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Re: [Synoptic-L] Keramon

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  • R. Steven Notley
    Gentlemen Perhaps I missed it, but I can not see that anyone responded or took note of my contribution to this discussion last week. Discussion has continued
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 16, 2006
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      Gentlemen

      Perhaps I missed it, but I can not see that anyone responded or took
      note of my contribution to this discussion last week. Discussion has
      continued unabated regarding "ladders" and whether the stairs were
      inside or outside the houses.

      I answered succinctly because of lack of personal time, but also
      because the issues are not in question or difficult.

      First, there were no tiles in Galilee or anywhere in Judea prior to
      70 CE. It is universally attested that they were introduced by the
      Roman X Legion after the conquest of Jerusalem and Judea. Mention of
      tiles in most (but not all) manuscript readings of Luke 5:19 must be
      explained otherwise.

      Second, the style of houses in first century Galilee are well known
      to those who are familiar with Roman period archaeology in Judea.
      The courtyard styled houses are referred to by the term "insula
      houses." Indeed we have many such fine examples in Roman period
      Capernaum and Chorazin, including the so-called "St. Peter's house"
      in Capernaum.

      I refer you now to a brief excerpt from the Encyclopedia of
      Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (4 vols.; Jerusalem:
      IES, 1993) 1:292, "The houses [i.e. of Capernaum] are characterized
      by large courts surrounded by small dwelling chambers. The life of
      an extended family centered around a communal court. In the courts
      were ovens, staircases for access to roofs, and only one exit to the
      street."

      Having lived in Israel for 16 years, I have visited these
      archaeological remains too many times to count.

      There were no ladders. Stairs to access the roof were always within
      the family dwelling complex. With few exceptions, homes were single
      story. Capernaum is over 650 feet below sea level and in the summer
      gets unbearably hot and humid. The stairs provided access in the
      summers for a family to sleep where it might be cooler.
      Nevertheless, as Josephus describes in the collapse of the roofs in
      Gamla when the Roman soldiers tried to use them in their escape from
      the Jewish onslaught, the roofs were not intended to bear much weight.

      Typical roofing material was what is referred to in the US as a "sod
      roof" that included larger branches, then small reeds and finally
      covered with straw and mud. Primarily, these were intended to keep
      out the weather. It is not unlikely that these had to be repaired
      annually. One can even see today in Capernaum and elsewhere the
      basalt rollers that were used to repair the roofs.

      Hope this helps.

      Blessings,
      R. Steven Notley
      Nyack College, NYC


      On Oct 16, 2006, at 8:21 AM, Chuck Jones wrote:

