Monthly Archives: July 2011

Review of _Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae_

16 July 2011

A Review of Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: Volume 1, Jerusalem, Part 1: 1-704, edited by Hannah M. Cotton, Leah Di Segni, Werner Eck, Benjamin Isaac, Alla Kushnir-Stein, Haggai Misgav, Jonathan Price, Israel Roll and Ada Yardeni. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010. ISBN: 978-3-11-022219-7. Pp. xxvi + 694. $195.

This is the first volume of the new Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae to appear in print. Scholars working in fields such as Epigraphic Hebrew and Aramaic, Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, the History of Judaism, Hellenistic Greek, Classical Latin, Greek New Testament and Early Christianity will find this volume to be a vade mecum. Moreover, those working in fields such as Hellenistic and Roman history, Jewish burial practices, Jewish personal names (in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin) and the history of Jerusalem will find this volume to be a particularly fertile source of primary data as well. In addition, those interested in subjects such as linguistic and cultural diversity in antiquity will find this volume to be replete with a superabundance of primary data. Ultimately, I would suggest that no scholar working within such fields can afford to be without this volume, and no library with a collection that touches on these fields can afford to be without this volume. It is a veritable sine qua non. To be sure, this volume is rather expensive, but it is certainly worth the purchase price. Within this review, I shall begin with a summary of the scope of this new Corpus, then discuss the contents of this first volume in broad strokes, and conclude with a synopsis of some of the epigraphic material contained in it.

Scope of the entire Corpus. For some time now, scholars have sensed that there needed to be a new corpus of inscriptions from this period and region. After initial discussions in 1997, it was decided that the new corpus would be “restricted to the Graeco-Roman period (beginning with Alexander and ending with the Arab Conquest of Palestine.” However, rather than restricting itself to Greek and Latin (as works focusing on this period have often done), the new Corpus “was to be a comprehensive multilingual corpus of all inscriptions, both published and (so far as possible) unpublished, encompassing the ‘sovereign languages,’ Greek and Latin, alongside the Semitic languages, namely Hebrew, Phoenician and the various Aramaic dialects: Jewish Aramaic, Samaritan, Nabataean, Northern Syriac and Southern Syriac (known also as Christian Palestinian Aramaic).” Furthermore, it was also agreed that it would be important also to include “the proto-Arabic languages, Thamudic and Safaitic, and finally Armenian and Georgian” as well. It was also decided that “Early Arabic inscriptions are outside the time limits of our Corpus and hence not included.” However, it was noted that these are “being collected and edited by Moshe Sharon in the Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae” (pages v-vi). Obviously, therefore, both breadth and depth are envisioned for this new Corpus.

Because this new Corpus has cast its net so widely, it was determined that “the entire Corpus will consist of nine volumes, organized according to major geographical and/or historical divisions in ancient Judaea/Palestina: Jerusalem and its surroundings; the middle coastline north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa with Caesarea as the focal point; the southern coastline with its urban hinterland; Galilee and the northern coastline including Acco; the Golan Heights; Samaria; Judaea (without Jerusalem) and Idumaea; the Negev.” It should be emphasized, however, that “the order in which the regions are presented here does not reflect the order in which the volumes will appear in print.” Finally, it is also stated that “a final volume will include milestones from the entire territory, including those that no longer bear an inscription, as well as items with unknown or uncertain provenance, in museums and private collections.” Parts of modern Syria and Jordan which were at different times part of the administrative unit which included Iudaea/Palestine (i.e., Batanea, Aurantis, and the Peraea) are not included since nowadays they belong to territories covered by Inscriptions Grecques et Latines de la Syrie or de la Jordanie, respectively” (p. vi).

Naturally, because of the large number of inscriptions that are included in this Corpus, the editors state that “it was not our intention to provide an exhaustive commentary for every single inscription” (p. vii). Similarly, as for the bibliography, it is stated that it “does not claim to be complete; whereas the editors consulted every item in which each inscription was discussed, only the relevant literature has been cited here. Any other procedure would have resulted in an endless list of items, which would be of little interest” (p. vii). Again, this too is entirely understandable and defensible, in light of the large numbers of texts that are part of this Corpus. However, it should also be emphasized that the bibliographies in this volume are really quite thorough. To be sure, they are not exhaustive, but those using the bibliographies will not be disappointed.

