Re: [asa] The tomb of Jesus?

From: <>
Date: Wed Feb 28 2007 - 05:29:20 EST

It seems to me that the two biggest flaws in their argument are:
1. The statistics are based on one particular cluster of names, with no accounting for how many other cluster of names could have occurred. Suppose the tomb contained "Jesus, Mary, Jude, Simon..." then you could claim Simon was Simon Peter, etc., and calculate the odds for THAT particular cluster to occur. It is horrible logic to take one particular cluster of names out of all the many clusters that could have occurred, and then calculate the odds that that ONE particular cluster would occur as if that supported the claim it was Jesus' family.
Two sub-points to make here:
a. Considering that they really had to make a stretch to rationalize some of the members of the cluster, the argument gets even worse.
b. At least one of the members of the cluster cannot be rationalized based on any external evidence (Jesus' "son"), and yet they still rationalize him as being in the cluster, and so it gets even worse still.
But the main point is that the basic statistical method is flawed to begin with. They should have calculated the odds that ANY cluster of names could randomly occur consisting of names recognizable from the NT, with no more than one exception, and including a Jesus. What fraction of all possible clusters would fit this description? I believe that figure is rather high. Therefore, to discover such a cluster is unremarkable and cannot support the filmmakers fantastic claims.
2. The ossuary inscriptions were dated to the Herodian period, and that is some 30 years before Jesus died.
Phil M.
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 12:49 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] The tomb of Jesus?

Another good link with various resources about the film's claims:

On 2/27/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
But I also understand that the statistician that worked on
> the film Andrey Feuerverger, is planning on publishing his
> results in a peer reviewed journal. Would that make any
> difference to any of us ?

I think what will be most interesting is to see, when Feuerverger publishes, exactly what he claims, and then too see whether there are responses in the literature. As I understand his statistics, at most he is establishing the likelihood of a particular cluster of names appearing together, out of a population of about 2,500 names known from ossuaries and inscriptions found in tombs around Jerusalem, adjusting for tombs around Jerusalem that are lost or undiscovered. Interesting and provocative, maybe, but hardly conclusive of anything concerning Jesus of Nazareth whose family didn't come from near Jerusalem, and whose family from all we know didn't have the resources to afford a stone family tomb. It seems like a classic instance of sampling the wrong universe. A real comparison would have to include the prevalence of such a cluster of names among Jews of Jesus' class in the area where Jesus lived.

On 2/27/07, <> wrote:
> That is an interesting point, and one that I have been
> thinking about the past couple of days. And it is
> probably why things like this are largely ignored by
> people like us.
> However, we are going to have to be familiar with this
> film and its contents in order to discuss this with fellow
> christians, fellow scientists, skeptics, atheists, etc.
> But I also understand that the statistician that worked on
> the film Andrey Feuerverger, is planning on publishing his
> results in a peer reviewed journal. Would that make any
> difference to any of us?
> On Tue, 27 Feb 2007 11:19:14 -0500
> "David Opderbeck" < > wrote:
> > There is an interesting little irony to this whole
> >thing. The filmmakers
> > shunned peer review, opting instead for a popular book
> >and film; evidence
> > was not handled properly and the conventional scientific
> >methods appropriate
> > to the relevant discipline were not followed; sweeping
> >proof claims are
> > being asserted prior to any academic debate; experts who
> >have been working
> > in the field for many years and have first-hand
> >knowledge of the
> > evidence are dismissive of the claims; seemingly
> >devastating contrary facts
> > are being ignored and/or rationalized away; and some
> >scientific-sounding
> > stuff relating to DNA and statistics is being thrown in
> >the mixer to support
> > the novel claims. And we Christians are now the ones
> >having to confront the
> > psuedo-science! Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.
> >
> > On 2/27/07, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> >>
> >> For interesting comments from Israel, go here:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ted
> >>
> >> To unsubscribe, send a message to
> >>with
> >> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the
> >>message.
> >>

Check out the new AOL. Most comprehensive set of free safety and security tools, free access to millions of high-quality videos from across the web, free AOL Mail and more.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Feb 28 05:30:22 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Feb 28 2007 - 05:30:24 EST