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The tomb of Jesus (Second part)

This post is based on the article published on New York Times. It is also based on my previous post on the tomb of Jesus; I suggest to you to read that post. The NYT quotations are displayed in quotation marks.

Dr Aryeh Shimron a 79 years old geologist is convinced “he has made that connection by identifying a well-defined geochemical match between specific elements found in samples collected from the interiors of the Talpiot Tomb ossuaries and of the James ossuary.” In 1976, the “James ossuary” was puchased by Oded Golan from an antiquity dealer.

“When the Talpiot ossuaries were discovered, they were covered by a thick layer of a type of soil, Rendzina, that is characteristic of the hills of East Jerusalem and was apt to impose a unique geochemical signature on the ossuaries buried beneath it.”

Dr Shimron says : “I think I’ve got really powerful, virtually unequivocal evidence that the James ossuary spent most of its lifetime, or death time, in the Talpiot Tomb.” “Dr. Shimron based his research on the theory that an earthquake that convulsed Jerusalem in A.D. 363 flooded the Talpiot Tomb with tons of soil and mud, dislodging its entrance stone and, unusually, covering the chalk ossuaries entirely. “The soil created a kind of vacuum,” he said. “The composition of the tomb was simply frozen in time.”

“Dr. Shimron was looking for unusual amounts of elements derived from Rendzina soil, like silicon, aluminum, magnesium, potassium and iron, as well as for specific trace elements, including phosphorus, chromium and nickel — signature components of the type of clayey East Jerusalem soil that he says filled the Talpiot Tomb during the earthquake. The findings, he says, clearly place the James ossuary in the same geochemical group as the Talpiot Tomb ossuaries. “The evidence is beyond what I expected,” he said.”

In my previous post I quoted the the words of Dr Shimon Gibson: “Only nine of the ten ossuaries from the tomb are at present in the Israel Antiquities Authority storerooms in Beth Shemesh. Where is the tenth missing ossuary? Rahmani in his 1994 catalogue described it as “a plain, broken specimen”. [James] Tabor has suggested that it might be the same as the so-called “James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” ossuary, implying that the ossuary was stolen and eventually eneded up in the hands of the collector Oded Golan. [This ossuary was bought from a Jerusalem’s Antiquity Dealer at the end of the Seventies].

The status of this artifact is still unclear. The ossuary is rendered useless for historical purposes since we lack information about its original provenance. Indeed, Ya’aqov (James), Joseph, and Jesus were common names for males in the first century CE. While I can see how attractive it would be to link the so-called “James” ossuary with the Talpiot tomb, it simply cannot be the case because we know for certain that the tenth “missing” ossuary was plain, undecorated, and uninscribed, and on top of everything else it was broken. This description does not fit the “James” ossuary, which is complete and decorated on one side with double rosettes and on the other with a deeply-carved inscription in Jewish script. Rahmani, however, reecently provided me with with an explanation as to how the tenth ossuary might have become mislaid. All decorated or inscribed ossuaries, when received in the Rockefeller Museum in the 1980s, he tells me, were placed on shelves, whereas broken in the external courtyard of the museum. When the ossuaries were transferred to the new storage facility at Beth Shemesh, the tenth, broken example was most likely thrown away, owing to a lack of storage space.”

Against the research of Shimron I have to add other two arguments. Oded Golan acquired the ossuary in 1976, while the Talpiot tomb was excavated by archaeologists in 1980. Moreover, the Gospel of John (chap. 19) says that the tomb of Jesus was near the place were he was crucified. So it is highly improbable that the corpse of Jesus was taken far from the Golgotha in a place located at the east of Jerusalem!

So, Jesus died and was buried in a tomb situated in the rocky area beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In fact, the Church was built over the possible site of the Jesus’ tomb.

Simone Venturini

Scrittore

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