Update on the Talpiot B Tomb Inscription

For those of you interested in epigraphy, especially that of the Talpiot B “disciples’ tomb,” here are two follow-up posts in response to the recent offering of Richard Bauckham.  One of the major points of contention in the inscription is whether or not the divine name is present — which hinges on whether the first letter in the relevant line is an “I” (iota). Christopher Rollston, whose post began the discussion, did not (and still does not — see below) see a iota for this letter. His view was based on his assertion that the epigraphic iota does not have a top and bottom line appending the vertical line. Bauckham was able to find some examples to the contrary.

Now Rollston responds in a new post, noting that, while Bauckham did succeed in finding some examples, the real issue is that the “IAIO” (“Yahweh”) spelling has two iotas — and if Bauckham is to be believed, the scribe wrote the two iotas differently in the name (the second iota clearly has no lines at top or bottom). Rollston says this would be utterly unique, and so rejects the idea as completely anomalous (see his post for how he translates the inscription). In addition to Rollston’s new post, H. Gregory Snyder offers his own thoughts in defense of an initial iota (but does not address the anomaly of the scribe writing the same letter in one four-letter name two different ways).

This is a good example of scholarly give-and-take. I’m guessing this won’t be resolved unless new pictures are obtained.

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  • http://jamestabor.com James D. Tabor

    All the photos that Chris and our other consultants have been using are being posted on thejesusdiscovery.org web site just as soon as possible. They show the inscription from all angles, lighting, and various distances so I hope this will help resolve the matter of the disputed iota/zeta or the iota that Chris thinks is an epsilon. I remain convinced that our initial reading of the letters stands. I look forward to hearing from others.

    • MSH

      sweet – I will post this note.

  • Rafa

    Hello Mike,

    Question: Has Tabor submitted his work on the Talpiot tomb b (and/or tomb a) to peer-review?

    • MSH

      I don’t believe he has published a specific article in a journal on it yet. He reads the comments here so he may correct that or may inform us of when something might appear.