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Ossuary of James the Just: The First Archaeological Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth?

Ossuary of James the Just: The First Archaeological Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth?



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The Ossuary of James was the archaeological find that triggered the most sensational cover up of the 21st century.

From the first charges of forgery in 2002 to the absolute silence of the media at the end of the trial in 2013 attesting its authenticity, the modern story of the first archaeological evidence of the existence of the master of Nazareth and his flesh brothers, as taught in the gospels. Why so much opposition from the main religions and the highest Israeli academic institutions and Government?

A Complicated Puzzle

To recompose this intricate affair, important and delicate as it constitutes the earliest epigraphic attestation of Jesus of Nazareth , it is necessary to take a step back to the year of the discovery of the Ossuary of James: in 2002 Oded Golan, known collector and expert in Israeli antiquities, contacted professor André Lemaire , the greatest Semitic epigraphist in the world, based at Sorbonne University, Paris, to show him a series of valuable pieces and in particular to get some expert advice on a small ossuary dating back approximately to the first century, which he had purchased many years earlier.

Lemaire, was quite impressed noticing the inscription on the ossuary: "Yaakov bar Yoseph achui de Yeshua" or: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. According to philologists, scholars of ancient Hebrew and archaeologists who studied the ossuary, it actually dates back to the first century. For the inscription there was some doubt only about the last part, brother of Jesus.

The inscription on the James Ossuary. (Finavon / )

Camille Fuchs, professor of statistics at Tel Aviv University, and other researchers who joined the investigation, estimated a very strong possibility of identification based upon the fact that while the mention of the father is common on these kind of ossuaries, the mention of the dead’s name, the patronym, or the name of the brother all together is extremely rare in literary tradition, appearing only in one of the recorded epigraphs, Rahmani 570.

This meant that there was a very high probability that the three cited characters were the ones mentioned in the Gospels. Simply speaking, it was the first archaeological and not simply textual proof of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth , an extraordinary discovery, the only one of its kind ever to emerge in the world of biblical archaeology.

It is noteworthy that the Jews only used this method of burial between 30 and 70 AD. After death, the corpse was placed in a catacomb for about a year, the bones were then settled in medium-sized ossuaries, decorated with inscriptions and carved details.

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Burial tradition at the time, after death the corpse rested in a catacomb, then after one year the bones placed in an ossuary. ( Mulderphoto / Adobe Stock)

Intrigued by this news, at that time I was writing a book on this subject: over the years I contacted André Lemaire several times for specialist advice and the French scholar always remained of the same opinion, supported in this by other experts in the field.

But the world of biblical archaeology suffered an earthquake of unusual proportions: this discovery caused such an uproar that ecclesiastical authorities and security services of some nations intervened and, finding nothing else to challenge, focused their accusations on the final part of the epigraph: "(...) brother of Jesus", which was thought to have been falsified and artificially aged with a chemical patina.

Why So Much Opposition?

If the ossuary is indeed the container of the apostle James’ bones, one of Jesus’ brothers, this undermines the Catholic dogma of Maria sempre vergine (the ever virgin Mary ), and would have renewed interest in the figure of the master of Nazareth, something that Judaism and Islam would prefer avoided, and as some specialists told me, there were other political and ideological reasons.

However, on December 31, 2002, on the occasion of the exhibition organized at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), when the ossuary was being freed from its packaging, shortly after its arrival, the museum's technicians realized that it had some cracks, one of which was on the inscription itself which had caused so much controversy.

The Ossuary of James was cracked in shipment. (ActsNewsNetwork / YouTube Screenshot )

An attempt to discredit Oded Golan was almost simultaneously made, accusing him of falsifying the epigraph; a trial was instituted in which the IAA (the Israeli Archaeological Authority) and the Israeli Government supported the part of the accusation, while Oded Golan, his collaborators and the ossuary were the accused. In fact, Golan had already previously been indicted and convicted for forgery and this contributed to clouding the waters.

One of the Most Incredible Cover-ups in History

In the twelve years of the trial, the media, both on TV, press and on the web, disseminated incorrect information explaining how the ossuary had now been unmasked as a well-made forgery and the counterfeiters now close to conviction.

Yet, more and more scholars over the years, and these are the best specialists in the world, following tests and scientific investigations, have been convinced that the prosecution had no basis to support the thesis of the well-made forgery.

To find out the truth, I again contacted professor Lemaire, who wrote to me: "(...) the ossuary is absolutely authentic but there are political and religious forces interested in making the find disappear.” A cover-up of unprecedented proportions, whose drama took place right before our eyes.

At the end of the trial the suspects of the Oded Golan group were acquitted, the court dropped one charge after another as more and more clarifying evidence emerged.

On June 24, 2009, while my novel IL SETTIMO SEPOLCRO was about to be published in Italy, the plot of which revolves around the James Ossuary, Oded Golan invited me to call him in Israel: I phoned him and he told me with extreme kindness how things really were.

While some scholars initially supported the prosecution's thesis, now all the scientists were in agreement: the patina deposited on the inscription had been found to be authentic by a chemical analysis. In addition, a microorganism was found on the inscription and on the ossuary, a fungus that takes at least a hundred years to expand by a few inches.

It covered a vast area of the ossuary and in particular its presence was detected over the entire inscription. This meant that its dating had to be forcibly backdated to many centuries ago, approximately to the 1st century AD, and the same applies to the entire epigraph.

In testing the James Ossuary, a fungus was discovered proving the ancient artifact was authentic. (ActsNewsNetwork / YouTube Screenshot )

I asked Golan the same question that I posed at the time to Lemaire, why there was so much opposition to the ossuary, and he gave me the same answer as the French specialist: "(...) This is a very delicate question because the Vatican does not admit the existence of brothers of Jesus. Moreover, the IAA and the government that had supported its parties had raised such a fuss that now a real question of image had been created: the IAA lobby is very powerful and admitting a resounding mistake would have been detrimental to its public credibility.

