The Tomb of Jesus
I have tried to steer clear of the recent clamor over the burial tomb claimed to be that of Jesus' family at Talpiot, Jerusalem, Israel in 1980 and featured on a recent Discovery Channel program, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The documentary film produced by film makers Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron promotes the idea, much to the dismay of Christians and conservative archaeologists, that a fair number of Jesus' family and Jesus himself were deposited within this family tomb complex.
I am not an archaeologist, and I certainly am not a Christian, but I see little reason to attack the filmmakers as they have been. Just one example, from scholar Joe Zias, might be representative from "real" archaeologists. If this is not the tomb of Jesus, perhaps his tomb will be found sooner than later. To me it is amazing that Christians ever allowed the investigation to go this far without suppressing, sabotaging, or falsifying it. It has not been re-aired yet, while most Discovery Channel programs are constantly rerun.
As an Ebionite, a real Ebionite, I do not believe most of the Christian explanations and alleged miracles, including any state for Jesus other than that of a human who died. So I won't go too far into an argument Christians will never accept regardless of evidence. I am just so glad that they finally (?) have accepted that Sun and stars do not revolve around the earth, and that earth is spherical rather than flat in spite of their most educated "scholars" argued violently against these heretical views for years. Admittedly, the film makers are show men and may lack proper credentials. But what agendas may Christian scholars and archaeologists have? Don't let anyone mislead you—Jews are dependent upon appeasing Christians; likewise, scholars also have to pay the piper, I'm afraid, all too often.
It is obvious that Jesus is dead and lying somewhere. This does not diminish him for me as someone who worships only God and never Jesus.
What I am now interested in is the symbol above the opening of the tomb, that appears to have a chevron shape. I have read several attempts to explain it, none likely at all. Joe Zias points out that such features can be seen on ossuaries.
"Throughout the film as well as the marketing circus, one sees prominently on the façade of the tomb, the dot within the triangle, minus the base as if this is some mystical Judeo-Christian symbol. Had they simply taken the time to scan photos in the catalogue of Jewish ossuaries by LY Rahmani, they would have seen that many ossuaries with triangular lids have decorative elements or functional elements serving as handgrips to raise the lid, which resemble the ornament on the tomb façade. Thusly, the façade motif could easily be seen in and of itself to resemble an ossuary lid with the tomb itself serving as an ossuary. A black and white photo of one of the ossuaries in the catalogue is reproduced for viewers here."
"Alternatively, the circular object within the triangle can be interpreted as either a patera or a wreath, both which appear on a number of ossuaries as well tomb facades such as the Tomb of ‘Absalom’. Alternatively if you are in the world of film marketing and media hype, it’s the mystical Vonage symbol-reversed. (Apologies to Vonage)"
Yes, it could be a typical ossuary feature reproduced on the façade of the tomb. Some tombs have a "fake roof" façade. I do not believe anyone would reproduce it though unless it had become a general symbol for "Tomb Here" or "Ossuaries Kept Here" although it is not impossible. I can safely bet that nobody intended to pick up this tomb complex by its round "handle grip" such as shown in the picture with my copy highlighting the features, above.
I can only provide some thoughts, but I think they are quite possible. I do not think it stands for the "All-Seeing Eye" which frankly, I think would be redundant for Jews and a little too "universal" for Yeshua and his comrades (I would prefer to call him Yeshua than Jesus at this point on). I am not aware of such symbols on Jewish tombs from that time period. (I.e., I haven't seen them whether they exist or not.) As for "masonic" compasses, or Buddhist chevron symbology, I leave to those who want to project their own "universal religion" on to Yeshua, a simple Jew teaching Jewish people Jewish things. I would consider a masonic type compass design only if the tomb was executed during the Mediaeval Period and the ossuaries were collected and moved into it.
