As many of you know, one of the perks of being a Platinum member of the blog is that members are allowed to submit posts that go only to other Platinum members, and after four appear a vote is taken to see which one of them can go on the entire blog.  This time it is a controversial and interesting post by Omar Abdur-Robb.  If you have comments / questions, let him know!


A Summary of an article: Discussing the conclusion of James Tabor related to the relationship between Jesus Pantera and Abdes Pantera, and presenting a new model for this relationship (Jan 2023).

Omar Abur-Robb



James Tabor has a conclusion in his informative book “The Jesus Dynasty”. He noticed a reference for a tombstone in Germany that was dedicated to a Roman soldier from Sidon with the name “Abdes Pantera”. This immediately grabbed the attention of Tabor and he started studying it. One of his conclusions in the book was that this soldier might be the true biological father of Jesus.

Although I totally don’t agree with this conclusion (metaphysically or historically), but still, all of his conclusions represented about 30% of the book, while the other 70% were high quality of information, which made the book valuable.

However, I am going to draw the attention to new information that could probably allow me to present an improved model.

We will start by clarifying the conclusion of James Tabor in section A#, then we will present the new model in section B#.

A1# A tombstone has been discovered in Germany for the memory of a Roman soldier. The inscription in this stone gives the following information about him:

# His name is: Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera.

# He was from Sidon.

# He was 62 years old when he died.

# He served in the army for 40 years.

# His unit was “Cohors I Sagittariorum”

Also, it seems that he died in the mid of the first century (about 50AD).

A2# Tabor used the following process to present his conclusion:

1# Many People knew that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus (based on Mark 6:3 and John 8:41).

2# Jesus has been named Jesus ben Pantera in the Palestinian Talmud.

3# Jesus did make a private visit in Sidon (Mark 7:24) which does suggest that Jesus has close relatives there.

4# It is possible that Abdes was stationed near Nazareth at the time of Jesus birth.

5# Because the surname of Abdes and the surname of Jesus are similar, and because the possibility that Abdes was in the area at the time of Jesus birth, then the conclusion here is that Abdes might have been the biological father of Jesus.

A3# Let us discuss this subject point per point:

3.1# In Mark 6:3: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? (ESV).image of headless Roman statue

This line is actually the main key in the model I am going to present here. Let us discuss the social naming norms in the Palestinian villages today (which I can argue that it isn’t different from the social naming norms 2000 years ago): if the parents (and let us call them Ali and Mary) were from different villages, then the maternal relatives will socially refer to the son (and let his name be Hassan) by his mother name as Hassan eben Mary (eben is the Arabic dialect word for “son”). This is not a disrespectful gesture toward the father, but the maternal relatives know the mother much more than the father (because the father is from a different village), therefore it is easier for them to socially refer to the son as Hassan eben Mary. The paternal relatives will socially refer to the son as: Hassan eben Ali.

After 50 years from the death of Hassan, the relatives would probably refer to him formally with his first name and the surname.

So, the line in Mark 6:3 doesn’t really imply that the people didn’t know the father of Jesus, but simply it can imply that Joseph (or Joseph father) was originally from a different village, and then settled later in Nazareth.

A3.2# in John 8:39-41: “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” (NIV)

If we sever these words (“We are not illegitimate children”) from the context then it could imply an indirect attack toward Jesus, but the context doesn’t imply that. Jesus is actually attacking them: He is saying that they are not the sons of Abraham but they are the sons of someone else. They replied that they are not illegitimate children; to enforce that they belong to Abraham. I can add here that this might be a trap for Jesus, because if Jesus followed them in their statement and said that they are “illegitimates” then probably they would be able to sue Jesus for this accusation.

Nonetheless, the context here doesn’t support the idea that they were indirectly accusing Jesus of being an illegitimate son.

A3.3# Morality was one of the main subjects in Jesus missionary. If people thought that there was something abnormal in the birth of Jesus, then Jesus would face a constant and damaging reminder in every argument with his opponents. But this didn’t happen. Therefore, the birth of Jesus (according to the people at that time) was normal and similar to all other legitimate births.

Furthermore, if people thought that there was something abnormal in the birth of Jesus, then it would be a very serious scandal for “James the Just” who was the leader of the Christians for about 30 years.

