“Jonah” Ossuary Discussed in Print in 1981

By Eric M. Meyers and Christopher Rollston, ASOR Blog Guest Editors for March 2012

It has come to the attention of the ASOR Blog that a newspaper article about the so-called “Patio Tomb” in East Talpiyot was published in Hebrew in DAVAR on May 22, 1981 (this tomb has also been called “Talpiyot Tomb B”). The article was entitled, “Haredim Prevent Removal of Ossuaries from Ancient Tomb,” written by the late archaeologist and journalist, Zvi Ilan. Within the article, Ilan notes that religious extremists prevented the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 1981 from excavating the tomb. Although Amos Kloner (the excavator for the IAA) wished to excavate the tomb, he was not permitted do to so, nor was he even permitted to remove artifacts from the tomb (although he managed to remove a small ossuary belonging to a child). In fact, he was forced to abandon his attempt to write a full scientific report. Kloner’s incomplete report is mentioned briefly in Tabor and Jacobovici’s book.

One of the ossuaries in this tomb has been dubbed by Tabor and Jacobovici as “the Jonah Ossuary,” because of Tabor and Jacobovici’s interpretation of the ornamentation on the ossuary as that of “Jonah and the Whale” (This ossuary in Kloner’s incomplete report is labeled #1). Significantly, however, it is clear from the article in DAVAR that the ornamentation on the ossuaries identified in 1981 include the following: (1) Architectural features (perhaps of the Second Temple?) and (2) An amphora (Heb.agartal). These two understandings of the ornamentation are the very interpretations that were proposed on the ASOR blog (in March 2012). Tabor and Jacobovici did not mention in their book that the ossuary had been previously discussed in print and (most importantly) that the design was long ago suggested to be an amphora. Should one assume that they had not seen this article?

click to enlarge


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39 thoughts on ““Jonah” Ossuary Discussed in Print in 1981

  1. did they not know it; or did they choose to ignore it because it didn’t fit their ‘astonishing discovery’ scenario?

  2. Jim West, once again you demonstrate your approach is nether helpful nor collegial.

    Eric and Chris, this is great information and no, we did not even consider checking newspapers from 1981. We relied on personal interviews with Kloner, his published reports (see references in your book), and his paper for the Charlesworth volume, co-authored with Gibson, that is forthcoming, plus interviews with the Heredim. In none of those publications does he say anything about this but only mentions the Greek “names.” He has also said emphatically, in interviews and in print, that he was only in the tomb 15 minutes. I understand that now, in a story published in Eretz, he is modifying his account. We are of course glad for more information and I think our book with its notes everyone will agree represents everything any of us had up until this week. We do relate in our book the fact that Kloner left the country after this, left Gat and Godovitch in charge, and we did interview Shlomo, and that they removed the ossuaries form the kokhim, etc. Kloner has never admitted or reported that. That someone told this reporter the Jonah image was an amphora is certainly interesting-I assume it was Kloner and this came from Kloner unless Eric and Chris have been scanning old Hebrew newspapers in their spare time. We too thought the image might be a nephesh or an amphora at first, as I explain in my paper at bibleinterp.com. We subsequently changed our view as we examined it more closely. More on that soon.

  3. If Kloner was convinced it was an amphora, why did he never mention it? I interviewed him on camera and off camera on at least two occasions and he never mentioned any designs whatsoever. In his own book with Boaz Zissu he never mentions any designs whatsoever. I know that we should all be reading the now defunct DAVAR 1981 back issues in Hebrew, but I slipped up on that one. Also, in a recently submitted affidavit to the Israeli courts, Kloner says that he was only in the tomb for a few minutes. Apparently, in the upcoming Eretz article, he says that he was in there for two and a half hours. So what’s going on? Interestingly, all the symbolic references seem to be to three days; the resurrection – three days; Jonah – three days; and the Temple, Jesus says he will rebuild in three days. We only have partial images of the Temple on the ossuary. We will go back in and try to get a more complete image (unless, of course, Kloner already has a photograph and Chris and Eric can persuade him to release it). Maybe as Chris and Eric are making their way through back issues of DAVAR, they will run across a picture and they can post it on this ASOR site.

