Review: The Jesus Family Tomb: The Evidence Behind the Discovery No One Wanted to Find – Simcha Jacobovici

5 of 5 stars

My version: Audiobook
Non Fiction Biblical period archaeology
Harper One
StoryTel subscription

The Jesus Family Tomb tells the story of what may very well be the greatest archaeological find of all time—the discovery of the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Following the accidental bulldozing of a tomb during the building of a housing complex in suburban Jerusalem in 1980, archaeologists from the Israeli Antiquities Authority were immediately called to the scene. Inside, the archaeologists found ten ossuaries—limestone boxes that served as first-century coffins. Six had inscriptions, including Jesus, son of Joseph; two Marys; and Judah, son of Jesus. The team concluded that the unusual group of names was merely coincidence. After removing and cataloging the ossuaries, they left the tomb to the builders to finish what they had already started.

Twenty-five years later, Simcha Jacobovici, an Emmy award-winning journalist, tracked down the ossuaries in the Israeli Antiquities Authority’s warehouse and decided to investigate this remarkable collection of names. Simcha mapped and then located the original tomb, which, to his surprise, was still intact. Granted unequaled access, he soon found that the archaeologists were unaware of key evidence that made this the discovery of a lifetime.

This is a story that is destined to grab international headlines and raise fundamental questions about the historical Jesus. Are the “Jesus” and “Mary” referred to in these inscriptions the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the gospels? Readers are taken on a remarkable journey: from telling statistical analysis, to a time-bending trip across two millennia, and an investigation of the patinas and DNA of the tombs that makes an episode of CSIlook mundane. The Jesus Family Tomb arrives at an extraordinary answer to an ancient mystery.

A riveting combination of history, archaeology, and theology, this book will change the way we think about God, religion, and everything we have learned about the life and death of Jesus.

The problem with this kind of book nowadays, post-Dan Brown anyway, is that many people will dismiss them out of hand as being Da Vinci Code-like. Still, even if the ‘real’ Jesus turned up nowadays, most Christians wouldn’t believe he was the real Jesus. Neither would the archaeologists and/or biblical scholars who have made a very nice living thank you very much out of their view of things being the view. A bit like how Christianity became after Paul. More on that sort of thing at a later date. So, to come from another background than dusty academia, you better have all your scholarly ducks in a row. So, that is what a lot of this book is about. There is the premise, that they have found the tomb of the family of Jesus and then there is the background for that reasoning. To try and head critics off at the pass, they basically play devil’s advocate with themselves, the whole time, to try and back up their findings before others try and tear them down.

It works very well, all in all. I’m not sure how respected James Cameron is in these circles, but I maybe would have left him as a shadowy backer, I’d suspect ‘the director of Titanic’ wouldn’t carry much weight in scholarly circles. That the majority of objections come from Jewish scholars, is also good, as I’d assume they’d be more objective (I can’t recall, but I think that Simcha is Jewish as well). I think too, that the title, second part, would refer to the fact that it would have been easier, less disruptive to their lives, if they had ‘overlooked’ the discovery. Maybe so. There is of course, a lot of background to the times when they say the tomb is from and about current Jewish laws and feelings, which is fascinating and equally as strong as the actual arguments for their hypothesis for me.

I used to and have read a lot of ‘this sort of thing’ in the past and this is perhaps one of the best, most open and non-sensational books I’ve read on the subjects.

You can buy The Jesus Family Tomb at

Further reading

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