Also, The Palestinian Talmud was compiled in Galilee about 100AD, and it has multiple accounts related to Jesus. In these accounts, Jesus has only been regarded as heretic, and there is no mention or mocking about his birth. The Babylonian Talmud is the book that mocked Jesus about his birth, but it was compiled much later after the Palestinian Talmud (credits to Tabor for highlighting these points).

Therefore, the people in Palestine (until about 100AD) regarded the birth of Jesus to be normal and legitimate. Therefore, the people at that time regarded Joseph to be the biological father of Jesus.

A4# As said before, Jesus has been mentioned in the Palestinian Talmud in multiple accounts. In one of these accounts, he was named Yeshu ben Pandera. This name wasn’t mentioned in defamation. Therefore, we can conclude that “ben Pandera” was Jesus known surname.

Pandera (or more accurately Pantera) is a Greek name which is now associated with the word “Panther”, but at that time, Pantera was a legendary creature that resembles a big cat with a multicolored hide.

Tabor has pointed out in his book (page 69) that an ossuary has been discovered near Jerusalem in 1891AD which has a name in Greek: “Joseph Pentheros”. This can provide a good support for the hypothesis that Pantera (Pandera, Pentheros) was an existing Jewish surname in Palestine.

A5# Abdes does seem to be a Semitic name.

A6# In Palestine today, the large village will have many small villages clustered around it. I can assume that the large Palestinian villages 2000 years ago have the same phenomenon. Yafia was the largest village in Galilee (according to Josephus). So, I can assume that there were many small villages clustered around it including Nazareth, which was about 3km from Yafia.

These large villages at the old times didn’t have the ability to expand geographically. Therefore, I expect that many of the new generations in this large village (i.e. Yafia) would settle down in one of the small villages around, or they even might start their own new small village.

A7# The general direction of immigration is from the villages to the cities and not the other way round.


B# With the above notes, we can present the following assumptions that represent a specific model:

B1# People in Nazareth referred to Jesus as “Jesus ben Mary” because Mary was from Nazareth, but Joseph was a stranger (A3.1#).

Therefore, we can assume that Joseph (or his father) was from a different village and then he settled later in Nazareth.

B3# Joseph can be from any village around, but taking note A6#, then we can say that the probability of Joseph to be from Yafia is more than the probability of the other villages.

B4# Mark have mentioned that Jesus made a private visit to some people in vicinity of Sidon (A2#.3), which could indicate that Jesus had close relatives there.

B5# From note A7#, the probability of Jesus large family to be from Galilee, and some of them settled later in Sidon is much higher than the probability that Jesus large family originated from Sidon.

Therefore, we can conclude that a member of Jesus large family settled in Sidon, and he helped other members to settle there as well.

B6# By notes B4# & B5#, we can conclude that an uncle or an aunt of Jesus did settle in Sidon and Jesus was obliged to visit them as he passed nearby.

B7# Jesus surname is Pantera (A4#) and Abdes surname is also Pantera. Jesus did have close relatives in the vicinity of Sidon, and Abdes is from Sidon. These similarities would also increase the probability that Abdes and Jesus were from the same paternal family.

Therefore, this soldier would probably be a paternal cousin to Jesus.

If we want to include the metaphysics, then Abdes would be a close of distant paternal cousin to Joseph.

The link for the full article:

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2023-03-17T13:47:19-04:00March 22nd, 2023|Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

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  1. OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    I would like to present here the following 5 notes extracted from the comments that were discussed in the platinum post.


    I am not arguing, disputing or in competition with James Tabor, I am just suggesting a modification to “his model”.

    To clarify: Tabor created a new field of research, and he conducted the field work (he went and studied the tombstone in Germany, and he tracked the movement of the Roman army there. It should be noted here that I never been to Germany), and he created the first model, and the hardest model is always the first one.

    What I have done here is that I noticed something that I think is new information, and I am just suggesting a modification to this model accordingly.

    Therefore, it is not fair to say which model is logical and which is not, because the model here is not a substitute, it is just a modification. So, the proper question would be: is the suggested modification valid or not!

    Probably tomorrow, some people might notice another new information and they will take the model here and modify it yet again. This is how things are developed in all fields of knowledge.

  2. OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:12 pm


    I was under the impression that the Palestinian Talmud was compiled about 100AD (as I have mentioned in this article). It turns out that this is an error, and I am grateful to Robert for highlighting this matter.