In addition, several scholars at first were afraid to go against the highest authority for the control of archaeological heritage and then decided at first to support the assessments. But now everything is clear, the trial goes on and the court is less and less convinced of the initial theses. The trial could be over in a few months, but the IAA and the Israeli government do not want to lose face and continue undaunted a battle they have already lost.”

An extraordinary mystery under the eyes of all: in time the truth has come out clearly and clearly, except for most of the big audience, influenced by the view offered by the media, totally wrong about the issue, the find has remained a fake. Only recently has some of the online encyclopaedias updated the information concerning the Ossuary of James, definitely closing the case.

The fundamental problem is that everything on the topic remains specialized information reserved to a very selected and restricted audience, that of the specialists of biblical archaeology, however you can see the latest news here on the magazine BAR ( Bible Archaeology Review ).

The magazine BAR, in its many articles dedicated to the trial of the century, has always consistently argued that the Ossuary of James is not a fake: the judge has definitively closed the trial by stating that "the find is authentic. The certification is now verified and out of any reasonable doubt. Oded Golan is acquitted of all charges."

The Ossuary of James and inscription was found to be authentic. (syyenergy7 / YouTube Screenshot )

Recently I had the opportunity to contact professor Lemaire again and he told me that he had always remained of the same opinion: I perceived clearly from his words a strong bitterness, probably due both to the lack of interest on the part of the media and the strong opposition received while over the years he supported his thesis which finally was proved to be correct.

Anyway, as often happens in history, one of the most important archaeological finds ever, the only evidence of Christ’s existence, disappears into a curtain of silence, in the effective fog of misinformation and fake news.

Who Was James the Just?

Son of Joseph and Mary, and flesh brother of Jesus, James was the writer of the Book of James. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he seems to be one of his nonbelieving brothers when they commented: “He has gone out of his mind.”​ (Mr 3:21) However, after the death of Jesus and prior to Pentecost 33 AD, James is told to be with his mother, brothers, and the apostles in an upper chamber in Jerusalem to pray.

Jesus appeared personally to James, as reported at 1 Corinthians 15:7, thus convincing this onetime nonbeliever that he was indeed the Messiah. James eventually became a highly respected member of the church of Jerusalem, being regarded as an apostle, or one sent forth, a disciple personally taught and trained by Jesus, with an important leading role in the Christian congregation.

The Acts and the Letters of Paul give us as a clearer view of the man James several years later, as an elder of the Jerusalem congregation and part of the Governing Body of the Christians.

Paul implies in his letter to the Corinthians, written about the year 55 AD, that James was married, as most of the apostles and elders (1Co 9:5).

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Mary Magdalena and the twelve apostles. ( Stig Alenas / Adobe Stock)

James is known also as James the Just, referring to his known way of life. Unfortunately we do not have much news about James’ life and even less about his death: only Josephus (Titus Flavius Josephus born Yosef ben Matityahu) reports in his Jewish Antiquities , XX, 200 (ix, 1) that James’ death occurred during the interval between the death of Governor Festus, about 62 AD and the arrival of his successor Albinus.

The passage reads: “(…) High priest Ananus (Ananias) convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned”.

The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and The Dogma of the Eternal Virginity of Mary

On 1 November 1950 Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, who as representative of the Vatican had signed the Concordat with Hitler (1933), established a new dogma that the believers should accept as a mystery of faith, not demonstrable, the so-called dogma di Maria sempre vergine (dogma of Mary always virgin). It defined the state of perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus even after her marriage to Joseph.

The explanation given by the Catholic authorities to support the dogma, does not coincide with the testimonies of the Gospels. The Greek term for brothers and sisters of Jesus used in the Gospels (even in subsequent translations where there was an original Aramaic/Jewish) never indicates cousins or relatives in the generic sense, as the Church teaches, but indicates fleshly brothers from of the same uterus or same mother.

Moreover Matthew 1:24,25 clearly states: "Then Joseph woke up from sleep and did as the angel of Jehovah had told him and brought his wife home. But he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son and named him Jesus.”

The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus and his brothers and sisters. ( t0m15 / Adobe Stock)

Then, after the birth of Jesus, Joseph had a normal sexual life with his wife that led to the birth of several children. The four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and two of Paul's letters mention the "brothers of the Lord", "the brother of the Lord", "his brothers", "his sisters", indicating by name four of these "brothers": James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. (Mt 12:46; 13:55, 56; Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; Jn 2:12; Acts 1:14; 1Co 9:5; Gal 1:19).

Scholars generally agree that the family of Jesus was composed of two parents and at least four brothers and sisters, all-natural sons of Joseph and Mary, maybe more.

During the ministry of Jesus, the Gospels tell us that "his brothers did not exercise faith in him", and this certainly excludes that they were his brothers in the spiritual sense. (Jn 7:3-5): as we have seen before, James was among these. The Catholic thesis that the word brother has the broader meaning of cousin is not correct as we consider the syntactic evidence of the Greek New Testament: when in the Gospels one speaks of the flesh brothers of Jesus it is used the Greek adelfòs (son of the same mother), while in the case of a relative the term syggenòs is used, or in the case of a cousin anepsiòs. Ultimately there is no doubt, Jesus had several brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary.


Did Jesus of Nazareth actually exist? The evidence says yes

For more than two billion people it’s a matter of faith. Almost a third of humanity doesn’t need proof that two thousand years ago a man named Yeshua, Jesus in other languages, known by his followers as Christ, the Messiah, walked on Earth. However, beyond the private preserve of belief, what extends outward is a vast territory for research, which must unearth the historical and scientific evidence to try to answer a reasonable question: did Jesus of Nazareth actually exist? Or is his story a tradition built on a legend, like those of Robin Hood or King Arthur?