Regarding this first volume (parts 1 and 2) it is stated that “the following order has been adopted. First, the inscriptions were divided so far as possible into three chronological groups: (1) The Hellenistic period up to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70; (2) The Roman period from 70 to the reign of Constantine; (3) Late Antiquity, from Constantine to the Arab Conquest.” (p. vii). It is noted that there have been some exclusions, but entirely understandable ones. Namely, the editors state that “on the whole we have not included mass-produced inscriptions such as impressions of amphora-handle stamps, brick-stamps, potter-stamps, stamps on lamps, and pilgrims’ ampullae” (p. vii). Those using this volume might have wished for indices. The editors sensed the importance of this and state that “we regret the absence of a general index in this volume.” However, they do state that “a general index for all the volumes is planned. And we intend to provide a provisional general index to this volume on the Internet” (p. viii). It should also be mentioned that the preface mentions that “an index of names is provided here [in this volume].” There is no index of names in Volume 1, Jerusalem, Part 1: 1-704, but my strong assumption is that this index will be included in the forthcoming Volume 1, Jerusalem, Part 2.

In any case, Volume 1, Jerusalem, Part 1: 1-704 begins with a fairly detailed synopsis of ancient literary references to the city of Jerusalem (pp. 1-37). Moreover, there is a fine summary of the caves and tombs in the region of Jerusalem. In terms of the history of Jerusalem, there are particularly good summaries of the period between the First and Second Jewish Revolts and also of the period from the time of Hadrian to Constantine, and from Constantine to the Muslim Conquest. This section of the volume is reflective of the volume as a whole, namely, detailed reference to relevant ancient sources, replete with citation of the most salient and authoritative modern studies. The remainder of this volume (i.e., Volume 1, Part 1) focuses on “Inscriptions from the Hellenistic period up to the Destruction of the Second Temple.” This material is divided up into four parts: Section A “Inscriptions of religious and public character,” (inscription numbers 1-17, pages 39-64). Section B “Funerary Inscriptions” (inscription numbers 18-608, pages 65-609). Note that the material in Section B is divided according to region or site (e.g., Ramat Eshkol, Kidron Valley [North], Diskin Street, Jason’s Tomb, French Hill, Ramat Rahel, and then a division called “Unprovenanced.” Section C “Instrumentum Domesticum” (inscription numbers 609-692, pages 611-680). Section D: “Varia” (inscription numbers 693-704, pages 681-694).

The format for each entry follows a standard pattern. Namely, there is reference to the number of the inscription within this volume (i.e., numbers 1-704), then there is descriptive title for the inscription (e.g., “#357, Epitaph of Shappira with Aramaic wall inscription”), followed by a reference to the approximate date of the inscription (e.g., “1 c. CE” = 1st Century CE). A basic description of the inscription is then given (e.g., “An inscription of four letters, cut in the soft rock, and blackened in, above the loculus of one of the lower burial rooms”). Normally, there is reference to the find spot, the present location, the department of antiquity number or museum number, and the measurements (e.g., for ossuaries). The editors made a concerted effort to personally inspect all available inscriptions (sometimes requiring travel to France, Germany, etc.). Also, there is reference to the precise date that the inscription was “autopsied,” that is, inspected, collated, measured, photographed. This is followed by the inclusion of the reading, provided in block script Aramaic, that is, the Jewish Script, for the Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions, and the Greek and Latin script for inscriptions in those languages. In addition, different readings are also often provided under the rubric of “App. Crit,” that is, as a “critical apparatus,” along with reference to the scholar that proposed the reading. There is also a transliteration and a translation of the inscription. For the majority of inscriptions in this volume, black and white photos are also provided, although for a few of the inscriptions it was not possible to provide a photo. In such cases, hand copies are normally provided. Then there is a “Commentary” on the inscription, replete with things such as a discussion of orthography, phonology, prosopography (when appropriate), inscriptions with similar contents, meanings of names (when this can be determined).

