Saturday, May 20, 2006

THE DEAD SEA SCROLL EXHIBIT IN CHARLOTTE has met its sales target, with more than a week to spare. The Charlotter Observer reports:
Scrolls exhibit tops 200,000-tickets goal

The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at Discovery Place in Charlotte has proved to be as popular as museum leaders had hoped.

Officials at the museum, 301 N. Tryon St. uptown, reported Thursday that ticket sales have topped the goal of 200,000 -- 204,663 to be exact, with 186,692 visitors through Wednesday. ...
I'm not surprised.
"Twin" of Bulgarian Tatul Sanctuary Found in Syria

Lifestyle: 19 May 2006, Friday. (Sofia News Agency)

The sanctuary located in the Bulgarian village of Tatul has an almost identical analog in Syria.

The founder of the Tatul sanctuary professor Nikolay Ovcharov broke the news upon his return from an expedition in Syria and Jordan. Professor Ovcharov explained that he visited a town hewn into the rocks on the top of which he discovered the temple that resembled the Bulgarian sanctuary. The town was situated some 60 km northwest of Damascus.

There is an old Aramaic sanctuary built up during the Roman period and its construction history is almost the same as the one of the Bulgarian temple.


Friday, May 19, 2006

THE MASADA DATE PALM is discussed by horticulturalist Maureen Gilmer of DIY Network.
2,000-year-old seed has roots in King Herod's palace

DIY Network
(Scripps Howard news Service)

In Israel, at Kibbutz Ketura, a 14-inch seedling date palm goes by the name Methuselah.

The seed from which it sprouted 14 months ago was found in archeological excavations of King Herod's palace on Mount Masada. Lying dormant for 2,000 years, it is the oldest seed to ever produce a viable tree. And this is no ordinary date palm, but the extinct Judean form considered uniquely medicinal.


So whether you grow a California date or one like Methuselah raised from the dustbin of history, all Phoenix dactyliferas carry an extraordinary heritage. It is perhaps the most ecumenical plant ever, shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

And it is chronicled in the ancient literature of all three religions for its diverse powers _ from an aphrodisiac to a contraceptive _ and as a cure for a wide range of diseases including cancer, malaria and toothache. Now modern scientists may one day have a chance to test those contentions.
The essay has a lot of interesting information about the biology and history of date palms.

(Via Archaeologica News.)
MUCH DA VINCI CODE HYPE, with the worldwide release of the movie today. I can't bring myself to read even a representative sampling of the reviews, but a lot of people seem to think it's boring. If you're interested, here's Google's Da Vinci Code" review results page. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Ben Witherington has seen the movie and thinks it isn't too bad.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT is blocking release of the Da Vinci Code movie:
India puts Da Vinci Code film on hold
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 19:43 IST

NEW DELHI: Taking a cautious approach, the government has decided not to give clearance to the screening of the controversial film, the Da Vinci Code, till the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Catholic Church are satisfied the film will not hurt the sensitivity of Christians in the country.

Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters here on Tuesday that he along with members of the Catholic Church, and officials of the I&B ministry and Censor Board would view the movie in camera and only then a decision would be taken about its screening.

I think it's a bad sign when governments start interfering with things like this to protect people's sensitivities. Related comments here.

UPDATE: The early response to the movie is not promising anyway, although Lesa Bellevie reports the good news that some of the anti-Catholic elements in the book have been toned down. I'm planning on seeing it on Monday. I'll let you know what I think.
DARRELL BOCK reviews Tabor's The Jesus Dynasty for Christianity Today. Excerpt:
Four major historical problems exist with Tabor's portrait beyond the mere worldview issues that drive his portrait. It is ironic that what Tabor's study represents is a type of reverse Marcionism. Whereas Marcion in the second century wished to reduce and remove those Jewish features tied to Christianity, Tabor, by reducing the status of Paul and the books of Luke and Acts, rejects those very books Marcion wanted to keep. Perhaps the solution is to reject both the approach of Marcion, who shut out the Jewishness of early Christianity, and the approach of Tabor, who in seeking to maintain the Jewishness leaves out the contribution of the most Jewish-instructed of all the apostles, Paul.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

FORGERY BOMBSHELL? Well, maybe. The Biblical Archaeology Society has posted the following on its website:
Update—Finds or Fakes?

