At this point it seems the makers of the documentary, The Jesus Tomb, will be better off to stick those ossuaries back in the tomb and go back to making sci-fi movies.
A quick update on my DNA assessment from yesterday. In the footnotes of his report, “A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiyot, Jerusalem”, ‘Atiquot (Jerusalem), vol. 29 (1996), Professor Amos Kloner states, in footnote 2 on pg 22 of the report:
“The number of internments may be estimated at 35: 17 in the ossuaries (based on an average of 1.7 individuals per ossuary), and 18 outside the ossuaries.”
That pretty much destroys any chance of credibility that the DNA evidence may have retained. What the footnote means is that there were 35 people buried in that tomb, including the remains of 17 people in the 10 ossuaries. It was common for more than one persons remains to be included in one ossuary. Richard Bauckham, professor of NT studies at the University of St. Andrews, writes:
“A final point about the Mariamenou inscription. The inscription also has a second name Mara. When Rahmani published this inscription in his catalogue of ossuaries he conjectured that the Greek particle ‘e’ (meaning ‘or’) should be supplied between the two names, making them alternative names for the same woman. The ‘e’ is not actually in the inscription, nor is there space for it between the two names. It is better to suppose that the bones of two women (or perhaps a woman and her child, the diminutive Mariamenon being used for the latter) were placed in the same ossuary (this would not be not unusual).”
More than one set of remians in an ossuary would make it impossible to know whose remains are being tested.
The above quote comes from a post by Prof. Ben Witherington, that deals with the historical flaws of the book: Problems multiply for tomb theory.
He summarizes the problems as follows:
1. “There is a major problem with the analysis of the names on these ossuaries. By this I mean one has to explain why one is in Hebrew, several are in Aramaic, but the supposed Mary Magdalene ossuary is in Greek.
2. The argument that the ‘Matthew’ ossuary still works with the theory this is a clan tomb because Mary had ancestors named Matthew does not work.
3. Mary Magdalene is called ‘Maria’ constantly in first century Christian literature, and indeed well into the second century as well. She is never called Mariamene or the like.
4. Jesus is never called ‘son of Joseph’ by anyone who knew him intimately in the NT— not by his family members, and not by his disciples. (Note: Not entirely true, John 1:45…JS)
5. The second word on the Mariamene ossuary is Mara which is short for Martha another female name. It is not a reference to her being a master or teacher.
6. There is an interesting rosette or symbol over the Talpiot tomb, and from the pictures in the book inside the tomb as well. This is very interesting and it tells us one thing. This was a highly unusual and ornamental tomb meant to be recognized by the symbol. It is not, and indeed was not a secret tomb where a despised split off sect of Jesus following Jews could have hidden the bodies of Jesus or James or other family members.
7. No explanation is given as to why we have a monumental or honorific inscription on the James ossuary, but not on these other ones.
8. Much is made of the fact that the chemical analysis of the patina on the James ossuary and some of the ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb match up. This is not actually surprising at all since you can find terra rosa in various locales in and around Jerusalem.”
Please click through to Prof. Witherington’s blog for the complete post. (Problems multiply for tomb theory.)
The “evidence” presented to the world is looking weaker by the day, as the experts are getting hold of the book. It is notable that the producers chose to publish their theories as public releases in the form of a movie and book, instead of publishing it in any of the notable archeology journals first. May it be that it would not have withstood expert review, and would therefore never have seen the light of day?
So far we have looked at the DNA evidence and at the historical evidence. I will also link to the historical analysis from Dr. James White as soon as it is available. (I think it will be equally or more devastating, based on some snippets of conversations I have seen).
The one piece of evidence remaining to be discussed is the statistical analysis, something the moviemakers rely heavily on. If you saw the Larry King interview, then you would have noticed the circular argumentation used to arrive at the 599/600 (i.e. 99.99%) probability that this the actual family tomb of Jesus. As usual, people with a lot more expertise are working on the statistical analysis, and I will post on that as soon as it is available.