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Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex

Entrance, Talpiot Tomb Complex

© 2008, Yirmәyahu Ben-David. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Talpiot Tomb Disputations—Examining Academic Claims of "Impossible!"
Scholars Define Issues Scientifically, Not Religiously Meyers, Eric M.
Evans, Craig & Feldman, Steven Rollston, Christopher A.
Feuerverger, Prof. Andrey – The Final Word (Formal Paper) Scham, Sandra
Krumbein, Petrologist Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Wolfgang E. Univ. of Oldenburg, Germany Tabor, James
Magness, Jodi
Examining BAS Talkbacks of Note
Closed or Open Minds? Simcha tomb (1)
Jxxxx' TOMB Statistical probablilty tomb (2)
Ossuaries Talpiot (Zias) Tomb of Jxxxx
"Sadduccees" Talpiot tomb "Tomb" of Jxxxx

Rainbow Rule

Israeil Judge: Ya•a•qov′  Ossuary Forgery Update 2008.11.03

Israel Antiquities Authority In Shambles—Deservedly!!!

"The reputation of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is in shambles. After a nearly four-year trial (and still counting), 75 witnesses and more than 5,000 pages of testimony, what has been billed as the "forgery trial of the century" is about to collapse. The Israeli judge who will decide the case has advised the prosecution in open court to consider dropping the case. The evidence isn't there…

The government's principal witness was Professor Yuval Goren, a former chair of Tel Aviv University's archaeology department, who testified that the forger had used a fake covering to conceal evidence of his forgery. But other witnesses suggested other ways this covering could have formed.

More importantly, on cross-examination Goren was forced to admit that after the police had removed this covering, he could see original ancient patina in the critical word "Jesus." With that, the case blew up.

This should not have been surprising. One of the members of the IAA's committee that long ago had declared the inscription a forgery, supposedly by a unanimous vote, had also written the IAA that she saw this original ancient patina in the engraving of the inscription.

Although the IAA advertised the committee's forgery decision as unanimous, it never was. Many members of the committee expressed no opinion, but the IAA registered them as "yes" votes. Others committee members relied on the commanding standing and reputation of Professor Goren. One member of the committee who would have found the inscription authentic said he was "forced" to change his mind because of Professor Goren's scientific analysis. In short, the committee, which included no non-Israeli, not even Professor Lemaire who had originally published the inscription in Biblical Archaeology Review and vouched for its authenticity, was bum-rushed into a supposedly unanimous decision.

At the trial, not a single expert in the Semitic script of the period testified that the inscription was a forgery. Nor did a single scientist back up Professor Goren's scientific testimony--and several scientists testified otherwise.

But it took several years to prove that the emperor had no clothes. This is a painful example of how the judicial process can be manipulated by unscrupulous bureaucrats. The Israel Antiquities Authority hates the antiquities market, which is where this inscribed ossuary came from. This supposedly drove the prosecution. Until now, it has been widely assumed by almost everyone who has mentioned the inscription publicly, based on the IAA committee's supposed unanimous decision and the ongoing forgery trial, that this inscription is a forgery. Now that will end.

But this is not the end of the matter. All the court can decide is that the prosecution has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Logically, the inscription can still be a forgery. It is never possible to prove to a 100 percent certainty that an inscription is authentic. Theoretically, there is always one more test that might reveal it to be a forgery. Even inscriptions found in professional archaeological excavations can be salted…" (Biblical Archeology Society, Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review)

Rainbow Rule

Probability Talpiot Tomb not that of Ribi Yәhoshua Family — 1:1,600!!!

"A University of Toronto mathematician is lending new support to the controversial claim that an ancient burial tomb near Jerusalem once held the bones of Jesus of Nazareth and his family."

"In a peer-reviewed article published last month in the prestigious Annals of Applied Statistics, Andrey Feuerverger places the odds of the 2,000-year-old tomb not belonging to the Jesus family at 1 in 1,600."

"This figure is even more bullish than the 1-in-600 figure that Dr. Feuerverger calculated a year ago…" (Toronto Globe and Mail, 2008.04.22).

This is much more realistic than his first figure. Still, even this figure cannot have taken into account the Ya·aqov ossuary—which raised the original probability to about 1:30,000. Predicated on his newest calculation, that probability would correspondingly rise to 1:80,000 (1600÷600*30,000)—families. Yet, most scholars would put the total number of families in 1st-century Yәrushâlayim at less than 8,400 families. (The consensus of scholars is that Josephus and Tacitus exaggerated the numbers; that, based on water supplies, etc., the population was more likely around 50,000. Families were typically larger then. Assuming 6 persons/family yields a population slightly under 8,400 families.) Thus, it would still be unlikely to find another such tomb even in ten cities about the size of 1st-century Yәrushâlayim!!!

Beyond this, finding two families that each have these six names doesn't entirely solve the problem. While the statisticians' methods are correct, their premises are sometimes conservative to the point of inadequate. Even limiting possible names to Bauckham's catalog is like claiming that if a name isn't included in the membership list of a certain church then it's impossible that a person by that name exists in that city at that time. Three generations of a typical family, at a typical rate of 6 children each and including wives, would have totaled around 100 members. What are the odds that, of those 100 family members (who could possibly each have had a unique name), the discovered inscribed ossuaries would be these six names instead of one of the other 1,192,052,400 permutations of 6 names from the pool of names of 100 family members? Statisticians have factored in a very conservative set to represent perumutations that could have included (among the six ossuary inscriptions) some different family member or members (e.g., Daniel or a Tsiporah or a Devorah, etc.)—even though all six names were in the family. That name, or names—from a family having relatives with these six names—would have conflicted with the family of Ribi Yәhoshua.

To date, statisticians have not taken into account that spectral analysis placed the Ya·aqov ossuary in the Talpiot Tomb. Thus, the Ya·aqov ossuary coupled with a larger pool of name permutations fixes the probability closer to 1/80,000 x 1,192,052,400 = 1/95.3 trillion— 1:95,364,192,000,000— and that's without taking into account the specificity (Ya·aqov + "son of Yoseiph" + "brother of Yeshua") of the entire inscription being recently authenticated after earlier being decried—wrongly and hysterically–as a fake. This would raise the probability far higher. What is the probability that the single 1/95.3 trillion other family with those six names might have moved to some other city or country and been buried there? Or not have had a private burial tomb at all? What about the probability that the single, 1-out-of-95.3-trillion, other family with those six names might not have inscribed their ossuaries even if they had them? Even the existence of the hypothetical (!) 1-out-of-95.3-trillion "other possible family" is negligible to the point of virtually impossible.

Every time another eventuality like this is raised, the probability continues to climb exponentially. It is only now beginning to become apparent how ludicrous the religious hysterics of "impossible" have been. In fact, with every passing day and additional factor incorporated, it is the probability that the Talpiot Tomb isn't that of Ribi Yәhoshua and his family that is becoming increasingly unlikely, untenable and closer to impossible.

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Rainbow Rule

Chevron (Wedge) & Circle

The Nәtzârim have no doctrinal stake in this controversy other than the reasoning and conclusions be compatible with science and logic. If it's the tomb of Ribi Yәhoshua, fine. If not, that's fine too. As a result, our scrutiny of the various hysterics on both sides of the issues will be more objective than Christians, secular Jews fearing Christian backlash or other "religious" Jews who simply hate Jesus and fear Christians and Christianity; all of whom freely vent unbridled hysterical ranting, create straw men and muddy the waters, making rational assessment difficult.

Today, in mathematics (set theory), the chevron symbol (wedge) denotes the highest element "less than" both operands. a∪b = inf(a,b), is called the "greatest lower bound," the infimum or "meet" of a and b. An example would be the peak of Mt. Everest in terms of earths atmosphere. The operation is well-defined only in what's called a meet semi lattice, a partially ordered set where two elements always have at least one lower bound (i.e., an element which is less than or equal to both)… in predicate calculus (the chevron symbol stands for "logical and"
(home.att.net/~numericana/answer/symbol.htm). However, set Theory, having originated in the 19th century C.E., cannot be the basis for the ancient symbolism.

While the term "chevron" derives from modern French (meaning "rafter"), the symbol dates back to prehistoric times symbolizing a roof and, more generally, protection. Roofs, from ancient Egypt to first-century Yәhudâh, were generally flat, not gabled. Thus, the gable, which is also found on numerous first-century artifacts including depictions of the flat-roofed Aron hâ-Eidut and Beit ha-Miqdâsh, signifies more than a roof or mere protection. The gabling, like the pyramids, symbolized protection while pointing toward the heavens, symbolizing (being under, or enjoying) spiritual protection. This would be consistent in its usage to depict the Aron hâ-Eidut and Beit ha-Miqdâsh.

Although set theory is a modern concept, the visual cue of the symbol may well be similar to its modern definition of an infimum.

In the first two coins, below, a progression can be observed in the depiction of Hellenist temples, featuring a gable with the symbol of the sun or a star in the pediment.

Hellenist—Herod Philip II, B.C.E. 04-34 C.E.:

Herod Philip II, B.C.E. 04-34 C.E.

Hellenist—Herod Philip 8-9 C.E.:

Herod Philip 8-9 C.E.

Hellenist—Agrippa I, Year 7 = 42-3 C.E.:

Agrippa I, Year 7 = 42-3 C.E.

Obverse: ΤΙΒΕΡΙΟΣ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ ΓΕΡ (TIBERIOS KAISAR SEBASTOS GER; Tiberius Caesar, the August Ger[manicus]), laureate head of Claudius, r.

Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΑΣ ΦΙΛΟΚΑΙΣΑΡ (BASILEUS MEGAS AGRIPPAS FILOKAISAR; Great King Agrippa, Friend of Caesar) distyle temple (thought to be the consecration of the treaty between Agrippa and Claudius in the temple of C*apitoline J*upiter in Rome) containing King Agrippa, Claudius, and two other figures. In pediment: some symbol (crescent with a dot or star at the center?) meaning "in the year of Caesar's reign" followed by Ζ (Zeta = 7 in the ancient Greek alphabeit) [= 42-3 C.E.]).

Long predating Islam, this coin, if the symbol is a crescent and star, may complement the known evidence of intrinsic Hellenist origins of Islam, corroborating the kaaba, known to be a converted pagan temple of S*in—the ancient Sumerian crescent-moon g*od.

This coin of 12-13 years after the death of Ribi Yәhoshua confirms that sometimes the figure(s) in the pediment indicated the date.

Judaic—Bar-Kokhba Tetradrachm, 132-135 C.E.:

Bar-Kokhba Tetradrachm, 132-135 C.E.

Unlike Hellenist pagan temples, the Beit ha-Miqdâsh featured a flat roof. A priori, the Judaic coin, obviously referencing the Judaic counterpart of a temple, could only refer to שער הנקנור, which is thought to have featured the semi-arch stamped on this coin, the hybrid of a gable and an arch—much like what is featured over the entrance to the Talpiot Tomb. The only date that would be appropriate in the pediment—not a pagan symbol of the sun or a star—would be the symbol of eternity, the circle.

The circle, having no beginning or end, symbolized the Singularity ex nihilo and the date in pediment: eternity.

In Judaic—as contrasted with Hellenist—context, the circle in pediment adorning the Talpiot Tomb likely symbolized the eternal nature of the spiritual ("heavenly") שער הנקנור—leading into the "heavenly" (i.e. spiritual, eternal) Beit ha-Miqdâsh ha-Shelishit.

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Rainbow Rule

First Century Judaic Burial Practice

Dr. Shimon Gibson, Archeologist, Albright Inst., Yәrushâlayim

The usual procedure was that once a body had been anointed with oil and covered with a shroud and brought to a cave, it was placed on a bench within an arched niche hewn into one of the chamber's walls, known as an arcosolium. There the body rested for about a year to allow it to fully decompose, at which point the bones were gathered and placed into an ossuary. Alternatively, the bones were sometimes gathered and collected into a pit cut into the floor or into the side of the bench. This process was known as secondary burial. Only when the body had decomposed was death an absolute certainty. Hence, the story in the Gospels (of the women visiting [Ribi Yәhoshua's] tomb on the day following his burial) was not at all unusual. It was common practice in antiquity, since the idea was that people might somehow fall into a coma, get buried, and then suddenly awaken. You can imagine the horror of such an event. The "shroud tomb" that I excavated with two of my colleagues in Akeldama (the Field of Blood), just below Mt. Zion—in which we found well-preserved remains of a shroud dating from the first century [C.E]—suggests that in addition to a shroud used for wrapping the body, there was also a separate piece of cloth used for covering the head, a kind of handkerchief. If the person did wake up, they wouldn't suffocate; they could breathe and also shout and alert those outside.…

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Rainbow Rule

Talpiot Tomb Complex Discovery

According to various accounts, on Yom Shishi, 1980.03.28, a bulldozer preparing a construction site for Solel Boneh on what is today 272 Rәkhov Dov Gruner in see East Talpiot, 5 km (3.1 mi.) south of Ir-Dawid exposed the entrance to a tomb complex dating to the Beit ha-Miqdâsh ha-Sheini era. Someone in a neighboring building reported the exposed tomb to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Site Surveyor, Dr. Shimon Gibson, Archeologist, Albright Inst., Yәrushâlayim, who drew the architectural plans of the Talpiot Tomb Complex, relates that "then-Ph.D.-student Amos Kloner, the Yәrushâlayim district archaeologist for the Department of Antiquities, sent out an IAA Sr. Research Archaeologist, Dr., Eliot Braun, to see what was going on there. Braun informed him that it was indeed an ancient cave, and then the late archeologist Yoseiph Gat subsequently went out to the site [designated IAA 80] to conduct excavations. That was on a [Yom Shishi ], and I followed on the [Yom Rishon] to record the cave…" by which time "The ossuaries had already been taken out before I arrived." This means that the ossuaries were removed and transported to IAA, with the bones still inside them—and 10 ossuaries logged in to IAA from the tomb, IAA 80 numbers 500-509, on the day of the discovery: 1980.03.28.

The excavation began on 1980.03.30 and continued through 04.14. The reason for the lengthy excavation was that there was over a meter of terra rosa soil in the tomb—due to a break-in or collapse of part of the roof in antiquity, which exposed the tomb complex to the elements for about two centuries. This burial cave contained ten ossuaries, six of which had inscriptions bearing the names of individuals on them, and pottery from the Herodian period (B.C.E. 30—70 C.E.). These archeologists have neglected to tell us whether these are a couple of ointment vessels one should expect in a tomb complex (?) or broken shards indicating that broken pottery was thrown into the open pit, caused by a break-in or collapsed roof, during Herodian times—perhaps as part of the destruction that occurred in Yәrushâlayim in 70 C.E. Helpfully, Dr. Gibson adds that "It transpired that the tomb itself had been broken into in antiquity, because reddish soil (terra rossa) had poured in through the cave entrance and had filled the central chamber up to about the height of one's knees. This fill had, in turn, flowed from the central chamber into the individual [כוכים]… This was the way the tomb looked at the time of the discovery…"

The Talpiot Tombs was first published in 1981, in Hebrew, by Yoseiph Gat in the IAA periodical, Kha·dash·ot′  Ar·khi·o·lo·gi·ot′  (1981: 24-25). The first English description was published in 1994 by Levi Yitzkhaq Rakhmani in A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel (1994a: 222-224), listing only the nine remaining ossuaries, #701-709.

The public first learned of the Talpiot Tomb Complex in an article in the English media in 1996.03-04. Later that year, the tomb complex was described in English in an article published in A·tiq·ot′  (29.15-22), the journal of the IAA. Seven years later, in a reworking and updating of his 1980 doctoral dissertation from Hebrew University, Kloner again published the Talpiot Tomb in a book entitled, The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, this time in Hebrew (Kloner and Boaz; 2003: 207, 208).

IAA Processing of Talpiot Tomb Complex

Dr. Gibson declared, "What I can say for certain is that there were indeed 10 ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb, and that these were all taken out and recorded properly, and that none of them looked like the J*ames ossuary, including the mysterious "plain" 10th ossuary that has apparently gone missing."

