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Switch to Forum Live View Note on Dominus Flevit / Talpioth inscriptions
6 years ago  ::  Sep 26, 2008 - 11:38PM #1
Blü
Posts: 24,865
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The Problem

I’ve mentioned “Dominus Flevit tomb inscriptions” a couple of times 1, 2 on Bnet.  The Bnet poster Costrel drew the story to my attention (at #14 on link 1 above, and without suggesting it was correct or incorrect) in a helpful list of extra-biblical references to Jesus.

The claim apparently originates here and reads -

Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit catacombs outside Jerusalem bear inscriptions like, 'Jesus, have mercy', and 'Jesus, remember me in the resurrection', inscriptions thought to date from the 40's or late 30's, and indicating the presence in Jerusalem from a fairly early date of a community that believed in resurrection and in the power of someone named Jesus to see the believer safely through death and beyond.
     - Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus"


The only other net references are in effect copies of it, and none of them is either a clarification (such as the actual texts) nor a refutation.  A quite major net site on the Dominus Flevit tomb inscriptions makes no mention of any such inscriptions in the many samples it transcribes, which seems very odd.  This is puzzling because on the one hand Millard is a respected scholar, and on the other, the claim is an extraordinary one - evidence of the cult of Jesus within a decade of the traditional date of the purported crucifixion -  yet no one, or at least no one on the net, seems to pay it any attention.  As a result I’ve regarded the report as tentative.

Clarification

Alan Millard is Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology of the University of Liverpool. It recently occurred to me to direct my enquiry to him and I emailed him accordingly.  He sent me a prompt and courteous reply saying the quote above is wrongly attributed to him and that it’s incorrect in any event.  He kindly referred me to two published articles on the point -

* J[ohn] P. Kane, 'By no means the earliest records of Christianity', Palestine Exploration Quarterly,  No 106 (1971) pp 103-108

* Same author, 'The Ossuary Inscriptions of Jerusalem', Journal of Semitic Studies 23 (1978) p.268.

The Correct Statement

Kane’s opening to the first of the articles above gives a much clearer history of the subject here -

In 1947 the Israeli archaeologist E. L. Sukenik published an article entitled ‘The Earliest Records of Christianity’ [American Journal of Archaeology 51 (1947) pp.351-65] This was an account of the excavation of a Jewish tomb in the Talpioth suburb of Jerusalem  ... A coin of A.D. 42/3 also helps date the tomb.  The interest  ... centred on the small chests, called ossuaries ... Fourteen were found ...

... the inscriptions on ossuaries nos 7 and 8 ... proved of peculiar interest. Sukenik offered the following reading and translations -

No. 7: graffito in charcoal on the face / ’Ιησούς ’ιού  / Jesus, woe!

No. 8: in letters cut into the lid           /  ’Ιησούς ’αλώθ  / Jesus, alas!


Kane then discusses a variety of alternative readings that scholars offered in reply to Sukenik, in one of which ‘help!’ is suggested as the sense of ‘woe’ (for no.7) and in another of which ‘resurrection’ is suggested as the meaning of ’αλώθ (for no.8).  I mention these because they seem to come closest to what is alleged in the ‘Dominus Flevit’ quote I mentioned at the start.  He then continues -

... the basic presumption in attempting to read and interpret the two inscriptions ... must be that we are dealing with names identifying the dead.  Never has a magical formula, an expression of sorrow or triumph, a plea for help, or a reference to Christians or Jesus been found on an ossuary instead of the name of the dead ...
...
... I was ... able to examine the ossuary for myself ...
...
... the two troublesome inscriptions have resolved themselves as:

’Ιησούς ’Ιουδ[ο]ύ / Jesus son of Judas
and
’Ιησούς Άλώθ  / Jesus Aloth or Jesus, son of Aloth.


Having in effect started the problem, I hope I’ve also helped to finish it.

My thanks in particular to Professor Alan Millard and also to John Kane and to Costrel.

