Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If it walks like a duck: Ossuary 6 of the Talpiot 'Patio' Tomb depicts 'commonly' used Jewish images?

As usual, Mark Goodacre deleted my post to his blog here:
But he has subsequently given me a fair hearing.

Although I disagree with almost everything that James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici have written, in my post to Goodacre's blog, I agreed with them that the Talpiot Tomb B, Ossuary 6 belonged to people who had 'Christian' beliefs.  

Mark Goodacre didn't like that. He has made Tabor and Jacobocvici the butt end of his jokes, as in his latest post above. But it has backfired on him. He has recruited one Dr Meijer in support of his views on Ossuary 6. Goodacre regards Dr Meijer as a "sharp-eyed" and "instinctively right" individual. Needless to say Dr Meijer is an expert. But weirdly he is expert in Biomolecular and Biomedical science.

Meijer says:"Therefore, in my opinion ossuary 6 is not from a distinctively Christian ‘resurrection’ tomb, but from a tomb belonging to a normal Jewish family." I ask is there any such entity as a "normal Jewish family"?  Here I will argue that ossuary 6 belonged to a prophetic family who were among the first 'Christians'.

On Goodacre's blog, the image of a 'cup' or amphora on the side of Ossuary 6 is shown along with images of cups on the so-called coins of revolt. According to Meijer (and Goodacre who regards Meijer's observations as "enlightening and persuasive") these images are "standard Jewish images of the period, not connected to the emerging Christian movement".

I pointed out to Goodacre that none of the images on the ossuary and the coins of so-called revolt, showed anything to do with the sacrifice of animals, which one may have thought would have been very important to priests.  (I have written about the coins of so-called revolt before on this blog). Ossuary 6 clearly shows, on the side, a view of the sanctuary doors. The temple as a whole is not shown, only the sanctuary.  The sanctuary, as distinct from the temple as a whole, is a highly significant symbol.  The position where one would expect to find the altar of burnt offerings was outside the sanctuary and is therefore not shown. One can only assume that the altar of burnt offerings was of no importance to the owners of ossuary 6.

Meijer says ossuary 6 belonged to a 'priestly' Jewish family, yet there is nothing to indicate that ossuary 6 did belong to priests as such.  Why does he say 'priestly', a commonly used expression of academics to blurr what they mean?  Why didn't Meijer write priest?  Is there little or no evidence that this ossuary was a priest's?.  I can accept that ossuaries were afforded by the wealthy.  But what if it was a priest's ossuary?  The priest (by birth) could have given up on animal sacrifice and converted to the prophets, as happened in the New Testament. He would have worshipped God in the Spirit, as in Acts. His place of worship would have been the altar of incense in the Sanctuary.  In Acts, the place of worship was anywhere.

On page 151 of her book Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit, Jodi Magness says that:"Levy Yitshak Rahmani connected the appearance of ossuaries with the Pharisaic belief in the individual, physical resurrection of the dead".  Pharisees and Sadducees were Roman Flavian inventions in the writings attributed to Josephus.  The only other source is the New Testament which is thus highly suspect also.  Pharisees were invented to obfuscate the prophets, and Sadducees the priests.  Pharisees were clearly interpolated into the writings attributed to Josephus. Neither Pharisees nor Sadducees are referred to in the Scrolls or Philo.  Philo (from Alexandria) does not mention Pharisees and Sadducees, only priests and Essenes.  Eusebius, supposedly quoting Philo, says that that the Essene's "lawgiver (Moses) trained an innumerable body of his pupils" and that "they were "honoured with this appellation because of their exceeding holiness". (See Philo's Hypothetica 11.1)  This was a serious slip-up by Eusebius who was clearly referring to prophets.  The use of ossuaries was thus by the prophets.  Prophets are interpolated as Essenes in the writings attributed to Josephus.  It is no surprise to me that Essenes, Sadducees and Pharisees are not named on any ossuaries, or in the Scrolls.      

Why did most of the 3000 or so ossuaries discovered come from Jerusalem?  There were no priests in the temple from the time of Herod.  They were brooding and plotting in their villages, and not having much to do with other people.  From the time of Herod, animal sacrifices had ceased.  Herod's altar had been destroyed by the priests because they considered it unlawful, and they were sent into exile out of Jerusalem.  The occupants of the sanctuary were prophets who were supported by the Herodian kings, Aristobulus II and later his son Agrippa I who was also a prophet, and a friend of Nero. Although many of the prophets were poor farmers, and not so poor construction workers, many others would have been rich, living off income from their own businesses.  They were friends of Agrippa I and Nero.   They were the anointed ones, who went back a long way in Jewish history.  Eusebius knew that the prophets (Essenes) were legislated for by Moses, as stated in Philo.  Hence he stuck to the obfuscation that they were called Essenes.  In Rome, Pompeii and other Italian cities they became the Christianos or anointed ones.  

Magness says (see page 152 of her book) that "outside of Jerusalem, the largest cemetery ....containing ossuaries is at Jericho, which was the site of the .... Herodian winter palaces and the center of  a 'priestly' community".  Why is she afraid to say it was a priest's community.  The reason is it was a prophet's community.  The relationship between priests and Herodians was at an all time low.  The cutting of rock and stone must have been a common transferable skill used in quarrying, mining, and rock-cut tombs, ossuaries, and a wide range of buildings and structures, especially in this area of Jericho near to the Herodian palaces. So, I could see some tombs and ossuaries being a DIY effort, by skilled relatively poor or relatively wealthy, whichever, workers who were also prophets.  Such workers would have been a step above farm labourers in the social scale. 

