The Talpiot Tomb and the James Ossuary: What If…?

Being busy preparing for my travels, I only barely caught wind of the fact that a scientific report declared that the James Ossuary, i.e. the one with the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” has a patina with a chemical signature matching the Talpiot tomb, in which were found ossuaries with inscriptions such as “Jesus son of Joseph,” “Judas son of Jesus,” and “Mariam and Mar(th)a” (previously suggested to read “Mariamne also (known as) the Master.”


If this is correct, and if further study of the inscription and patina on the James ossuary were to declare the entire inscription authentic, then would it be fair to say that in that case the tomb and inscriptions would indeed belong to Jesus and his relatives with a high degree of certainty?

If so, how would you interpret the particular names found and their presence in the Talpiot tomb? How would it affect your worldview of belief system?

And if you are a mythicist, would it cause you to abandon your irrational faith commitment and embrace the existence of Jesus as historically likely? :-)

  • Samphire

    If the inscription on the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary was genuinely that of the biblical Jesus would that not be hideously embarrassing for Christians in that it would indicate that there had been no resurrection?

    After all, was it not the custom to allow the flesh of the dead body to rot for a year before the bones were finally interred in an ossuary?   

    Who would go to the expense of purchasing and inscribing an expensive ossuary for a body which, supposedly, had long since disappeared up through a conveniently placed cloud into the sky (cos that’s where heaven was before we found out different)?

  • Anonymous

    Ah, yes, faith in the resurrection is faith in the faith community…or the faith in the faith of the faith community…..or faith of the faith of Jesus in his community of faith….or faith of Jesus in the Father over the faith community, or faith in faith, as it really doesn’t matter…it is all for the sake of the existence and cotinuation of the Church….so what if there was a historical figure, Jesus, son of Joseph…?

  • Anonymous

    the disturbing outcome that might transpire, is a zealous jump to conclusions about the “intents of a Supernatural Being”, which irregardless of any other information will be useful for “confirmation bias”, justifying “a collective”, the Church….

    The information has been that there is a liberal and conservative innate bent, and it has been known there are different tendencies in people as to individual or collective types (dyadic or something like that..) of persons…Suppose that these Aritotle “virtue types” deem it necessary to train, or form people into their “collective” typing, thinking that this is how everyone “should be”?????

  • Steven Carr

    ‘And if you are a mythicist, would it cause you to abandon your irrational faith commitment and embrace the existence of Jesus as historically likely?’

    There already is prima facie evidence for the existence of Jesus ,just as there is for the existence of the Maitreya.

    But the evidence for the existence of Jesus is not as strong as the evidence for the existence of the Maitreya, who is an invented characters.

    As for the existence of Judas, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Bartimaeus, Barrabas, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Lazarus, as far as I can see, mainstream Biblical scholars don’t even attempt to pretend they have any evidence of their existence. They are in the Bible. That settles it.

    Bart Ehrman is writing a book on mythicism.

    It will be exciting to read Bart’s thoughts about the seismic shift in attitude towards the Romans , who went from being oppressors needing to be conquered by the Messiah (according to Bart himself), to becoming God’s agents sent to punish wrongdoers after they had killed the Messiah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Given the popularity of the names, I don’t think that would be powerful evidence that it is “The” Jesus in there. I also think it would be odd for a empty tomb idea to catch on if it were generally known that Jesus was buried in his family tomb. There is no hint of an understanding in any tradtion that Jesus remained in a tomb. Even Matthews discussion of what opponents thoght in his day doesn’t reveal a belief that there was a Jesus tomb, if it were known, wouldn’t there be early christians who rembered hearing there preachers talk about seeing the tomb of jesus when the stoires of the very literal rising of jesus in John, Matthew and Luke acts? 

    it isn’t impossible. If the first Christians didn’t make a big deal about his tomb, wasn’t theologically important, it is possible that a later Christian made a story of Jesus resurrection that had him literally vanish from the tomb; either from misunderstanding an apostle, or with the understanding that he really didn’t do this, but it dramatically makes the point of resurrection. Perhaps then the war removed the knowledge of the tomb, and Jesus’ near family, so later generations think he really just walked out of the tomb. If so then the story of after Jesus death may be more or less accurate, but the women simply prepare Jesus dead body and he rots in the crypt. Like the turning of water to wine, people simply accept that a holy man can do incredible things.

    If it were proven that this is the tomb of the Jesus, I think it would be a powerful argument for a non magical understanding of the Christian message, since people who went to his tomb still had faith that Jesus conquered death. being as that i think it likely he was put in an anonymous grave, that has appeal to me. I have thought it illogical that god would need to recycle Jesus atom to remake him. Did the maggots who had already started on his dead flesh lose their meals out of their bellies when he came back?

     

  • anonimous

    Well done, Prof. McGrath! This door is opened for a while now, yet there is a clear line betweeb objective study and faith, and the line must always be there. The following might help many of us: Jesus is alive as long as we believe he is, and follow his way. Jesus started the largest social revolution in the history of mankind, and the most successful one. THIS is the important point, not the location of his bones. 

    • Anonymous

      anonimous,
      “Faith” is the problem! Faith believes and acts with presumption upon others that have different understandings, conclusions, etc.! Why is this?

      Western society isn’t founded on “faith”, but reason, as our Founders were products of the Enlightenment. And because they accepted that men were “self-interested”, they knew that balancing power was important if there would be any hope of maintaining a free society! Balance of power meant that authoritarianism of any kind was against the principles of a liberal democracy! Liberty of conscience and “self-government” was to rule man….not any supernatural power, or government domination!!!

  • Geoff Hudson

    I thought the James ossuary was a fake.

    • Neil Godfrey

      A fake? No problems, as Allison himself explains, with McGrath’s approval, “Even fabricated material may provide a true sense of the gist of
      what Jesus was about, however inauthentic it may be as far as the
      specific details are concerned.”

  • Geoff Carter

    Restores my faith in archaeology.

    • Geoff Hudson

      But how many of the archaeologists are looking through coloured spectacles?  It certainly hasn’t restored mine. I have read one or two fairly independent archaeological reports, such as: The Qumran Excavations, 1993 – 2004, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
      http://www.antiquities.org.il/images/shop/jsp/JSP6_Qumran_color.pdf  This was written after a decade-long archaeological investigation of the Qumran site under the direction of Dr Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg.  It was not done in the highly speculative manner surrounding the Talpiot tomb investigations and the more suspiciouous circumstances of the James ossuary.    
       

  • James Tabor

    Thanks James for calling attention to this. Sorry we missed one another in Israel–maybe next time!

    I find it somewhat amazing that the latest findings on the James ossuary, posted on the web site bibleinterp.com, both as to the authenticity of the inscription and it possible provenience in the Talpiot “Jesus” tomb have gone largely unmentioned and undiscussed, even by the most vocal and passionate critics of the so-called “Talpiot tomb theory.” Once the word went out, through magazine stories, TV reports like 60 Minutes, Blogs, and even two major books, it becomes almost a mantra to repeat–oh, but wasn’t that found to be a forgery. Very few people keep up with the latest. Thanks to the editors of bibleinterp.com for keeping us all informed. As for the way this changes the stats on the names, there is also a fine article on that site dealing with the statistics. Here are the relevant posts but there are others, so please browse and search the site, it is quite thick with information:

    http://www.bibleinterp.com/PDFs/Authenticity_Letter.pdf

    http://bibleinterp.com/articles/kilell358029.shtml

    http://bibleinterp.com/articles/JOT.shtml

    I think the summary that Oded Golan presents of the trial evidence is extremely balanced and fair, and basically unanswerable. I am quite sure that is why it has been greeted with deafening silence. Even so, plenty of those who have taken its forgery as a given keep repeating the mantra, showing their ignorance of what is now emerging.