The oldest written references mentioning Jesus date from after his death. He appears for the first time in the letters of Saint Paul, written between 20 and 30 years after the crucifixion. Saint Paul never knew Jesus, although according to what Simon Gathercole, the New Testament studies specialist from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) explains to OpenMind, he knew “not only Jesus’ disciples but also his brothers,” (in reference particularly to James the Just, whose kinship with Jesus is one of the points of disagreement between different Christian sects).

A couple of decades later, the New Testament Gospels were written, which do appear to contain first-hand testimonies. Yet despite this, according to the experts very few of them can be considered rigorously historical. In particular, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and his crucifixion are the only two episodes generally accepted, but not by all. “The crucifixion is safe, but the baptism is hard to support or locate,” the archaeologist and biblical researcher Eric Meyers, professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Duke University (USA) tells OpenMind.

The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the episodes generally accepted by historians. Author: Peter Gertner

However, for Byron McCane, archaeologist and historian of religions and Judaism at the Atlantic University of Florida (USA), both the baptism and the crucifixion are stories that the first Christians are unlikely to have invented, since neither of them “supports their interests in any way,” he asserts to OpenMind. “The baptism shows Jesus to be a disciple of (and therefore inferior to) John the Baptist, and the crucifixion was a humiliating punishment reserved for criminals.”


Surprising Archaeological Find

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Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington, D.C.

First it was the name of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate found in a monument in Caesarea, Israel, in 1961.

Then came the discovery in 1990 in Jerusalem of an ossuary, a burial box for bones, bearing the name of Caiaphas, the high priest who condemned Jesus. Just recently it appears the most spectacular of all archaeological finds relating to Jesus has surfaced.

Another ossuary has come to light, this one bearing the names of Jesus, James and Joseph, three of the most prominent people in the New Testament. The ancient Aramaic words inscribed on the limestone box state that it belonged to "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

In late October Andre' Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions and professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, announced the discovery of the stone container with the extraordinary script. An Israeli collector, Oded Golan, had purchased the box from an Arab antiquities dealer more than a decade ago. Mr. Golan had not thought the artifact important until Professor Lemaire examined it. In fact, although Mr. Golan had read the inscription, he hadn't connected it with the biblical Jesus.

The dealer told Mr. Golan that the box had come from a burial site in southern Jerusalem where a bulldozer had accidentally uncovered a site containing tombs and bone boxes dating to the time of Jesus and James.

Much to the disappointment of archaeologists and scholars, the box was not excavated by a trained archaeologist from the spot where it had rested for the last 2,000 years. Instead it was surreptitiously removed and sold on the antiquities market (as is the case with a high percentage of archaeological finds in the Holy Land). Regrettably, this prevents the examination of the box in its proper archaeological context and the elimination of any possibility of fraud.

Strong evidence for authenticity

Yet fraud seems rather unlikely. Before the announcement of the discovery, the limestone box was subjected to rigorous scientific tests to rule out the possibility. A team of experts from the Geological Survey of Israel examined the box and the inscription under a microscope and found no evidence of modern tools or tampering. Like the rest of the box, the inscription, though wiped clean in parts, has a thin sheen of particulate matter formed on it called a patina. This particular patina shows that it developed in a cave environment and that it is consistent with an age of 2,000 years.

By its very nature the artifact can be dated to within a few decades. Such bone boxes were in use from about 20 B.C. to A.D. 70, when according to Jewish custom the dead were first sealed in caves or rock-cut tombs, then their bones later transferred to a limestone bone box after the body had decayed.

Professor Lemaire further narrowed the dating by verifying that the inscription was in a cursive style used only in the few decades before A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Thus the inscription fits the style used around A.D. 62, when James, Jesus' half brother, died.

Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, which announced the discovery, explained that the inscription was reviewed by Joseph Fitzmyer, one of the world's foremost experts on first-century Aramaic and a preeminent Dead Sea Scrolls editor. Professor Fitzmyer was at first troubled by the spelling of the word for brother, because it was a plural form used centuries later. But further research yielded the same form in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls and on another first-century ossuary. "I stand corrected," Professor Fitzmyer said.

A putative forger would have to know Aramaic better than Professor Fitzmyer, which seems rather unlikely. "To my mind," wrote Mr. Shanks, "this is one of the strongest arguments for the authenticity of the James inscription" (Biblical Archaeology Review, November-December 2002, p. 33).

Many factors pointing in one direction

"It seems very probable," Professor Lemaire concludes, "that this is the ossuary of the James in the New Testament" (ibid.).

What makes the case that this is indeed the ossuary of Jesus' half brother so convincing is the combination of factors that point in the same direction. Dr. Lemaire notes that Joseph (Hebrew Yosef) and Jesus (Yeshua, or Joshua) were common names in the A.D. 60s and James (Ya'akov or Jacob) less so, but a brother would not ordinarily be named in an inscription unless he were prominent.

Dr. Lemaire says the likelihood of more than one person named James with a father named Joseph and a prominent brother named Jesus in that precise time period is minuscule.

"It is one thing to have scattered probabilities," explains John Meier, professor of New Testament at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and an authority on first-century Palestinian Judaism "it's another thing to have lines of probabilities all converging at one point" (UPI report, Oct. 25).

Mr. Shanks stated that the "clincher" for him was the naming of the brother of the deceased. Of some 800 bone boxes discovered, 233 have inscriptions on the outside. Of these, few are inscribed with the name of a brother—only one other in Aramaic. Mr. Shanks said if one accepts the theory that the deceased was a prominent person associated with him—rather than simply associated because the brother presided over the secondary interment—the probability that the inscription refers to Jesus of Nazareth seems overwhelming.

The life of James

Who was James? Let's consider the intriguing story of this half brother of Jesus.