Fig. 46 in Magness's book shows a different ossuary with an amphora in between two incised rosettes. Here the amphora looks as though it has been amateurishly scratched into the surface in contrast with the rest which is professionally inscribed. The same could be said about the amphora on ossuary 6. The amphora on Fig. 46 was incorporated later, as were names that appear on other ossuaries.  Both ossuaries show amphora with a fine hole at the bottom through which a semi-liquid could flow.  This flow could be easily stopped with a plug. The amphora was of central importance to the owners of the ossuary.  The amphora was of prime importance to prophets because it contained anointing oil associated with the Spirit of God.  Anointing oil was precious, being a mixture of various perfumes with olive oil. There is thus a difference between the cups depicted on the so-called coins of revolt and the 'cup' or amphora on ossuary 6 and the amphora on Fig 46 of Magness's book.  The amphora, on ossuary 6 and Fig.46 depicts oil for anointing.  The oil would be a symbol on the side of the ossuary of people who believed they had been anointed  by the Spirit of God. "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" Isa:61.1. There are no symbols on any of the ossuaries of animal sacrifice.  

The symbol of the amphora was a reminder that the Holy Spirit had already purified these individuals and their spirits had risen in a pure state, on death, to heaven to be with God.  The individual's spirit had been translated to heaven.  There was to be no waiting.  The prophets realised that the bones would eventually decay - "the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccl:12.7).  
So Rahmani was wrong when he says that the bones in an ossuary were connected with the Pharisees who he says had the "notion that the decay of flesh from the bones is connected with the expiation of sin". (See page 152 Magness's book).  Magness says that Rahmani implied each individual's remains were preserved intact in an ossuary, in a sinless state, awaiting future future resurrection.  This was all a doing of the Flavian editors, passing down a falsified account of Pharisees.  Prophets believed they had already been cleansed by the Spirit.   

In Chapter 3 of Craig Evans' book, Jesus and the Ossuaries, he has quotations taken from ossuaries. These relate to scribes, builders, farmers, smiths, butchers and other professions. They were a thriving middle-class, the entrepreneurs of the day.  Eusebius, quoting Philo, knew that these people had all sorts of different jobs, and were highly organised into clubs, societies, combinations, and unions with one another, for their mutual advantage.  Quoting Philo, Eusebius says "the different members of this body have different employments in which they occupy themselves, and labour without hesitation and without cessation, making no mention of either cold or heat, or any changes of weather or temperature as an excuse for desisting from their tasks.  But before the sun rises they betake themselves to their daily work, and they do not quit it till some time after it has set, when they return home rejoicing". (Philo's Hypothetica; 11.5-6). This was a far cry from the 'Essenes' described in the writings attributed to Josephus where they are only agriculturalists.  One of their common practices was to put the bones of their dead first into tombs and then into ossuaries. They contributed jointly to purchase land for construction of their tombs and the cutting of ossuaries.  And judging by their work ethic they were not above doing much of the stone cutting themselves.  

The cup on the coins of so-called revolt has a sealed bottom to hold a liquid, possibly wine. This cup too was concerned with the Spirit (as was the grape vine)  - "those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary" Isa:62:9.  These symbols represented a celebration of the Spirit of God.  But this was a time when some of the prophets had realised that God's Spirit could be received by Gentiles.

Simon the builder of the Sanctuary

In his book Jesus and the Ossuaries, Craig Evans writes on page 56 that one of the ossuaries had an inscription "Simon, builder of the temple".  Has the christian Evans made a mistake?  A different translation from a Jewish source is "Simon, builder of the sanctuary".  Did the Jews distinguish "sanctuary" from "temple"?  The temple covered a vast acreage.  The sanctuary was much smaller by comparison.  To me it is obvious that they did.  The sanctuary was very important to prophets, because their worship was centred upon the altar of incense.  

Simon would have known every nook and cranny in and under the sanctuary.  His male relatives would have inherited his profession and knowledge.  His relatives (one may be Simon son of 'Gioras') were no doubt among the defenders of the sanctuary when it was ransacked by Titus's army.  Titus plundered the sanctuary for its wealth of gold to fund the army and Vespasian's rise to power. Earlier in 66, Nero had been let into Jerusalem by the prophets who had occupied the temple. He had destroyed many of the priests, but did not harm the prophets or pillage the sanctuary.  It was prophets, friends of herodians, who defended the sanctuary against Titus, not the mixed bag of cut-throats described by the Roman writers of War.  It was prophets who went through tunnels they had previously cut, and when their way was blocked, tried to tunnel their way out and escape.  They were using a skill acquired throughout their lives, of cutting stone.  Simon "took the most faithful of his friends with him, among them some that were stone cutters, with those iron tools that belonged to their occupation, and let himself and them all down into a certain subterraneous cavern". But they ran out of food and became exhausted.  When Simon came out of the ground, he was wearing a white garment, the simple white garment all prophets wore.  (See War 7.2.1).