The tomb of Jesus and his family?
Information about the tomb
This image was supplied by the Discovery Channel to the Toronto Star
About the tomb:
According to Amazon.com:
In 1980 [-MAR-28], workers at a Jerusalem construction site accidentally uncovered
a cache of bone boxes from early Christian times. When reports about the
crypt discovery leaked out 16 years later, the London Sunday Times
headlined the story as "The Tomb That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Archeologists were given three days to document the tomb. They found ten
limestone ossuaries and three skulls. Six of the ossuaries have names etched into them:
||Yeshua bar Yosef (Aramaic for "Jesus, son of Joseph")
||Judah son of Jesus.
||Maria (Latin version of the Hebrew "Miriam;" Mary in English)
||Mariamne e Mara (Greek for "Mary known as the master"). It would have
been most unusual to call a woman a "master." However, Mary Magdalene was
considered a very important leader in the primitive Christian movement,
according to some non-canonical gospels).
||Yose (Hebrew for Joseph).
||Matia (Hebrew for "Matthew"). 3
all names in Jesus' family. Maria is the Latin form of Mary; Mary, the mother of
Jesus, was referred to as Maria after the crucifixion by Pagans in the Roman
Empire who had became Christians. Mariamne is the Greek form of Mary -- the name
that she would have used during her preaching. Jose was the nick name used for
Jesus' little brother Joseph.
In 1995, a crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation was
researching an Easter TV special in Jerusalem. They found the collection of nine
ossuaries in an Israeli Antiquities Authority store room; one of the
ossuaries had disappeared. The resulting program appeared on a BBC
Heart of the Matter newsmagazine 1996.
Since the BBC documentary:
||Recent DNA tests were conducted for the documentary at Lakehead
University on two ossuaries: one inscribed Jesus son of Joseph, and the
other Mariamne. The tests confirm that the two were not related by blood.
The Discovery web site states:
"Since tombs normally contain either blood relations or spouses,
Jacobovici and his team suggest it is possible Jesus and Mary Magdalene
were a couple. "Judah," whom they indicate may have been their son,
could have been the "lad" described in the Gospel of John as sleeping in
Jesus' lap at the Last Supper." 2
The DNA residue in the remaining ossuaries were not tested
for the documentary.
||Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in
New York, performed forensic testing on the patina. He found that it matched
the patina on the
James ossuary. This indicated that the two bone
boxes may well have came from the same
tomb. Thus, the James ossuary might be the tenth bone box.
||Frank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near
Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, told Discovery
"The inscriptions are from the Herodian Period. The use of limestone
ossuaries and the varied script styles are characteristic of that time."
"Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the
University of Toronto, recently conducted a study addressing the
probabilities that will soon be published in a leading statistical
"Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the
tomb's time period with the instances of every other name. He initially
found "Jesus Son of Joseph" appeared once out of 190 times, Mariamne
appeared once out of 160 times and so on."
"To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by 25
percent, a statistical standard, and further divided the results by
1,000 to attempt to account for all tombs even those that have not
been uncovered that could have existed in first century Jerusalem."
"The study concludes that the odds are at least 600 to 1 in favor of the
Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb. In other words, the conclusion
works 599 times out of 600."
||If it can be proven that the James ossuary
also came from the same tomb, then Feuerverger calculated that there is a
30,000 to one chance that the Talpiot Tomb belong to the family of Jesus and
Mary. That is as certain as one could get for an event in the first century
||The inscriptions and the ossuaries have been determined to be from the
first century CE. 4
A related tomb?
Discovery News also reported that:
"The researchers discovered a second, as-yet unexplored tomb about 65 1/2
feet [20 meters] from the Talpiot Tomb. During the documentary, they
introduced a robotic camera into this second tomb, which captured the
first-ever recorded footage of an undisturbed burial cave from Jesus' time.
The team speculates that this other tomb could contain the remains of
additional family members, or even disciples, though further examination and
analysis are needed. 2
Jennifer Viegas, "Jesus Family Tomb Believed Found," Discovery News, at:
Pope Pius Xii, "Munificentissiumus Deus," Vatican, 1950-NOV-01, at:
Laurie Goodstein, "Crypt Held Bodies of Jesus and Family, Film Says," New
York Times, 2007-FEB-27
"Jesus' tomb: Fact or fiction," Y-Zine, at:
Copyright © 2007 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-FEB-26
Latest update: 2007-FEB-28
Author: B.A. Robinson