Forgery Bombshell

May 16, 2006

The ossuary inscribed "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" has recently been studied by Professor Wolfgang E. Krumbein, a world-renowned authority. He has reached startling conclusions that will change the debate over this highly controversial artifact. Printed below is a summary of Professor Krumbein's report; click the following links for the full text of the report and the accompanying photographs.

As this is being written, Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan is being tried in criminal court for forging the now-famous James ossuary inscription ("James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"). A new report by a leading German scientist, however, may blow the case out of the water.

According to Professor Wolfgang E. Krumbein, of Oldenburg University, Germany, a well-known expert in geology, geochemistry and microbiology, "We can state with certainty that a period of 50-100 years, at least, was necessary for the formation of the specific composition of patina whose traces were identified inside the ossuary inscription."

I've read the summary, but not the full report. It sounds interesting, but I have two comments. First, the summary concludes:
Professor Krumbein also analyzes the Yehoash (or Jehoash) inscription and the ornamentation on a stone oil lamp, both of which have been charged to be forgeries. In these cases, too, Professor Krumbein finds evidence supporting the authenticity of the inscription and the ornamentation.
That puts me off some, since I think on philological grounds that the Jehoash inscription is probably a forgery.

Second, if this paper is such a bombshell, let's see it published in a peer-review journal. I'll be much more inclined to take the time to read it if that happens.

Not such a slow news day after all.

(Via the Agade list.)
THE CONTROVERSY over the Leon Levy Foundation's $200 million contribution to NYU is noted in the Art Newspaper, but with no new details as far as I can see.
Storm of criticism greets Levy donation
Academics are divided over $200m gift

By Martha Lufkin | Posted 16 May 2006

NEW YORK. A gift of $200m to New York University (NYU) to fund a new Institute for the Study of the Ancient World has resulted in a resignation and in criticism from archaeologists because of the source of the donation.

"Veni, Vidi, Da Vinci: The Code's Appeal"
This one is from, but I also saw "Veni, Vidi, Da Vinci" in a Saturday Times headline a week or two ago. In fact, a Google search indicates that a number of people have thought of it, going back to Publisher's Weekly in 2003. (Actually, the headline appeared in the Seattle Weekly in 1998, long before The Da Vinci Code was published, with reference to a museum exhibtion on Leonardo.

Slow news day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

JEWISH STUDIES, AN INTERNET JOURNAL has posted another article in volume 4 (2006) which can be downloaded in Word or PDF formats from the website:
Ishay Rosen-Zvi, "'Tractate Kinui’: A Forgotten Tannaitic Debate About Marriage, Freedom of Movement and Sexual Supervision"
The article is in Hebrew, but there is an English abstract:
Mishnah Sotah opens with a discussion of the evidence required to force a married woman to undergo the biblical ordeal for a suspected adulteress (sotah). The first two Mishnayot in this tractate discuss the mandatory warning procedure (kinui) whose violation (setirah) renders a woman a suspected adulteress, requiring her to undergo the sotah ritual. Through a close reading of these two Mishnayot, related Tannaitic material, and the discussion of the relevant passages in the two Talmudim, this paper offers a reconstruction of a large scale rabbinic debate about the limits of freedom of movement and socializing for married women. This debate stems from a fundamental dilemma: On the one hand, the rabbis, unlike some of their Hellenistic Jewish contemporaries, were unwilling to completely lock up married women in their homes. On the other hand, the rabbis were extremely troubled by the dangers of free socializing. This paper analyzes the different and sometimes contradictory solutions offered by rabbinic sources to this dilemma.
JAMES TABOR responds to the Toronto Star article on his book:
Thanks for the mention of the Toronto Star article on my book, The Jesus Dynasty in your blog recently. As reporters go I felt that Mr. Laidlaw did a fair job but he really got some things wrong, especially about the DNA business. I surely did not say I hope to live to see the bones of Jesus or the tomb of Jesus found--that to me would be an exceptionally foolish and silly thing to say. What I did say is that Gibson and I had formally asked that DNA tests be done on the James ossuary remains to compare them with the extensive DNA profile we already have of the 17 individuals in the "Tomb of the Shroud," and we were turned down. As far as I know the remains from the 1980 Talpiot tomb were long ago lost or buried, though the names remain interesting and might be statistically studied. I do indeed think that the entire James ossuary inscription is likely authentic based on evidence that the owner has presented to others which I am not at liberty to disclose. In addition I have not found the IAA report given the subsequent discussion thereof by critics, as catalogued at the BAS Web site, for example, convincing on several points. The matter is complex of course, but I hope in due course will come out. In the meantime I continue to think there is strong circumstantial evidence the James ossuary, even with "James son of Joseph," alone, came from the Shroud tomb.
On the last point, Shimon Gibson, the tomb's excavator, agrees. As for the disputed part of the James Ossuary inscription (the "brother of Jesus" phrase), I haven't done any serious work on it, but from what I've seen, the epigraphic and philological evidence point away from its being genuine, but not decisively so. But the clinching argument seems to be the modern origin of the patina, and I am not qualified to evaluate that. My starting position is to be skeptical, but I'll keep watching the discussion with interest.
THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES TRIAL THUS FAR -- The Boston Globe has a summary:
Trial sheds light on shadowy antiquities world

