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Scholar: 'Jesus Tomb' Makers Mistaken (Ossuary's inscription does not say Mary Magdalene)
PhysOrg ^ | March 13, 2007 | MATTI FRIEDMAN

Posted on 03/14/2007 7:50:29 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

A scholar looking into the factual basis of a popular but widely criticized documentary that claims to have located the tomb of Jesus said Tuesday that a crucial piece of evidence filmmakers used to support their claim is a mistake.

Stephen Pfann, a textual scholar and paleographer at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he has released a paper claiming the makers of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to the New Testament's Mary Magdalene.

The film's director, Simcha Jacobovici, responded that other researchers agreed with the documentary's conclusions.

Produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron, the documentary has drawn intense media coverage for its claims challenging accepted Christian dogma.

Despite widespread ridicule from scholars, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" drew more than 4 million viewers when it aired on the Discovery Channel on March 4. A companion book, "The Jesus Family Tomb," has rocketed to sixth place on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

The film and book suggest that a first-century ossuary found in a south Jerusalem cave in 1980 contained the remains of Jesus, contradicting the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven. Ossuaries are stone boxes used at the time to store the bones of the dead.

The filmmakers also suggest that Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb, that she and Jesus were married, and that an ossuary labeled "Judah son of Jesus" belonged to their son.

The scholars who analyzed the Greek inscription on one of the ossuaries after its discovery read it as "Mariamene e Mara," meaning "Mary the teacher" or "Mary the master."

Before the movie was screened, Jacobovici said that particular inscription provided crucial support for his claim. The name Mariamene is rare, and in some early Christian texts it is believed to refer to Mary Magdalene.

But having analyzed the inscription, Pfann published a detailed article on his university's Web site asserting that it doesn't read "Mariamene" at all.

The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, "Mariame," was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words "kai Mara," meaning "and Mara." Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

According to Pfann's reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of "Mary the teacher," but rather of two women, "Mary and Martha."

"In view of the above, there is no longer any reason to be tempted to link this ossuary ... to Mary Magdalene or any other person in biblical, non-biblical or church tradition," Pfann wrote.

In the interest of telling a good story, Pfann said, the documentary engaged in some "fudging" of the facts.

"James Cameron is a great guru of science fiction, and he's taking it to a new level with Simcha Jacobovici. You take a little bit of science, spin a good yarn out of it and you get another 'Terminator' or 'Life of Brian,'" said Pfann, who briefly appeared as an ossuary expert in the documentary.

In Israel on Tuesday for a screening of the film, the Toronto-based Jacobovici welcomed Pfann's criticism, saying "every inscription should be re-examined."

But Jacobovici said scholars who researched the ossuary in the past agreed with the film's reading. "Anyone who looks at it can see that the script was written by the same hand," he added.

Jacobovici has faced criticism much tougher than Pfann's academic critique. The film has been termed "archaeo-porn," and Jacobovici has been accused of "pimping the Bible."

Jacobovici attributes most of the criticism to scholars' discomfort with journalists "casting light into their ossuary monopoly."

"What we're doing is democratizing this knowledge, and this is driving some people crazy," he said.


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: epigraphyandlanguage; faithandphilosophy; godsgravesglyphs; gospelofjesuswife; hewasarabbi; jamescameron; jamesossuary; jerusalem; jesuschrist; jesustomb; karenking; letshavejerusalem; losttombofjesus; mariame; mariamne; marymagdalene; ossuary; rabbismarry; sectarianturmoil; simchajacobovici; talpiot; talpiottomb; weddingatcana

1 posted on 03/14/2007 7:50:36 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
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To: DaveLoneRanger

2 posted on 03/14/2007 7:54:10 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Perhaps the next documentary will be about the "tomb of Jesus" in Kashmir

http://www.tombofjesus.com/2007/home/welcome.html


3 posted on 03/14/2007 7:58:44 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: dead

Who ever believed this anyow.


4 posted on 03/14/2007 8:00:05 AM PDT by gulfcoast6
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Hmmm...Mary and Martha were the sisters of Lazarus.


5 posted on 03/14/2007 8:03:07 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: gulfcoast6

Another "fake but accurate" liberal attempt to rewrite the events of the world.
Good grief!!


6 posted on 03/14/2007 8:03:50 AM PDT by jackv (just shakin' my head)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Jacobovici has a lot more serious things to be concerned with than 'driving some people crazy.'

Like a Holy and Righteous God on the Day of Judgement......

