Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus' Tomb

By now everyone will have heard of the (re)discovery of Jesus' Tomb and the accompanying documentary film to be shown this Sunday evening. In the 80's a first century burial site in Talpiot in Jerusalem was investigated. Of the 10 sarcophagi in the site, six were found with inscriptions, five of which were Aramaic and one was in Greek: Ossuary 80/500: Mariamene e Mara” – “Mariamne, and Mara (Martha)” Ossuary 80/501: Yehuda bar Yeshua” – “Judah, son of Jesus” Ossuary 80/502: "Matia” – “Matthew” Ossuary 80/503 "Yeshua bar Yosef” – “Jesus, Son of Joseph” Ossuary 80/504: "Yose” or “Yosa” – a nickname for “Joseph” Ossuary 80/505: "Maria” – a Latinized version of the Hebrew “Miriam.”

Today, there was a press conference at 11.00am in New York City and two of the sarcophagi have been on view on the NYPL (I said to a friend and colleague, Who would have imagined that we would be telling each other that Jesus' bone box is on display at the New York Public Library?) The authorities in Jerusalem may open the site to tourists.

There is more than one way to explain the relations of people to each other in the sarcophagi. We are not compelled to understand that Yeshua bar Yosef is married to Mariamne. We do not know what the relations of people to each other is except in the case of patronymics. Maria could be the wife of Matia or Yose or Yehuda equally well. Remember that more than one person was interred in each of the sarcophagi. As for the DNA evidence, we seem only to know that Mariamne and Yeshua do not share the same DNA and thus are not related. This does not compel us to think that they were married.

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