    BTW, I am enthralled by the suggestions of cover up on various blogs. Interestingly, no one suggests that Kloner has been covering something up for over 30 years by never mentioning any of this in any of his verbal or written reports. Quite the contrary, it’s Tabor and I who seem to be guilty of cover up by publicizing the finds far and wide. You all should really make up your minds. We can’t be both “sensationalizing” and “covering up” at the same time.

    Finally, as a sometime reader of these blogs, I’m becoming convinced that Tabor and Jacobovici are in touch with the shooters in the Grassy Knoll.

  4. James,

    It’s interesting that you didn’t come across this.

    All the best,


  5. I agree with some of Michael Heiser’s sentiments (http://michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble/2012/04/jonah-ossuary-decorative-markings-discussed-1981-publication/). While I don’t usually sympathize with Dr. Tabor’s views, from what I understand, DAVAR is not a source archeologists regularly check since it is more of a popular publication. I can see why Dr. Tabor didn’t read the article.

  6. We can forgive them for overlooking a single newspaper article. But perhaps more importantly…

    If it’s documented that 30 years before Dr Tabor and Simcha came along, at least one person interpreted the image as a vase, doesn’t that rather undermine Dr Tabor’s view that “the image of the fish spitting out a human stick-like figure” is “self-evident”, or the suggestion that anybody who interprets the image as a vase is only doing so they are desperate for it to be “anything but a fish”?

    And what does it do to Simcha’s assertion that anybody who disagrees with him is suffering from “theological trauma”. Quite how can you be traumatised by a viewpoint that won’t actually exist for another 30 years?!

  7. VINDICATED (In the words of Simcha), we are vindicated, the academic community is vindicated and as we have said on more that one occasion, they are implicated here for ignoring the evidence which was right before their eyes. We were aware of this for quite sometime, and tried in an academic manner to discuss it with several people in the academic community at UNC-C but were rebuffed. So we decided to lay low for a while, let administrators, advisers, UNC-C, media, publishers get burned and them come out with the fact that, the ossuary was described as having an amphora on the facade 31 years ago!! Despite what Tabor says ‘somebody told this reporter’ illustrates their sheer ignorance as this reporter was actually an archaeologist, well known in fact, and he himself physically was in the tomb, saw it as a vase and reported as such. Their claim not to have been aware of this newspaper article is ludicrous, particularly when they have millions of dollars riding on this, agents, sci. advisers, publishers, staff, PR people. Case in point when this occurs, is what happened in 2010 when Simchas co-author (The Jesus Family Tomb) Charles Pellegrino wrote a best selling book Last Train from Hiroshima which got rave reviews in the press only to have it pulled from the shelves shortly thereafter when it was found out that characters were invented, some of the narrative and facts were fictitious, people misquoted, he did not have a PhD etc. The publisher Henry Holt was severely criticized for not doing any fact checking, a serious charge for a publisher. One can certainly ask now, in light of the photoshopping shown by Goodacre, Cargill and others, plus the fact that an archaeologist who entered the tomb and published a short piece in the press 31 years ago, that it was an amphora, was any of their claims fact checked? Has the publisher Simon and Schuster and the TV channel failed to do any serious fact checking? Hard to believe that they were not aware of the fact, as we and a few others were, but it would appear that as the article was not on Google, they hoped and prayed no one would know, well we did. Evidently others did and decided not to buy the film for a variety of reasons, nor did their attempt to pass peer review among scholars bear fruit. As we’ve said on other occasions this ‘press conference archaeology is actually more in the realm of ‘archaeology for losers’ which the latest book sales have proven. Is there more evidence waiting there in the wings, time will tell…next time, particularly UNC-C listen to us, we needn’t be vindicated once again and remember your obligation to students.

  8. One thing I forgot to mention is Simchas reference to the no. 3 which is a a coded reference and a sign to Tabors followers at United Israel World Union.
    I will pass something on to James West, and readers will have the opportunity to see for themselves what guides much of this. In fact their website has the no. 33 embedded in it and for those interested, their annual meeting will be held soon in Charlotte and those attending will have the opportunity to see the directors cut of the film.