We first read of James in the New Testament as one of Jesus' half brothers (Jesus was born of Mary, miraculously begotten of God the Father through the Holy Spirit while Mary was a betrothed virgin, as explained in Matthew 1:18-25 Matthew 1:18-25 [18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. [19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. [20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [21] And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. [22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, [23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [24] Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took to him his wife: [25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
American King James Version× ). Yet Mary and her husband, Joseph, later had other children. In Matthew 13:55-56 Matthew 13:55-56 [55] Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? [56] And his sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things?
American King James Version× we see that some residents of Nazareth asked: "Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?" (emphasis added throughout).

During Jesus' life, the Bible candidly reveals that His half brothers did not believe in Him as Savior and Messiah (John 7:5 John 7:5 For neither did his brothers believe in him.
American King James Version× ). Yet, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His half brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7 1 Corinthians 15:7 After that, he was seen of James then of all the apostles.
American King James Version× ), who then became a prominent believer. In Acts 1:14 Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
American King James Version× James is pictured, along with his other brothers and his mother,Mary, as original members of the Church. This was the same group that received God's Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 [1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version× ).

James later became an apostle and leader of the Jerusalem congregation. He played a prominent role in the conference of Acts 15 (Acts 15:13-21 Acts 15:13-21 [13] And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brothers, listen to me: [14] Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. [15] And to this agree the words of the prophets as it is written, [16] After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: [17] That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, on whom my name is called, said the Lord, who does all these things. [18] Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world. [19] Why my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: [20] But that we write to them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. [21] For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
American King James Version× ). Paul later visited James in Jerusalem where he oversaw the elders there (Acts 21:18 Acts 21:18 And the day following Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present.
American King James Version× ). In Galatians 2:9 Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.
American King James Version× Paul refers to James as a "pillar" of the Church, and in 1 Corinthians 9:5 1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
American King James Version× he mentions that "the brothers of the Lord" were married, which apparently included James. (More of James' life is detailed in "James: Half Brother of Jesus".)

James also wrote the New Testament epistle that bears his name (James 1:1 James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
American King James Version× ). Another brother, Judas or Judah (Matthew 13:55 Matthew 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
American King James Version× ), wrote the short epistle of Jude (Jude 1).

The death of James

The death of James, the Lord's brother—not to be confused with the two original apostles named James (see Matthew 10:2-3 Matthew 10:2-3 [2] Now the names of the twelve apostles are these The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother [3] Philip, and Bartholomew Thomas, and Matthew the publican James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus
American King James Version× )—is not mentioned in the New Testament. But Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, does record it.

He writes: "Festus [the Roman procurator] was now dead, and Albinus [his successor] was but upon the road so he [Ananas II, the high priest] assembled the Sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, chap. 9, sec. 1).

Eusebius, a fourth-century church historian, records even more of the details of James' death: "Conducting him [James] into a public place, they demanded that he should renounce the faith of Christ before all the people but contrary to the sentiments of all, with a firm voice, and much beyond their expectation, he declared himself fully before the whole multitude, and confessed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, our Savior and Lord.

"Unable to bear any longer the testimony of the man, who, on account of his elevated virtue and piety was deemed the most just of men, they . . . slew him . . . But, as to the manner of James's death, it has been already stated in the words of Clement, that he was thrown from a wing of the temple, [to be stoned] and beaten to death with a club" (Ecclesiastical History, 1995, pp. 75-76).

Names of other biblical figures found

Although the evidence so far points to the listing of Jesus, James and Joseph on the newfound ossuary as being the same persons mentioned in the New Testament, it cannot be proven with absolute certainty. Perhaps testing methods yet to be developed will be carried out that can further confirm the find.

In the meantime, the find nevertheless appears to be powerful evidence for the accuracy of the Gospel accounts and the literal existence of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, and His earthly family.

And by no means is this find unique the existence of many biblical figures has been proven by archaeological finds. So far biblical names that have been positively confirmed include Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, David, many of the kings of Judah and Israel, and even Jeremiah's scribe, Baruch. Many of these finds have been discussed in our 24-part series "The Bible and Archaeology."

Jesus once said, "If these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:40 Luke 19:40 And he answered and said to them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
American King James Version× ). He spoke of His disciples' testimony, but it is interesting that, through the discoveries of archaeology, there are stones that are now figuratively crying out as witnesses to the authenticity of the biblical account.


“James, Brother of Jesus” Ossuary Adds Fuel to Historical Jesus Debate

Few archaeological discoveries have caused as much controversy as that of the James Ossuary. The opinions vary from its proving the existence of historical Jesus to its being an outright forgery. But for those who have delved deep into the story, the truth is less certain than ever.

It was antiquities collector Oded Golan who first acquired the limestone bone box, or ossuary, that showed the Aramaic phrase “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” and the find was announced to the public in 2002. An ossuary is a container that is used for human bones after burial: it can be an urn, box, or vault. During the historical period of the Second Temple (from the second century BC until the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD), burial customs in Israel called for the internment of human remains in cave-like rooms to decompose. After at least a year, the bones were then placed in box-like ossuaries, which were commonly made of limestone.

The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.

This bone box came to be known as the James Ossuary, and because the names corresponded to those of Jesus of Nazareth’s brother, some people have claimed that the box once must have held the bones of the brother of Jesus. When the James Ossuary came to light, it was potentially of enormous significance.

In 2003, the charge that the inscription was a fake was lodged by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Oded Golan faced 40 counts of forgery.

According to Biblical Archaeology, “No experts maintain the box is a fake. All acknowledge the box, or ossuary, is genuine and from the period when Jesus lived. The inscription is what is at issue—and, even then, only the last part of it: ‘brother of Jesus.’ The government’s criminal complaint itself recognizes that the first part of the inscription is authentic and charges only that ‘brother of Jesus’ has been recently forged.”

