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This letter is in response to another Letter to the Editor by Jonathan L. Reed: Response to the "Lost Tomb of Jesus"

In the course of two years of research on the "history of the history" of the scholarship related to the east Talpiot tomb and the names therein, I have tried to collect any and all published articles and discussions of these materials. I must have missed a lot. Jonathan Reed notes that "Many scholars, including myself, had written about those names on the ossuaries years ago and concluded that that the discovery was indeed very important evidence about Jewish burial practices at the time of Jesus, but highly unlikely to be Jesus of Nazareth's burial."

I would be very interested in having any bibliography on this subject, especially prior to 1996. As far as I can determine, it was only then, sixteen years after the excavation, that a BBC film crew first highlighted their "discovery" of this tomb with its interesting cluster of names. Their documentary led to the publication, at the request of the late Amir Drori, director of the IAA, of Amos Kloner's welcome excavation report in 'Atiquot (XXIX, 1996: 15-22). Before that I have only found Joseph Gath's short blurb in Hadashot Arkheologiyot 76 (1981), pp. 24-26.

Since Rahmani only came out in 1994, and since all six of the inscribed ossuaries are misidentified and/or misdated in Tal Ilan's Lexicon published in 2002, it would be interesting to know the sources Reed and the many others used for their analysis unless he is referring to publications after 1996. Even after 1996, other than press reports, and passing references to the "Jesus son of Joseph" inscription (Craig Evans, Byron McCane, etc.), I have only see the paper that Michael Heiser presented in 2003 at the NEAS annual meeting titled "The Jesus Ossuary ," which he has recently made available at his site.

I would find it most helpful to me, and I am sure others would appreciate it as well, if Jonathan could give us his bibliography on his own writings and those of the many other scholars he mentions who have who published their analysis of the Talpiot site.

James D. Tabor

P.S. One other small note, if I am not mistaken Discovery did "preview" its TV program with a half-dozen or more academics in the field that had no connection with its production. Their feedback and comments were rather extensive and in some cases shaped/changed the way things were presented. I will leave it to them as to whether they wish to identify themselves. As far as I know it was Simcha Jacobovici who first approached epigraphers, statistians, historians, and others to offer their expertise on the tomb and its ossuaries, as well as facilitated DNA and patina tests.

James D. Tabor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Citation: James D. Tabor, " Response to Reed," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited March 2007]. Online:


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