7 posted on 03/14/2007 8:04:51 AM PDT by ohioWfan (PRAY for our President and our troops!!)
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To: ohioWfan

AMEN!


8 posted on 03/14/2007 8:06:07 AM PDT by gulfcoast6
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Jacobovici has faced criticism much tougher than Pfann's academic critique. The film has been termed "archaeo-porn," and Jacobovici has been accused of "pimping the Bible."



This part of the article makes me question the integrity of both the magazine and its author.


9 posted on 03/14/2007 8:08:41 AM PDT by DeerfieldObserver
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To: Alamo-Girl; AnalogReigns; AnAmericanMother; Angelas; AniGrrl; annyokie; Aquinasfan; aruanan; ...
More "tomb" debunking by real scholars... PING!

If you want on or off the Shroud of Turin Ping List, Freepmail me.


10 posted on 03/14/2007 8:11:29 AM PDT by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE)
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To: AppyPappy

So, the next movie will be "Jesus, the Bigamist".


11 posted on 03/14/2007 8:12:58 AM PDT by true_blue_texican (...against all enemies, foreign and domestic...)
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To: AppyPappy

Yes. That occurred to me too. It seems a bit ignorant to say that the names "Mary and Martha" have no scriptural significance. On the other hand, these were very common names at the time. Maybe if it said Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are buried here, it would be stretching coincidence a bit.


12 posted on 03/14/2007 8:17:07 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Even the Christian hating MSM gave up on this story before it aired.
13 posted on 03/14/2007 8:21:33 AM PDT by BallyBill (Serial Hit-N-Run poster)
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To: Swordmaker

...and check out THE RAPE OF THE TURIN SHROUD by William Meacham.


14 posted on 03/14/2007 8:21:37 AM PDT by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Anyone who may be intellectually interested in this would do well to visit James Tabor's blog at www.jesusdynasty.com.


15 posted on 03/14/2007 8:40:48 AM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: AppyPappy

Both names were very common in those days. It would be like discovering a grave today with "John and Mary" on it and deducing it was one particular couple.


16 posted on 03/14/2007 8:48:23 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger (As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

The inscription actually says "Made in China".


17 posted on 03/14/2007 8:52:54 AM PDT by The Great RJ ("Mir we bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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thanks go to GoLightly and xcamel for compiling the list (thus far) of such topics, and to whomever started the handy keyword:

Sorted this to chrono order:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=jesustomb

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1789769/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1789966/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1790456/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1790579/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1790608/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1790818/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1790884/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1790953/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791244/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1791251/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1791276/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791284/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791352/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791365/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791383/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791513/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1791533/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791544/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791583/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791588/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791610/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791875/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791891/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1791894/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1792121/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1792190/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1792305/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1792583/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1792663/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1793097/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1793996/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1794091/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1794203/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1794358/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1794359/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1794668/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1794698/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1794854/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1794997/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1796250/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1796310/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1796994/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1797491/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1798942/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1800146/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1800706/posts


18 posted on 03/14/2007 8:56:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Sunday, March 11, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Psalm 14:1 [[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David.]] The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.


19 posted on 03/14/2007 8:57:18 AM PDT by savedbygrace (SECURE THE BORDERS FIRST (I'M YELLING ON PURPOSE))
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Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

20 posted on 03/14/2007 8:57:19 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Sunday, March 11, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

If the inscription is truly "Mary and Martha" and these stone boxes are supposed to hold the remains (bones) of the names on the inscription, why do they not just reassemble the bones to confirm that there is more than one body? Duplicate bones would indicate more than one body.


21 posted on 03/14/2007 8:58:48 AM PDT by freds6girlies (many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. Mt. 19:30. R.I.P. G & J)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
The pattern of distorting science for political ends is well established by the left. Which is more insidious:

Falsely proclaiming man-made global warming in order to tear down western civilization and promote one world government; or

Falsely delivering the bones of Christ in order to cast dispersions on the religion that has been the basis of western civilization.

Both actions are aimed toward a goal of developing an omnipotent global government that we all fear and worship.

22 posted on 03/14/2007 9:10:00 AM PDT by massadvj
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To: DaveLoneRanger
The pattern of distorting science for political ends is well established by the left. Which is more insidious:

Falsely proclaiming man-made global warming in order to tear down western civilization and promote one world government; or

Falsely delivering the bones of Christ in order to cast dispersions on the religion that has been the basis of western civilization.

Both actions are aimed toward a goal of developing an omnipotent global government that we all fear and worship.