Since, by his own account, however, he has stated that the ossuaries were already gone before he arrived, how does he know what they looked like??? Furthermore, how did he draw the 10 absent ossuaries in situ in the tomb complex? By instructions from Yoseiph Gat?

"I think," Dr. Gibson continues, "it's just the sloppy handling of the ossuaries while they were in storage that has resulted in this specific ossuary being mislaid."

Incompetent negligent sloppy by four archeologists? That stretches credulity. Isn't it more likely either deliberately "losing" the evidence to avoid Christian backlash—as Gat's wife admitted publicly (recall, also, the 40 year suppression by Christians of the Dead Sea Scrolls because they "threatened basic Christian beliefs," a theme archeologists have echoed in this case)—perhaps coupled with opportunistic greed to sell it on the black market?

"Archaeologically, you have to record and collect the finds according to the exact location where they are found, and every find has to come from a clearly labeled context. The scattered bones were collected, placed in plastic bags and conveyed to the Rockefeller Museum, together with the other finds and ossuaries, which also had bones inside. The bones in the ossuaries weren't removed or even examined until they reached the Rockefeller Museum, at which point they were recorded. The bones were then looked at and the inscriptions were also carefully examined. It wasn't the case that this was a relaxed excavation, when you can spend time recording everything very carefully at your leisure. There was extreme pressure that the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem might hear about the tomb, get up in arms, begin demonstrating, and perhaps even succeed in stopping the excavation.

Anthropologist Joe Zias, curator at the time, contradicts Gibson, declaring (see his interview, below) that when he came into possession of the ossuaries they were "empty"; the bones were already gone.

Dr. Gibson also contradicts himself: "The inscriptions were also carefully examined" vs. his previous admission of "sloppy handling" coupled with "It wasn't the case that this was a relaxed excavation, when you can spend time recording everything very carefully at your leisure. There was extreme pressure that the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem might hear about the tomb, get up in arms, begin demonstrating, and perhaps even succeed in stopping the excavation." In the very next paragraph, he reinforces this: "You would not spend time examining inscriptions or the contents of the ossuaries until later." Clearly, there is no evidence that the processing of articles from this tomb were handled "carefully," professionally or to scientific standards.

"The normal practice while excavating tombs in the 1970s and 1980s was that the ossuaries were the first items to be taken out. You would not spend time examining inscriptions or the contents of the ossuaries until later. The same thing goes for the other finds, such as ceramic vessels. Everything was packaged to go as quickly as possible, so that eventually the work could be conducted slowly back in the Rockefeller Museum."

However, the 10th ossuary was "lost" that first day, 1998.03.18, when Amos Kloner personally put it out in the courtyard of the Rockefeller Museum. It appears that, aside from Yoseiph Gat, no one ever closely examined the 10th ossuary. To date, except for Kloner there's only hear-say evidence; there's no first-hand evidence that anyone other than Yoseiph Gat and Kloner ever even saw the 10th ossuary, much less examined it, even cursorily, and are, thus, qualified to describe the 10th ossuary.

Indeed, no one other than the late Yoseiph Gat, and maybe Amos Kloner, can even comment meaningfully on its description—and the comments of Amos Kloner are highly suspect because [1] Kloner's original documentation on the 10th ossuary was nothing more than a "copy and paste" of Gat's notes (suggesting that Kloner had no personal knowledge of his own concerning the 10th ossuary) and [2] he may have been either in collaboration with Yoseiph Gat to "lose" the ossuary in order to avoid a Christian backlash (as Gat's wife has publicly declared was her husband's intention). Beyond that, there is no denying that Kloner was the last person to admit handling and seeing the 10th ossuary and it would have been perfectly clear that a tempting profit existed by "losing" the 10th ossuary on the black market. Further, "losing" its provenance in the black market would be especially effective since it would render the 10th ossuary suspect as a fake. A second attempt to transform this ossuary from authentic to fake by the IAA (see below), presumably to cover their tracks, would seem to repeat—and confirm—the same modus operandi to corroborate this original attempt to render the 10th ossuary suspect as a fake. Who would have thought then that one day electron-micro-spectroscopy would match this ossuary back up with the Talpiot Tomb complex?

Let me ask the reader a question. If you were a professional art expert and the Louvre in Paris placed the Mona Lisa in your custody for some reason and you "lost" it, would you find yourself under suspicion? How important would the ossuary of Ribi Yәhoshua be to world history, culture and religion compared to the Mona Lisa? Will irregularities be exempted based on arrogant arguments that no one should dare suspect any of these of such unprofessional, perhaps unethical and even criminal, behavior? (If recent experience is any indication, the Christians who suppressed the Dead Sea Scrolls for 40 years succeeded in stonewalling and "facing down" such questions. Muslims aren't being held responsible for eliminating hard archeological evidence of the presence of Jews on Har ha-Bayit.)

There was an anthropologist at that time in the Department, whose job was to look at the bones when they were brought to the Rockefeller museum. His name was Joe Zias. He would note the number of buried individuals within the ossuaries, estimate their sex and age, and look for evidence of pathologies on the bones. At that time (the 1980s) ossuaries brought to the Rockefeller Museum were stored in the central courtyard of the wing used by the Israel Department of Antiquities as office spaces for archaeologists. There was limited storage space, so the ossuaries were stacked in rows against the side walls of the courtyard, with a thin plank of wood over each row of ossuaries.

"I tried to find out who actually wrote up the bone report, because in Amos Kloner's 1996 article, there's no mention of the name of the anthropologist who worked on the bones. There are two possibilities: the work could have been done by Joe Zias or Pat Smith. Pat was researching dental aspects of skeletons from some Second Temple–period tombs dug in Jerusalem at that time. I tried to hunt for more detailed information about the bones and came up with nothing. For this reason there is some uncertainty as to which bones came from which ossuary, at least on the basis of the published material. Since anthropologists at that time were fully aware of the evidence of a crucified man found earlier in the 1970s in a tomb at Givat Hamivtar, had there been evidence of a crucified man in the Talpiot tomb, the anthropologist working on the Talpiot material would definitely have alerted Gath and Kloner.

Even though Dr. Gibson is no anthropologist, any archeologist should know that not all crucified men had a nail lodged in their heel. Given the urgency and haste on that first day—when the 10th ossuary was lost—less conspicuous nicks on bones and the like, which may have been detected in upon a more detailed examination, would certainly either have gone unnoticed in such a cursory handling or, if detected by Yoseiph Gat, been suppressed—and may not even have been seen (much less some detail indicating crucifixion detected)—by Amos Kloner. Since the ossuary disappeared on that first day, Joe Zias likely never had any contact with the 10th ossuary or the bones contained within. The bones were turned over to Ultra-Orthodox representatives who buried the bones in an undisclosed Jewish cemetery.

Archeologist Amos Kloner gives nine of the ossuaries a closer examination. As Prof. Tabor notes, "Kloner carefully goes through them one by one in his report and describes them in detail as to size, decoration, and inscriptions. When he comes to the last, the tenth, he offers a single-word description: plain. Nothing more. Apparently he had nothing in his files regarding this tenth ossuary other than its dimensions: 60 by 26 by 30 centimeters." (2007.04.29, Dr. James D. Tabor, Prof. & Chair of Dept. of Religious Studies at Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte,

According to Prof. Tabor, "The IAA recently re-measured the James ossuary and its dimensions are 57.5 x 26 x 30 [cm]. There are quite a few ossuaries in the Rakhmani catalogue with original and re-measured dimensions, sometimes differing two or three centimeters, so the size of the James ossuary and the missing 80.509 are quite close. [e.g., before and after cleaning] Ossuary 80.509 is described as "plain," meaning not decorated, and it is also listed as "uninscribed." One might properly ask whether the James ossuary might be described as "plain" or "uninscribed." What one has to remember is that Joseph Gath reported a month following the excavation itself that only four of the ossuaries were "so far" noticed as inscribed, and yet we now know there turned out to be six once they were cleaned and more closely examined at the Rockefeller. This means that the original "field descriptions" were preliminary and that two of the inscribed ossuaries were not immediately noticed as inscribed. Kloner has said in interviews that all of the ossuaries were heavy with moisture and coated with terra rosa soil. So it is possible that a preliminary field description of 80.509 could have been "plain" and its inscription overlooked. If Kloner is basing his 1996 description on the preliminary field notes and observations rather than any subsequent closer examination of 80.509 at the Rockefeller then it is surely possible that "Plain" might fit the James ossuary as a preliminary description."

Kloner's one-word description is nothing more than an echo, a copy-and-paste, of Gat's original description of the 10th ossuary—not even any indication that it was broken (implying that the Hebrew means cracked, not broken-apart or shattered). All of the evidence indicates that Kloner never closely examined the 10th ossuary.

According to Joe Zias

(Anthropologist & Curator At The Time;

"THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER The truth of the matter is that the missing ossuary was never missing, never stolen from the IAA, nor stolen from the Talpiot tomb. Plain ossuaries which bore no inscription, nor any ornaments were automatically placed in an inner courtyard in the Rockefeller Museum during my tenure at curator (1972-1997). Due to a lack of storage space this was standard operating procedure, the ossuary was given a registration number, measured and simply stored in the inner courtyard with perhaps an additional 50-100 plain ossuaries. This was personally explained to Tabor by me so as to avoid any problems of a conspiracy theory in which the plain ossuary would figure. Unfortunately, it did not fit their agenda so they artificially created a story in which a plain white ossuary, suddenly morphed into a ossuary with two rosettes on the front, traces of red paint, bearing the inscription on the back 'James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus'."

Interestingly, the world-renowned petrologist who testified at the forgery trial, Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. (Univ. of Oldenburg, Germany) Wolfgang E. Krumbein, proved from before and after photographs that the traces of red paint, along with many other features, appeared only after the ossuary was in the custody of IAA and Israeli police. Dr. Krumbein notes that the rosette was made with different tools (stylus and metal chisel), perhaps suggesting that these may be recent additions that weren't part of the question posed to him and, hence, he did not directly address. This proves that parts, probably all, of this "transformation" was done either by the IAA or the police while in their custody!!! The obvious motivation would be for persons of IAA to cover their tracks for previous irregularities. That would indicate an IAA, not police, conspiracy.

It was not the deceased Yoseiph Gat, thus, a priori, apparently leaving only Amos Kloner as the person who "lost" the 10th ossuary. So why is Joe Zias so declaratively defensive? He was the curator. Even if he wasn't involved in removing the ossuary or selling it on the black market, as curator he remains ultimately responsible for the ossuary being lost. Thus, Joe Zias has to argue that it was never lost or missing—despite the fact that it was there and is no longer there.

Not only did Dr. Krumbein prove that the Ya·aqov Ossuary is authentic (see "Burning Issues, the Ya·aqov Ossuary"), he also proved it had been "reddened," contaminated by modern chemicals and cleaning agents, wire-brushed (or similarly defaced), making the inscription look fake, and possibly inscribed the rosette "decorations," using modern tools, while in IAA and police custody (1996?), either the IAA or the Israeli police deliberately changed the ossuary to make it appear a forgery! In 1980, before this deliberate defacing (to make the ossuary appear fake?), the ossuary was simply "plain and broken" when the inscription was suppressed, covered in terra rosa or unnoticed in the hasty and cursory look by Yoseiph Gat (and, maybe, Amos Kloner).

Joe Zias, Interviewed

(firstfollowers.vision.org/public/blog/171912), re: bones

JZ No, I think one of two things may have happened: the religious people may have come and gotten them after the archaeologists went home, or the archaeologist Gath, who is now deceased, gave them to the religious people.

[Interviewer Peter Nathan] PN In other words, they were never brought back to the laboratory for sexing?

JZ No, I turned my office upside down to try to find out where these bones were, or if there ever was a report. There never was a report on any of this.

Interesting just how Dr. Gibson knows (as noted earlier) that these bones were not of a crucified man.

PN So you just got the ossuaries back?

JZ Empty, yes. And I put the 10th one out in the courtyard…

PN Amos's report talks about how the covers have been removed from some of the ossuaries, the stones were removed from the kokhim, bones were scattered, and so forth. Would that have been done by tomb robbers?

JZ Yes, it was robbed twice. It seems to have been robbed in antiquity, and then again by the construction workers."

Robbed?!? Based on what evidence??? Just what was taken? These aren't Egyptian Pharaonic tombs containing gold and treasures. No valuables are placed in Jewish tombs. The ossuaries and bones were intact. Pottery (or shards?) was found in the tomb. What else would be there to take? Dr. Gibson reported that the ossuaries were logged in with the bones inside. Magic disappearing bones? Who turned the bones over to the Ultra-Orthodox for reburial without documentation or any report, and when? Yoseiph Gat? Amos Kloner? Is the desperate curator ultimately responsible for the losses (Mr. Zias himself) simply looking for any explanation to blameshift? Why would robbers bother to fill in the tomb with terra rosa soil. A more logical conclusion is that part of the tomb roof collapsed, allowing the terra rosa soil to wash in with rains and exposure to the elements over a period of a couple of centuries—like Dr. Krumbein found. Some of the ossuaries would certainly be partially buried when the terra rosa soil washed into the tombs during flooding. This would cause such an ossuary to be weathered on the side(s) exposed to the elements, pitted and embedded with the residue of growing plant roots, while the buried side(s) remained protected and in good condition.

According to Prof. James Tabor

(Dr. James D. Tabor, Prof. & Chair of Dept. of Religious Studies at Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte;

#18 of "The Top Twenty 'Fictions'"

"The 10 ossuaries from the Talpiot tomb with their six inscriptions were catalogued and thoroughly examined in 1980 by Amos Kloner, supervisor of the excavation, Joseph Gath, the excavator, and Joe Zias, the curator of collections at the Rockefeller museum. They were judged at that time to be of no special significance or interest."

"The late Joseph Gath makes it clear in his final excavation report that when the ossuaries were removed and tagged in the field, during the first two days of the rescue archaeological operation (March 30 & 31, 1980) [1980.03.28 was Day6] that only four of the six inscriptions had been noticed but none were yet "deciphered."

This contradicts the statement of Dr. Gibson, who declared that when he arrived at the site, 1980.03.30—the first day of excavating, the ossuaries were already gone!!! Nevertheless, apparently clairvoyantly, Dr. Gibson knew that the bones in the ossuaries "weren't removed or even examined until they reached the Rockefeller Museum, at which point they were recorded. The bones were then looked at." Finally, curator and anthropologist responsible for examining the bones, Joe Zias, contradicts him, declaring that the bones either never arrived or disappeared!!!

"The task of the excavation was not to carefully examine the ossuaries but to remove them quickly, even the first day, excavate the cave, and record and tag any of the findings, and produce an accurate survey map. Those tasks were all carried out by Joseph Gath, with the assistance of Shimon Gibson and three or four workers, according to proper and established procedures. The area supervisor was Amos Kloner."

"Several months later when Gath produced his printed report on the ossuaries he simply notes that 'Some inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic were found in the cave that have not been deciphered yet.'"

"In two separate interviews in late 2005 and early 2006 Joe Zias reported that he had checked all his records and notes and had nothing in his files related to the Talpiot tomb nor any specific recollection of these particular ossuaries of the many hundreds that were collected and catalogued in the Israel State collection during the decade of the 1980s. Zias first noted the ossuary 'J*esus son of Joseph' with its interesting cluster of names from the Talpiot tomb while filming with a BBC crew in 1996. He stated that the 'cluster' of names was so unusually impressive that were they not from the verified provenance of a licensed excavation site he would wonder about the possibility of forgery. He also called for further investigation of the tomb and its ossuaries."

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Rainbow Rule

Biblical Archaeology Society Website, Introduction

"Now a second wave of controversy has been sparked in the wake of a scholarly conference organized in Jerusalem by the Princeton Theological Seminary to assess the likelihood that the Talpiot tomb is indeed the tomb of Jesus. A dramatic moment came at the end of the conference when Ruth Gath, the widow of Yosef Gat, the original excavator of the Talpiot tomb in 1980, told the audience that her husband had believed that the tomb was indeed that of J*esus but had kept his views private for fear of stoking a worldwide anti-Semitic backlash."

