The James Ossuary

Early this year, film makers Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron made the case in their documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, that a tomb found in Jerusalem belonged to Jesus. This claim was made based on the fact that the tomb contained ossuaries with inscriptions reading “”Jesus son of Joseph”, “Miriam”, and “Judah son of Jesus”, among others. When the tomb was discovered in 1980, it had ten ossuaries; currently it has only nine.

The tenth ossuary, the documentary claimed, was the James ossuary which surfaced in Israel in 2002. This limestone box carried an inscription “James son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus” and if it was proved to be true, could be historical evidence for a man named Yeshua.

The American TV program 60 Minutes found the Israeli who possessed the ossuary. They also tracked down an Egyptian who had fabricated various artifacts for the Israeli. A committee of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) declared it a forgery. Most scholars believe it to be fake.

Now Hershel Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeological Review, who first published news of the ossuary has come out with a letter in which he alleges that most scholars claim the ossuary is a fake, based on a hunch and they have not been able to reason it properly. Some expert paleographers still believe the inscription to be authentic and it turns out no committee of the IAA has found it to be fake. Even the Egyptian shown on 60 minutes admitted that he had not seen the ossuary before.

Shanks letter which is similar in tone to B. B. Lal’s lecture on the 19th century paradigms, finally says

Either I’m way off the mark or there has been a successful effort to “hustle” this inscription. Maybe it’s just a better story if the inscription is a forgery than if it’s authentic. Maybe the IAA hates the antiquities market enough to lump the ossuary inscription with other alleged forgeries where it has a better case. Or perhaps the strong suspicion that Oded Golan is a forger is enough. Perhaps he’s forged other stuff.[Help Me! I’m Desperate!]

This brings the ossuary back into news and if the inscriptions are found to be true, it could profoundly affect the historicity of the Jesus.

2 thoughts on “The James Ossuary

  1. Joshua is a very common name amongst the Jews.
    Even Josephus writing about the Jewish History failed to mention Joshua of Nazareth whilst mentioning dozens of other well known people also called Joshua!
    Biblical scholars like Bart Ehrman have concluded that the Jesus of the Gospels is a fabrication.

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