  9. I’ve just had a chance to look at the actual DAVAR article. It seems that the Hebrew handwriting belongs to Kloner. Meaning, he’s had it in a file all these years. Is this correct Eric and Chris? Which makes one wonder what else he has in the file. Does he have the pictures missing from the IAA report? Can you coax these out of him?

    As for what the article says; it refers to “architectural façades (belonging to the Temple?), a vase and two names written in Greek.” So it seems that the “vase” reference is not to the Jonah image at all! The article speaks about Temple “façades” or “features” in the plural i.e., the fish is subsumed under “Temple façades,” since it is carved next to a Temple-like structure on the front of the “Jonah ossuary.” The “vase” is a separate item altogether and it’s referred to in the singular, probably what we have identified as the tail of a fish at the backend of the ossuary. The doorway with a cross on it is not referred to at all. The 4 line Greek inscription is not referred to at all. Instead, the article references two “names” in Greek. One we have seen to be “Mara” and the other – which we could not see this time around – can be vaguely seen in the 1981 photographs in the IAA files. It seems to be either “Yonah” or “Yulia,” or something like that. Does it say “Yonah/Jonah?” Can you ask Kloner? Are one of the “names” a reference to “Jonah?”

    So, in conclusion, I think this article from DAVAR raises more questions than it answers. For example: why did Kloner share this with a newspaper but never included it in a scholarly article or an IAA report? Also, how is it that he saw the two “names” but missed the 4 line inscription? Why did he miss the cross altogether? And why are “architectural façades” or “features” referred to in the plural if, indeed, it is only referencing the one design? So it does not seem, as Rollston and Meyers suggest, that the “design was long ago suggested to be an amphora.” What they got from Kloner is a clipping that reports inaccurately about everything in the cave. The question is, why?

  10. Chris, you have to be kidding here. Come across it?? My article and our book document EVERYTHING published about Tomb B in print as well as Kloner’s (with Gibson) definitive and comprehensive article in the Charlesworth volume, forthcoming. I challenge anyone to find a source, other than ours, that puts together ALL the information from this tomb in one place, including matching up the ossuaries from the 1981 map with present locations, offering descriptions and analysis, etc. If Kloner held anything back then he can perhaps tell us why, but contrary to Joe’s ludicrous claim to have some inside information here, it was not because of what we “found” in order to somehow “show us up” since these things were written and published long before we even began our investigation.

    What is really almost comical here is that anyone would consider this some kind of major revelation. First of all, IF (and Simcha points out the problems with the Hebrew article) Kloner was talking about the Jonah/fish image and he thought it was an amphora-that does not make it an amphora. It only tells us his opinion after what he claims was 15 minutes inside the tomb in the dark. Also, it was pretty clear in following the tidal flow of opinions about this image that the amphora option, much like the nephesh, had been basically abandoned for the Cargill sanctioned Crater “vase,” albeit, 3rd century BCE and from Greece, since the image looks nothing like any amphora on any ossuary. So why would it matter if someone, presumably Kloner, incorrectly thought it was an amphora? Are Chris and Eric now saying that is their view? Are they willing to defend it with parallels from the other ossuaries with amphora? If so that should make a very interesting discussion. Besides, the amphora possibility was cited in my article, with illustrations, and is in our press kit. So what’s the big deal? It is not as though some bolt from heaven has now stuck. It has always been in play as a possibility.

    It is clear that those who don’t agree with the Jonah interpretation are far from any consensus, whether nephesh, perfume bottle, amphora, or crater vase-and these are in no way the same, no more than a lamb and a dog and a pig are the same-other than being vessels/animals. So which is it? The two art historians who have spoken on the ASOR blog have said they thought it was clearly a Nephesh. So far they have not said otherwise and one would think they might be more qualified than many of the others who have suggested other possibilities.

    This whole thing is a bit dismaying, as Simcha has pointed out in his own endearing style…those of us who have labored long and hard to get the best information, put it all together for everyone, plus the new evidence from the robotic cameras, are supposed to somehow be “blamed” here because Kloner did not publish his “amphora” opinion in any of his three official publications?

  11. Why is it assumed that this ossuary is actually ‘Christian’ when the concept of being raised up is well known in the Old Testament long before the Christian era began?: Job 14:12-15;19:25-27; Psalms 16:9,10;17:15;49:15.

    Is it really an early example of Christian iconography or is it just a reflection of Jewish hope for life after death?

  12. Kloner, if he was the source, owes nothing to any of you. The tomb was not excavated in a proper manner, thus no need to publish a sci. report, nor divulge anything to any of you. If you like I can provide an additional article, clean of any writing, not photoshopped, however in a situation like this to whom is one to believe ? Informed sources state there is additional information one would assume which will put an end to the ‘goldfish’. One must remember they had unlimited resources to run this, but when it came to having funds for serious research, they ignored it or knew about it and ignored it. Others were aware, question is why, Simcha/Tabor and a host of others got ‘burned’. Will Discovery run it, Simon and Schuster continue selling it and where is all that support from UNC’s sci. advisers, administrators ? And lastly, Kloner is not to blame, he like the rest of us is finally ‘vindicated’, you have no support.

  13. Two interesting points on the Jonah and the Fish image:

    Our research assistant, Noam Kusar, has noted: It’s interesting Zvi Ilan reports there is unique ornamentation, a rare cave, with important research material, but Kloner never says anything about that in his published articles, either in print or forthcoming-Why?

    Zias claims Zvi Ilan, archaeologist and journalist, was in the tomb as well. How does he know this? Ilan died in 1990. Again, this has not come out in any of Kloner’s reports. I think we need to ask again, who is covering up what and why?

    Also, Prof. James Charlesworth has just announced that the Hebrew name YONAH is encrypted rather ingeniously into the “stick figure” on the fish image, for a discussion with photos and analysis see: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/tab368011.shtml.

  14. Here is a translation of the DAVAR article by Noam Kusar-thanks to Noam for those who need to brush up on their modern Hebrew.

    This is new and interesting information and it is beyond me why Joe Zias thinks this report somehow vindicates his views (not even sure what his views are as he has not published or written anything that I have seen based on his academic expertise) or invalidates our IAA/UNC Charlotte scientific expedition in this tomb.

    Note, for example, there were eight not seven ossuaries in the tomb and Ilan does not mention that Kloner removed one, as well as three cooking pots (two have disappeared and one is at Bet Shemesh-see my bibleinterp.com article or our book for a photo). Since Ilan does not seem to know about the four line Greek inscription, or clearly mention the Jonah image, my guess is he might be referring to the “half fish” (Cargill and Goodacre’s vase with handles) that is clearly visible in the photos in Kokh 1, ossuary 1, and NOT the Jonah image that is on its face since this account implies Kloner was in and out very quickly without moving the ossuaries. Why do Eric and Chris and others commenting here think the Jonah image is being called an amphora here? I have no problem if it is but I think they have read the account much too hastily. Further, what about Gat and Godovitch working in the tomb for several days-which has been verified. Ilan seems to not know about that. They removed the ossuaries and even marked them in chalk for transport. As it turns out this newspaper account, though interesting, lacks even the basic information we uncovered and have published in our book and in my bibleinterp.com article.

    Ultraorthodox prevent removal of ossuaries from ancient tomb
    By Zvi Ilan

    “Extreme ultaorthodox are preventing removal of (rare? -unclear נדי-רות) burial ossuaries from a tomb discovered south of the High Commisioner’s palace (/Armon HaNatziv).

    More than a month ago seven ossuaries used for secondary burial were discovered, six of them ornamented with unique ornamentation, such as architectural facades, a vase and two names written in Greek. The ultraorthodox, some of which belong to “Toldot Aharon” Yeshiva, are guarding the cave day and night and preventing the removal of the ossuaries and complete the excavation.

    The cave was discovered while preparing the ground for building an apartment complex. The way down to the cave is through a shaft, using a rope-ladder brought by regional archaeologist Amos Kloner, from the Department of Antiquities. When Kloner documented the finds, in order to excavate nine burial niches, the Ultraorthodox appeared, and not only did they bury the bones found, but also prevented removing the remaining archaeological finds. They were escorted by a person from the Ministry of religious affairs, who asked to seal the cave until further discussion.
    The Department of Antiquities is asking to allow the study of the rare cave, which has important research material. This latest interruption is only one of the disturbances of the ultraorthodox towards archaeological research in Israel.”