    Looking at this subject more closely, it turned out that the first two parts of the Talmud (The Mishnah and Tosefta) were presented about 200AD, and other commentaries were added to it later over the years.

    However, the story of Pantera in this article was among an account that is related to Rabbis Eleazar and Akiva, therefore, this account would have originated about 100AD. Therefore, the previous error didn’t affect the flow of this article.

    • OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:14 pm


      The new information that this article is depending on is that if the parents in Palestine 2000 years ago were from different villages, then the maternal family would identify the son “socially and informally” by the mother name. I did mention my reasonings clearly in the original article (the link is in the post).

      However, I can argue here that this social naming is common in all civilizations, current and past. For example: Suppose someone is talking with a neighbor about their maternal relatives, and these were the alleged dialogs:

      $ Did you know! Mary’s son visited us yesterday, and he brought so many gifts for us, we truly love him!

      $ Have you heard! Nicole’s son bought a new car, it is really a lovely car, I just wonder how he got the money for it!

      I would assume that the social naming here is normal for the maternal family in the villages in USA.


      • OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:17 pm


        Furthermore, the Gospel of Mark is a mix of history and theological thoughts. But, I can argue that Mark 6:3 was written from a historical perspective: it was about “peasants” leaving the synagogue after hearing Jesus, and probably standing a moment at the front of synagogue (as many would do after a sermon) and there were gossiping and talking about what they have heard, and one of them said (translated to the current terms): Hey guys, seriously, isn’t he Mary’s son, don’t we know him, doesn’t he have four brothers, how on earth did he get this knowledge?

        So, my argument here is that when peasants having a chat between themselves, they would probably use a “social style” of naming, rather than a formal one, and Mark just put it as is, as historians normally do.

        However, when a highly educated theologian is writing a philosophical book, then he will probably use the formal naming, hence we find the name in the Talmud: Jesus ben Pantera.

        Therefore, I argue here that the story in Mark need to be interpreted from a social “context” rather than a formal one.

    • OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:19 pm


      There are actually two hypotheses in this article, the first one is that Abdes is the cousin, and the second one is that the Pantera family were originated from Yafia. I am assuming that new emergent information could probably either support or reject this Yafia hypothesis. So, there is something here to look for.

    • OmarRobb March 22, 2023 at 12:20 pm


      There are probably some spelling and grammar mistakes here. I am truly sorry for this, but I think it is obvious that English is not my native language, and I hope that my linguistic mistakes are within the non-native tolerance that doesn’t deform the flow of this article.

  3. dabizi March 22, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    Jesus never died. Just like Andy Kaufman never died. In fact both have empty tombs. They are with Elvis (also known as The King) now.

  4. Hank_Z March 26, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    Some interesting information, assumptions, and hypothesis. I have no idea how likely it is the hypothesis is true, but thanks for creating and sharing your perspective.

  5. Monarch March 28, 2023 at 8:11 am

    Good stuff, and I wish I had time to engage with you and your argument more. Tabor is my favorite popular scholar for his probing, targeted questions and his use of known facts (that there is a Pantera gravestone,) reason, and–a rare commodity in Scholarshipdom–imagination in his quest to answer them. While Tabor does forcefully argue his firm conclusions, with some material he’s like those alien shows on T.V., always careful to couch his imaginations, no matter how well-reasoned, in qualifiers like “Is it possible that . . . ” or “It may well have been that . . . ” I’m quite sure he likely used these qualifiers in association with the Pantera material in his most excellent “The Jesus Dynasty,” so do be careful about calling it “Tabor’s conclusion.” My guess is if you were to ask him if he believes it he’d reply, “It’s certainly possible,” lol. It’s a great argument he makes though and thank you for bringing us your thoughts about it. Again, sorry I can’t dive into this fascinating argument as deeply as you have here.
    Note: Interesting to know about the Arab traditional method of naming.

    • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you, Monarch.

      I should have mentioned that Tabor highlighted the following in the platinum post:

      I want to make it clear that the oft repeated assertion – “Tabor thinks Jesus’ father was a Roman soldier,” etc. is simply unfounded. What I say clearly, in the book and since, is that if we filled out Jesus’ proverbial “birth certificate” I think we would put father “Unknown.”

      However, there is an impression in the book that Abdes might have been the biological father of Jesus, and this article followed this impression.

