Other Yeshua‘s among the ossuaries

Written by Michael Moore

February 26, 2017

Other Yeshua‘s



Another Yeshua‘ bar Yehosef (CJO 9)

CJO 9 is the second “Yeshua‘ bar Yehosef” in the CJO collection. However, this time there is no question mark next to the name Yeshua‘. It is clearly inscribed in a deeply incised, lapidary stick script. The letters are unornamented (without the upturned serifs) with the exception of the word “bar” in the middle of the inscription. The waw and yodh are clearly distinguished.

Since there are approximately 230 Hebrew/Aramaic inscriptions among the ossuaries in the CJO series, statistically there is one “Jesus son of Joseph” for every 115 Hebrew/Aramaic ossuary inscriptions in the collection. There may have been more among the tombs since the vast majority of ossuaries contain more skeletons than there are names inscribed on the sides. Also, most cases where a Yeshua‘ has been inscribed, there is no father mentioned (there is an outside chance that any of a number of these were also a “Jesus, son of Joseph”).

Various scripts among the ossuaries


Besides the natural distinctions in personal handwriting from one inscription to another, there are also distinct, standard styles of scripts that have been used among the ossuaries. A general distinction can be made between styles which emulate or are influenced by normal “ink on paper” handwriting. These come in formal, semi-formal, semi-cursive and cursive scripts. Formal script is reflected in CJO 121 and CJO 702. Cursive script endeavors to create letters without lifting the pen or stylus. The best examples of this form of script is that of DF 40. This closely resembles the name “Yeshua‘ (?)” in ossuary CJO 704 from the Talpiot Tomb.

There are other scripts, called “lapidary scripts,” which are standard for inscriptions which have been deeply engraved in stone. What tend to be gently curved lines in handwritten scripts tend to be straightened out in lapidary script. There are both formal and informal forms of this script which usually can be distinguished by uniformity and ornamentation. The more ornamented forms tend to have triangular, often hollow serifs (as in the Mariah, Yoseh, and Mattiah inscriptions in the Talpiot Tomb). The lines of the less elaborate lapidary styles tend to appear stick-like, made up of distinct separate strokes and without serif ornamentation (cf. and especially DF 29 and “Yehosef” of the CJO 704 Talpiot Tomb inscription; also pertinent is CJO 9). CJO 140 above is the same but with slight hint of some cursive tendencies with respect to the shin and the ‘ayin.

The scripts of the “Yeshua‘ (?) bar Yehosef” inscription of the Talpiot Tomb

Yeshua‘ (?):

Cursive style.

Utilizes earlier strokes which preexisted on the surface as part of the new inscription.

Cramped/crowded execution which is abnormal to be confined to the beginning of an inscription (as opposed to the end of an inscription where such crowding commonly happens when the writer runs out of room; e.g., CJO 702). However crowding is more likely to be expected when a name or word is being inserted into a line or place where there is limited space for the size of the inserted word earlier in the inscription.

Which is the best candidate for yodh? Only one candidate of the two could have been made by the same tool as shin and ayin in the rest of the inscription: the short diagonal stroke attached to bottom of the shin. Here, yodh is executed as a short, diagonal stroke in numerous inscriptions in order to distinguish it from the waw. This form is stylistically similar to other inscriptions such as CJO 63, CJO 140, DF 40 (see above) and should be considered a trait typical of the writer, whether writing in either cursive or simple lapidary script. As will be seen, this is not the practice of the individual who wrote the name “Yehosef”.

yeshua-color.jpg yeshua-bshemesh.jpg

Yeshua‘: Drawing and new close-up images of the ossuary.


Simple lapidary style. Stick-like appearance. The yodh and the waw are virtually indistinguishable graphically speaking. The length, angle and height of the stroke are consistently the same.

yehosefcolour.jpg jesusdf29color.jpg

The Yeshua‘ of DF 29 is stylistically more compatible with the Yehosef of this inscription, illustrating what the name Yeshua‘ would have looked like if the person who wrote Yehosef would also have written it also. It would appear that, again we have evidence that Yeshua‘ (?) was written by a different hand on another occasion.

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