Another Jesus, son of Joseph? Surprising, but true statistics

Written by Michael Moore

February 26, 2017

Many have led us to believe that the name “Jesus, son of Joseph” is unique or very rare


The Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries lists two “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuaries (nos 9 and 704). In that collection of 895 ossuaries, there are only 231 inscribed ossuaries. Therefore, in that collection there is one Jesus son of Joseph for every 116 inscribed ossuaries. Utilizing a census of 35 burials per tomb (Kloner’s calculation for the Talpiot tomb), that would mean that there would be one “Jesus son of Joseph” for every 3.3 tombs of similar size.

Also these are two of about sixty ossuaries with “X, son of Y”; that means one of every 30 ossuaries that lists father and son is inscribed “Jesus son of Joseph”. There are also 3 ossuaries in the catalogue with the name “Jesus” but no father or son named (CJO 56, 114, 140). Theoretically, any one of these could also be a “Jesus, son of Joseph” ossuary.

(The other 664 ossuaries are decorated but not inscribed with names. There are still more ossuaries in the collection but are not catalogued since these are neither inscribed with names nor decorated. Any one of these could also have housed a Jesus, son of Joseph. Amos Kloner knows of at least one or two others by that name from outside the CJO collection.)

Mariame (not Maria or Mariamne) is, by far, the most common Greek equivalent for Mary among the ossuaries.

The Hebrew MARIA (4x) is less common than the Hebrew MARIAM (6x) but certainly not rare.

For more:

The Improper Application of Statistics in “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

Mary Magdalene is now missing: A corrected reading of Rahmani Ossuary 701? By Stephen Pfann, Ph.D (See supplementary note as well)

It has been advanced by the filmmakers and their advisers that the name Yose is very rare.

The filmmakers failed to clarify that “Yoseh” (Hebrew) with its equivalent “Iose” (Greek) is by far the most common shortened name for Yehosef/Josef from the second century BCE until the first century. In second to third century Beth Shearim the name “Jose” is actually more common than “Josef”. The New Testament provides both of these names for Jesus’ brother. One Hebrew and three Greek ossuaries with this name are found in the CJO collection.

Stephen Pfann

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