Christopher Rollston: On the Greek Inscription on the ‘Jonah Ossuary’, Again

Christopher posts on the ASOR Blog

The publication of a four-line Greek inscription from a tomb in East Talpiyot (Jerusalem) has generated substantial interest, especially because of the dramatic claims surrounding it (Tabor and Jacobovici 2012).  James Tabor has argued that this inscription reads as follows: “DIOS IAIO UPSŌ AGB.”  He translates it as “Divine Jehovah Lift up, Lift up.” He believes this to be a Christian tomb (in fact, he states that it is arguably that of Joseph of Arimathea) and that this inscription is to be understood as reflective of an early Christian confession of a belief in the resurrection (and he has also argued that some of the ornamentation on a different ossuary from the same tomb is distinctively Christian).  Richard Bauckham accepts all of Tabor’s readings (i.e., the Greek graphemes Tabor believes are present), but he translates the inscription as follows: “Belonging to Zeus IAIO.  I, Hagab, exalt (him/you).”  It is of some consequence, however, that Bauckham goes on to state “I do not think the inscription has anything to do with Jesus of Early Christianity, but I do think it is one of the most interesting of ossuary inscriptions and that it has a contribution to make to our understanding of early Judaism” (Bauckham 2012).

That’s right- Rollston takes on Tabor and Bauckham.  Nicely.

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