Scholars Define Issues Scientifically, Not Religiously

There hasn't been such an outburst of academic hysterics, misrepresenting Christian beliefs and ad hominems as science, since the Church throttled Galileo for claiming the earth revolved around the sun because it would have forced the Church to concede—in the words of the Distinguished Professor Jodi Magness—"that we must reject our earliest traditions about Jesus." Their attacks on Prof. James Tabor, Prof. Andrey Feuerverger and Simcha Jacobovici are the rantings of Christian academics and their sympathizers who, like their similar 40-year suppression of the Dead Sea Scrolls, resent their belief-dependent careers having been exposed by a non-academic, whom they now determine to steamroll using Christian dogma in the guise of science. Moreover, their hysterical Christian fever fully confirms the fears of L.Y. Rakhmani !!!

The issue of whether the Talpiot Tomb is likely the tomb of Ribi Yehoshua and his family has been hijacked by Christians, who argue Christian beliefs in defiance of science and scholarship, to protect Christian doctrines. These Christians are aided and abetted by misojudaic non-Christians to thwart the progress and advancement of Bible-belief or Judaism (which they perceive as "xenophobic religiosity"). Both dress religious views in pseudo-science while relying almost exclusively on ad hominems instead of documentation and facts. It is evident in the fundamental argumentation of every opposing essay that these impugners depend entirely upon misrepresenting that Simcha Jacobovici, Prof. Tabor, various scientists and others claim to have proven that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Where is a single quotation substantiating that Simcha Jacobovici, Prof. Tabor or any other scientist has claimed to prove this? Arguments that Simcha Jacobovici, Prof. Tabor, et al. haven't proven that the Talpiot Tomb is that of Ribi Yehoshua are appropriate and some are scholarly; but they border on irrelevant because not one of these principals have claimed to prove such a thing. The attacks of these detractors are based on a lie, a straw man fabricated so that Christians and their sympathizers could make it appear that showing it is unproven equates to showing that it's impossible. What is unscientific, unscholarly and intellectually bankrupt is their attempt to dupe the public into equating unproven with impossible solely to preserve their Christian beliefs because that line of argumentation is neither scientific nor scholarly.

That is not science. It doesn't measure up to intelligent. It isn't even rational. It is religious hysteria.

No amount of evidence or reason counterbalances religious hysteria.

For those reasonable inquirers who seek rational evidence and logic, the first step is to wipe away all of the rumors, false allegations, misrepresentations, distortions, slander and straw men and examine exactly what the documentary claimed.

Most of the documentary is devoted to presenting evidence, leaving conclusions to the viewer.

Minute 11: the Narratormakes the first statement about the ossuary, asking:
"Can this stone coffin be linked to Jesus of Nazareth?"

Plainly, this is a question, not a claim.

Minute 13: Prof. James Taborstates: "…He, he was put in a, would be put in a permanent place, a permanent place of burial as a good Jew. Ok? Well, the tomb, you have to have a family tomb."
Minute 13 (cont.): The Narratorelaborates: "The family tomb of Jesus. If the ossuary found in the Talpiot tomb, marked 'Jesus, the son of Joseph,' did at one time contain the mortal remains of Jesus, then all the ossuaries in that tomb would have to belong to members of the Jesus family. On the other five ossuaries reported to have inscriptions, we should only expect to find names from the family tree of Jesus."

No flaw in the logic stated here has been raised by any scholar. Bones in the Talpiot tomb ossuary marked ישוע בר-יהוסף were certainly those of ישוע בר-יהוסף and his immediate relatives exclusively. Therefore, if ישוע בר-יהוסף was ריבי יהשוע בן-יהוסף, then all of the bones in the Talpiot tomb are of immediate relatives of ריבי יהשוע בן-יהוסף.

Stated alternately—and religious hysterics aside, even one name of a documented family member, absent contradictory evidence, would raise the probability well above other ossuaries and tombs—eliminating the prospect of impossibility.

Minute 14: Narrator,commenting on the ossuary inscribed with the Aramaic מריה in the Talpiot tomb, asks,
"Mariah, M*ary; found in the same family tomb as Jesus, son of Joseiph. Could this be the V*irgin M*ary's ossuary?"

While this is likely the ossuary of Miryâm, the mother of Ribi Yәhoshua, science most certainly does not admit any possibility of the mythical, therefore non-existent, Hellenist idol—the "V*irgin M*ary." This is what is impossible!!!

Minute 22: David Mevorah"All the facts that we have is that there is a cluster of names that resemble many of the names that we find in the NT. The other fact is that we find these names in many other places. So suggesting that this tomb was the tomb of the family of Jesus is a far-fetched suggestion and we need to be very careful with it."

This is equivalent to saying that 12 tosses of a coin are merely heads and tails, both of which are found on every penny. Therefore, predicting a sequence of 12 tosses means nothing. roll eyes

Minute 25: Prof. James Tabor"You know, all the tombs around Jerusalem, unfortunately with construction, are slowly getting exposed and, in some cases, destroyed. So, it's not so far-fetched that a construction crew would have uncovered the tomb of Jesus. You know? I mean, it can happen. I think we have to consider it."

Consider the opposite side of the coin. Contra-scientific religious superstitions aside, absence of a tomb constitutes evidence that the existence of Jesus was impossible!!!

Minute 25: Prof. Feuerverger"From a statistical point of view, we don't actually look at the incidences of the individual names, where we say that each one of them is a very common name. We look at the way in which the factors combine with each other. So, sure, a father by the name of J*oseph is not a rare name. A son by the name of Yeshua is not a rare name. But when you combine those two together, it's rarer. So, it really is a possibility that this particular tomb site is, in fact, the one of the NT family. It is a possibility that I think needs to be taken seriously."
Minute 31: Simcha Jacobovici"It seems to me there's a double standard. You say that Caiaphas [= Keipha] is, in all probability, the High Priest who prosecuted Jesus according to the Gospels; whereas, this entire cluster is dismissed, 'Well, this is just common Jewish names.' I mean, how are you so convinced that this is the Caiaphas?"
Minute 31 (cont.): Mevorah"You find more ossuaries in this same tomb, less fancy, with the name 'Caiaphas,' not 'J*oseph, son of Caiaphas,' but with the name 'Caiaphas' on it."
Minute 31 (cont.): Jacobovici"Fancy decoration convinces you that this is the Caiaphas of the…?
Minute 31 (cont.): Mevorah (interrupting)"No, no. Caiaphas is not that common name. It's not a common, as common name as Jesus, Joseph, J*ohn or M*ary. It is a rare name. It's a name that we know from both Jewish sources and from the NT and it is good in dating and time for that period and could be, that, the fact is that we've never found anywhere else an ossuary with the name 'Joseph, son of Caiaphus,' anywhere else."

On an ossuary. In fact, however, Καιαφας (Kaiaphas) is merely the Hellenized form of כיפא (Keiphâ). 'Yoseiph Ben-Caiaphas, and the other Caiaphases in that tomb' could all be relatives of Shimon 'Keiphâ' Bar-Yonâh, whose ossuary is identified, or any other Keiphâ. (This is highly unlikely. But not even this is impossible. Few things are impossible and scholars who claim that it is impossible that the Talpiot Tomb Complex is the tomb of Ribi Yәhoshua and his family are simply hysterical buffoons or desperately defensive concerning some misdeed.)

Minute 31 (cont.): Jacobovici"On the other hand, you have a whole bunch of unique things. Yosah, which you find in this tomb, appears once, period, out all of the thousands of ossuaries that have been found. Yet, nobody says 'In all probability that's probably the brother of Jesus.' Nobody does that."
Minute 31 (cont.): Mevorah"The fact that the probabilities in Caiaphus are very high does not say in all certainty that this is the one. There was no inscription inside saying, 'I crucified Jesus.' We don't know for 100%. We never know for 100% in archeology."

But in archeology, not knowing "for 100%" is interpreted as identification in the case of Caiaphus while "imposible!" in the case of Ribi Yәhoshua. That is illogical, contra-scientific and suggests ulterior motives.

Minute 113: Prof. Feuerverger"If it were possible to obtain evidence that the J*ames ossuary might be this missing ossuary then this would have a very strong additional degree of evidentiary value. I would say that that would be an absolute 'slam dunk' if that were, in fact, shown to be the case"
Minute 115: Robert E. Genna"But what I find interesting is the small trace materials that we are locating here as opposed to the general limestone properties that you would expect to find. We're noticing iron, titanium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium. So far, the elemental composition that we analyzed with this particular section of patina is consistent with the trace materials that we found in the J*ames ossuary."
Minute 115 (cont.): Dr. Charles Pellegrino"The signature is the same. It matches!"
Minute 115 (cont.): Narrator"The patina samples from the [Mariamne ossuary of the] Talpiot tomb match with the J*ames ossuary. But what about the random samples? As it turns out, none of them match Talpiot. The same chemical and mineral spikes as that of the Talpiot tomb are exhibited only by the J*ames patina. This is key evidence indicating that the ossuary inscribed 'J*ames, son of J*oseph, brother of Jesus' is the missing ossuary from the Talpiot tomb. When the J*ames ossuary is included in our statistical model, the probability factor changes from 600:1, in favor of the tomb, to 30,000:1, strongly suggesting that this tomb belonged to Jesus of Nazareth."
Minute 124: Narrator"The tomb that arguably once held the remains of M*ary, the mother or Jesus, M*atthew, from M*ary's family line, Yose and J*ames, the brothers of Jesus, M*ary Magdalene, her husband, Jesus, and Judah their son, is sealed up again."

Specifically and exactly, no scholar can quote any unreasonable claim in this documentary!!! Hysterical scholars have created straw men and used hysterics and ignoratio elenchi (demagoguery) to vilify Prof. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici for bringing the evidence to public attention. Would you rather not know? Would you rather the evidence be buried like Christians buried the Dead Sea Scrolls for 40 years? Unfortunately, for most, the answer is "yes."

Yet, how many accepted things in archeology are proven? How many in science? Why is it called the Theory of Relativity? Quantum Theory? Electron Theory? The Theory of Evolution? Number Theory? The "Big Bang" Theory? Who demands proof of any of these before accepting and using them as the most likely correct explanation to date? All of these are as unproven as the Talpiot Tomb. Are they, therefore, impossible? This is the illogical nonsense that detractors of the Talpiot Tomb are attempting to foist on the unsuspecting and primarily Christian-biased public. They are accepted because they best fit the facts as we know them and none have been proven wrong… yet. Each of them contain known but unexplained anomalies and contradictions. Yet, that isn't enough for scientists and scholars to reject any of these theories—unlike Christian and Jewish fanatics (e.g. The Theory of Evolution and "Big Bang" Theory). Proof that these unproven theories are wrong, not religious beliefs that they are wrong, is what is required to disprove them.

Simcha Jacobovici, Prof. Tabor, various scientists and the others have claimed merely to show that it is plausible, even likely, that the Talpiot Tomb is the tomb of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Detractors have shown unexplained anomalies and what appear to them to be contradictions. Not one, however, has provided a disproof.

Of all of the ossuaries that have been recovered, there is not one that any of these detractors can prove wasn't the ossuary of Ribi Yehoshua. But the ossuary with the name "Yeshua" on it they can prove "impossible" to be that of Ribi Yehoshua? The one discovered in the same tomb with the names of other known family members, this ossuary they can prove "impossible" to be that of Ribi Yehoshua?

Without proof (not Christian beliefs) to the contrary, the name "Yeshua" on the ossuary would alone be sufficient to show, beyond mere plausibility, increased likelihood that the tomb could be that of Ribi Yәhoshua. To show that it is impossible for the Talpiot Tomb to be the tomb of Ribi Yәhoshua and his family, by contrast, would require proof! Instead, however, these hysterical academics hope to overload the balance scale of public opinion with Christian beliefs and ad hominems.

Where has any critic proven that the Talpiot Tomb cannot be the tomb or of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. The impugners' array of unscholarly ad hominems and amateurish attempts at logic and science is easily debunked. In fact, there is no substantial evidence to the contrary, only evidence that the Talpiot Tomb cannot, at this point, be proven beyond reasonable doubt to be that of Ribi Yәhoshua. We all recognized that from the get-go and no one has disputed that! That argument is a straw man, which is unworthy of science or scholars, fabricated for no other reason than to defend Christian beliefs! Despite their vociferous attacks, detractors have provided no such proof—nor have most posed even honest intellectual and scholarly argumentation—and that means that the plausibility stands valid (not proven).

All of the counter arguments amount to no more than an attack on the fictitious, straw man "proof" that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Ribi Yәhoshua and his family. They assume that fellow scholars and the public will accept their straw man without question. Correcting that definition of the issue, however, takes all of the wind out of all of their sails in one stroke!

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Rainbow Rule

Analysis of Paper By Eric M. Meyers

A logical outcome depends on a logical definition of the case.

Debating 101: Never let an opponent state your case, in their terms. unchallenged.

In 35 years, of many hundreds who have declared what I believe; some so arrogant as to even insist that they, rather than me, state my positions. I've never once encountered any detractor who stated my beliefs correctly. Instead, I've had to deal with hundreds of straw men. This has happened on a large scale, among academics, in the Talpiot Tomb squabble. (Most of it isn't worthy of being called a debate.)

Prof. Meyers wrote, "The arguments in favor of such a stunning identification in the view of the authors and producers and their supporters are dependent largely on the coincidence of the names inscribed on the ossuaries all coming from a single-family tomb… [including] Mariamne, and the possibility that a second part of the inscription be read as "leader" and identified with Mary Magdalene rather than Mary or Marta…" Prof Meyers has misstated the case in terms that beg the question by contradicting logic in assigning of the burden of proof. No matter how much evidence you present, all they have to do is show you haven't proven the case—a simple matter—and they win.

The case is properly stated that the coincidence of the names inscribed on the ossuaries, which all come from a single-family tomb, closely match the only surviving record of a family of such names and all arguments against associating this close match depend predominantly on mere Christian religious doctrine concealed (by some anti-religious Jews as well as Christians, BTW) behind a few tenuous objections. Then, the burden of proof falls on the detractors to prove it is not the tomb of Ribi Yehoshua and his family.

Debating the definition of the case itself makes the point that "proof" is an irrelevant expectation, freeing you of that illogical burden of proof, and [b] demonstrating that disproving the association would have much farther to go than proving the association, leading to the conclusion that association based on hard evidence is far more rational, logical and likely than disassociation based entirely on Christian doctrines and attempts to beg the question. They don't make their case, they simply show you cannot prove yours (which should be understood as an irrelevant given in the first place). Where do they provide any hard evidence from the tomb that it isn't that of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Matityahu? Talk about weak and tenuous.

Further, the association is not dependent, as Prof. Meyer also represented, upon Mariamne being identified with Miryam ha-Migdalit. If Mariamne was the wife of, say, Yaaqov or Yose this would not be any proof disassociating the tomb from Ribi Yehoshua and his family.

Similarly, if the ossuary of Yaaqov Ben-Yehoseiph was from a different tomb, or a fake, neither would this prove a dissociation of the Talpiot tomb fro Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Such arguments are key to evaluating the authenticity of the ossuary of Yaaqov Ben-Yehoseiph, but, unless it is both authentic and from the Talpiot tomb, it is otherwise irrelevant to identification of the Talpiot tomb. Evidence for dissociation would have to take the form of an ossuary inscribed "from the tribe of" some tribe other than Yehudah. For just about every tomb in the area of that period, there is NO evidence dissociating it from being that of Ribi Yehoshua and his family—other than Christian dogma and Jewish anti-religious secularism. Only a religious, or anti-religious, fanatic (two sides of the same coin) grinding an axe would deny that the Talpiot tomb is far more likely that of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Having defined the case logically, arguing this ossuary's fakery, the arrest of Oded Golan and the uncertainty of the final phrase of the inscription are all attempts to debunk by association, straw men relative to the case at hand.

