The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation & the Evidence That Could Change History

ISBN: 0061192023
ISBN 13: 9780061192029
By: Simcha Jacobovici Charles R. Pellegrino James Cameron

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Archaeology Christianity Favorites History Jesus Library My Library Non Fiction Religious Spirituality

About this book

The Jesus Family Tomb tells the story of what may very well be the greatest archaeological find of all time: the discovery and investigation of the Jesus family tomb. The tomb in question houses ossuaries (bone boxes) with inscriptions bearing the names of Jesus of Nazareth, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Judas, the son of Jesus. This crypt has been overlooked and ignored for years and exists today under a patio just outside of Jerusalem. The authors have tracked down the location and been granted unequaled access to inspect the findings within the tomb. The artifacts were found, recorded and catalogued by professional archaeologists in a controlled setting. There is no question of their authenticity. A fascinating combination of history, archaeology, and theology, the revelations inside the book will change the way we think about God, religion, and everything we have learned about the life and death of Jesus.

Reader's Thoughts


This book is not written for serious scholars of religion or history. In fact, there is very little in the way of citation in the book. In order to examine the manuscript claims of the book, you would have to have a good bit of knowledge of the field already, since the book gives no direction for those who wish to interact with the material at a reasonable level. If, for example, you were already familiar with the provenance of the "Acts of Phillip" or had read the work, you would know that using it to discover the "real" name of Mary Magdalene is an exercise in crypto-archaeology. There is no point at which the Acts of Phillip mentions Mary Magdalene, nor is there any point at which Mary Magdalene is called "Mariamne" in ancient texts. Plus, the idea that a fourteenth century manuscript can tell us the real name of someone testified to in first-century documents is the acme of silliness. Ancient texts are mishandled throughout the book. Take, for example, this citation from page 98:As recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, Simon and [sic] Peter, in sayings 22 and 114, eventually rose and spoke out against Mary Magdalene… And jesus replied, with more than a hint of wry humor, "Behold! I shall guide her as to make her male, that she too may become a living spirit like you men...Let's catalogue the errors in this very brief example:-Simon and Peter are two names for one man, "Simon Peter." The fact that neither the authors nor anyone on their editing team knew this does not speak well for their understanding of the text in question.-The Gospel of Thomas is a "sayings gospel"-- unconnected sayings (attributed to Jesus) with no apparent chronology. There is no "eventuality" to be inferred.-Simon Peter does not speak in saying 22.-Saying 114 seems to reflect exactly what an Egyptian gnostic group might believe. The authors read humor into the text.-The authors append the end of saying 22 to the middle of saying 114, and cite the amalgam as "Gospel of Thomas, saying 114”.Factual errors are actually the least of the problems. The claims about the facts are worse, for here, the authors treat their wild fancies as necessary conclusions. Speculations about the Knights Templar become "explanations" of the "facts" of the Talpiot tomb. The Biblical gospels are dismissed in favor of speculation when their contents are inconvenient, but paraded as evidence wherever they can provide support. A plain ossuary which was catalogued but subsequently lost is claimed to have been the so-called "James ossuary," a magnificently-ornate box whose measurements do not match those of the plain one. The claims of experts appear without context so that they cannot be examined. On top of that, several of the experts have revealed that their statements were taken out of context and that their work does not allow for the conclusions of the authors!The book identifies two groups, the Ebionites and the Nazarenes, as early Jewish followers of Jesus, citing Irenaeus for the name, but supplying an invented history of the groups. Suddenly, they are "the original [Jesus] movement" who "lost its power base and disappeared from official histories" when a new group, the Gentile Christians, took over (p. 36). No shred of evidence is supplied.All of this occurs without even the slightest hint that there might be contrary evidence. The authors completely neglect the testimony of Amos Kloner, who actually discovered and catalogued the tomb in favor of his erstwhile colleague, James Tabor. Jacobovici has said in interviews that he's just presenting the facts for others to evaluate, but you'd never know it by reading the book-- you'd think he had an agenda.I have no doubt that this book will sell well in the current market, which is a shame, but don't let "true believers" try to convince you that these men have proven anything aside from the fact that they have no case at all.


Oh, please! It would have been a bit less annoying had it been better written. Curse my obsessive need to finish any book I start!!!


Surprisingly good account of the refinding of what apparently is the likely archeological find of the millenium. The thorough documentation and the style that Jacobovici uses is a real "grabber" for those with inquiring minds. Two troubling questions remain: 1)why did the original find in 1980 just "go away", and 2)why has there been so little made of the more recent (2007) archeological and technological research and refinding of the tomb.


I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I thought it was going to be one of those books that sensationalizes a trivial discovery, but the evidence and the arguments, admittedly a little rough around the edges, are quite compelling. Is this the Jesus family tomb? I have no idea. It would be great fun if it was. But the discovery will never be taken seriously because, as the authors document, of political intrigues. Christians don't want anything to do with it because it fundamentally challenges belief in the resurrection.I hope that some serious scholars take on the investigation and treat this as an important archaeological and historical discovery.