Close-up of the inscription: “Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua” (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”). The following attribution must accompany this image: The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.

But after a grueling seven-year trial, a judge cleared Oded Golan, who owned the box, of the forgery charges. (He was convicted of illegal trading in antiquities.) Some websites have asked why Oded Golan’s being cleared has received so little attention and what this says about the veracity of the inscription.

James, brother of James (Saint James the Just)

Historian and author Pierluigi Tombetti wrote in Ancient Origins in June 2019 that the original discovery of the ossuary “caused such an uproar that ecclesiastical authorities and security services of some nations intervened and, finding nothing else to challenge, focused their accusations on the final part of the epigraph: ‘(…) brother of Jesus.’ which was thought to have been falsified and artificially aged with a chemical patina.”

According to Tombetti and other supporters of Oded Golan, the fury over the James Ossuary was fueled in part by a desire to deny that Mary, mother of Jesus, gave birth to other children as well as the wish to suppress any archaeological evidence of the existence of Jesus.

Tombetti wrote, “While some scholars initially supported the prosecution’s thesis, now all the scientists were in agreement: the patina deposited on the inscription had been found to be authentic by a chemical analysis. In addition, a microorganism was found on the inscription and on the ossuary, a fungus that takes at least a hundred years to expand by a few inches. It covered a vast area of the ossuary and in particular its presence was detected over the entire inscription. This meant that its dating had to be forcibly backdated to many centuries ago, approximately to the 1st century AD, and the same applies to the entire epigraph.”

Some people say that James was not the brother of Jesus but a cousin. Others say he was a brother, and a highly respected person. In the book Zealot, Reza Aslan writes, “They called James, the brother of Jesus, ‘James the Just.’ In Jerusalem, the city he had made his home after his brother’s death, James was recognized by all for his unsurpassed piety and his tireless defense of the poor…To the followers of Jesus, James was the living link to the Messiah, the blood of the Lord.” He met a martyr’s end. Some say James faced stoning, others that he was beaten with a club.

Was James the brother of Jesus? And if so, does the ossuary with the inscription prove both of their lives? Opinions vary, and debate continues, years after the tomb box was found and is likely to continue.


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The entrance to the Mary of Nazareth International Center in central Nazareth doesn’t look like much. It’s just a simple doorway off narrow Casa Nova Street, a few hundred yards from the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Yet inside this recently built Catholic evangelism center lies an amazing discovery that has sent shockwaves through the world of Biblical archaeology: the remains of a first-century stone house reliably dated to the early Roman period in Palestine.

The Nazareth excavations are the first concrete archaeological proof that Nazareth was settled in the time of Jesus – and, judging from the limestone cups found at the site, almost certainly by observant Jews.

This shoots down one of the central arguments used by those who claim that Jesus never existed and that the Gospels are entirely fiction: that we know Jesus of Nazareth never existed because there never was a village called Nazareth.

Incredibly, the archaeological excavations at Nazareth are merely one among dozens of startling recent discoveries that are forcing many secular, Jewish and agnostic scholars, at top universities all over the world, to re-think old skeptical ideas about who Jesus was and what he was trying to achieve.

Many people in the pews, however, haven’t heard about these amazing, very recent discoveries.

Experts in the media are still repeating the same century-old, increasingly discredited theories that date to the late 19th and early 20th century – for example, that Jesus was an “apocalyptic prophet” who believed the world was coming to an end in his lifetime or that he was a revolutionary “zealot” who plotted a violent overthrow of Roman forces.

Nevertheless, recent dramatic archaeological discoveries and developments in New Testament studies are challenging these older, now obsolete theories:

Discovery No. 1: The people and places mentioned in the Gospels really existed.

Like most figures of ancient history, there is little archaeological evidence for many New Testament figures, including Jesus. However, in just the past few years archaeologists have uncovered some astonishing finds – including the burial box (ossuary) of the high priest Caiaphas and, perhaps, that of James the Just, the brother, step-brother or close relative of Jesus.

To read the full article and other discoveries, click here.


Ossuary of James the Just: Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth

My comment: This is a really interesting article and well worth the read. In my opinion it shoots down the Catholic doctrine of their belief that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus and that he never had any siblings. It seems to me to prove that James was jesus brother, and of course it archaeologically proves the existence of both of them from the first century!

Ossuary of James the Just: The First Archaeological Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth?

The Ossuary of James was the archaeological find that triggered the most sensational cover up of the 21st century.
From the first charges of forgery in 2002 to the absolute silence of the media at the end of the trial in 2013 attesting its authenticity, the modern story of the first archaeological evidence of the existence of the master of Nazareth and his flesh brothers, as taught in the gospels. Why so much opposition from the main religions and the highest Israeli academic institutions and Government?
A Complicated Puzzle
To recompose this intricate affair, important and delicate as it constitutes the earliest epigraphic attestation of Jesus of Nazareth , it is necessary to take a step back to the year of the discovery of the Ossuary of James: in 2002 Oded Golan, known collector and expert in Israeli antiquities, contacted professor André Lemaire , the greatest Semitic epigraphist in the world, based at Sorbonne University, Paris, to show him a series of valuable pieces and in particular to get some expert advice on a small ossuary dating back approximately to the first century, which he had purchased many years earlier.

Lemaire, was quite impressed noticing the inscription on the ossuary: “Yaakov bar Yoseph achui de Yeshua” or: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. According to philologists, scholars of ancient Hebrew and archaeologists who studied the ossuary, it actually dates back to the first century. For the inscription there was some doubt only about the last part, brother of Jesus.

