Of Probabilities, Talpiot Tombs and Jesus Ossuaries

Most people are aware of the discovery of the tomb in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem containing an ossuary apparently inscribed with the name Jesus son of Joseph, which was the focus of a documentary not that long ago. Scholars and other well-informed individuals know that the tomb in question was in fact excavated in the 1980s.

I experienced a moment of initial perplexity when I read Andre Parrot’s 1955 book Golgotha and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and found he mentions a sensation made by the discovery of ossuaries in 1945 in a tomb in Talipioth near Jerusalem, inscribed in Greek or Aramaic with names familiar from the New Testament, including two ossuaries that have the name Jesus followed by what seems to be a cry of lament. He also mentions the discovery of an ossuary even earlier that was inscribed with “Jesus son of Joseph”. The latter, however, is unprovenanced.

There have been many discussions of the statistics and probabilities of the conjunctions of names found in the excavation from the 1980s. Rarely, however, have I seen them take fully into account the discoveries from earlier decades, including ones made in the Talpiot area. The relatively recent one is not the first discovery of its kind, nor are the sensational claims made about it without precedent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01111820035762957610 Geoff Carter

    I assume the names from earlier finds is part of the database of inscriptions that those from the Jesus Tomb have been compared with; any objective significance of an individual inscription or group can only be expressed as a statistic, beyond this we enter the world of opinion, subjectivity, and even faith.

  • Icewoman

    just watched the discovery film, thank your for the article.


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