Monday, March 5, 2007

So-called "Lost Tomb of Jesus": Mysterious Chevron and Circle?

Coin of Herod Phillip, 4 BC-AD 34
www.JerusalemCoins.com

Nicanor gate facade
with the Temple in the background

Coin of Herod Phillip (The British Museum)


In a previous post I mentioned the possibility that the symbols that are being used in such a sensational way on the official "Jesus Tomb" website (http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/) --just as they were used in the "documentary" -- might not be early Christian symbols at all.

On the coins above (Herod Phillip) a "chevron and circle" pattern is clearly visible as a depiction of the facade of the Nicanor gate of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The Nicanor gate marked the end of a pilgrimage. The last fifteen steps are still marked by the "Psalms of Ascent," or better, "the Psalms of the ascending ones." The entrance to the tomb also marked the end of a pilgrimage.

Such an architectural feature points to temple worship; and this means that those buried in the tomb on last night's "documentary" were more likely observant Jews. Though it is not impossible that they were Jewish Christians (who met for a while in "Solomon's porch"), given the numbers of Jews to Christians over the amount of time ossuaries were in use... I don't think it would take a statistician to figure out that the odds are much better that this is simply a Jewish tomb.

But the Pontormo Code? or the All-seeing eye? or the Knight's Templar? This is where conspiracy theory meets archaeology in my opinion. If they can't, I blush for them.

Perhaps this was a priestly family (see comments this entry). Or perhaps this was a family related to the restoration of temple worship (see earlier article on "The Talpiot Tombs..." below for Hasmonian/Maccabean possibilities for the names on these ossuaries). Or, perhaps this was just a very observant family that loved to worship at the temple. Certainly the verse comes to mind from David's Psalm 23, "...and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Links:
Jesus Tomb Exposed: Excellent collection of links
Faithmaps: Another good collection of links
Crosstie.org: Another good collection of links
Targuman: "The Chevron and Circle on "Jesus'" Tomb
Dr. Craig A. Evans: "The Tomb of Jesus and Family? Second Thoughts"
http://www.deinde.org/story/2007/3/2/203419/9162
Rod Bennett: Progress on the Lost Tomb

30 comments:

Phil said...

My first thought, and I'm just a layman, was that the "chevron" was meant to represent a gable of sorts and the circle a window. Simple architectural adornments. Sort of a nod to the more ornate Greco-Roman tombs closer to the Temple.

It seems like Occam's razor would leave us with that as the most likely conclusion unless there was powerful compelling reason to see it otherwise. But I guess Jacobovici doesn't use Occam's razor all that much ;-)

www.wildrye.com

Julia said...

Dr. Kilpatrick,

Thank you for taking the time to write this blog! I am encouraged that we do have "a confirmed Word."

Julia

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Dr. K:

This suggests that in fact the chevron signals we are dealing with a priestly family's private tomb.

Ben Witherington

RKK said...

Thanks for dropping by Dr. Ben. I think that is possible. I have been aware for a long time that the golden vine from the temple facade was frequently connected to Jewish tombs. Looks like they were Jews and possibly from a priestly family--or a family that restored the temple... Maccabean?

That would account for Judah, Joseph, Matthew and even "Mariamne"--now better known as Mariamenon.

Names can be interesting... Your friend R. Bauckham is a wise man. I have appreciated his comments.

As for Simcha and co... It was once wisely said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring."

RKK said...

Good observations Phil. I would agree that this is either a roofline and simple architectural feature (perhaps a window or simple geometric bas relief) of the temple or it may be related to the Nicanor gate facade, or perhaps both of them had the same design... hence the pilgrim would see this repeated one above another since the Ulam of the temple rose high above the Nicanor gate.

Chris Rosebrough said...

Great work.

You may also be interested in this web page put together by Joe Zias. He worked with Amos Kloner on the Talpiot site back in 1980

http://www.joezias.com/tomb.html

RKK said...

Thanks Chris. I have appreciated the way that Joe Zias has spoken up against the sensationalism of Simcha & co.

IXTHUS said...

Better than words alone, the pictures presented in the post make the explanation much more consistent. Especially for the dating of those coins, which make it harder to handle the false affirmation on the show in regard to symbles used by first century Christians.
Jacobovici does not fear God! He needs to be included in our prayers. It seems he has at least some trust in the Bible. If he would just read it a little more...

As Jesus would say "...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32 - NASB)

Great Job Dr. K!

Doug E. said...

Hey Dr. K.

Great post!

Doug

Beto said...

i thought chevron is related to oil business. :)

anyhow, thats what always got me wonder. if the chevron is a big deal and it seems like it. why did the inscriptions on the ossuaries look like a chicken scratch? if they took time to carved out a beautiful chevron and circle outside the tomb, the least that they can do were to put a better looking inscription. the last ossuary that they claimed to be the missing one has a better inscription job on it.

junk99mail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winnipeg Catholic said...

Great post on the Chevron. I was happy to see someone comment on it. I see the point with the Herod era coin, but I do not see your point with the facade. I don't see that the facade looks like that. Is it possible that the ancient Jews also used the eye-of-god symbology?

RKK said...

Winnepeg Catholic,

Thanks for your comments. I am referring to the pitched roof or gable only depicted by the artist on my blog page pic above the doorway of the Nicanor gate. It may have covered all four columns as depicted on the coin and on a few depictions of the Nicanor gate. Also, please see my next blog entry.

RKK

Marty said...

Thank you for a logical answer (the coin). I need however, to know what was written (exactly) on the Ossuary marked “Mariamene e Mara”. I contacted Dr. Tabor and his book states Mariamene, but in a recent e-mail he sent me, he now claims “Mariamenou”.
Note: The ending “menou” is a common French last name and is a village located in Burgundy France. Is he taking us to his next book/film “The knights Templar”? This appears to be an effort to generate money, not an effort to further religious studies. I would not be concerned, except these authors all sated “Mariamene or Mariamne” in their texts and films.
You comment please on the proper spelling please: Respectfully yours Martin Farrell
PS: I saved the e-mail from Dr. Tabor, see below
From : James D. Tabor
Sent : Wednesday, May 9, 2007 6:50 PM
To : Martin Farrell
Subject : Re: New Info



|
|
| tomb
| Inbox



Dear Martin,

Thanks for your thoughts. The problem is that the actual inscription is in the genitive case and read Mariamenou, meaning "of Mariamene," and we have another ossuary with that name. It is a formation of a name that we know in Greek and has nothing to do with the Aramaic I think. Sometimes English equivalents, by sound, can be misleading.

Take care,

James

RKK said...

A good treatment on this name may be found at:

http://www.uhl.ac/MariameAndMartha/

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