By Matthew Kalman, Globe Correspondent | May 16, 2006

JERUSALEM -- Testimony in a Jerusalem District courtroom is giving a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of biblical antiquities.

Three of Israel's most respected experts in ancient archeological treasures are on trial, charged with 18 counts of fraud, receiving money through deception, damaging antiquities, and violations of Israeli antiquities laws.

The defendants -- collector Oded Golan, dealer and writer Robert Deutsch, and former Israel Museum conservator turned dealer Rafi Brown -- are accused of faking a range of artifacts, including the burial box of Jesus's brother, a wine decanter used in Solomon's Temple and ancient seal impressions and inscriptions, some of which were sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Since the trial began in September 2005, witnesses have described furtive encounters with Arab graverobbers, international smuggling, and transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a handshake.

Lawyers involved in the case expect court proceedings to continue for at least another year.

And here's something to worry about:
Commander Shaul Naim, head of the two-year police investigation, said: ''This was fraud of a sophistication and expertise which was previously unknown. They took authentic items and added inscriptions to make them worth millions."

Naim said forgers managed to fake inscriptions, decorations, and even the patina -- the thin sediment created over centuries by moisture collecting on the item underground or in a cave. ''We believe that there are many more items in museums and collections around the world which are yet to be identified," he said.
Not everyone is convinced, though. Developing ...
LAG B'OMER AND BAR KOKHBA -- Eli Kavon has some reflections in "The birth of Lag Ba'omer" in the Jerusalem Post. Excerpt:
IN OUR own epoch the centuries-old rabbinic critique has been replaced by a much different perception. The Zionist movement rehabilitated Simon Bar Kosiba, failed messiah, and converted him into Simon Bar Kochba, rebel hero.

Lag Ba'Omer, a minor Jewish holiday rooted in the legend of the cessation of a plague that killed the students of Rabbi Akiva, became a celebration of the last chapter of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael.

No longer did Jews associate Bar Kochba with the devastation of a hopeless rebellion fueled by a messianic fantasy that a small group of Jews could overthrow an all-powerful empire. Rather, Bar Kochba was the forerunner of the heroes of the modern Zionist movement and State of Israel.

Although Bar Kochba himself signed his letters as "Bar Kosiba," the latter name has been expunged from the collective memory of the Jewish people. Today we celebrate the man's heroism as a national icon, forgetting that his rebellion was crushed in a national catastrophe.

WHILE WE should certainly celebrate the Bar Kochba revolt as a heroic attempt to establish an independent Jewish state in the face of overwhelming odds - that is, indeed, the story of modern Zionism - we should not just discount a long-standing perception of the rebellion's leader.

Rabbi Akiva, despite his best intentions, his fervent love of the Jewish people, and his death as a martyr at the hands of Rome, was, in the end, tragically mistaken. Bar Kosiba was not the messiah, and the Roman Empire would not be defeated in an apocalyptic final battle.
MEKHILTA ONLINE: Manuscript Boy reports the following over at Hagahot:
The Tosefta Online site now has complete transcriptions of all manuscripts of the Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishmael.
The Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael is one of the earlier ("Tannaitic," that is pertaining to rabbis mainly of the first and second centuries C.E.) midrashim.
OBITUARIES for Simon Parker, John C. Trever, and Daryl D. Schmidt have been published in this month's SBL Forum.