Readers of this volume will find very fine, thorough entries for the inscriptions. Sometimes the inscriptions in this volume are, of course, partiucarly well known. For example, included in this volume are the “Uzziah Plaque” reading: “Here I brought the bones of Uzziah King of Judah; and not to open” (# 602) and the Greek warning sign from the Temple Mount: “No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and forecourt around the sacred precinct. Whoever is caught will himself be responsible for his consequent death” (#2). There are particularly judicious discussions of inscriptions such as the “Ya’akov (‘James’) Ossuary” (i.e., #531, without provenance), and the Talpiyot Tomb known as the “Yeshua’ Family Tomb” (#473-478). Moreover, there is also a very useful synopsis of the salient points regarding the Sarcophagus of “Queen Sadan,” a burial inscription known for more than a century, but still the subject of substantive discussion (#123). Naturally, some will find the references to professions to be of interest. Although these are not very common, there are a few, such as the ossuary of “Yehosef son of Hananiah, the scribe” (#86). References to aspects of religion are also present at times. For example, there is reference to “Hananiya the son of Yehonatan the Nazirite” (#70), and several references to Proselytes to Judaism, including a certain” Ioudan the Proselyte of Tyre” (#174), and a certain “Ioudas son of Laganion the Proselyte” (#551). Of much interest also are the ossuary of “Megiste the priestess” (#297) and references on ossuaries to “Korban” (#466), a term also known from the Greek New Testament (among other ancient literatures). Of course, the famous ossuary inscription stating that “No one has abolished his entering [into death], not even El’azar and Shapira” (#93), receives a through treatment, replete with discussion of the different readings of Frank Cross and Joseph Naveh. There is also reference to a certain “Menahem” from the priestly course of “Yakim” (#183), and an ossuary of a certain “Yehohana” who was the granddaughter of the Caiaphate “High Priest Theophilos” (#534). Sometimes very useful linguistic data can be mined from the ossuary inscriptions, such as the fact that Semitic tsade can be represented in Greek with the psi, as the Semitic and Greek forms of the same name are given (see #309). Naturally, there are a few references to the prohibition of removing the bones (#507, 385). In sum, this volume is a treasure trove of data for scholars working in a wide variety of fields.

This really is a priceless volume. Those that purchase it will always be grateful they did. Those that do not purchase it now will regret that decision. Ultimately, these volumes will be the gold standard for the next generation, perhaps longer. I recommend this volume completely and without reservation. Those wishing to order this directly from the publisher can do so here: or Tel: 857-284-7073.

Christopher Rollston, Ph.D.

‘Priests’ or ‘Priest’ in the Mariam (Miriam) Ossuary, and the Language of the Inscription*

14 July 2011

Photo Courtesy of, and Copyrighted by, Dr. Boaz Zissu

The editio princeps of the Mariam Ossuary (on the spelling “Mariam,” rather than “Miriam,” see previous post) is really quite masterful, a model publication in numerous ways (see Zissu and Goren, 2011). This note of mine is simply intended to be a modest refinement (correction) of word division in the editio princeps (and also, thereby, the resolution of a grammatical difficulty implicit in the editio princeps, as well as the resolution of the actual language of this inscription). Here is the relevant segment of this inscription: “khnmm’zyhmbyt’mry.” The authors of the editio princeps divide the inscription this way: khnm m’zyh mbyt ‘mry and render it: “priests of Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri.”