What kind of symbol would Yeshua and people like him be associated with? They were religious Jews. How many actual representations have been found in Palestine from first century Jewish tombs or ossuaries of humans or animals? I cannot recall any off hand. I have a few books on catacombs, and there are ossuary or tomb inscriptions in the diaspora featuring crude birds and perhaps other animals, but more with geometrics or menorahs/ritual items (lulav, shofar, etc.) such as in the catacombs of Rome. My understanding is that these are after CE 50. My resources are limited, and I have not seen the L Y Rahmani volume of ossuaries.
But I believe that this chevron over a circle is deliberately abstract because of religious reasons, not risking the clear display of a graven image. An animal or creature on a tomb might be taken in perhaps some idolatrous way as pagan tombs do feature such images. At the same time it could identify and perhaps even communicate to non-literate people, while appearing esoteric, as it does now, to those outside the group. I am saying that any such display would have been carved in a very abstract symbolic way. Ancient Jewish tombs do not tend to give any outside indications such as inscriptions, or artistic images. Architectural features were used, to make a tomb appear to be a carefully purposed structure. They have façades sometimes that make them appear to be roofed buildings, perhaps supported by pillars or lintels in relief. The chevron over the tomb opening could just be a poor family's attempt to imitate such a "rich" façade.
But the chevron is poorly executed if we expect a "roof" to be represented. Looking closely, there is uneven sides, a lack of angle side straightness, even some roundness to be seen, and at the top there is a pronounced point or "nipple" that protrudes above the chevron. On the other hand, the circle below and doorway edges are very well executed in comparison. It seems that a sharp chevron shape would be as easy or easier to do than the circle below it. And looking closer still (dependent on a poor photo) it looks as though there is a point opposite and downward from the "nipple" or other extension. The "chevron" just does not appear to be that. In fact, if we look at the original site drawing by Shimon Gibson, the chevron has a pronounced extension from the apex.
There is one point of agreement between us and Christians concerning Yeshua, though even this is understood differently. Yeshua was anointed by God's holy spirit just as King David was anointed and adopted (Ps 2:7). And how is this depicted in the Christian writing, Matthew? The spirit descended like a dove at this anointing to rest upon him. This is very important in Ebionite theology. I think the symbol on the tomb is a depiction of the spirit descending /anointing Yeshua (the circle). It was the head that was anointed, not the entire body for kingship (etc.). It could be an Ebionite symbol of a defining Ebionite political-theological event considered essential to Yeshua's purpose and importance to followers. The spirit is the power that reveals the reality of God's rule existing parallel to the human system as devised and championed by gentiles, and opens this unapparent "hidden" reality of God, rolling back the clouds, as it were, of the gentile system. This is the real meaning of an apocalypse, or revealing.
His followers would not put a symbol for God (the all-seeing eye) on a man's grave. Yeshua's real importance was his anointing and kingship from God, without references to any divine activities on Yeshua's part. It could have identified the "tomb of the anointed one /anointed king of the Jews."
Forgive this rough, rough reconstruction below. But try to picture an abstract version of the holy spirit like a dove enveloping the head or symbolic person of Yeshua. The light blue represents a "step" back in the relief and some indentations which do remind me more of a dove. You can look at the Jacobovici film's website to see how they also use a similar look for their "logo."
Those responsible for this tomb, assuming that it is the tomb of Yeshua's family, were not likely to represent a resurrection, even if they believed his spirit entered the Presence of God. Would they use a cross to show that Yeshua was executed by Roman crucifixion like thousands of other Jews? Zias says that X's on ossuaries were alignment marks, which is very sensible to me. What if every crucified, interred Jew had an X marked on their ossuary? That would certainly make a cross ubiquitous and no longer noteworthy.
To the Ebionites it is (and was) his "adoption" by God and empowerment of holy spirit. Like David, Yeshua was adopted by God to become king in Israel. If it is a stylized depiction featured on this tomb of God's anointing and empowerment of Yeshua (and his dynasty, some present with him in this tomb, then my interpretation is not at all unreasonable. Should it be unreasonable for an Ebionite to understand what the Ebionites responsible for this tomb intended? But to look for symbolism in Christian mythology and the Gentile milieu to decrypt the symbol's meaning is a mistake. Yeshua had little to do Gentiles, and his mission was in every way Jewish.