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6 years ago  ::  Oct 09, 2008 - 12:20PM #2
costrel
Posts: 6,226
Blü,

Thank you for the wonderful scholarly investigation, for contacting Professor Millard, and for the email that alerted me to this thread! It is extremeley sad to see the way in which scholarly information is perverted and fabricated apparently for the theological purpose of "proving," through archaeological evidence, the historicalness of Jesus. I have never understood why people would want to make things up like this. It is certainly a long-standing tradition within Christianity, which is still with us today (one thinks of the fraudulent inscription on the James ossuary and the multitudinous relic frauds in the Middle Ages; and that's not even counting manuscript forgeries that go back to the ancient world).

Here is the library catalogue information for Millard’s book for those who want to find it in a university library and read what he really has to say about discoveries from the time of Jesus:

Millard, A. R. Discoveries from the Time of Jesus. Oxford [England]; Batavia, IL: Lion Pub., 1990. Its ISBN numbers are  0745912079 and  9780745912073 and its OCLC number is 20220048.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2008 - 1:01AM #3
Blü
Posts: 24,865
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Costrel

Yes, it's good to have solved a mystery.

I'm still puzzled as to why others on the net didn't seize the original post and run with it - you and I agree at once that if true it would be a major find.

And like you I find it hard to imagine an innocent way for it to come into existence - it seems much more precise than some average miscarriage of a Chinese whisper.  Then again, iamachildofhis (of all people!) recently gave this highly educational link which traces the evolution of a modern - well, 19th and early 20th cent - 'Jonah in the Whale' story from an innocent report of whales to a bit of deliberate fiddling to a place in lore, so we can't doubt that it happens.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2008 - 3:00PM #4
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
The "Jonah" story was great! Never heard of it, but it shows the ignorance of literalists. The biblical tale of Jonah, if we want to look at the genre, is satire!
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2008 - 6:43PM #5
Blü
Posts: 24,865
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MrC

Glad you enjoyed the Jonah story.  Like you, I thought it was an impressive read.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 8:20AM #6
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
Yeah, the actual book Jonah is making fun of the Prophets, psalms, is making fun of "divine intervention" and celebrates the holiness of cows!  For someone to look for a literal "parallel" to prove that it  could be done is just plain wacky!

Searching for Jesus "trinkets" possibly began with Constantine's mommy. I think a huge part of archaeology of the last couple of hundred years has been to "prove" the Tanakh. It failed miserably, because the books are not delicately and scientirfically recorded "history books," but pieces of literature. The same is true of the Christian canon. What can one say? If "faith" resides in the historicity of events, is it really faith?

As an aside I just posted to one of the scholarly groups in yahoo. I made the point that Luke 12: 1-17 is merely the re-telling of Iliad 24... And yet, some people to this day believe that an angel rescued Peter, when in fact, in the same basic tale, Hermes had rescued Priam centuries before!
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 1:06PM #7
Miguel_de_servet
Posts: 17,050
Blü

Blü wrote:

The Problem

I’ve mentioned “Dominus Flevit tomb inscriptions” a couple of times [              "sorrowful: concerning Jesus and Paul", "What evidence?"] on Bnet.  The Bnet poster Costrel drew the story to my attention (at #14 on link 1 above, and without suggesting it was correct or incorrect) in a helpful list of extra-biblical references to Jesus.

The claim apparently originates here [Jesus Outside the New Testament, Roman Sources @mystae.com] and reads

Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit [mark the name of the place ... ] catacombs outside Jerusalem bear inscriptions like, 'Jesus, have mercy', and 'Jesus, remember me in the resurrection', inscriptions thought to date from the 40's or late 30's, and indicating the presence in Jerusalem from a fairly early date of a community that believed in resurrection and in the power of someone named Jesus to see the believer safely through death and beyond.
     - Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus" [1990]


The only other net references are in effect copies of it, and none of them is either a clarification (such as the actual texts) nor a refutation.  A quite major net site on the Dominus Flevit tomb inscriptions [are you perhaps referring (without acknowledgement ...),  to the [COLOR=RoyalBlue]Inscriptions of the ossuaries of the Dominus Flevit @ antoniolombatti.it, that I ones kindly brought to your attention?[/COLOR]] makes no mention of any such inscriptions in the many samples it transcribes, which seems very odd.  This is puzzling because on the one hand Millard is a respected scholar, and on the other, the claim is an extraordinary one - evidence of the cult of Jesus within a decade of the traditional date of the purported crucifixion -  yet no one, or at least no one on the net, seems to pay it any attention.  As a result I’ve regarded the report as tentative.