However, I am confident that this inscription must be divided in the following way: khn mm’zyh mbyt ‘mry. That is, “priest of Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri.” Thus, the place name “m’zyh” is preceded by the prepositional min (with assimilated nun, of course). Arguably, this can be classified as a partitive use of min and can be rendered “of.” In sum, therefore, the common noun khn is a singular noun, followed by the preposition min plus the name “Ma’aziah,” not a plural form of the common noun sans preposition. Naturally, this resolves a morphological problem implicit in the editio princeps of this inscription as well. After all, the rendering in the editio princeps assumes a plural noun in construct, but with a mem still present (which would be an anomaly). The word division that I propose here eliminates that problem. It is imperative for me to emphasize (in defense of the authors of the editio princeps) that word division is something that can be quite difficult in epigraphic texts that have no word division, or have no clear word division (and the same problem certainly occurs in literary texts, especially those written in scriptio continua, for example, the great Greek Uncials of the New Testament).

Moreover, I am quite confident that it was the assumption that said mem was a plural marker on khn (making it khnm) that caused the authors of the editio princeps to state that the inscription was Hebrew (Zissu and Goren, page 75). The inscription is arguably Aramaic. That is, the presence of the words brt (Aramaic for “daughter,” cf. Hebrew bt for daughter) and br (Aramaic for “son,” rather than the Hebrew word bn for son) are strong evidence that the inscription is Aramaic. Of course, in this period (etc.), it can certainly be the case that br, for example, can occur in a Hebrew inscription (such is the case in Cotton, CIIP #70, where the word br is present, but the article on the following noun is the Hebrew article, rather than the Aramaic form of the article, thus revealing that the inscription is Hebrew, not Aramaic. Note that there is a linguistic principle operative here, that I will discuss in more detail in a forthcoming article on this ossuary). But there is nothing in this inscription that suggests it is Hebrew, and there is strong evidence that it is Aramaic, so the most cogent statement is that the inscription is indeed Aramaic.

It should be emphasized that although the authors of the editio princeps did not understand that this mem was the preposition min, they certainly perceived the sense of the text and so accurately rendered it “of” (but placed the word “of” in brackets; see the title of the editio princeps), and understood it as meaning “of [or 'from'] the course of Maa’aizh”; see page 80).

In sum, the common noun khn is singular in this text (not plural), the preposition min is attested twice (not once), and the language of this inscription is Aramaic (not Hebrew). Thus the reading and word divisions are: mrym/brt/yshw’/br/qyp’/khn/m-m’zyh/m-byt/’mry. That is, “Mariam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri.”

Respectully submitted,

Christopher Rollston

Cotton, H., et al. Corpus Inscriptionjum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: Volume I Jerusalem, Part I. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010.

Zissu, B. and Goren Y, “The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri.’” IEJ 61 (2011): 74-95.

*I am very grateful to Professor Dr. Boaz Zissu for sending me an offprint of his co-authored article.

The Ossuary of Mariam Daughter of Yeshua’ in Context: Limning the Broad Tableau of the Epigraphic and Literary Data

6 July 2011

By Christopher A. Rollston

Introduction. The recent publication of the “Mariam Daughter of Yeshua” Ossuary (Zissu and Goren 2011) has justifiably garnered substantial attention. The authors are to be congratulated for producing a very strong, detailed, useful editio princeps of this ossuary and its inscription. The ossuary is without a secure provenance, but I do not doubt that it is authentic. At this juncture, it is my intent to summarize in a fairly methodical fashion some of the ways in which this new ossuary inscription dovetails with, and augments, our knowledge. My comments are particularly philological and historical in nature.


A. JOSEPHUS. At various points, the Jewish Historian Josephus (ca. 37 C.E. – 100 C.E.) discusses the priesthood of the late Second Temple Period, and at a particular point in his historical synopsis:

(1) Josephus notes that a certain: “Iōsēpos ho Kaiafas “ (Joseph Caiaphas, high priest from ca. 18-36 CE) became a high priest during a time of tumult (note, for example, the short duration of various high priests prior to that of Joseph Caiaphas). Here is the full context of the reference: “Valerius Gratus succeeded Annius Rufus as procurator over the Jews. Gratus deposed Ananus [ca. 6-14 C.E.) from his sacred office, and proclaimed Ishmael the son of Phabi as high priest [ca. 15-16 CE]. Not long afterwards, he removed him also and appointed in his place Eleazar [ca. 16-17 CE] the son of the high priest Ananus. A year later he deposed him also and entrusted the office of high priest to Simon the son of Camith [ca. 17-18 CE]. This last-mentioned held this position for not more than a year and was succeeded by Joseph, the one (who was called) Caiaphas (Greek: Iōsēpos ho Kaiafas , that is, personal name, article, then “Caiaphas”) [18-36 CE]. After these acts, Gratus retired to Rome, having stayed eleven years in Judea. It was Pontius Pilate who came as his successor” (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XVIII,33-35).