      Now, there are 3 main conclusions in Tabor’s book that I don’t agree with. However, All the conclusions in the book might be about 30%, and the rest (70% or even more) is a very high quality of information. But it is not just the information that made his book valuable; there are some very smart observations that really encourage you to become more observant to the text rather than letting things pass through without questioning.

      I did discuss the first conclusion/impression in this article, and I am not planning to write an article about the other two conclusions. Therefore, it might be useful to discuss them here in the comments.


      • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 8:06 pm


        1# In page 49, Tabor highlighted something that was hidden in plain sight: the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew includes 4 women (excluding Mary). Surprisingly, these 4 women have negative reputation ((according to the Jewish scripture)). This is really abnormal: genealogies in ancient times didn’t normally include women, and Matthew included 4 with negative reputation. So, what was Matthew’s intention?

        I think if I read Matthew’s genealogy 10 times, I probably won’t notice the abnormality of this matter. Therefore, the first feedback: there is the need of being more observant to the text.

        However, Tabor’s conclusion was: “Matthew was trying to put Jesus’ own potentially scandalous birth into the context of his forefathers and foremothers”.

        This was a direct and straightforward conclusion, which, to me, was inaccurate as it doesn’t fit with the apparent theologies of Matthew. But this conclusion was very useful: This was the first solution for this abnormal point. Therefore, it was the first inserted flag for solving this puzzle. This would encourage others to challenge it and forward new flags. But still, the most important work in these series of flags is the first observation and the first flag!


      • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 8:08 pm


        My suggested flag for this puzzle is the following: It has been observed that Matthew is severing the OT texts out of context and configuring them to fit his arguments. But this can confirm that Matthew was very informed about the OT, and I truly think he was either a qualified Rabbi or a son to one.

        This could answer some questions here: He was probably using the Midrash interpretation style. Therefore, Matthew didn’t think that he was falsifying texts from the OT, but rather he was using a style of interpretation that was legitimate for him.

        For the 4 women: I don’t think Matthew regarded Jesus to be God or to be literally the son of God, but Matthew did believe in the Virgin Birth. Also, it seems clear to me that Matthew was a very argumentative person. Now, Matthew had two propositions to argue for: Jesus is the right heir for the throne of David, and Jesus birth was from a virgin.


      • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 8:11 pm


        The first proposition has been established by confirming that Joseph was the adopted father for Jesus. Therefore, according to the current dominant Greek culture (and probably the Jewish culture as well, but I am not very sure) Jesus can inherit the throne of David.

        For the second proposition, I am assuming that Matthew could argue that Jesus blood is pure because God didn’t let him be a descendant of these 4 scandalous women, therefore, Jesus birth was from a virgin. I assume that Matthew couldn’t put this argument plainly in the gospel, but it would be a plausible argument in private discussions.

        2# In page 77, Tabor has highlighted a very smart observation that Joseph died and then Mary probably married “Clophas” who might have been the brother of Joseph.

        However, Tabor’s final conclusion about this observation was influenced by his first main conclusion (Jesus father might have been unknown): Mary married Joseph, but died before having a son (as Jesus is not his son), and in this particular case, the Jewish culture force the brother (i.e. Clophas) to marry the widow (i.e. Mary).


      • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 8:14 pm


        But if we omit the first conclusion, then we could have a simpler interpretation for Tabor’s observation: We could say (from a scientific historical perspective, leaving all metaphysics out) that Mary married Joseph and she gave birth to Jesus and probably James. Then Joseph died, and then Mary married Clophas (who might have been the brother of Joseph), and she gave birth to Joses, Simon, Jude and unknown number of sisters either from Joseph before or from Clophas later. And Clophas probably died before Jesus missionary.

        So, there are some conclusions in Tabor’s book that I don’t agree with, but I do acknowledge that his book does contain a very high quality of information and very smart observations.

        I did mention this analogy before: If an amateur was standing firmly at the shoulder of Giants then he will enjoy the view of the horizon with them, and he would probably be able to notice things that they might have missed …… then later, he might be able to write an article about these things.

  6. Monarch March 28, 2023 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks, OmarRobb,. Yes, it would be great if Tabor jumped on here to add his reply/thoughts. He has done at least one guest post on here, as I recall. Shame that many of these personalities treat social media as a one-way street; they would find many more responsive fans if those fans knew that their time posting to them might be rewarded with a response. For example, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time working with Tabor’s idea, but may never be able to get his reply or feedback. Hopefully you can take self-satisfaction with it or find an outlet for publication or self-publish. Good work. Would love to hear your thoughts on the other brothers if you have any; I’m working on something significant about them that I think has been overlooked by all.