    On the Talpiot tombs (plural, there are TWO of them, less than 200 feet apart) more generally there is much new evidence that will be revealed at the Fall meetings of ASOR/AAR/SBL/BibleFest plus several major articles, a monograph edited by Charlesworth and I book I am co-authoring, The Jesus Discovery. Stay tuned…

  • Anonymous

    I’ve asked the question of what would falsify the mythical Jesus theory.  So for, it appears that there is nothing that would falsify the mythical Jesus theory.    

    • KevinC

      I’ve asked the question of what would falsify the mythical Jesus
      theory.  So for, it appears that there is nothing that would falsify the
      mythical Jesus theory.

      Neither model is strictly falsifiable, unless someone has a TARDIS we can borrow.  To falsify the historicist model, mythicists would have to prove a negative–that there was no man named Jesus who inspired even a tiny bit of the Gospel narratives or early Christian theology.  Where evidence is lacking, historicists can just say that he was so obscure that no one outside his movement thought him worthy of notice, but so well-known within it that the Epistle writers never needed to make reference to his life and teachings to substantiate their arguments. 

      Mythicism would be falsifiable if we could find some really ironclad evidence for a historical Jesus, like convincing proof that he was buried in the Talpiot tomb, or definitively dated contemporary manuscripts from Jews or Romans mentioning him (and in enough detail that we knew it was him and not some other guy named “Jesus”), or an original autograph.

      But since Jesus (if he existed) was not an emperor, a king or a philosopher with royal patronage, we have little reason to expect that level of evidence for him.  Instead, we have to look at the spotty, disputed, and often contradictory materials we do have and do our best to assess which model is more probable.

      From what I’ve read here so far, even Dr. McGrath (and mainstream scholarship in general) agrees that a whole lot of “the Jesus story” is, in fact, myth.  There may have been a historical Jesus who was the Benny Hinn of his day, but he didn’t feed thousands out of a lunchbox, or command weather, or turn the Sun off for three hours when he died.  Even many of the non-miraculous elements of his story, such as Herod’s slaughter of the children of Bethlehem were literary creations derived from Hebrew scripture.  Some of his sayings were inserted into his mouth by the Gospel writers to win theological arguments with one another or validate the beliefs of their communities.

      So, unless we’re all wrong, the fundamentalist apologists turn out to be right and the Bible is inerrant, the “Jesus” of the Gospels and Epistles is still, to some large extent, a mythic character even if there is an underlying historical core. 

      • Anonymous

        Just a quibble, a HJ needs not be inconsequential.  For example, a HJ that was part of a Jewish national movement and who was regarded as a Jewish messiah by that movement would not be inconsequential.  It is just that such a HJ has no effect on the Christianity that prevailed.  In fact that is what I think is true.  A Strict Observant Jewish HJ whose memory somehow survived in the groups that became the orthodox Christian. 

  • anonimous

    Geoff, read Galileo’s story. There was only one Galileo, while the number of Galileos around the Talpiot Tomb is steadily increasing. Face it: it’s not a possibility anymore. Now it’s a probability. You know, I’m sure, that probability is what historical study is about. 
    ALL ABOUT.
    Thank you too, Prof. Tabor. You are one of the Galileos.

    • Geoff Hudson

      I am a physicist.

  • Trey

    My initial gut reaction then and still now is interesting. I just don’t feel the evidence is strong enough for me as lay person to believe that this is IT. I do find interesting Ruth Gat’s claim that her husband who made the discovery in 1980 believed it to be the Jesus family tomb but kept it secret because he feared a rise in antisemitism. That of course proves nothing, but it shows that the idea did not originate from the sensational creators of the 2007 documentary.

  • Anonymous

    One wonders how a poor family from Galilee could afford a family tomb in Jerusalem and why the family would choose this site over the numerous tomb sites available in Galilee.

    • Iza

      I don’t wonder at all.  He was a legend in his own time and had many followers.  I’m sure he was well taken care of by those among the wealthy that loved him.

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  • Eldad Keynan

    Trey, you are right. The idea did not originate from the 2007 documentary, but much earlier. The first people who thought it might be IT, were exactly the people who did whatever they could to silent the idea. The documentary merely re-exposed it. This is why it’s makers suffer personal attacks.  
    beallen - Jesus’ family was poor? It’s possible, but not well established yet. Anyway - can you dismiss the idea that some wealthy follower granted Jesus and his family with a tomb?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Eldad, when it comes to supporting mythicism, mythicists are prone to wild speculation and give free rein to their imagination. But things that easy to imagine, such as a wealthy follower of Jesus giving a tomb for the burial of someone he believed to be God’s anointed, somehow never occurs to them. It is yet another example of the double standard at work in mythicist thinking.

    Steven, you keep mentioning the Maitreya, but there is nothing inherently implausible about an actual historical person at some point claiming to be that figure. Nor does lack of clear evidence for the existence of minor figures in a work serve as proof for the non-existence of the central figure. Can you please either offer an actual argument for your viewpoint, or at least offer some variety in what you write so that we don’t get bored with the repetition? :-)

    • Anonymous

      But things that easy to imagine (sic), such as a wealthy follower of Jesus
      giving a tomb for the burial of someone he believed to be God’s
      anointed, somehow never occurs to them.

      Heads I win, tails you lose is a typical example of a rigged game, and here we see another example of that type of argument.

      If we have evidence for wealthy followers, we would expect literature. If there was a large following, we would expect contemporaneous accounts. When these aren’t discovered, the claim is made that it is because JoN was an insignificant figure from a small village in Galilee. Yet here, when necessary, without changing the other arguments at all, we are told that he actually was a friend of the wealthy and was considered the messiah during his lifetime, something the entire Gospel of Mark (our earliest “biographical source” on the HJ model) is at pains to make clear nobody ever did.

      We are to believe he made a huge impact that nobody ever noticed. Heads I win, tails you lose. If something shows impact, that is advanced for historicity, if there is no evidence of impact, that is explained away as not being evidence against historicity.

      The key word in the above sentence quoted is the sixth. This is the fount arguments for the HJ thesis.

  • Stevencarrwork

    ‘Steven, you keep mentioning the Maitreya, but there is nothing inherently implausible about an actual historical person at some point claiming to be that figure.’

    I don’t want to misunderstand James here. Is he suggesting that there is even a small possibility that the Maitreya exists, when Benjamin Creme has been making up this myth for decades?

    ‘ Nor does lack of clear evidence for the existence of minor figures in a work serve as proof for the non-existence of the central figure.’

    Clear evidence? James has unclear evidence for the existence of Judas, Nicodemus, Lazarus etc, or is he trying to hide the fact that his Jesus first appears in a work replete with fictional characters?

    Again, I don’t understand what James is saying, so cannot comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    If it were scientifically proven that this were the tomb of Jesus, I suppose Christian believers and mythicist alike would only claim a conspiracy to hide the truth.  James, on the observations of nincompoops, it is funny how the mind of the zealot works. I’m not even sure Steven made a comprehensible message. If you hadn’t discussed this with him 10 over already, would you know what he was trying to say? It’s like he is so tired of writing the same stuff he is now just making allusions to his arguments solely for long time readers. Perhaps he could adopt the Chinese menu approach and save himself more time? And does Evan think his quickly dismissable comment brought anything to the discussion? Evan, just post post every now and again “I don’t believe Jesus existed because I think that is a cool thing to believe” and save yourself the time of writing a childish argument for it. It carries the same meaning and will save us all time.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Steven, I meant exactly what I wrote: the fact that there is a concept about a mythical figure that some expect or expected to come does not exclude the possibility of a historical figure actually claiming to be that individual at some point.