(2) Later, Josephus states that Vitellius (governor of Syria) traveled to Judea and went to Jerusalem in particular. Among the things that Vitellius did was this: “he removed from his sacred office the high priest Joseph Caiaphas and appointed in his stead Jonathan, the son of Ananus [Greek New Testament: Annas] the high priest. Then he set out on the journey back to Antioch” (Joseph, Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 95-97).

(3) Significantly, of Ananus [Annas], Josephus states that “the Elder Ananus was extremely fortunate. For he had five sons, all of whom, after he himself had previously enjoyed the office for a very long period, became high priests of God—a thing that had never happened to any other of our high priests” (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XX, 198).

Historical Notes: These citations reveal that Joseph Caiaphas was the name of a high priest, of course (on the presence of “son” on Ossuary 461, see below). Moreover, the names of several of his predecessors are given and among them is Ananus. This figure of Josephus (Ananus) is known in the Greek New Testament as “Annas” (see Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6). In addition, within these texts it is stated that five of his sons functioned as priests and two of them are mentioned in the pericopes cited here, namely, Eleazar (16-17 CE) and Jonathan (36-37 CE). See also below). The remaining sons are: Theophilus (37-41 CE), Matthias (42-43 CE), and Ananus II (62 CE; on Theophilus, see also Rahmani 1994, 259 [no 871], for reference to an ossuary inscription that includes the words “Theophilus the high priest”). The reference to “the Elder Ananus” is a reflection of the fact that the high priest Ananus (high priest from ca. 6-14 CE) had a son named Ananus (as noted above) who also became a high priest, namely, Ananus ben Ananus, that is, Ananus II (62 CE).

B. GREEK NEW TESTAMENT. The Greek New Testament refers on several occasions to Caiaphas (namely, Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6). Among the most important for this article are these references:

(1) The context of this narrative is the beginning of the prophetic work of the figure known as John the Baptist (i.e., arguably sometime in the mid to late 20s CE). “During the high priest(hood) of Anna and Kaiafa (Caiaphas; some Greek mss of this verse have Kaifa, including Codex C and Codex D) the word of the Lord came upon John the son of Zechariah in the desert” (Luke 3:2).

(2) These texts (below) hail from a judicial context, namely, putative events immediately prior to the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of the high priest being called Kaiafa (Caiapha; some Greek mss of this verse have Kaifa; Matt 26:3, similar variant spelling in vs. 57). (3) “But one of them, Kaiafas (Caiaphas; some Greek mss of this verse have Kaifas), being that year the high priest…” (John 11:49 “that year” is arguably a way of referring to the time frame of the trial and not, therefore, some sort of suggestion that he was only the high priest for a year). (4) “And they brought him to Annas first; he was the father-in-law of Kaiafa (Caiaphas; some Greek mss of this verse have Kaifa) who was the high priest that year” (John 18:13).

(5) The setting for this text is judicial as well, but the historical context is after the crucifixion, during the early history of the then fledgling Jewish sect known as Christianity. “And Annas the high priest and Kaiafas (Caiaphas; some Greek mss of this verse have Kaifas) and John and Alexander and as many as were out of the lineage of the high priesthood were standing there…” (Acts 4:6).