Camille Fuchs, professor of statistics at Tel Aviv University, and other researchers who joined the investigation, estimated a very strong possibility of identification based upon the fact that while the mention of the father is common on these kind of ossuaries, the mention of the dead’s name, the patronym, or the name of the brother all together is extremely rare in literary tradition, appearing only in one of the recorded epigraphs, Rahmani 570.
This meant that there was a very high probability that the three cited characters were the ones mentioned in the Gospels. Simply speaking, it was the first archaeological and not simply textual proof of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth , an extraordinary discovery, the only one of its kind ever to emerge in the world of biblical archaeology.


Editor's Note: In October of 2002, a limestone bone box dating to approximately 63 A.D. was discovered in a Jerusalem cave. The box apparently once contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. According to Biblical Archaeology Review, "The James ossuary may be the most important find in the history of New Testament archaeology." Charles Page is the Vice-president for Academic Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and the Director of the Kursi and Capernaum Excavation Projects in Galilee. This article is the third in a series (read Part I, and  Part II) devoted to the James Ossuary.

I am not sure whether or not this article constitutes a revelation, but I am writing today from the beautiful island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea. I am sitting on a balcony with a magnificent view of the Monastery of St. John where I am teaching a group of fine Christian folk from the Southeastern US.

In part 1 of this series I offered an overview of ossuaries and how they were used in 1st century Palestine. I also introduced the "James Ossuary," uncovered in October 2002, and discussed the history of its discovery and how it came to be in the news at this time.

In part 2, I attempted to outline the case against the Ossuary's authenticity specifically the likelihood that this artifact was the actual ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ). Attacking the authenticity of the James Ossuary was a difficult task, as there is actually not much data to support this position. However, I did not always feel this way.

When the news of the ossuary's discovery first appeared, my natural skepticism regarding such flashy announcements led me to dismiss the entire discovery as a fraud. With no research data in hand I would tell anyone who asked that "It is probably a fake." Or, "You cannot trust these kinds of MTV reports and the people who are trying to become famous by reporting such things." After detailed and exhaustive research these past weeks I am sad-- and happy-- to report that I was wrong. I am now convinced that there is no way this ossuary can be a forgery.

Ironically, I was in Toronto in November when the broken ossuary was displayed and debated at the SBL Annual Meeting. Scholarly colleagues debated and argued their points and I was unimpressed and unconvinced by both sides. My opinion at the time was "Why are we wasting our time with this nonsense?"

Now I know better. One should never rush to judgment unless he or she knows what they are talking about. The very arguments against its authenticity are now the arguments that support the opposite opinion! Let us examine the major elements which support the authenticity of this amazing discovery.

First of all, let's consider the inscription itself. Many critics suggest that two different people inscribed the bone box at two different times. Their argument actually makes the case for the authenticity of the ossuary. They correctly report that the first half of the inscription, "Ya'akov bar Yosef" ("James son of Joseph"), is a more professionally etched with a higher Aramaic script than the second half of the inscription, "akhiu Yeshua" ("brother of Jesus"). This suggests to me that at a later time someone wanted to make sure that we knew that this James son of Joseph was the brother of the Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ.

Obviously the ossuary was buried in the ground or stored in a tomb known to the early Christian community in Jerusalem. Perhaps the second half of the inscription was done toward the end of the 1st century and the church in Jerusalem wanted to make sure subsequent generations knew that this truly was James, the leader of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem. After all, the church relocated to Pella during the Great Revolt of 66-70 A.D. By the time of their return to Jerusalem, many, if not most, of the first generation of believers had died. This is why the inscription was amended at the time of the writing of the Gospels. The remnants of the first generation of believers wanted to make sure that future generations would not forget their heritage.

Secondly, the epigraphic report offers scientific evidence that the box is first century and the inscription has not been manipulated. The Geological Survey of Israel carried out exhaustive scientific tests in Jerusalem. It was reported, "The soil in which the ossuary laid is of Rendzina type, known to develop on chalks of the Mount Scopus (Mt. of Olives) Group. It is worth mentioning that the patina 1 does not contain any modern elements (such as modern pigments) and it adheres firmly to the stone. No signs of the use of a modern tool or instrument were found. No evidence that might detract from the authenticity of the patina and the inscription was found." 2

Thirdly, the script itself suggests that the inscription cannot be a forgery. Father Joseph Fitzmyer, 3 an internationally know authority in first-century Aramaic, in conjunction with other Aramaic scholars, reports that no forger could have known some of the subtle nuances of the Aramaic script found on the ossuary.

Finally, we need to return to the first article to revisit the history of the box. Hegesippus, an early Christian historian reports, 4

"The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: 'O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified'. And he answered with a loud voice: 'Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven.'

'And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, 'Hosanna to the son of David,' then again the Pharisees and scribes said to one another, 'We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him.' And they cried aloud, and said: 'Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error.' Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: 'Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings.' So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: 'Let us stone James the Just.' And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: 'I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.'

'And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: 'Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us.' But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

'And so he suffered martyrdom and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.'" 5

According to Josephus Flavius, 6 James was martyred in 62 A.D. Hegesippus writes that James was thrown from the ramparts of Jerusalem. When he failed to die from the fall he was stoned to death and buried in a tomb in the Kidron Valley. According to the early reports of the ossuary discovery, Oded Golan bought the ossuary from an antiquities dealer in the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the antiquities dealer, the box was found in a tomb near Silwan, the area where James’ burial was reported. If all of these facts are correct, this adds to the legitimacy of the burial box.

In conclusion, we will never be able to "prove" that this ossuary is the actual ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus. However, taking into account all of the circumstantial factors presented above, it would be illogical to come to any other conclusion.

Charles Page is the Vice-president for Academic Affairs for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies located in the heart of Jerusalem, Israel. He is the co-director of the excavations at Biblical Gergesa (Kursi) and Capernaum. For more information on these excavations or study opportunities in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece see the JCBS website: www.jerusalem-center.org or write to him at [email protected]

Sponsored by Trinity College of the Bible & Trinity Theological Seminary www.trinitysem.edu

1 Patina is a light film covering that is found on ancient objects and caused by age..

2 Andre Lemaire, "Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus," Biblical Archaeological Review, (Vo. 28 No. 6), November/December 2002, page 29.