Monday, May 15, 2006

JOHANN ALBERT FABRICIUS (1668-1736) was an amazingly prolific polymath who published, among other things, vast histories of Greek and Latin literature (the Bibliotheca Latina and Bibliotheca Graeca), an edition of New Testament Apocrypha (the Codex Apocryphus), and the first scholarly collection of Old Testament pseudepigrapha: Codex pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti (1722-23). Unfortunately, Fabricius's Wikipedia entry does not at present mention his work on the Old Testament pseudepigrapha. Perhaps one of my readers would like to remedy that. I don't have time right now myself.

(For those new to this site, the Old Testament pseudepigrapha are ancient books that claim [fictionally] to be written by characters in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or to be set in OT/HB times, but which do not belong to the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or [with an exception or two] Orthodox biblical canons. For more discussion and some related definitions see here, here, and here.)

Anyhow, as I was getting ready for a seminar presentation on the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project which Alex Panayotov and I gave last Wednesday, on a whim I checked the St. Andrews University Library catalogue and I found that it has a copy of Fabricius's Codex pseudepigraphus. Our library used to be a copyright library and it seems to have nearly everything that was published in the early modern period, but this copy, as you will see, seems to have come to it only recently. (I have commented on other treasures in it here and here.) So I went down to the Archives and requested the book. Here are some photographs. You can click on each one to get a larger image.

These are the two volumes of Fabricius's Codex pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti.

Here are the frontispiece and title page of volume one. (The beaded necklaces are called "snakes" and are used by librarians to hold open a fragile book. These volumes were tightly bound and somewhat brittle, so we had to be very careful not to open them too wide, lest we crack the binding.)

Here is the title page of volume 2.

Apparently this set was owned by someone named Henry Labarge (?) about whom I know nothing. It passed into the hands of St. Andrews Semitist A. M. Honeyman, who donated it to the University Library in 1985.

Fabricius included many of the works found now in the two Pseudepigrapha volumes edited by Charlesworth, although not all of the Charlesworth texts were know in Fabricius's time. Here is the entry for the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

Fabricius also included some texts that are not in the Charlesworth volumes but which are now included in the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. For example, the Story of Melchizedek is a Greek rewritten scripture about Melchizedek. Sometimes it is attributed pseudonymously to Athanasius but mostly it is transmitted without an author.

Likewise, the Melchizedek Story in the Chronicon Paschale is part of the MOTP corpus.

I brought both volumes to the seminar on Wednesday. You can see other pseudepigrapha collections (Charles, Charlesworth, James) and related works (including M. R. James's ghost stories and my own book) scattered about on the table.

I am grateful to the Special Collections Department of the Main Library of the University of St. Andrews for making these volumes available to me, our students, and the readers of PaleoJudaica.

[PHOTO ESSAY -- bumped to the top of the page for 15 May. Lots more posts below.]
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS. It figures that when I spend hours putting together a big post with lots of photos and I save it for a Monday for maximum exposure, on that Monday I'm deluged with other things to post -- to the point that I'm pretty sure this is my record for number of postings on a single day. I didn't plan it that way, but there it is. Actually, I have a couple more things I still want to post but, all things considered, I think I'll leave them for tomorrow.
THE BIBLE PLACES NEWSLETTER, by Todd Bolen, has just published a new issue (Vol 5, #2 - May 15, 2006). There are some good Featured Photos of Jericho, including the synagogue that was reported to have been destroyed. According to Bolen there is now no discernible damage to it.
JEWISH STUDIES, AN INTERNET JOURNAL, has just published a new article in volume 4 (2006) which can be downloaded in Word or PDF formats from the website:
Aharon Mondschein, "From Prayer of Personal Gratitude to Cosmic Hymn: The Riddle of Ibn Ezra’s Commentary on Chronicles"
UPDATE (16 May): I should note that the article is in Hebrew.

