Category Archives: THE TALPIOT TOMB

In March 1980 a bulldozer accidently uncovered a burial cave belonging to the Second Temple period.

Based on the names inscribed on the ossuaries excavated from there some scholars think that this could

be the family tomb of Jesus.

Is This The Family Tomb Of Jesus?

Has The Family Tomb Of Jesus Been Discovered?

Opinion is divided. There are as many people who are convinced as there are people who think that there is absolutely no chance of this being the Jesus family tomb. Let’s first see why some people think that it is.

Some people believe that the very location of the Talpiot tomb is indicative of its significance. The importance of the location can only be appreciated if one understands the location of the Temple. It was aligned from east to west with the Holy of Holies towards the west end of the Temple. It is generally agreed that from west to east there were “the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary, the altar and court of the priests, the Court of the Women (Court of Prayer), and the eastern wall, separated from the Temple by a portion of the Court of the Gentiles”.

Nicanor Gate(Fig 1)

Importance Of The Alignment Of The Talpiot Tomb

This alignment has to be seen with reference to the location of the four or five gates of the old city. These gates were aligned east to west in such a manner that the rising sun shone directly through the gates into the sanctuary. Of these gates the Nicanor Gate is of particular importance because it is this gate that appeared on early Roman coins and it is this gate that is symbolized over the entrance to the Talpiot tomb. This is the gate through which Jesus rode into Jerusalem and then onto the Temple coming down from the Mount of Olives. Besides there is a significant relationship between the latitudinal coordinates of the Talpiot tomb and the coordinates of the Temple Mount.

It was believed that it is through the eastern gate that the Messiah will come at the time of judgment. Therefore it is of significance that the Talpiot tomb is aligned to this gate and that a chevron is symbolized over the entrance to the tomb.

It has been argued by some that it is reasonable to expect that the tomb of Jesus would be in Jerusalem rather in Galilee. Although assuming that Nazareth may have been the hometown of Jesus and his brothers and sisters, it is quite likely that all of them had relocated to Jerusalem following Jesus. John Dominic Crossan an Irish-American New Testament scholar, has reasoned that it is possible that James the brother of Jesus moved to Jerusalem long before the crucifixion of Jesus (1).

Another reason why the tomb of Jesus should be in Jerusalem and not in Nazareth could be because Jesus had his roots in Jerusalem and not in Galilee. It is quite likely, the notion that Nazareth was Jesus’ hometown originated because of an attempt at retrospective prophecy fulfillment – the confusion arising from Isaiah’s prophecy and the word netzer. It is possible that Jesus could have been called a Nazirite – an ascetic like Samson. Or the word netzer could simply mean born from the line of David. In this case Jesus’ hometown would be Jerusalem.

Names Belonged To The Family Of Jesus

Individually, the names found on the ossuaries from the Talpiot tomb were names that were very common during that period, for them to all be found in one tomb is indeed rare. Since they are all names of individuals who belonged to the immediate or extended family of Jesus has led many people to believe that this is indeed the Jesus family tomb.

It is generally agreed that the names on the ossuaries from the Talpiot is a close match to the family of Jesus of Nazareth that cannot be brushed aside without due consideration, when you add the ossuary of “James son of Joseph” to the list it is almost slam dunk that this tomb is indeed the tomb of the Biblical Jesus. But then there is more than just one problem why this cannot be done.

Why The Talpiot Tomb Cannot Be The Tomb Of Jesus

Rahmani who catalogued all the ossuaries in the possession of the state of Israel opined that “In Jerusalem’s tombs, the deceased’s place of origin was noted when someone from outside Jerusalem was interred in a local tomb.” It was the custom that ossuaries of deceased belonging to Judean families bear inscriptions that indicated the ancestry or lineage by naming the father. For instance the ossuary of Judah would bear the inscription “Judah son of John”. However ossuaries of deceased from outside Judea would bear an inscription giving the place of origin of the individual. Even the Gospels and historians such as Flavius Josephus refer to the difference in inscriptions between Judean and non-Judean ossuaries. Because the Talpiot ossuaries make no such distinction, some scholars believe that the tomb is not the tomb of the family of Jesus of Nazareth, but is in fact no more than the tomb of a Judean family (2).

Not Enough Reason To Conclude This Is Not The Tomb Of Jesus

But this is not reason enough to conclude that the Talpiot tomb is not the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Consider that of the 895 ossuaries belonging to the State of Israel and catalogued by Rahmani, only 227 are inscribed. And yet of the ten ossuaries found in the Talpiot tomb, six bear inscriptions. This is much higher than the general average of about 25%. Besides this, the ossuary bearing the inscription the “Yeshua bar Yehosef”, is the only ossuary with such an inscription. In spite of the limited patronymics the cluster of names on the ossuaries of the Talpiot tomb has statistical relevance. If Jesus had a family tomb, it would have been logical to expect the names of the individuals listed in the Talpiot tomb. The only name that may come as a surprise is that of Judah who some think is the son of Jesus that he had with Mariamne or Mary Magdalene

Hollywood director James Cameron and Canadian investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici made a documentary about the Talpiot tomb and called it The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The documentary was aired once on Discovery Channel. Britain’s Channel 4 which was also supposed to the air the documentary canceled the program. As expected the highly explosive nature of its conclusions attracted a lot of criticism from academics and many Christian clerics (3).

However a prominent New Testament specialist from Princeton Theological Seminary, Prof. James Charlesworth, was sufficiently interested to organize a conference in Jerusalem in January 2008. He invited over 50 archeologists, statisticians and experts in DNA, ceramics and ancient languages, to debate as to whether or not the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

The Tomb Of Jesus – An Endless Debate

Although the deliberation as to whether this is indeed the tomb of Jesus will go on for years to come, the participants voted unanimously that the tomb, now sealed should be reopened and studied further. Jacobovici told Time magazine “I feel vindicated”. “It’s moved from ‘it can’t be the Jesus’ family tomb’ to ‘it could be’” (4).

One argument against the Talpiot tomb being the tomb of Jesus is that Jesus was too poor to afford a rock-cut tomb. While Magness supports this contention she concedes that one of the followers of Jesus was Joseph of Arimathea, an influential and wealthy man. It is not unreasonable to expect that Joseph of Arimathea to have provided a rock-cut tomb for Jesus. After Jesus, James his brother took over the leadership of the movement, and in a short time he had such a sizeable following that even Josephus mentioned it in his Antiquities. It is likely that one of his followers could have provided Jesus with a permanent burial place. Besides if the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, of Bethany could afford to bury their dead in a rock-hewn tomb, why not Jesus (5) (6).

Shimon Gibson of the IAA has stated that from all the many excavations in the Jerusalem area no trench graves were discovered and that only rock-cut tombs were prevalent, giving rise to the conclusion that even average Jews in Jerusalem practiced burial in tombs rather than trench graves (7).

However it must be remembered that with the exception of Matthew, none of the other evangelists make any mention of where Jesus was buried. Even John whose source is independent of Mark and Luke says nothing about whose tomb Jesus was buried in. Only in Matthew is Joseph of Arimathea described as a “rich man” who buries Jesus in “his own new tomb”. This seems like a tendentious attempt by Matthew to show that this was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah who talks of a suffering servant who is buried in the tomb of a rich man (8).

In John we learn that “in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there” (John 19:41-42). What John said comports well with the primary which is Mark. Both agree that this was a burial that was hurriedly done. John states clearly that it was a temporary burial that was necessitated as it was the day of preparation as the next day was the Sabbath (9).