Historical Notes. As noted, the Ananas of Josephus is the same as the Annas of the Canonical Gospels. Moreover, the “John” mentioned in Acts 4:6 is arguably the Jonathan [ca. 36-37 CE] mentioned by Josephus as the son of Ananus, and the successor of Caiaphas. Also, it is not impossible that the Alexander mentioned in Acts 4:6 is the figure known in Josephus by the Hebrew name Eleazar son of Ananus[ca. 16-17 CE]. Note that the phenomenon of “double-names” is well attested for Jewish figures of the First and Second Temple Periods, in biblical and epigraphic sources. However, they may indeed be two different people. The fact that Caiaphas is said to be the son-in-law of Annas is a significant historical detail. I consider it reliable. Obviously, therefore, the details about Ananas (Annas) that are known from Josephus and the New Testament converge at a number of levels, and also are complementary in some respects. Note also in this connection the orthographic variation with regard to the spelling of Caiaphas: namely, Kaiapha and Kaipha. Note in this connection the variation in spelling in the epigraphic form of this name, detailed below. On the presence or absence of a final sigma (etc.) on Semitic personal names written in Greek, see the discussion below (IIA, Philological Note #2).


A. THE CAIAPHAS BURIAL CAVE. Twelve ossuaries (or portions thereof) were discovered in 1990 in a tomb in southern Jerusalem (See Greenhut 1992; Reich 1992; Zias 1992; Cotton, et al., 2010, 481-488 [numbers 461-465]. There were a total of four loculi (or kokhim) in this tomb, three along one wall and one along another wall. Six of the ossuaries still contained bones (note: the tomb had been robbed at some point prior to excavation). Two of the ossuaries were still in situ. One of the ossuaries contained a coin from the sixth year of Agrippa I (ca. 42-43 CE). It is the inscribed ossuaries that are of interest for this article (note that the numbers used in this article are those of Cotton, et al. Predominant focus will be numbers 461, 463, and 462, in that order).

Ossuary 461. The ossuary is lavishly decorated, reflecting affluence, and probably opulence. There are two Aramaic inscriptions on this ossuary, inscribed in a very cursive hand. The first inscription is written on two lines and the second on a single line. I shall refer to them as 461-A and 461-B.

461-A: line 1. Yhwsp br (Yehoseph bar = Yehosep son of)

461-A line 2. Qyp’ (Qaiyapha’; note that I consider yod to be the correct reading, not waw).
461-B: Yhwsp br Qp’ (Yehosep bar Qaipha’)

Ossuary 463. There is one inscription. The name is arguably Aramaic (see below), written in a cursive hand.

Qp’ (Qaipha’)

Ossuary 462. There is one inscription, written on two lines. I shall refer to these lines as 462-A and 462-B. The inscription is written in a highly cursive hand. This inscription is arguably Aramaic (see below).

462-A. Mrym brt (Maryam birat = Maryam daughter of)
462-B. Šm‘wn (Shimon).

