The Society of Biblical Literature’s Review of Biblical Literature just published a review of James H. Charlesworth’s edited volume, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). The review is by Jodi Magness, who begins the review this way:

This  volume  contains twenty-six papers  (plus  an  introduction  and  conclusion  by  the editor)  presented  at  a  conference  that  was  held  Jerusalem  in  January  2008  on  “Jewish Views  of  the  After  Life  and  Burial  Practices  in  Second  Temple  Judaism:  Evaluating  the Talpiot  Tomb  in  Context.” Although  most  of  the  papers  focus  on  some  aspect  of  the Talpiyot (or Talpiot)tomb and its ossuaries and/or the “James ossuary,” they are written by scholars with widely varying perspectives and fields of expertise, including archaeology, epigraphy  and  paleography,  theology,  social  history,  biology,  statistics,  New  Testament, rabbinics, religious studies, geology, women’s studies, and mathematics.

For  those  who may  not  remember,  in  March  2007the  Discovery  Channel  broadcast  a documentary by  Simcha  Jacobovici in  which  he  claimed that  the  lost  tomb  of  Jesus  and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem (also published in a related book). This was none other than the Talpiyot tomb (so-called after the Jerusalem neighborhood in which it is located), which was excavated by archaeologists in 1980 after it was discovered during construction  work. A  final  report  on  the  Talpiyot  tomb  excavation  was  published  in ‘Atiqot in 1996. The tomb contained ten ossuaries, six of them inscribed (five in Aramaic and   one   in   Greek),   while   the   remaining   four   are   plain   (one is now   missing). Archaeologists  noted  that  some  of  the  names  in  the  inscriptions  (e.g., Yeshua  son of Yehoseph;  Marya;  Mariam/Mariame;  Yoseh  [apparently  a  diminutive  of  Yehosef])  recall individuals  associated  with  Jesus  in  the  NewTestament  accounts but  considered  this  a coincidence, as  these  were  common  names  among  the  Jewish  population  at  the  time. However, in the documentary Jacobovici claimed that the inscriptions identify this as the tomb  of  Jesus  and  his  family, marshalling an  array  of  supporting  evidence that includes statistical  and  DNA  analyses. The  implications  of this  claim  are  that  Jesus  was  not resurrected  (as  his  physical  remains  were  placed  in  an  ossuary), that  he  was  married  to Mary Magdalene (who supposedly is named in one of the inscriptions), and that he had a son  named  Judah  (as  one  of  the  ossuaries  is  inscribed  Yehudah  bar  Yeshua). Jacobovici also has attempted to prove that an adjacent, unexcavated tomb (the Patio tomb) contains the remains of followers of Jesus and that the James ossuary (which has no archaeological provenience but surfaced in a private collection) is the tenth (now missing) ossuary from the Talpiyot tomb.

The review isn’t long, but it’s informative. Highly recommended.