To further show that Jesus was poor and could therefore not afford a rock-cut tomb Jodi Magness Professor, University of North Carolina, claims that “the Romans generally reserved crucifixion for the poorer classes, who they regarded as common criminals.” This is however not the case. Prof. Magness is most likely not right on both counts: neither was Jesus poor nor was he considered a common criminal. Even if Jesus was poor and considered a common criminal by the Romans, Professor Magness seems to forget the capabilities of faithful followers. There are earlier referred instances to bear this out. According to Mark (Mark 6:29) the followers of John the Baptist placed his body in a tomb. From the Syriac “Ascents of James” we learn that the followers of James bury the murdered Stephen in a tomb near Jericho. So even if Jesus was poor, and a condemned criminal, surely his followers would have found a tomb in which to bury him.

The reason cited by some scholars as to why Jesus could not have had a tomb in Jerusalem is that being from Nazareth, it was reasonable to expect that if he did indeed have a tomb, it would have been in Nazareth and not in Jerusalem. And even if he did have a tomb in Jerusalem some scholars say that the ossuaries would have borne in addition to names the place of origin of the individual such as “Jesus of Nazareth, Jose of Nazareth, Matthew of Capernaum, Mary of Nazareth, Mariamene of Magdala, and Judah son of Yeshua from Nazareth” (10).

Amos Kloner concluded based on the totality of the finds at Talpiot that the tomb can be dated “from the end of the first century B.C.E. or the beginning of the first century C.E., until approximately 70 C.E.” He also estimated that the bones of approximately 35 people were recovered from the tomb. His approximation is that there were the bones of 17 people inside the ossuaries and the bones of another 18 outside.

However according to Shimon Gibson who was part of the excavation team “the number of interments in the cave is unknown, but, basing himself on data obtained from other tombs that have been studied, Kloner believes that it might have been about thirty-five individuals. Unfortunately, this is mere guesswork since the anthropological remains from the Talpiot tomb were never examined or quantified” (11).

Another reason cited as to why the Talpiot tomb is not the tomb of Jesus is that if there was a tomb with his physical remains, all that the enemies of Jesus had to do to discredit him was to point to the tomb. In that case the belief and the teaching that Jesus resurrected bodily would have had no validity. Further there is no tradition of the Talpiot tomb ever being venerated by the followers of Jesus.

Scholars say that the ossuary supposed to have contained the physical remains of Jesus could not possibly be that of the biblical Jesus for the simple reason that it bore no embellishment or title befitting a master or messiah (12).

However others are convinced that the Chevron above the entrance and the cross mark on the ossuary of Jesus think are sufficient adornment, considering that the Essenes did not want to draw attention either to themselves or the tomb. If others did not know about the existence of the tomb is because it was the guarded secret of a secluded group.

Dominic Crossnan reasons that there would have been no tomb to mark the burial of Jesus as he “died a criminal’s death on the tree of shame” and would have been “eaten by dogs”. However others counter this, saying that although the Romans used crucifixion “to maintain peace and order and punish rebellious provincials for incitement to rebellion and acts of treason” archeological evidence and Jewish laws show that victims of crucifixion were not prevented from being buried. As the bible narratives show, Pilate did not object to Arimathea burying Jesus.

The names in the Talpiot tomb so closely match the members of Jesus’ family that a statistician from Toronto, Canada argued that the chance of the cluster of names being found in one tomb was 1:600. However Bock and Wallace claim that the names involved are too common for the hypothesis to be true. Enlisting the support of Tal Ilan, Stephen Pfann, and Amos Kloner, the two state that a mere 16 names account for 75% of the names in use then.

Each of the names from Talpiot made up 3% to 9% of the population of that time. The duo claimed that “…these names are not just common, but extremely common.” But this line of reasoning is untenable considering that the name Jesus on an ossuary occurs only four times in Hebrew/Aramaic and five times in Greek, for a total of nine out of 227. This argument is also weak considering that one cannot equate commonness of individual names to the occurrence in a tomb of the group of names (13).

Take the name Joseph, it was quite common – 14% of the population. But if you take the specific Aramaic form of Yose occurs only thrice. That by no means makes it common. The bottomline is that it is not the frequency of names that one must consider but the cluster of names. As such when considering a “Jesus family tomb” the question to ask is: What is the probability of there being a 1st century Jewish family tomb with a Jesus son of Joseph, a brother named Yose, and a mother named Mary being found? This is the material with which a statistician can analyze correlate the results with what a historian might then hypothesize as the probability of these specific names being found in a pre-70 CE Jesus tomb (14). In fact of the several tombs that were excavated in the Jerusalem area over the last 200 years not a single tomb was found even with the limited group of names: Jesus son of Joseph, Maria, and Yose.

As regards the reburial of Jesus Prof. Meyers states “”The issue of why Jesus would have had a secondary burial after having his body taken from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and buried elsewhere on the third day and then again a year later in an ossuary is a serious issue that cannot easily or readily be resolved… least, the practice of reburial in an ossuary is most often associated with the most pious individuals, namely, the Pharisees, and it is difficult to associate Jesus with the more conservative wing of that group”(15).

Even if the burial practice of the Pharisees was followed in the case of Jesus the tomb contained within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher could not have been his final resting place as the tombs within it were interconnected (16). At best the tombs within the Sepulcher as Kloner suggests must have been “a borrowed tomb” that was owned by the Sanhedrin.One fact is quite evident: this was not the tomb of a rich man – the tomb of Arimathea. Either that or as Matthew claims the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, was not fulfilled (17).

For this reason the tomb inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher cannot be the final resting place of Jesus. And for reasons already stated neither does the Garden Tomb qualify. Merely by elimination the Talpiot tomb is the most likely the family tomb of Jesus.

Joe Zias stated in an interview in late 2005 and early 2006 that he first noted “Jesus son of Joseph” when the “Jesus Son of Joseph” documentary was being made. According to him the cluster of names was so “unusually impressive” that if they were not of verified provenance he would have been suspicious of forgery (18).

What Simcha Jacobovici, Prof. Tabor and others have tried to show is that the Talpiot tomb could possibly be the tomb of Jesus. However critics have trashed this claim without assigning any substantial refutation. As long as there is no proof to the contrary it is likely, based merely on the one ossuary of “Yeshua”, that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus. There has been no proof to the contrary (19).

If this is the family tomb of Jesus there are some questions that need to be answered. The glaring question is why all the members of Jesus’ family were not buried in this tomb. This may or may not have been the case. According to Amos Kloner it is quite possible that the tomb contained more than ten ossuaries and that it was also possible that the bones of more than one individual were kept in a single ossuary. Besides, according to Amos Kloner the bones of approximately 35 people were recovered from the Talpiot tomb –approximately the bones of 17 people inside the ossuaries and the bones of another 18 outside.

So it is quite possible that Jesus’ entire family could have been buried in this tomb, except that no attempt was made to study the bones for possible identifications.

Please also read my blogs:
“The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery” at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ
“Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene?” at bit.ly/1RTTpna
“Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene?” at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0
“Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries?” at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx
”What Happened To The Bones From The Talpiot Tomb?” at http://bit.ly/1IUmRHa
”How Important Is The Chevron above the Entrance to the Talpiot Tomb?” at
http://bit.ly/1UC27oa

References:

(1) Koopmans, John. (2008). Talpiot Tomb – Fascinating New Discovery. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(2) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu .(2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm.

