If the ossuary in the Talpiot tomb is that of Mary Magdalene and if she was indeed the wife of Jesus, scholars wonder why her ossuary is inscribed in Greek while that of Jesus is in Aramaic. “Surely a husband and wife would share a common language, even in death.” (1)
The reasons for the Greek inscription on the ossuary are more than one. Mary Magdalene is from Magdala (Migdal) because of which it is quite likely that she spoke fluent Greek and after the crucifixion of Jesus it is quite likely that she preached chiefly to Greek speaking Jews. (2)
It appears that between 60 and 80 CE Hellenist Jews made up a sizeable portion of the population. This is recorded in the book of “Acts” in the Hellenized NT. During that period Greek was not as rare as it was made out to be. Of the 233 inscribed ossuaries in the collection of the State of Israel as of 1994, two thirds are in Hebrew/Aramaic, whereas approximately one third is in Greek, or a combination of Greek and Hebrew. (3) Besides this it may also be mentioned that: the earliest existing versions of Mark and Matthew were originally written in Greek. (4)
However Prof Eric M Meyers – Duke University – is of the opinion that “in Galilee, Greek was uncommon, if not rare, among first-century Jews.” Nevertheless others have countered this claim saying that Meyer’s opinion is probably backed by evidence that is “sparse and unconvincing”. Yirmәyahu Ben-David states that “Whatever Jewish communities were Hellenist spoke Greek and in whatever communities Pharisaic Jews lived they spoke Hebrew and Aramaic.” (5)
Ostensibly, as Mary Magdalene was not of the same lineage as the rest of Jesus’ family it is not odd that the inscription on her ossuary should be in Greek. Besides this could be the proof that the ossuary in the Talpiot tomb is indeed the ossuary of Mary Magdalene. Of the 74 Mariams known to us, the Greek inscription of Mariamne on the ossuary is the “closest fit” to Mary Magdalene.” (6)
DNA Test To Check For Any Relationship Between Jesus And Mary Magdalene
Analysis of mitochondrial DNA from the bone fragments taken from the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary and the “Mariamne” ossuary done at Lakehead University showed that these two individuals were not blood-relatives on their mothers’ side. This prompted the makers of the documentary to suggest that the two were husband and wife. Their principal reason: Otherwise the two would not have been interred in a family tomb. (7)
Craig Evans suggests that one reason for the absence of a match could be that since ossuaries contained the bones of more than one individual there was no certainty that the fragments selected were that of “Jesus son of Joseph” and “Mariamne.” (8)
Although tradition has it that only family members are buried in such tombs there is always the possibility that non-members may also have been buried there. Besides, there was no recorded DNA test of the fragments from any of the other ossuaries. As such we cannot even be certain that the other individuals buried in this tomb belonged to a family. The other possibility not considered is that the individuals tested could have been related in any of a number of ways “that do not include a matrilineage line.” (9)
From what has been seen it would appear that the odds are stacked in favor of Mary Magdalene being more than just a disciple and companion of Jesus.
(1) Lusk, Steve. (2008). Ossuaries. Retrieved 2011 from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp and http://www.netzarim.co.il/Web%20Cafe/2008/2008.02.11%20Talpiot%20Tombs%20Disputation.htm
(2) Fienberg, Stephen E. (2008). Editorial: Statistics And “The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.utstat.utoronto.ca/andrey/pubs/Archeology.pdf.
(3) Fienberg, Stephen E. (2008). Editorial: Statistics And “The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.utstat.utoronto.ca/andrey/pubs/Archeology.pdf.
(4) Fienberg, Stephen E. (2008). Editorial: Statistics And “The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.utstat.utoronto.ca/andrey/pubs/Archeology.pdf
(5) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008) .Talpiot Tomb Disputations. Retrieved 2011 from
(6) Fienberg, Stephen E. (2008). Editorial: Statistics And “The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.utstat.utoronto.ca/andrey/pubs/Archeology.pdf
(7) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (2012) Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus
(8) Evans, A. Craig. (2006-2012). The Tomb of Jesus and Family? Second Thoughts. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.craigaevans.com/tombofjesus.htm
(9) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (2012) Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus