Ossuary 80/501: “Yehuda bar Yeshua” – “Judah, son of Jesus”
The most controversial ossuary pulled from the Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries was undoubtedly the one inscribed “Judah, son of Jesus,” the ossuary of a child. If indeed the tomb uncovered in East Talpiot in 1980 is that of Jesus and his family, and if indeed Jesus of Nazareth had a son, this ossuary contradicts dramatically nearly 2000 years of Christian tradition.
It’s true that the New Testament says nothing about Jesus having a wife or fathering a child, but it doesn’t say he didn’t. It’s true that Jesus commended John the Baptist’s ascetic choices, but he didn’t say they were for him. The fact is, the celibate life was not a big part of Hebrew tradition. The command "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) was taken very seriously. A large family was a blessing from God (Genesis 22:17); sterility was a curse (1 Samuel 1:6-8); and virginity grievous (Judges 11:37). Rabbis, especially, were expected to be observantly fruitful.
In the end, the most Jesus ever said about the issue of celibacy was: "Let anyone accept this who can" (Mt. 19:12). It was the early Church fathers who connected sex with sin (outside of such Hebrew Bible prohibitions as incest, adultery, and masturbation) and began to build the story of Jesus’ celibacy.
Absolutely nothing in the New Testament indicates that Jesus was celibate. He could very well have been married and had children.
Could Judah, son of Jesus have been the “Beloved Disciple” mentioned in the Gospels? If the “Judah” of ossuary 80/501 was still alive after the crucifixion, he would have been protected by Jesus’ followers. If spoken of at all, he would have been referred to in code.
The child of a pretender to the throne would have been a target, especially in those turbulent times, with Jewish revolt in the air and the Romans not on their home turf.
A glance through history reveals that the Romans killed heirs to those who were contenders for kingship, even as they let siblings live. And a son of Jesus would have been a claimant to the Davidic throne.