(3) McGirk, Tim. (2008). Jesus ‘Tomb’ Controversy Reopened. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1704299,00.html

(4) McGirk, Tim. (2008). Jesus ‘Tomb’ Controversy Reopened. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1704299,00.html

(5) (Finegan, Archaeology of the New Testament, pp. 359-374).

(6) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(7) Gibson, Shimon. (2009). The Final Days of Jesus. The Archaeological Evidence. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York.

(8) Two Burials of Jesus of Nazareth and The Talpiot Yeshua Tomb. (2007). http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=651

(9) Two Burials of Jesus of Nazareth and The Talpiot Yeshua Tomb. (2007). http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=651

(10) Franz, Gordon. (2012). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2012, from
http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/01/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem/

(11) Gibson, Shimon. (2009). The Final Days of Jesus. The Archaeological Evidence. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York.

(12) Evans, Craig & Feldman, Steven. (2007). The Tomb of Jesus? Wrong on Every Count. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-02-b.asp

(13) Talpiot Dethroned. (2000-2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/talpiot357921.shtml

(14) Tabor, James. (2007). The Talpiot Tomb: Separating Truth from Fiction. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.jesusdynasty.com/blog/2007/04/

(15) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(16) Obscurities around the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher. (2000-2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/tombs358017.shtml

(17) Tabor, James. (2008). Archive for the ‘Talpiot Jesus Family Tomb’ Category. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.jesusdynasty.com/blog/category/talpiot-jesus-family-tomb/page/2/

(18) Tabor, James. (2007). The Talpiot Tomb: Separating Truth from Fiction. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.jesusdynasty.com/blog/2007/04/

(19) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) Model reconstruction of the Nicanor gate in Jerusalem  http://www.magnoliabox.com/art/370985/model-reconstruction-of-the-nicanor-gate-in-jerusalem-in-66-ad

How Important Is The Chevron above the Entrance to the Talpiot Tomb?

The Chevron above the Entrance to the Talpiot Tomb

At the entrance to the Talpiot tomb is a pointed gable above a rosette. The makers of the film refer to this gable as a chevron and the rosette as a circle.

Chevron

They contend that the chevron and circle are an early Jewish-Christian symbol. In support of their claim they draw attention to one of the ossuaries at the Dominus Flevit church. It is thought that some of the ossuaries at this church may have belonged to early Christians. At one end of this ossuary is a marking similar to the one at the entrance to the Talpiot tomb (1).

Other sources also attach similar significance to the chevron symbol – sometimes referred to as the Alpha and Omega symbol. They adduce that the symbol above the entrance is indicative of the burial site of Jesus (2).

An argument in support of this claim is that a chevron and circle symbol is there on the Nicanor gate of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The Nicanor gate indicated the end of a pilgrimage and the entrance to the Talpiot tomb also indicated the end of a pilgrimage.

However there are skeptics. They say that the gable and rosette patterns have nothing to do with Christianity. They are of the conviction that the symbols predate Christianity. In support of their claim they say that the symbols appear on coins minted during the Hasmonean period and the period of tetrarch Philip, son of Herod the Great, which was distinctly before the period of Jesus and his movement.

Chevron2

On the coins above (Herod Phillip) a “chevron and circle” pattern is clearly visible as a depiction of the facade of the Nicanor gate of the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Besides, the gable and rosette patterns appear in “Jewish funerary and synagogue art” and are usually used to represent the Ark of the Covenant. These symbols also appear on non-Christian ossuaries (Rahmani nos. 282, 294, 392, 408, 893). Besides this symbol appears to indicate circles or even handles on several other ossuaries (Rahmani, nos. 251, 408, 473, 596, 597) and appear like a chevron when viewed from one end (3). A chevron was also found on an Iron Age tomb near the south Jaffa Gate (4). Even more significant is the fact that these symbols were used to represent the Temple – an institution that Jesus was very much against (5).

However in spite of this Simcha speculates that the chevron reflects the promise of Jesus “to build a Third Temple at the ‘end of times”. Nevertheless there are people who think that this is unfounded speculation for the simple reason that the First and Second Temples had flat roofs. The Temple Scroll describes a flat roof. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the third temple would also follow suit and have a flat roof (6).

Please also read my blogs:
“The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery” at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ
“Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene?” at bit.ly/1RTTpna
“Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene?” at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0
“Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries?” at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx
”What Happened To The Bones From The Talpiot Tomb?” at http://bit.ly/1IUmRHa
“Is This The Family Tomb Of Jesus?” at http://bit.ly/1OUcWNK

References:

(1) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(2) “Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(3) Bock, Darrell L.(2007). Craig Evans on the Chevron. Retrieved 2011, from http://blogs.bible.org/node/138

(4) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx

(5) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(6) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx

Picture Credit:

(Fig 1) The entrance to the Talpiot tomb https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=Chevron+above+the+Entrance+to+the+Talpiot+Tomb+&oq=Chevron+above+the+Entrance+to+the+Talpiot+Tomb+&gs_l=img.12…0.0.0.1454.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1ac..64.img..0.0.0.ViCCXURntKA#imgrc=pqFO4zpJx_4U9M%3A

(Fig 2) Herod Phillip coins https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=Chevron+above+the+Entrance+to+the+Talpiot+Tomb+&oq=Chevron+above+the+Entrance+to+the+Talpiot+Tomb+&gs_l=img.12…0.0.0.1454.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1ac..64.img..0.0.0.ViCCXURntKA#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=coins+minted+during+the+Hasmonean+period+&imgrc=0zUAYGO3hXo0mM%3A

What Happened To The Bones From The Talpiot Tomb?

The Importance Of A Proper Burial

Before we get to the bones from the ossuaries excavated from the Talpiot tomb let us see the importance of a proper burial from a Jewish perspective.

A proper burial according to Jewish tradition was considered a sacred duty. This was especially so during late antiquity in the Mediterrean world. The first reason of the Jewish people for a decent burial was for the sake of the dead themselves. This thinking has been given special attention in the scriptures in the story of Abraham where he is said to have purchased a burial cave for Sarah (Gen 23:4-19). The importance of decent burial is also borne out in the accounts of the patriarchs and monarchs of Israel. (1)

Patio-Tomb-Ossuary-Bones

(Fig 1)

The second reason for a proper burial was for the sake of the land – to avoid desecration of the land of Israel. This is emphasized in the Mosaic Law: “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance” (Deut 21:22–23).

This sentiment is also borne out in Ezekiel: “They will set apart men to pass through the land continually and bury those remaining upon the face of the land, so as to cleanse it . . . Thus shall they cleanse the land” (Ezek 39:14, 16).(2)

During the first century predominantly Jews used a limestone box called an ossuary for storing the bones of dead family members. One reason for this was to save space. This was done during secondary burial. At first the dead were interred in sepulchers and the bodies were left to decompose for a couple of years. Then the bones were collected and kept in a limestone box or ossuary. (3)

In addition to space-saving the other and significantly more important reason for the use of ossuaries was the belief that with the disintegration of a deceased’s flesh, sins were also removed and the individual would become eligible for resurrection (Romans 7:24).

The Bones from the Talpiot Ossuaries

On the basis of published material it is not clear which of the anthropologists worked on the bones that were recovered from the Talpiot tomb.

It is also not clear which bones came from which ossuary. It should be remembered that it was common for the bones of more than one individual to be stored in a single ossuary. The report regarding the bones does not mention any evidence of any of them belonging to a crucified person. Anthropologists were aware of how the bones of a crucified person will look like as they had similar evidence of a crucified person from the tomb at Givat Hamivtar. If there was similar evidence from the Talpiot tomb surely it would have been reported. This conclusion is said to have been drawn by Dr. Shimon Gibson (4).

However Shimon Gibson, although not an archeologist, should know that not all victims of crucifixion have a nail stuck in their heel. A closer look at the Givat Hamivtar heel will show that there is a piece of wood also stuck to the bone. Apparently the nail had lodged itself in a tough knot and could not be extracted clean and as a result a piece of the tough wood came off together with the nail. Besides no one examined the bones for any tell tale signs of crucifixion. If anyone had noticed any bruising of the bone it could only have been Yosef Gath. And if he did notice anything there is no report to that effect (5).

skeleton of man ctucified

(Fig 2)

Nevertheless other scholars are of the opinion that this line of reasoning is flimsy. While the doubt regarding which set of bones came from which ossuary may hold true in the case of the ossuaries that were not inscribed, such a question does not arise in the case of the inscribed ossuaries. If no sense was made of the bones, it is without doubt the consequence of sloppy handling (6).

There Is No Report As To What Happened To The Bones

In an interview with Peter Nathan, Joe Zias expresses the opinion that one of two eventualities occurred regarding the bones from the Talpiot tomb:

One that the religious people could have got hold of them or two that the archeologist Yosef Gath gave them to the religious people. Joe Zias also states that in spite of turning his office upside down he could neither locate the bones nor any report as to what happened to them (7).

While this is the conclusion of Joe Zias, Amos Kloner wrote in “A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in the East Talpiot,” Atiqot 29 (1996) that the bones from the Talpiot ossuaries “were in an advanced stage of disintegration” However Kloner makes no mention of the three skulls that Shimon Gibson recorded in his layout drawing of the tomb. He goes on to say that the bones were reburied once the excavation was completed. However since Kloner was not involved in the excavation, it is apparent that he wrote his report based on the report of Yosef Gath who had by this time died (8).

A Contradictory Statement About The Bones

Although Shimon Gibson had declared that by the time he reached the Talpiot site on March 30, 1980, the first day of excavation, the ossuaries were already removed.

Nonetheless Gibson states that the bones “weren’t removed or even examined until they reached the Rockefeller Museum, at which point they were recorded. The bones were then looked at.” Joe Zias the anthropologist responsible for examining the bones contradicts Gibson by stating that the bones were never received by the Rockefeller Museum and therefore the question of their disappearing does not arise. In fact it was the responsibility of Joe Zias to “note the number of buried individuals within the ossuaries, estimate their sex and age, and look for evidence of pathologies on the bones”.

Joe Zias confirms the report of Kloner that when the tomb was first entered the stones were removed from the kokhim and that the bones were scattered. He expressed the opinion that this was the consequence of the tomb being robbed twice: once in antiquity and then by the construction workers who exposed the tomb (9).

However not everyone agrees with this robbery angle since Jewish tombs were not like the Egyptian tombs and contained no valuables. What is most likely is that the bones were given to “the ultra-orthodox for reburial” (10).

Later in 2007 Kloner told the Jerusalem Post almost three decades after the excavation that the bones were in advanced state of decomposition and due to haredi – the most conservative form Orthodox Judaism – demands no anthropological tests were conducted on the remains and they were given to the Religious Affairs Ministry to be buried along with remains removed from various other excavation sites. The bones were then buried by the Jewish burial society and the whereabouts is not known (11).

However, Joe Zias who was the curator at that time contradicts this statement saying that when he took custody of the ossuaries, they were empty (12).

As per some sources the ossuaries with the bones still inside them were transported to the IAA on the day of the discovery and given the numbers 500-509. This seems more likely since the task assigned to the excavating team was to simply remove the ossuaries as quickly as possible, recode and tag the findings and make an accurate survey map. Therefore the bones coming out at the excavation stage is most unlikely (13).

In all likelihood the bones were still in the ossuaries when they were received by the IAA. There is no record of when or who gave them to the Ultra-Orthodox for reburial. Apparently this seems to have been done without any documentation. Or is Mr. Joe Zias simply looking for something to shift the blame to (14).

Other Typical Tomb Items And Were Three Skulls Were Also Found
In addition to the ossuaries and other typical tomb items, also found were three skulls on the floor.

Simcha conjectures that the Crusaders or Knights Templars entered the tomb sometime during the 12th century and arranged the three skulls in an “odd and clearly ceremonial configuration.” He even wonders if these skulls were that of Templar leaders that were buried in this tomb as a mark of honor. Even Shimon Gibson suggested that the skulls were arranged in a triangle pointing to the Temple Mount. Even as regards the three skulls, while Shimon Gibson clearly shows their location inside the tomb, Kloner mentions only one in his report. It is possible that the three skulls were at one time on the shelf of the arcosolias and then rolled off due to seismic activity. Two of the skulls apparently remained where they fell, while the third seems to have rolled some distance across the floor (15).

According to Simcha there were more than three skulls. According to some reports children living in the vicinity were said to have been playing with skulls and bones. One of the neighbors living there is said to have collected two bags full and handed them over to the authorities. Simcha thinks that the skull and femur from the tomb inspired the Templar symbol – the skull and crossbones (16).

Please also read my blogs:
“The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery” at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ

“Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene?” at bit.ly/1RTTpna

“Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene?” at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0

“Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries?” at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx

References:

(1)(2)Jewish Burial Traditions and the Resurrection of Jesus, Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

(3)http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=438084679

(4) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(5) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(6) “Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(7) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(8) Keohane, Steve. (n.d.). Documentary claim – tomb of Jesus and the entire (postulated) Holy Family found in Jerusalem cave. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bibleprobe.com/jesustomb.htm.

(9) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm.

(10) “Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(11) “Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(12) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(13) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(14) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(15) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx

(16) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-redisco

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1)
Ossuary from the nearby Talpiot “Patio” Tomb with skeletal remains Inside. IAA Photo taken in 1981 upon receipt of the ossuary at the Rockefeller lab. http://www.simchajtv.com/the-talpiot-jesus-tomb-what-might-have-been-the-bones/

(Fig 2) The skeleton of a crucified man    https://40.media.tumblr.com/8a550967ff36a083151cb9da91ce4654/tumblr_nyihryoCMv1ukgx4io1_400.png

Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries?

The Other Ossuaries From The Talpiot Tomb

The Ossuary Of Matya
The third ossuary IAA 80.502 – Rahmani 703 – It has the name “Matya” in Hebrew inscribed on it. In English this would stand for Matityahu, or Matthew.

Matthew is an unexpected name among the Talpiot group even though it is referred to many times in the genealogical records of Jesus. The name “Matya” (Matia) is inscribed in Hebrew on the outside while the name Mat(y)a on the inside is scratched. Although there are several explanations as to who this Matthew could be, one cannot say with certainty what his relationship was to Jesus (1).

Some scholars contend that there is no Matthew in the immediate family of Jesus. However, according to the genealogy given by Luke (3:23), we know that Mary the mother of Jesus had many “Matthews” in her family, therefore the presence of a “Matthew” in this family’s tomb is consistent with the information provided in the Gospels (2). (See fig. 2)

In Tal Ilan’s onomasticon 46 males were recognized by this name (3).

The Ossuary Of Yeshua bar Yosef
The fourth ossuary was a plain limestone ossuary. It was numbered IAA 80-504 and 704 by Rahmani. The Aramaic inscription is generally translated to English as “Jesus son of Joseph”.

The ossuary bearing the Aramaic inscription “Yeshua bar Yosef” is probably the most sensational of the Talpiot ossuaries. There are several claims that this is the ossuary of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a plain limestone ossuary on which the first name is preceded by a big cross-mark. (See fig 1). The name itself is difficult to read because of the scratches and the clumsiness of the superficial inscription. However the same name appearing on ossuary 702 helps to decipher the inscription and say with a degree of accuracy that the inscription is Yeshua.

Jesus ossuary

Ossuary said to be that of Jesus of Nazareth (Fig. 1)

Levi Rahmani an Israeli archeologist had this to say about the inscription “The first name, preceded by a large cross-mark, is difficult to read, as the incisions are clumsily carved and badly scratched. There seems to be a vertical stroke representing a yod, followed by a shin; the vav merges with the right stroke of the ‘ayin. The reading ‘Yeshua’ is corroborated by the inscription on No. 702 referring to Yeshua, the father of Yehuda.” Amos Kloner, an archeologist, had this to say about the inscription “The first name following the X mark is difficult to read. In contrast to other ossuaries in this tomb, the incisions are here superficial and cursorily carved. Each of the four letters suggesting ‘Yeshua’ is unclear, but the reading is corroborated by the inscription on Ossuary 2, above.”

Both Rahmani and Kloner agreed that the inscription on this ossuary was difficult to read and that the translation was questionable. Some have suggested that the inscription should read as “Hanun”. There is yet another ossuary in the collection of the State of Israel with the inscription saying “Jesus the son of Joseph”. However, this ossuary is unprovenanced (4). The inscription is the other instance of a personal name with patronymics (5).

The Ossuary Of Yose
The fifth ossuary numbered IAA 80-504 – Rahmani 705 – is another unadorned ossuary with the name “Yose” inscribed on it. “Yose is an abbreviation for Yehosef or Joseph.

This plain ossuary inscribed YWSH is another controversial ossuary. While Tabor seems to say that this should be interpreted as Yoseh, some scholars contend that the name should be interpreted as Yosah. Yosah, they explain is not the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek for Joses who is the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). While Kloner interprets the inscription as Yose and an abbreviation of Yehosef (Joseph), he does not attach any significance to the name it being the second most common male name of that time after Simon. (See fig. 2)

six ossuaries

(Fig. 2)

Kloner has this to say about the name: “Yose is a contraction of Yehosef (Joseph), the second most common name in the Second Temple period (Ilan 1987: 238; see Hachlili 1984: 188–190). [Simon / Simeon is the most popular name]. Ilan has recorded 232 individuals with this name (2002: 150–168, 449). Some 35% of all known Jewish males of the Hellenistic and Roman periods in Eretz Israel bore? Hasmonean? names: Matthew (Ossuary 3, above), John, Simon, Judas (Ossuaries 2 and 4, above), Eleazar, and Jonathan. Joseph was the sixth brother in the family (2 Maccabbees 8:22), and the similar popularity of this name may be explained by this fact (Ilan 1987: 2 40–241)” (6).

Some scholars consider this Hebrew inscription “Yose” a rare rendition of a nickname for the name “Yosef”. Jesus is said to have had four brothers – whether full brothers, half-brothers, or cousins – one of whom was Joseph. In the Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel, Jesus’ brother Joseph is referred to as “Yose” (7).

It has been generally understood that Jesus’ father was named Joseph and that Jesus’ brother was called Joses. However we must note that while Mark refers to the brother of Jesus as Joses, he never refers to the father of Jesus by name. On the other hand while Matthew refers to the brother of Jesus as Joseph, he refers to the father of Jesus also as Joseph. There is not an instance in the Gospels that refers to the father as Joseph and the brother as Joses (8).

Joseph in itself is a very common name; 14% of males at that time were called Joseph. We are given to understand that the name was so commonly used that there were more than one Joseph in a family and that if the father was named Joseph the son used a nickname Joses to distinguish one Joseph from the other (9). Bock, Darrell L., and Wallace, Daniel B., give this explanation to take away some of the significance of the “Yoseh” in the Talpiot tomb. A study was conducted to see how often this practice of naming two different Josephs differently in one family. The conclusion of this study is significant to the extent that there is only one instance of the two names occurring together in one family and that is the instance of the Talpiot tomb (10).

The Ossuary Of Marya
The sixth inscribed ossuary numbered IAA 80-505 – Rahmani 706 – was of plain limestone and was inscribed with the name “Marya”.

This ossuary may be the ossuary of the mother of Jesus as this is a popular Aramaic version of reference to Mary the mother of Jesus. Besides there is a distinction in the way in which this Mary was referred to from the way in which Mary Magdalene was referred: Miriame / Miriamne. However it must be remembered that 25% of all Jewish women of that time were named “Miriam”. Nevertheless the mother of Jesus was always referred to in the Latin version of Miriam which is Maria. This is indeed rare since, it was seldom that a Hebrew name was phonetically inscribed in Latin (11). (See fig. 2)

We do not know on what basis Rahmani concludes – albeit cautiously – that Yose of ossuary 705 and Marya of ossuary 706 may be the parents of Yeshua (704) and the grandparents of Yehuda (702). However Simcha concurs with Tabor’s conclusion that ossuary 705 contained the bones of Jose the brother of Jesus. According to Mark 6:3 Jesus had a brother named Jose (12).

The Plain Ossuaries
The remaining three ossuaries that did not have any inscriptions were numbered IAA 80-506 – Rahmani 707, IAA 80-507 – Rahmani 708 – and IAA 80-508 – Rahmani – 709.

These three ossuaries had rosettes on them.

The tenth ossuary that went missing was numbered IAA 80-509. This ossuary was also labeled “plain”. Rahmani states that it was a “plain, broken specimen” but does not list it in his catalogue. (See fig. 2).

Please also read my blogs:

Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene? at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0

Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene? at bit.ly/1RTTpna

The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ

References:
(1) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(2) Younker, Randall W. (2007). The Jesus Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/Jesus%20Tomb.htm

(3) (4) (6) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/04/so-called-jesus-tomb

(5) Rollston, Christopher A. (2007). Prosopography and the Talpiyot Yeshua Family Tomb: Pensées of a Palaeographer. Retrieved 2011, from http://sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=649

(7) (12) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (n.d). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.thebostonchannel.com/download/2007/0226/11116102.pdf

(8) Goodacre, Mark. (2010). Retrieved 2010 from http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/talpiot357921.shtml

(9) Bock, Darrell L., and Wallace, Daniel B., Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ,

(10) Kilty, Kevin . (2010). Talpiot Dethroned. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/talpiot357921.shtml

(11) Younker, Randall W. (2007). The Jesus Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/Jesus%20Tomb.htm

And

Have Tomb, Will Argue, Page 3, Dare We Trust Eusebius the “Lair?”
http://www.doxa.ws/Jesus_pages/Resurrection/Tomb_yes3.html

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) The Jesus ossuary  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_36.htm

(Fig 2) The other ossuaries  https://sareinochi.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/fig13.jpg

Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene?

Judah Son Of Jesus Ossuary

The 2nd inscribed ossuary was another of the decorated ossuaries. It was numbered IAA 80.501 and 702 by Rahmani. It was inscribed “Yehuda, son of Yeshua”.

Read in English that would be “Judah the son of Jesus” (See fig 1). This is probably the most controversial of the ossuaries. Tabor and his crew put forward the theory that this is possibly the son of Jesus that he had with Mary Magdalene.

