The Jesus Discovery: The Resurrection Tomb that Reveals the Birth of Christianity

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Overview

The story of a stunning new discovery that provides the first physical evidence of Christians in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and his apostles

In 2010, using a specialized robotic camera, authors Tabor and Jacobovici, working with archaeologists, geologists, and forensic anthropologists, explored a previously unexcavated tomb in Jerusalem from around the time of Jesus. They made a remarkable discovery. The tomb contained several ossuaries, or bone boxes, two of which were ...

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The Jesus Discovery: The Resurrection Tomb that Reveals the Birth of Christianity

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Overview

The story of a stunning new discovery that provides the first physical evidence of Christians in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and his apostles

In 2010, using a specialized robotic camera, authors Tabor and Jacobovici, working with archaeologists, geologists, and forensic anthropologists, explored a previously unexcavated tomb in Jerusalem from around the time of Jesus. They made a remarkable discovery. The tomb 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.

Since the newly discovered ossuaries can be reliably dated to before 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, they 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.

The newly examined tomb is only 200 feet away from the so-called Jesus Family Tomb. This controversial tomb, excavated in 1980 and recently brought to international attention, contained ossuaries inscribed with names associated with Jesus and his immediate family. Critics dismissed the synchronicity of names as mere coincidence. But the new discovery increases the likelihood that the “Jesus Family Tomb” is, indeed, the real tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Tabor and Jacobovici discuss the evidence in support of this interpretation and describe how both tombs appear to have been part of the property of a wealthy individual, possibly Joseph of Arimathea, the man who, according to the gospels, buried Jesus.

The Jesus Discovery explains how the recent find is revolutionizing our understanding of the earliest years of Christianity. Tabor and Jacobovici discuss what the concept of resurrection meant to the first followers of Jesus, particularly how it differed from the common understanding of the term today. Because the new archaeological discovery predates all other Christian documents, including the gospels, it offers a dramatic witness to what the people who knew Jesus believed.

There is no doubt that this is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made. The Jesus Discovery is the firsthand account of how it happened and what it means.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Religion professor James Tabor and documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici have already generated major controversies about the early history of Christianity. The Jesus Family Tomb, which Jacobovici co-wrote, contended that a first-century tomb discovered in 1980 might lend no evidence to the Gospel story and Tabor's 2006 The Jesus Dynasty proposed a new understanding of the early Christian movement. The revelations of The Jesus Discovery promise to eclipse even the hubbub generated by these two earlier books. According to the co-authors, a recent archaeological discovery provides proof that belief in the resurrection of Jesus actually predates the Gospels. The new find will be the subject of a primetime Discovery Channel television documentary. A book that will command media attention.

From the Publisher
“An exciting, extraordinary, exceptional discovery. See for yourself the first archeological evidence ever for early Christian belief in resurrection.”

“These newly discovered findings, revealed by a sophisticated robotic camera exploration, are extremely important for early Jewish-Christian archaeology.”

Barrie Wilson
“An exciting, extraordinary, exceptional discovery. See for yourself the first archeological evidence ever for early Christian belief in resurrection.”
Peter Lampe
“These newly discovered findings, revealed by a sophisticated robotic camera exploration, are extremely important for early Jewish-Christian archaeology.”
Library Journal
Television producer Jacobovici and religion professor Tabor discuss the discovery in Jerusalem of a sealed first-century tomb with iconography revealing a belief in Jesus's resurrection—before the gospels were written. How does that relate to a nearby tomb the authors identify as belonging to Jesus's family? Tabor wrote The Jesus Dynasty, Jacobovici cowrote The Jesus Family Tomb, and the controversy continues. With a Discovery Channel television documentary in the offing, so be prepared.
Library Journal
Television producer Jacobovici and religion professor Tabor discuss the discovery in Jerusalem of a sealed first-century tomb with iconography revealing a belief in Jesus's resurrection—before the gospels were written. How does that relate to a nearby tomb the authors identify as belonging to Jesus's family? Tabor wrote The Jesus Dynasty, Jacobovici cowrote The Jesus Family Tomb, and the controversy continues. With a National Geographic Society television documentary in the offing, so be prepared.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451650402
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 813,503
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.76 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

James D. Tabor is chair of the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of several books, among them The Jesus Dynasty. Visit him at JamesTabor.com.
Simcha Jacobovici
is a filmmaker (The Lost Tomb of Jesus) and author (The Jesus Family Tomb). He is the host of the television series The Naked Archaeologist. Among his many awards, he has won the Edward R. Murrow Award for journalism and three Emmys for Investigative Journalism. He is preparing a film based on the discovery to be broadcast worldwide on the Discovery Channel. Visit Simcha Jacobovici at APLTD.ca and JesusFamilyTomb.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The Jesus Discovery