Having actively participated in the previous threads cited, may I add that I presented some useful information also at thread "Human uniqueness" - MdS post #100.

Blü wrote:

Clarification

Alan Millard is Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology of the University of Liverpool. It recently occurred to me to direct my enquiry to him and I emailed him accordingly.  He sent me a prompt and courteous reply saying the quote above is wrongly attributed to him and that it’s incorrect in any event.  He kindly referred me to two published articles on the point -

* J[ohn] P. Kane, 'By no means the earliest records of Christianity', Palestine Exploration Quarterly,  No 106 (1971) pp 103-108

* Same author, 'The Ossuary Inscriptions of Jerusalem', Journal of Semitic Studies 23 (1978) p.268.


I know this may sound like a silly (nearly insultingly silly ...) question, but did you by any chance do the obvious thing, viz. check first Alan Millard's book, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus?

(BTW, has costrel done this simple check?)

In any event, I have just ordered the book myself from Amazon.uk (second hand!). I will soon be able to inform you ... first hand! :D

As for Kane's first paper, I think it is worth providing a link and a quotation from an online article that mentions it:

Eleven inscriptions published since Gabba’s book [#] appeared have been added to the new version, and one item (no. 35) from the 1958 book has been dropped. Even that one (two ossuary inscriptions from Jerusalem which include the name ‘Jesus’) need not have been excised if a different orientation from Gabba’s were given to the commentary; but perhaps the confrontingly defiant title of an article by J.P. Kane [§] deterred Boffo (see her Foreword, 10).
-------------
[#] Laura BOFFO, Iscrizioni greche e latine per lo studio della Bibbia (Biblioteca di storia e storiografia dei tempi biblici 9). Brescia, Paideia Editrice, 1994. 459 p. 15,5 x 23. Abbreviations of Greek epigraphic corpora and related works used here follow those suggested in G.H.R. HORSLEY – J.A.L. LEE, "A preliminary checklist of abbreviations of Greek epigraphic volumes", Epigraphica 56 (1994) 129-169.
[§] J.P. KANE "By no means ‘The earliest records of Christianity’ – with an emended reading of the Talpioth inscription IESOUS IOU", PEQ 103 (1971) 103-108.
-----------------
G.H.R. HORSLEY, "Epigraphy as an ancilla to the study of the Greek Bible.A propos of a recent anthology of inscriptions", Biblica 79 (1998) 258-267, @ bsw.org, emphasis


MdS

(continued)

Revelation is above, not against Reason

“The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are his eternal arms ...” (Deut 33:27)
“Do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9)
“By the Lord’s word [dabar] the heavens were made; and by the breath [ruwach] of his mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6)
“Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the arm of the Lord revealed through him?” (Isaiah 53:1)
“Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:38)
“For not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13)

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”(Romans 13:8)
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 1:08PM #8
Miguel_de_servet
Posts: 17,050
(continuation)

Blü wrote:

The Correct Statement [well, we'll see to that ...]

Kane’s opening to the first of the articles above gives a much clearer history of the subject here -

In [COLOR=Magenta]1947 [/COLOR][mark the date ... ]  the Israeli archaeologist E. L. Sukenik published an article entitled ‘The Earliest Records of Christianity’ [American Journal of Archaeology 51 (1947) pp.351-65] This was an account of the excavation of a Jewish tomb in the  [COLOR=Magenta]Talpioth[/COLOR] [mark the name of the place ... ] suburb of Jerusalem ... A coin of A.D. 42/3 also helps date the tomb. The interest ... centred on the small chests, called ossuaries ... Fourteen were found ...

... the inscriptions on ossuaries nos 7 and 8 ... proved of peculiar interest. Sukenik offered the following reading and translations -

No. 7: graffito in charcoal on the face / ’Ιησούς ’ιού  / Jesus, woe!

No. 8: in letters cut into the lid           /  ’Ιησούς ’αλώθ  / Jesus, alas!


