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Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had some new insights into first century Christian belief. The use of the tetragrammaton name was quite interesting. No early manuscripts of the Greek Testament Scriptures have been found that use the Hebrew YHVH, but it's a usage was found on one of the ossuaries in the Jesus tomb. This family tomb dated before 70 CE, before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, thus the use of the tetragrammaton is quite compelling to modern scholars... Mainly because it is understood that Jews at this time did not speak the name of God. Jesus and his family, and his early disciples were Jews. This gives insight to some of that understandings and behaviors, and symbols used by early Christians, especially the symbol of the Jonah fish. I think the argument that this family tomb is indeed the tomb of Jesus and his family, is quite compelling. Worth reading.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The authors provide an intriguing analysis of a first-century tomb in Jerusalem. They tie it, with suggestive (but not conclusive) evidence, to the "Jesus family tomb" nearby; and that tomb in turn is tied, with evidence that is even more suggestive and even less conclusive, to Jesus himself.
Some of the argument stands or falls on whether the controversial "James ossuary" is genuine, and if so whether it came originally from the "Jesus family tomb". After bodies decomposed, the bones would be placed in a bone box or ossuary, usually plain but sometimes ornamented; and one such ossuary has the inscription "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus." There is considerable controversy as to whether the last phrase - "brother of Jesus" - is part of the original inscription or was forged by one of its more recent owners.
The new tomb, not excavated but explored with high-tech optical equipment, has an ossuary with an engraved picture that seems clearly to represent the story of Jonah. The authors tie this to the "sign of Jonah" mentioned by Jesus in one of the gospels and suggest this is evidence that the family that owned the tomb were of the first generation of Jewish Christians.
The book is on solid ground when it talks about Jesus' family relationships (mostly they're just quoting the New Testament in any case); and it's on solid ground when it describes the actual physical evidence. It gets a little unsteady when it argues that texts and bone-boxes are both referring to the same people, and to my non-expert eye, it begins to take off into nether regions when it uses the evidence to draw conclusions about early Christian theology.
In previous books, written separately, the authors have taken up one or another aspect of this complicated story. Here they've pooled their resources to bring all the threads together. I kept thinking, as I was listening to it: yes; maybe; it could all be true; but there's no smoking gun here, not yet. It's good to be open-minded, but it's also good to be cautious.
9 of 13 people found this review helpful