This is a suggestion that has generally not been received very kindly. The primary reason for rejecting this theory is that there is no evidence of any kind that Jesus had a wife. If he did have a wife she would have held a position of reverence that would not have gone without mention. There is no mention of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married even in the second century Gnostic Gospels of Mary and of Philip. However there is mention of a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Nag Hamadi codices.

yehuda ossuaryyehuda ossuary 2
(Fig 1)

CJO 702 (80.501) was chip-carved, decorated with rosettes and inscribed in Aramaic. This is the Yehudah Bar Yeshua ossuary.

Kloner emphasizes the commonness of the name Yehuda saying that: “The name Yehuda (Judas) is the third most popular name in the Jewish onomasticon of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In a study of 1,986 names of the Hellenistic and Roman period, conducted by Tal Ilan, 128 persons were found to bear this name.” Ilan later increased this number to 180 names. As regards the name Yeshua, or Jesus, Kloner stated that this name is “a derivative of Yehoshua (Joshua); Yehoshua/Yeshua is the sixth most common name used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods in Eretz Israel, borne by 71 of the individuals studied by Ilan.” Later Ilan increased this number to 104 (1). There is no written tradition that Jesus had a son. However, the Gospel of John talks about a mysterious “lad” who seems to be sleeping in Jesus’ lap at the Last Supper (2). The inscription on this ossuary is one instance of a personal name with patronymics (3).

Some people think that like Ribi Yәshua Judah too was betrayed by the Temple-Sadducee Jewish Hellenists and Hellenist proselytes and murdered by Hellenist Romans to thwart the continuation of the line of David which endangered Roman rule in that part of the world and as an indirect consequence jeopardize the position of power held by the Hellenist Temple-Sadducees (4).

Nevertheless critics of this position have argued that while this Judah could very well have been the son of a Jesus, there is no proof whatsoever that Jesus of Nazareth was married and that Judah was his son (5).

As A Ribi Jesus Was Expected To Be Married

Not everyone agrees with this reasoning. In spite of what has been said about Jesus not being married, as a rule Pharisee Ribis were expected to be married.

Since Pharisee Ribis were required to be married no mention need be made regarding this. Celibacy was primarily a gentile practice that was mostly alien to Judaism. If however Jesus was not married that would have been unusual and worthy of mention. Just the same as there is no proof that Jesus was married, there is also no proof that he wasn’t married – which would have been an exception for a Ribi. There are probably more indications that he was married than there are that he wasn’t (6).

Some scholars argue against the claim that Jesus was never married by stating that only married males could preach in the synagogue. And we know for a fact that Jesus did indeed preach in the synagogue (7). Nevertheless others claim that it was the celibate status of Jesus that gave rise to the “theological metaphor of the Church being the “Bride of Christ” referred to in the New Testament (8).

Regarding the “Bride of Christ” metaphor (which finds mention in the writings of the New Testament), Jimmy Akin, director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers, noted: “This image would never have arisen if there was a Mrs. Jesus living right there in Jerusalem…. We know about [the wives of religion founders] because they were honored figures as wives of The Founder, and if Jesus had a wife then (a) we would know about it and (b) the whole Church-as-the-Bride-of-Christ metaphor would never have come into existence.” As regards a possible “son of Jesus,” he wrote: “We tend to know about even the daughters of religious founders.

Muhammad’s daughter Fatima comes to mind. It would be much harder to sneak a forgotten son by the eyes of history…. It’s not just hard to sneak sons past because patriarchal cultures focus more on sons; it’s also because of this: In traditional societies, the son is looked on as the father’s natural successor” (9).

Simcha claims that in order to hide the identity of “Judah, the son of Jesus” from the Romans, the disciples conversed in code. He claims that “Judah, the son of Jesus” was referred to as the younger brother of Jesus. He also claims that “the son of Jesus” was nicknamed “the twin” based on the Greek word “Didymos”. He claims that this son was also referred to by the Hebrew word “Te-om” which means Thomas. It has also been claimed that the “beloved son” and the “beloved disciple” are both references to “Judah, the son of Jesus”. However, others have countered this claim saying that there is no basis for such an assertion (10).

In their book “The Jesus Family Tomb” Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino give a new twist to the Parable of the Vineyard Owner. The authors say that the parable “could be referring to the fate that would have awaited any surviving son sent into the world by Jesus”. However they concede that in the parable Jesus could be referring to his own death (11).

While Simcha and Charles Pellegrino agree that the Parable of the Vineyard Owner (Mark 12:1-12) could be referring to Jesus’ own death, they however still think that the inscription “Judah son of Jesus” refers to the son of the biblical Jesus. Other scholars argue that the parable has been “misapplied” by the authors and that while the Talpiot ossuary could belong to a “Judah son of Jesus” this Jesus is definitely not the Biblical Jesus since Jesus of Nazareth was not married and had no children (12).

Simcha observes and rightly too that: “In none of the Gospels, be they canonical or apocryphal, is Mary Magdalene – Miriamne – described as being married to Jesus. Nor is a child of Jesus ever mentioned” Yet he however goes on to claim that Jesus was married and fathered a son (13).

Since the relationship of Judah to Jesus and the others could have been determined through a DNA test, Simcha was asked in an interview why he did not have the remains in the other ossuaries tested. His replied “We’re not scientists. At the end of the day we can’t wait till every ossuary is tested for DNA. We took the story that far. At some point you have to say, ‘I’ve done my job as a journalist’”(14).

Another reason that points to Jesus being married is the fact that no woman would be allowed to touch the private parts of a rabbi before or after death if she was not related to him by blood or marriage. We know that of the three women who went to “anoint” the body of Jesus one was Mary his mother, one, Salome his sister and the third, Mary Magdalene. The only way Mary Magdalene would have been eligible to anoint the body of Jesus would have been as his wife (15).

(Please also read my blog “Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene?” at
http://bit.ly/1RTTpna)

The speculation that “Judah, the son of Jesus” is the “Beloved Son,” the “beloved disciple”, or the young man in Mark 14 has no factual basis whatsoever (16).

Some scholars are of the opinion that the lack of proof or the absence of it that Jesus of Nazareth was married and had a son should not amount to proof of the contrary. It is claimed that Jesus was celibate and that he neither married nor had a child and ascended into heaven is “religious hysterics at unscientific odds with Pharisaic reality”. It is also said that the idea that Jesus was indeed married and that he did have a son is a given. The only matter to be ascertained is if Miryam of Migdal was the wife and and Yehudah Bar-Yeshua was that son (17).

Please also read my blogs:

Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene? at bit.ly/1RTTpna

The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ

Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries? at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx

References:
(1) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/04/so-called-jesus-tomb
(2) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (n.d). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.thebostonchannel.com/download/2007/0226/11116102.pdf
(3) Rollston, Christopher A. (2007). Prosopography and the Talpiyot Yeshua Family Tomb: Pensées of a Palaeographer. Retrieved 2011, from http://sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=649
(4) Burning Issues: Ya•aqov Ossuary. (2007). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Yaaqov%20Ossuary.htm

(5) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(6) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm
(7) Anitei, Stefan. (2007). How Does the Discovery of Jesus’ Tomb Challenge Christianity? Retrieved 2011, from http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-Does-the-Discovery-of-the-Jesus-039-s-Tomb-Challenge-Christianity-48341.shtml
(8) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus
(9) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus
(10) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2022, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx
(11) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2022, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx
(12) Ben-David, Yirm?yahu . (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm
(13) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/04/so-called-jesus-tomb
(14) Franz, Gordon. (2012). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2012, from
http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/01/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem/

(15) Cohen-Matlofsky. (2008). “Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-25.asp

(16) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2022, from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/the-so-called-jesus-family-tomb-rediscovered-in-jerusalem.aspx

(17) Yirmeyahu, Paqid. (2008). Science vs Religious Hysterics & Fear of Antisemitism. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) Yehudah Bar Yeshua ossuary
http://www.uhl.ac/en/resources/blog/demythologizing-talpiot-tomb-family-groups-iia-iic-updated/

Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene?

