The Tomb of Jesus

Carl Feagans men­tions the Tomb of Jesus brouhaha. I plan to put up some­thing on this, but I’m hold­ing back for now as I’m wait­ing for a couple of email replies. I’ve sent one to Professor who pro­duced the 600:1 claim. I’ve tried see­ing the press con­fer­ence to see how he gets that fig­ure, but it’s not work­ing for me. The way they present the data in the doc­u­ment pack sug­gests if you’re not expect­ing Jesus to be mar­ried to Mary Magdelene then the prob­ab­il­ity falls from 600:1 to around 4:1.

The prob­lem is that the stat­ist­ical ana­lysis is presen­ted as being so ham-fisted that I have to assume some­thing is miss­ing. For instance I can’t work out how Historical Bias = 4. This is only a sum­mary so I’m only 64.56732% sure this is a spuri­ous fig­ure plucked from the air. There could be harder archae­olo­gical reas­ons for say­ing why this fig­ure is jus­ti­fied from an ana­lysis of more ossuar­ies. Alas, the pack given by Discovery, des­pite their claims doesn’t give you the evid­ence to judge for yourself.

You can down­load the pack without work­ing your way through all the Flash nav­ig­a­tion and read a couple of art­icles, a couple of maps and the cal­cu­la­tions for your­self. Mapwise it seems fairly con­clus­ive that the tomb was bur­ied. Article-wise one is read­ing the inscrip­tions and the other is on the con­text of the Ossuaries by Prof. Amos Kloner, who doesn’t sup­port the attri­bu­tion of the tomb.


When he's not tired, ill or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

2 Responses

  1. DavidD says:

    Sometimes with stat­ist­ics I wind up point­ing out that the real prob­ab­il­ity of some­thing is either 0 or 1. Something either happened, or it didn’t. Statistics claim­ing a value some­where in between merely reflect the math­em­at­ical model used to estim­ate a prob­ab­il­ity by chance or by some nat­ural pro­cess, if someone did the math right. There are so many other ques­tions that point to whether the real num­ber is 0 or 1. Those are the ones I wait for. Until then it’s an open question.

  2. Alexandra Smith says:

    I never liked stat­ist­ics — and in this case I think they’re skewed entirely by the fact that less than 200 people with any one name are known from ancient Israel. That’s not really a stat­ist­ic­ally use­ful sample, as there were a lot more people with these names liv­ing in 100-or-so year period that the tomb is dated to.

    The assump­tion is that the odds of there being a fam­ily with the same names as Jesus and his rel­at­ives are very small, but it may not have been, as the art­icle itself says that these are the most com­mon names around, and it could well be that Jewish names, like Greek ones, main­tained an ele­ment of the parent’s or grandparent’s name when it was passed on. I don’t know. But also, where are Joseph’s other sons, by his pre­vi­ous wife?