23 posted on 03/14/2007 9:10:14 AM PDT by massadvj
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To: Swordmaker

Thanks for the ping!


24 posted on 03/14/2007 9:24:45 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Swordmaker

!!


25 posted on 03/14/2007 9:41:29 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you've had life support. Promote life support for others.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
No, no...The Jesus tomb documentary may have been fake, but it was accurate, a la Farenheit 911, Bowling for Columbine, and An Inconvenient Truth.
26 posted on 03/14/2007 9:46:10 AM PDT by opus86
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To: JmyBryan

Oh please. The whole Jesus' tomb BS has already been debunked by reputable scholars not media seeking attention whores like Cameron and Jacobiwhateverhisname is :
http://www.jesustombexposed.com/


27 posted on 03/14/2007 9:49:08 AM PDT by John Philoponus
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Can somebody describe the answer to me on a firdst grade level? It still includes "Mariame" on the outside of the box. The producers argued that that can mean Mary Magdelene. I still see nothing that rebuts their assumption. I see new information that there may be two women in the box.

Someone please explain it to us lesser scholars.

28 posted on 03/14/2007 9:54:23 AM PDT by carolinalivin
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To: John Philoponus

No one knows really who is in the tomb or whether it means anything, therefore most of this so-called debunking is really a reaction against the marketing - not the tomb. The tomb and the ossuaries exist. What their relevance is, is really the argument. If you wish to dismiss them, fine.

There is no question that controversy sells. Also, there is no doubt that many have so-called anti-Christian agendas.

However the entire field of Christian origins/First Centry Judaism is active and developing. If you find the time of Jesus interesting, the discoveries that have been made in the last 50 years have given much to be considered.

Personally, I like reading about discoveries and theories regarding the development of Judaism and Christianity. This tomb is another piece of understanding the puzzle.

If you feel there is no puzzle, that is your perogative.


29 posted on 03/14/2007 10:08:54 AM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: JmyBryan

Sorry, prerogative.


30 posted on 03/14/2007 10:20:49 AM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: true_blue_texican

??? When my Great Grandfather arrived from Sicily he was disappointed since he couldn't see the Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island because of a bigamist!


31 posted on 03/14/2007 10:24:07 AM PDT by Young Werther ( and Julius Ceasar said, "quae cum ita sunt.")
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To: DaveLoneRanger
"What we're doing is democratizing this knowledge, and this is driving some people crazy," he said.

Well there you go. No more discussion necessary. Everyone knows the majority is always right.

Even if the knowledge is factually crap, getting lots of people to opine that they might believe it obviously makes it true. And everything you see on TV is true anyway, right?

The real irony is that much of the public is so ignorant, they don't know enough to be insulted by Cameron's assumption that we are all stupid.

32 posted on 03/14/2007 11:06:41 AM PDT by NCSteve
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To: freds6girlies
If the inscription is truly "Mary and Martha" and these stone boxes are supposed to hold the remains (bones) of the names on the inscription, why do they not just reassemble the bones to confirm that there is more than one body? Duplicate bones would indicate more than one body.

In 1980, when the tomb was first opened, the ossuaries were removed and the bones from all of them were buried in a common grave according to Israeli law.

33 posted on 03/14/2007 3:54:28 PM PDT by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE)
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To: carolinalivin
Can somebody describe the answer to me on a firdst grade level? It still includes "Mariame" on the outside of the box. The producers argued that that can mean Mary Magdelene. I still see nothing that rebuts their assumption. I see new information that there may be two women in the box.

Someone please explain it to us lesser scholars.

The "documentary" makers have confabulated the name Mariamne as being Mary Magdalene (from Magdala). It is a matter of fact, however, that 25% of the female residents of Jerusalem in the 1st Century were named Mary, Miriam, Mariam, or Mariamne... all versions of the latinized name "Mary".

To say that this Mariamne, out of all the other Mariamnes and other variations of the 25% of Jerusalem's female population, is one specific Mariamne is pure conjecture and as such the burden of proof lies with those who claim it.

THIS particular ossuary's inscription was the only one in the tomb written in Greek... but it is in a Jewish tomb... and the family would be Jewish and it would be more likely written in either Hebrew or Aramaic by those left behind to bury her.

The film makers postulate that because Magdala is closer to Greece than is Jerusalem, this would be naturally Mary Magdala's language. In actual fact, Magdala (Mejdal), is located only about 13 miles east of Nazareth... and is farther away from trade routes and the likelyhood that the language of the town would be Greek is absurd and not based on any scholarship except the film makers need to make it so to explain the inexplicable Greek inscription among a bunch of Aramaic and Hebrew inscriptions.

