Now Available! The Upper Room and Tomb of David published 4/21/2016d

On Thursday, April 21, McFarland released into publication my book The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion.

It has been a church, a mosque and a synagogue. Jesus is said to have dined there. James, his brother, is believed to have been interred there. King David may be buried beneath its floor. The subject of intense speculation by both scholars and the faithful, the Cenacle on Mount Zion—also known as the Upper Room of the New Testament gospels and as the Tomb of David—has remained a mystery for centuries.

Claimed by Jews, Christians and Muslims, the sacred structure continues to evoke passionate controversy. Does it date back to the time of Christ? Was the Last Supper celebrated there? Is this the place where the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles on the first Pentecost following Easter Sunday? Did King David’s remains ever lie there?

These and many other questions are explored in this first-ever study, offering a readable, fully researched narrative account of the Cenacle’s history, archaeology and imagery. Artistic, architectural and photographic illustrations document the Cenacle and its surroundings over the past 1,500 years.

Now available in print and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly from McFarland at

Omitting the Infancy and Resurrection Narratives: The Gospel of Mark and the Jewish-Christian Leadership in Jerusalem

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament gospels reveals a startling number of differences both large and small in the telling of the sayings and deeds of Jesus. Similarities among the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are attributed by scholars to the use of the former by the latter two as well as their joint reliance on sayings source Q. Differences are traced to unique sources used by the evangelists or to their editorial activity. But how do we account for seemingly important omissions? Why, for example, do the Gospels of Mark and John not report the death of Judas? Why does the Gospel of John not include of the institution of the eucharist? Why do Mark, Matthew, and John not report Jesus’s hearing before Herod or Mark, Matthew, and Luke his hearing before Annas? Why do the synoptic gospels not know of the miracle at Cana or the Gospel of John the Transfiguration? Various theories have been developed to account for these omissions but none, to my knowledge, adequately accounts for one of the greatest sets of omissions of all. Why does the Gospel of Mark report nothing of the origins of Jesus nor of his resurrection appearance(s) to his disciples?

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke both feature extensive narratives of Jesus’s infancy (John, in his prologue, chooses to locate Jesus’s origins before the Creation). And Matthew, Luke, and John include narratives describing appearances of the risen Jesus. I will suggest in this essay that Mark did know these traditions and deliberately suppressed them for political reasons in conformity with the ancient values of honor and shame. The author’s bias against the earliest leadership of the Jerusalem church, a leadership composed of Jesus’s family and a council of twelve elders of the Way, prevented him from including these narratives.

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