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Response to Tabor’s Hypotheticals – March 28

Here is my response to Tabor’s list of five points on hypothetical fits. Numbered entries are his. My responses follow one point at a time.

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Tabor 1. The father Joseph would not be buried in this tomb as he would have died earlier and been buried perhaps in Galilee, so the Yose is likely not the father of the Yeshua bar Yehosef.

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My comment on this one: This is a reasonable inference.

Here is my response to Tabor’s list of five points on hypothetical fits. Numbered entries are his. My responses follow one point at a time.

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Tabor 1. The father Joseph would not be buried in this tomb as he would have died earlier and been buried perhaps in Galilee, so the Yose is likely not the father of the Yeshua bar Yehosef.

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My comment on this one: This is a reasonable inference.

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Tabor 2. Of the four brothers of Jesus of Nazareth, namely Yaaqov, Yoses, Shimon, and Jude, James dies in 62 CE, but Shimon and Jude seem to live past 70 CE. It is Yoses who might be called the “missing brother,” of the Jesus family. Shimon takes over after the death of James, even though Yoses was “second” in birth after James, indicating he has probably died and could not serve as leader of the community. We have N.T. letters from James and Jude, but no record of Yoses. The Aramaic form of the nickname Yose is also rare, only here on an ossuary, and a few more examples in literary sources, but it is not common until later Mishnaic times. This form matches the nickname Mark knows for Jesus’ brother in Greek, “Yoses,” and many manuscripts of Mark even have the form “Yose” without the Greek suffix “s.”

In considering all possibilities one could postulate that the “Jesus son of Joseph” in this tomb could perhaps be the son of Jesus’ brother Jose, who might have named his child in honor of his dead brother. I think this is highly unlikely. Since there is also a “Jude son of Jesus” in that tomb as well, it would probably indicate a tighter time span making the likelihood of a three generational father, son, and grandson very unlikely. The simplist interpretation would be that the “Jesus son of Joseph” is the father of the “Jude son of Jesus,” and the brother of Yose.

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My comment on No. 2: There is no evidence for any details about the life of Shimon or Yoses that I am currently aware of.

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Tabor 3. We have two “Marys” one known as Maria and the other as Mariamene. Based on DNA tests we know that the Mariamene in this tomb is not related to Yeshua as mother or sister on the maternal side. That leaves open the likelihood that Maria could well be the mother, especially if we have two of her sons, Yeshua and Yose, in this tomb. It would make sense that she would be buried with her children in this intimate, small, family tomb and that her ossuary would be inscribed Maria. We think Jesus had a sister named Mary as well but we don’t know her name from the N. T. records and we don’t know anything about her death. It is much more likely, in a tomb with these two sons, we would have their mother Maria.

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My comment on no. 3: How do we even know this Mary is the mother of anyone else in the tomb? All the DNA proves is that a Jesus and a Mary were not related on the maternal side. That means she could match up with any other male in the tomb. One forensic expert interviewed on CNN shortly after the special said that this forensic find proved next to nothing.

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Tabor 4. There were three women in Jesus’ life who attended to his burial, his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and his sister Salome (Mark 16:1). Family intimates carried out this important rite of washing and anointing the corpse for burial. If Mariamene is not Jesus’ mother or sister, as the DNA indicates, it seems a logical possibility then that she could be Mary Magdalene, his follower and close companion based on her inclusion as a named intimate in our earliest record. We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene in our N. T. sources, but she does seem to be a woman of means and she is associated with several other women of standing (Luke 8: 1-3). The Mariamene ossuary is decorated and the inscription is in Greek., which surely fits this data, and Migdal, according to the record of Josephus, was a large, thriving, and culturally diverse “Romanized” city with theatre, hippodrome, and a large aqueduct system. Mariamene is a diminutive form of the name Mariamne, derived from Mariamme, a name that is associated with Mary Magdalene in early Christian tradition (Hippolytus, Acts of Philip, Origen, Greek fragments of Gospel of Mary). That she is also known by the name “Mara,” which like “Martha,” means “lordess” or “honorable lady,” is all the more appropriate. Recent scholarship (Schaberg, King, Marjanen, Bovon, Brock) on Mary Magdalene has gone a long way toward rehabilitating her important place in earliest history of the Jesus movement. In a diverse collection of early Christian sources dating from the late 1st century through the 4th, she is a prominent leader and voice among the apostles and an intimate companion of Jesus, holding her place over against better known male disciples.

We have no way of knowing whether Mariamene is the mother of the “Judas son of Jesus,” whose ossuary is also in this tomb. If Jesus did have a son it seems she is surely a likely candidate, and the ossuary of Judas in this tomb, like that of Mariamene, is also decorated, unlike those of Yeshua, Yose, and Maria. I do not agree that the presence of a “Judah son of Jesus” in this tomb is an argument against it being that of Jesus of Nazareth. I think if we look to our ancient sources more carefully, if such a son did indeed exist, we might find things that we have overlooked.

