Thursday, March 15, 2007

Talpiot Tomb Statistics Update

Jack Poirier's article, which I mentioned the other day, on the Statistics behind the "Jesus Family Tomb", is now available at the Jerusalem Perspective Online:

The Statistics Behind "The Tomb"
Jack Poirier

This may be a good occasion to bring together in one place the other major articles on the statistical case:

Statistics and the "Jesus Family Tomb"
Randy Ingermanson

Examining the "Jesus Tomb" Evidence
Jay Cost

The Improper Application of Statistics in "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"
Stephen Pfann

Talpiot Tomb: Statistics
Includes several posts by Joe D'Mello

The last of these links is to all the material relevant to the statistical case from this blog, including several guest posts by Joe D'Mello, in interaction with Andrey Feuerverger, whose most recent statement is on his homepage.


James D. Tabor said...


Let me just add that ALL of these people you have mentioned I have linked up in a private e-mail discussion on the whole "Statistics" question with my own consultants John Koopmans and David Tyler. You are being copied on it and I think you will agree that there is a wonderful spirit of harmonious exploration and technical exchange going on. I just wanted to mention this since each of these posts you note, other than Feuerverger, question whether there is any statistical significance/rarity to this cluster of names and there is a very respectable alternative opinion just so people know. The issue is far from closed and Koopmans has done a masterful job I think in trying to exchange views with those who are doubtful of his own figures upon which I have based my conclusions.

James D. Tabor

Alex Dalton said...


You know....It would really be nice to have a comments section on your blog. You're really one of the central figures in what has now become a fairly controversial argument, and it would be terrific to actually be able to interact critically with some of the arguments you've been making on your blog, and for others to have the ability to see that critical interaction.

Would you consider opening it up for comments?


Alex Dalton

Steven Avery said...


James, you would do a service to place the following two quotes prominently on your website.

> "Feueverger ... numbers had
> nothing to do with the
> identification with the Jesus tomb"

> "People don’t realize how unique
> sets of even common names are
> when it comes to simple probabilities".

The speaker ?

James Tabor .. on ANE.

Steven Avery

James, I answered your last ANE post on IIDB when ANE closed the thread.

Since you clearly did not understand my original ANE post, based on your ascribing to me a position I had not even remotely taken.

J.Jones said...

Tabor has been posting comments on other people's blogs all over the internet. Yet he doesn't allow comments on HIS blog!

Hmmm . . .

Anonymous said...

Though I do not think the East Talpiot tomb is "the Jesus family tomb," nor that there was good scholarly reason to make such a claim, I'm interested in some of the related questions that have been raised. Thanks a lot to James Tabor for making available a good high res photo of the Greek inscription. Rahmani's Catalog is indeed excellent, but, so far (I may not be up to date with all the arguments and am open to new data), I think Pfann's reading with kai engraved (and not assumed) is more likely than as the ending letters of the first name. Not to say that clears everything up. But if Pfann's kai is right, it, according to Prof. Feuerverger (as quoted in Wall St. J.) may mean that "The mathematical finding would become 'statistically not significant.'" Rahmani's reference to RB v.10 is 2nd series = continuous v. 22; the Beth Shearim ref.: "Sarah from Meishan who is (also called) Maxima"-eta, no kai. That's a Hebrew/Latin double name, not Aramaic/Aramaic. Cf. Hebrew/Greek Shlomzion/Alexandra. Would a hypocoristic be coupled with Lord or Master (real question)? How many Jewish fem. double names are in two languages vs. one? Which names are coupled? Did Tal Ilan read a written or assumed kai? What think Puech, Rajak, Cotton, Bowersock, Tsaferis...? Does Pfann have parallels for his proposed word-divider stroke? Can a "signum" come after kai? The Gk. surely gets more cursive--can anyone show a parallel that goes cursive in one hand that fast? I don't see a difference in the type writing implement. It might be interesting to review other cases of proposed inscriptions previously proposed as linked with otherwise known individuals. Maybe try again to read the inscription with the crucified/nail remains.
Stephen Goranson

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I think that there are not two, but (at least) three different readings of the East Talpiot ossuary Greek inscription on the table, so to speak.

1) L. Y. Rahmani and others:
mariamenu (eta) mara

2) Tal Ilan (reportedly) and others (two I just asked):
mariam eta kai mara

3) S. Pfann and others:
mariame kai mara

2 and 3 differ on whether the eta is the last letter of the first name or part of the formula between the two names

Stephen Goranson

Anonymous said...

Stephen Pfann has posted A SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE on the Talpiot Greek inscription,
(Rahmani no. 701) addressing a third proposed reading:

Stephen Goranson

James D. Tabor said...

Just a point on the query about why I do not allow Comments on my The comment feature had to be shut down, it just was not practical. It was impossible to allow comments without moderation and they were coming in at the rate of 300 or so a day, so no one could possibly monitor things. Also, some of them were abusive and designed to taunt, and at one point it was clear that some kind of "evangelical' bombing was going on as hundreds of posts appeared making very similar, but obviously orchestrated points. Now that my book has gone into dozens of languages the international traffic has really picked up, so the problem is compounded, but with the latest flurry and heat over the Talpiot tomb there is no possible way anyone could handle a comment feature on that site.

As far as posting all over I don't think you will find much of that anymore because I did try in some cases to offer clarifications and factural input on quite a few sites but the atmosphere was so hostile I have not been back. Right now I am pretty well confined to Mark's site because generally (some exceptions) those who post here know about civil exchanges. I have also recently put some things up on the ANE-2 site in response to Zias making some very hostile personal attacks. But mostly I have been counseled by quite a few colleagues I trust to continue to try and provide high quality posts on my own site and let the rest of the world go by--who could keep up with it anyway, right?

James Tabor

Steven Avery said...

James has at least tried, in a difficult situation, to interact on blogs, websites, email forums and personally. Much as I might be viewed as a strong critic (most especially on the strange probability claims, now largely and belatedly removed from the Jesus Family Tomb website) I would be the first to acknowledge that James ..

a) Makes an attempt to dialog
b) Is concerned about integrity issues
c) Has at times been criticized unfairly

Steven Avery