    • OmarRobb March 28, 2023 at 9:33 pm

      Tabor did share his thoughts in the Platinum post. If you are interested in the Pantera subject, he highlighted the following:

      The most substantive response I have seen to my work on the whole Pantera matter–from literary to archaeological evidence–is the very sharply critical recent article by Christopher Zeichmann in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus dealing with the tombstone of the German soldier Julius Abdes Pantera on the Rhine. I have yet to respond, but I have learned from his article, and I disagree with much of it, and also realized several key areas he misses in understanding my position, which he fully discusses. You can get it free on his page–so as you can see there is much more to talk about on this topic.


      I am sorry, I have no knowledge regarding the other brothers. If you have something significant about them then do the research and write about it, and when you are done then please do share.

      • dabizi March 29, 2023 at 3:09 am

        Zeichmann demolished this overly-contrived, overly-complex conspiracy theory.

        What is salient, much more than whoever his sperm-donor was, is how powerful people felt the need to besmirch a poor, itinerant lay-rabbi with a revolutionary worldview, and to do so long, long, long after his execution for heretical ruffling of feathers. Today, Celsus, the anonymous smear-authors of Taledot Yeshu and their modern hangers-on look like ad hominem-slingers.

        But the Jesus-was-born-a-bastard advocates serve to contrast the superficial values of the ancient Levant with those of today: take for instance Alexander Hamilton, who may or may not have been the illegitimate son of a Caribbean nobody, yet he rose to become a hero based on his own merits, which is what actually matters.

        Whoever Jesus’ dad was, that man would be proud that his son left such an enormous mark on the world, without ever advocating to fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them.

        • OmarRobb March 29, 2023 at 9:29 am

          # I disagree with your view about Zeichmann’s work. It is a serious work that contains good points and probably inaccurate points as any serious work,, and I truly think that it is unfair from you to describe his hard work with this negativity. This is unfair.

          I also think that the picture you formed for some of the academics is a bit too harsh. I am not talking about Celsus, the authors of Taledot Yeshu, or the people with smearing intentions. I am talking about academics who researched this matter and put forward their conclusions and do welcome counter arguments to their work from others, as professional academics normally do.

          # You are missing the subject here. We are discussing some specific points in history. So, the topic here is a bit technical, and you shifted it toward the virtue of determination and good contribution to the world.

          However, I can add a name to your example of Alexander Hamilton: It has been said that Sargon was born out of wedlock and was abandoned immediately, then he started to work as a gardener, then later he became the first Ruler of the first true Empire in the world.

          • dabizi March 29, 2023 at 8:56 pm

            “This is unfair.”


            “I am not talking about Celsus, the authors of Taledot Yeshu”

            Those sources (the claims of the Celsus and the Rabbinical writing, both ~150 years after Jesus, and the later ~10th century Taledot Yeshu) are all your scholars have to try to connect Jesus to the soldier buried in Germany. Tenuous sources on which to base conspiracy theories about Jesus’ hushed-up bastardy, or which mortal provided his sperm. If you agree that Jesus was the product of two humans, the question of Jesus’ paternity is as important as William the Conquerer’s.

            “# You are missing the subject here.”


          • OmarRobb March 30, 2023 at 10:13 am

            I still think that this is unfair and not proper. I am not referring to your opinions but to the way you expressed them. All opinions can be expressed through two ways: Harsh statements or tactful statements. As we are not here in the battlefield, therefore it is unfair to use harsh statements that many here might feel offended by.

            Now … I totally believe in my Islamic metaphysics (i.e. prophet, virgin birth and no father). However, I go through two parallel approaches when analyzing metaphysical subjects: The scientific historical perspective, and the metaphysical perspective. Then I will analyze the gaps between them.

            My article here is based on the first perspective, and through it, I can conclude that Jesus birth wasn’t abnormal in the eyes of the people at his time; otherwise he would have been mocked from day one. So, from this perspective, Jesus was the legitimate son of Joseph. Some scholars might use Celsus for the illegitimacy hypothesis, and we might discuss this with them, and we might agree or not. But “discussion” is not a “fight in the battlefield”, and we are not here in a battlefield, therefore, statements here shouldn’t be harsh or offending.