  15. Perhaps it is appropriate to compare Prof. Charlesworth’s earlier reading of ancient names in his The Discovery of a Dead Sea Scroll: 4QTherapeia (Lubbock: Texas Tech Univ., 1985).
    (“Discovery” in the title is odd, since he discovered it in a 1979 book by John Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth-discovered in his mailbox.)
    For reviews of the Allegro and Charlesworth readings:
    Jonas Greenfield, review of Charlesworth, Discovery, IEJ 36 (1986) 118-9.
    Joseph Naveh, “A Medical Document or a Writing Exercise? The So-Called 4Q Therapeia? IEJ 36 (1986) 52-55 (and also, I think, not at hand, the edition in DJD 36).
    F. Garcia Martinez review, JSJ 17 (1986) 242-4.
    J. A. Fitzmyer, DSS: Major Publications and Tools for Study rev. ed. 1990, 59-60.
    In my opinion, a Jonah name/stick-figure combination (!) is a misreading.
    Allegro’s title “therapeia” was associated with, IMO, a false Aramaic etymology of “Essenes.” For the, IMO, true Hebrew etymology of “Essenes”:

  16. Also, which lines were chosen for the “stick figure” have changed, Compare

    http://jamestabor.com/page/3/ (March 5)


    http://www.bibleinterp.com/PDFs/Jonah_2012.pdf (April 11)

  17. Well Stephen how do you read the letters? All the epigraphers we consulted (Yardeni, Misgav, Pfann, Deutch, etc.) agree there are letters-there is simply a question of whether the Yod is a Zeta and the Nun might be a Lamed. You are wrong that the “stick figure” lines have changed-there are just different possibilities represented and I had said from the start that I was not sure what to do with the “Heh” and various people have suggested different possibilities. This is not part of the process of trying to sort this out.

  18. Thank you Noam for the translation of the newly revealed DAVAR article (posted by James above). I have two basic questions: First, can Chris and Eric tell us where they got this article from, or is it a secret? Were they just randomly looking through 30 year old clippings of a now defunct Hebrew paper? Second, many of our critics have said that this is an ordinary amphora or nephesh or whatever. I think to date Eric and Chris haven’t found anything special about Talpiyot Tomb B. Have they now changed their minds? After all, the article that they are sharing with us calls this a “rare cave.” It says that the artifacts in it are “important.” It calls the ornamentation “unique.” It bemoans the “disturbances of the ultra-Orthodox” and the inability by “the department of antiquities” i.e., the predecessor to the IAA, to conduct a “study of the rare cave.” Why did Kloner (and now Zias) feel that a tiny article in DAVAR – that omits all the findings - would suffice as a report on these “unique” artifacts? After all these years, we were able to get the IAA and the ultra-Orthodox to work together to conduct a study of the cave. Given that we have now conducted the investigation that the archaeologists were prevented from conducting over three decades ago, are Eric and Chris posting the article as a way of congratulating us?

  19. Pingback: Talpiot Tombs, the “Jesus Discovery” and the “Jonah Ossuary” in the News « Exploring Our Matrix

  20. It is curious to watch this haggling over meaningless details. As you can see, I also don’t agree with the conclusions of the Jesus Discovery crew, but whatever Kloner assumed, should never be treated like it is written in stone. What kind of scholar or researcher just assumes a cursory examination has already provided all the answers? Below is a prime example.


    I have proved all of you are wasting your time on the wrong topics. I have solved your little problem, with much more to come…

  21. How is it that a 30 year old article from a defunct Hebrew newspaper has any major significance in this discussion? Let me suggest that our distinguished colleagues stay on topic and debate the meaning of the Patio Tomb.

  22. Really, Stephen Goranson ought to clarify his remark about Charlesworth. Surely a scholar from Duke University can articulate why Charlesworth’s 2012 reading of inscribed letters should be presumed to be deficient for more reasons than one cryptic reference to a 1986 (mis-?)reading of one document? After hundreds of scholarly publications since 1986 surely Goranson can reveal multiple examples of why Charlesworth’s opinion should have no weight in this discussion?

