I enjoyed reading the new article, and I appreciate the even-handed and careful nature of Kilty's and Elliott's response. The article continues in a series of articles that they have written on the topic over the last three or four years. I am particularly pleased to see Kilty and Elliott playing down one of the most egregiously problematic elements in Jacobovici's case, the notion that "Mariamne" was an especially appropriate way of designating Mary Magdalene, a claim that Jacobovici regarded as the lynchpin of the case.
Nevertheless, there are still a couple of major problems, as I see it, with the way that Kilty and Elliott are presenting the case for the identification:
(1) They claim that "Yoseh" is significant because it is rare, a claim that does not take the New Testament evidence seriously.
(2) They do not regard "Judas son of Jesus" as contradictory evidence for the identification with the Jesus family.
The difficulty over (1) is that the names Joses and Joseph are clearly regarded as similar or the same in the New Testament. Mark 6.3 calls Jesus' brother "Joses" while the parallel in Matt. 13.55 calls him "Joseph". Matthew clearly regards Joseph as an alternative, preferable way of saying "Joses". Likewise, the character who appears in Mark 15.40 and 15.47 is called Joses in Mark and Joseph the Matthean parallel (Matt. 27.56). Moreover, the fact that this character may be a different character than the brother of Jesus also witnesses against the alleged extraordinary nature of the name. The same Joseph / Joses variation is found in the texts too, and not just here in Matthew but also in Acts 4.36, Joses / Joseph Barnabas.
The difficulty with (2) is that there is simply no evidence that Jesus had a son called Judas. (As a commenter on this blog once facetiously said, "How likely is it that Jesus would have named his son Judas?!"). This might sound like a simple point, but I am afraid that it needs to be taken seriously. The whole case for the identity of the Talpiot Tomb with Jesus' family is based on the idea of an extraordinary positive correlation between clusters of names. It is unacceptable when calculating probabilities to ignore contradictory evidence like this.
The difficulty over Judas son of Jesus is already clear in the Jacobovici presentation. On the page Judah son of Jesus, we read:
The most controversial ossuary pulled from the Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries was undoubtedly the one inscribed “Judah, son of Jesus,” the ossuary of a child. If indeed the tomb uncovered in East Talpiot in 1980 is that of Jesus and his family, and if indeed Jesus of Nazareth had a son, this ossuary contradicts dramatically nearly 2000 years of Christian tradition.The difficulty ought to be immediately apparent. The whole case is based on the idea of an extraordinary correlation between the names in the tomb, but here there is an admission that in fact one of the ossuaries "contradicts dramatically nearly 2000 years of Christian tradition" (emphasis added). In a case that requires extraordinary correlation, extraordinary contradiction simply will not do.
Update (Friday, 7.03): James McGrath has a helpful round up of links to recent discussion.