        • JDTabor April 1, 2023 at 6:31 am

          Dabizi, if you are referencing my work on Pantera I think you misunderstand my position–it is certainly not some conspiracy theory. Most of what I say is free to anyone to read on my blog: It is moderate and gentle, not slanderous. I have a post that expresses precisely what you say here, assuming Jesus had a biological father–which you seem to clearly believe here– I hope you will check it out.

          I have said repeatedly that Zeichman’s work is welcome and a positive contribution to the discussion. It has some errors and misses several key points, and I will address it, probably here on Bart’s blog, when I can find the time, as he has asked me to post one or two entires on Pantera, given this interest by you Platinums…presumably others would also be interested. What I think is unfortunate is that you seem to see exchanges between scholars as one of “demolishing” this or that position. That is surely not my approach. It is common among very “liberal” scholars who think all evangelicals are ignorant, and by strident evangelicals who want to demolish their disbelieving opponents. I have been attacked by many but welcome input.

          • dabizi April 3, 2023 at 7:04 am

            Thank you for your message. I share your fascination with the mysteries of Jesus’s life. I just see theories of him being a bastard as somewhat conspiracy-minded, in the sense of requiring elaborate cover-ups and complexity.

            I think in that era and that community, it would have been near impossible for Mary to keep an affair with a Roman soldier secret, from her family and neighbors, even if Joseph was a credulous simpleton. Joseph stood by her through the pregnancy, so it is more likely it was his seed that sired Jesus, even if a story was later contrived about God’s holy spirit acting on her.

            Much later stories about Mary (and Jesus’ illegitimacy) by opponents of Christianity (like Celsus) are most likely slurs… trying to impugn someone as a bastard is just a common technique of slander.

      • JDTabor April 5, 2023 at 8:43 am

        Dabizi…just to clarify, I have never said Pantera was most likely a Roman solider with whom Mary had an “affair.” I am not going to clarify my views here again but my blog, which is free,, has dozens of posts on this laying out fully my position and evaluations. You can easily search for “Pantera,” if you are interested in what I have said…

    • JDTabor March 29, 2023 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks for this Omar, I felt the comment by Monarch, with its assertions, at least in my case, was wholly off target. Not only have I written extensively on “all things Pantera,” on my blog (, which is open and free for anyone to read. I have over 150 videos on my Youtube channel and address quite a few specific topics in detail, Pantera, Talpiot tombs, and all my various archaeological projects. I have posted a half-dozen times on Bart’s blog and have always answered or responded to EVERY question. One has to take into account that I am very very busy with travel, projects, and writing, research, and publishing, so I can’t and don’t follow every thread out there on the dozens of discussion forums, social media, etc. it would be impossible. I get 200 or so emails a day with questions. I can’t respond to them all personally but 90% of them ask things that are available on my blog, with a bit of topical searching. My Patreon (jamestabor) does not distinguish between tiers of contributions…$5 is the same as $500…but it allows me to segregate those who are serious about following my work. More next reply…

      • JDTabor March 29, 2023 at 12:44 pm

        As Omar points out I have jumped in here…and maybe can again, but to read and respond to all the dozens of issues raised is a time challenge for me right now…Also Omar has done a great job of keeping things “accurate” when it comes to my views, that are so widely panned it seems by some, who don’t bother to get my position correct before they refute it…

        Bart has invited me to write a post on Pantera–or even more than one…and I plan to do that, maybe in April or May. If I do I will try to read through ALL of this thread and include the relevant matters.

        My whole approach to the historical Jesus, from birth to death, is to survey the various possibilities on a matter like this, with the clear assumption that Jesus had a human father. If one does not accept that, then there is no historical discussion…nothing to sort out. God did it. Whatever that implies.

        On the whole matter of illegitimacy I recommend the work of my dear late friend Jane Schaberg as well as that of Bruce Chilton…

      • Monarch March 30, 2023 at 9:08 am

        I apologize, Dr. Tabor. As I mentioned, you are my favorite scholar and I admire you immensely. If there is one person on the planet I’d like to “have a beer with,” you’re him. I was not aware that Patreon was your main social outlet and I see that your blog has become more interactive lately, so I’m sorry. I had so looked forward to your class on Mark, but I lost the internet that entire week due to the midwestern storms. I’m terribly disappointed and embarrassed that I left a bad impression with you. I have an interpretation of the symbolism on the Talpiot facade, some overlooked info on Jesus’ brothers, and some other things that I’m sure you’ll find interesting, but I can’t expect you to take my word for that and come see. I’m sure you hear every “Here he is!” and “There he is!” there is. My book is progressing, my website is up, and I have a platinum post in the works, so perhaps in a few weeks I can redeem myself with something more constructive and valuable.

