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James Tabor’s Statement

“I wanted to add my statement to your collection. The Blog entry today was not my views on the tomb, but some overall comments on the conference as a whole. Here is my statement:

I am convinced that the Talpiot tomb is possibly, and even likely, the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth for the following reasons (stated not elaborated, see NEA for the full exposition)

Historical: Jesus was put in a temporary tomb and would likely be moved to a permanent location in the Jerusalem area where his family took up residence over the next 40 years. If we then imagine who might hypothetically be in a pre-70 CE “Jesus family tomb” we come up with an inner core group of: Jesus, any wife or children he might have, his brother Yose, who likely died before 70, his widowed mother Mary, and any wife or children of Yose.

Epigraphical: The names Yeshua bar Yehosef, Yose, which is in fact extremely rare despite statements to the contrary, Maria, and Mariamene, correspond remarkably to the hypothetical “group.”

Statistical: Even without any a priori inclusion of Mary Magdalene in a Jesus family tomb, just the names we have, based on Kilty’s calculations, endorsed by Fuchs, yields a .48 probability. This is far from random, in fact it means if we had two tombs to look at one of them would probably be the Jesus family tomb. Even one in ten would be interesting but .48 I find quite compelling, given the other evidence of history and epigraphy. One can take any other “Yeshua” tomb we have, just as a comparison, and all of them are immediately disqualified or have no names that fit what we might expect in our pre-70 hypothetical Jesus family tomb. Remarkably, this one does.

There are other things I won’t include here but this to me is enough to suggest we should consider this site as possible to probable and not dismiss it. I think lots of this comes down to language. It is one thing to say that one does not find evidence to conclude this is the Jesus family tomb, but that is quite different from saying that the positive evidence outweighs the negative.

The only “negative” evidence of which I am aware would be the idea that Jesus was celibate or never had a child. I think this is highly unlikely, given the practice of eliminating women from our accounts (all the apostles, for a start). Also, I think one can make some positive arguments for Jesus being married, but won’t summarize them here.”

Dr. James D. Tabor

Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies

UNC Charlotte

Charlotte, NC 28223

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