Some Thoughts on Bauckham’s Latest Reading of Talpiot Tomb B

Richard Bauckham has recently made available another interpretation of the inscription on the much-fought-over ossuary from Talpiot Tomb B. The inscription reads:

ΔΥ°Σ
ΤΑΙΟ
ΥΨΩ
ΑΓΒ

Bauckham reads the first nine letters as the name Δυ(ο)σταιου, with the third letter on the first line (“a small circle, about half the size of the other letters,” placed as above) being an omicron, correcting the upsilon that immediately precedes it. The writer first carved Υ, then decided against it, carving the superscripted omicron to correct his mistake. Thus, the name in the first part of the inscription is Δοσταιου, a name with a good Jewish pedigree (1-2).

That leaves ΨΩΑΓΒ. Bauckham shows quite easily that ΨΩ is Ψῶ, a hellenized version of an Egyptian name, meaning “the [god] Shu.” However, the remaining three letters of the inscription, ΑΓΒ, pose a problem. Bauckham writes,

I wonder whether the name is a combination of the names of the two gods Shu and Geb (though the latter seems usually in Greek versions of names to appear as κηβ or κοιβ). Shu (the air) was the father of Geb (the earth).

I agree with Bauckham’s suggestion that the name could be a combination of Shu and Geb. It seems to me, though, that Ψωαγβ is a rather torturous way of spelling that name. Instead, I propose that if the writer really did make a mistake writing δυσ for δοσ in the first line, then  αγβ could just as easily be a slip of the mind and/or hand for γαβ, which corresponds pretty nicely with Geb (κηβ and κοιβ notwithstanding).

The inscription would thus contain two names, both 0f which probably belong to the same man, a Jew of Egyptian descent.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Some Thoughts on Bauckham’s Latest Reading of Talpiot Tomb B

  1. Good suggestion, thank you. I have emailed an egyptologist about this matter and hike to have some more light shed.

  2. Thanks for your response, Dr. Bauckham!

    When your Egyptologist responds, are you planning on making his/her response public? I’d be very interested in hearing his/her opinion.

  3. Pingback: July’s Top Posts | Ex Libris

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