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"The physical anthropologist estimated this gal was old, sixty-five plus." He jotted the figure, then read the next lab number.
"Female," I said.
"Mariameme. The one called Mary."
Jake checked the physical anthropologist's report. "Older adult." He marked the photo, then read the third number.
"Male," I said.
"Yehuda, son of Jeshua."
Jude, son of Jesus, I translated in my mind.
"Twenty-five to forty years." Jake read the next number.
"Female," I said.
"Salome. Older adult."
One by one, we worked our way through the remains that had been a.s.sociated with inscribed ossuaries. Mary. Mary. Joseph. Matthew. Jude. Salome. Jesus. In each case, the inscription fit the gender predicted by the nuclear DNA. Or vice versa.
Two sets of remains from the tomb floor were determined to be those of a male and a female.
Amplification of nuclear DNA was unsuccessful for Jesus and Matthew, and for the other samples recovered from the tomb floor. No results. No information on those individuals.
Jake and I looked at each other. It was like waiting out a no-hitter. Neither of us put it into words. But even with the gaps, it all fit. The Jesus family.
"So who's related to who?" Jake asked.
"Whom." Nervous reflex. I switched from the nuclear- to the mitochondrial-DNA report.
"Remember, these results show links, or lack of links, through female lines. Mother-daughter, mother-son, siblings sharing the same mother, cousins whose mothers had the same mother, and so on. Okay. Here goes. Mariameme and Salome are related." I spoke aloud as I matched sample numbers to names. "So is Marya, the older Mary."
Jake made notations on the three prints.
"Yose is part of the lineage. So is Jude."
"The male from the tomb floor is related."
"Meaning he shows the same mitochondrial-DNA sequencing as Mariameme, Salome, Marya, Yose, and Jude."
"Yes," I said. "The female from the tomb floor is unique. That's no big deal. She may have married into the family from outside. As a relative only by marriage, not blood, she, and her children, if she had any, would have had the mitochondrial DNA of her mother's line."
"Nothing from Daddy."
"Mitochondrial DNA does not recombine. The whole shooting match comes from Mom."
I continued with the printout.
"Matthew is also unique. But again, if his mother was from another family, he would have her her mitochondrial DNA, not that of her husband." mitochondrial DNA, not that of her husband."
"He could be a cousin."
"Yes. The offspring of a brother and his wife."
I looked up.
"The Jesus material was too degraded for amplification. Sequencing wasn't possible."
Jake began sketching a family tree, hand darting like a hummingbird.
"Everything tallies. The older Mary is the mother." Jake drew a circle, named it Mary, and sent spokes shooting downward from it. "Salome. Mary. Joseph. Jesus. According to scripture, those are four of Mary's seven kids."
The inscription. Yehuda, son of Yeshua. Yehuda, son of Yeshua. Jude, son of Jesus. Jude, son of Jesus.
Donovan Joyce's crazy theory. Jesus survived the crucifixion, married, and fathered a child. Were we back to that?
My mind wouldn't accept it.
The h.e.l.l with the no-hitter. I jumped into the commentary.
"How does Jude fit in?" I asked.
Jake raised both brows and dipped his chin. Need I say the obvious?
"Jesus with siblings, living on, and becoming a daddy? You're talking about the three fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church-virgin birth, resurrection, and celibacy."
Jake raised both shoulders. He was so agitated the move came across more spasm than shrug.
"No, Jake. What you're inferring can't be. This Jude has DNA that links him to the other women in your tomb, to the older Mary, Salome, and Mariameme. If Jesus had fathered a son, that child would have the mitochondrial DNA of its mother's family, not its father's family."
"Fine. Jude could be a nephew of Jesus. A grandson of Mary." Jake added a circle at the end of one spoke, and sent another spoke shooting downward from it. "One of the sisters could have married another man named Jesus and had a son named Jude."
"Donovan Joyce claimed he'd seen a scroll written by someone named Jesus, son of James," I offered, almost against my will.