Prof. Meyers asserts "Much of the statistical data are dependent on the James Ossuary being part of the original corpus." I'm not aware of Prof. Meyers' credentials—or even abilities—in statistics and, without sitting down to calculate it, his assertion seems statistically implausible. I think you'll find that the probability that the Talpiot tomb is that of Ribi Yehoshua and his family would remain greater than 50%, in other words, that it remains probable. Given the proper statement of the case, >50%+ is sufficient to trump <50%. No one has paid any attention to the complementary probability that can be attached to the Talpiot tomb not being that of Ribi Yehoshua and his family. I think you'll find that when that figure is calculated you'll have a good, perhaps gleeful, chuckle.

Attacking the Christian association with the cross marks, while educational, is yet another straw man that in no way evidences any dissociation between the Talpiot tomb and the family of Ribi Yehoshua.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "a look at either the book or film raises doubts about the reliability of the entire enterprise and the motivations of its authors, producers, and supporters." He has not shown this. Since when has "the world of scholarship and the world of archaeology as a discipline" begun accepting illogical and unfounded smear as credible science? In science, doubts must be expressed in terms of evidence and facts, not smear tactics, generalization, insinuation or innuendo.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "Normally, one does not have to sign a confidentiality agreement to participate in a scientific experiment or analysis of material, which is what all the principals in this adventure story did." Has he never heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls??? ("Adventure story"—more innuendo) Then he will go on to lecture me (or any other reader) about scientific method??? Archeological method, maybe.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "Normally, scientific and archaeological method require one to put forward the evidence in such a way that one's peers can evaluate the data before such major conclusions are drawn." This is simply not true. It is customary, incumbent even, for a research scientist, when he or she can justify it, and particularly when he or she is pioneering in the field, to reach and publish conclusions. Peer review, when they can understand it, only then can assess those conclusions. That assessment is never (!) based on straw men, etc.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "even in the film the producers allowed actors to present their conclusions in docudrama format as if there were a mass consensus on the matter." The final phrase is patently untrue. Criticism of "allow[ing] actors to present their conclusions in docudrama format" is an exercise in stodginess and straw men that overlooks many dramatizations illustrating principles of physics, mathematics and other sciences.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "Given the repeated disturbance of the tomb, the DNA evidence must be treated with the greatest suspicion." With suspicion, yes; but not as much suspicion as their counterargument, for which there is no evidence whatsoever!

Prof. Meyers wrote: "In addition. how can anyone be certain of whose bones were in any of the ossuaries?" Certain? Misrepresentation of the case again. Ossuaries were routinely used by more than one generation. Prof. Meyers makes yet another straw man of this. Probability—name inscribed on the ossuary versus unmarked ossuaries relative to the inclusion of a given individual in that ossuary. Take any single unmarked ossuary at random. What is the probability that Ribi Yehoshua is (or was) in that ossuary instead of one marked with his name?

Prof. Meyers wrote: "so-called Mariamne ossuary which could have held the bones of Mariamne and a Mary or a Marta." "So called"??? Again, innuendo. The ossuary has the name on it. Such tactics, like straw men, are NOT science. "Could have held the bones of…" So what? That is no argument against the case. At best, it's obfuscation.

Prof. Meyers wrote: "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" which he bases on his own book.

I've read his 1981 book (Archaeology, The Rabbis & Early Christianity), co-authored by James Strange, and it's a scientifically and scholarly unworthy series of profound misconceptions about Judaism and first-century Jews. I remember sending a letter to James Strange, in the late 70s or early 80s I think, trying to give him a "heads up" on what I was learning. In response, in what he surely thought from his Christian perspective was a kind gesture, he sent me a modern translation, probably from the Textus Receptus or KJV, into Hebrew of the "Brit Hadasha." That told me everything about how much he grasped of what I had presented him.

Here, a conundrum I pointed out in my previous message comes into play. He is correct that "it is difficult to associate Jesus with the more conservative wing" of the Pharisees. However, it is, at the same time, impossible to associate Ribi Yehoshua with any other group!!! Ergo, reburial in an ossuary is corroborating evidence, not conflicting evidence!!!

As for his body being taken from the tomb on the third day, where (don't jump to the obvious conclusion) is any evidence of that? The pronouncement of death wasn't as technically refined then as now. Consequently, in earliest times it didn't take more than one story of a "dead" person being "resurrected," as evidenced by obvious marks where he or she tried to get out of the tomb, for the practice to arise of checking on the third day that the person was, indeed, dead and putrefying. Obviously (to the rational logician or scientist in the real world), someone got there before the women, rolled open the tomb door and Ribi Yehoshua limped, or more likely was helped, out. The account states that he was seen around for 40 days—not a year (James, where did a year come from? I've missed that unless it's in subsequent essays) after that, after which he presumably died and was then buried in the Talpiot tomb. So this reburial fits the account exactly. It just doesn't fit Christian dogma, including Jesus. Color me not surprised.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "Moreover with the practice of secondary reburial so common in Roman-period Palestine, why would the family of Jesus not have taken his remains back to Nazareth where the family tomb (if there was one) most surely would have been located?" And his evidence for this is…??? Beit Lekhem, city of Dawid, would be more likely than Natzrat. However, hadn't the family lived in Yerushalayim, city of Dawid, for about 3 years, making it their home, which was also the proper place for the Mashiakh to live? On what basis does Prof. Meyer argue that his Jesus, rather than fulfill prophecies associated with Christ, would return to Natzrat? (Don't even think of making that leap to, le-havdil, Ribi Yehoshua.)

Prof. Meyer wrote: "in Galilee, Greek was uncommon, if not rare, among first-century Jews." I think the evidence is sparse and unconvincing. Aside from gentiles, Greek was common among all Hellenist Jews and only among those Jews who were Hellenists. So, whatever Jewish communities were Hellenist spoke Greek and in whatever communities Pharisaic Jews lived they spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. Where is evidence to the contrary? I don't see how Ribi Yehoshua or Miryam ha-Migdalit represent any contradiction.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "I would point out that… the fact that the Greek inscription on the Mariamne ossuary fits much better in the world of Jerusalem and Judea than in the tomb of a Galilean family." But Prof. Meyers' method is to assume the opposite of what fits better and then require proof that it fits. Thus, his method contradicts his conclusion.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "dating from the late-first century BCE to 70 CE, which is certainly a much broader time frame than proponents of the identification would assume." Who asserted that it took a century to build??? It's in the window and this is nonsense.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "There were numerous sherds recovered in the cave, which suggests a longer life to the tomb, one that would have begun in the pre-Christian era." By this, he means before 135 CE or before Paul the Hellenist Apostate? Grrr! This is, however, the only serious conflicting evidence he's raised. I think it's easily explained, however. From time immemorial, Jews have buried holy items in tombs when inhuming a Jew. I don't know what sherds these were, and I'd be very interested to find out, but from the brief mention here it could be discarded broken Qidush cups, perhaps Shabbat oil-lamps and the like—which, of course, could have belonged to their granddaddy and been used in their family for decades. Thus, this, too, reconciles perfectly with the lifestyles and practices of first-century Pharisee Jews.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "In light of the sensitivity of the subject, which perforce raises the issue of whether there was a physical resurrection, and in light of the questions it raises about the veracity of the New Testament accounts of the death and burial of Jesus,I submit that this was not the appropriate way to present such a hypothesis to the public as well as to the scientific and archaeological communities."

Science and logic are unaffected and uninfluenced by "the issue of whether there was a physical resurrection, … questions it raises about the veracity of the New Testament accounts of the death and burial of Jesus." His declaration is what has no place in science. You can better address whether it belongs in archeology, and the implication whether, then, archeology is science or not.

Prof. Meyer wrote: "As far as I am concerned, the story of the tomb of Jesus remains merely a hypothesis…" Of course it does!!! Such a thing can't be proven!!! Back to the definition of the case. Einstein's what? The what of evolution? Quantum what?

He continues: "…remains unsubstantiated, doubtful, and completely suppositious." It is FAR more substantiated than his counterargument, which has no substantiation whatsoever, unless you count the sherds. Further, the case you have made is probable (>50%). It is his counterargument that completely lacks any substantiation, is improbable (<50%—and I suspect by a l-o-o-n-g shot) and completely suppositious.

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Rainbow Rule

Shimon Gibson

Much is made of the fact that the lost 10th ossuary from the Talpiot tomb was initially described as uninscribed. Anyone who lives in Israel knows that oversights and mistakes are not rare. Making such an oversight much more likely is Gibson's description here (pg. 119, col. 2, p. 1), becoming documented certainty (pg. 122, c. 2, p. 1): "Since Gath did not match up the Rockefeller IDAM accession numbers given to the ossuaries with the attribution numbers as they appear on my plan of the cave, we will never know for certain which ossuary came from which kokh, and this is unfortunate as it represents a major loss of information." Further, what confidence do these 'Keystone Cop" archeologists merit, "When the ossuaries were transferred to Beth Shemesh, the tenth broken example was most likely thrown away, owing to a lack of storage space." Perhaps it just isn't given in the literature that has been available to me, but where is the chain of evidence to Rakhmani then, that forms a basis for these archeologists to treat his description as authoritative ("Rakhmani in his 1994 catalogue described it as "a plain, broken specimen")? Is Rakhmani's explanation of the 10th ossuary being thrown away, then, any more reliable when, so far as I've seen, there is no reliable evidence it was either plain or broken? They can't find it, don't know where it went and, essentially, know nothing about it except that they were themselves incompetent screw-ups."

"Gibson then adds his own flourishes, transforming Rakhmani's (apparently) unknown to a representation of certainty: "This is highly unlikely since we know that the tenth ossuary was plain, undecorated, and uninscribed, and, on top of everything else, it was broken." As best I can see from the available literature so far, there is no reliable description to fit or contradict the Yaaqov ossuary, which continues to stand or fall solely on its physical analysis and investigation of its provenance. Whether authentic or phony, however, in no case can it contradict an association of the Talpiot tomb with Ribi Yehoshua and his family."

"In light of the previous paragraph, Gibson gets much mileage of dissing "The filmmakers, Jacobovici and Cameron, got a lot of mileage out of this missing ossuary.""

"Gibson, Pueche and Pfann read "Mariame kai Mara." So what? How many of them are eminent epigraphers and what eminent epigraphers corroborate their non-authoritative opinions? Even if the correct reading were "Mariame kai Mara," that wouldn't be contradictory evidence any more than the other arguments being offered. Further, if either of them tried to engrave the name on similar stone—an uneven surface of varying hardness—using an iron nail I think they would have greater respect for the variation in the letters. Try it."

""The name "Yosé" on one of the other ossuaries is actually a shortened form of Yehosef and, in my opinion, this is probably the same Yehosef who is the father of Yeshua on another ossuary in the tomb, who, in turn, was the father of Yehuda." And his opinion is based on what evidence? The evidence contradicts him, suggesting that his opinion drives his conclusion rather than the reverse."

"Furthermore, even without these two inscriptions, it is a misstatement to describe the ossuaries as "suggestive, but nothing more." In fact, the association still remains probable (>50%) and they are still nonsensically arguing to accept the improbable (<50%) instead of the probable.

"Gibson wrote: "The day after the burial, the women who came to the tomb found it empty." Being that careless and mistaken with the basics, what confidence should we put in his opinions, none of which are supported by reliable corroborating evidence?

This is where we find what really drives Gibson's conclusion: "Hence, it remains conceivable that a family tomb of Jesus might still be found in the vicinity of Jerusalem, perhaps in the vicinity of the actual tomb of Jesus situated, I believe, at the spot marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City."

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Analysis of Paper By Sandra Scham

I don't find that she has any expertise in either statistics or computer science data mining. Yet, these are the basis for her arguments.

According to her, archeological method is probably false: "either the analyst has personal knowledge relating to the project or is relying upon the assertions of other acknowledged experts( Healy 1983:3 48). In short, it is as many people have feared-an expert analysis based upon too many assumptions that, when closely examined, proves to be questionable if not false."

She confuses Feuerverger's acknowledgement that any deterioration in the input would produce some deterioration in the output with her preferred transformation that any detraction from the input discredits the output entirely.

She also confuses "most of them are highly debatable among archaeologists" with "disproven." I've seen some foolish things argued by archeologists (both in Orion and Ioudaios forums in the late '80s, including several archeologists as distinguished from lay talkbackers) and I'm sure you can come up with better examples than I can. "Debatable" isn't equivalent to "disproven" and unproven isn't equivalent to false.

I find it telling that she urges archeologists to resort to intuition to the exclusion of computation, the exact opposite of scientists ("every biblical scholar will recognize the pattern here without resorting to computations").

She confuses Healy's "personal knowledge" and "assertions of acknowledged experts" with facts by insinuating that "The assumptions upon which the measures of surprisingness are based, in short, are not facts and not knowledge but conjecture." No, the fact is that they are assertions of acknowledged experts and her implication is false.

Without justification, she assumes and then charges that the premise of the film is unsound ("In fairness to the filmmaker and his colleagues, we should note that, despite its unsound premise…"). Not scientific.

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Analysis of Paper By Christopher A. Rollston

pg. 126, c.1, p. 1 - Shoham's assertion that "it is equally possible that there is no connection between the names found on the bulla and the person mentioned in the Bible," beyond being merely unsubstantiated, is untrue. Without going into the coincidence of two people of the same name with a father of the same name in such a small city at the same time without need to mention such a coincidence is a far greater coincidence. Almost nothing in the real world is equally possible.

Since the case of the Talpiot tomb concerns only a likelihood of association (for me, at least), not "demonstrative of the certainty of an identification," Avigad's recommendations for rigor, while admirable, aren't applicable and a likelihood of association cannot be held, or even compared to, to this standard. Until such time that some expert asserts "demonstrative of the certainty of an identification" is—i.e., "It is certain that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Ribi Yehoshua and his family," then Avigad's recommendations should be applied.

Rollston also seems to rely wrongly on Rakhmani's description of the 10th ossuary as I've commented earlier.

Rollston makes the best counterpoint so far: "For example, Sukenik published an ossuary inscribed "Yeshua son of Yehosep" more than seventy-five years ago (Sukenik 1931). Moreover, the names Yeshua' and Yehosep are predominant in the family of Babatha's first husband and her first husband's grandfather was named "Yeshua' bar Yehosep" (Lewis 1989:3 5-40). That is, even with the small corpus of epigraphic attestations of personal names, even the Talpiot tomb occurrence of "Yeshua' bar Yehosep" is not unique."

Still, his only valid point is that the Talpiot tomb COULD belong to someone other than Ribi Yehoshua and his family, which—unless he's going to claim that another ossuary is that of Ribi Yehoshua—fails to contribute any contradictory evidence dissociating the Talpiot tomb from Ribi Yeshua and his family. It would affect the probability, which should be examined. I doubt, however, that it would make the Talpiot tomb improbable (<50%).

Rollston misrepresents the case by transforming "can indeed be identified" (pg. 127, c. 2, p. 2) with "it is convincing to affirm that the ossuary of Yeshua' bar Yehosep is that of…" (loc. cit.). If Rollston is correct in this representation then someone has foolishly overstated the case and a graceful retreat, without delay, to more solid ground (the case as I've stated it) would be the best course. If Rollstons misrepresents the case here then it invalidates his entire argument, which is little different than the others, relying on constructing a straw man.

Acknowledging that fratronymics are rare contradicts his assertion that, with Yose, it's problematic. His argument seems to be "expect everything and, since nothing offers everything, it's all problematic." Sounds like a risk-free career consideration, not a scientist.

Rollston's listing of permutations of relationships for the names fails to note that each one of them COULD be a number of different relatives of any name from that period. THIS particular Yeshua Bar Yehoseiph COULD be the brother of Caiaphas, or the father of Pilate, ad infinitum. I think to any scientist his list will be viewed as showboating and obfuscatory—risible, as he puts it.

