Carson, however, strongly disagrees. "Now the texts do not say they did it [baptism] at the same place at the same time. If they did, it wouldn't bother me one way or the other. In other words I don't think the Suba cave adds anything to the account in that respect ... Merely numbers of people being baptized by itself doesn't say very much about the relationship of the two men or that they were both Messiahs or anything like that."
According to Carson, John the Baptist is absolutely clear as to Jesus being the one Messiah.
"John the Baptist says that he is not worthy to even undo the sandals of Jesus," Carson said. "When Jesus asks for baptism, according to Matthew's account, John the Baptist says, 'Wait a minute, I should be baptized by you, not the other way around'. He sees himself as announcing the coming of another.
Whereas, by contrast, when Jesus talks about John there is not a sort of mutual admiration society of colleagues, still less a kind of a minor admiration for a predecessor. In other words, it is correct to say that John the Baptist does initiate the movement. But to say he is therefore the first Messiah simply goes beyond the evidence."
In addition to Tabor's claims that Jesus had an earthly father and a fellow Messiah, his book also argues it was Jesus' intention to build a dynasty on earth. Tabor says that it was Jesus' half-brother James who would inherit the title role of dynastical king after the crucifixion.
But again, Carson is adamant that the title of the book, "The Jesus Dynasty," is plain wrong.
"The dynasty bit presupposes that there is continuity. That is, there's succession. But the New Treatment evidence, such as it is, is that Jesus is the final king who goes on ruling and reigning. He doesn't need a dynasty, precisely because he is the ongoing king."
Carson insists there was no plan to build a Jesus dynasty.
"No. None," he said. "Jesus was king forever."
The book itself is bound to raise questions and arouse debate. And the argument about the historical Jesus will continue for now.