Rollston on the ‘Miriam Ossuary’

In an essay which just appeared in IEJ. Here’s the abstract-

In this article, the author suggests that the ‘Mariam Ossuary inscription’ should be read ‘Mariam daughter of Yeshuaª son of Caiaphas, priest of Maªaziah from Beth ºImri’, that this inscription is Aramaic and not Hebrew, and that the preposition min occurs twice and not once. The author also notes that ‘Mariam’, rather than ‘Miriam’, is the ancient vocalization and suggests that although we cannot know with certainty if the Caiaphas of this ossuary is the high priest himself, it is surely a member of the same family.

It’s vintage Rollston.  I commend it to your attention.

Racist Much, Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church?

A small baptist church in eastern Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from joining the congregation and from taking part in all church functions other than funerals.  The vote to ostracise couples of different races was held at the Gulnare Freewill baptist church last Sunday. It has prompted a bitter dispute in the local Pike County and thrown up hatreds and antagonisms that had been hidden beneath the surface of the community for years.

So the Guardian.

Alas, this is the sort of thing that happens when Churches are pastored by persons unqualified either intellectually or, more importantly, spiritually.  No theologically accurate reading of the Bible allows such prejudice and in fact, a close reading of the Moses story reveals that his wife was African.  When Aaron and Miriam confronted him (they must have been members of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church) God worked wondrously in their biased lives, plaguing them with the whiteness (of leprosy) they so craved for Moses’ wife.  (Go read Numbers 12).

I’ve not before given a Dilly to an entire congregation, but this congregation deserves it for its explicit racism and it’s horrific ignorance of biblical revelation.  Gulnare Freewill Baptist, here’s your Dilly-

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More from Rollston on the ‘Miriam Ossuary’

Chris looks a little further into the inscription in a new post, which you ought to read.

The editio princeps of the new 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.

I love ‘howevers’. Enjoy it.

Bob Cargill’s Take on the ‘Miriam Ossuary’

Nicely done, per usual.

"Miriam, Daughter of Yeshua, Son of Caiaphas" Inscription Announced This morning, archaeologists from Bar Ilan University and Tel Aviv University announced the discovery of an ossuary (burial bone box) in Israel, which was recovered from thieves who had robbed a tomb. The ossuary is unprovenanced – that is, because it was not discovered in a controlled archaeological excavation, its origin and context are unknown. However, further investigation (which I understand to be interrogation of the thieves) has led resea … Read More

via XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

The ‘Miriam, Daughter of Yeshua, Son of Caiphas’ Ossuary

This is the first I’ve heard about this ‘discovery’-

Israeli scholars say they have confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old burial box bearing the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas of the New Testament. The ossuary bears an inscription with the name “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.” An ossuary is a stone chest used to store bones. Caiaphas was a temple priest and an adversary of Jesus who played a key role in his crucifixion. The Israel Antiquities Authority says the ossuary was seized from tomb robbers three years ago and has since been undergoing analysis. Forgery is common in the world of biblical artifacts. The IAA says in Wednesday’s statement that microscopic tests have confirmed the inscription is “genuine and ancient.”

Here’s the photo, which you’ll want to click to enlarge- it’s quite a big file, courtesy Bar Ilan University- Dr. Boaz Zissu (who also has now been interviewed and the video is available-  as Joseph Lauer reports- The Jerusalem Post added a 2:40-minute video interview with Dr. Boaz Zissu to its article (published June 29, 2011) “2,000-year-old ossuary authentic, say researchers”.   The article, which was at, is now at ) :

Here’s the transcription by Antonio Lombatti


מרים ברת ישוע בר קיפא כהן דמעזיה דבית עמרי

Maria, figlia di Gesù figlio di Caifa sacerdote di Maaziah di Bet ‘Imri

UPDATE:  Joseph Lauer sends along the IAA press release- which you can read below – and he also sent along the photos here:

I’ve also asked Yuval Goren for any information he might have.