      > Bob,
      >
      > I'm embarrassed to admit that the most vivid recollections I have
      > of the external staircase/ladder are from illustrations in Sunday
      > School literature when I was a youth (and we all know how accurate
      > that is!).
      >
      > I do think it's important to make a distinction between the
      > courtyard homes of the wealthy and the tiny homes of merchants and
      > craftsmen in towns. These, I understand (from Seminary, not Sunday
      > School!) were quite small--basically one room. The stairs/ladder
      > were outside for reasons of space, cost and construction (the flat
      > roof served basically a patio). Also, it was not uncommon for a
      > small room to be added on the roof to be rented out.
      >
      > So one approach is to read the story details and then imagine which
      > sort of house Jesus is pictured as teaching in.
      >
      > Chuck
      >
      > Jim West <jwest@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > Bob Schacht wrote:
      >
      > > Thanks, Jim. Does this show entrance to the roof through an
      > opening in
      > > the roof for the stairs?
      > >
      >
      > Nope. Just a ladder on the outside wall where some industrious looking
      > woman appears to be spreading grain to dry.
      >
      > >
      > > Evidence-- even archaeological evidence-- can be confusing unless
      > one
      > > knows more about the context. For example, consider a common
      > courtyard
      > > house-- that is, a rectangular compound in which there are walls all
      > > around the outside, and access limited to one (or more) door(s), but
      > > open to the air in the middle. This has been common in many parts
      > of the
      > > Middle East, and many archaeological commentaries on standard house
      > > plans take note of it. Then imagine a stairway leading from the
      > > *interior courtyard* to the roof. If all you have is a remnant of
      > the
      > > compound consisting of the stairway and adjacent parts of the
      > house--
      > > but not the other three sides of the compound-- it might look as
      > if the
      > > stairway is on the outside exterior, i.e. public side, of the house,
      > > even though it was on the inside (courtyard) side, and therefore
      > > private. So here we need to know whether "exterior" means the public
      > > side, or the internal courtyard side.
      >
      > I can't imagine constructing a house within a courtyard and then
      > building the stair to the roof on the outside of the compound. That
      > makes no sense. If such a stair existed, then it would have been
      > inside
      > the compound but outside the house.
      >
      > Best
      >
      > Jim
      >
      > --
      > Jim West, ThD
      >
      > http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies Resources
      > http://drjimwest.wordpress.com -- Weblog
      >
      >
      > ---------------------------------
      > Want to be your own boss? Learn how on Yahoo! Small Business.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • R. Steven Notley
      Shalom Synoptic-Listers I arrived back yesterday morning from Israel at 5:00 a.m. (in a NY snow storm) and was greeted with the hubbub over the purported Tomb
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 27, 2007
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        Shalom Synoptic-Listers

        I arrived back yesterday morning from Israel at 5:00 a.m. (in a NY
        snow storm) and was greeted with the hubbub over the purported Tomb
        of Jesus' Family. Over the last 24 hours in my jetlagged state I
        have had the opportunity to review the inscriptional material. It
        was already published by L.Y. Rahmani in A Catalogue of Jewish
        Ossuraries (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 1994) 222-224.

        I have collated what I see as some of the fundamental problems with
        the claims. As usual, the problem is that these folks do not control
        the languages at the center of their claims.

        Here are a few reflections, questions regarding the hubbub:

        1. After looking at Rahmani's inscriptions, I think ossuary No. 704
        does indeed read Yeshua bar Yosef (contra Stephen Pfann). However,
        the collocation of these names certainly does not necessitate that
        this is Jesus' ossuary. Indeed, even within Rahmani's own catalogue
        there is another example of a Yeshua bar Yosef (cf. No. 9.1). The
        limited pool of names means that the combination of Yeshua and Yosef
        would have surfaced countless times.

        2. While it is true that Yoseh (ossuary No. 705) is a diminutive
        form of Yosef, I can not think of a single occasion where the NT
        Joseph is referred to by this form either in the NT or later
        Christian writings. Contrast the lack of the shortened form of
        Yosef's name (i.e. YOSEH) with the diminutive form of Mary's name
        (from MIRIAM) that does occur in the NT (i.e. MARIA). MARYA (the
        Hebrew equivalent to the Greek NT name) appears on ossuary No. 706.
        Rahmani even suggests that the similarity in the style of the
        inscription of Yoseh and Marya's names suggests that they may have
        been the parents of Yeshua and the grandparents of Yehuda son of
        Yeshua. While speculative, it may be true. But to attempt to
        identify this Yoseh as the NT Joseph (as done by Jacobovici et al)
        lacks the needed connecting evidence that the NT Joseph was ever
        called by the diminutive form YOSEH.

        3. To my mind the most critical piece of the argument lies with
        ossuary No. 701 which belonged to a woman and inscribed "Of Mariamne
        [that is] Mara". [As Cameron notes, she is the "Ringo" of the names
        in the tomb. In his analogy if you found a tomb with John, Paul and
        George, you could speculate but not be certain it was the Beatles.
        If you found also (the more rare name) Ringo, then the probability
        would become almost certainty.]

