The article has spawned many comments, including several from Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor themselves. Jacobovici writes:
As for what the article says; it refers to “architectural façades (belonging to the Temple?), a vase and two names written in Greek.” So it seems that the “vase” reference is not to the Jonah image at all! The article speaks about Temple “façades” or “features” in the plural i.e., the fish is subsumed under “Temple façades,” since it is carved next to a Temple-like structure on the front of the “Jonah ossuary.” The “vase” is a separate item altogether and it’s referred to in the singular, probably what we have identified as the tail of a fish at the backend of the ossuary.Similarly, Tabor writes:
Since Ilan does not seem to know about the four line Greek inscription, or clearly mention the Jonah image, my guess is he might be referring to the “half fish” (Cargill and Goodacre’s vase with handles) that is clearly visible in the photos in Kokh 1, ossuary 1, and NOT the Jonah image that is on its face since this account implies Kloner was in and out very quickly without moving the ossuaries.The reason that I am interested in these comments is that they at least suggest that Tabor and Jacobovici accept that it would be reasonable to interpret the "half-fish" as a vase. Let's just take a moment to look again at the relevant image:
This is a detail taken from Kloner's original 1981 investigation of the tomb, with arrows pointing to the handles (from here; see also here; new photograph here). I suggested that this picture of a vase provides key contextual information about the interpretation of the picture on the façade of the same ossuary (see Robert Cargill's Sins of Commission and Omission for more). A vessel on the end of the ossuary; a vessel on the façade of the ossuary. Compare, for example, these images from Rahmani's catalogue shared by Tom Verenna in which there is a vessel on the end of the ossuary, and a vessel on its façade.
Now of course it could, in theory, be that there was a vessel on the end of the ossuary but a "fish" on its façade, but the very fact that Jacobovici and Tabor have insisted on the "half-fish" interpretation for the end of the ossuary suggests that they are aware of the importance of contextual clues.
However, I must admit that I think it most unlikely that the DAVAR article is referring to this vase on the end of the ossuary. The more striking image is the one on the façade and I cannot imagine that the vase on the end of the ossuary would have commanded their attention more than the one on the façade.
Either way, the article is telling for another reason. Simcha Jacobovici recently suggested that the reason that many scholars do not see a "fish" is that they are involved in some kind of "theological trauma". But as Paul Regnier commented , "Quite how can you be traumatised by a viewpoint that won’t actually exist for another 30 years?!" However one attempts to spin this one, the original investigators did not see any fish on this ossuary, and I am afraid that that is telling.