James Tabor sent me an email this week to note a new study on the statistics for the Jesus Tomb. The study is “Probability, Statistics, and the Talpiot Tomb,” authored by Profs. Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliot.
James Tabor sent me an email this week to note a new study on the statistics for the Jesus Tomb. The study is “Probability, Statistics, and the Talpiot Tomb,” authored by Profs. Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliot. I gave it a quick read this morning and see two major issues already. The first is not so significant, other than to make an effort to discredit Amos Kloner. They critique a quote where he makes an observation that Jesus, Mary and Joseph did not live in Jerusalem and so would not have a family tomb there. They twist this citation by appeal to all of Jesus’ family, not just Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and including the time after Jesus” execution. Kloner’s point was that AT THE TIME OF JESUS’ execution, they did not live in Jerusalem and so would not have had a family tomb there to bury Jesus in if they had been able to procure the body AND move it from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. This move should send a signal that this piece is not quite so neutral.
A second, and by far more important, element in the paper is the decision to separate the name Yose[h] (a variant of Joseph) from the frequency of the name Joseph in the stats. This makes the name rare and inflates the numbers (although I am not a statistician and do not know exactly how much this influences the numbers). The problem here is that this variant is directly related to the fact that two Josephs in the same family would cause the second to be given an alternative name. In other words, two Josephs in a family would yield a nickname in the family to distinguish them, which means we have in effect two Josephs in the list. To not count it as such skews the numbers.
So this new attempt to discuss the matter also has its problems. Hopefully a statistician can let us know how much this throws off the numbers.