    But unless you wish to actually make a case for there being a genuine similarity between the concept of the Maitreya and the evidence for Jesus, then it would be better to stop mentioning the term. It would also be better for you to actually at least give the appearance of paying attention to what I write when I say to you so many times that lack of clear evidence for the historicity of other characters in the Gospels is not evidence for the non-existence of the main character.

  • Eldad Keynan

    The funniest thing is, I believe, the fact that both devoted people and the mythicists can not accept the Talpiot Tomb(s) idea. I believe Jesus was. From the pure view point of faith – Jesus resurrected. The mythicists claim he did not, since “there was no Jesus at all”. Could you all, please, clear the table that stands between you? Can you understand that nothing will stop further study(ies) of the subjest, whether or not you will agree on, hmmm…something?
    I am Eldad Keynan, but for some reason I can’t type my name. Sorry.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    is there some some sort of good argument that this tomb is Jesus of N’s? I thought this was just a what if sort of thing. I didn’t think the case made in the documetary was very compelling, What do you guys think?

  • Guest

    When Tabor’s not idolising cranks like Vendyl “Arkhunter” Jones or Simcha Jacobovici, he’s making claims for this tomb.  Hmmm…

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  • Brian

    I myself would be rather dissappointed if the James Ossuary turned out not only to be authentic but actual tomb of Jesus. I don’t know about you James, but I think the Christian Message would loose it’s power if God didn’t rise Christ from the dead. I mean how much of the story can you chip away before you decide following Christ isn’t worth it anymore? The resurrection for me says several things. One of them being that God really is a nice guy afterall and that in the end the evil in this world won’t have the final say. You can’t turn that into a metaphor because it won’t actually work if you do. But, I am a person of faith, and because of the faith [however uncertain I may be at time] I choose to believe that God really did raise Jesus.

    • Trey

      @Brian: If you can accept the fact that the gospels are not strictly historical accounts of the events they portray then it is possible that for the first disciples the resurrection was
      entirely on the spiritual plane and not a physical bodily resurrection. I say this because when Paul described the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7  he made no distinction between the appearance of Jesus to the 12 apostles and to himself (since Paul so far as we know did not know Jesus in the flesh). He simply says that Jesus “appeared to James, then all the apostles and last of all he appeared to me also”. He did not say he had an experience of Jesus -  he said he appeared to me just as he did to the twelve. Which makes me think the resurrection experience for the first Christians was an apparition where Jesus had somehow transcended flesh and blood.

    • Samphire

      So, if Jesus was raised bodily on the third day, why did he require an ossuary, a box used only to store the bones of a decomposed body?

      • Geoff Hudson

        If he existed, he was a normal human being, a prophet.  James was also a prophet.  Prophets believed that when a person died, their spirit rose up for an immediate judgement.    

        Prophets did not believe that sacrificing animals was the way to be right with God, but obedience in the Spirit of God was. This was why James was executed by the high priest Ananus.     

        That prophets died out was a myth. If these two were brothers, they possibly worked together.  The evidence of the Talpiot tomb would seem to suggest that, at least to me.  The Talpiot tomb would put James and Jesus in the same time frame. They would both be sons of Joseph.  

        • Samphire

          Geoff, my question arose in response to Brian’s comment: “I myself would be rather dissappointed if the James Ossuary turned out not only to be authentic but actual tomb of Jesus.”

          If it were Jesus’ ossuary then the resurrection stories would be myth which surely, as a Christian, should dismay Brian but he says no, to the contrary, that he would be disappointed if it were not the genuine article.

          What say you, Brian?

  • Eldad Keynan

    Hey Guest above; you forgot the $ in Simcha’s name, which is so common in your “writings”.
    BTW: how is the weather in the famous Science Group?

  • Geoff Hudson

    In a recent article by A. Rosenfeld, C.Pellegrino, H. R. Feldman, and W.E. Krumbein titled “The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries,” the authors maintain that “The patina of the unprovenanced James Ossuary exhibits geochemical fingerprints consistent with the patinas of the Talpiot ossuaries. This strengthens the contention that James Ossuary belong to the assemblage of the Talpiot ossuaries.”

    On the face of it, the article does seem to be quite genuine. 

    I have a question which someone may be able to answer. 

    Is the patina across the whole inscription of the James ossuary consistent?

    • Eldad Keynan

      Geoff; yes it is. Read the labs report again. Yet even if someone “added” local patina to the left part of the inscription, the rest is genuine Talpiot Tomb patina. I believe that this scientific fact might turn the case to a criminal one.
      Eldad

      • Geoff Hudson

        Okay Eldad.  Are you saying that someone added the phrase “brother of Jesus” to the James ossuary, but that the “James son of Joseph” part is genuine Talpiot patina?

        The Article by Rosenfeld etc. is very brief.  It is not a scientific report as such.  It does not show, for example, the results of the the spectral analyses. So where are the actual Reports published?  Perhaps James Tabor could help!  

  • http://defunctidiom.wordpress.com/ Kerry

    Whether it’s really the tomb of Jesus or not, it’s an important historical in itself. It managed to survive throughout the ages, and that in itself makes it important because it gives another look into the past. There were a lot of forms of Christianity in the first few centuries, with a lot of different ideas.

  • Brian

    I’m not too sure about 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. What exactly Paul experienced isn’t all that clear. All we know is that Jesus appeared to him [and that his body was spiritual]. As for the twelve apostles, I’m not too sure about them either, What Paul expeirenced could have been different than what they did.
    And I don’t buy the whole spiritual plane vs. physical scenario. According to Paul there was some continuation between the body that was buried and the body that ‘rose’ again. He gives a bunch of analogies to demonstrate this [however strange some of them are].  

  • Itamar bernstein

    IMO Talpiot is so obviously the real thing, that
    the intriguing part on this isn’t what it is, but why and how its
    reality is so fiercely concealed and contested.

    • Trey

      I do not agree that it is obvious but rather an interesting possibility. Based on what I’ve read so far the names are quite common for that time and place. Save for Jesus son of Joseph, Judas son of Jesus we don’t know how the other names on the ossuaries  relate to each other. We have no record of Jesus having a son named Judas even in extra canonical sources (which doesn’t mean it is impossible). The inscription on the James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus ossuary is heavily contested and we can’t be entirely sure that this ossuary was in fact located at Talpiot. I would love to hear more about the science behind the patina and its chemical signature, because I am a bit sceptical about that too.

  • ANeighbor

    Professor, here you go again…this time its an ossuary story.  You know its bull, but you are going to pump it up and then laugh at all the Chrsitians who play your game.

    By the way, is the contract for hour deconversion story in place yet.

  • Brian

    James Mcgrath is himself a Christian and a pretty faithful one at that. Though he, due to his profession and worldview, might not express a Christianity that is reconizable to everyone. But he still loves his faith. As for why he posted this story, I cannot say I know for sure, but it’s probably because he is a professor and likes being provocative. We are suppose to think.
    Though I am curious James, what do you think of this? I’m unsure, I mean I haven’t seen the study myself. And I highly doubt that Jesus had a fancy tomb like that. I’m pretty convinced that he was buried in a ditch, like you said, probably near the Sepulchre.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Evan, why is it that you do not see the irony in talking about a “heads I win, tails you lose argument” while you are at the same time trying to turn the possibility of actual archaeological evidence for Jesus into an argument against his existence? Historical study often goes from having no primary sources to having them, from having very little to having a little more, when discoveries are made (the Essenes and the ancient Gnostics provide good examples).