Philological, Epigraphic, and Historical Notes: (1) Greek Iōsēpos = Hebrew Yhwsp. (2) Moreover, the sigma (e.g., on Iōsēpos) attested on the end of the personal names in the Greek literary material is certainly not a problem, as it is simply the Greek case ending, which is routinely added onto Semitic (etc.) names (in legions of literary and epigraphic texts, not just these), obviously nominatives in particular (also of import: some foreign personal names in Greek are declined fully, some are not. Along those lines, and for illustrative purposes, I would note that the s of the personal name “Jesus” is simply the nominative case ending, and not really part of the name itself, per se…compare the genitive and accusative forms of that name, that is, Iēsou and Iēsoun respectively). (3) Greek kappa is often used to represent Hebrew and Aramaic qop. For example, “korban,” Aramaic Qrbn’, is represented in the Greek New Testament as korbanas (Matt 27:6). Similarly, Simon the Zealot is referred to as Simon the Kananaios (i.e., Simon the Kananean, that is, Simon the Zealot”) a spelling that is representing Aramaic Qn’n (Matt 10:4; cf Luke 6:15), obviously with the Greek kappa representing not the Semitic kap, but rather a Semitic qop. Ultimately, therefore, there is no orthographic problem that would preclude considering Greek Kaiafa to be a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name Qyp’. (4) Significantly, the orthographic variation reflected in these ossuary inscriptions for the name Caiaphas, namely, Qyp’ and Qp’ (i.e., with or without yod) can be understood to be paralleled fairly nicely by the orthographic variants attested in the Greek New Testament, namely, Greek Kaiafa parallels Aramaic Qyp’ and Greek Kaifa parallels Aramaic Qp’. Obviously, Hebrew and Aramaic of this period do not represent vowels in anything approximating a precise fashion (the use of matres lectionis in this period is certainly helpful, but matres lectionis can hardly be said to clarify vocalization in some sort of definitive manner, but I do not consider the orthographic variant here to be inconsequential). In the case of the spellings Qyp’ and Qp’ (i.e., with or without the yod), I would simply note that one could understand the yod to be a mater lectionis or an actual consonant. Ultimately, this sort of thing could readily account for the two orthographies attested in the Greek New Testament. Also, on an ancillary note, suffice it to say that I believe it to be entirely tenable to contend that Yhwsp br Qyp’ and Yhwsp br Qp’ of Ossuary 461 refer to the same person. (5) Mariam (or Maryam) is the preferred vocalization, *not* Miriam. Basically, the Masoretic Text reflects a (fairly) late phonological shift, namely, as Waltke and O’Connor have noted (Waltke and O’Connor, 1990, 25), “an original short a in word-initial closed syllables” becomes i. Fortunately, the Septuagint preserves the original vocalization, thus, the sister of Moses is Mariam in the Septuagint (e.g., Exod 15:21), not Miriam. The same vocalization (i.e., with the vowel a in the first syllable) is still preserved in Arabic as well. Also, the same phenomenon is operative for the person name Sampson (e.g., Judg 14:1, with MT Šimšōn but LXX Sampsōn), of course. (6) The script of these inscriptions is a highly cursive script. It can be dated to the first century CE. (7) The two iron nails found in this tomb were probably used as instruments used for inscribing letters, although some other mundane function (e.g., scraping something, etc. ) is not impossible. (8) The presence of the words brt (rather than standard Hebrew bt) “daughter” and br (rather than standard Hebrew bn) “son” certainly argue strongly for Aramaic, moreover, I consider the ’alep of Caiaphas, that is, Qyp’ to be the determined form (i.e., with ’alep as the postpositive Aramaic article). Thus, the cumulative evidence reveals that this inscription is to be considered Aramaic, of course.

This ossuary is inscribed in a formal hand, arguably dating to the first century CE. The inscription is Aramaic. It can be read as follows: Mrym brt yšw‘ br Qyp’ khn m m‘zyh mbyt ‘mry

Mariam the daughter of Yeshua son of Qaiyapha, a priest of Ma‘aziah of the House of ‘Imri

(See the very useful note below from Ed Cook regarding the reading of a bet, not dalet before Ma’aziah). (Addendum: 15 July 2011: the editio princeps reads khnmm’zyh…so it turns out that it is not a kap as was initially suggested in press reports, nor is it a bet, but rather a mem. See now the blog post above, entitled “Priests or Priest…”)