3 Father Fitzmyer formerly on the faculty of Catholic University of America.

4 Hegesippus’ writings have been lost. All that remains is found in the writings of Eusebius.

6 Josephus was a first century Jewish historian. His books are the best historical records available for the first century.


James Ossuary

On October 21, 2002, the popular scientific journal Biblical Archaeological Review announced the existence of an ancient limestone box described as an ossuary, or burial box, some 50 centimeters by 25 centimeters by 30 centimeters. The ossuary shows an inscription carved on its side in Aramaic that reads: “Ya𠆚kov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua,” which in translation becomes “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” If genuine, this box would be the earliest tangible evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, outside of the biblical narrative. The box also reiterated the questionable nature of the many relics that now exist throughout Christendom which claim to come from the time of Jesus’ ministry, from the Shroud of Turin and Veronica’s Veil to icons supposedly tied to the apostle Luke.

The authenticity of the ossuary was immediately called into question, and as far as possible, preliminary tests were run to support the claims of its proponents. Among the first to pronounce on it, Israeli geologists confirmed that the limestone is from the Jerusalem area and was probably quarried in the first or second century CE. Also, an analysis of the surface of the box suggested theinscription was made soon after the ossuary was fashioned from the rock. The language and style of the inscription are consistent with that of the first century (20 BCE-70ce). Critics have noted the same scholarship that authenticated it could possibly have faked it.

Primary doubts about the ossuary begin with its checkered modern history. Reputedly it was found in a cave near Silwan by an Arab laborer who subsequently sold it to an antique dealer, who in turn sold it to the present owner. There is little information on the site where the ossuary was found, which could ideally be examined independently.

Adding its voice to doubts about the ossuary, on June 18, 2003, the Israeli Antiquities Authority formally announced its opinion that the box was a forgery. Their report emphasized both the findings from their careful examination of the box and the problems of its modern discovery. Rochelle Altman, one scholar who had examined the box, concluded that the part of the key inscription that reads “Jacob (James) son of Joseph” was likely carved in the first century, but that the later part of the inscription, which reads 𠇋rother of Joshua (Jesus),” was a later addition, probably from the third or fourth century. Altman noted significant stylistic changes between the two parts of the inscription.


Bone-Box No Proof of Jesus

(NB: This article was published in a three-part series in the magazine Secular Nation, at the suggestion of Dr. Robert Price, who called the series “fine articles.” Secular Nation had never published a three-part article before.)

In the week of October 21, 2002, headlines around the world screamed that evidence of Jesus Christ had been found in the form of an ossuary, or bone-box, supposedly once containing the bones of “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” as was inscribed on the box in Aramaic. The original scholar who reported this spectacular find, the Sorbonne’s biblical expert Andre Lemaire, “born a Catholic,” concluded it was “very probable” that the inscription referred to Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., Jesus Christ. The ossuary, therefore, would supposedly be that of the biblical “James the Just,” who is referred to as Jesus’s “brother” at Matthew 13:55 and Galatians 1:19. Naturally, Christian apologists and fanatics rubbed their hands together, and gleefully and smugly bombarded nonbelievers with the news via email. But was there really some wondrous “new proof” of Jesus that would set the record straight once and for all, or was it all another bit of faithful flotsam?

In actuality, it seems to be time once again for the world’s religious handlers to pull out another holy relic in order to bolster up the flagging faith. Such shenanigans have been behind the incessant news releases regarding the Shroud of Turin (a more bogus relic there never was), the recent “depiction” of what Jesus would have looked like (a Neanderthal), and the never-ending slew of books concerning the “real Jesus,” who invariably resembles the authors of said books. To those who have been around a while and have developed a jaundiced eye, this latest “find” is yet more of the same “evidence.”

The original Biblical Archaeology Review article that scooped this story was blatant and injudicious in its pronouncements, flatly stating that “This container [ossuary] provides the only New Testament-era mention of the central figure of Christianity and is the first-ever archaeological discovery to corroborate Biblical references to Jesus.”

Hillary Mayell, writing for the National Geographic (10/21/02), said, “Researchers may have uncovered the first archaeological evidence that refers to Jesus as an actual person and identifies James, the first leader of the Christian church, as his brother.”

The article on MSNBC’s website regarding the ossuary stated, “No physical artifact from the first century related to him has been discovered and verified.”

CNN’s Jeordan Legon, in an article entitled, “Scholars: Oldest Evidence of Jesus?” writes, “While most scholars agree that Jesus existed, no physical evidence from the first century has ever been conclusively tied with his life.”

Newsweek‘s Kenneth Woodward opens his article, “A Clue to Jesus?” (11/4/02) by stating:

“Although Jesus of Nazareth is a universally recognized figure, no one has ever found any evidence for his existence apart from texts.”

Rossella Lorenzi’s article in Discovery News is entitled “First Proof of Jesus Found?” This title allows for a couple of interpretations, including that the bone box is the earliest evidence yet discovered. However, in the initial sentence Lorenzi says, “The first archaeological evidence of Jesus’ existence has come to light…,” and she repeats that “the new find would be the first archaeological discovery to corroborate Biblical references to Jesus,” indicating the proper interpretation of the headline to be that there was no prior evidence.

Moreover, Dan Rahimi, the “director of collections” for the museum where it is being housed, stated, ”A lot of people accept the reality of Jesus as a historical figure but don’t accept him as Christ, and to use the words ‘before Christ’ is really quite ethnocentric of European Christians…” The article reporting this comment also relates, “Even the date of Jesus’ own birth has been disputed for centuries, with many scholars asserting it took place between 4 and 7 B.C., in the autumn months.”