    “A Neighbor”, I get the sense that you are a so-called Christian who needs to feel certain, and since my Christian faith that can live with uncertainty is disturbing for you, you wish me to deconvert? Sorry, but I have no intention of doing so. Perhaps instead you can actually interact with me instead of trying to shoehorn me into your own tiny theological boxes? As for the ossuaries, some of them clearly are not bull, and what they provide evidence for depends on tests that have yet to be done. And so I think it illustrates well the difference between us: I acknowledge the need to wait and see, and to discuss things now only as a “what if”, while you are sure that you know everything you need to know already. I humbly suggest that your stance is one that mistakes arrogance for faith.

  • Brian

    Oh snap. Mr. Mcgrath has just gotten serious. Well nice to see you’re back James. Though I guess you already answered my question, albiet indirectly. So, for now it seems like we must “wait and see”, though I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Eldad Keynan

    Now the personal attacks begun. As expected as it was, I believe that intelligent people may have a debate which is not AD HOMINEM, while keeping their well informed stands. I was wrong.
    Eldad Keynan

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff; I’m not saying anything “between the lines”. Readers might interpret my post as they wish. Yet I know there is a heated debate concerning the inscription and it’s authoenticity. So for the sake of debate, only, we can leave the left part undiscussed.
    Interestingly enough, you missed the second point: now that we know the James ossuary’s source, we may ask: how did this ossuary find its way to Mr. Golan’s collection?
    This might be followed by this: could it be that someone wanted to “eliminate” this ossuary’s source since it is a “smoking gun”? Isn’t it odd that Golan is accused of faking and not of theft?
    In short: maybe this ossuary is the famous missing ossuary?  

    • Geoff Hudson

      Eldad, if it is the famous missing ossuary of James, then the left-hand part of the inscription “brother of Jesus” is important.  If the inscription is genuine, it implies that James was second to Jesus.  If the inscription has been added, then the two brothers were at least on some sort of  equal footing, and it is wrong to call this the Jesus family tomb.  Rather it should be the Joseph family tomb.  It would also mean that Jesus and James were from an aristocratic background. 

      I would like to see the actual scientific Reports.   

  • RSBrenchley

    I’m not sure how you’d finally ‘prove’ that Jesus’ bones had been found, and I’m quite sure that nothing whatever would convince the fundamentalists. But let’s suppose the impossible happened. I’m not sure it would worry me too much.

    The NT witness on the resurrection is inconsistent. There are passages – the empty tomb, Jesus eating a piece of fish in Luke – which suggest a body coming back to life. There are other passages – Luke’s Paul in Acts seeing a vision; Paul’s wiggling about ‘resurrection bodies’; John’s Jesus walking through a locked door – which suggest something else. The church has tended to go with a literal resurrection rather than a visionary or spiritual one. Maybe it got it wrong?

  • Eldad Keynan

    I like your “if”, Geoff. I wish we could attribute more probability to some of the “ifs”. This is what we’re trying to do for 4 years now.
    When you say: “If the inscription has been added” – when this happened? Back then, or maybe it’s a modern addition? You know it does make a different.
    Why we should call it Joseph family tomb? Only because Joseph was the formal father? He wasn’t buried there, and he wasn’t Jesus’ father. Again – suppose a wealthy follower granted Jesus with a tomb. Legally - Jesus owned it, so it is named after him. This possibility might answer your suggestioned “aristocracy” of Jesus and James.
    As for the reports – you are not alone. Wouldn’t you like to see the initial Talpiot Tomb excavation report? Wouldn’t that be at least equally important and interesting?   

  • James Tabor

    I am glad for this discussion. It underscores the fact that so many who are sincerely interested have not necessarily kept up with the discussion. Again, I commend the peer-reviewed, bibleinterp.com, as well as perhaps the most balanced and neutral site on the Web on this topic, talpiottomb.com for those wanting to get up to speed on the current discussion. There you will find reliable and balanced material on all the major areas–are the names common, was Jesus rich or poor, the DNA tests, the stats, etc. 

    It is interesting also to notice who is ugly and nasty with ad hominum attacks and who writes soberly and simply covers the data and the evidence. That alone should tell one something. I am preparing a post on my Blog about the “strange silence of the detractors,” as even those who have been most damning of Oded Golan, owner of the James ossuary, have not come forward to respond in any way to his reasoned piece on the trial, mentioned in my post above.

    Right now, with the evidence we have, and this is not including the James ossuary being the 11th from the Talpiot Jesus tomb, is that it is probably this might be the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, certainly way past possible. I review the case for identifying this tomb with Jesus of Nazareth the article I have submitted to Charlesworth’s massive collection of papers based on the 2008 Princeton conference in Jerusalem. You can download it here today on my Public mac folder and later, when I get time I will put it up on my Blog (taborblog.com) as well, as well as other links:

    http://public.me.com/jamestabor

    I think the biggest obstacle to the case I make, other than the “baseless hatred” among colleagues of varying motivations for those who differ with them, is the theological one. I make some comments on that at the end of this article. I also have completed a book on Paul that will be out early next year. The key, as someone has already noted here, is the nature of the “resurrection” faith in our earliest sources–not in Luke and John, which mix the two traditions–the physical body and the spiritual body. Paul is the key, and he is clear–the body of dust goes back to the dust, shed like old clothing, but the new creation is a life-giving spirit. The empty tomb has been misread as some kind of resuscitation account, which it clearly is not in Mark and the oldest fragment of the Gospel of Peter, two of our earliest accounts.

    James Tabor

    • Geoff Hudson

      James

      I would like to thank you for this information.  I have read through Oded Golan’s Summary of Expert Trial Witnesses on the James Ossuary.  It is remarkable that all of the witnesses listed (including those for the prosecution), thought that the whole inscription on the ossuary was ancient.

  • Samphire

    Whoops – I think that I may have read “not only” as “not”. 

    I have always found English as a first language very difficult.  Unfortunately, it’s the only one I’ve got.

  • Geoff Hudson

    I received an e-mail today in answer to my question:
     
    “Could someone tell me where I can get access to the actual scientific Reports, that show the relative percentages of the elements in the Talpiot tomb and the James ossuary, and other tombs?”
     
    I understand that e-mail said there were were three sources:
     
    1. James Charlesworth is yet to publish the results in his volume.
     
    2. The references are in the article by Rosenfeld etc.
     
    3. The Symposium volume which from 2008 (the deadline) till today is not published.

     
     
     

    • Geoff Hudson

      This is not good enough on such an important issue and in a day of instant communications. 

  • Eldad Keynan

    OK, Geoff, it’s all genuine. My stand regarding this issue is only the result of extreme caution. Yet even if we reject the left part, we still have a supreme scientific report. Tabor is right: where are all the experts who rejected and dismissed the Talpiot Tomb by the most negative terms?
    s for Joseph as the father of both Jesus and James: look again at the ossuaries sizes. There is a hint, connected to this point.  

    • Geoff Hudson

      Eldad, what I am after is the evidence that each tomb had a unique spectral signature of elements, and that an ossuary from a tomb could be uniquely identified by its patina with the same percentages of elements.  Can someone present me with that evidence?

  • Guest

    When Tabor points the finger at others’ supposed “hatred” he should remember his own very recent scurrilous ad hominen attack on Bob Cargill:
    http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/when-in-doubt-scream-antisemitism/

  • Brian

    Now, now. There is no need to point fingers or call one another hypocrites. We must wait and see.  Anything can happen, and even if these turn out to be authentic we still have to consider whehter or it is probable that this is indeed “it”. Although James Tabor, points to Joseph of Arimithea as an influenial and rich follower of Jesus, I think that he was not one of Jesus’ diciples. If you read Mark without paying much attention to the later embelishments, you can see that Joseph was just fullfilling the minimal requirements of mosiac law. As for John, I think John shouldn’t be given much attention, it seems to me that John was aware of the other Gospels, and wrote his as a way to correct the imperfections of the other ones. His Jesus is literarly mocking Mark’s Jesus. John’s Jesus is in control, he isn’t afraid, or begs his Father to remove this cup.