Rollston argues that "perhaps they were father-in-law and daughter-in-law, or brother-in-law and sister-in-law. In fact, they could have been brother and sister (with different mothers, but the same father)." Yeah, and they COULD have been great-great-grand-uncle and great-great-grand-niece. Could it even be PROVEN that one wasn't E.T.??? What makes his hypothesis LESS probable THAN the present case, however, is that the implied relatives are then inexplicably missing from the tomb. The counterarguments are ALL far less tenable than the present case.

But, Rollston rolls into the straw man template, "but this is much different from proving their conclusion"—the big straw man that misrepresents the present case.

"In short," he continues, "it is important not to make too many assumptions that cannot be proven." This is patently wrong. Extremely little can be proven and we'd know nearly nothing; perhaps literally nothing. I think I can show that they have not, and cannot, prove(n) almost anything in archeology.

I agree with Rollston that the chain of custody of the Yaaqov ossuary is broken and it's provenance is a serious unknown. The inscriptions seems to be less problematic, the disproving being at least as weak as the proving. Again, the case is probability, not certainty or proof. The "Big Bang" Theory, the Theory of Relativity and Electron Theory are all unproven; yet, we exist, we schedule using time and we rely on electricity. The presumption by archeologists that they can rise to a standard beyond other scientists of accepting only what can be proven I find to be unwarranted and foolish.

Rollston intimates (pg. 128, c. 2, p. 2) that because labs have misauthenticated fakes, this case—unlike every other case in archeology whose provenance cannot be PROVEN (meaning, for those unfamiliar with logic and science "with absolute certainty," and I could make that impossible)—should be dismissed. You'd be left with nothing. It's a matter of probability, not certainty; and not alternative has been shown to have an equal, much less greater, probability—much less the standard of certainty they would impose on this case. If certainty is to be the standard, then require them to show this case is false—with certainty (i.e., proven).

First, were the lab tests double-blind? If not, why not? It also seems to me that they should have been.

Rollston: "I would argue that Feuerverger's decision not to factor in (as negative evidence) the presence of names such as Yehudah bar Yeshua' and Mattiyah is problematic. After all, there is no ancient evidence that…" This is just foolish self-contradiction. On one side, Rollston argue to ignore evidence unless it meets the standard of proven certainty but when it would serve to contradict this case, suddenly he criticizes for excluding unproven and even more uncertain factors. This is Keystone Cops archeology.

His conclusion is within reason describing the assumptions as "precarious," however, unless someone has defined the case foolishly, no one should have represented that the case has ever been about "posit[ing] that this is the family tomb of" Ribi Yehoshua and his family. Back to their dependence on the same old straw man.

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The Final Word (Formal Paper) By Prof. Andrey Feuerverger

Although I haven't ponied-up the $30 to read the formal paper, clearly unlike most of the soft "science" academics, I understood the original stats that Prof. Feuerverger presented well enough to be unsurprised at the results described by Prof. Tabor in his blog of 2008.04.06. Like discrete math and science, stats are a branch of logic that is fixed and reliable for all time. (Stats themselves never lie. It is ignorance of stats, like ignorance of other sciences, that are abused and by which the ignorant masses are exploited.)

Those requiring the extra information and willing to shell out the $30 can read Feuerverger, Prof. Andrey – The Final Word. (I don't begrudge his $30. You don't work for free. I charge for the years of work I've put into my books and papers. A workman is worthy of his wages. Torah teaches not to muzzle the ox that treads the grain.)

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Analysis of Paper By Jodi Magness

Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?

Jodi Magness, 2007.03.05 (www.bib-arch.org/bswbKCtombmagness.html)

(Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Archaeology and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has participated in more than 20 excavations in Israel and Greece, and currently directs excavations in the Roman fort at Yotvata, Israel. Her publications include an award-winning book on The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eerdmans 2002) and an article entitled "Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James," Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005).")

"In the new documentary film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus (which appeared on the Discovery Channel on March 4th), director Simcha Jacobovici and producer James Cameron claim to have identified the tomb of Jesus and his family in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot…What is new is the sensational claim that this is the tomb of Jesus and his family… the Talpiot tomb is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family… Archaeology is a scientific discipline… The history and archaeology of Jerusalem in the first century are far too complex to be boiled down to a short sound bite, yet that is precisely what has happened here. This is a travesty to professional archaeologists and scholars of early Judaism and Christianity, and it is a disservice to the public."

"Now let us consider the claim itself. We have no contemporary accounts of the death and burial of Jesus."

It's already time to remind the reader of her paper that she has claimed, in the previous paragraph, that "the Talpiot tomb is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family." These critics are claiming that Simcha Jacobovici and Prof. Tabor have made claims of proof. Read! Who is making such dogmatic claims? Her absolute claim must be proven or it's entirely invalid. If she cannot prove that "the Talpiot tomb is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family" then it can be!!! However, rather than offer proof, she changes the subject, hoping readers wouldn't notice. In fact, "contemporary accounts of the death and burial of Jesus" proves her wrong! The lack of "contemporary accounts of the death and burial of Jesus" means that, if Ribi Yehoshua existed, his remains could have been in any ossuary! Of all of the ossuaries that have been found, there is not one of them that a scientist can validly state that it "is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family." Such a dogmatic statement indicates her religious fervor, not science.

"Although the canonical Gospels may not be accurate in every detail, most scholars agree they contain some historical information. The claim that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus and his family contradicts the canonical Gospel accounts and means that we must reject our earliest traditions about Jesus."

This is as illogical, unscientific, unscholarly and foolish as any statement ever asserted under the claim of "scholar." Look at the logical elements: Let
a= "some historical information,"
b= "canonical Gospel accounts" and
c= "our earliest traditions about Jesus."

First, notice that, although Prof. Magness misleads you to accept her substitute, "a" doesn't equate to "b." In fact, other than misleading the reader down the wrong path, "a" has no connection to the remainder of her statement.

Prof. Magness' statement is then revealed: she "proves" that "the Talpiot tomb is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family" because "the claim that the Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus and his family… means that we must reject our earliest traditions about Jesus"!!! She has the chutzpah to substitute "Christian faith" for science and scholarship, make a conspicuously foolish claim to prove that "the Talpiot tomb is not—indeed, cannot—be the tomb of Jesus and his family," and then impugn Simcha Jacobovici, producer James Cameron, Prof. James Tabor, et al. as committing "a travesty to professional archaeologists and scholars of early Judaism and Christianity, and? a disservice to the public."

It goes deeper than this: nowhere have Simcha Jacobovici, producer James Cameron, Prof. James Tabor, et al. ever "claim[ed] to have identified the tomb of Jesus and his family in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot"!!! That is an outright lie and when that lie is expunged all of the "disproofs" are exposed as unscientific, illogical and hysterical. These men claimed only that the weight of evidence suggests this and there is no counter evidence disproving it. Nor has anyone offered a "disproof" any better than Prof. Magness' hysterical profession of Christian faith attached to the fraudulent expectation that her assertion be accepted as "scholarly."

"Those who identify the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus support their claim by citing later, non-canonical traditions such as the Gospel of Philip."

This, too, is a false and misleading premise. It's fallacious because not everyone "who identify[ies] the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus support their claim by citing later, non-canonical traditions such as the Gospel of Philip." It's misleading because her subsequent ignoring of other factors begs the question that the mythical "claim" DEPENDS upon "the Gospel of Philip." That, however, is false. The evidence of the names on the ossuaries is suggestive of the family of Ribi Yehoshua and, to date, critics have provided nothing more than fanatical defenses of Christian faith to the contrary. Basing a conclusion on a fallacious premise is known in logic as ex falso quodlibet, which means that "after false premise, one may conclude anything one pleases." (Example, if the moon is made of blue cheese then {we don't exist, donkeys fly, or whatever}.)

Prof. Magness is blissfully unaware that her citation from the "Gospel of Mark" (15.42-46), "When the evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath" intractably contradicts her later statement "Jesus was crucified on F*riday." "Evening had come," by Judaic reckoning, means the next day has already commenced! Then she continues, ex falso quodlibet "This is consistent with what we know about Jesus' background, as the Romans generally reserved crucifixion for the poorer classes, who they regarded as common criminals."

First, there is no logical implication that Romans "generally reserved crucifixion for the poorer classes, who they regarded as common criminals" because (!?!) "Jesus was crucified on F*riday." What a muddle of confused thinking!

Second, contrary to ignorant gentile misunderstandings, it is a simple matter to show that [a] "When the evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath" proves that, by Jewish reckoning (which Prof. Magness herself later conceded—"According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus died on the eve of the Sabbath (late Friday afternoon), just before sundown") the Sabbath had already begun according to the erroneous account in "Mark" and [b] Ribi Yehoshua was crucified as the Shabbat of the Seventh Day of Khag ha-Matzot approached, NOT on F*riday,2 which, the tomb being found empty after sundown of the seventh day of the week,1 intractably conflicts with the NT prophecy that he would remain in the earth 3 days and 3 nights.2

Prof. Magness makes the unfounded assertion that "Jesus came from a poor family that presumably could not afford a rock-cut tomb." The mythical Hellenist counterfeit, perhaps. But historical Ribi Yehoshua was from a professional family (whether carpenter or smith), who had received extravagant gifts from the Iranian "Magi," of the Royal House of David ha-Melekh, who had become a Ribi—ordained under the auspices of the Nasi of the Beit Din ha-Gadol in the Beit ha-Miqdash. There is no evidence, apart from Prof. Magness' Christian beliefs, that he or his family were poor. All of the evidence indicates that he was financially secure with little need or concern for money or materialism. In contrast to Christian glorification of poverty (conceived by Hellenist Romans to keep the masses happy in their poverty), Judaism has never glorified poverty. Practicing Torah leads to success, not poverty. In Judaism, one's body and practice must reflect the soul, not be the polar opposite as in Christianity. Yet, thousands of Jews oriented to learn to succeed through Torah followed Ribi Yehoshua around to hear his Torah teachings, demonstrating that Ribi Yehoshua personified the financial security and success of proper Torah practice. Both the Roman Hellenists and their Jewish sycophants, the Temple Sadducees, feared his power presented enough of a danger (as Professor of NT Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and director of its Dead Sea Scrolls Project James Charlesworth recently corroborated3)—to arrange his execution on political grounds.

Prof. Magness continues, "When the women entered the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea on S*unday morning…" Gentiles have never been able to makes sense of the Greek account because they're ignorant of Judaic practice. The Greek reads "on Motzaei Shabat, twilight waning in one of the Shabaton…" (very early evening at the conclusion of Shabbat, twilight waning in one of the Special Shabbats…). S*unday morning was adopted centuries later by sun-worshipping Hellenist Roman idolaters. First-century Pharisee Jews loathed such idolatry.

Prof. Magness blunders on, baselessly speculating in classic non-sequitur that "there was no prohibition against removing the body from the tomb after the end of the Sabbath and reburying it"—as if such prohibition were the only possible constraint: "It is therefore (sic!) possible that followers or family members removed Jesus' body from J*oseph's tomb after the Sabbath ended and buried it in a trench grave…" Aside from her blissful unawareness of her non-sequitur, she also entertains the reader by contradicting herself: her arguments are based on Mark being true, but she exercises capricious selectivity in contradicting the NT Gospel account of resurrection. She disproves herself, not those she has attacked, and her illogical and self-contradicting arguments have no merit.

With admirable consistency, Prof. Magness suggests that "it would have been unusual (to say the least) to leave a non-relative in a family tomb." The insinuation of the passage, and Judaic practice, is that a fellow wealthy friend gave the tomb to the family of Ribi Yehoshua. Thus, she has ASSUMED a premise that she need to PROVE and, until she proves it, her reasoning is ex falso quodlibet. Her arguments, not the arguments of those she has impugned, are baseless and riddled with logical fallacies and MOST UNscientific axe-grinding confusion.

It must be anti-climactic to point out that her conclusion, "Whatever explanation one prefers, the fact that Jesus' body did not remain in Joseph's tomb means…" is based on an unlikely ASSUMPTION, which she has certainly NOT proven HER CLAIM that this is "fact." When she then concludes that "that his bones could not have been collected in an ossuary" it once again exhibits her signature, ex falso quodlibet, thinking.

"They make it clear that J*oseph was not trying to "honor" Jesus by burying him in a rock-cut tomb (a modern, anachronistic concept, since there was no shame associated with burial in trench graves, which was the accepted practice)." This sloppy thinking is easily discredited. Wealthy Jews wouldn't have bothered with a rock-cut tomb unless there was some merit or honor. Therefore, the existence of rock-cut tombs associated with wealthy Jews implies the merit or honor associated with a rock-cut tomb and Prof. Magness' premise is once again fallacious and her conclusion ex falso quodlibet. Neither does the absence of honor equate to shame. Like most Shabbats, last Shabbat I (and most other Teimani Jews there) didn't go up for the honor of reading Torah. Was that a shame for us? Her confusion is wide-ranging, ridiculous and unworthy of being called a scholar.

Shimon Ben-Matityahu Ben-Aharon ha-Makabi, Kohein ha-Gadol, was of the tribe of Leiwi. Tombs of Leiwi are scattered throughout Yisraeil. Tombs of the Royal House of Dawid ha-Melekh, by contrast, were most appropriate in the capital—Yerushalayim. Prof. Magness hasn't even remotely PROVEN that the family of Ribi Yehoshua would have had a family tomb in Natzrat. Until she proves the premise, that, too, is—you guessed it—ex falso quodlibet.

"In fact, the Gospel accounts clearly indicate that Jesus' family did not own a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem—for if they had, there would have been no need for Joseph of Arimathea to take Jesus' body and place it in his own family's rock-cut tomb!" Prof. Magness is conspicuously ignorant of Judaic practice. The passage points out that twilight was already pressing them. Religious Jews don't transgress that time boundary. If it would have taken an extra 10 minutes to carry the body the extra couple of blocks they simply didn't have the time. The passage is clear about the pressure of time and the oncoming of Shabbat (of the Seventh Day of Khag ha-Matzot). They went to the NEAREST available tomb in a great hurry. There could be NO delay that might infringe on Shabbat.

"If Jesus' family did not own a rock-cut tomb, it means they also had no ossuaries." A conspicuous ex falso quodlibet.

"A number of scholars, including Kloner, have pointed out that the names on the ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb are extremely common among the Jewish population of Jerusalem in the first century. But beyond this there is a bigger problem. Being a Jew in the time of Jesus was not, strictly speaking, a religion, as it is today. Instead, Jews in the time of Jesus were Judeans—that is, people from the district of Judea, the area around Jerusalem. Judeans worshiped the national god of Judea (the God of Israel) and lived according to his laws. Other ancient peoples had their own national deities. During the two centuries before Christ, the Hasmonean kings (a Jewish dynasty descended from the Maccabees) had established an independent Jewish kingdom in Judea (this kingdom was eventually taken over by the Romans). The Hasmonean kings conducted a campaign of expansion, conquering neighboring peoples whom they forcibly converted to Judaism. Under the Hasmoneans, Galilee (to the north of Judea) and Idumaea (to the south) were Judaized, which means their non-Jewish populations began to worship the God of Israel and live according to his laws.

L. Y. Rakhmani, an Israeli archaeologist who compiled a catalogue of all of the ossuaries in the collections of the state of Israel, observed that "In Jerusalem's tombs, the deceased's place of origin was noted when someone from outside Jerusalem was interred in a local tomb." On ossuaries in rock-cut tombs that belonged to Judean families, it was customary to indicate the ancestry or lineage of the deceased by naming the father, as, for example, Judah son of John (Yohanan); Honya son of Alexa; and Martha daughter of Hananya. But in rock-cut tombs owned by non-Judean families (or which contained the remains of relatives from outside Judea), it was customary to indicate the deceased's place of origin, as, for example, Simon of Ptolemais; Papias the Bethshanite (of Beth Shean); and Gaios son of Artemon from Berenike. Our historical and literary sources (such as the Gospels, Flavius Josephus, etc.) often make the same distinctions between Judeans and non-Judeans (for example, Galileans, Idumaeans, Saul of Tarsus, Simon of Cyrene, and so on). If the Talpiot tomb is indeed the tomb of Jesus and his family, we would expect at least some of the ossuary inscriptions to reflect their Galilean origins, by reading, for example, Jesus [son of Joseph] of Nazareth (or Jesus the Nazarene), Mary of Magdala, and so on. However, the inscriptions provide no indication that this is the tomb of a Galilean family and instead point to a Judean family.

The identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family is based on a string of problematic and unsubstantiated claims, including adding an otherwise unattested Matthew (Matya) to the family of Jesus; identifying an otherwise unknown son of Jesus named Judah; and identifying the Mariamne named on one of the ossuaries in the tomb as Mary Magdalene by interpreting the word Mara (which follows the name Mariamne) as the Aramaic term for "master" (arguing that Mariamne was a teacher and leader). To account for the fact that Mary/Mariamne's name is written in Greek, the filmmakers transform the small Jewish town of Migdal/Magdala/Tarichaea on the Sea of Galilee (Mary's hometown) into "an important trading center" where Greek was spoken. Instead, as in other Jewish towns of this period, generally only the upper classes knew Greek, whereas poorer Jews spoke Aramaic as their everyday language.

Taken individually, each of these points weakens the case for the identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family. Collectively these points are devastating, since the statistical analyses presented in the film are based on certain assumptions made about these names.

The identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family contradicts the canonical Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus and the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus. The claim is also inconsistent with all of the available information—historical and archaeological—about how Jews in the time of Jesus buried their dead, and specifically the evidence we have about poor, non-Judean families such as that of Jesus. It is a sensational claim without any scientific basis or support.

  1. The Nᵊtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matitᵊyâhu (NHM, in English) 28.1.1)!!!

  2. NHM 28.1.2)!!!

  3. David Horovitz, "Editor's Notes: It should have elicited a 'Wow'!" (Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Post, 2008.01.24). www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1201070788587&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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Analysis of Paper By Craig Evans & Steven Feldman

The Tomb of Jesus? Wrong on Every Count; 2007.05.11 (www.bib-arch.org/bswbKCtombevansfeldman.html)

(Steven Feldman is Web Editor of the Biblical Archaeology Society. Craig Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. He earned a doctorate in biblical studies at Claremont Graduate University in 1983. Prior to his appointment at Acadia he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and for twenty-one years was Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, where for many years he chaired the Religious Studies Department and directed the graduate program in Biblical Studies. He was also for one year a Visiting Fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.)

"Rarely does the world of Biblical archaeology make as much news as when filmmakers James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici announced at a press conference in late February 2007 that they had identified the remains of Jesus. Those remains, the two filmmakers claimed, had been in an ossuary, or bone box, inscribed "Jesus son of Joseph" that had been uncovered in 1980 during construction of an apartment building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of East Talpiot. As if that were not news enough, Cameron and Jacobovici further claimed that the tomb also contained the ossuaries of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and of Mary Magdalene. And if that weren't enough, they went on to claim that another ossuary in the tomb, inscribed "Yehudah [Judah, or Judas in Greek] son of Jesus," was the son of Jesus of Nazareth and of Mary Magdalene, who, the filmmakers said, were married. The Talpiot tomb, they concluded, was nothing less than the tomb of Jesus and his closest family."

"Cameron and Jacobovici's views were elaborated soon after the press conference in The Lost Tomb of Jesus, a program that aired on the Discovery Channel."

"It did not take long for the criticism against the show's claims to mount. Some of the criticism was personal and ugly, sometimes motivated by a misguided sense of defending Christianity. Much of the criticism, however, came from scholars who raised substantive objections to the program's claims. Some quickly pointed out that the Talpiot tomb—cut into bedrock and containing niches for ossuaries—was a type of tomb popular among Jerusalem's wealthy in the first century. Jesus's family was not wealthy, these scholars noted, and would not have had such a family tomb."

"Several other criticisms were raised: Jesus's family, coming from Galilee, would not have had a tomb in Jerusalem; if they had one at all, it would have been in their home region. The scholars also noted that the purported ossuary of Jesus is inscribed simply as "Jesus son of Joseph." People from outside Judea, these scholars argued, would have been called by their city or region of origin—Mary of Magdala, Paul of Tarsus and, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth. Scholars also pointed out that Jesus, in the Gospels, is invariably called "Jesus of Nazareth" and not "Jesus son of Joseph," which is how the Talpiot ossuary is inscribed."

"Other objections included the fact that the Jesus ossuary contained no title, such as Master or Messiah, that we might expect Jesus's earliest followers to have inscribed on the bone box of their revered teacher. Also missing was any history of veneration of the Talpiot tomb as the burial place of Jesus; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in contrast, was thought by early Christians to be the site of Jesus' death and burial as far back as the second century."

"None of the proceeding objections are by themselves strong enough to be fatal to the claim that the Talpiot tomb was the tomb of Jesus and his family. But note that every one of those objections has to be wrong for the claim to be right—even if one of those objections is correct, the Talpiot tomb is not the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth."

"But, for the sake of argument, let's assume that these objections are indeed all wrong. Even if we grant that Jesus' family had a tomb in Jerusalem (and not in Galilee), that they could afford (and had a desire to own) a rock-cut family tomb of the type favored by Jerusalem's wealthy, that Jesus' ossuary would have been inscribed simply as "Jesus son of Joseph" (and not "Jesus of Nazareth" or with the title Master or Messiah), and that the early Christian community in Jerusalem not only would have forgotten where their leader had been buried but would later come up with an entirely spurious tradition that he was buried where the Holy Sepulchre would later be built—if we assume all that, how strong a case do the makers of The Lost Tomb of Jesus have? The answer is: a surprisingly weak one."

"When the Talpiot tomb was discovered in 1980, the excavators found ten ossuaries inside; six were inscribed. In addition to the one inscribed "Jesus son of Joseph," there were ossuaries inscribed "Mariamne Mara," "Maria," "Mattia," "Judah son Jesus" and "Joseh." The "Mariamne Mara" inscription is written in Greek letters; the others are in Hebrew/Aramaic."

"The "Mariamne Mara" ossuary is key to the filmmakers' argument—and it is the one over which their claims are particularly unconvincing. They argue that Mariamne, one of several Greek variations on the Hebrew name Miriam, refers to none other than Mary Magdalene (the name Mary, too, derives from Miriam). They point to the fourth-century apocryphal work the Acts of Philip, in which a woman named Mariamne plays a prominent role. The filmmakers, basing themselves on an interpretation by Francois Bovon, of Harvard Divinity School, argue that this Mariamne was thought by the author of the Acts of Philip to be Mary Magdalene."

"There are several severe problems with this theory, however. The Mariamne in the Acts of Philip is not identified as Mary Magdalene and does not do any of the notable things Mary Magdalene does in the Gospels (for example, Mary Magdalene is healed by Jesus in Luke 8:8; is witness to Jesus' place of burial in Mark 15:40-47; and is witness to the resurrection of Jesus in Mark 16:1-8). The Mariamne of the Acts of Philip also does numerous things for which we have no parallel in the Gospel accounts (such as converting talking animals and slaying a dragon!). Indeed, the Mariamne of the Acts of Philip is identified as the sister of Martha. So whatever we are to make of the Mariamne of the Acts of Philip, she is not Mary Magdalene."

"But even if we accept Bovon's theory that the Mariamne in the Acts of Philip was meant to be Mary Magdalene (and Bovon has recently stated that he does not think Mariamne is the real name of the historical Mary Magdalene), what bearing does a fourth-century work, composed far from Palestine (probably in Asia Minor), have on first-century artifacts from Jerusalem?"

"About eight times in the Gospels the form Maria is used to refer to Mary Magdalene (and a ninth time, if one counts Mark 16:9, part of Mark's ending added much later). Four times the Semitic form Mariam is used. We see the same variation of names in reference to Mary, the sister of Martha, and to Mary, the mother of Jesus. In fact, Mariam is used in reference to the mother of Jesus more than a dozen times."

"Accordingly, to identify the Mariamne of the Talpiot ossuary with one specific Mary of the New Testament is little more than special pleading. The Mariamne in the Talpiot tomb is almost certainly someone else."

"The filmmakers also take the second name on that ossuary—Mara—to be a title, the feminine form of the Aramaic title for "Master" or "Teacher." To the filmmakers, this gives added weight to their identification of the Mariamne in the ossuary with Mary Magdalene. In their view, Mary Magdalene was a central and honored early leader in the church, and her role was acknowledged by the inscription on the ossuary—"The Honored Teacher Mariamne."

"But here, too, the filmmakers are almost certainly wrong. Some epigraphers think the Greek inscription on the ossuary actually reads "Mariamne and Mara." This interpretation 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."

"In any case, we have no certain examples of "Mara" as a title (besides, the Aramaic Mara is normally masculine). The inscription on this ossuary should be read either as "Mariamne, known as Martha" or perhaps as "Mariamne and Martha," to indicate that there were two women in the ossuary (it was common for ossuaries to hold the remains of several people)."

"The Lost Tomb of Jesus suggests that "Mariah" (written in Hebrew letters) is a "Latinized" form of Miriam and is quite rare and thus supports an identification with Mary the mother of Jesus. This is not convincing, however, for "Mariah" (written in Hebrew letters) is found on ossuaries from Mount Scopus (see L. Y. Rakhmani, A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel, ossuary no. 26), the Mount of Olives (no. 27), Jericho (no. 55), in Jerusalem (for example, nos. 48, 49, 53, 56-58) and elsewhere (nos. 33-36, 41). Moreover, the name "Maria" (written in Greek letters) occurs in Josephus (Jewish Wars 6.201) and on ossuaries (Rakhmani nos. 25, 28, 46). There is nothing about the name—written in Hebrew or in Greek—that points to Mary the mother of Jesus."

"There are also problems with the interpretations of the other names found in the Talpiot tomb. We know of no one in the family of Jesus by the name of "Mattia" (Matthew). The filmmakers point to ancestors of Jesus who had forms of that name, but their point is not convincing and is another example of special pleading."

"The filmmakers also misunderstand another of the names found in the Talpiot tomb. The name YWSH should be pronounced "Yosah" (as Professor Tal Ilan in fact does in the documentary), not "Yoseh," as the documentary consistently does. "Yosah" is not the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek form Joses, the name of Jesus' brother (as in Mark 6:3 and elsewhere). The Hebrew equivalent is YWSY (and is found on a number of ossuaries in Greek and in Hebrew). The documentary's discussion of this name is very misleading."

"The Talpiot tomb also contained a "Judah son of Jesus." The filmmakers suggest this Judah is the son of Jesus and of his wife Mary Magdalene. This whole line of interpretation needs to be challenged."

"There is no credible evidence anywhere, at any time, that suggests that Jesus had a wife or a child. Had he a wife, it would not have been an embarrassment or something that needed to be kept secret. A wife of Jesus would have been a celebrated figure; children would have occupied honored places in the church. But there is no hint of this. Even the second century Gnostic Gospels of Mary and of Philip do not support the claim some make that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married or were lovers."

"This important point seems not to have registered with the filmmakers. The inscription "Judah son of Jesus" argues against the identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family. Whoever this Jesus was, he had a son named Judah; Jesus of Nazareth had no children and he had no wife."

"The filmmakers also suggest that a tenth ossuary from the Talpiot tomb, now lost, was in fact the now-famous James ossuary, whose inscription reads "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus." Amos Kloner, who excavated the Talpiot tomb, rejects the suggestion; he says the tenth ossuary from Talpiot was not inscribed. In addition, the owner of the James ossuary claims that he has photographic evidence that shows that the James ossuary was in his possession years before the discovery of the Talpiot tomb in 1980." [See Burning Issues: Ya·aqov Ossuary.]

"And finally, the filmmakers also misinterpret the pointed gable (or "chevron," as they call it) above the rosette (or "circle") at the entrance to the Talpiot tomb. They suggest that the gable and rosette were an early Jewish-Christian symbol. They also call our attention to an ossuary at the Dominus Flevit church (some of whose ossuaries may have belonged to early Christians), which on one end has markings similar to those of the Talpiot tomb entrance."

"The pointed gable and rosette pattern has nothing to do with Christianity. In fact, this pattern predates Jesus and the Christian movement by many years. It is found on Hasmonean coins and on coins struck by the tetrarch Philip, son of Herod the Great, well before the activities of Jesus and the emergence of his movement. The gable and rosette pattern is also found in Jewish funerary and synagogue art, usually symbolizing the Temple or the Ark of the Covenant. The pattern is seen on several ossuaries that we have no reason to think are Christian (see Rakhmani nos. 282, 294, 392, 408, 893). The pointed gable over the rosette is a pre-Christian Jewish symbol that referred to the Temple and is not a Jewish Christian symbol. Given Jesus' criticism of the Temple cult, it is especially ironic that the filmmakers have confused a Temple symbol for a sign used by the earliest Christians."


Was there a Jesus family tomb in ancient Jerusalem? We think there likely was not, but if there was it was almost certainly not the Talpiot tomb."

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Analysis of paper by Prof. James D. Tabor

(University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2007.03.14; www.bib-arch.org/bswbKCtombtabor.html)

"Two Burials of Jesus of Nazareth and the Talpiot Yeshua Tomb

"Jodi Magness argues on this web site that the controversial tomb in the east Talpiot area of Jerusalem cannot be the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family because (1) such an idea contradicts the canonical gospel accounts; (2) it ignores the lower-class status of Jesus' family and their non-Judean origins; (3) and finally, even if the family might have had such a tomb it would be in Nazareth not Jerusalem. Christopher Rollston has now contributed a piece (found on the web site of the Society of Biblical Literature; click here for link) arguing that the inscriptions on the six ossuaries found in the Talpiot tomb are sufficiently common, generic, and lacking in patronymic data as to preclude any convincing prosopographic identification with the family of Jesus of Nazareth. I take it that Rollston is not arguing the impossibility of the identification but rather its lack of convincing data."

"I agree with Magness that Jesus was buried twice, but my own view, contrary to Magness, is that the Talpiot tomb fits nicely with our earliest canonical sources (the gospels as well as Paul) as to the nature and location of that second burial. At the end of my treatment here I will offer some very brief observations on Rollston's welcome contribution. The nature of the question, with its theological and emotional overtones, coupled with the way the issue was put before the public and the academy (through a documentary film and a popular book), has understandably galvanized the responses into "yes" or "no" (mostly "no") when reasonable alternatives might be "possible but uncertain," to even "probable but not certain," but in any case a call for further investigation. I will make some suggestions at the end of this piece regarding directions for future research."

1. Why the tomb does not contradict the Gospel Accounts: Dead but Twice Buried

"Our earliest testimony to the death and burial of Jesus comes from a letter of Paul to his followers at Corinth in the early 50s CE. He reports on a tradition he had received "that Christ died…that he was buried…that he was raised on the third day. . .that he was seen…" (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Leaving aside the matter of the nature of these "sightings" of Jesus, including Paul's own claim in that regard years after the crucifixion, it is significant that Paul writes that Jesus was buried. Burial implies a tomb, of whatever type, and he clearly intends the phrase "raised on the third day" to imply that that tomb was empty. In that regard I have to agree with evangelical apologists that Paul knows an "empty tomb" tradition. I cannot see how his language can make any sense otherwise."