  23. I have two questions: #1. Why would the engraver encrypt the word Jonah on the ossuary? There doesn’t seem to be a reason for that action. #2. Why is it only Drs. Charlesworth & Tabor are the only ones who can see this inscription?

  24. Dr Tee, I’ll keep it short as after reading the book, reports by colleagues who saw the doc and the fact that the tomb was correctly published by an archaeologist 31 yrs ago as an ampohora it’s all but over.

    1. You are correct the word Jonah is not on the ossuary, and as colleagues reported that the tomb was constructed decades before Josef of Arimethia, who was a follower of Jesus and that he gave his new tomb to Jesus of Nazareth who lived decades later, makes a mockery of scholarship.
    2. Charlesworth and Tabor are the only ones who can see the inscription as they are being paid to ‘see the inscription. It’s that simple. As Cargill I believe said its become a Ro$harch test,nothing more. Goranson remarks are worth remembering if one knows the track records of some as well as he does. He’s a voice worth listening to.

    Source of the 31 year old Davar article, tough call but rumour has it, it may have been supplied by Jonna Wail, who supplied a tremendous amt of inside information over a 12 month period. Simcha’s remarks that he recognizes Kloner handwriting, (one word) after having left the country when he was 9, only to rtn some four or more decades later is somewhat amusing and on par with the expertise shown by several of those posing as epigraphers.

  25. Some of us miss an important point; the Talpiot Jesus’ family tomb has been discovered back in March 1980. The first scientific, comprehensive report on this tomb has been published in Atiqot 29, 1996. That is: a serious gap of 16 years; still, it never made it to the press.
    On the other hand, the Patio tomb has been discovered and partially excavated in April 1981, but the Israeli newspaper Davar reported it on May 22, 1981. We must ask: what was so important in the Patio tomb that the excavators informed Davar? Or, rather, what was so insignificant in the Jesus’ family tomb that it’s sheer existence never made it to the press? Or, to be more reasonable: why was this tomb so siginificant that the excavators did not inform the press about it? As said above, many miss this point. I wonder whether the excavators missed it as well.
    As a Hebrew speaker, I read this newpaper article again and again, looking for a sign of the famous “agreement with the ultra orthodox Jews”, the existence of which was repeatedly claimed by Kloner, Gibson and others. Sorry: there is no sign of such an agreement in this 1981 newspaper article. I wish we could all see a copy, or else we might even think that there was no such an agreement at all.

  26. Jim Joyner takes Goranson to task for his critique of Charlesworth’s ability to read ancient inscriptions. If folks seem offended by his remarks then lets take a look at the other ‘expert’ who along with Charlesworth read Jonah. For years Tabor has been proposing that a very badly written inscription found in Los Lunas New Mexico is, not only pre Columbian but goes back, according to his calculations, to sometime before the second cent BCE. Hard to believe this from a dept head at UNC-Charlotte ? well have a look http://www.levitt.com/news/2006/02/ ironically it was published a month before we stopped speaking over this abuse of science.

    Reading ancient Hebrew Texts, with a concordance, is not rocket science, but graffiti, is another story. So for those supporters of Charlesworth/Tabor/Simcha who wish to ‘believe’ it is Jonah, along with the face of Jesus on the side of the ossuary and the amphora is (even though its photoshopped) a fish. For those of you who wish to know, read the 1981 Davar article.

  27. Dear Joe, before you dig your hole any deeper, are you actually unaware that besides Drs. Charlesworth & Tabor, also Haggai Misgav & Robert Deutsch have stated that they believe there’s an inscription present? Surely you can’t believe that they’re being paid as well, do you? Dr. Charlesworth may have made mistakes in the past (as we all have), but the fact that he would even read any inscription on this ossuary is significant, & should be discussed with respectful consideration. As for me, I’m baffled as to why the announcement by Dr. Charlesworth was announced in a non-academic forum such as The Globe and Mail (?). Personally, I agree with Dr. Rollston on this issue, & don’t see an inscription there around the alleged stick figure, however I do see the word “Absalom” written among the seaweed wrapped around Jonah’s head, but you have to turn the ossuary upside-down to read it.