        There are two obstacles to identifying this woman as Mary Magdalene.
        First, the NT routinely calls her MARIA or MARIAM, and never the form
        MARIAMNE. The promoters attempt to sidestep this problem by citing a
        4th century Gnostic text, the Acts of the Philip, in which we do have
        a travel companion of Philip named Mariamne. There has been some
        suggestion by Francois Bovon that she is to be identified with Mary
        Magdalene, but my cursory glance at the the Acts of Philip indicates
        she is to be identified with the Mary sister of Martha (from Bethany)
        and not Mary from Magdala. Here is a snippet from the Acts of Philip
        94: "It was she [Mariamne] that made ready the bread and salt at
        the breaking of bread, but Martha was she that ministered to the
        multitudes and laboured much."

        Moreover, the inscription states that this Mariamne was also called
        MARAH. In a real laugher which could only be conjured up in Zeit
        Geist of our day, they have read MARAH as "Master" (i.e. the feminine
        form of the Aramaic MAR). Thus, they are trying to reclaim (a la
        Dan Brown) Mary's rightful place as head of the early Christian
        movement which was taken from her by the chauvinist leadership of
        Christianity. The charges of chauvinism in early Christianity
        notwithstanding, the suggestion that Mary Magdalene was known as "the
        Master" (MARAH) can not be supported by the appearance of MARAH with
        her name on the ossuary. The feminine form of MAR (master) is
        MARTHAH not MARAH. Instead, as Rahmani indicates the appearance
        here of MARAH is the diminutive form of the proper name Martha (cf.
        also Nos. 468.2 and 868). So, this Mariamne was also called by the
        diminutive form of Martha (or MARAH). Once again, we lack a single
        reference in the NT or any later Christian writing I know that Mary
        Magdalene was ever called Martha (or MARAH).

        So, it may be true that this Mariamne and Yeshua were married and
        that they had a son named Judah, but I can find no compelling link
        between these names and the NT figures.

        It is worthwhile to restate that the challenge is to move beyond mere
        speculative possibility to at least probability (if certainty
        remains unattainable). I do not think the evidence that we have been
        provided moves us beyond mere (and questionable) possibility.

        As a final added note, I would point out that a similar clustering of
        these names surfaces among the dynastic family of Hasmoneans. Of
        course, I am not suggesting that this tomb belonged to a family
        descended from the Maccabees. Only to draw attention to the limited
        and popular pool of names at the time and that the collocation of
        these names need not indicate that they are NT figures.

        Shalom from snowy NY!

        R. Steven Notley
        Professor of Biblical Studies
        Department of Biblical and Theological Studies
        Nyack College
        New York City





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      • gentile_dave@emc.com
        R. Steven Notley wrote: [As Cameron notes, she is the Ringo of the names in the tomb. In his analogy if you found a tomb with John, Paul and George, you
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 1, 2007
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          R. Steven Notley wrote:



          [As Cameron notes, she is the "Ringo" of the names
          in the tomb. In his analogy if you found a tomb with John, Paul and
          George, you could speculate but not be certain it was the Beatles.
          If you found also (the more rare name) Ringo, then the probability
          would become almost certainty.]



          And later:



          It is worthwhile to restate that the challenge is to move beyond mere
          speculative possibility to at least probability (if certainty
          remains unattainable).



          Dave:



          The first quote is a perfect example of an application of the Bayesian
          formula, and the second is the general goal of Bayesian probability.



          Thus it occurs to me that this might be an interesting way to try out
          Bayesian statistics in this area. Of course much would have to be based
          on knowledgeable estimates, so I think it would be still be a subjective
          answer (in the sense that different people would get different answers).
          Things like the frequency of Yeshua bar Yosef, and the number of tombs
          from the period, and the chances that the family of Jesus is in one of
          them, etc. would all need estimates.



          Then, since Bayesian statistical results depend on the information
          available, and since different individuals have different information to
          draw on, consensus estimates are likely to lead to a better result than
          individual estimates. Of course that requires an investment of time, and
          I'm not sure how much interest this question has for those here.



          But if nothing else the example shows at least one NT scholar working in
          an almost explicit Bayesian fashion.



          Dave



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