On Sunday, I am going to lead the adult forum with a presentation on the Talpiot Tomb. It is interesting to observe over the internet the responses to this. Here is my summary of the various responses.
1) No way. It can't be Jesus because he rose from the dead. His body cannot be found. With this view, no matter what evidence could ever be presented, it would have to be dismissed because it challenges faith claims.
2) No way. Jesus didn't even exist. His body cannot be found. It would be like finding Noah's ark or the Garden of Eden. The Gospels are fictions and have no factual basis whatsoever. Again, no matter what evidence could ever be presented, it would be dismissed because of prior claims.
3) No way. Jesus was a peasant. His body cannot be found. He was too poor to have had a burial. His body, like the thousands of others who were crucified, would have been picked at by buzzards and eventually eaten by dogs. No matter the evidence, it would be dismissed because it doesn't fit the preferred picture of "the historical Jesus."
For those who could have their prior claims and reasons why the remains of Jesus could not be found changed if there was sufficient evidence, there, of course, is more resistance, namely to the Discovery Channel show itself.
4) No way. How could a journalist, a television filmmaker at that, beat the scholars to this scoop? If this was the remains of Jesus, surely the scholars would have known and reported it before this guy! For archaeologists who have been digging around for pots and shards for decades, it is pretty embarrassing if a filmmaker scoops them on one of the most significant finds in history. (The filmmaker didn't of course make the initial find. The tomb was excavated by archaeologists in 1980. It was not seen by them to be particularly interesting. The filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, researched this further with the help of scholars and made connections to Jesus and his family).
5) No way. Archaeology cannot find a particular person. At best it can find remnants of what life was like in the time period. This view presupposes that Jesus was not an important figure of history in his time or in the immediate years following his death. Of course, other people of history (ie. Caiaphas) have had their ossuaries found and linked to historical persons.
After one could entertain the possibilities that both 4 and 5 are not rock-solid objections, some observers then question whether the evidence could point to Jesus and his family.
6) No way. The names are common. They could belong to any family. There is no way to prove that this tomb goes back to Jesus or his family.
After one looks dispassionately at those six objections, and realizes that the objections themselves are based on prior assumptions and not evidence, then one is faced with the evidence. Of course, it is impossible to "prove" without a shadow of a doubt, that this tomb goes back to Jesus. Few things in history have that much proof associated with them. But if the evidence suggested a plausibility or even a probability, then the burden would be upon those who would say that this is not the best way to understand this evidence.
James Tabor in his March 24th post, The Talpiot Jesus Tomb: An Overview, offers his summary of the evidence and addresses some of the objections above.
As far as the first objection, it can't be Jesus because Jesus was raised from the dead and his body ascended to heaven, Tabor offers these posts, Robert Gundry's Post and "Resurrection of the Dead" and Nonsense and the Academic Study of Religion. All of his posts I think are good reading.