Multiplying the odds of one being named “Jesus” by the odds of one being named “Joseph,” one finds that the odds of a given male patronymic being “Jesus son of Joseph” is about .38%. Since there are two patronymic ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb, the odds of one reading “Jesus son of Joseph” is about 0.75%.
. . . it is necessary to address the “after the fact” nature of many of the statistical studies made in connection with this tomb. That is, what obtains in this tomb’s sampling is sometimes being treated as the only combination of names that could foster the suspicion that this is the tomb of Jesus’ family, when in fact a number of other combinations of names could do so just as impressively. . . . the same arguments that have been made in connection with the appearance of “Yose” would then have been made in connection with “Judah,” “Simeon,” or “James.” A more meaningful approach would calculate the odds of finding one patronymic relation known to obtain within Jesus’ family, together with one other male family name and one known female family name, within a sampling of ossuary inscriptions featuring two patronymic male inscriptions, two non-patronymic male inscriptions, and two female inscriptions.Though some of Poirier's charges are not new, both his logic and his results are distinctive. He likens Jacobovici's argument to watching someone pick several wild cards after being dealt a hand of cards and then brag about his royal flush.
. . . we need to determine the odds of finding “Jesus son of Joseph,” “Mary,” and the name of any one of Jesus’ brothers. Now the odds of finding one of Jesus’ brothers’ names on one of the three remaining male ossuaries can be calculated [note] to yield a probability of 63.26%, or odds of one in 1.6. Multiplying that figure by the above-determined figures for finding “Jesus son of Joseph” and “Mary,” we arrive at a probability for the full package of 0.21% (that is, 63.26% x 0.75% x 44.10%), or, more precisely, of odds of one in 475.1. Considering that there are some 1,000 tombs similar to “the Tomb,” it should hardly be surprising that one should yield this cluster of names. On average (and holding the number of inscribed ossuaries to be typical), we might actually expect to find two or more.
At the end of the day there are surely countless wrong ways to run the numbers (Jacobovici's evidently among them). Poirier's model, alongside several others, suggests there may be several right ways as well.
UPDATE (9:52 a.m.): Mark Goodacre's latest post is a useful catalog of contributions to the Talpiot tomb statistics debate.