  • On the morning of Tuesday, June 29, 2010, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, we made an unprecedented archaeological discovery related to Jesus and early Christianity. This discovery adds significantly to our understanding of Jesus, his earliest followers, and the birth of Christianity. In this book we reveal reliable archaeological evidence that is directly connected to Jesus’ first followers—those who knew him personally—and to Jesus himself. The discovery provides the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art—all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE.1

We refer to this tomb as the Patio tomb, since it is now located beneath an apartment patio, eight feet under the basement of a condominium complex. Such juxtapositions of modernity and antiquity are not unusual in Jerusalem, where construction must often be halted to rescue and excavate tombs from ancient times. The Patio tomb was first uncovered by construction work in 1981 in East Talpiot, a suburb of Jerusalem less than two miles south of the Old City.

Our discoveries also provide precious new evidence for evaluating the “Jesus son of Joseph” tomb, discovered a year earlier, which made international headlines in 2007.2 We refer to this 1980 tomb as the Garden tomb, since it is now situated beneath a garden area in the same condominium complex. These two tombs, both dating to around the time of Jesus, are less than two hundred feet apart. Together with a third tomb nearby that was unfortunately destroyed by the construction blasts, these tombs formed a cluster and most likely belonged to the same clan or extended family. Any interpretation of one tomb has to be made in the light of the other. As a result we believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. We argue in this book that both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who according to all four New Testament gospels took official charge of Jesus’ burial.

Who was Joseph of Arimathea and how did he enter the historical picture? The Jesus Discovery explores the answers to this and a series of related questions. The recent discoveries in the Patio tomb put the controversy about the Jesus family tomb in new light. We now have new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus’ earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away. This might sound like a contradiction, but only because certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed. When we put together the texts of the gospels with this archaeological evidence, the results are strikingly consistent and stand up to rigorous standards of historical evidence.

Accessing the sealed Patio tomb was a tremendous challenge. The technological challenge alone was daunting. Our only access to this tomb was through a series of eight-inch drill holes in the basement floor of the condominium. We were not even positive these probes would open into the tomb. We literally had only inches to spare. Investigating the tomb required getting agreements from the owners of the building over the tomb; the Israel Antiquities Authority, which controls permission to carry out any archaeological work in Israel; the Jerusalem police, whose task is to keep the peace and avoid incitements to riot; and the Heredim, the ultra-Orthodox authorities whose mission is to protect all Jewish tombs, ancient or modern, from any kind of disturbance. None of these parties had any particular motivation to assist us and for various reasons they disagreed with one another about their own interests. Any one of them could have stopped us at any point along the way, and there were many anxious times when we thought the exploration would never happen. Ultimately we were able to persuade each group to support the excavation. That we succeeded at all is more than a minor miracle. At the same time we had no evidence that our exploration of this tomb, if it were possible, would yield anything of importance. But we both agreed it was a gamble worth taking.

At many points the entire operation seemed likely to collapse. We pushed on, however, not because we knew what was inside the tomb, but because we could not bear the thought of never knowing. Since that time we have begun to put the entire story together and a coherent picture is emerging that offers a new understanding of Jesus and his earliest followers in the first decades of the movement.

Archaeologists who work on the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity disagree over whether there is any reliable archaeological evidence directly related to Jesus or his early followers.3 Most are convinced that nothing of this sort has survived—not a single site, inscription, artifact, drawing, or text mentioning Jesus or his followers, or witnessing to the beliefs of the earliest Jewish Christians either in Jerusalem or in Galilee.

Jesus was born, lived, and died in the land of Israel. Most scholars agree he was born around 5 BCE and died around 30 CE. We have abundant archaeological evidence from this period related to Galilee, where he began his preaching and healing campaigns, and Jerusalem, where he was crucified. There is evidence related to Herod Antipas, the high priest Caiaphas, and even Pontius Pilate, who had him crucified, but nothing that would connect us to Jesus himself, or even to his earliest followers—until now. Our hope is that these exciting new discoveries can become the catalyst for reconsidering other archaeological evidence that might well be related to the first Jewish-Christian believers.