  • Brian

    Oops, that was a lousy post. Sorry for all the spelling errors, my friends. I should have proof read my comment before posting it.
    Well yes, continuing on from where I left off. John, likely isn’t an indepent compostion in the strictest sense, he was probably aware of the other Gospels, and wrote his own as a way to correct the various imperfections he felt plagued the other ones and to legitimize his communities Christological developments.
    We must also take to heart John Meier’s discussion on the meaning of silence, so what are we to think when none of the earliest accounts talk about Jesus’ children or family? It could mean many things, but we must also consider Paul’s imitation of Christ. For this, I recommend Donald Akenson’s awesome book.

  • Guest

    Joe Zias on James Tabor’s ad hominen slurs:
    “Cheap shot, it’s a technique borrowed from right wing Israelis here who every
    time someone accuses them of something that they don’t like, they accuse them
    of being anti-Semitic. Remember the source: Tabor, Gibson and Simcha were the
    ones who came up with the idea of a lifetime achievement award with a little
    Holocaust thrown in for good measure to save themselves after they lost some of
    James Cameron’s $4 million and then Simcha had the nerve to say ‘I’m vindicated’.

    Not one word from Tabor nor Gibson and they were fully aware that it was a set
    up from the beginning. To call Cargill anti-Semitic is on par with Simcha’s use
    of the Holocaust, one of the lowest and most despicable stunts pulled off in my
    long experience in working with the media. Furthermore, Tabor was aware years ago
    that I had personally cleared out the lab of Prof. Nicu Hass where the nails in
    question were taken from, in fact he was one of the few individuals who had the
    privilege of seeing material which I removed from Haas’s lab in 1975. Again,
    nary a word.
    It’s all motivated by fame and fortune at the expense of the
    profession and those of us whom have devoted out lives to it. It’s a ‘movie’
    we’re sick and tired of seeing again and again and we’re fighting back. You can’t
    stand the heat, then it’s time to get out of the kitchen.”

  • Brian

    Woah man calm down. I know this can get pretty heated, especially since it’s about something so controversal but you don’t need to go off like that. If you disagree with Tabor, then tell him why you disagree and do it calmly.

  • Trey

    I find the mudslinging and innuendo being thrown from people on both sides of the issue very unfortunate. And it is coming from both sides. Just today I read an article from Joe Zias where he seems to suggest that Mrs Yosef Gath is lying when she says that Yosef Gath who excavated the Talpiot site thought the Talpiot tomb was the Jesus family tomb but kept it quiet because of anti-semitic fears. Now how is that for gall to cast aspersions against the man’s wife and her motivations for telling the story that she did. I posted the link below but I’m frankly disappointed by the tone of the debate…on both sides.

    http://www.joezias.com/talpiot.htm

  • KevinC

    I have read (perhaps someone can correct me if this is wrong) that the Greek word tekton (usually translated “carpenter”) can also mean “stonemason.”  If this is so, and Jesus was part of a family of stonemasons, then they arguably would have had the wherewithal (their own tools and skills) to carve out a tomb.  I wonder, if it turns out that the Talpiot tomb has a high probability of being the Jesus family tomb, how many churches will replace crosses with the chevron-and-circle symbol. :)

    Hmm, it’s tempting to imagine writing a Dan Brown-type novel based on this, lol.  “If Jesus was a mason, then maybe he was a Mason…hey, would you look at that (simplified) Eye-in-the-Pyramid symbol over the door of his family tomb?” *evil grin*

    Returning to seriousness, WRT mythicism, I don’t see a problem with considering mythicism less probable in proportion to a rise in probability that the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary belonged to “that” Jesus, son of Joseph.  Just as Doherty’s mythicist model would be bolstered by the discovery of a 1st Century Christian manuscript saying that James was a member of an ascetic order called the Brothers of the Lord, and making reference to Jesus as a divine Logos crucified by the Archons in the heavens.

    Irony: take a look at this article from one of the sources James Tabor offered (Bibleinterp).  Notice the allegations of bias and closed-mindedenss made against mainstream scholarship.  They sound a lot like the allegations mythicists make against the mainstream historicist consensus.  So, either:

    1) The advocates of the Talpiot tomb theory are suspiciously fringe-y, exuding the scent of pseudo-scholarship, or

    2) Mainstream scholarship does have a tendency to be closed-minded and biased in favor of the Gospel accounts.

    I wonder which it is. :)

  • Brian

    The word could mean stonemason, John Meier wrote extensively on the subject, but apparently Jesus and his family [or Joseph], where woodworkers, they basicly did labor in general. Though you must consider that even as a woodworker Jesus’ family would have made only a meager wage. Definitely not a enough to afford a rock-cut tomb.
    Though let us not return fire with fire. We all love each other, okay? 

  • Eldad Keynan

    Hey “Guest”: you quote Zias, which is OK. But you know, if it talks like Zias, writes like Zias and attacks the same people like Zias – it is Zias. Why hiding behind “Guest”? You are talking about destroying the profession; you are right and you know why; when someone whose MA thesis is whitch medicine pretends to be bones enthropologist - the profession is destroyed.  
    BTW: you forgot the $ again.

  • Guest

    Here’s Tabor idolizing the crank “Biblical archaeologist” Vendyl “Arkhunter” Jones:
    http://curiouspresbyterian.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/fundamentalist-ark-hunter-vendyl-jones-has-died/
    (as well as the heretic Herbert W. Armstrong).

  • Geoff Hudson

    I received another e-mail this morning from the person who hasn’t explained where he got my e-mail address from.  The e-mail is as follows (minus the senders name):
     
    Sent: 04 July 2011 22:33
     
    Subject: James Ossuary
     
    “I thought the James ossuary was a fake.”
     
    Dear Geoff,
    Why did you thought so? Did you read the scientific articles onthis issue? Or did you picked it up by PR people!
    Please click the link below, so you will be informed on the trial of James Ossuary by an impartial journalist.
    In a very respectful newspapers. As an observer of the trial let me tell you that most of the prosecution witnesses told the judge that the inscription of James ossuary is genuine.
    The IAA made this trial for political reasons.
    http://jamesossuarytrial.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html 

    I replied:

    I read the details of the James ossuary a few years ago and dismissed it as a fake on the basis of the evidence then. I was surprised by the article which said that there was a unique spectral signature of elements for each tomb and that the source of an ossuary could be identified by its patina element spectrum. So the James ossuary could be traced back to the Talpiot tomb. I would like to read the related Report or Reports.
     
    I have read Oded Golan’s Summary of Expert Trial Witnesses, and again I was surprised that all the witnesses (including those for the prosecution) thought that the whole inscription on the James ossuary is ancient, or genuine. But it is a different sort of inscription from all the others.
     
    Geoff Hudson          
     

    • Geoff Hudson

      The “impartial journalist” was Matthew Kalman.  I went to his blog http://matthewkalman.blogspot.com/ where he has a number of articles on the James Ossuary, or rather I thought he had a number of articles on the subject.  But when you click on them you get linked to one site  http://jamesossuarytrial.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html  Someone, presumably Matthew Kalman, doesn’t  want his articles to be read.

