Jewish names in the first century?

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
TedM
Posts: 851
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:25 am

Jewish names in the first century?

Post by TedM » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:51 am

Good questions Mary. Since this argument relies heavily on the overlap of names, I am looking for a good source for the names of Jewish males in the 1st century. I have found only the wiki list of ossuary names, which interestingly doesn't even include 'James', but am wondering if there might be a better source. Anyone?

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5422
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by Peter Kirby » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:05 pm

I have seen some sources give frequency of names in first century Palestine. It's a good question, and I hope that someone can recall the source. Maybe it was Meier or perhaps Charlesworth?

I think it came up in connection to the Testimonium and Ant. 20.9.1. And again in the debate over the ossuary.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

StephenGoranson
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by StephenGoranson » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:29 am

Recommended: Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity. Part I, Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE (2002).

User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2863
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by DCHindley » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:58 am

Peter Kirby wrote:I have seen some sources give frequency of names in first century Palestine. It's a good question, and I hope that someone can recall the source. Maybe it was Meier or perhaps Charlesworth?

I think it came up in connection to the Testimonium and Ant. 20.9.1. And again in the debate over the ossuary.
If you Google (or whatever you use) the ossuary debate, especially the early days, there was reference to a couple of sources of names found on inscriptions, just to try to get a sample of the range of names in use in the 1st or second centuries CE.

Try searching Jeffrey Gibson's Crosstalk2 (XTalk) discussion group. It is largely inactive now, but still up and running.

DCH

User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2863
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by DCHindley » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:13 am

Peter,

I looked at XTalk and I find mention of L.Y. Rahmani's Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel, a journal article by Lemier (couldn't get title), and the usual garbage found in BAR.

Here is what I reasoned about the matter then (2002):
If I see one more article that vaguely says "The combination of the three
names brings you to within a few percentage points and the very fact that
one of the three is specified as a brother, that adds to the likelihood that
we are talking about the family of Joseph and of Jesus of Nazareth" (so Ed
Keall, head of the ROM Near Eastern and Asian Civilizations department and
curator of the James exhibit), I'm going to puke (or "puque" to you
Canadians).

Since I live in a town with no nearby bookstore that carries BAR, I hunted
down the statistics on the internet:

Joseph 14%
Jesus 9%
James 2%

I am unclear whether these percentages come from inscriptions, literature,
or both, and how they were screened to only include those made between 20
BCE and 70 CE. Do they take into consideration that non residents may have
their relatives buried there, etc.? I wonder if anyone could provide the
sources cited for these statistics, if they were cited.

Anyhow, to get the reported estimate of 20 Jameses who were sons of Josephs
with a brother named Jesus, these percentages were multiplied (14% * 9% * 2%
= 0.025%) and the product was multiplied by the estimated population of
Jerusalem over two generations, or (40,000 * 2 = ) 80,000 people.

This raises a second question: Which authority postulates 40,000? Is this an
average of residents over the course of a year, or an average of the daily
population over the course of the year, or the estimated number who live
there all year (rather than "in season")? Or is this number supposed to
represent the population over a generation? Do they exclude festival crowds?
Etc. I'd be interested in learning the sources that may have been cited for
this estimate.

Continuing the journey, though, the result would be an estimated 20.16
individuals. The fraction 20 / 80,000 (or 0.025%) may seem that we have
narrowed down the possibilities, but even if this estimate is close to
accurate, the chance that the discovered ossuary is *our* James son of
Joseph brother of Jesus is actually only (1 / 20 = ) 4.96%. That translates
into: "We are 5% certain that, out of 20 possible persons with this
combination of names, this inscription refers to James son of Joseph brother
of Jesus from the NT."

Sorry to say, that is anything but "a few percentage points" of certain! Are
people really so hungry for proofs of their faith that they have to clutch
onto statistics like this?
DCH (gotta go, have plumbers here to replace our sump pump)

User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2863
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by DCHindley » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:32 am

The 80,000 residents figure includes both males & females. So the statistics need be redone using 40,000, which I am too rushed to do now ...

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5422
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by Peter Kirby » Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:24 am

Brilliant. Replace 'name of the ossuary person' with 'name of the murderer' (scribbled on a bathroom mirror maybe?) and this forensic evaluation of statistical significance would just be a matter of due course.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

StephenGoranson
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

Re: Jewish names in the first century?

Post by StephenGoranson » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:45 am

Tal Ilan (in Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity. Part I, Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE [2002] page 56 Table 6) lists the 20 most popular male names. Here are the top 10 (with the number of times): 1 Simon (257), 2 Joseph (231), 3 Judah (179), 4 Eleazar (177), 5 Yohanan (128), 6 Joshua (103), 7 Hananiah (85), 8 Jonathan (75), 9 Mattathias (63), 10 Menahem (46).

Post Reply