The oldest copies of the New Testament gospels date to the early 4th century CE—well over two hundred years after Jesus’ lifetime. There are a few papyri fragments of New Testament writings that scholars have dated to the 2nd century CE, but nothing so far in the 1st century. The earliest Christian art is found in the catacomb tombs in Rome, dating to the late 2nd or early 3rd centuries CE. Our discovery effectively pushes back the date on early Christian archaeological evidence by two hundred years. More significantly, it takes us back into the lifetime of Jesus himself.

This has been the most extraordinary adventure of our careers, and we are pleased to be able to share with readers the surprising and profound story of The Jesus Discovery.

James D. Tabor

Simcha Jacobovici

Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem

June 15, 2011

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Customer Reviews

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( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    This is a beautifully written book. It details a 1st Century Jewish/Christian tomb investigation that was carried out in the most professional manner by archeologists, historians, and technological experts using state-of-the-art cameras and robotic arms.

    The images on the ossuaries in the tomb were measured and photographed by drilling and dropping high tech equipment through pipes from above ground so as not disturb the burial tomb. That they were able to gain access to a tomb that lies many feet underground a 1980's condominium is simply amazing itself.

    These images captured during the exploration bring to light the earliest personal testimonies (to date) found on 1st Century bone boxes...and reveal the funeral art of early Christians/Jews. This archeological evidence documents a belief in resurrection, that predates existing resurrection art/evidence by about 200 years (in the Roman catacombs). Out of over 1000 recorded and examined ossuaries in Israel, this discovery is unique and the first of its kind.

    It's an amazing read for Bible students, art lovers and historians alike.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    The authors have done their homework and present fascinating arc

    The authors have done their homework and present fascinating archeological evidence in an accessible manner. The re-evaluation of Mary Magdalen that they present is especially timely. The reader will come away with an increased appreciation of how Christianity started off as a messianic sect of Judaism. Unfortunately, the authors do not explore the source(s) of the belief that a corpse was re-animated, a belief that does not appear to be original to Early Christianity, yet which developed at the same time and later merged with Christianity. Arguably, this is out of the book's scope, and the book is challenging enough already.

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  • Posted September 2, 2012

    I had read The Jesus Family Tomb and had seen the the TV program

    I had read The Jesus Family Tomb and had seen the the TV programs dealing with each of the Talpiot tombs and felt that this book would probably not have much more to offer.

    I was wrong.

    This book presents strong arguments to support the hypothesis that the two tombs in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem are quite special.  When analyzed in tandem, they represent not just a clearly pre-70 BCE Christian burial area and a tomb that might have some interesting coincidence in name inscriptions, but instead two tombs that each held the bones of people we know from scripture.

    This is a book that deals with history, not theology. Indeed, the authors firmly point out that the findings they present in no way counter one's belief in resurrection. Indeed, their report includes the earliest yet discovered symbols of Christian resurrection.

    This is exciting stuff!

    Their research used techniques ranging from "good ole archeology" to the study of ancient scripts, to the most modern of techniques, including robotic cameras and advanced DNA analysis techniques.

    This book is perfect for three groups of people: those who are not at all familiar with this subject; those who are reasonably in agreement with the information presented in the earlier book and TV shows; and, perhaps most importantly, those who know something about these prior efforts and are in strong disagreement.

    Beside enjoying the results of all the research James Tabor & Simcha Jacobovici  presented here, I was highly impressed by the pace of the book and even more so by the logical progression of findings, building to the final conclusions.

    This book doesn't have to change your mind or your beliefs. Just read it with an open, historical rather than theological, mindset and I think you will find this intriguing.

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  • Posted March 16, 2012

    Informative with Support for Historical Facts. I found this boo

    Informative with Support for Historical Facts. I found this book to be very interesting, well written and solid in reinforcement of the authors proposed conclusions. Although many will say this book is a fraud, it is well worth reading for anyone interested in history of religion, early Christianity and Holy Land archaeology. As explained in the book, what is found in the tomb provides strong support for the beliefs of the early Christians and the words of Paul. I believe that ones faith should be stronger after reading this book and recognizing what the early followers of Yeshua believed and understood. Reading this book was also very timely in that Oded Golan, that was on trial for alledged forgery regarding the James son of Joseph and brother of Jesus ossury trial was recently dismissed. The book provided some interesting additional questions to consider as well as illustrate how we can lose valuable information from neglect of artifacts, ignorance, resistance and adversion to change. In general, this book was was difficult for me to put down and I have ordered the Jesus Tomb to read as a follow up. As so well stated in the book, "good history is never the enemy of informed faith."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Worth the wait

    The other reviews are silly. They say they didn't even read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Available??

    I've had this pre-ordered forever. When will it be available?

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 29, 2012

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    Posted July 29, 2012

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