"Chronologically Mark would be our next source, assuming one is convinced, as I am, of the priority of his account of the burial and the empty tomb. Mark relates that an influential sympathizer of Jesus and his movement, Joseph of Arimathea, obtained permission from Pontius Pilate to remove Jesus' body from the cross and to bury him in haste before the Sabbath arrived. Mark writes that Joseph wrapped the corpse in a linen shroud, laid it in a rock-hewn tomb, and blocked the entrance to the tomb with a stone or golal (Mark 15:42-47). He also notes that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses (whom I take to be Jesus' mother, see my book, The Jesus Dynasty, pp. 77-81) were present at this burial. Here one must read carefully, as Mark does not say, as often assumed, that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, nor does Luke, who is following Mark, or John, who clearly has independent material. The only source for the commonly held assumption that this tomb belonged to Joseph is a gloss in Matthew, whereby Joseph becomes a "rich man" who puts Jesus in "his own new tomb." This is clearly not history but Matthew's tendentious attempt to show a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9, where the suffering servant is buried in the tomb of a rich man."

"If we discount Matthew's theological embellishment and rely upon the core source Mark, we find that it comports well with John, who offers an independent but corollary account. John also knows the Joseph of Arimathea tradition but he adds a critical point: "Now 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). Both Mark and John see this burial as hastily done, and John makes it clear that it was a burial of temporary necessity in constrained emergency circumstances. What does one do with a corpse as the Sabbath approaches (and according to John, the Passover seder)? How can it be kept from predators until the rites of burial are completed? This initial burial of Jesus was by definition a temporary and emergency move, based on necessity, until something more permanent could be worked out or arranged."

"What happened next in terms of when and how the corpse of Jesus was taken from that temporary tomb is unfortunately a matter about which historians can say little, given the theological nature of our sources and their relatively late apologetic character. Mark, our earliest narrative source, reports that the tomb was empty by early S*unday morning and that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were told by a "young man" waiting for them in the empty tomb that Jesus had been taken up (aorist passive of egeiro) and would see them in Galilee. Mark ends abruptly with no sightings, but according to some, including my teacher Norman Perrin, his community looked in hope to the promise of a parousia appearance in Galilee, something they still anxiously awaited in the time Mark composed his gospel in the 70s CE."

"One must assume that the corpse was taken and reburied, perhaps as soon as the Sabbath was over just after sundown Saturday night. If one were speculating, one might suppose that Joseph of Arimathea, the one who had taken responsibility for the corpse in the first place, would have retrieved the body as soon as Jewish law permitted. Whether the family was involved or whether we are to trust the accounts of the Sunday morning visits to the tomb are questions that take us beyond history to a later apologetic stance intended to defend a view that Jesus had been raised bodily and taken to heaven (Luke and John). As historians we can reasonably expect that the "tomb" would be empty, given that the tomb near the crucifixion site was not intended as a permanent place for Jesus' corpse but used in an emergency until other arrangements could be made."

"At this point we enter what John Dominic Crossan has called the "dark age" of early Christian origins. Jesus died in 30 CE, but we have no records until Paul, in the 50s CE, of what the early Jerusalem followers of Jesus, now led by his brother James, might have preached or taught regarding the death of Jesus. For centuries everyone has "filled in" those 20 years based on the narratives of Luke-Acts and the sharply polemical account of Paul in his letter to the Galatians, but many of us have become convinced that Luke's creation of a "myth of origins," and Paul's claim that his "gospel" was accepted by the Jerusalem "pillars," (James, Cephas, and John) should be radically questioned (see the Society of Biblical Literature symposium papers, Redescribing Christian Origins, eds. Cameron and Miller)."

"My purpose in this piece is not to argue these complex issues but to make the simple point that from a critical reading of our earliest sources on the emergency burial of Jesus' corpse, we would expect that first tomb to be empty within 24 hours. And I think we can safely assume that it was."

2. Was Jesus poor and lower class, and so most likely buried in a trench tomb?

"Magness argues that whoever took the body would have buried him in a simple trench grave with no marker since the family was too poor to have afforded a rock-hewn tomb. Yet, she seems to allow that at least one follower of influence and means, namely Joseph of Arimathea, did in fact see to the initial burial. Why would one assume that either Joseph, or other followers of means who were devoted to Jesus' messianic program, would not be able to provide a permanent tomb? The Jesus movement, now led by James his brother, was headquartered in Jerusalem for the next 40 years and their numbers and influence were enough to be noted by Josephus in the Antiquities. The family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who lived in Bethany and with whom Jesus was intimately connected, could afford to bury their dead in a rock-hewn tomb. I also find the evidence presented by Mancini, Bagatti and Milik, and Sukenik and Avigad, regarding rock-tomb burials with inscribed ossuaries elsewhere in Talpiot, at Dominus Flevit, and on the Mount of Offense, as convincingly connected to the early followers of Jesus (Finegan, Archaeology of the New Testament, pp. 359-374)."

"On more general grounds, what Magness overlooks, in my view, is the extraordinary devotion that followers exhibit toward their spiritual/messianic leaders. Mark tells us that the followers of John the Baptizer went to collect his body and that they placed him in a tomb (Mark 6:29). The Syriac "Ascents of James," for example, recounts how devout followers of James buried another murdered leader, known in some traditions as Stephen, in a tomb close to Jericho to which they made an annual pilgrimage (see Van Voorst, Ascents, SBL Dissertation Series 112). I have studied apocalyptic and messianic movements, both ancient and modern, for 30 years now and I have never encountered anything close to the scenario that Magness imagines when it comes to such groups burying a murdered leader. It is an open and debated question in the field of Christian origins as to whether Jesus was poor and without means of any sort, but even if that were granted, to rule out the likelihood that devoted followers of means would have provided him and his family with a place of burial is unwarranted."

"I have been in the Talpiot tomb, and it is quite modest in size and arrangement, measuring under 3 x 3 meters and less than 2 meters high. It is nothing like the more monumental decorated tombs closer to the city. Also, of the six inscribed ossuaries four are "plain," and only two are "decorated," (Mariamene Mara and Yehuda bar Yeshua). I am not convinced that the mere existence of a modest rock-hewn tomb of this type indicates high status and wealth. Indeed, Amos Kloner's survey of rock-hewn burial tombs in and around Jerusalem seems to show that as one moves away from the "front-row seat" near the Old City, the tombs south of Akeldama, around the Mount of Offense, and south into Talpiot, are often more modest in form and size: thus the old adage, location, location, location."

3. The likelihood of a Jesus family tomb in Jerusalem and the question of toponymic markers

"Finally I would expect, rather than doubt, that a tomb of Jesus and his family would be in the Jerusalem area rather than in the Galilee. We have no record that in the period from 30-70 CE that James and his brothers, and presumably their mother and sisters, lived anywhere but Jerusalem. Crossan has even argued, somewhat convincingly I think, that James might have established himself in Jerusalem long before the death of Jesus. Again, it is the nature of a messianic movement of this type to band together in hope and expectation rather than to scatter and go back to business as usual. The solidarity of the movement in the 40s, 50s, and 60s surely depended on fervent apocalyptic and messianic expectations that focused on the fate and future of Jerusalem (Mark 13). Jerusalem was the "50-yard-line of the apocalypse," and everyone wanted a front-row seat. When Mark addressed the community, with the 70 CE disaster in mind, his word was "Let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains." The "sign" the community is waiting for was the "desolating sacrilege" of Daniel in which a foreign ruler would erect some sort of offensive image in the Temple, echoing the pattern of Antiochus IV in the second century BCE. The incident with Caligula in 41 CE provided a contemporary example of what might be possible."

"It is the case, as Magness notes, that ossuaries sometimes included toponyms, especially for native places of origin outside Roman Palestine, but to insist that all those from places other than Judea must have such toponyms is unlikely. Also, toponyms known from literary sources ("Judas the Galilean," "Jesus of Nazareth"), written decades after a person's life, are not necessarily reflective of contemporary oral or epigraphic designations."

4. A few notes on prosopography and the Talpiot Tomb

"Strictly speaking Rollston is correct that the inscriptions on the six ossuaries found in the Talpiot tomb are sufficiently common, generic, and lacking in patronymic data as to preclude any convincing prosopographic identification with the family of Jesus of Nazareth. I think to some degree it is a question of rigor. There is a good deal of latitude between prosopographic certainty and flights of irresponsible fantasy. Indeed, it is often the case with historical data that if we demanded absolute rigor we could say hardly anything. In the case of the Talpiot tomb I am convinced that there is more we can say but not necessarily prove. Let me suggest an alternative way of approaching the prosopographic data that has more to do with testing a hypothesis rather than drawing an absolute conclusion."

"One has only to page through the 895 entry catalogue of Rakhmani listing ossuaries in the State of Israel collection to realize that the east Talpiot tomb stands out in a rather striking manner. Only 227 ossuaries in the catalogue are inscribed (25%) and yet this tomb has six out of ten, including the only provenanced example ever found of an ossuary inscribed "Yeshua bar Yehosef." The cluster of names, even with their limited patronymics, appear to have statistical relevance based on purely mathematical considerations regarding name frequency data for the period."

"Let's pose the hypothetical question–of the named individuals we know, either as part of the Jesus family or intimately connected thereto, who might we expect in a pre-70 CE family tomb? I would list Jesus himself, his mother Mary, his brother Joses, perhaps his brother James who was murdered in 62 CE, his sisters Mary and Salome, and possibly Mary Magdalene, who seems intimately involved with the mother and the sisters in the burial rites (Mark 15:40; 16:1). Of those unnamed we might have spouses and children of the brothers and sisters, if they had any, but we have no names. This seems to me to be our "tight" list of named intimates. We would not expect the brothers Simon or Judah in a pre-70 CE tomb since Simon took over leadership of the movement at the death of James in 62 CE, and Judas and his sons (or grandsons) are also known in later accounts after 70 CE. Since Simon succeeded James, rather than the brother Joses, who was next by birth, and we know nothing else of this "missing brother;" it might well be that he died before 70 CE."

"The Talpiot tomb has inscribed ossuaries naming a Jesus son of Joseph, a Mary (Maria), another Mary (Mariamene/Mara), a Joseph (Jose), a Matthew (Matya), and a Jude (Yehuda) son of Jesus. Four of the six names correspond to names we might predict in a pre-70 CE intimate family tomb of Jesus. The name Yose, only found here on an ossuary, is quite rare as a nickname and corresponds well with the Greek nickname in Mark (6:3; 15:40, 47) by which Jesus' second brother, Joses, is known. Of the two Marys, the only DNA test that was possible indicates that Mariamene is neither Jesus' mother nor his sister. Since there are three Marys that are intimate in the life of Jesus, his mother, his sister, and Mary Magdalene, one might suggest a hypothetical identification of this Mariamene with Mary Magdalene. This is, of course, by no means certain, but it is based on eliminating her as mother of sister. She could, of course be any other Mary, even one we know nothing about, since Mary is a common name (25% of all females). However, if we stay here with our list of hypothesized pre-70 named intimates, she can be logically included for consideration. Maria, the other Mary, is an appropriate name in Aramaic for Jesus' mother in early Christian texts, and she is sometimes distinguished from Mary Magdalene, who is given forms of the name Miriame/Miriamne. Matthew is a name we would not have predicted, though it is found multiple times in both genealogical records of the Jesus family (Matthew 1, Luke 3), so we really can say nothing about him. Judah son of Jesus is unexpected, as we have no clear literary evidence of Jesus of Nazareth having a son, though one might assume, in the case of this particular Talpiot Jesus, that one of the Marys named might be the mother, and we do know that Mariamene is not a sister of Jesus or his mother. I am not persuaded that the presence of a son of this Jesus precludes his identification with Jesus of Nazareth."

"This tomb and its possible identification with Jesus and Nazareth and his family should not be dismissed. The evidence from the gospels I have surveyed, coupled with the cluster of significant names that fit our hypothetical expectations for a posited pre-70 Jesus family tomb, is strong and should be further tested. Of course, if the ossuary inscribed "James son of Joseph," is added to the cluster, and the evidence for that possibility is unresolved at this point, the correspondence would be all the more striking. What is needed is further work on the epigraphy, expanded patina tests, further DNA testing if that is possible, and since the tomb in 1980 had to be excavated so quickly but now has been located, a fuller archaeological examination of the site itself."

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BAS Talkbacks of Note


(Geoff Hudson — UK 2008.01.30; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"… Sadducees and Pharisees receive no mention in either the DSS or Philo. Their mention in the writings attributed to Josephus looks suspiciously like later interpolations. So may be it wasn't that Jews simply decided to live according to the rules of the Pharisees, but that the Pharisees were, in effect, instituted by the Romans and did, along with their followers, more or less what the Romans permitted. Given the choice, some priests remaining after the destruction of the temple would no doubt have re-built it and carried-on with their animal sacrifices for sins, according to the laws of Moses. But of course there was no choice. The so-called Sadducees were more than likely the high priests in favour of the temple cult, and messianic along with most other priests, in opposition to Roman rule, as per the DSS. Thus most of the high priests and their priest supporters were wiped-out, never to rise again. This is my view. Similarly, I see the Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament as later substitutes for priests and high prists in opposition to the prophet."

Your premise is false, rendering your entire message ex falso quodlibet. Two kinds of Sadducees contrasted with Pharisees are the central figures in DSS MMT (see Qimron, Elisha (Prof. of Linguistics, Ben-Guryon Univ. of the Negev, B?·eir Sheva) and John Strugnell (Prof. of Christian Origins, Harvard Divinity School) in consultation with Ya·aqov Sussman and A. Yardeini, "Discoveries in the Judaean Desert X, Qumr?n Cave 4 V, Miqtzat Ma·aseh ha-Torah (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).

The fact is that the original Tzedoqim (Hellenized to "Sadducees") trace back to two brothers. The younger brother, named Yehoshua Ben-Shimon II Ben-Tzadoq (Hellenized to Jason—why not Jesus?!?) was a rabid Hellenist who bought the position of High Priest from the Syrian ruler and expelled his brother (Yekhonyah Ben-Shimon II Ben-Tzadoq, the Moreh Tzedeq [Righteous Teacher]), the origin of the Hellenist Temple Priests identified in the NT simply as Sadducees with no mention of their original counterpart (see

Quite the opposite of your erroneous conjecture, it was the *Hellenist* "Temple Sadducees" who were the *Hellenist* Roman sycophants. Hellenist = Hellenist. Get it?

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Tomb of Jesus

(Debbie — USA 2008.01.26; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"I remember watching the original airing of the Tomb of Jesus and noticed many claims that were unsupported. Some of the things that I noticed were the non-scientific ways that Simcha went about entering the tomb. I'm not an archeologist, but he seemed to approach everything with a smash and grab attitude. His claim that it was the family tomb of Jesus struck me as very odd since his father was a carpenter of little means who lived in the northern part of Israel, not Jerusalem. To suggest that this was a long-time family plot would be to suggest that Jesus descended from a very wealthy family who maintained two residences--one in the holy city and one in Nazereth. Another discrepancy I saw right away was if in fact this was the family tomb, why keep it in Jerusalem if you live in the northern part of the country? This would require that your burial be delayed while your family transported your body several days journey to Jerusalem--it goes against the custom of burial within 24-48 hours. If Joseph was a wealthy man, I would expect that the family plot be maintained right in Nazareth. The next discrepancy was the biblical account of Jesus being laid to rest in the tomb of a wealthy follower. The account in the Bible says that the Pretorian guard was placed outside the tomb entrance to prevent anyone from stealing the body. The guard consisted of 10 select Roman soldiers. I think that it was highly unlikely that Jesus' disciplines tip-toed in and stole the body so that they could move it to another wealthy family plot. It doesn't make sense and seems very impossible. And lastly, Simcha's claim that Mary was the wife of Christ was based soley on his own speculation. I clearly remember him saying in his film "What If" Mary was Jesus' wife, "What If" the disciples carried away Jesus body, this is what might have happened… this is pure speculation unsupported by physical evidence just for the sake of making a movie. What I did see was the grave of a very wealthy Jerusalem citizen whose family shared common names with that of many people living in Israel at the time--including Jesus of Nazereth."

"What if…?" is a rhetorical question, not speculation. Inability to consider the implications and ramifications of such a rhetorical question implies a mind that is made up to the point that no evidence can matter; blind to significant physical evidence: "unsupported by physical evidence" because it, obviously, threatens your religious beliefs. Reason has no impact on irrational religious fervor.

