In December, 2010, I was asked to participate in a National Geographic film project that—I was led to believe—would investigate the image of Jonah in early Christian art. I was asked to fly to Rome in January in order to be filmed in the catacombs and comment on the figure of Jonah as it appeared in the iconographic décor of those underground cemeteries. It was made clear that my expertise in ancient Christian art, especially in regard to representations of Jonah, was the reason for this invitation. Continue reading →
Robert R. Cargill (email@example.com)
Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, The University of Iowa
Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796 (http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/brian796/2/1264692913/the-tomb-of-absalom.jpg/tpod.html). Center: MSNBC Cosmic Log (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10521007-new-find-revives-jesus-tomb-flap) Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG).
Professor Jodi Magness
Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
As usual, the arrival of the Easter season this year is heralded by a sensational archaeological claim relating to Jesus. In March 2007, we learned from a TV documentary and accompanying book that the tomb of Jesus and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighborhood. The producer was undeterred by the fact that not a single archaeologist – including the tomb’s excavator – supported this claim (for my comments see http://www.archaeological.org/news/279; also see Eric Meyers’ response to the current claim). Now the same producer has identified remains of early Christian followers of Jesus in a tomb nearby. What is the basis for this new claim? Photos taken by a robotic arm that was inserted into the tomb supposedly show a graffito depicting a whale incised on an ossuary, and an inscription containing the Tetragrammaton and the word “arise” or “resurrection.”
Professor Christopher A. Rollston (firstname.lastname@example.org) Professor of Semitic Studies, Emmanuel Christian Seminary
I. THE CLAIMS OF TABOR AND JACOBOVICI: THE NEW BOOK
Here are the basic claims of James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici: “Talpiyot Tomb B contained several ossuaries, or bone boxes, two of which were carved with an iconic image and a Greek inscription. Taken together, the image and the inscription constitute the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection.” They go on and state that these ossuaries “also provide the first evidence in Jerusalem of the people who would later be called ‘Christians.’ In fact, it is possible, maybe even likely, that whoever was buried in this tomb knew Jesus and heard him preach.” Continue reading →
Review of “The New Jesus Discovery”
(Simon and Schuster 2012, ISBN 978-1-4516-5040-2)
Eric M.Meyers, Duke University
For nearly two millennia Christians have venerated the site believed to be where Jesus was buried. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built at a place where liturgical celebrations were held in honor of Christ’s death and resurrection, even before the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. Emperor Hadrian in 135 CE built his Capitoline temple there, and a shrine to Aphrodite was built adjacent to it. Constantine, the first emperor to embrace Christianity (in the 4th c. CE), decided to build a church there to commemorate the Resurrection. The temple was thus torn down; construction of Constantine’s church began in 326, and the church was dedicated in 335 CE according to Eusebius of Caesarea (Life of Constantine, 3:28). No other site in all Christendom has been more venerated and more often authenticated than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Nonetheless, on the basis of very little evidence James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici would have us throw all of this tradition away and identify a Jewish family tomb in East Talpiot, several kilometers south of the Old City on the road to Bethlehem, as the “new” family tomb of Jesus.
Professor Christopher A. Rollston, Emmanuel Christian Seminary
Much can, and no doubt will, be said about the proposal (and new volume) of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici that Jesus of Nazareth was married to a woman of Magdala named Mary, that they had a son named “Judas” and that their tomb has been found in East Talpiyot (Jerusalem). Of course, this all started several years ago with the same individuals proposing the same basic thing about a tomb dubbed “Talpiyot Tomb A.” Recently, these same scholars investigated a tomb that they have dubbed “Talpiyot Tomb B,” and they believe that this new tomb demonstrates the veracity of their previous conclusions. Continue reading →
Professors Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston will be the guest editors of the ASOR Blog for the month of March. ASOR plans to invite scholars in ASOR and the field to react to the proposals made by Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in their new book, The New Jesus Discovery. The ASOR Blog will host responses from scholars throughout the month of March, and these responses will be moderated by Meyers and Rollston. The discussion will start today (Tuesday, February 28th) with several posts from Meyers and Rollston: Continue reading →
Due in part to the Platt Fellowship offered by ASOR, I was able to participate in the Tel Akko Total Archaeology Project and Field School. This unique field school combines excavation, survey, geographic information systems (GIS), conservation, and public archaeology in order to immerse students into a holistic archaeological experience. The Tel Akko project and excavations are co-directed by Professors Dr. Ann E. Killebrew of the Pennsylvania State University and Michal Artzy of the University of Haifa. Tel Akko and the adjacent Old Acre are located on a natural harbor along the Mediterranean Sea in northern Israel. The city has served as a major maritime center and crossroads between east and west throughout its history. Excavations on the tel have revealed evidence of Canaanite, “Sea Peoples”, Phoenician, Persian, Greek, and Hellenistic cultures. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Acre boasts the best preserved Crusader city in the world, today located beneath the 18th and 19th century Ottoman town.
Thanks to the generous ASOR Heritage Fellowship, from late June till early August 2011, I participated in the excavations of the Upper and Epipaleolithic site of Wadi Madamagh in the Petra region in Jordan. The excavation was part of the Western Highlands Early Epipaleolithic Project directed by Dr. Deborah Olszewski from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Dr. Maysoon Al-Nahar from University of Jordan in Amman. As a part of the team comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut, University College London, University of Jordan and Yarmouk University in Irbid, I participated in the excavation of the Epipaleolithic levels of the site, as well as in processing of recovered lithic artifacts and faunal remains in the laboratory.
The 2011 excavation season at Kamid el-Loz, a site located in the central Beqa’a Valley of Lebanon, produced exciting and important results. It was only thanks to the Heritage Fellowship that I was able to participate in this campaign, conducted by the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität of Freiburg, and take part in these findings. This year, in fact, we excavated north of the Middle Bronze Age palace and discovered additional Late Bronze and Middle Bronze Age installations. Middle Bronze Age I ceramic vessels were recognized in the Administrative area and a burial pit was uncovered in the Residential quarter, adding to our knowledge on MBA funerary practices.