  • Eldad Keynan

    Hi, Geoff. This line is important: “The IAA made this trial for political reasons”; yet it’s partial. Figure this out: should Golan be accused of stealing the James Ossuary – how would he get him self out of trouble? Reasonably – by exposing the ossuary’s precise source. Now: if you eagerly want to eliminate this spot, would you accuse him of theft?
    Some of us thpught that the James ossuary was one of the Talpiot Tomb ossuaries, back in 2007, at least. Others laughed at us and described us coin$ $melling.
    The tide has changed for good; “guest” above knows it better than anyone. He knows why.
    I’d like your secret friend to send me one as well. Sounds like a person of knowledge.   

    • Geoff Hudson

      I am just reading Yuval Goren’s Examination of Authenticity
      http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Goren_report.shtml  
      Goren acknowledges his detailed summary is not a scientific article, but he gives a good deal more scientific information than does the article by Rosenfeld etc.  Goren specifies the type of tests that were undertaken. Some of his observations are:

      E.Only in the inscription area on this ossuary does an additional grayish coating material appear (henceforth, “inscription coating”). It was not found on any other ossuary examined by us in the Israel National Collections in the Rockefeller Museum storerooms. The inscription coating is very soft (can be easily removed with a toothpick), it is sometimes gritty but generally homogeneous and usually fills the low areas of the inscription and around it.

      F.Grooves and etches (signs of stonework) in the inscribed area are coated by rock varnish.

      G.The inscription, throughout its entire length is etched into the varnish and cuts through it.

      H.Petrographic examination of the inscription coating indicates that its composition is calcitic. The cryptocrystalline calcite that forms the inscription coating contains abundant microfossils of nanoplankton (coccoliths). The latter are abundant in marine-derived sedimentary rocks (such as chalk), but are nonexistent in terrain-derived sediments. This phenomenon is unique to the inscription coating and it was never observed in the other patina samples. 

      • Geoff Hudson

        Goren finally concludes his article:
        “There is a significant similarity in the conception and method of production between the Yehoash inscription and the inscription on the James Ossuary.”

        No date is given for his article.

  • Brian

    I’m lost. So, according to Goren what is the dealio with the ossuary. It sounds to me like the inscription was made recently.
    Well, this is getting interesting. I just want to hear more opinions, just to make sure, I’m being honest.

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff and Brian, see this
    http://www.2all.co.il/Web/Sites/ossuaryheb/PAGE14.asp

    Try to find the English page. In short: the persecution its self is not relying on Prof. Goren.

    • Geoff Hudson

      The english page is not there. 

      But I only want to see some evidence that what Rosenfeld etc said in their article is true. 

         

  • Geoff Hudson

    Here is something very strange.  In their article  http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Kloner_Reich_report.shtml

    Prof Roni Reich wrote: It appears that each of the characteristics of the inscription, as detailed above, and all of them together, with no exception, indicate an authentic late Second Temple period (mainly first century CE) inscription.

    And Prof. Amos Kloner wrote:
    Clearly, the words were inscribed at a time other than the ossuary’s original manufacture with its linear decoration along the sides and rosettes on side 1. Inside the relatively deep letters the patina is not the same as on the ossuary’s four sides, lid and decorative lines. It can be surmised that the writer tried to impart to the letters a look of authenticity, similar to the markings on the other sides of the box by filling in or spreading a liquid or other material of a brown or reddish color.The inscription looks new. Its carving is clearly deep and lacks patina when compared to the sides, as described above. The writer tried to impart an ancient form to the letters by using contemporary examples. It is easy to see how the writer wanted to attract the attention of modern day viewers by using forms that are as similar as possible to current script. Their placement and design are ‘monumental’ and stand out. The vast majority of such ossuary inscriptions were carelessly written and schematic. Here, the writer was aware of his deed and purpose and wanted this inscription to make an impression at first glance and be relatively easy to read.
     

     

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff, I expected someone to quote Kloner; I respect him and his long, fruitful career. I guess we will have to wait until next fall, then we will all be wiser.
    Only one line: read Tabor’s comment, above; he is speaking of 11 ossuaries, found in the Talpiot Tomb. Kloner reports (Atiqot 29, 1996) 10 ossuaries. Do you think it’s a problem?

    • Geoff Hudson

      Eldad, don’t you agree that the statements of the two scholars Reich and Kloner in the same article are not only diametrically opposed, but are odd, to say the least?  And Kloners statement was not, it appears, a part of the prosecution case.  Why was this?   

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff – get Near Eastern Archaeology 69, 3-4. Read all the Talpiot Tomb papers in it carefully. Mark the odd points you see there. And keep all of it. You will have more new questions than the answers some of the experts present there.

  • Geoff Hudson

    I do have a problem.  You are not giving me the information I am asking for.   Why can’t you or anyone else present it.

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff – I’m afraid that the answers to your questions might be too “ad hominem”. Again: the persecution gave up some of its own witnesses. Others, supposedly highly important, were not in the list in the first place. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The point that might serve as a general linking subject is, I believe, the combination: “the missing ossuary”.

    Only 3 months to next fall. Not too long. 

    • Geoff Hudson

      What missing ossuary, Eldad?

  • Geoff Hudson
  • Geoff Hudson

    If it is, were there 10, as counted out, or eleven?

  • Geoff Hudson

    And was it the tomb of the Caiaphas family?  Caiaphas had a first name Joseph.  Miriam or Mary was his granddaughter. I have suspected for a long time that Caiaphus had such a daughter, but it turns out that she was a granddaughter. And we know that this ossuaury is genuine, because Yuval Goren say it is.  Remember I said this was the tomb of an aristocratic family.

  • Eldad Keynan

    Sorry for being that late. No, Geoff, the missing ossuary isn’t the ossuary in the link. Look at Tabor’s comment: there were 11 in the Talpiot Tomb. Kloner reported 10 (Atiqot 29, 1996). Well – one is missing, right? If we take Rahmani’s catalogue (1994) we might even assume that two gone missing. But one is enough to make a point. That is – just in case the James ossuary is NOT from the Talpiot. Now you surely understand why is it so important, to some of us, to keep the James ossuary away from the Talpiot Tomb – far, far away.

  • Brian

    I thought there was originally ten ossuaries, with one allegedly missing, though it turned out that the tenth one was just in very bad shape. But I still don’t see what you mean by why it’s important for some to keep the James ossuary far away from the Talpoit. Since it seemed like they were never together, Didn’t William Dever say he knew about the talpoit tomb for awhile now?
    But what about the above articles, it seems like Prof. Reich is now in favor of the inscription being an aritifical composition.

  • Geoff Hudson

    Eldad, would you mind explaining how Tabor makes 11 when kloner counted 10 originally?   

  • Eldad Keynan

    OK Geoff, It’s easy: ask the scholars them selves. After all, they wrote their own pieces.
    Let me guess: should you publish such a question, only one of them will reply. Guess who? Or, rather, wait for the coming fall.
    I can also add this: many statistical papers show that the names were not common. This conclusion is well suppoprted by another paper, based on the relevant texts. See http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-17.asp. This is a shortened version of the full paper, to be published in the symposium volume.
    Since the “commonness” of the names was a crucial argument against the Talpiot Tomb, I guess the opposition lost a large part of its stand. The fact is that while the names were not as common as claimed, their relative rarity still doesn’t prove anything.
    Many contend that Jesus did not have a child since he wasn’t married. Sounds reasonable, right? I agree: Jesus was not married, probably. But it has nothing to do with his fatherhood. Judaism never recommended single parenthood; yet it never prohibitted single parenthood – including single motherhood.
    If Mariamene was Mary Magdalene and she wasn’t his wife, how could she be legally buried in Jesus’ familial tomb? Another good question indeed. Yet this one, too, is answered easily by Jewish laws. The solution has been presented in the symposium, and remained un refuted.
    Now – might these prove that the Talpiot Tomb iswas Jesus’ eternal resting place? I’m not sure; but when we converge ALL available evidence, things change. At the moment, the James ossusry seems to be the smoking gun, as it always was. You can figure out the implications and consequences.      

