Does this study in your opinion pose a serious challenge to the resurrection? I remember reading about the Talpiot tomb and how it was discredited by the majority of scholars both Christian and non Christian. In 2019 James Tabor posted a link to a more recent study saying that the soil of the James ossuary matches that of the Talpiot tomb. They analyzed soil samples of 25 tombs and only the soil from the James ossuary showed similarities to the soil from Talpiot. It therefore seems highly likely that the James ossuary was buried in the Talpiot tomb. And if that’s true, James Tabor says that raises the likelihood that the Talpiot tomb is where Jesus was buried. Therefore that means Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead.


A few things to note.  First of all, the writer of this article seems to completely ignore that, since the initial public claims about the supposed James Ossuary, it has been shown to be a forgery.  As far as I know, no reputable biblical archaeologist takes the claim that this was the bone box of James, the brother of Jesus seriously.  By the way, it is a genuine first-century ossuary, but the evidence is that the inscription on the box was faked.  Therefore, anything that this author says about the provenance of the ossuary tell us literally nothing at all about James, the brother of Jesus.  I distinctly remember the great excitement among many when the “James Ossuary” was revealed, but I was very hesitant at the time to make a big deal of the find, out of a caution that it might have been a fake.  My caution was shown to be a good idea when the evidence of its forgery was revealed.

Second.  Let us for just a moment, for the sake of the argument, accept the now extremely unlikely possibility that this was the bone box of James the brother of Jesus.  The fact is that James was martyred in Jerusalem in about AD 63.  By what conceivable argument could this have any relevance to whether or not Jesus was resurrected?  I am sorry, but I fail to see how having the ossuary of a person who died well over thirty years after Jesus was raised from the dead could have any effect on our belief that Jesus was resurrected.

Third, let us imagine that this result is correct, which is that the soil in the supposed James Ossuary were more like that in the Talpiot tomb than other than other ossuary locations, this would not prove that the ossuary was in fact from this location.  I am sure that there are many dozens of other tombs which were not included in the study.

Is it possible that the falsely-named James Ossuary came from the Talpiot tomb?  I suppose so, but this is far from strong evidence that it was.  But even if it were, James was martyred more than thirty years after the death of Jesus, and the James Ossuary was almost certainly not the bone box of James.  Therefore, this article has literally zero evidential value related to the resurrection of Jesus.

What we do know is that Jesus was crucified by the Romans under Pontius Pilate.  The evidence from Christian sources, as well as Josephus and Tacitus makes this certain beyond a reasonable doubt.  What we also know is that the tomb where he was laid was empty. Otherwise the resurrection claim would have gone nowhere, because the enemies of Christ would have produced his body.  The only logical explanation of these facts I have heard of is that his tomb was empty because he had raised from the dead.  Evidence regarding a discredited and forged supposed James Ossuary which would have contained James’ bones more than thirty years after Jesus was crucified has no effect on this evidence.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.