  28. Mr. Grena, no need to be “baffled as to why the announcement by Dr. Charlesworth was announced in a non-academic forum such as The Globe and Mail” What you are witnessing here is press conference archaeology, aka ‘archaeology for losers’ losers in the sense that none of this would ever pass peer review but journalists hungry for a story will pick it up if its sensationalist enough.
    As far as your seeing Absalom in the seaweed goes, I was fortunate to discover along with Prof. Emile Puech, the first inscription ever inscribed on the so called Tomb of Absalom, in which it was written that it was the Tomb of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist. Simcha got tipped off, wanted the story, thankfully we declined his offer and ended funding, out of pocket, part of the research myself.
    Regarding Deutsch and Misgav, if they see something them perhaps its time to tell what they see.

  29. James (Prof. Tabor), because you claim there is an intentionally-made stick figure, I fail to see why you seem (above) to dismiss as unimportant the observation that you presented two different sets of lines for the arms and legs. If it were intentionally made, then one set of arms and legs would seem to follow (unless you suggest an attempt at animation? :) .
    I read your recent blog post, “Why People are Confused about the Earliest Christian View of Resurrection of the Dead?”
    and I have a question for you (here, since comments are closed there). Apparently referring to the four-line Greek inscription, you wrote (with your emphasis), “We now have testimony by his original followers that _predates_ Paul….” Putting aside for the moment the claim that that inscription has any connection to the followers of Jesus, on what basis do you claim that that inscription dates before Paul (presumably meaning before his writings)?

  30. Can an anthropolgist decifer an ancient inscription? Is he an expert? If so - in what field? Moreover: when someone’s MA anthropology thesis is on magic medicine in modern times (in the USA), how can we trust him when he examins ancient bones? Oh, he was also a paramedic in the IDF! Well, that makes him an expert in the field of ancient bones and decifering ancient inscriptions.
    Ain’t it, Joe Zias?

  31. Thank you Dr. Zias for the answers to my questions. Now I have one more. I have looked at some, not a lot, of jonah and the whale images-some ancient, some not- and almost every one has a very clearly drawn or carved eye on the whale/fish. Yet when I look at the supposed ossuary fish, I find no such clearly carved item.

    Why would the engravers go such such time consuming lengths to ‘encrypt’ Jonah’s name on the ossuary yet leave out the one detail that would have removed all doubt about the image being a fish-the eye- and the stick figure being Jonah?

    I have looked at the image, enlarged it and I cannot find even a faintly drawn or worn eye on that vessel declared to be a whale. Has anyone found it?

  32. Simcha and James: I am pleased to hear that you are entertaining as possible my suggestion that the “half-fish” might be interpreted as a vase.

    Stephen: I think your observation is an excellent one. For those who would like to see it illustrated, I have rotated the images and put them side by side for comparison on my blog at http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/changing-face-and-body-of-stick-man-in.html

    Dr Tee: in the earlier picture (http://jamestabor.com/2012/03/06/the-fish-and-the-man/), the “eye” is represented by the mark at the very bottom right of the base of the “fish” — marked in orange in that picture. In the more recent picture, this mark represents the “yod” of “YONAH”.

  33. Thank you for pointing that out. I missed it and my immediate reaction to that location and identification was: “You’ve got to be kidding!” That is an impossible location for an eye, given the way the item in question is drawn.

  34. Stephen and all, I will ignore Zias’s slander against James Charlesworth who has spent his adult life working with scripts from the Herodian period, not to mention Deutsch, Misgav, and others. Charlesworth did not “release” the story through the Globe and Mail, he was called by the reporter and asked about it and replied, which he has the right to do.

