Posted by: Brad Beaman | January 18, 2008

The Jesus Tomb Controversy

The Jesus Tomb Controversy: Which tomb is really Jesus tomb?

There are three tombs in the race to be considered as the real tomb of Jesus.

1. The Talpiot tomb
2. The Holy Sepulchre tomb
3. The Garden Tomb

All three tombs are in the running for the real tomb of Jesus. But which one gets the bronze, which the silver and which tomb is the gold medalist? Let’s look at the three and see how they should each stand on the podium.

The Talpiot Tomb
This tomb was discovered in 1980 and is getting a lot of publicity of late because of the 2007 documentary made by Hollywood director James Cameron and journalist Simcha Jacobovici called The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The program about this tomb was aired on the Discovery channel March 4, 2007.

The tomb is named Talpiot because it was found by construction workers digging the foundations for an apartment building in the Talpiot hills, an area just outside of Jerusalem. After the find archeologists excavated the tomb.

It is proposed as the family tomb of Jesus and his family containing Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the son of Joseph, Mariamne and Judah. Some inscriptions were found indicating these names but the inscriptions are not considered genuine by most scholars.

Some archeologists do think this was the tomb of a Jewish family from the same time as Jesus. For the most part the claim that this is the genuine tomb of Jesus is rejected by most biblical scholars of archaeology.

One of the big problems with this tomb being the tomb of Jesus is that Jesus is still there. This contradicts the Biblical account that Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven after numerous eye witness accounts.

Acts 4:33
And apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power. And great grace was on them

Acts 3:15
And you killed the Prince of Life, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses

The early Apostles gave testimony to the fact they were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. They even went from denying Christ to boldly proclaiming Christ. Witnessing the resurrection changed them. All four gospels mention the women visiting the tomb and that the tomb was empty.

The bible tells of one account that the chief priests spread a lie to explain the empty tomb. But in the first century there was definitely a need to explain why the tomb was empty. These leaders tried to stop the news spreading that after they crucified him Jesus was raised, just as he predicted.

Matthew 28:12-15
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “you are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stile him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Holy Sepulchre Tomb
This site has been the traditional site of Jesus tomb from at least as far back as 326 AD when Queen Helena built the first Holy Sepulchre church there.

For some time scholars disputed the identification of the Church as the actual site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial on the basis that the Church was inside the city walls. Heberews 13:12 described the crucifixion (and thus the tomb nearby) as outside the walls.

Hebrews 13:12
And so Jesus suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Today it is widely accepted that Holy Sepulchre site was outside the city walls at the time of Jesus crucifixion. The walls of Jerusalem city were expanded by Herod Agrippa in 44 AD so they only enclosed the site of the Holy Sepulchre after the crucifixion.

Odly enough it is an altar to the goddess Venus built by Hadrian (135 AD) that adds scholarly credibility to the removed the place of the Holy Sepulchre as the authentic place of the tomb of Jesus. It is very likely that Hadrian would want to build his altar to Venus on the holies Christian site and defile it. The altar of Venus lends credibility that in 135 AD this was considered the site of real tomb of Jesus. It could also be that this was the on the former site of Nero’s Golden House this location was chosen to place the altar.

Garden Tomb
In 1884, after reading the description of the biblical account of Jesus death, barial and resurrection General Charles Gordon discovered a hill that fit the description of Calvary (Golgatha) the place of the skull. Nearby was a tomb cut from stone in a garden. This site fit the description of the biblical account Gordon read and it is now known as the Garden tomb.

John 19:41
At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.

Matthew 27: 57-58
When the evening had come, a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, came, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

John 20:15
Jesus said to her, Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek? Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, Sir, if you have carried Him away from here, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.

There is a large and ancient cistern at the garden tomb that dates back to Solomon’s period that would support water needs for the gardens mentioned in Scripture.

The large wine press at this site would fit with the status of wealth of Joseph of Arimathea in whose tomb Jesus was laid

John 19:41,
And in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one yet had been placed.

So which tomb is Jesus tomb?

I am disqualifying the The Talpiot Tomb from its third place bronze medal because the support for this as Jesus tomb is not only sketchy, but it contradicts the Scripture account. I am not going to give my bronze medal prize award because of this.

That leaves the silver medal and the gold.

I am giving the silver medal to The Holy Sepulchre as the real tomb of Jesus.

My top pick for the real tomb of Jesus is The Garden Tomb. I am giving this the gold medal first place pick as the real tomb of Jesus.




  1. Brad: good stuff. I would love to refer you to a booklet I wrote on the Jesus Family Tomb Controversy. You can find it at did a lot of research in preparing this booklet and I thought you might find it helpful. God bless.

  2. Is this really really really really REALLY my saviors tomb? Because I’d imagine since the tomb was empty after Jesus used it for a short time wouldn’t people use it again? I mean other wise it’s a waist of a perfectly good tomb. Everyone knew it was empty at the time whether they believed it was because He rose again or he was moved they couldn’t deny the fact it was empty. And wasn’t it some rich dudes tomb he let Jesus use? Than why isn’t his body in it? I guess the reason I’m asking this is because (don’t laugh) I want to get a tattoo of an open tomb on my forearm and it would be really cool if it was a picture of his real tomb so I want to REALLY make sure it is.

  3. O yeah sorry it’s me again but is that a window? Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought tombs wouldn’t have a window

  4. Ruth,
    After 2000 years there is no telling how many times the tomb has been used. Also the window was “cut” by entrepreneurs so that visitors could see as they visit this holy site. Is ti really the burial and resurrection place of Jesus? Does it really matter if you truly believe who He is?

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