Kane then discusses a variety of alternative readings that scholars offered in reply to Sukenik, in one of which ‘help!’ is suggested as the sense of ‘woe’ (for no.7) and in another of which ‘resurrection’ is suggested as the meaning of ’αλώθ (for no.8). I mention these because they seem to come closest to what is alleged in the ‘Dominus Flevit’ quote I mentioned at the start. He then continues -

... the basic presumption in attempting to read and interpret the two inscriptions ... must be that we are dealing with names identifying the dead. Never has a magical formula, an expression of sorrow or triumph, a plea for help, or a reference to Christians or Jesus been found on an ossuary instead of the name of the dead ...
...
... I was ... able to examine the ossuary for myself ...
...
... the two troublesome inscriptions have resolved themselves as:

’Ιησούς ’Ιουδ[ο]ύ / Jesus son of Judas
and
’Ιησούς Άλώθ  / Jesus Aloth or Jesus, son of Aloth.


Having in effect started the problem, I hope I’ve also helped to finish it.

My thanks in particular to Professor Alan Millard and also to John Kane and to Costrel.


LOL! After your profuse thanks, I am not sure if you are going to thank me, though, after what I am about to say (it will depend whether you care more for Truth or for "debunking" Christianity ...)

Compare consider and behold:

a. The alleged quotation from Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus speaks of "Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit catacombs outside Jerusalem"

b. Antonio Lombatti, in his [COLOR=RoyalBlue]Inscriptions of the ossuaries of the Dominus Flevit [/COLOR]writes:

Bagatti and his team uncovered 122 ossuaries between May 1953 and June 1955. In his book (B. Bagatti, J. Milik, Gli scavi del Dominus Flevit - Parte I - La necropoli del periodo romano. Gerusalemme: Tipografia dei PP. Francescsni, 1958) the 43 inscribed ossuaries were published along with their photos.
-- Antonio Lombatti, in his [COLOR=RoyalBlue]Inscriptions of the ossuaries of the Dominus Flevit[/COLOR], June 27, 2007 @ antoniolombatti.it


c. In his article 'By no means the earliest records of Christianity' (1971), John P. Kane writes that "n [COLOR=Magenta]1947 [/COLOR]the Israeli archaeologist E. L. Sukenik published an article entitled ‘The Earliest Records of Christianity’(1947). This was an account of the excavation of a Jewish tomb in the  [COLOR=Magenta]Talpioth[/COLOR].

d. And now, the "denouement": look at this => satellite image of Jerusalem, with Saint Sepulchre, Dominus Flevit and Talpioth.

Conclusion

The dates are different (1947 vs. 1953-1955). The locations are different ([COLOR=Magenta]Talpioth[/COLOR] vs. Dominus Flevit).

Sorry, Blü, you will have to try again, try harder, (#) in your neverending quest for the "ultimate debunking" of the origins of Christianity. :(:)

Mario

(#)Three immediate "lines of enquiry" for Blü:

(1) Did Alan Millard give misleading/false information to Blü?

(2) Why, according to Alan Millard, would the author of [i]Jesus Outside the New Testament
, Roman Sources @mystae.com (presumably a certain Richard Shand), "attributed a wrong quote" to him?

(3) Does the expression "it’s incorrect in any event" used by Alan Millard make room for suspecting that he wrote (in 1990) exacly as quoted , but has since "changed his mind" (well, a bit more than that ..), without wanting to admit it?

No need to hurry, anyway: I will soon have the book, and I will be able to illuminate you all, guys ... :)

Revelation is above, not against Reason

“The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are his eternal arms ...” (Deut 33:27)
“Do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9)
“By the Lord’s word [dabar] the heavens were made; and by the breath [ruwach] of his mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6)
“Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the arm of the Lord revealed through him?” (Isaiah 53:1)
“Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:38)
“For not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13)

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”(Romans 13:8)
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 4:55PM #9
haggaion
Posts: 1,972
Dominus Flevit is not mentioned in Millard's book.  At least I could not locate it in a digital search of the book at goggle books.  But that is  sometimes incomplete, and it book is 1997 ed.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 12, 2008 - 7:47AM #10
Blü
Posts: 24,865
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Mario

Check Millard's book by all means.  Whatever you find, it seems plain he's of Kane's view these days.
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