Biblical Archaeology Review 38:6, November/December 2012

Queries & Comments

A 50–50 Chance

Awesome article by Hershel Shanks (“ ‘Brother of Jesus’ Inscription Is Authentic!” BAR 38:04) on many levels: scientific, dramatic and statistical. I especially enjoyed the statistical analysis as I used to teach the subject.

However, I think you could have made a stronger conclusion: Assuming that James, Joseph and Jesus are one family, then there is at most only one other similarly named family since the total expected number is 1.7—a better than 50–50 chance that this belonged to the holy family.

Donald E. Knoop, Ph.D. Longview, Texas

Sensation Before Authentication

My comment on your article “ ‘Brother of Jesus’ Inscription Is Authentic!” and the argument based on hoopla: The hoopla does not provide authentication or its opposite, but it does raise questions about a possible rush to judgment and failure to check sources related to this unprovenanced ossuary. Didn’t this come from the same hands as brought forth the Jehoash Inscription? Two sensational discoveries from a single source and both unprovenanced! So, the splashy way in which this was first presented to the world suggests that sensationalism was foremost. While that doesn’t prove or disprove, it certainly raises questions.

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