        • JDTabor March 30, 2023 at 1:37 pm

          No problem at all and no apology needed. I was trying to respond to your post, which actually is true of many of my dear colleagues.

          Where do you live? I like beer. Or in November at the BAS Seminar. Or April 19th in Waco.

          • Jumbo March 30, 2023 at 3:35 pm

            This ended nicely but there was a second that reminded me of the (now problematic) Woody Allen scene:

          • Monarch March 30, 2023 at 7:15 pm

            Wow, I feel like a kid who just met Michael Jordan! Thank you!

            I live in Louisville but imagine you don’t get by here much, lol. I cannot make Waco but would be excited to travel to San Antonio for the BAS Seminar in November. I have one BAS staffer on my newsletter list who said she was “intrigued” by my website and would like to “help get the word out” when I publish. That website is if you’d like to give it a couple of minutes to see if it draws you in for more. If you’d like to go for two you can be like LeBron “James” and shoot me a comment on my Contact Page. Otherwise, I’ll introduce myself if I can make the trip to San Antonio.

            Thanks again, James. You are very gracious. — Eric D. Weber

          • JDTabor March 30, 2023 at 9:41 pm

            I love that scene Jumbo…classic!

        • JDTabor April 1, 2023 at 6:22 am

          Monarch, I am not anything special, just working along over the years with a fascination and love of the historical figure of Jesus. Stay in touch via email ([email protected]) and who knows, our paths will perhaps cross…as Dylan once said, “I’m not that hard to find” (Girl from the North Country).

  7. apmorgan April 23, 2023 at 2:56 am

    One thing I notice about this post is that it seems to take the notion of a surname for granted, and does not engage with the issue of what it meant to have a surname in the ancient word, or clearly differentiate between a true surname versus a patronym or other identifier. I feel that addressing this would help to contextualise the discussion and guide the reader in drawing implications.

    Since the post refers extensively to James Tabor’s work, I might mention that I have dipped my toe into the waters of Tabor’s online resources a few times, but it always leads to many more questions than answers.

    • OmarRobb April 25, 2023 at 7:50 am

      I am not presenting here a solid model, but just a model that I think is the best available “so far”. Therefore, many of the information here can be contested, and many of interpretations aren’t conclusive. As I have mentioned in the original article, we are taking the information and its simplest interpretations to derive this model. As this model is not solid, then it gives some answers but also raises many questions.

      For the issue of the surname:

      # We can conclude that it is unlikely for Pantera to be the first name of a Jewish man.

      # We have demonstrated in the original article that Y in the name “X ben Y” could be the surname or the title.

      # It has been established that there was a man in Jerusalem with the Greek name “Joseph Pentheros”, which does give a good probability that there was a family with this surname.

      # Jesus name in the Palestinian Talmud wasn’t issued in defamation. Therefore, we can conclude that this is the name of Jesus that was known to the Jews of Galilee at that time.

      So, there is a “good” probability to conclude that “ben pantera” is the surname of Jesus.

      • apmorgan April 26, 2023 at 10:15 pm

        But what is a surname in the context of the society that Jesus came from? Does having a surname imply that his family had some special status in the community? What can we infer from that?

        “Ben pantera” has the form of a patronym but the implication is that in this case it functioned as a true surname, being passed down the generations (like “Peterson”, “Jackson” etc today). Is that necessarily the case or is there some intermediate option?

        • OmarRobb April 27, 2023 at 5:31 am

          These details are not directly related to the subject in hand. However, I did in a different subject raised the assumption that Jesus family might have been a middle-class family or even a noble family that were casted out of Jerusalem many generations before Jesus. One of the indicators for this “assumption” is the surname. But this is just a speculation and it is altogether a different subject.

          Regarding the surname: As I have said before, there is a good (but not certain) probability that “ben Pantera” is the surname of Jesus, and this has been included in creating the model in hand. However, this model will be modified whenever new related data are emerged.

