The Mary Magdalene Issue
The main argument against acceptance of the discovery of the Talpiot tomb in Jerusalem being the Jesus family tomb is the fact that the names found in there were so common during the first century, that no conclusion can be drawn from it. This is true, but the combination of those names is rather unique. The key is the name of Mariamne.
One ossuary showed the inscription “Mariamne e Mara.” The makers of the documentary about the discovery of the tomb relate the name of Mariamne to Mary Magdalene. The reason for this is a fourth century manuscript, “The Gospel of Philip.” This argument was (correctly) refuted by critics. Therefore, if Mariamne was not Mary Magdalene, the matter could be left to rest.
However, when, together with Willem Gaudemans, I was engaged in the integral translation of the Nag Hammadi Library into Dutch, we came across the name of Mariamne several times. We came to the conclusion that she was indeed Mary Magdalene. This concerns texts from the first century (and a papyrus from the beginning of the second century).
Mara means something like teacher or instructor. In my book, De vrouw die Jezus liefhad (The Woman Jesus Loved), I showed that Mary Magdalene was no harlot, as used to be taught in church tradition, but apostola apostolorum, an apostle above the apostles. She instructed the other apostles about Jesus’ deeper teachings. But whether that was put on her grave . . . I have my doubts. There are also scholars (paleographers) who do not translate the inscription as “Mariamne the teacher (mara), but as “Mariamne and Martha.” In my book I leave that possibility open. I find it more and more likely that Martha, a sister of Mary, was buried in the same ossuary. This occurred regularly in the first century. Further examination of the bones could determine this. Meanwhile, a DNA test firmly established that Jesus and Mariamne had no familial relationship. There is more than sufficient evidence in favor of a marriage between those two. A good amount is found in the New Testament itself! (See my book De vrouw die Jezus liefhad – The Woman Jesus Loved).