  • Geoff Hudson

    I come back to the original quest.  A lot of questions could be answered if the science is true.  I quite like the idea.  The scientists claim, and have written an article which, as I understand it, that each tomb has its unique signature of elements.  And the patina on each ossuary has a unique element signature which matches that of its original storage.  If this is true, why haven’t Rosenfeld etc. produced a PDF version of their work that everyone can see and print?  I can see no reason for keeping this information close to their chests.       

  • Geoff Hudson

    Kilty and Elliott have declined commenting on the science that is supposedly behind their article here http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/kilell358029.shtml  They say,   “We do not have the expertise to comment on the accuracy of this assertion.”  If they do not have the expertise, they shouldn’t comment at all by building a theory on the back of another that they haven’t checked.  This makes me very suspicious that in fact the science is false.     

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff, a fact only a few have noticed: on the “yes” side, scholars speak (here in this blog), and readers can question their stands. On the “no” side – no scholars speak. Don’t you think this fact is interesting (not to say: probably indicative).

    • Geoff Hudson

      Indicative of what?  Is it to do with money?  After all, if the judge finds Oded Glolan guilty then wouldn’t the private market in artifacts begin to collapse?  I’ll bet the judge is really sweating at this moment. Its all very well telling me that the IAA have political motives, but you haven’t explained what you mean by that.  There is such a thing as integrity in this matter.    

    • Geoff Hudson

      There does seem to be a almost a conspiracy of silence that has descended upon the Talpiot tomb and the James ossuary.  Nobody seems to want to comment.  But the silence has been broken by the article by Kilty and Elliot which depends on the article by Rosenfeld, Pellegrino, Feldman and Krumbein.  Kilty and Elliot merely mention this article in passing.   

      “In a recent article by A. Rosenfeld, C.Pellegrino, H. R. Feldman, and W.E. Krumbein titled “The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries,” the authors maintain that “The patina of the unprovenanced James Ossuary exhibits geochemical fingerprints consistent with the patinas of the Talpiot ossuaries. This strengthens the contention that James Ossuary belong to the assemblage of the Talpiot ossuaries.”

      In the talk given by Gabriel Barkay on inscriptions http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/forgery-conference.asp you can hear him say right at the beginning, “it is impossible that the petty employee of the Antiquities Authority that doesn’t understand a thing will have his view expressed on matters of inscriptions without him being an expert.”  A little later Krumbein can be heard saying, “I totally agree with you.”

      Where are these people coming from?  Why have a reference to “a petty employee of the Antiquities Authority (The IAA)?  Barkay and Krumbein show where they stand right at the beginning.  They are for Oded Golan.  Listen to the whole condescending and arrogant talk.

           

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff – I agree with Barkay and Krumbein. Do you know who this specific IAA petty employee is? To your former comment: money? Political agenda? All might be true. Still – who else should or would make money “on the back” of James ossuary, other than Golan?
    You say: “almost a conspiracy of silence that has descended upon the Talpiot tomb and the James ossuary. Nobody seems to want to comment”. When we discuss the last 30 years (almost) – you are right. Then we must ask: whose silent conspiracy was it? The only candidates are the people who controlled the info. Simcha broke it by airing his docu in 2007. In fact – this is his great “sin”; this is why they hate him.
    Elliot and Kilty relate to the lab article, which is openly presented in Bible & Interpretation.
    The private market in artifacts is already not as vital as it was, say, a few decades ago. If the judge will find Golan guilty, then it is only a fake, not a theft. Golan will lose his credibility. Most of us couldn’t care less, to be honest. I repeat: they didn’t accuse him of stealing the ossuary. Why? After all, there was a missing ossuary, right? Just think: how could Golan get himself out of stealing accusation? By declaring the source of the subject. I believe that this is the reason that he was not accused of theft.
    When I say “interesting”, I mean: ever since the docu was aired, the opposition never stopped refuting the docu and its concept, when and where ever they could, including long distance trips. The only time they agreed to face their rivals on mutual-actual base was the Jerusalem symposium (2008). This is why it’s “interesting”, if not “odd”, that they don’t speak or comment now.
             

    • Geoff Hudson

      There must be crowd psychology to all of this – one or two sages proclaim their views with a warm-up act, inject a little humour by demeaning a person from the IAA, and the rest are brainwashed to follow suit.  They are not truly independent witnesses at all.  Thus did Barkay by sounding the praises of archaeologists who condescend to accept the gifts of other disciplines, and Krumbein totally agreed with him.  This is not the right way of doing any science.  It is arrogant to say the least.    

      The science of stone patina is revealed as very imprecise.  Krumbein, a “world renowned expert” in patina according to Oded Golan, being able to predict which tomb an ossuary came from by its patina is obvious rubbish.  So much so that we are made aware of his work through the back door by the article of Kilty and Elliot.  Yuval Goren’s honesty and indecision about patina is another indication of the difficulties.  And who seems to know more about patinas than anyone?  Why, its a non-expert Oded Golan.  His defence is largely based upon it.  He has exploited a weakness in the science of patinas. He had the tools and and materials to fake the inscription and the patina.  He roughed the inscription up with brush marks that were then overlayed with more fake material to make even those look ancient.  Finally he had the gall to criticise the IAA for their cleaning processes.  He can fake an inscription and the patina that fools experts, who then testify in a court that the inscription is authentic. 

      The words of Barkay himself backfire on him. He said that archaeologists decide what is authentic and what is not.
      Prof. Amos Kloner, an archaeologist, who led the IAA’s excavation of the Talpiot tomb, and who was not a witness at the trial, wrote:”Clearly, the words were inscribed at a time other than the ossuary’s original manufacture with its linear decoration along the sides and rosettes on side 1. Inside the relatively deep letters the patina is not the same as on the ossuary’s four sides, lid and decorative lines. It can be surmised that the writer tried to impart to the letters a look of authenticity, similar to the markings on the other sides of the box by filling in or spreading a liquid or other material of a brown or reddish color.The inscription looks new. Its carving is clearly deep and lacks patina when compared to the sides, as described above. The writer tried to impart an ancient form to the letters by using contemporary examples. It is easy to see how the writer wanted to attract the attention of modern day viewers by using forms that are as similar as possible to current script. Their placement and design are ‘monumental’ and stand out. The vast majority of such ossuary inscriptions were carelessly written and schematic. Here, the writer was aware of his deed and purpose and wanted this inscription to make an impression at first glance and be relatively easy to read.”        

