April 08, 2006

James Tabor: Jesus and John 'Twin' Messiahs

In case you missed it, ABC’s 20/20 ran a story tonight interviewing James Tabor, author of The Jesus Dynasty and a historian with the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He has some pretty interesting --- uhm --- ideas. You can read the article here . I recorded it, so for a short time watch the video here.

I’ve selected a few choice quotes.
His conclusions are certain to provoke intense controversy and skepticism among other scholars and followers of the Christian faith. Tabor argues the historical evidence shows that Jesus had a human father, and that he was joined by a fellow messiah.

Tabor stumbled upon a crypt of sorts from the first century where he found ossuaries and “the only example of a burial shroud from the first century.”

In the same tomb, Tabor's group also found an ossuary — a box used to contain the bones of the deceased — that had the name Miriam or Mary inscribed upon it. Tabor also believes the recently discovered ossuary of James, which some scholars have dismissed as a forgery, may have also originated in this tomb.

"There's some circumstantial evidence that the ossuary of James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus, came from this particular tomb," he said. "We have entertained the possibility that this tomb might've been the family tomb of Jesus."

Wow that’s a pretty huge leap unless he’s got some blockbuster information in his book that he’s not sharing --- there absolutely no evidence what so ever that Jesus or anyone associated with him had anything to do with that crypt --- but I don't buy it.
"I'm ready to let the average reader know what we scholars actually discuss. And if it's shocking, it's shocking. You don't have to accept it. Jesus had a father."

Did that mean Tabor does not believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus?

"I don't," he said. "I think all humans have a human father."

He actually also went on to say “everyone needs two chromosomes.” Well heck Tabor, you got me there. That’s a pretty rock solid case.

Luckily 20/20 also interview D.A. Carson, who responded quite well.

"What Dr. Tabor has done is assumed that the whole thing cannot be," Carson said. "It is a sham and therefore the evidence has to be jiggered, it has to be selectively appealed to in order to take away the evidence of God actually doing something in space, time, history. At that point, no amount of evidence will ever convince him unless he's open to the possibility that Dr. Tabor himself is wrong … and that God has disclosed himself in space, time and history through a man. Namely, Jesus of Nazareth."

Tabor says he is a “pro-Christian” because he wants to get back to the “root” of the faith. There is lots more to Tabor’s theory aside from Jesus was not raised from the dead, was not born a virgin. Based on evidence from the so called “Suba Cave” …

Tabor believes that, contrary to the New Testament, Jesus and John the Baptist were twin Messiahs. He says that early texts anticipated more than one Messiah and that the practice of baptism suggests that they were acting similarly in their respective ministries.

Carson’s reply can be summed up pretty simply: “Its pure Mythology.”

The interview continued over to Nightline but I missed part of it, there is a lot more to be read however --- in this article on the ABC website.



At April 08, 2006 2:24 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Great blog. I'm totally interested in the early church, and hope to do further research into certain aspects for thesis work. I haven't exactly decided the direction, although I'm leaning toward the Eucharist and the biblical vs. pagan origins... but you're post on the Didache and baptism was very good, being a Reformed Baptist myself and sympathetic to you Presbies. I posted recently on Jesus' baptism by John - which is another event commonly misunderstood by well-intended Baptists.

At April 15, 2006 4:56 PM, Blogger James D. Tabor said...

Dear Justin,
A friend sent me a link to your Blog. I hope you might have the time and inclination to read my book, as I think you might find it a much more serious attempt to do responsible historical work than is indicated by your poking fun at me based on the ABC treatment. I doubt, from your comments, that you will share my presuppositions or many of my conclusions, but I don't think your characterization of my work. There is an interview on Jim West's blog, more on Mark Goodacres' site, and in time I think what I present might offer fruitful points of discussion between all of us who care about who Jesus was.

At April 15, 2006 4:59 PM, Blogger James D. Tabor said...

P.S. Somehow something got cut out of that post at the sentence "....but I don't think your characterization of my work is very accurate." Sorry! James Tabor

At April 16, 2006 12:59 AM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...


Thanks for your comments; it is only fair you be able to respond.

I'm not sure if I will be able to read your book anytime soon, but perhaps I will. As you stated I very much doubt I'll agree with your presuppositions or conclusions --- but I'm glad you state them as presuppositions as appose to straight facts --- that is refreshingly honest.

You comments on the Biblical Studies list about James perhaps being the beloved disciple were quite interesting, as all are your ideas!

Yes I was poking fun at you a bit, I can be a bit dry --- but aren’t you a bit with the chromosomes comments, etc?

On a side note I am extremely jealous of your opportunity to work in the Suba cave, and other areas in the Holy Land, you are one lucky guy.

At April 16, 2006 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you know anything else about this "James perhaps being the beloved disciple"? I thought it was John?


At April 17, 2006 12:16 AM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...


Actually we don't know it was John --- if you read carefully you'll find the "beloved disciple" is never named. Over time tradition has held that it was John, but tradition tends to not be all that accurate.

I don't know much more about the "beloved disciple" theory that Tabor has --- I have contacted him about it --- and with any luck he'll be able to get back to me. If it's okay with him I'll post his response on my blog.


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