The film makers claim that the extension of Mara on the Mariamne ossuary means "the Master" is also very unlikely. A family would not inscribe a title on an ossuary of a family member. Since this was a family tomb, it would be more logical to inscribe the box with "Mary, wife of Yeshua" if that were indeed who was buried in the ossuary... instead of a name indicative of a title that would long since have been left in the past as a maiden name is today. Even the purported Jesus ossuary did not say "Yeshua the messiah" or "Yeshua the Teacher".

A couple of years ago the tomb of Caiphas, the high priest who Jesus was brought before, was excavated and his ossuary said only "Caiphas, son of Jesse." As this article points out, it is much more likely that the extension is "and Martha" indicating an additional skeleton was put in this particular box.

34 posted on 03/14/2007 4:32:20 PM PDT by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE)
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To: Swordmaker
Thanx, that was easy to follow.

Two questions. In the program didn't thety say that Marriamne was a real low instance in the popluation? Did I remember it incorrectly? Were they wrong?

I thought they said Mary Magdalene died eslewhere and was brought there for burial (their supposition). Would that explain Greek writing?

35 posted on 03/14/2007 4:55:06 PM PDT by carolinalivin
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To: dead

LOL! I knew Jon Cary must be involved in this scam somehow.....


36 posted on 03/14/2007 4:57:37 PM PDT by Enchante (Joe Wilson: "DUH...What do you mean there is uranium smuggling from DR Congo?")
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To: dead
But Jacobovici said scholars who researched the ossuary in the past agreed with the film's reading.

In order to honestly evaluate the veracity of the "scholars" and judge what bias, and lack, they hold, we need to know who they were and something about them.

You could write something devastating to Negroes and Jews and have every Identity church "scholar" agreeing with you.

37 posted on 03/14/2007 5:08:28 PM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

CNN didn't miss the opportunity to promote the original story heavily when it first broke. I'd expect them to be relatively silent about the fact that it was erroneous.


38 posted on 03/14/2007 5:10:21 PM PDT by Old_Mil (Duncan Hunter in 2008! A Veteran, A Patriot, A Reagan Republican... http://www.gohunter08.com/)
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To: carolinalivin
Two questions. In the program didn't thety say that Marriamne was a real low instance in the popluation? Did I remember it incorrectly? Were they wrong?

Mariamne is a variant of Miriam or Mariam. As such it will have a lower instance in the population than either of those names. However, the only instances of Mariamne being used as the name of Mary Magdalene appears in some copies of Gnostic Gospels transcribed ~400 years after the events (one or two extant earlier versions used Mariam and later copies did so as well - note that the Coptic [the language of some of the Gnostic Gospels] translation of Mariam would be Mariamne according to some scholars) while the earlier synoptic Gospels and presumably the earlier source Q document (written between 70 and 200 AD) use one of the other variants of Mary Magdalene.

To accept this ossuary as Mary Magdalene's, one has to first accept the Gnostic usage of Mariamne as her correct name. That's quite a leap.

Remember Aramaic and Hebrew have no written vowels, so in written form Mary, Miriam, Mariam, and Mariamne are basically spelled the same... it is a matter of interpretation as to which is which.

I thought they said Mary Magdalene died eslewhere and was brought there for burial (their supposition). Would that explain Greek writing?

Doubtful.

Again, the film makers reach into unsupported fiction to prop up their theory's problems and disagreements with Christian history and tradition.

The candidates for Mary Magdalene's death place are varied and include France, Turkey, Ireland, and England. Jewish custom did not allow for transporting bones or bodies any great distances... the carrier would be ritually unclean for a long time. Transporting a heavy ossuary box would be expensive and time consuming for little reward from a middle income family.

Incidentally, if Mariamne were Jesus' wife, and he pre-deceased her, one of his supposed brothers would have been obliged to marry her to keep her from poverty... there is no evidence of that.

39 posted on 03/14/2007 7:25:23 PM PDT by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE)
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To: Cicero; All
Maybe if it said Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are buried here, it would be stretching coincidence a bit.

Wouldn't "Mary's" name have been Miriam or Myriam? Probably read this in a magazine in a doctor's office but I thought I remembered that about "Mary" and "Miriam."

Anybody know?
40 posted on 03/14/2007 7:50:10 PM PDT by hummingbird (All opinions spoken from my armchair and have no actual bearing on the war.)
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