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff, let’s test your witness. In general – Kloner does have a clear interest in the James ossuary; he is not, and he can’t be, an objective witness. If Golan is guilty – then the James ossuary is not from the Talpiot Tomb (TT), and the TT is not Jesus’ tomb. BUT: if Golan is not guilty, then . . .You understand.
    Kloner supervised the excavation indeed; as an expert of the Second Temple Era Jerusalem, he saw the cluster of names and no bell, even the tiniest one, rang in the back of his head. Can you believe it? Now: how do we know it? By the scientific article he published in 1996; 16 long years after the discovery, and only after the late Gen (ret.) Drori (then the IAA head) ORDERED him to write and publish. Does it smell like a silence conspiracy? I’m sorry – I use your own words.
    While we discuss chronologies we can discuss numbers: the discovery – 1980; Rahmani’s catalogue: 1994, 9 TT ossuaries; Kloner’s article: 1996, 10 ossuaries. None is missing, right? But one was miraculously “born”. Well, after all, this is Jesus’ Jerusalem. . .
    May we expect a pro to follow his profession protocols accurately? We may. Thus: where are the “in situ” photos? Where is the bones report? Kloner claimes there were none, under the “agreement with the ultra orthodox Jews”. Gibson contends that there were none because of the pressure these Jews put on the excavators. One way or another, we lack crucial facts. That is: Kloner’s scientific article is not accurate, and can’t be relied on since it lacks many important facts. One so called “fact” it doesn’t lack is Kloner’s contention that all the names were common in the relevant time. Besides the fact that most of the names were not as common as claimed, we may think: why would anyone answer a question no one raised?
    In the 1996 article, Kloner estimated the number of interments: around 35, based on the average. Gibson contends that the Mariamene ossuary contained the remains of two females – again, based on average. The excavation took about 14 days; the excavators extracted the bones out of the ossuaries. Couldn’t they count the interments in the ossuaries (at least) accurately, by the number of skulls in them? For God’s sake – they had them in their own hands and extracted the bones! Why “estimate” them? Why not simply count them?  
    I believe that when a scientific piece lacks so many details and obligatory professional standards, it would better not be published. Or at least it should be limited and explane its limited scope. In fact, we are told that this article is not satisfying since the late J. Gath, the archaeologist who actually excavated the TT, left us a slopy report when he died. Leaving moral questions aside at this point, we may ask: suppose it’s true; then why didn’t the others do a better job? Gibson was there. The excavation took 14 days, and Kloner was the supervisor; so – how this alleged “slopyness” 
    escaped his attention? He was and is responsible.
    Geoff - there are signs of silence conspiracy. The first is the 16 years between the discovery and the first scientific publication.
    Distinguished professionals tried to dismiss the legitimacy of their rivals when they couldn’t refute them openly. Claiming “an agreement with the ultra orthodox Jews” without showing any document to that effect is another sign.
    Do you remember when I wrote “the left part of the James inscription”? Still, the experts of the “no” side do not separate this side from the right side. Ask them why.
    Kloner says: “The vast majority of such ossuary inscriptions were carelessly written and schematic”. Is it? Just take a look at the Mariamene and Yehuda bar Yeshua inscriptions. The Mariah, Yoseh and Matiah are very clear as well, although they are not ornamented. Are these so “carelessly” done?
    Golan has his own interests in the James ossuary. But Golan is not alone.
     

    • Geoff Hudson

      Eldad, do you know if Amos Kloner appeared as a witness at Oded Golan’s trial?  I would find it amazing if he hadn’t.  I would ask the same question about Shimon Gibson and Joe Zias.  These all held key positions at the time of the excavations.   

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff – or may I call you Holmes or rather – Watson? To the best of my knowledge, Zias appeared as a witness in Golan’s trial. Amazingly, and in spite of the fact that he lives here more than 30 years, he asked the court permission to be interogated in English. I believe Kloner and Gibson did not appear as witnesses in this trial. So – are you amazed? If you are – why? Again: the trial is on alleged forgery, right? It appears that the accusers had nothing in mind, but forgery alone. In this case – why would Kloner and Gibson testify?
    Are you really curious, Geoff? Then get the Near Eastern Archaeology 69, 3-4, and read the articles carefully. Focus your attention on Gibson’s piece, esp. P. 118-120. There are some amazing facts; so amazing that it’s almost incredible.   

    • Geoff Hudson

      I think that this judge has buried his head in the sand.  He does not want to hear the testimony of the two people still alive who were involved in the ACTUAL EXCAVATION, Amos Kloner and Shimon Gibson.  They are archaeologists, exactly the kind of people who should decide, according to Barkay.  These are the people who make the first hand decisions, based on what they observe with their own eyes. Yet they were, so it seems, ignored. When you start a trial of this nature, you start at the beginning. If the judge did not subpoena these two, he should be sacked for dereliction of duty.     

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff, I think you already know this, but anyway, try
    http://jamesossuarytrial.blogspot.com/.
    I cite here one short paragraph: “Summing up last March, lead prosecutor Dan Bahat made a startling admission. “If the ossuary had been the only thing on trial, we probably would not have carried on with the process,” he said.”

    A lead prosecutor states clearly: there is more than merely an ossuary.Well, what else was there on this trial, except for an ossuary? I wouldn’t ubnderestimate Prof. Bahat’s hint. There is more – a lot more. Go figure.   

  • Eldad Keynan

    Geoff, I was wrong; it’s not the archaeologist Prof. Dan Bahat, but the lwayer Dan Bahat. Now what I quoted in my former comment gets an entire new dimension.
    The judge didn’t have to call them to testify – picking up witneses is the job of the prosecutor, not the judge. I wonder why nobody called them to testify. Read lawyer Bahat’s statement above; it might explain. 

    • Geoff Hudson

      Thanks for that Eldad.  So it is the prosecuting lawyer Dan Bahat who should be sacked for dereliction of duty.  But the judge, Aharon Farkash, is to blame too.  Because he, has a degree in archaeology, and should have known better to have let Amos Kloner and Shimon Gibson slip through the net.  He surely could have advised the court accordingly. According to Matthew Kalman, Dan Bahat wasn’t “even in court to hear the Judge wrap up the trial”.  Now what kind of prosecutor does that?  Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have paid him in buttons. 

      • Geoff Hudson

        It seems as though the prosecutor, Dan Bahat, had given-up three years after the trial had started.  According to Matthew Kalman http://jamesossuarytrial.blogspot.com/, in October 2008, just three years into the proceedings, judge Farkash asked whether the trial should continue after the prosecution had presented its evidence and the defence had presented theirs. The judge asked the prosecutor,”Have you really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that these artifacts are fakes as charged in the indictment?”  Summing up last March 2010, lead prosecutor Dan Bahat said, according to Matthew Kalman: “If the ossuary had been the only thing on trial, we probably would not have carried on with the process”.

        Dan Bahat and his defence team, just did not have the stomach, or the equipment, for a fight.  They have been bamboozled by Oded Golan and his experts such as Krumbein. It seems that the two teams have been arguing over the imprecise science of stone patinas, and ignoring the archaeologists, Amos Kloner and Shimon Gibson who did the tomb excavations.  If these two were excluded from the court, it was an enormous error. 

        And proving beyond a reasonable doubt is not the same as having no doubt.  The judge has to decide what is most probable.     

          

  • Geoff Carter

    My earlier comment about ‘restoring my faith in archaeology’ was a tad facetious; but as an archaeologist this is a very interesting debate.
    In response to Geoff Hudson; I have to agree that there is plenty of bad archaeology & poor reports, interpreting archaeology is harder than it first appears. Although it may seem perverse, I am not altogether in favor of people of faith excavating and interpreting archaeology pertinent to their beliefs; I’m with Israel Finkelstein on this one, in thinking that it can lead to problems.
    On a more general note, echoing KevinC’s point about the Tomb itself, it strikes me that the tomb is appropriate for a ‘Tekton’ in the sense of builder/ mason, and I am not sure on what basis it assumed that Jesus was from a ‘poor’ background.
     A question I have always wanted to ask [James Tabor], is to what extent is the form of tomb entrance typical of the period, as it has a ‘masonic’ look to the form of decoration; builders/architects/tektons are an interesting and specialized group in most societies – a bit like smiths, but much older and more fundamental, [and my particular area of study in an entirely  different context].

    • Geoff Hudson

      You may think that the tomb is appropriate for a mason, but would a mason have been able to afford such a tomb?  It has to be the tomb of an aristocrat, more then likely a high priest.   Burial in the ground (a trench grave), versus a tomb grave or a shaft grave, probably represented a difference in theological belief about what happened to the spirit upon death.  The tombs where the waiting places for the spirit, according to the priests.  Trench graves were for the poorer sort, who believed, like the prophets, that their spirit rose up immediately on death, for judgement.  

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