The Ossuary Of Mariamene, Who Is (Also Called) Mara

The first of the six ossuaries that were inscribed was numbered IAA 80-500. Rahmani numbered the same ossuary as 701 in his catalogue of ossuaries in the possession of the State of Israel. This ossuary was decorated and had the name “Mariamene, who is (also called) Mara” inscribed in Greek (See fig. 2).

New Testament scholar James Tabor and his associates try to explain away the fact that this ossuary was alone inscribed in Greek by claiming that the small Jewish town of Migdal/Magdala/Tarichaea on the Sea of Galilee (Mary Magdalene’s hometown “an important trading center” Greek was the common language of communication. This contention, some claim is incorrect, since in those days, only the upper classes were familiar with Greek, whereas the common people used only Aramaic (1).

Ancient Magdala

Amos Kloner commented that “The name Mariamene [is] a variant of the name (Miriam, Maryam) and (Marya). [This name] is inscribed on more than twenty ossuaries in the Israel State Collections.” These names “are the most common feminine names of the Second Temple period.” Kloner and Rahmani translate the inscription on this ossuary as “Mariamne, (who is also called) Mara” (2). Tal Ilan also endorsed the commonness of this name saying that Mariam is used 80 times. Mara, an abbreviation of Martha, is used as a second name. She goes on the say that this name too “is common in the Jewish feminine onomasticon.” Mara is recorded eight times in the onomasticon of names (3).

ossuary of Mary Magdalene

Ossuary said to be that of Mary Magdalene (Fig. 2)

Of the two Marys whose ossuaries were recovered from the tomb, it may be reasonable to assume that one of them is the mother of Jesus and the other Mariamene is not his sister.

Not everyone agrees that this is the ossuary of Mary Magdalene. Tabor and his associates interpret the word “Mara” on the ossuary they claim is that of Mary Magdalene, as the Aramaic for “master” elevating her to the status of “teacher” and “leader”. They conclude that the inscription on the ossuary actually denotes “The Honored Teacher Mariamne” (4).

Stephen J. Pfann, President of the Board of Directors of the University of the Holy Land, cites lexical problems and “elements of the signum formula” to argue that the Talpiot ossuary cannot be that of Mary Magdalene. “A signum is a term used for an added second personal name, like a middle name or alias.” He claims that the “KAI” on this ossuary is used to connect two different names i.e Mariame and Mara, with the “KA” being used as the equivalent of “AND”. He cites the example of ossuary CJO 490 where KAI is used to do just this.

Pfann argues that the first part of the inscription “Mariame” was written in “the common Greek documentary script of the period” when the bones of the first woman were interred and whereas the second and third part show cursive elements that are not there in the first part. This he claims is the proof that the “Mariame” and the Kai Mara” parts of the inscription were written by two different scribes at different times (5).

Some have indeed interpreted the Mara (Ma/ra) as an abbreviated form for Martha, this fact being borne out by similar inscriptions on other ossuaries. Given that the Greek form of Mariamne (Mariamh/nou) is in the genitive case (of the dimunitive form Mariamh/non), the inscription could be interpreted “Mariamne’s (daughter) Mara (or Martha).” Kloner and Rahmani interpret the inscription on this ossuary to mean “Mariamne, (who is also called) Mara.” Besides this some scholars think that because of her knowledge of the Greek language Mary Magdalene could have possibly been the teacher of Hellenist Jews. However other scholars contend that if she was indeed the wife of Jesus her ossuary would have also been inscribed in Hebrew just as the Ossuary of Jesus. Because of this, these scholars believe that the Talpiot tomb was the resting place of probably unrelated individuals of different ethnicity (6).

Mary Magdalene Was Disliked By The Other Disciples After Jesus Departed

Extra-biblical sources suggest that Mary Magdalene was disliked by the other disciples after Jesus departed. One example of this aversion toward her can be found in Section 114 of the Gospel of Thomas, where Peter says “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of the Life”. The Gospel of Mary also depicts friction between her and Peter. All of this suggests that Peter may have led an attempt to drive her out of the original group of believers. Some scholars believe that this compelled Mary Magdalene to lead her own Greek speaking group. If this is correct, it would explain the Greek inscription on her ossuary.

Based on the special relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and the prominence given to her in extra biblical texts, the makers of the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” concluded that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Based on the work of Prof. François Bovon of Harvard University relating to the Acts of Philip, the makers of the documentary state that Mary Magdalene’s name in the Acts was “Mariamne” and that this is the correct name of the historical Mary Magdalene of the fisrt century.

Prof. François Bovon of Harvard University reasoned that there could be a link between Mary Magdalene and the Mariamne inscription on the Talpiot ossuary because the name Mariamne was used in the apocryphal Acts of Philip. However the Acts of Philip is not unequivocal about this. http://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/Pfann.pdf. Subsequently Prof. Bovon has stated that he is not sure that the Mariamne in the Acts of Philip is Mary Magdalene. (7). In addition to this, Prof. Bovon in a letter to the Society of Biblical Literature stated that his comments were misused (8).

However, according to other sources, based on the Acts of Philip, Professor Bovon is said to have stated that “I do not believe that Mariamne is the real name of Mary of Magdalene. Mariamne is, besides Maria or Mariam, a possible Greek equivalent, attested by Josephus, Origen, and the Acts of Philip, for the Semitic Myriam.”

Professor Bovon was also of the opinion that Mariamne of the Acts was presented as the sister of both Philip of Bethsaida and Martha of Bethany and that this Mariamne later evolved as the Gnostic sage and evangelist who was represented as Mary of Magdala in the Manichean Psalms, the Gospel of Mary, and the Pistis Sofia. It is these apocryphal stories that allude to a close liaison between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and which give her importance in the nascent church. Although Professor Bovon did not categorically state that Mariamne of the Acts is the historical character of the first century, the makers of the documentary concluded that Mariamne of the Acts of Philip and Mary Magdalene of the first century are one and the same. It was also on the basis of apocryphal sources that they concluded that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and even produced a family (9).

In addition to this, the Acts of Phillip and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, depict Mary Magdalene as an apostle, a teacher and a master “in her own right”. Some interpret the Greek inscription on her ossuary as “Mary, known as the master” (10).

Some Scholars Claim That Two Names Were Inscribed On The Ossuary

Some scholars claim that the two names inscribed on the ossuary should not be read together as “Mariamne Mara” but instead as “Mariamne and Mara”. This claim they say is supported by “similar even identical, forms in Greek papyri (for example, P.Oslo 2.47; P.Oxy. 2.399; 4.745; P.Columbia 18a; and, from Palestine, 5/6Hev 12; 5/6Hev 16; and XHev/Seiyal 63 and 69). And, in fact, there is another ossuary, at Dominus Flevit, in which the names “Martha and Mary” are inscribed, thus providing an example where the names of two women are given” (11).

As for the claim that Mara means “Master” or “Teacher” these scholars refute this saying that there is no other example where the word Mara is used to denote a title. It is also claimed that “Mariamne Mara” actually refers to the names of two different women indicating that this particular ossuary contained the bones of two women as was sometimes the practice. Besides, there is no other corroborative artifact where “Mara” is used to refer to a title. Even the Aramaic Mara is normally used in the masculine (12).

