Could it Be?: The ‘Discovery’ of the Tomb of Jonah

First it was the Jesus Family Tomb. Then it was the Nails of the Cross. Now, the same folks who brought you this nonsense are about to go for more sensationalistic cash with their latest discovery: “The Ossuary of Jonah.”

Word that soon the world will hear an announcement that the ossuary of Jonah has been ‘discovered’ at Talpiot, near the putative ‘ossuary of Jesus’ family’ has come around through a source in Jerusalem ‘in the know’.

Specifically, what has supposedly been discovered is an ossuary with a fish with scales with an individual emerging from it.  This is, it will be suggested, the very ossuary of Jonah.

But there’s already a problem with the alleged claim: this motif first appears in Duro Europos in the 3rd century.   And even more importantly, such graffiti would never appear on an ossuary.

Like the ‘Jesus tomb’ press release, the upcoming announcement of  the discovery of ‘Jonah’s Tomb’ appears to be aimed at generating  publicity for an upcoming book (by Tabor [UNC-Charlotte] and Jacobovici [Canadian on the Discovery Channel] and through Simon and Schuster) and tv special.

Is it the real deal?  Who knows till the claim is fully fleshed out with meticulous detail.  But these days, when so many claims are made and the media grabs hold of them and promotes them without bothering to check into them with more than just their promoters, skepticism is in order.  No, skepticism is demanded.  Just look what a hoopla was made of the ‘ossuary of James’ and the ‘family tomb of Jesus’ and ‘the lead codices’.  All nonsense but all vaunted by the ignorant media as though they were the real thing.

The truth is, you have a better chance of finding the bones of Jonah’s big fish (in popular talk, the ‘whale’- but of course we all know that ‘big fish’ means only that and not ‘whale’) than you do in finding accuracy in the media when it comes to the bible or ‘biblical archaeology’.

But come to think of it, I think I have some of the big fish’s bones in my freezer.  Now I just need to have connections at the Discovery Channel to turn the ‘find’ into a special.

8 thoughts on “Could it Be?: The ‘Discovery’ of the Tomb of Jonah

  1. Joe Zias 24 May 2011 at 5:32 am

    More trash for cash, from the BAR crowd at UNC-Charlotte and Canada.


  2. Gerard 24 May 2011 at 5:38 am

    In the late 1960s my Catholic parish church had a piece of the Cross in a small glass box. I saw it up close when as an altar boy I escorted the relic into the Church as it was carried in on a purple cushion. And at the time I believed it was real. Looking back, there was no ‘accuracy’ in a parish being told a splinter of the one true cross was visiting. It was an outright lie.


  3. Chuck Grantham 24 May 2011 at 8:38 am

    Maybe this is a relic from the hidden cult of Dagon. Someone alert the Lovecraft folk.

    The Old Ones watch and wait….


  4. Paul Hrich 24 May 2011 at 10:32 am

    I thought that form of burial was only used for a hundred years or so around the time of Jesus… How can one argue that someone from the early OT ended up in an ossuary?


    • Jim 24 May 2011 at 11:01 am

      excellent point.


  5. Joe Zias 24 May 2011 at 11:43 am

    Paul, of ye of little faith, with the BAR crowd all things are possible….


  6. Helena Constantine 24 May 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Wouldn’t that be the tomb of Oannes, anyway?


  7. James Tabor 2 Jun 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Jim, this is a thoroughly ludicrous post and your “source who knows” is obvious; he has already gleefully added two comments. I have written him in the most professional way about this but so far he has not replied. Instead of just coming to me and asking whatever he wants like any decent colleague he has spent hours on end knocking on doors, poking around, talking to uninformed people at the site where we are carrying out our work, fully licensed and approved by the IAA. Our results will be published in a major peer reviewed academic journal and the advisory group we have assembled is a who’s who of of the best people in our field. Unlike Joe they are not flapping their tongues and getting everything wrong. It is not hard to reach me if you ever want to check something out for accuracy before you post it. Seems like the decent thing to do.


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