    As for the stick figure and its possible lines I have explained that I was never clear what the function of the F looking thing to the left was, see my blog on the “stick figure.” What I saw were two arms and two legs and the head. In reconsidering it I think it is possible the engraver is using the lines of the letter Heh to represent one of the legs, so yes, the way it is traced in the latest photo on my blog is different from the way I originally saw it. Still two arms and two legs and a head. I am not sure which is right but I lean toward the latter now because the other “arm” what would be the one on the right (left arm) looking on, looks detached in the better photos. Those lines make up the eye of the fish. So what you have are lines presenting the fish, with curved gill area, the eye, and the straight line of the mouth, plus the letters Yod, Vav, Nun, Heh, plus the two arms and legs of the stick figure. All the lines are used and they represent different things. The art historians we consulted suggested the reason the the human image was minimal was most likely the prohibition against idolatry…if the face is not drawn in with clear features, eyes, nose, and mouth, then you one has clearly represented a human figure, which is here avoided.

    Stephen, the point about predating Paul has to do with the entire thesis-that if in this tomb, less than 200 feet from the Jesus tomb, the resurrection of Jesus is being celebrated (Jonah sign and inscription) the understanding implied by “resurrection” is accordingly along the lines that Paul, our earliest source, presents-that is putting off the old body, being stripped naked, and putting on a new body, so that “bones” left behind have nothing to do with negating faith in heavenly exaltation. I wrote my dissertation on Paul’s ascent to Paradise under Jonathan Z. Smith and this noting of heavenly ascent (in the body or out of the body) is central here-thus the very early pre-Pauline Christology of Phil 2:2-5, echoed in our inscription-huper-lifting up, sitting at the right hand of God, Psa 110:1, Psa 2, etc.

  35. I know that I am a nobody here but I do have degrees in both archaeology and theology and it strikes me as odd that you would declare those lines ‘eyes’. Isn’t it presumptuous to conclude that such lines are eyes, let alone a fish and a man when you have no ancient independent witness/manuscript to corrobborate your declarations?

    All we have is our own eyes and your conjecture which seems to have omitted the process of eliminating other possibilities from your interpretation/speculation. The mere fact that you continue to hold this impossible perspective when the majority of independent observers oppose your findings is getting to the point of ludicrious. Not that I agree with majority rule but in this case the majority is correct and you should re-think your position.

    For example: How do you know for a fact that Joseph’s name refers to those exact two hills these tweo talpiot tombs were found on? Could his name actually refer to 2 other hills? We see no evidence to support your position and it would be nice to have REAL evidence not just your conjecture/speculation.

    I really do not see how anyone can respect you or Dr. Charlesworth after this debacle/fraud. No one is worried about Jacobovici, we all know who he is, but you other two are supposed to know better. If this doesn’t make you a laughingstock count your blessings. There is nothing academic about this ‘discovery’ or presentation of the oassuaries, and I do not see any ancient manuscripts or anything in those tombs that would lead you in the direction you went in.

    I have read your blogs, your responses to others and it is disappointing to see such gymnastics done in order to continue with your premise/thesis. It doesn’t hold any water and you would be wise to simply admit making a mistake and return to objective academic processes to study the find. It still would have been a good find if you had NOT decided to force the tomb to fit your Jesus Dynasty theory.

  36. Sorry for the harshness of the previous post but I am tired and frustrated of/by those scholars who resort to the Ron Wyatt School of Archaeology to conduct their work and promote their supposed discoveries.

    The people involved in the Talpiot B tomb issue should really know better.

  37. Yesterday James Tabor was interviewed on the radio station WUNC, and his account made little use of the views of scholars not involved in the TV production.

  38. If Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston were the least bit interested in searching out the truth regarding Talpiot Tomb B, they would start by questioning Amos Kloner, not Jacobovici and Tabor. There are many mysteries surrounding his 1981 investigation and after 31 years those tantalizing unknowns still beg for answers. In Simcha’s April 11, 2012, 6:53pm response he points out with remarkable detail what some of those 1981 mysteries were and still are. Unfortunately, those spell binding questions seem only to fall on deaf ears. It must be difficult for the Meyers-Rollston tag team to impress when laden with a preconceived institutionalized agenda. Were they to free themselves from these shackles possibly they could enlighten us, as James & Simcha have done.

    P.S. I love it when they criticize Simcha and ALWAYS without specification. It’s so grade schoolish! And I love it when they try to make the case that James knew that Kloner thought he might have seen an amphora in 1981. Especially when James himself also thought the same initial possibility in 2011. Until further investigation!

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