Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Talpiot Tomb Various

There are several additional things that are worth mentioning on the Talpiot tomb story from recent days. Randy Ingermanson has uploaded a clear, detailed investigation of the statistics and the tomb, co-written with Jay Cost. Some will remember his earlier piece, Statistics and the "Jesus Family Tomb". This piece builds on that one and takes it to a whole new level of thought and detail, though with the same conclusion, that the odds are strongly against this being Jesus of Nazareth's tomb. One particularly useful factor in the piece is the assigning of "Jesus factor", "Not Jesus factor" and "neutral factor" to the evidence, the kind of ground work I was attempting to do, in my ham-fisted way, with talk of "matches" and "non matches" and the difficulty of the latter not having been factored in to the documentary's thinking (The Statistical Case for the Identity of the "Jesus Family Tomb"). The new article is found here:

Bayes' Theorem and "The Jesus Family Tomb"

I have been lucky to be able to listen to the experts talking about the statistics in an email discussion initiated by James Tabor and featuring Randy Ingermanson, Jay Costs, Joe D'Mello and others.

Meanwhile, Robert Gundry has a guest post on Bruce Fisk's Crossings:

Robert Gundry on the physicality of Jesus' resurrection in earliest Christian proclamation

The post responds to James Tabor, partly on the Talpiot Tomb but also on The Jesus Dynasty. Speaking of James Tabor, you can now read a helpful summary of his thinking about the tomb on his blog:

The Talpiot Jesus Tomb: An Overview

This overview has brought about a series of responses by Darrell Bock on Bock's Blog, on Historical Context, Statistics, Inscriptions and Tabor's Hypotheticals.

In a March 13 post on Talpiot Tomb Various, I noted Michael Heiser on the ossuaries found at Dominus Flevit:
I want to draw your attention—and the attention of scholars and interested parties who read your blog—to a SECOND site that has all those names. In 1953-1955, Bellarmino Bagatti excavated the site of Dominus Flevit (“The Lord wept”) on the Mount of Olives. The excavation uncovered a necropolis and over 40 inscribed ossuaries – including the names of Mary, Martha, Matthew, Joseph, Jesus. These ossuaries are not, as far as I can tell, in Rahmani’s catalogue. I’m guessing the reason is that they are not the property of the Israel Antiquities Authority (see Rahmani’s Preface). The necropolis was apparently used ca. 136 BC to 300 AD. Here is a link that discusses the site. A few scanned pages of Bagatti’s excavation report (written in Italian) can be found here as well.
Now Antonio Lombatti emails:
I teach Medieval History (my field of research is the cult of Christian relics) and, while reading your excellent NT Blog, I came across the quotation of the Dominus Flevit excavations. There you quoted the Bagatti and Milik 1958 book which is, unfortunately, in Italian. Well, I am Italian... I got it and read it carefully. And I found out that on the 34 ossuaries Bagatti and Milik found there were (also) the following names: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Judas, Mathew, Martha and... Mariame.

But, above all, the names Mary and Mariame were inscribed on the same ossuary and were found in the very same loculus. And, last but not least, the inscriptions were in GREEK.
The humour is still coming too. Chris Brady links to a delightful cartoon Tomb of Star Trek and there are plenty of places that crack the inevitable but still funny joke that the one thing that would have convinced them that this was Jesus' tomb would have been the discovery of a bracelet in there reading "WWID?"

It is worth mentioning too that discussion of the Talpiot tomb continues apace on the ANE-2 list, including regular contributions from Joe Zias and James Tabor.


Stephen C. Carlson said...

That Bagatti excavation is pretty interesting. If we're looking at an unusual cluttering of names, we also have it here. So it looks like that the odds of the Talpiot tomb identification just went from, ahem, 600:1 to no better than 1:1 (and, for other reasons, probably a lot worse).

JD Walters said...

How about the possibility that instead of having a woman named 'Marya' in one of the ossuaries we have a man named 'Merayah' (as per Nehemiah Gordon)? The two are both spelled exactly the same in Hebrew, MRYH, and it would make sense of the other Hebrew name we have, Matya. If this reading is even half-plausible it's Adios muchachos for the whole Jesus tomb theory.

Anonymous said...

If the masculinity of MRYH is as obvious as Gordon makes it seem, then this entire fiasco started with an obvious error made by the original 1980 researchers. How could this happen? We know they weren't unscrupulous hucksters; they never tried to monetize their find with an archaeopornumentary.

Perhaps the story of the Nativity is so deeply ingrained in everyone's subconscious that it's nearly impossible to see a Joseph and a Jesus without also trying to see a Mary-- like a nearly irresistible optical illusion.

I'm reminded of the hapless NASA analyst who in 1976 found and published a photo of a Martian mountain that's shaped like a human face. He never imagined that hucksters would still be using his mountain as a basis for conspiracy theories and caelestioporn, three full decades later.