dead or alive: as excellent observation by jason staples on the contradiction between the ‘jesus’ and the ‘patio’ tombs

Is Jesus Dead or Alive?

Is Jesus Dead or Alive?

Jason Staples of UNC, Chapel Hill, has made an excellent observation regarding the obvious contradiction regarding Jacobovici and Tabor’s so-called “Jesus Tomb” and their recent “Patio Tomb,” containing the alleged “Jonah Ossuary.”

He writes:

On the one hand, they claim to have found the tomb of Jesus and his family, where Jesus’ body was moved from its temporary grave after the crucifixion. But on the other hand, they claim the Patio Tomb, all of 45m away (in a tomb they speculate may have been on the property of Joseph of Arimathea), “represent[s] archeological evidence related to faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—presumably by his contemporary 1st century followers.” So let me get this straight: Jesus’ contemporary 1st century followers who were buried next to Jesus’ dead body believed in the resurrection of Jesus? How exactly does that work?

If nothing else shows just how far Tabor and Jacobovici’s publicity-baiting will go, this outright contradiction makes it very clear: apparently they want us to believe the earliest Christian disciples believed that the Jesus whose body was decaying in a well-marked tomb a stone’s throw away had been raised from the dead. It would take more faith to buy that story than to believe Jesus was resurrected in the first place.

You can’t argue that the archaeological evidence supports claims that he’s dead and buried with his family, and then argue that the archaeological evidence supports claims that he’s resurrected.

11 Responses

  1. Maybe it has something to do with his “two natures” . . .

  2. The authors haven’t considered the only other option – Jesus is both alive AND dead.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I’m being preached to by a bearded first-century Jewish zombie! It wants me to lose my brains! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!


  3. According to researchers (Pelligrino) involved in the project, the Talpiot ossuary labled Yeshua seems not to have ever contained a full complement of bones, just a carpal bone fragment and some unusual fabrics.

    Carpal bones seem to be removed from the body during the gruesome crucifixion process, one was taken by those (Joseph or one of the Mary’s), plus the linens left in his tomb and placed as relics of sorts in the the ossuary. I first read this a couple years ago, it made me think that the ossuary was a rememberance or memorial to the risen Lord who was the center of the new faith.

    If we buy Simcha and James’ conjecture, that the jar is a fish and the inscription supports the idea of a belief in resurrection, than I think it is possible that the evidence supports the belief that Christ rose again, a belief held by those whose tomb was built nearby.

    Rather than solving any mysteries about the origin of Christianity, the odd couple simply have deepened the ones we all ready have.

    Here is a quote by Pellegrino:

    ” A skeleton was never placed in the (Yeshua) ossuary. The only things that appear to have been placed in the ossuary were two shrouds of unusual composition (one a burlap-like material, the other flax based linen woven on a loom with a high degree of cotton contamination [consistent with the Turin Shroud but not with fina wool burial shrouds in other ossuaries and in Tabor-Gibson’s Tomb of the Shroud]) … The only bone found inside the ossuary, evidently wrapped or folded in with the shrouds, was consistent with a single metacarpal.

    No other biological or chemical traces of larger amounts of bone were present. … New York’s former medical examiner, Zugibe, discovered that during crucifixion he would expect several metacarpals to pop out of the wrists, like wisdom teeth. (He’s actually demonstrated this on cadavers, and compared the results with the image of the Turin man.) He noted that the metacarpal was the only bone he could think of finding in a burial cloth-bearing ossuary, consistent with crucifixion as a cause of death.”


  4. Robert, is that really what you think – that there is only one possible form a resurrection belief? Don’t you think there are there are more possibilities than just the traditional “bones and all” scenario. That idea is not even held held universally in Christendom.

    There are many real alternatives which are perfectly consistent with the views expressed in the Jesus Discovery.

  5. Jerry,
    Great to hear from you.
    No, that’s not what I think. (I’m assuming you are referring to my FB comments, and not something I said here. Please correct me if I’m incorrect.)
    There are obviously a million ways one can imagine life after death. And several of them are even canonized in the Bible!
    When we die, do we:
    1. Die. (and live on through our offspring) (ANE, Early Judaism)
    2. Are we resurrected physically (Paul)
    3. Are we resurrected ‘spiritually’ in a ‘new body’ (some argue also Paul)
    4. Are we ‘freed’ from the body and allowed to live eternally away from this corrupt bodily form? (Gnostic)
    5. Does our soul immediately leave our body, experience judgment, and go to heaven or hell? (Luke, Greek)
    6. Does our soul immediately leave our body, and enter into a waiting place prior to judgment? (limbo)
    7. Does our soul immediately leave our body, experience judgment, and go to heaven or hell, and then experience resurrection? (Persian)
    8. Are we re-incarnated? (Asian, Plato)

    More than one of these concepts can be considered ‘Christian’.