          • apmorgan April 28, 2023 at 5:00 am

            Everything is interconnected. To borrow the language of Bayesian probability, the credence we place on one thing (Jesus having a surname; Jesus having privileged ancestry) affects the credence we place on other things, and a model is not fully articulated without an examination of how it affects and is affected by the bigger picture. This is not to deny that limiting our perspective to one item or question at a time can be fruitful and necessary, but it is only an intermediate stage of inquiry.

    • dabizi April 25, 2023 at 9:55 am

      “… it always leads to many more questions than answers.”

      That the nature of enquiry into scientific or historical questions. One question begets another.

      I’m impressed with Tabor’s work, and he was one of the good guys in 1993, riding in with a white hat to help at Waco. He thinks Jesus was born of a man+woman… short of an AMAZING-archeological discovery, anything more-than-that is uncertain.

      Certainty is a problem, but Tabor does not strike me as an evangelist certain of his academic-views. In the last 20-yrs in medicine, there have been many conventional wisdoms Gehenna’d. Scientific “truths” and “consensus opinions” can be poorly-evidenced and short-lived. A study reports just 3% of the population was literate… so it’s certain Jesus+apostles were illiterate and could not speak the Greek lingua franca dominant for 300-yrs? I take care of immigrants from destitute areas overseas… i’m humbled at those with little formal education but fluency in English.

      Or certainty that Jesus rotted on the cross without burial, because that is what happened mostly? Why not dismiss Jesus’ entire existence if we dismiss a so fundamental account (that he was buried), as if an official couldn’t be influenced-to-release-the-body, and despite Yehohanan’s nailed heel buried in a tomb.

    • JDTabor April 26, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      apmorgan…”Since the post refers extensively to James Tabor’s work, I might mention that I have dipped my toe into the waters of Tabor’s online resources a few times, but it always leads to many more questions than answers.”

      this comment is welcome but maybe not directed to me…it came up in a notification feed and Bart had asked if I wanted to respond to comments. I would be glad to do so but it seems so overgeneralized, I can’t learn much from it. On the one hand I would hope my work would lead to more questions than answers, as that is the nature of the method of historical inquiry, but I am almost sure you offered this as some kind of implied aside on the value of my “resources.” I welcome anything you have to offer but maybe you should post your own approach and views as a Platinum member on whatever you have in mind, and I and others could respond. That is what Omar has really tried hard to do.

      • apmorgan April 26, 2023 at 7:24 pm

        James, thanks for your response, my comment wasn’t intended as “shade” but as a probe to see if it would be met with an invitation to elaborate. I think this is the polite protocol when changing the topic: rather than speak at length from the outset, speak briefly and continue only with consent.

        Incidentally I’m not a Platinum member, but this post is one of those that was republished for the whole membership, per Bart’s monthly routine.

        Your compilation of Easter-related blog posts at contains many a case study for why I find your resources difficult to learn from.

        Sometimes I’m confused when you and Bart seem to disagree on fundamental issues. For example, you argue that there is a plausible precedent for Jews interpreting the Suffering Servant as messianic, which to Bart is practically unthinkable.

        Sometimes you speak with bold certainty and I’m not sure where the certainty comes from. For example you say we *KNOW* Jesus died on a Thursday, but it’s not clear if “know” indicates scholarly consensus or what. (Incidently, that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal is new to me and much could be said about the implications.)

        My 200 word limit is up.

  8. JDTabor May 2, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for this clarification APMorgan…as for Bart and I disagreeing on things, there should be no surprise. We likely agree on 90% of things–as do most academically trained scholars of Christian Origins, and we definitely agree on critical methods. But no two of us agree on various things…what is historical, what is likely literary creation, various interpretations of this or that…and often individual scholars pursue or focus on different issues. The two issues you note–whether Jesus identified himself with the suffering servant figure or was that something attributed to him–and whether the last supper was a Passover meal, are discussed in detail by a slew of us. In my blog posts, which you find “difficult to learn from” I refer to the details on both of these topics, who says what, and why, and then make my judgments. This is scholarship. I might point out, facetiously of course, that I was not the first to think Jesus last meal was not a Passover meal–that would be the unnamed author of the gospel we call “John.” See John 13:1. My guess is on any of these issues, if you explore that I present, you might find my analysis helpful.

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