Sunday, March 25, 2007

SBL Forum: Tomb Latest

I was away during the latter part of last week so haven't blogged for a little. It's good to see on my return that François Bovon has clarified his role in the Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary over on the SBL Site:

The Tomb of Jesus
François Bovon

See my earlier comments on the use made of Bovon in Mariamne, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany; the present article makes clear succinctly that "I do not believe that Mariamne is the real name of Mary of Magdalene" and with respect to the Acts of Philip, "My interest is not historical, but on the level of literary traditions." The one slightly troubling element in the piece is the first point:
First, I have now seen the program and am not convinced of its main thesis. When I was questioned by Simcha Jacobovici and his team the questions were directed toward the Acts of Philip and the role of Mariamne in this text. I was not informed of the whole program and the orientation of the script.
Having done some television myself, including several Discovery Channel documentaries (though usually BBC partnered programmes), I have been lucky never to have had that kind of experience and, to be honest, I am a little taken aback by it. I have always talked with the programme makers at some length before the interview, sometimes over a period of weeks and months and I have always known what the programme involved, even if the final product is often spun in a particular direction that I was not completely happy with. But I suppose that the lesson that this teaches is always to make sure that one knows what one is getting involved with.

The SBL Site has a couple of other fresh articles, Steven Fine, Concerning the Jesus Family Tomb and Jonathan Reed, In Response to Tabor. It has to be said that the SBL Forum has done a great job in producing speedy responses from scholars interested in the issue.


Frank Jacks said...

Thanks for your continued up-dates about the "continuing story" about "the Jesus tomb" ... er, whatever! I probably should have posted this comment earlier on, when you were still talking about the statistic so if this is "late to the part" then my apologies, but I do have a question about my own understanding and would appreciate greatly your either confirming or disconforming what I am about to say.

Like yourself, I am no statistician
nor have I ever taken a course in this arcane discipline but logic is
one of the disciplines I did get exposed to and it has seemed to me all along that the problem was not in the statistical analysis but in the logic of the argument with which it was associated. So here goes -

Should not they have simply said that IF Jesus' family did in fact have a tomb in or around Jerusalem
then it was statistically highly probably that this was it?

If that is true, then the problem of the documentary (et. al.) was to inverse this logic into an invalid
sequence, somehow claiming that the
statistics made it probably that Jesus and his family did in fact have a tomb.

Or have I missed something? I am indeed just "trying this out" to see who (if anyone) salutes, for I might well be (still) out of touch
... ???



Nehemias said...

“If we ask all the males named Jesus to stand, based on the frequency of that name, we would expect 2,796 to rise. If we then ask all those with a father named Joseph to remain standing there would only be 351 left. If we further reduce this group by asking only those with a mother named Mary to remain standing we would get down to only 173. If we then ask those of this group with a brother named Joseph to remain standing only 23 are left. And finally, if we add the condition of just one brother named James, there’s less than a 3/4 chance that even 1 person remains standing”.

My comments: But we don’t know if Mary in the Talpiot tomb was Yeshua’s mother. We also don’t know if Yose and Yeoshua were brothers. Probably, the entire family of Mr.Yeoshua were buried in Talpiot tomb (mother, father, cousins, uncles, aunts and so on).

Christopher A. Rollston :
“Note, however, that for these six inscribed ossuaries from the Talpiyot Tomb, there are just two personal names with patronymics: (1) Yehuda bar Yeshua' and (2) Yeshua' bar Yosep. This is a pivotal issue because without patronymics it is not possible for someone in the modern period to ascertain the precise kinship relationships of antiquity (…) For example, the assumption of these scholars is that the Yoseh of the Yoseh Ossuary was the son of Yosep. However, there is no patronymic on this inscription and so to assume that Yoseh was the son of Yosep (and thus the brother of Jesus) is problematic. That is, Yoseh could be the son of Mattiyah, or the son of Yehudah, or the son of Yeshua'. Perhaps, he was the father of Maryah, or the father of Miriamne, or Mattiyah. Maybe he is the uncle of one of these. Perhaps, Yoseh was the son or father or brother or uncle of someone who was buried in one of the ossuaries that does not contain an inscription. It is possible to suggest that he was a cousin of someone in the tomb (…).
Similarly, for Maryah, the assumption of those propounding that this is the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is that this woman is the mother of Yeshua' bar Yosep. However, it is tenable to suggest that she was the wife of Yehudah, or the wife of Yoseh, or the wife of Mattiyah, or the wife of Yeshua'. She might have been the benevolent and kind aunt of someone buried in the tomb. She might have been the cousin of someone buried in the tomb. Sometimes we have complementary data. For example, an ossuary from the Kidron Valley is inscribed with the words: "Shalom, wife of Yehudah."[25] However, for Maryah we simply do not have such data; thus, to assume that a modern scholar can discern and make an affirmation about the nature of some relationship is risible”.
My comments: So, using Tabor analogy, I think that if we ask “only those with” at least, a close relative “named Mary” (mother, or aunt, or cousins, or niece), almost all of those “Jesuses” would remain standing. And after, if we ask those of this group with a close relative named Joseph (brother, cousin, father, uncle, nephew) to remain standing, much more than 23 are left.


Greg DeLassus said...

To be very fair, Nehemias, Dr Tabor is simply doing a sloppy job in that quote of explaining the methods employed in the calculations used by Jacobovici's team. Dr Feuerverger did not really include factors like "has a mother named Mary" in his caculations, although Dr Tabor's explanation would leave the impression that this is the case. As such, there is no real point in picking apart the details of Dr Tabor's explanation in this quote.

Nehemias said...


I'm not so sure.

Kloner in: "A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiyot, Jerusalem"

“The number of interments may be estimated at 35: 17 in the ossuaries (based on an average of 1.7 individuals per ossuary) and 18 outside the ossuaries. These figures are based on demographic data compiled by the author (see Kloner 1993:105)”

So, if Kloner is right (I do think he is), “Jesus, son of Joseph”, was buried with other 34 close relatives (father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces…). What are their names?

Suppose that 17 of them were male relatives and 17 were female.

According Bauckham, 20 % of first century Jewish women were named Mary (or Mariam, Mariamme, Mariame, Marya, Mariamne…), and, at least, 10 % Mara or Martha. We learn also that almost 10 % of Jewish men were named Joseph or Simon, or even Judas.

If Talpiot family names follow this pattern (it is a simplification), we can expect about 4 Marys buried there (maybe 3, perhaps 5), and two of them have inscribed ossuaries. There is no surprise here. We could expect 2 Marthas buried there also. In the male line, there is no surprise if we find 2 Josephs or 2 Judas, even 2 Simons or 2 Lazarus (Eleazar).

So if all Talpiot’s people had been inscribed in those ossuaries, we probably had a cluster of 4 or 5 Marys, 3 Salomes, 2 Marthas, 2 Simons, 2 Lazarus and 2 Josephs. However, this cluster of names would be common in Jewish families in that time.

Pfann: “The Improper Application of Statistics in "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"
“If other tombs contained so many inscribed ossuaries, the name census in most other tombs would be very much the same. This being the case, there very well could be numerous tombs which could have claim to the title "a Jesus' family tomb." However in all cases, as in this, there would be no compelling reason to connect them with Jesus of Nazareth!”

In Jerusalem, in first century, almost 350 men were named “Jesus, Son of Joseph”. And I think that almost all of those “Jesuses” had several close relatives named Mary, and Joseph, or Judas (and Lazarus, or Simon, or Salome)in their families.