"That couldn't have been James of the ossuary, Jesus' brother. James's wife would have been unrelated, and James's son would have had his mother's mitochondrial DNA, not his grandmother's, right?"
Thoughts were whipsawing in my head. "Jake, there's someth-"
Again he cut me off.
"The female from the tomb floor is unrelated. She could be-" Jake stopped as the thought struck him. "Holy h.e.l.l, Tempe. Donovan Joyce thought Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Others have suggested the same thing. That female could be Mary Magdalene."
Jake was barely taking time to breathe.
"But it really isn't important who she is. And Matthew's unrelated, right? He could be one of the disciples who, for whatever reason, ended up buried in the tomb. Or a son of one of the brothers, another nephew."
"Lot of mights. Lot of maybes." I resisted the pull of Jake's exhilaration.
Jake ignored that.
"James is missing because his ossuary was stolen. And Simon died decades later. Hot d.a.m.n, Tempe, it's practically the whole family."
The same thought crossed our minds simultaneously. Jake voiced it.
"So who's the crucified man in the shroud?"
"Maybe crucified," I cautioned. crucified," I cautioned.
"Okay. The Jesus from the ossuary could be another nephew. d.a.m.n! Why couldn't that lab sequence him?"
Abruptly, Jake strode to the ossuary cabinet. Disengaging the padlock, he peered in. Satisfied, he closed and resecured the door.
Jesus alive and with offspring? Jesus dead and remaining shrouded in a tomb? Each scenario seemed worse than the next.
"It's all speculation," I said.
When Jake turned, his eyes bored into mine. "Not if I can prove the James ossuary came from that tomb."
I picked up the mitochondrial-DNA report. Marya, Mariameme, Salome, Yose, Yehuda, and the unknown male were members of a single matrilineage. Matthew had come from another lineage, and the unknown female from the tomb floor had come from yet another. The bones from the ossuary inscribed Yeshua, son of Yehosef Yeshua, son of Yehosef were too degraded to yield DNA. were too degraded to yield DNA.
Jesus, son of Joseph. But what Jesus? What Joseph?
Had Jake really found the tomb of the Holy Family? If so, who was the shrouded man I'd found in the hidden loculus?
"There's something else, Jake."
I started to speak, but Jake's phone stopped me.
"Miracle of miracles. Could that be the Hevrat Kadisha, actually returning my call about Max?" he said, loping to the office.
In Jake's absence I reread the reports on Max and his tooth.
The nuclear DNA told me Max was male. No biggie. I knew that from the bones. Same for the odd molar stuck in Max's jaw. Male.
The mitochondrial DNA told me Max was not a member of the matrilineage in the Kidron tomb. His sequencing was unique. If this really was the Jesus family, Max was an outsider. Or at least not a descendant of one of those females.
The mitochondrial DNA also told me the odd molar in Max's jaw belonged to someone other than Max. Okay. Bergeron said that. He was certain it came from a younger individual.
It was the next statement that made no sense. I was on my third reread when Jake returned.
"What did they say?"
"Baruch Dayan ha-emet."
I curled my fingers in a come-on gesture.
"Blessed is the one true Judge."
"We are the sp.a.w.n of Satan. They are following the greatest mitzvah. mitzvah. Now the self-righteous little w.a.n.kers plan to put the screws to my Talpiot site." Now the self-righteous little w.a.n.kers plan to put the screws to my Talpiot site."
"You've unearthed skeletal remains at a first-century synagogue?"
"Of course not. I told him that, but he didn't believe me. Said he and his storm troopers would be landing today in full force."
"Did you ask if they took Max?"
"The good rabbi refused to discuss it."
Jake hesitated. "But he also said something weird."
"He wanted all the hara.s.sing phone calls to stop."
"I've only contacted the Hevrat Kadisha twice."
"So who's doing all the phoning?"
"Apparently the rabbi doesn't know."
A strange silence followed. I broke it.
"You were right, Jake." I held up the mitochondrial DNA reports on Max and his tooth. "This could be bigger than either of us imagined."
"Lay it on me."
Now Jake looked like the doe in the headlights.