Discovery Jesus Tomb

February 29, 2012 by staff 

Discovery Jesus Tomb, Five years removed from his controversial “Jesus Tomb” documentary, UNC Charlotte archaeologist James Tabor announced Tuesday that he has helped uncover perhaps the earliest Christian image ever found.

The discovery, in Jerusalem, took place in 2010, Tabor told The Charlotte Observer.

Using technology specially created for the task, Tabor and his team explored a first century underground tomb less than two miles south of the old city walls. It’s 200 feet away from another burial site that Tabor, in 2007, said may have held the remains of Jesus and his family.

In the recent discovery, which relied on a remote-control camera mounted on a robotic arm, the team found seven bone boxes, known as “ossuaries.”

One of them is engraved with an image that Tabor says depicts “Jonah and the Whale.” Another features a Greek inscription calling on God to “raise up” someone.

He and his team believe this is the earliest evidence ever found of belief in the Resurrection, therefore making it Christian.

Both types of inscriptions on Jewish ossuaries are almost unheard of, Tabor said from his hotel room in New York, where he and Canadian documentarian Simcha Jacobovici are publicizing their discoveries.

Jonah, a lesser figure in Jewish spiritual culture, became a popular symbol of resurrection and forgiveness with third century Christians. To find Jonah in a much older burial site, Tabor said, is “the jackpot, truly amazing.”

In 2007, the head of UNCC’s Department of Religious Studies set off an academic and religious firestorm with his claims that a tomb on former farmland along the road to Bethlehem held bone boxes with the names of Jesus and his family, including a son.

His assertions challenged the cornerstone of Christianity: that Jesus proved his divinity by rising from the dead, then ascending into heaven.

Tradition and most academic research place Christ’s tomb beneath what is now The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in old Jerusalem. Tabor argues that the body could easily have been kept for a time near where Christ was crucified, then moved to a permanent grave.

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