It's mostly History Channel nonsense. There was one section where the authors admitted where they were delving into pure speculation which I thought was a lot of fun. They speculated that some of the Templars became Pirates and that the Jolly Rodger symbol represented the bones of Jesus from this tomb. If I recall I think they had an idea also for how the name Rodger became attached to that also. I'm glad they admitted that part was all speculation, it was fun. They're both very enthusiastic about all this, and it's catchy, but it's not scholarly or scientific, and I wish they were more skeptical and honest about that throughout.

Evan Macbeth

I read this in one day.It's quick, easy, compelling and fascinating. Absolutely, it is making a case for a particular interpretation of a set of evidence, and the narrative presentation is setup and stylistically adjusted to support that case. But even when you correct for narrative bias, the case for the tomb in question to be Jesus's probable burial site is one that has to be taken seriously, even if not all aspects of the case should be (it goes Templar conspiracy theory at points).But removing the controversy/religion from it, it's a pretty interesting - and quick - read in to forensic archaeology. A perfect dessert after the meal that was Goedel Escher Bach.


The idea is facinating. The book raises so many of the "What if?" questions. Interesting how these possiblities create so many negative responses. I really enjoy Simcha. I have watched pretty much every episode of the Naked Archeologist and find he is curious and willing to question conventional or traditional thought while not pushing his own agenda. Just makes you want to go dig stuff up!


I was not a fan of this book, not at all. It took me almost 1 year to read. I put it down and never wanted to pick it back up. This book was very confusing and I got lost several times. There is a show, a "special" based off the book, watch that. Do not waste your time on this book.It's only saving grace is that this book was not what I thought it would be. Someone out there may like this for what it is.


Simcha does an outstanding job of sourcing his finds. Not sure about it all, but again...who knows?


Imagine stumbling upon the final resting place of Jesus the Christ and his family. This seems something out of speculative fiction or mythology yet that is what the authors purport to have found. A construction crew working in the Talipot suburb of Jerusalem in the 1980's accidently uncovered a tomb that has been dubbed the tomb of 10 ossuaries, which in and of itself is not miraclous as this occurs frequently. But what is unsuual were the names inscribed on the ossuaries. The grouping would indicate that this was the final resting place of Jesus, Joseph, Mary, at least one of his brothers and a mysterous Mirianne, who later would be potentially identified as Mary Magedelene (she was known by her Greek name, Mirrianne). There is even a mysterious box of bones containing a Judas (or Judah) son of Jesus.In all fairness Charles, the statistician does admit it is a 2.2 million to 1 long shot that the tomb is really the Jesus of Legend. Certainly Israeli archeologists dismissed such a connection due to the commonality of the names. One researher remarked you could shout the name, "Mary" in a 1st century Palestinian marketplace and a thousand women would turn their heads so common was the name.However, our stalwart statistician will tell us that as common as the names were the grouping they are found in at Talipot is rare. In fact it would take the populations of 4 Jerusalems before that pattern would be repeated.The story told in this book, a companion piece for the Discovery Channel documentary, is interesting and fun only the very credulous of readers would conclude that this is the final resting place of Jesus and company.Yet it is still a pretty compelling argument and one that will challenge traditional concepts of Jesus death and ressurection. Perhaps he was nothing more than a local messianic teacher (a failed one at that by Jewish standards) upon which later generations would overlay a story of the resurected God-ManThe authors touch upon the short lived practice of secondary burial in 1st century Jerusalem and the significance of ossuary usage. They also give some insight into the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the antiguties business in general. The book is destined to be contriversial given the large number of people that believe in the physical or bodily ressurection of Jesus and his ascension into heaven as well as the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary. The finding of mortal remains would cast doubt over many long time cherished traditions.The writing is lively


Interesting. The most interesting thing was the burial rites at that time in history. That and how many sites are uncovered all the time in that part of the world by construction.

Mormon Heretic

Interesting and controversial look at Christ.

Michael Mcclelland

Interesting account of the discovery (and rediscovery) of a tomb in Jerusalem containing remains that indicate a family with remarkable similarity to the genealogy described (and further hinted at) in canonical and non-canonical Christian gospels regarding Jesus Christ, was laid to rest within it. Neither of the authors are writers foremost, nor especially unbiased in the beliefs, and the book suffers somewhat as a result. Despite this the investigation and evidence is a mix of the compelling, entertaining, informative, statistically awful and (admittedly) wildly speculative. The narrative push is the production of a documentary ("The Lost Tomb of Jesus") chronicling the discovery and the investigation (both historical/cultural and scientific) of the tomb and its contents. The schedule of the documentary (or perhaps it's bureacratic obstacles from Israeli authorities) seems to negatively impact the study of the tomb: why stop with "proving" that Jesus and Mariamne/Mary Magdalene are husband and wife? It would surely be more compelling to prove that any remains in the ossuary marked "Judah, son of Jesus" are also related to Mariamne! Taken at any level, the book documents an important discovery that has the potential to (as the cover suggests) "change history forever". Whether this is change is on a personal scale, or a global one, is a matter not yet determined by this book.


That we can never take the word of man and if we want to know the full truth then only by investigation and self reliance is the key to truth and knowledge...What we know today as truth is false...

Raymond Strodl

This was an exciting book about an important if controversial discovery. Well researched and written putting forward a reasonable and believable premise.I enjoyed it.

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