of his time than with the more modern idea that he was an asexual Godson born of a perennial virgin.
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THE JESUS DISCOVERY: THE RESURRECTION TOMB THAT REVEALS THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY (2012) is a sequel to the original 2007 book The Jesus Family Tomb: The Evidence Behind the Discovery No One Wanted to Find (be aware there is a 2008 edition too) - but here Jacobovici is exploring the "second tomb" he found accidentally, back in 2007, allegedly that of Joseph of Arimathea.

In fact this book is the backbone of the 2012 documentary THE RESURRECTION TOMB MYSTERY (not yet available on DVD) and is cited at the end of that film. Keep an eye out for the second edition (I think), available for pre-order: The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity. It has a much better cover!

I'd like one thing understood: I am NOT a Christian, let alone Catholic. I am a Buddhist cleric with a strong Jewish background and heritage. It seems I've always made that clear, but I think it helps if I re-clarify. It matters little to me what individual religions want to believe, but I become interested deeply in what science tells us. That is the only thing that matters.

Here Jacobovici is struggling to excavate (by endoscopic camera only) the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, only 200 yards from the tomb of Jesus. It is a well described scientific adventure which all began with the highly recommended documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus also available as James Cameron Presents: The Lost Tomb Of Jesus (see my reviews of books and documentary).

The documentary that followed THE RESURRECTION book was so unnerving for some that it was scrapped at the last second instead of being aired, in a scheduled encore this past Easter. (I finally got to see it when it aired the night of Friday 13 July, 2012.) It originally aired at the same time this book was published, in February 2012.

Yes, this whole set of discoveries is THAT important, enough to spook the network into suddenly yanking their encore presentation without warning. It is in my opinion the most vital and important archeological discovery ever made, second only to the tomb that is 200 meters north of it, the Jesus family tomb. I had read intently about this Joseph of Arimathea tomb in an issue of the Biblical Archeology Review.

I love the finding that "Arimathea" means "Two Hills" and it appears Talpiyot is the area of the two hills. Joseph of the Two Hills seems to have had his estate right here where the two tombs are located.

My only problem is with Jacobovici and Tabor, who seem absolutely desperate to tie these people to any form of Christianity. Jacobovici often goes so far as to paint a picture of these 1st century Jews as total, mindless heretics which is what they would be had they actually been "Christian". He keeps insisting that they were the original "Judaeo-Christians". Tabor paints them as people who believed in and prayed for resurrection (whilst ignoring the New Testament story of heretical ideas, which tells of a Jesus who walked among the living for 40 days and nights after his death/resurrection).

That is something I simply cannot buy into - there is no evidence for any such weird sects at the time, only evidence that a weird sect arose from amongst the pagan population to become modern Christianity.

Yet in the 2012 documentary I have mentioned, as detailed in this book, they find ossuaries with what resemble Christian fish symbols, a symbol of Jonah and the giant fish, and an ossuary that has in both Hebrew and Greek the prayer, "God, Raise [him] up." Since I read it with my own eyes and understood it all, I disagree completely that it says "God, Rise up" or "Lord Jesus, Arise" which are alternate readings offered by Jacobovici and Tabor.

What really gets me is Jacobovici himself seems to have missed the importance of his discoveries: that Jesus and his loved ones were REAL, devout Jews. Sometimes I think he gets it; other times he brings me back to reality when he treats the New Testament as equal to the Torah. That's just plain wrong.

Here, instead of proclaiming loudly that yet another important group of Jews has been discovered, Jacobovici is trying to tie them in with Christians - something those Jews NEVER were. Frankly I don't care how many modern "tav" crosses Simcha and Prof. Tabor dig up!

UPDATE NOTE: I have to weigh in on the scattered mentions of this edition's cover. Some people see a human buttocks and some see a vagina. The latter is something I can sort of imagine, and I can imagine someone doing that to symbolize what is actually supposed to represent a womb. In other words, whilst I understand that people are seeing things here, get your minds out of the gutter!

In case you are not aware, Jacobovici and James Cameron always tried to tie this into Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Cameron seems to have played no role here, but they need to stop all this; they have found the truth and have reported well. Why try to tie into an obnoxious escapist novel or its film version? At least here, nothing of the sort is attempted (probably only because Dan Brown never wrote about Joseph of Arimathea).

In any case, the cover of this book is clearly an outline of a resurrected Jesus, superimposed upon a figure of a chalice I take to be the Holy Grail. On either side of this figure are writings that either represent the Tablets of the Ten Commandments or more likely pages from a gospel.

Keep a sharp eye out for the documentary film that is the true ultimate project behind this book ... the one the network was too scared to show, until they got crippled with complaints for pulling it from its original encore date of Easter Friday 2012. They finally showed it on Friday the 13th of June, 2012, without warning, hype, fanfare or even a decent announcement.

Now, that is what I call REAL scientific adventure.
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on January 29, 2015
Greetings. Enlightenment can be a scary thing. Tabor and Jacobovici show great courage through their work. I admire them and their team. Well written. Read this book and please share your knowledge. Question authority.
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