    My point is that once we leave the realm of nature and reality and enter into the realm of the supernatural (that is, people dying and then coming back to life here or experiencing a ‘life after death’ elsewhere), we have left the field of archaeology and entered into the field of theology, spirituality, and speculation upon things for which there is no evidence.

    The Bible can be looked to to inform scholars what ancient people believed about death and the afterlife, as can religious iconography. But we should not confuse belief about events with the events themselves.

    Christians believed Jesus was raised from the dead. Were Christians to draw a fish and claim ichthys, then that would be evidence of a belief or claim about someone, not evidence that the claim is true. Likewise, if you have group claiming to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you probably wouldn’t expect that in a set of tombs thought to be where Jesus’ dead bones are lying in an ossuary. And that is the point of the above article. Arguing that the image is a Christian representation of a ‘fish’ (which I argue it is not), which represents the resurrected Jesus, doesn’t help the claim that the tomb complex was the family tomb of a quite dead Jesus, and yet that is precisely what Tabor and Jacobovici appear to be arguing: it was Jesus’ family tomb, and yet Christians venerated the risen Lord next door.

    But ALL of that is a distraction from the evidence: The icon is not a fish. And if the only argument that can conjured is a theological one, it betrays the weakness of the underlying argument, and a definite lack of corroborating archaeological evidence. But then again, that’s why they make the theological argument and the Beatles analogy: they can’t make the case otherwise. And if we applied the same argument and ‘logic’ to my morning toast, we rightly laugh. If we see things that are not really there, or interpret things to be something that they are not, and then combine that with a tradition of what people may have believed, then anything is possible.

  6. Bob, I responded to this on Jason’s site, also on Jim West’s and your FB, where I saw it also. I just looked though and my comment is now nowhere to be seen on FB. I think you had two posts noting Jason’s article and one might have gotten deleted with my comment. Anyway, Here is what I wrote Jason–very brief, as I discuss this in some depth in the book–do you have a copy?

    “Hi Jason, thanks for your comment. You surely raise a more than obvious point and one I have thought deeply about over the past five years. I have covered my own take on this in the book. Essentially it is an argument based on Paul, not the gospels, who provides us with our earliest take on the nature of resurrection–or as I would prefer–heavenly exaltation faith, i.e., Phil 2 hymn, etc. 2 Cor 5 is probably the clearest. Paul sees the old body as shuffled off like old clothes, the “self” is then naked, but not as with Plato, where the naked state is desired, the “self” is then “reclothed” with the new spiritual body. 1 Cor 15 elaborates further–the image of the man of dust is mortal, dust to dust, but the image of the man of heaven is “spiritual,” you know this well I am sure, the two kinds of “bodies” that he mentions. Other N.T. texts mention the “sea” giving up the dead “in it,” surely not implying those perished bodies must be somehow regathered. As you know the nature of the new body is something discussed extensively in 2nd Temple Judaism…Jesus is asked by the Pharisees and he says clearly that in the “age to come” there are not physical/sexually differentiated bodies. Herod thought John was “raised from the dead,” but no indication he thought the tomb of John was empty, etc. Too much to cover here but maybe you get the general idea. I also cover the various gospel account, esp. Luke and John, who have the “touch me” texts, with Jesus eating, which I consider very late and apologetic, cf. Celsus kind of objections…BTW, loved your JBL article as I think I wrote you.”

  7. no, your comments are there on my fb, and i answered them there. i think jerry is responding here to my comments there.

  8. Bob, I think you are making this way too complicated. Isn’t the simple idea that these could be early followers of Jesus who have a belief in a type of resurrection that is compatible with a beflief that the bones of their leader are buried nearby. I just don’t see the contradiction in that, either on a physical or theological basis.


  9. Jerry,

    Actually, no. The canonical resurrection of Jesus described in the Bible speaks of Jesus being physically resurrected. Thomas touching the wounds, etc.
    Once again, we’re seeing a filmmaker proposing theories that require a number of mental backflips and speculation in order to even be remotely considered.

    I don’t accept that the image is a fish. I don’t accept that the inscription says what Dr. Tabor and Simcha say it says. But then again, I don’t think they found the tomb of Jesus in 2007 (or whenever).
    If all they say were true, then you’d have a group of people venerating the resurrected body of a Savior they believe still to be buried only yards away?
    That makes no sense.
    They’d have been better off not pursuing the “Jonah” angle. Methinks a flimmaker needed a sequel after the “Lost Tomb of Jesus” didn’t meet expectations. (that’s my humble opinion, btw)

    And just think: we get to do this all over again when the documentary airs. Only at that time, scholars will have all of their rebuttals ready to go…


  10. […] “Jonah-fish” really is. These were submitted by avid reader of Remnant of Giants Bob Cargill, who in each case merely rotated the original image […]

  11. Jacobovici is this generation’s P.T. Barnum, IOW a huckster, plain, pure and simple. I don’t know enough about Tabor to judge, other than I think he’s being duped by Jacobovici. On Pellegrino, I shall say nothing, as he tends to go ballistic when I disagree with him.

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