"Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt.
Scorn for the Discovery Channel's claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and -- most explosively -- their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy. ..."
Here is a pretty interesting take on the recent "bombshell" which seems more like a squib these days.
Alan Cooperman, Washington Post staff writer, interviews people from the archaeology community as well as the Israeli director of the film, the the preponderance of scientific opinion is that this is more about money than it is about science.
One archaeologist, William G. Dever, points out that not only are the some of the inscriptions unclear, but the purported names are common names. Dever also stated that this find has been known for many years, and he and other colleagues have been of the opinion that this was not a particularly important find.
A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill archaeologist, Jodi Magness noted that these claims have not been peer-reviewed in a research article, but rather have been publicized as if it were a matter of academic debate.
Magness suggested that the practice of placing the dead in hand-cut stone tombs and later transferring the bones to ossuaries, was a practice of the wealthy. According to Scripture, Jesus was placed in such a tomb, but it belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. It was not the tomb of a poor family from Nazareth.
There have been other blog entries on this subject, but Russell Smith's entry stands out. Take a look at "The Talpiot Tomb Controversey -- What to make of the latest eastertime criticism of the resurrection" -- He has done a good job of aggregating information from many sources.
Update (2/28/2007) -- Quotidian Grace mentioned in a comment that Ben Witherington also had a good posting on the subject: "THE JESUS TOMB? ‘TITANIC’ TALPIOT TOMB THEORY SUNK FROM THE START". I like the alliteration in the title, but the whole article is well worth reading.
Dr. Witherington also posted some additional information today in a posting called "PROBLEMS MULTIPLY FOR JESUS TOMB THEORY". (Thanks to Brett for pointing this out)
It's great that so many good bloggers are out there passing on their knowledge and experience. I tend to agree with Russell Smith and QG that this is getting to be an annual irritation, and that the timing is no accident. The antidote is to shine a bright light on the claims have been and continue to be made -- and in this case it comes not only from the faith community, but the archaeology community as well, many of whom are non-Christian or agnostic, thus have no vested interested in propping up Christianity.