UPDATE: I've also corrected the mistake in the title.
I GUESS ASTERIX SHOULD STICK TO LATIN. The Asterix books are a lot of fun and are generally well done. And some of them have even been published in Latin. But Simon Montagu at the the Al Ha veDa blog has caught an embarrassing Phoencian-language error in one of them.
DA VINCI CODE refutations are legion these days, with the movie about to come out. But I'll link to this one by John R. Huddlestun because it mentions the pseudepigrapha and I like to keep track of such things.
Professor divides truth from myth in 'Code'

(Charleston Post & Courier)

'Isn't it true that the Vatican conspired to hide the Dead Sea Scrolls from the public because of what they said about Jesus? Wasn't Jesus the leader of the Dead Sea Scroll sect, its Teacher of Righteousness?" Aren't the Nag Hammadi texts the same as the Dead Sea Scrolls?" -- these are frequent questions from my students. Add to these the media- and money-driven eternal mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic gospels, the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the James ossuary, the Gospel of Thomas (who could forget the film "Stigmata"?) and don't forget the sensational new Gospel of Judas, and you get a sense of my job as a professor of biblical studies at the College of Charleston.

Why is it that everything is always a mystery, or better yet, part of a conspiracy?

HMMM ... Maybe I should have another look at the Copper Scroll and the Massekhet Kelim.
Egyptian map leads to gold

Egypt: Saturday, May 13 - 2006 at 11:18 (

Centamin Egypt will produce its first gold bar next year, Egyptian Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister, Sameh Fahmy, told Bloomberg. The company was encouraged to explore for gold at the Sukari mining lease site by a 3,000 year old map thought to have been drawn by King Seti, outlining possible gold sites and now housed in Milan. The 160 sqkm area has proven reserves of 6m ounces of gold, worth more than $4bn.
(Via the Agade list.)
THE SYRIAC HERITAGE CONFERENCE IN ALEPPO has come to an end with a call for the establishment of a research center for Ephrem studies:
The final statement of the conference called for the necessity of establishing a scientific center for Afram studies to spread the Afram heritage through organizing conferences to make the others acquainted with Syriac heritage.
I hope this happens.
A MUSEUM OF CHALDEAN CULTURE is being built in Detroit:
FROM MESOPOTAMIA TO METRO DETROIT: Transplanted Iraqi Christians move forward with a museum celebrating Chaldean culture

May 14, 2006



They sprang from the cradle of civilization in a concentrated area of what is now warn-torn Iraq.

They spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, were converted to Catholicism by St. Thomas and represented a tiny island of Christianity in a sea of Islam.

They arrived in Detroit in the early 1900s, drawn by Henry Ford's promise of $5 a day for workers in his auto factory. Today, about 100,000 Chaldeans -- Iraqi Catholics -- live in southeast Michigan in what is considered to be one of the largest concentrations outside the Middle East.

Now, the first museum dedicated to Chaldeans is being built in metro Detroit.

DAVID AND SOLOMON: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition, a new book co-authored by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, is profiled by NPR.
Two Biblical Kings: 'David and Solomon'
The audio should be available today at 3:00 pm EST.
ARCHAEOLOGY FOR CHILDREN -- This is a good idea:
Delving into Israel's history
Digs give children a view of rich past

By Kristen Green, [Boston] Globe Correspondent | May 14, 2006

Children at Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley recently put down their books and picked up trowels, to participate in a simulated archeological dig.

The children sifted through soil and pieced together replicas of ancient artifacts during the dig. ...
A CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO PHILO appears to be in the works. Torrey Seland notes this at the Philo of Alexandria blog. I'm not surprised; I've been invited to contribute to the Cambridge Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls, so it seems this series is now turning its hand to ancient Judaism.
LAG B'OMER begins this evening at sundown.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

NO MISTRANSLATION AFTER ALL and, in fact, nobody said there was:
I am the Canadian professor who supposedly said that the Gospel of Judas was mistranslated!!! This reporter got it all wrong! All I said was that I disagreed with the idea that Jesus asked Judas to betray him, or to help him get rid of his mortal body. The phrase: "But you will exceed them all, for you will sacrifice the man that bears me" is a Future I (one) and should not be understood or interpreted as an imperative. Jesus is in fact prophesying and knows that Judas will do this. I think that the phrase was interpreted in a sensationalistic way. But I would never dare say that it was mistranslated. I want to thank Dr. DeConick for her careful comments. It is true that the media sometimes get things wrong.


