Where does this inscription come from?

Below is a detail from the cover of the CEV Learning Bible:

cev learning bible cover detail

The strange squiggles at the top are Hebrew for Yeshua which most take to be the rendering of Jesus’ name in the 1st Century CE.

My question is: Where does this inscription come from? The photo credit is to the Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives.

This image also appears on page 2182 with the caption “Yeshua, name inscribed on stone coffin, around A.D. 100.

I really like the CEV Learning Bible but it has perhaps the ugliest cover I have ever seen:


For a Bible edition that aims to make the Bible accessible and compelling for non-scholars the cover is about as off-putting as possible. Some scritches on stone and some stumpy looking archaeological ruins. Then there’s this mysterious black hole in the middle of the cover with “The Learning” being sucked into it presumably to be lost forever.

The shame of the whole thing is that the contents of this book are absolutely fantastic. There is the CEV text, my absolute favorite, together with a modest number of helpful study notes. But the highlight is artwork ancient and modern on almost every page. The paintings, drawings and more illuminating the Bible stories by artists from all over the world and throughout the centuries is unique in Bible versions.

For conspiracy theorists I’ll throw out a little tidbit to chew on: What is the implication of a study Bible that shows a tomb inscription of Jesus on the front cover?

Thanks for help in tracking down the origin of this inscription. And all comments on this Bible cover are welcome (within the guidelines of course… )

Note: Click on the images to browse a virtual edition of the CEV Learning Bible

Here’s the detail from page 2182 per Rick’s request (click on image to enlarge):

yeshua detail from cev learning bible 2182

11 thoughts on “Where does this inscription come from?

  1. R. Mansfield says:

    I’ve got the Biblical Archaeology Review archive in Accordance, and I ran a photo caption search for “Lessing” which yielded 199 results. I scanned through them quickly but did not see this image. However, I wonder if you could post the picture that is on p. 2182, since the cover seems to blend three different images.

  2. Charles Campbell says:

    Here the information on the Yeshua inscription photo from the Lessing website:

    Aramaic inscription on an ossuary: “Jesus” (around 100 CE)
    Private Collection (T.E.L.), Vienna, Austria
    08-05-06/32 (c) Photograph by Erich Lessing

    There are 277 photographs in the Lessing archive labeled “Private Collection (T.E.L.), Vienna, Austria,” but I can’t seem to find out what “T.E.L.” means. Initials of the owner, perhaps?

  3. Itamar Bernstein says:

    There are several 1st century ossuaries inscribed “Yeshua” in the collections of the State of Israel. This one is curious, because it seems to have not four but five letters- if the little nick on the right side is a “Yod.” In that case it should possibly be read “Yoshua.” In any event, all these “Yeshuas” may be just commemorative of Jesus, whose ossuary reads Yeshua bar Yehosef

  4. Mike Sangrey says:

    David wrote: For conspiracy theorists I’ll throw out a little tidbit to chew on: What is the implication of a study Bible that shows a tomb inscription of Jesus on the front cover?

    Ok, I’ll bite. 🙂

    It’s a conspiracy to make popular modernists think that Yeshua was a very rare name in the 1CE. And, then to read the CEV to find out if it’s true.


  5. tbyjanicki says:

    Did you ever figure out where this is from? I am very interested in finding more info on this.

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