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My comment on 4: We have nothing that links Mariamne to Mary Magdalene. François Bovon of Harvard denies the link. He is the one the special used to try to make the link. Numerous people also question a Greek Mary Magdalene idea. I am not aware of the text in Josephus Tabor mentions about Migdal. Many scholars see the Sea of Galilee region (with the exception of Tiberius and Sepphoris) as not very Hellenized (Chancey). Luke 23:49 speaks of women from Galilee saw what happened to Jesus on the cross. There is no effort in any of these NT texts to identify Mary as related to Jesus, where that kind of identification was often used to make clear a relationship where one existed. Neither is there an appeal to her in the role of wife in any of these texts, even the extra-biblical ones. The closest one can get to this is a text in the Gospel of Philip 63:33-36. But the Coptic term suggested for their supposed marriage is better taken to refer merely to a spiritual companion (This I discuss in my Breaking the DaVinci Code). There are a lot of "ifs" in the second paragraph of this point.
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Tabor 5. Whether Matya is somehow related to the family through marriage or blood we cannot say. Like the names of Jesus’s brothers it is a common “Maccabean” name that is known in both the genealogies of Jesus found in our gospels (Matt 1, Luke 3). The Matthew or Levi, part of Jesus’ Twelve, is in fact identified with the “Alphaeus” family clan (Mark 2:14), and I have argued elsewhere that Alphaeaus=Clophas, the brother of Joseph, legal father of Jesus. I think the best we can say is that it is a name “in the family” but how to identify him further, whether a son-in-law, a cousin, or otherwise, is impossible.

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My comment on pt. 5: There is nothing here. The presence of Matthew in this tomb is a problem for the family tomb theory. There is no evidecne anywhere Jesus had a relative with this name. The appeal to names in the geneologies of Jesus opens up many candidates as there are around 77 names in Luke’s listing alone. When Jesus’ relatives are named in the NT documents or other extra-biblical documents, Matthew does not appear.

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Tabor Summary 1: I find this hypothetical “fit” between the intimate pre-70 CE family of Jesus and Nazareth and the names found in this tomb quite impressive and it argues strongly against the out of hand dismissal of the tomb as possibly associated with Jesus. Coupled with the statistical data on the cluster of names, I think we can say the Talpiot tomb is possibly-to-likely that of Jesus of Nazareth. But can we prove it?

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My comment on Tabor’s "possibly to likely" judgment: I think my response has shown this option has not been "dismissed out of hand" but assessed. That assessment finds much of the "fit" quite unlikely. Tabor’s read is a very optimistic one with several conceivabilities elevated to possibilities.

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Tabor Point of James Ossuary: One thing that would settle the question finally for me would be in inclusion of the ossuary inscribed, “James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” in this tomb. My reading of the evidence is that the inscription on this controversial ossuary, that surfaced in 2002, is authentic. So if we indeed had Jesus and his two brothers, James and Jose, both of whom died before 70 CE, in a tomb with these two Marys and a son of Jesus, the identification in my mind would be close to certain. The question is, when did the owner of the James ossuary, Oded Golan, acquire it, and can we trace it back to any specific tomb from around the period 1980? Beyond certain circumstantial evidence that might support the argument that the James ossuary came from the Talpiot tomb, namely its possible correspondence with the 10th missing ossuary, the recent preliminary patina tests point strongly in this direction. Tests of over a dozen randomly sampled ossuaries from various tombs in the Jerusalem area showed greatly differing chemical signatures while the patina of the James ossuary closely correlated with those ossuaries from the Talpiot tomb, with dramatic differences from any in the control group.

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My comment on James Ossuary claim: There is not a shread of credible evidence that this James ossuary (even if it were shown to be authentic, which is debated) came from this tomb. As the ossuary no. 10 from this site was plain and lacked a name (as Kloner’s report states and Rhamani’s implies). The dimensions do not match. Kloner has spoken to that difference. This one seems to be a non-starter.

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Tabor final remark: There is more to learn and more that will come out soon on this whole subject but right now this is a summary of the evidence as I see it.

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My comment: There is precious little in what has been shown so far from the evidence that points to a tie between this tomb and the family of Jesus.

 

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    Michael Kremer

    “Shimon takes over after the death of James”
    I found this at http://www.biblehelpsonline.com/smith/smith-s.htm, from “Smith’s Bible Dictionary Online”

    Simon …
    + Simon the brother of Jesus. The only undoubted notice of this Simon occurs in (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) He has been identified by some writers with Simon the Canaanite, and still more generally with Symeon who became bishop of Jerusalem after the death of James, A.D. 62. The former of these opinions rests on no evidence whatever, nor is the later without its difficulties.

    Tabor appears to be going with the second theory which is here said to be not “without its difficulties.”

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