Saturday, March 10, 2007

James Charlesworth on the "Jesus Family Tomb": follow-up

It is sometimes said that there are no academics who think that the Talpiot tomb might be identified with Jesus' family tomb. I noted last week that this is incorrect, not only because of James Tabor's involvement (and I should have added Shimon Gibson), but also because James Charlesworth was reported as saying "A very good claim could be made that this was Jesus' clan" and he was present at the original press conference (see James Charlesworth on the "Jesus Family Tomb"). Now, Deinde point out that Prof. Charlesworth has provided an updated statement on the Princeton Theological Seminary website (also reproduced by permission on Deinde). In the statement, he distances himself from the notion that the "Yeshua" ossuary belonged to Jesus of Nazareth, but suggests that the tomb might still be that of his extended family. Read the statement here:

Reflections on the so-called "Lost Tomb of Jesus" (PDF)
James Charlesworth

A couple of key sections:
Jesus did not place his own bones in an ossuary. If any one did so, it would have been his followers. They proclaimed him as The Messiah, the Son of God. They would not have put him in a very common ossuary with a sloppy graffiti. My judgment is that this ossuary does not belong to Jesus from Nazareth. Again, the names “Jesus” and “Joseph” are extremely common in the first century. . . .

. . . I have stated that a good case has been made for the possibility that the tomb of Jesus’ “clan” may have been discovered. By “clan” I mean “extended family group”. This possibility needs to be researched and debated in a scholarly symposium. If Jesus’ clan had a tomb, it would postdate 30, which was the date of the crucifixion.
But of course it is important to read the whole statement, about a page long.


Peter Nathan said...

Shimon Gibson's involvement with the project does not need to be taken as support for the ideas. His comments at the Press Conference were very guarded and cautious!

Jim Deardorff said...

One of Charlesworth's points is: " After Jesus’ crucifixion as a common criminal, some priests wanted to stop (even kill) those who were claiming that Jesus was the Son of God because God had raised him from the dead. They could have produced the bones of
Jesus rather easily and thus thwarted those who claimed that God had raised Jesus from the dead."

But if an ossuary with a graffiti-like inscription were brought to their attention some 5-20 years after the crucifixion, would that convince them that bones therein were of the Yeshua? I should think it would require the body of the man himself, within a few months after the crucifixion, to be convincing.