Sunday, March 4, 2007

Stats anyone?

The key statistician used in the Talpiot documentary research was Andrey Feuerverger whose reply to critics and inquirers is now available on his website. Mark Goodacre reflects on some of his comments.

UPDATE (3-9-07): All agree that Feuerverger's statistics can only be as good as the assumptions underlying them. Chris Heard, over at Higgaion, notes problems with some of those assumptions. He links to posts by Mark Goodacre and Richard Bauckham but also offers his own insights. For example, on Feuerverger's assumption that Yose/Yosah on ossuary #4 (allegedly the Joses of Mark 6:3) is not the same person as Yehosef (father of Yeshua) on ossuary #1 (allegedly Joseph, the father of Jesus of Nazareth), Heard observes:
I’m not sure why this should be assumed. I suppose that it seems common-sensical to think that the same person wouldn’t be named in two different ways on ossuaries in the same tomb, but then again, it’s hardly a slam-dunk case. The filmmakers argue that יוסה is a diminutive form of יהוסף, but that the Talpiot יוסה is not the Talpiot יהוסף, but at the very same time, they want you to believe that the Talpiot Μαριαμήνου Μἀρα is Mary Magdalene, even though no early Christian source—not even the apocryphal Acts of Philip, on which the filmmakers apparently rely—calls Mary Magdalene by this name. This double-standard—the same man couldn’t possibly be known by his full name on one ossuary and a nickname on the other, but a woman could be known on her ossuary by an otherwise completely unattested name—undermines the entire case.
Jacobovici may be right that Yehosef and Yose are different people, but it does seem to be a case of assuming what you set out to prove.

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