Craig A Evans of Acadia Divinity College is of the opinion “given that the Greek form of Mariamne (Mariamh/nou) is in the genitive case (of the diminutive form Mariamh/non), the inscription could be interpreted “Mariamne’s (daughter) Mara (or Martha).” Kloner and Rahmani translate the inscription on the ossuary as: Mariamne, (who is also called) Mara” (13).

Please also read my blogs:

The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery at bit.ly/1mrgdgQ

Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries? at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx

Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene? at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0

References:
(1) Magness, Jodi. (2007). Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered? Retrieved 2011, from http://sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=640

(2) Freeman, David Noel. (2007). Burning Issues: Ya•aqov Ossuary. Retrieved 2011, from, http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Yaaqov%20Ossuary.htm

(3) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/04/so-called-jesus-tomb

(4) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(5) Pfann, Stephen J. (2007). Mary Magdalene Is Now Missing:, A Corrected Reading of Rahmani Ossuary 701, Retrieved 2011, from http://www.uhl.ac/MariameAndMartha/

(6) Magness, Jodi. (2007). Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered? Retrieved 2011, from http://sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=640

(7) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus

(9) Pfann, Stephen J. (n.d.). Mary Magdalene Is Now Missing: A Corrected Reading of Ossuaries Cjo 701 and CJO 108*. Retrieved 2012, from http://www.uhl.ac/MariameAndMartha.pdf

(10) Younker, Randall W. (2007). The Jesus Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/Jesus%20Tomb.htm

(11) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(12) Evans, Craig & Feldman, Steven. (2007). The Tomb of Jesus? Wrong on Every Count. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-02-b.asp

(13) Evans, Dr. Craig. A. (n.d). The Tomb of Jesus and Family? Second Thoughts. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.craigaevans.com/tombofjesus.htm

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) The ancient town of Magdala

(Fig 2) The Magdalene ossuary

(Fig 3) Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married? https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=Migdal+on+the+Sea+of+Galilee+&oq=Migdal+on+the+Sea+of+Galilee+&gs_l=img.12…2260.11797.0.29293.3.3.0.0.0.0.93.276.3.3.0….0…1ac.1j2.64.img..3.0.0.eRLbK4761_Q#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=Jesus+and+Mary+Magdalene+were+husband+and+wife&imgrc=OwTPH21DbRP1SM%3A

The Talpiot Tomb – An Accidental Discovery

Discovery of the Talpiot Tomb

In March 1980 a bulldozer while working at a new construction site on Dov Gruner Street, located in the south of the Old City of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of East Talpiot, uncovered part of a burial cave belonging to the Second Temple period. While some such accidental discoveries may have gone unreported, luckily one of the neighbors informed the Department of Antiquities about this discovery and a formal excavation was conducted. Yosef Gath together with Amos Kloner and Eliot Braun excavated the double-chambered loculi and acrosolia tomb. Shimon Gibson charted the architectural plan of the tomb.

The excavation went on for over two weeks because of a meter thick terra rosa soil inside the tomb. Some believe that the terra rosa soil in the tomb was the consequence of a break-in or a collapse of a portion of the roof sometime in the distant past, as a result exposed the tomb’s interior to the elements for almost two centuries. According to some accounts the reddish soil had also poured in through the entrance and filled the central chamber and portions of the individual chambers.

The Talpiot tomb was about 3 x 3 meters and about 2 meters high. It was a modest tomb hewn into the rock. It was obvious that this was a tomb that was neither indicative of “high status or wealth”. The tombs of the rich and powerful were located near the Old City. However the tombs, as one moved south of “Akeldama, around the Mount of Offense, and south into Talpiot, are often more modest in form and size” (1).

Considering all that was found in the tomb, Amos Kloner clarifies that the tomb can be dated to around the end of the first century BCE to about 70 CE.

The Tomb Is In The Vicinity Of The Second Temple

The tomb was found some 2.5 kms south of the Second Temple in the Old City of Jerusalem. A portion of the tomb’s vestibule was damaged as a result of blasting during construction work. On the exterior of the fascia of the tomb’s entrance was carved in relief, a circle below an upward pointing gable. Inside, on each of the other three walls were two kokhim – making a total of six. Each of the kokhim was approximately 1.6 m long and almost .5 m wide – large enough to hold two or three ossuaries. Carved into the walls of the tomb were two arcosolia – shelves on which bodies were meant to be laid out. There was no golal – blocking stone – found, indicating that the tomb had been accessed.

The Contents Of The Tomb

The tomb contained notably ten ossuaries and some pottery from the Herodian period (BCE. 30—70 CE). However what is not know is whether the tomb also contained ointment vessels that one would normally find in such burial caves or even if there were shards of pottery from that period. It was subsequently recorded by the Israel Antiquities Authority that ten ossuaries of “no particular significance” were taken from the tomb to an old factory in one of the by lanes of Romemma, a dilapidated suburb of Jerusalem. They were numbered (IAA) 80-500 to (IAA) 80-509 (2).

It was the practice of the Israel Antiquities Authority to store ossuaries that were plain in open courtyards since they did not have place indoors for all the ossuaries that were excavated. This was the case with the ten ossuaries that were removed from the Talpiot tomb. However when the time came to catalogue the ossuaries from Talpiot, they found that one of them was missing. The remaining nine ossuaries were renumbered by Israeli archeologist Levi Yitzkhaq Rahmani (701-709) and catalogued (3). Six of the nine ossuaries were found to be inscribed (See fig. 15). These were numbered 701 – 706.

“The inscribed names for the East Talpiyot cache, as given in the 1994 Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries (ed, LY Rahmani), and item: A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiyot, Jerusalem (by Amos Kloner), Atiqot, vol 19, 1996, are:

701 (80.500): Mariamene e Mara (inscribed in Greek) [equiv. meaning ‘Miriam or Martha’]

702 (80.501): Yehuda bar Yehoshua (inscribed in Hebrew) [equiv. ‘Judas son of Joshua’]

703 (80.502): Matya (inscribed in Hebrew) [equiv. ‘Matityahu’ or ‘Matthew’]

704 (80.503): Yehoshua bar Yehosef (inscribed in Aramaic) [equiv. ‘Joshua son of Joseph’]*

705 (80.504): Yose (inscribed in Hebrew) [equiv. ‘Joses’]

706 (80.505): Marya (inscribed in Hebrew) [equiv. contraction of ‘Maryam’]**

* The name Jesus, as given in the New Testament gospels, is the Greek form of the Jewish name Joshua.
** The name Mary, as in the gospels, is a Greco-Egyptian variation of the Jewish name Miriam.”

The inscriptions on the ossuaries from the Talpiot Tomb (Fig. 1)
Please also read my blogs:

Judah – Was He The Son Of Jesus And Mary Magdalene? at http://bit.ly/1Z4LNO0

Is This The Ossuary of Mary Magdalene? at bit.ly/1RTTpna

Jesus And Mary His Mother – Are These Their Ossuaries? at http://bit.ly/1mF9sbx

References:
(1)Ben-David, Yirmәyahu . (2008). Talpiot Tomb Disputations. Retrieved 2013, from
http://www.netzarim.co.il/Web%20Cafe/2008/2008.02.11%20Talpiot%20Tombs%20Disputation.htm

(2) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu .(2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from
http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Yeshua%20Ossuary.htm

(3) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu .(2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Yeshua%20Ossuary.htm

Picture Credits:
The inscriptions on the ossuaries from the Talpiot Tomb
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_36.htm