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James D. Tabor is Professor of Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught since 1989 as well as served as Chair for a decade. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981 in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. He previously held positions at the University of Notre Dame (1979-85) and the College of William and Mary (1985-89). His research interests have focused on the historical Jesus, Christian Origins and ancient Judaism. Tabor’s CV is here and his popular TaborBlog is here. Many of Dr. Tabor’s articles and papers are archived here and can be downloaded as PDFs at no charge. His complete CV is here.
Tabor is the author of seven books and numerous scholarly articles. His first book was a study of the mysticism of the apostle Paul titled Things Unutterable (1986), based on his University of Chicago dissertation. The prestigious Journal of Religion named it one of the ten best scholarly studies on Paul of the 1980s. Tabor then turned to an analysis of attitudes toward religious suicide and martyrdom in the ancient world, the results of which appeared as A Noble Death, published by HarperCollins in 1992 (co-authored with Arthur Droge). Although the book centered on the history of such ideas in the ancient world, the results of this research have had immediate application in the contemporary discussion of the ethics of volunteer death and assisted suicide. It received an extensive essay review in Christian Century. During the 1993 Branch Davidian crisis in Waco, Texas, Tabor applied his expertise in interpreting biblically oriented apocalyptic worldviews to understanding the situation. As a result of his involvement Tabor published Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (University of California Press, 1995), which he co-authored with Eugene Gallagher. Harper’smagazine published a lengthy excerpt from the book (July, 1995). In 1995 Tabor testified before Congress as an expert witness on Waco.
Tabor’s 2006 book, The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity (Simon & Schuster, 2006), was a New York Times Bestseller. Tabor presents the results of his work on the historical Jesus over the course of his career to a general audience. It has been translated into 25 languages and has become an international bestseller in the UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands.
In 2012 Tabor published two books: the first, co-authored with Simcha Jacobovici, The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find that Reveals the Birth of Christianity (Simon & Schuster) that offers a comprehensive overview of both of the Talpiot (“Jesus family”) tombs in Jerusalem with all the evidence brought together; and Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity (Simon & Schuster). His latest book is forthcoming, The Lost Mary: How the Jewish Mother of Jesus Became the Virgin Mother of God (Knopf, 2020). He is now working on
Over the past two decades Tabor has combined his work on ancient texts with field work in archaeology. He has worked at a number of sites in Israel and Jordan including Qumran, site of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1991, 1996), Wadi el-Yabis in Jordan (1992, 1996), Masada (1994), and Sepphoris (1996, 1999, 2000). In 2000 he teamed up with Dr. Shimon Gibson to excavate a newly discovered cave at Suba, west of Jerusalem that dates back to the Iron Age but was used for ritual rites in the early Roman period (2000-2006). Tabor and Gibson were also the principals involved in the discovery a 1st century Jewish burial shroud in a looted tomb at Akeldama. Their latest project is an ongoing excavation in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion just outside Mt Zion Gate along the Turkish city wall (2006-2018).
Tabor serves as chief editor of the Transparent English Bible, an ongoing effort to produce a new translation of the Bible. Tabor is a popular public lecturer and writer and is often consulted by the national and international media (Time, Newsweek, USNews&World Report, NYTimes, LATimes, WashPost, Wall St. Journal, Harpers, Vanity Fair, AP, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Der Spiegel, Profil, The London Times). He is a regular blogger at the Huffington Post. His work has been featured in dozens of TV documentaries (PBS Frontline, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, Smithsonian, BBC, Channel 4 UK, ZDF).