06 Mar The New Talpiot Tomb: An Observation on the Patio Tomb and Resurrection
Many scholars have responded to James Tabor’s report (and new book) on the so-called “Patio Tomb” at Talpiot, which he and Simcha Jacobovici claim to be the grave of early (as in first-century) Christian disciples, complete with a “sign of Jonah” (which looks like a poorly-cut nefesh to me, especially since it was vertically oriented; Eric Meyers, Jodi Magness, and a host of others have thrown their weight behind the nefesh interpretation as well) and a six-line inscription testifying to belief in the resurrection (even though the inscription can’t say that). The breadth and swiftness of the response has been impressive, as a host of good critical scholars have patiently pointed to numerous flaws in the interpretation of the data, showing why this find isn’t what Tabor/Jacobovici claim it to be.
EDIT: After seeing the picture to the right, I am now persuaded that this was not a nefesh after all; of all the suggestions I’ve seen, it most resembles a type of perfume-bottle (unguentarium). At any rate, it still doesn’t look like a fish. And the ossuary itself seems to be decorated as a miniature house, complete with a front door and side window.
But one thing I haven’t yet seen anyone point out is the fundamental contradiction between Tabor’s and Jacobovici’s interpretation of the Patio Tomb and their interpretation of the so-called “Jesus Tomb.” 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.