Bock

Interview with Prof. Tal Ilan March 13

Well, surpises continue to happen here in Israel. Before my second lecture, this morning, Prof. Tal Ilan of Frei Universitat in Berlin came to hear me speak. She is the expert on Hebrew names during the period of Jesus. For example, Richard Bauckham’s statistics came from her work, a key work published in Germany on Jewish names covering several centuires inlcuding the time of Jesus. So we sat down and did a ten minute interview after I spoke (as I did not have my tape recorder with me, lesson now learned).

Well, surpises continue to happen here in Israel. Before my second lecture, this morning, Prof. Tal Ilan of Frei Universitat in Berlin came to hear me speak. She is the expert on Hebrew names during the period of Jesus. For example, Richard Bauckham’s statistics came from her work, a key work published in Germany on Jewish names covering several centuires inlcuding the time of Jesus. So we sat down and did a ten minute interview after I spoke (as I did not have my tape recorder with me, lesson now learned).

She was interviewed for the documentary special on the tomb and was comfortable expressing her opinions about her experience. I have her permission to share her thoughts.

She said she "felt like a hostile witness in a case protecting a murderer" and that she was "insulted by the way she was handled." They would ask her a question, then try to put words in her mouth. When that did not work, they rephrased the question into a hypothetical that could not be absolutely denied. She had a "bad feeling the entire interview."

On the details, she would expect a family tomb to be in Nazareth. On the name Mariamne, she reads it as Mariam he kai Mara. She sees Mara as two names for one person, not a reference to two people (Mary and Martha). There are other examples of two names being presetned for one person, as she noted a two name example from a find at Akeldama in Jerusalem. The names she takes to be too common to have anything made of them. She notes that had the names been rare and contained a clear distinctive identifier, then that might have been something. She said she once found a name on an ossuary that was Ariston (a rare name) with a home town tied to it that matched a figure in the Mishnah. Even though she wonders if it might be the same person, even in this case where the name and locale combination is more unusual, she is not at all sure they are the same person.

She cannot imagine that an ossuary of the real Jesus woudl have scribbled his name (a point I also made early on).

She notes that the handling of the New Testament as a historical document is a problem (She is not a Christian, but a secualr Jew). Either it is useful or has ot be completely ignored. She thinks Christians should be insulted by this program because it is an attack on their core beliefs (no physical resurrection for Jesus) and a disregard for the texts of the Christian faith.

Needless to say, she does not think the show has any historical merit and that no real effort was made to get at the real circumstances about the tomb.

I feel fortunate to be able to have interviewed her and appreciate her taking the time to give us her responses.

 

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