André Gagné
All too often. Thanks for the correction.
MARK GOODARCE reflects on eight months of university teaching in the United States:
A Brit at Duke: Reflections of an Alien Professor
METATRON WATCH: The angel Metatron appears in a new novel reviewed by Michael Berry in the San Francisco Cronicle:
With Vellum (DelRey; 466 pages; $14.95 paperback), Scottish first novelist Hal Duncan begins a chronicle of a millennia-long battle between the "unkin," near-immortal beings who might as well be called angels, and demons.

When Reynard Carter steals the long-lost Book of All Hours, a malleable map of the Vellum, the nexus of all possible realities, he upsets the balance of power on Earth and in other realms. Metatron and the other angels who enforce the Covenant that keeps reality from unraveling want all the unkin to choose sides. When three rebels refuse to submit to their celestial will, Metatron and his cohort rain misery down on them across various timelines, alternative worlds and mythological incarnations.

Although Duncan rings interesting changes on the standard Manichean battle between light and dark, fellow Glaswegian Grant Morrison already covered a lot of this material in "The Invisibles," one of the most under-appreciated comics series of the '90s. ...
THE DA VINCI CODE MOVIE is unlikely to be shown in parts of the Arab world:
'Da Vinci' unlikely to pass Egypt censors

By Betsy Hiel
Sunday, May 14, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt - "The Da Vinci Code," the film based on Dan Brown's best-selling book, will not be seen in Egypt when it is released worldwide Friday.

Nor will the long-awaited film play in Jordan or Lebanon, which banned Arabic translations of the book.

Observers here blame fears that the film's controversial take on Christ's life will fan sectarian tension. The thriller posits the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and their heirs exist today in secret.

I have already commented here.
JAMES TABOR'S NEW BOOK, The Jesus Dynasty is reviewed in the Toronto Star and Tabor himself is interviewed:
Jesus' hidden history
Scholar James Tabor presents a bold reconstruction of the life and times of the Christian Messiah
With archaeological evidence and a careful reading of the gospels, he pieces together a compelling story
The most interesting bit is here:
The unveiling of an ossuary, or burial box, in late 2002 with the inscription, "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus," helped spread the word that Jesus had a brother, Tabor says, but the ensuing controversy over the limestone box's authenticity soon shut down any discussion about the brothers' importance.

For the record, Tabor believes the ossuary is authentic, and would like more tests done to help settle the matter.


There has been some backtracking by scientists involved with the IAA testing, while the ROM and other specialists have continued to stand by their original pronouncements of its authenticity, Tabor points out.

And while the origins of the James Ossuary have never been verified, Tabor is intrigued by the idea that it came from the Talpiot Tomb just outside the Old City of Jerusalem, where several other ossuaries were also discovered in 1980.

When news of the tomb broke in 1996, it was hailed as the "Jesus family tomb" thanks to the collection of names inside: two Marys, a Joseph, a Jude, a Matthew and a "Jesus son of Joseph."

Tabor would like to have DNA tests done both on these ossuaries and the James Ossuary to see if the bodies placed inside them were related. Requests to Israeli authorities for such testing have been turned down, however.

But that has not stopped Tabor from imagining the possibilities. DNA tests would show who among those buried were the parents and who were the children, he says, and whether the James and the Jesus listed in ossuary inscriptions were brothers.

"It would give you some real strong circumstantial evidence that it is real," Tabor says of the James Ossuary.

From there, the unique combination of names would be enough to convince Tabor that the Talpiot Tomb was the Jesus family burial ground, complete with Jesus' own remains — something he admits would be difficult to accept for those who believe Jesus was resurrected three days after his crucifixion.

"It would be earthshaking," he says.

"I hope I live to see it."
Well, I'm skeptical. All of those names were extremely common at that time and place. Still, it would be interesting to see the DNA tests done, if there's any DNA left in the skeletons after this many centuries. Can any paleo-osteologists out there tell me if that's likely?

UPDATE: Tabor responds to the article here.
PROFESSOR LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN gave a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Solon Chabad Jewish Center a week ago.
Scholar traces history of the Dead Sea Scrolls

By: ALAN SMASON, Staff Reporter (Cleveland Jewish News)

Were there a real Indiana Jones, one of the places he would undoubtedly explore first would be the ancient area of Qumran, now located in Israel.

The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the Qumran sect of the second and first century B.C.E., reveal important details about the habits and beliefs of the Jews who lived at that time, according to Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, an archaeologist and renowned researcher of the scrolls.