Epigraphic, Philological and Historical Notes: (1) This text is, arguably, Aramaic. Note especially the Aramaic brt “daughter” and br “son.” (2) The script of this ossuary is the formal script, deeply and carefully incised. I consider it to be reflective of the first century CE. (3) The presence of the names Yeshua‘ and Mariam are not at all surprising, as they were very common names in this period. Furthermore, it should also be noted that in the Caiaphas Burial Cave the name Mariam is also attested, although because of the patronymic it is clear that they are not the same person. (4) Regarding the vocalization of Mariam (rather than Miriam), see the discussion under note five above. (5) There has been some reference to the possibility that the place name Khirbet Kufin (in the northern Hebron Hills) may be preserved in the name of the “Caiaphas” family (i.e., Kufin = Caiaphas). Although this is not impossible (and I do think that it merits further investigation), I am rather disinclined to think that this is the case. After all, the Arabic place name Kufin is normally said to begin with a kaf, not a qaf. Compare the personal name Caiaphas, which begins with a qop in Aramaic and Hebrew. The distinction between these two consonants is (largely) lost in modern Hebrew, but is very much retained in modern Arabic (basically, k is a velar voiceless stop, while q is a velar voiceless emphatic). Of course, Greek is not a Semitic language and so the fact that it often represents the q as a kappa is not a particularly relevant argument against my statements regarding the q and k in Aramaic (and Hebrew) and Arabic. (6) Having said this, I should note that I do think that the name “Caiaphas” preserves a place name. Rather than Kufin, however, I believe that one can make a tenable case that Qeiyafa (i.e., Khirbet Qeiyafa) is the place name preserved in “Caiaphas.” There are, of course, Second Temple Period occupational remains at Khirbet Qeiyafa. I am not stating this definitively at this time, but do wish to mention it at this time as something that is arguably quite viable. (7) The use of the term “priest” and the reference to the priestly course of Ma‘aziah (cf. Neh 10:9 [English 10:8]) are very interesting (as is also the reference to the house of ‘Imri). The fact that the word priest is used, and the fact that there is reference to a priestly course, undermines even further Horbury’s contention that ossuaries 461 and 463 from the Caiaphas Burial Cave do not refer to the high priest named Caiaphas (Horbury 1994). Pace Horbury, I do not consider Horbury’s evidence (neither his reading of a waw in the epigraphic attestation of the personal name, nor his use of the Rabbinic evidence, etc.) to be sufficient to make his case that the literary sources referring to Joseph Caiaphas and Ossuary 461 with its reference to Yhsp bar Qyp’ (he reads it as Qwp’, renders it “Qopha”) are ultimately referring to different people who simply have similar sounding names. Again, I consider “Caiaphas” (in the literary and epigraphic sources) to preserve a place name and I believe that the Joseph Caiaphas of the literary material and the Joseph bar Caiaphas of the epigraphic corpus to be the same person. (8) Someone might object to the fact that Josephus does not have the word “son.” True enough. However, the fact of the matter is that sometimes the word “son” (bn or br) can be omitted in ancient texts. That is, in certain contexts, the word “son” was not deemed essential. I believe Josephus, therefore, to be reflective of this practice (naturally, I would also suggest that there was an earlier figure known as “Caiaphas,” with the term “Caiaphas” preserving a place name and the term, Joseph Caiaphas, therefore, reflects the fact that he was the son of a man named Caiaphas). Of course, the practice of papponymy is certainly well attested in antiquity and so I cannot rule this phenomenon out as an impossibility in this case. However, the totality of the archaelogical, epigraphy, and literary evidence converges quite nicely and so I am comfortable affirming that Josephus and Ossuary 461 are referring to the same person (also, I think that it is probable, but not absolutely certain, that the Joseph Caiaphas of the Caiaphas Burial Cave and Caiaphas the Priest of the Mariam Ossuary are the same person, although they are at the very least certainly of the same family). (9) In this connection, as an ancillary note, I should like to mention that personal names plus geographic names (i.e., PN + GN) are quite common, including in Greek sources. For New Testament examples, Mary Magdalene (Greek: Mariam hē Magdalēnē [Matt 27:56],that is, personal name, article, geographic name) and Judas Iscariot (Ioudas ho Iskariōtēs) [Matt 10:4], that is, personal name, article, and arguably a geographic name). I am certainly not suggesting that this structure in Greek (or in Hebrew and Aramaic) can only be used of the combination of a personal name plus a geographic name; however, I am suggesting that it is a construction that can be used for the combination of a personal name and geographic name. (10) Some have argued that the Sadducees might have had objections to ossuary burial (and thus did not practice it). I find that to be a problematic position (and the archaeological and epigraphic evidence, combined with the evidence of the first century literary sources, combine to suggest that some Sadducees were comfortable with ossuary burial).

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Christopher A. Rollston

*I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Omar al-Ghul and also of Eran Arie with regard to various aspects of this article. Also, a number of my previous articles can be found on . In addition, I am on facebook: search for Christopher Rollston…I often post articles on fb that revolve around the fields of archaeology, epigraphy, and anthropology in general.

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