Carpentry in the first century was a profession. The family was of the Royal House of wid ha-Mëlëkh, had been given extravagant endowments by the Iranians (magi) when Yәhoshua was 6 months old and educated him under the tutorship of those who had learned in the greatest library in the ancient world in Alexandria, Egypt. There is no evidence that he was poor. That is strictly a Hellenist Roman concept designed to make the poor masses content with their lot.

Ribi Yәhoshua no longer lived in Nâtzrat. He had moved to Yәrushâlayim at least 3 years earlier, probably more. Furthermore, the proper place for a tomb of the Royal House of wid ha-Mëlëkh was in the city of wid ha-Mëlëkh, the capital—Yәrushâlayim.

There is no compelling reason to insist that Ribi Yәhoshua's body was moved to a different tomb. That is purely ex falso quodlibet speculation by scholars who should know better but are guided by their religion rather than science.

Your assertion that "Simcha's claim that M*ary was the wife of Christ was based soley (sic!) on his own speculation" is ignorant (see Rollston, Tabor paper and response to Burke).

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The Talpiot tomb

(Leisha — USA 2008.01.25; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"While I am no expert, and am in no way any kind of trained theologian, or archaeologist, maybe it is better because all I have to go on for an opinion is what I know from reading various versions of Jesus' life. if we look at Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John's account of his life there is no mention anywhere of Jesus being a family man. I have seen no where that states he was married, or that he had children. As an 'adolescent' ( very new to the study of) in the study of biblical archaeology, shouldn't the text or texts that have been found be used to establish if this even possible. By all accounts there is nothing mentioned about him being married, or bearing children. I would think that as zealous as Paul was, and taking into account the amount of time he spent writing on the subject, that if Jesus had been married and fathered children, Paul would have been able to use his example in any of his writings to the churches he ministered to."

No, logic dictates assuming the known, which was that Pharisee Ribis were expected to be married and the texts normally don't mention it unless there is a particular reason. The belief that he was not married is primarily a gentile practice that, despite an occasional exception, was mostly alien to Judaism. Logic does not permit assuming the exception. Exceptions must be proven. Anyone arguing against the known bears the burden of proof. Thus, those who insist Ribi Yehoshua couldn't be married must prove their case, not merely argue an outside possibility—and there is no evidence whatsoever that he wasn't married. By contrast, there are a number of factors that suggest he was married.

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(Robin Sheffield — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"I enjoy your emailed newsletters. I always find something of interest. This topic and all the various viewpoints that go with it, will be interesting. But consider this: if, in 1985, after the Challenger explosion, a few people had started preaching to the world that those astronauts had not died, but risen to life and been seen by them in physical form on earth? That is, seen physicaaly before being taken up to a special place next to God. Suppose that by 20055 there were churches all over the US, filled with people praying to, and glorifying, the various astronauts? Surely, the families and friends of these worshippers would be demonstrating proof of the astronauts' demise-- via film footage, scientific testimony, etc. This is the situation which faced Israel after the crucifixion of Christ. Twenty years later there were "churches" around the Mediterranean; 80 years later, a Roman official wrote his superiors about people who gathered weekly "to worship Christ as to a god." THAT was the generation that should have produced the body and pointed to the tomb—if there was one—in order to redeem their deluded kinsmen and countrymen. But they did not do any such thing. Why? What does that mean?"

It means that the Jewish followers of Ribi Yәhoshua, the Nәtzârim, knew that the Romans were hunting down and executing all descendents of the Royal House of wid ha-Mëlëkh, destroying their official genealogies and persecuting anyone they could find of the original Nәtzârim followers of Ribi Yәhoshua. The increasingly Hellenist spin-off sects inspired by Paul the Hellenist Apostate more than 30 years later (not 20) bought into the Hellenist beliefs, which—like Christians today—blindly insisted there couldn't be a body because of the resurrection and the original Jewish followers dared not reveal themselves—on pain of death—outside of a Pharisee Beit ha-Kәnësët (Hellenized to "synagogue"). There was no one to do "such thing"; and if one did, he was killed leaving no one to do "such thing."

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Closed or Open Minds?

(Eric Thimell — 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"While an interpretation of an archaeological find that challenges cherished viewpoints should be expected to be controversial, the fact that there are conflicting interpretations should not be surprising or controversial at all. In this case the majority viewpoint of scholars happens not to help those who are predisposed to a minimalist viewpoint with regard to the death of Jesus of Nazareth. If they wish to formulate an airtight proof that Jesus died with no supernatural resurrection, this particular find seems rather flimsy evidence. True believers (including St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15) have for years pointed out that their entire faith stands or falls on the notion of the resurrection. All that is needed to topple this system of belief is to find the body of Jesus. That this tomb might not be the one must be extremely frustrating for those dedicated to the demise of orthodox Christianity."

That's not accurate. In fact, the majority viewpoint of scholars comprises little more than ad hominems.

The assertion that someone "wish[es] to formulate an airtight proof that Jesus died with no supernatural resurrection" is demonstrably false. Instead of relying on ad hominems, substantiate. It's comical that you cite apostate Hellenist Turkish-Jew, Paul, since the original followers of Ribi Yәhoshua excised apostate Hellenist Turkish-Jew, Paul (Eccl. Hist. III.xxvii.4). Furthermore, nothing is needed to topple the single pillar of Christianity: supersessionism, because that is prohibited in Torâh (Dәvârim 13.1-6). Jews who believe Torâh have no pony in your race. If you think you have the open mind then deal with the evidence instead of relying on baseless and false ad hominems that hint of misojudaism. Whether or not this is the tomb of Ribi Yәhoshua changes nothing—except establishing the historicity of Ribi Yәhoshua as a real, historic, Pharisee Ribi rather than the Hellenist Roman myth. Furthermore, attributing dissenting scientific opinion to an anti-Christ conspiracy is irrational and, when pointed specifically at Jews, misojudaic, which has been an intrinsic element of Christianity from its inception in 135 C.E. (see the late eminent Oxford historian, James Parkes,).

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Jesus TOMB

(Dennis L. Oberholtzer — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"I am very saddened to find that that James Tabor would stoop so low and find the Jesus Tomb idea even the least plausible. All I can add is get out your Greek New Testament and READ!"

When even the earliest extant Christian Church historian, Eusebius, documents that the original followers of Ribi Yehoshua rejected the Hellenized (Greek) Null Testament (Eccl. Hist. III.xxvii.4-6), particularly when that is prohibited by the Bible Ribi Yehoshua knew and taught (Devarim 13.1-6), no person would rely on it—except by irrational Christian faith… which drives the *entirety* of the criticism.

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Jesus Tomb

(Robwert m Murphy — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"Mr Joccobovici is a B S artist interestewd in making money and could care less about the life of Jesus and our Christian faith. Does he believe Jesus rose form the dead?? What evidence does he have that Jesus was married?? None Where does it say he was married?? Give me a quote that specifically says Jesus was married, when and where. I have heard it said, reliably, that Mr Jacobovici is a direct decendant of King David and wears a little cap like Solomon. !! Do you think that's true?? Bob Murphy. Esq."

Without introducing any other evidence other than Oral Law expected a Pharisee Ribi to be married, that is enough evidence all by itself, in the absence of contradictory evidence, to point toward him being married—and there is NO contradictory evidence whatsoever. The point is that the burden of proof is upon Bob Murphy, Esq. to *prove* the contrary. Anyone holding their breath for that?

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"Tomb" of Jesus

(Andy DeCusati — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"If this is the tomb of Jesus, how could the church have grown in 1st Century Jerusalem? All the enemies of Christ would have had to do is to take people to the tomb and say, "He did not rise from the dead like those guys told you. He's right here. See for yourself." Who would believe then? I am afraid that all those who would love this to be the tomb of Jesus will be disappointed. As the angel said "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

It is well documented by Oxford historian James Parkes and others that the Christian Church wasn't defined until the fourth century and tracks back from there only to 135 C.E. when the Hellenist Roman idolaters executed a forcible ouster of the 15th and last Netzarim (Jewish) Paqid, Yehudah, displacing him with the first gentile bishop, Markus. Before 135 C.E., there was neither Christianity nor Church, only the Netzarim and increasingly Hellenist spin-off sects tracing back to Paul the Hellenist Apostate—defined as apostate by the earliest extant Christian Church historian, Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. III.xxvii.4). Furthermore, criticism of the Church was a capital offense for Jews. "Enemies of Christ" were killed. Kind of hard for an executed Jew to "take" people, especially misojudaic Hellenist Romans, anywhere.

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Statistical probablilty

(David Holmes — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"600:1??? It's been said that there are three kinds of lies: 1. Plain old lies; 2. Whoppers; 3. Statistics"

The two greatest statistical lies are [1] the defending the argument to bet on the 1 unit of uncertainty instead of the 29,999 (or even 599) units of supporting evidence and [2] people who don't understand statistics attempting to enlighten the world about statistics.

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Talpiot (Zias)

(Jim — 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"Be sure not to miss Joe Zias' response to the Talpiot Conference.

I see Mr. Zias claims to have known Josef Gath better than Mrs. Gath. That about sums up the quality of his argumentation. His ravings depend on exaggerations, distortions and unsubstantiated ad hominems.

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(Will Tippit — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"Archeology is good, so long that it is not manipulated. Please read Galatians chapter 1. Jesus is forgiving but you must believe He is the Son of G*od."

The earliest extant Christian Church historian, Eusebius, documented that the original Nәtzârim. Jewish followers of Ribi Yәhoshua, refused to accept the NT, recognizing only the Tana"kh as Bible and their own *Hebrew* Matityâhu (not the Greek "Gospel of Matthew") as a reliable account of the life and Torâh teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua (Eccl. Hist. III.xxvii.4-6). So "Galatians," written by apostate Hellenist Turkish-Jew, Paul and probably father of Christian Displacement Theology, is about as relevant as the Quran. When dealing with a Judaic issue, learn to rely on Judaic, not Roman-Hellenist, sources.

It is interesting how Christians can, out of one side of their mouths, criticize Oral Torâh as an "addition" to Torâh (which it is not) while adding an entire Hellenist Roman book that contradicts and displaces Tana"kh (viz., Dәvârim 13.1-6). Tana"kh sets forth the Judaic salvific formula in the Shәma: do your utmost to keep the mitzwot and rely on the graciousness of ha-Sheim to provide kipur, upon making tәshuvâh. Yet, far from doing their utmost to keep the mitzwot Torâh, Christians reject the mitzwot and (unknowingly, refusing historical evidence and remaining ignorant) substitute a Hellenist counterfeit as their supposed salvation. Christian "salvation" is a counterfeit!!!

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(Wayne Bartosh — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"Why do I keep hearing about the name Jesus being inscribed in this tomb. The name Jesus did dot exist until the canonical Gospels were translated into Greek. His name was Yeshua???"

Thank you Wayne! You're even more correct than you realize. (Click on our History Museum in the navigation panel at the left of our website at www.netzarim.co.il. At the top of our History Museum page, click "Ieusous" in the menu.)

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(Bob Burke — Canada 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"Simcha is a brave man"? Are you serious! He is a charlatan who constantly misrepresents the facts and lies about how he has so much support. He has an agenda, discredit Christianity and make money in the process. Attacking Christianity is in vogue right now and the support Jacobovici is enjoying from certain quarters is simply more evidence of that. Try reading the comments of those who are protesting his "vindication" claim. Even if Jesus had died and been buried and the resurrection was nothing more than a fabrication do you honestly believe that those who were promulgating the resurrection myth would have allowed his body to have been buried in a tomb that anyone could go and see without removing it? Simcha's ridiculous claims that the DNA in the tomb of Mary not being related to the DNA in Jesus' tomb "suggests" that they were married is ludicrous. DNA can prove you are married? DNA can't prove anything beyond whether or not they were related, anything beyond that is speculative at best. And you can honestly take this person seriously? It is certainly evidence of the gullibility of people when the person they're listening to says something that they wish were true. Maybe some would, by faith, get aboard a ship with as many holes as Jacobovici's claims but I can tell I wouldn't."

The resurrection myth was an integral product of the Hellenist Roman Christian Church adopting the resurrection-festival of the Hellenist Roman idol of A*shtoret (E*aster) in 325 C.E.—long after the Jews had been expelled (135 C.E.) and their tombs covered over with idolatrous Hellenist temples. Prior to 135 C.E., the empty tomb implied a second life in the tradition of Sârâh following the birth of Yitzkhâq; Yitzkhâq. after the symbolic death at the Aqeidâh; Ya·aqov. after becoming Yisrâ·eil; Yoseiph, after rising out of the Egyptian dungeon, etc. First-century Jews did not entertain the Hellenist (and, before that, Egyptian) beliefs, promulgated by Hellenist Christianity, that limit resurrection to the physical world—the implication of a physical body. Take a course in logic. Learn to solve elementary syllogisms:

Only family members are inhumed in the same family tomb.
Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph and Mariamenou Mara were inhumed in the same family tomb.
Therefore, Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph and Mariamenou Mara were members of the same family.

Pharisaic rules of modesty would never permit a woman other than a mother or wife (maybe a sister) to perform the mitzwâh described in Mk. 16.1.
Maryah, one of the women performing the mitzwâh in Mk. 16.1 and inhumed in the same family tomb, is identified as the mother.
A priori, Mariamenou Mara, one of the women performing the mitzwah in Mk. 16.1 and inhumed in the same family tomb, can only have been the wife (maybe sister) of Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph.

As demonstrated, Mariamenou Mara can only have been the sister or wife of Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph.
DNA demonstrated that Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph and Mariamenou Mara were maternally unrelated.
Therefore, Mariamenou Mara can only have been a paternal step-sister by Maryah's polygynous marriage, a sister-wife of Yәhoseiph, or the wife of Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph.

As demonstrated, Mariamenou Mara can only have been a paternal step-sister by Maryah's polygynous marriage with Yәhoseiph or his wife.
There is no evidence anywhere suggesting that Yәhoseiph was married to another wife in addition to Maryah. Are Christians prepared to argue that their "Virgin M*ary" was a sister-wife in a polygynous marriage?

Therefore, unless evidence supports the argument of a second wife of Yәhoseiph (and step-mother of Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph), a priori, Mariamenou Mara can only have been the wife of Yәshua Bar-Yәhoseiph.

This agrees with all evidence, pointing to Ribi Yәhoshua being married and NO evidence having surfaced that precludes marriage. Christian beliefs to the contrary (and contrary to the Judaic practice of the Pharisee Ribi) are NOT evidence.

Mr. Burke's exclusive reliance on ad hominems coupled with ignorance of logic clearly blares whose boat is riddled with holes.

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(Steve Lusk — USA 2008.01.24; www.bib-arch.org/tomb/bswbTombBackground.asp)

"One critical question remains unaddressed: If the "Mary Magdalene" ossuary belongs with the others, why is it labeled in Greek, while the others are labeled in Aramaic? Surely a husband and wife would share a common language, even in death."

An interesting observation. I noticed that too… and it bothered me a bit too. By the time of her death, ca. 60-80 C.E. (we may presume several decades after Ribi Yәhoshua and his mother, מריה (inscribed in Hebrew), Hellenist Jews had become more predominant. That's documented in the Hellenized NT book of "Acts."

Further, the Greek inscription may well corroborate extra-NT accounts that Mariamænou/Mara is Mariamæ of (Greek-speaking Hellenist) Migdal, a revered Nәtzârim Mor·âh′ . Because of her ability to speak Greek, she may have been the principle teacher to Hellenist Jews and geirim in Yәrushâlayim.

We don't know precisely when the rabid misojudaism of Hellenization—the burning of Torâhs and persecution of Jews, Judaism and Hebrew—began in Yәrushâlayim. Although it's generally supposed to have followed the Bar-Kokh uprising (i.e., 135 C.E.), this could be an indication of an earlier Hellenist misojudaism suppressing Hebrew—in the wake of the destruction of Yәrushâlayim in 70 C.E.

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