Review

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

by James D. Tabor



THE JESUS DYNASTY is a book authored by a highly credentialed
writer. Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the
University of North Carolina, James Tabor's doctorate emphasized
Christian Origins and ancient Judaism. His passion includes delving
into the lives of John the Baptist, Jesus and his brother James,
and Paul. Archeological expeditions in the holy land provide him
the beginning research into the little-understood lives of Jesus's
family. The reverence felt in seeing documents 2,000 years old,
such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, lures Tabor to search for evidence of
Jesus's human family and its impact on today's world.

Tabor introduces THE JESUS DYNASTY with the story of a "dig" with
his students in the Hinnom Valley near Jerusalem, in June 2000. On
a break, an Israeli archeologist took them to a hillside covered
with ancient rock-hewn burial tombs, dating back to the time of
Jesus. At dusk, they discovered an open tomb entrance marked by
scattered broken ossuaries. The ossuaries were stone boxes that
housed the bones of the deceased. Tomb robberies were a common
occurrence, and this one was fresh. Deep into the layered tomb,
they discovered pieces of fabric, presumably a burial shroud,
remaining intact as covering for a person buried there. Later,
carbon dating concluded that the shroud was from the first half of
the first century A.D. Tabor called his find "the Tomb of the
Shroud." Additional discoveries, ancient inscriptions on the
ossuary boxes, propelled his research into the family heritage and
dynasty of Jesus.

From a collector, an ossuary inscribed in Aramic with "James son of
Joseph brother of Jesus" had surfaced in Jerusalem. Tabor's
curiosity gives us a carefully documented and masterful study of
Jesus's human side. THE JESUS DYNASTY does not dispel the divinity
associated with Jesus but examines the time when he lived and his
place in society. The Talpiot Tomb, where Jesus's family ossuaries
may have been housed, provided Tabor the base for his exciting
research and conclusions.  THE JESUS DYNASTY could well have
been titled "A Tale of Two Tombs."

Interior chapters examine the royal lineage of Jesus, from the
biblical line of David.  His mother, Mary, is found to be
descended both from the line of David and Levi, a priestly lineage.
The Dead Sea Scrolls substantiate Tabor's findings here. Next, he
examines Jesus's standing as Messiah. Much detail is given to the
Jewish tradition of messianic succession. Teacher, priest and
savior are labels associated with messianic hope. Jesus fulfills
the dream and the prophecy. But Tabor is quick to point out that
Jewish law prevailed at the time and that Jesus likely was a strict
adherent to laws in the Torah. Scripture from the four gospels of
the New Testament relate directly to statements in the Old
Testament books that prophesy a Messiah for the Jews.

Jesus's entire life is chronicled in relationship to his
Jewishness, his closeness to family and his ability to connect with
non-Jews. Roman rule encircles Jewish life in his times. Tabor
traces the final days of Jesus with innate details, gleaned from
compiled ancient writings. His sources include little-read books
such as the Gospels of James, Thomas, Q (a book found in Germany
thought to intervene between two gospels), the Dead Sea Scrolls and
the Bible itself.

His conclusions are thought-provoking and should pique the
reasoning power of any reader, theological or secular. Numerous
photographs throughout the book illustrate the incredible detail
his research traversed. Paul is his final resource, from the book
of Acts. Jesus's claim to divinity appears to be Paul's
interpretation and strays from the Jewish messianic tradition that
James preached. Whatever one's conclusions, THE JESUS DYNASTY is a
compelling study of the historical Jesus.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
by James D. Tabor

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2007
  • Genres: Church, History, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 074328724X
  • ISBN-13: 9780743287241