Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Scribe 1: "Mariame"; Scribe 2 added: "and Mara" (Stephen Pfann's reading of the Talpiot ossuary)

Stephen Pfann's reading of the "Mary ossuary" to be "Mariame and Mara" is the first interpretation of the inscription that makes sense to me. Mariame is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Miriam (Greek: Mariam). First, the bones of a woman named Mariame were interred in the ossuary and later, the bones of another woman named Mara (a short form of the name Martha) were added.

The first archaeologists read the inscription "Mariamenou Mara" i.e. "Of Mariamene, also known as Mara." But, as can be seen by Pfann's illustrated reading of the inscription, the Greek genitive ending isn't clear. Instead, Pfann proposes to read the Greek "kai" (and) in a cursive script instead of -nou, i.e. the masculine genitive from the diminutive form Mariamenon. To my untrained eye this seems a better reading of the script. Whether the first name has anything to do with a form of Mary Magdalen(e)'s name is an open question.

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