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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

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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

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