On their face value, such headlines and comments imply that there has never been any other proof of Jesus ever found. Such an assertion is quite astounding, considering that Jesus Christ was supposedly a man who shook up the world and purportedly has been supernaturally in charge of the cosmos for the past 2,000 years! What these remarks regarding the “only New Testament-era mention,” “first-ever archaeological discovery,” “first archaeological evidence,” “oldest evidence,” and “first proof” reflect is that there has previously been no direct evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed. Moreover, the comment that “a lot of people accept the reality of Jesus as a historical figure” implies that many people recognize this dearth of evidence and do not accept him as “historical figure.” In addition, the admission that Jesus’s birth date is basically unknown further undermines his “historical reality.”

Ossuaries Not Uncommon

Sending thrills through the Christian community, Lemaire dated the ossuary and inscription to 63 CE, which places it squarely in the time of active Christian church-building. Although the faithful believe that this astonishing pronouncement was rooted in science, Lemaire’s precise dating is based on the a priori assumption that the find is indeed the bone-box of James the Just, the disciple whose death is assigned by Christians to the year 62 CE. Nevertheless, it is not the case that the ossuary contains an inscribed date or is conclusively dated by other means to exactly 63 CE and must therefore represent the burial box of James the Just. In other words, the dating is based on circular reasoning: Since James died in 62 CE, and since this is apparently his ossuary, it must date to 63 CE, when his bones would have been placed in it. There is no proof, however, that James died in that year or that this is his ossuary. Yet, triumphant apologists will falsely claim that this ossuary has conclusively been proved to be that of James and to date to exactly the right time! As is well known to those who have scientifically investigated so many previous Christian claims, apologists constantly use this type of flawed logic. To repeat, even though news reports make it seem the box itself contains this very date, in reality the dating of 63 CE attached to this particular ossuary is based on the tradition of James’s death, not because the box possesses a dated inscription or there is some other precise dating method.

According to CNN, the “Israeli government’s geological survey test” concluded that “the object is more than 19 centuries old,” but the author cites BAR as the source, and this particular statement does not appear on the BAR website article. Jewsweek.com’s Debra Berman reports, “The Geological Survey of Israel conducted electron-microscope tests on the box that proved the inscription was not added at a later date no traces of modern elements were found.” Apparently, however, this claim is erroneous, as another Jewsweek writer, Rochelle Altman, debunks the last part of the inscription. Hence, such “scientific” tests are questionable even if the entire inscription were genuine, electron-microscope dating could not pinpoint the exact year. Even carbon-dating, which is used to date organic remains, not stone, has an error factor of + or -150 years. Hence, this limestone box, which is nevertheless apparently fairly old, based on the fact that it cracked severely during transport, could date from another century altogether, particularly the two to three following Jesus’s purported advent. Supposedly also the box was heavily damaged specifically by a crack in the inscription. The ossuary’s handlers have been surprisingly careless, especially considering how priceless would be this artifact, were it and/or its inscription genuine.

In “First Proof of Jesus Found?,” Lorenzi uses another tactic that is convincing at first glance: She states that during the first century these ossuaries were used in “the second of a two-stage burial process, when bones of the deceased were transferred from burial caves.” By saying “In the first century,” the writer is implying that such a use is unique to that century, thus giving the find even more credibility as deriving from the correct era.

Although these enthusiastic newsbites make it seem otherwise, the James ossuary is not unusual, nor is it necessarily dated to the convenient year of 63 CE. In giving his contrived date a professional flourish, Lemaire also claimed the box must date from the first century because it fits in with when “Jews” used ossuaries, between 20 BCE and 70 CE. While it may be argued that “Jews,” i.e., members of the tribe of Judah and territory of Judea, used ossuaries “only” between those dates, it is quite clear that their predecessors, Canaanites, Israelites and Hebrews, utilized them for centuries prior to that. The site of Hederah in northern Israel, for example, yielded numerous fragments and complete ossuaries, some of which were in the exact square shape as that of James’s. There were other shapes as well, including one that resembled a house, with a peaked roof. These finds were dated by their discoverer, E.L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University, to the fourth millennium BCE. (Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, II, 496.) Sukenik concluded that these house-shaped vessels were akin to the “soul-houses” of the Egyptians and “house urns” of the Europeans. Finds at other sites that confirm these dates include those at Azor, Bene-Berek and Tel Aviv. (EAEHL, II, 496.) As we can see, this type of vessel is not uncommon and does not necessarily date to the first centuries BCE-CE.

In actuality, the use of ossuaries even in the Palestine/Judea area dates back to at least the Second Temple Period and continued for several centuries into the Common Era. In other words, even “Jews” used ossuaries well beyond the fall of the Temple, i.e., 70 CE. Based on findings from the Jerusalem necropolis of the Second Temple Period (6th cent. BCE-70 CE), the editor of the Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations of the Holy Land, Michael Avi-Yonah, says, “The custom of re-internment of the bones (in ossuaries) was widespread among Jews at the end of the Second Temple Period and for several centuries afterwards. Numerous laws in the Mishnah and Talmud deal with the modes of burial and the form and size of tombs.” (Emphasis added.) These burials refer specifically to ossuaries, which were used once the flesh had decayed, leaving the bones alone. (EAEHL, II, 628.) Obviously, the ossuary-burial did not end in 70 CE, so Lemaire’s terminus a quem is erroneous, as is his terminus a quo. Hence, this ossuary and its inscription could date from any of several centuries, including the Constantinian era, when bogus relics and forged texts were all the rage. As can be seen, ossuaries in Jerusalem were fairly common as well, so that, if the James ossuary is bogus, its creator would have plenty of examples upon which to draw.

Furthermore, as Avi-Yonah states regarding the numerous bone-boxes found in the Tombs at Dominus Flevit, which contained � ossuaries of the usual type [square],” common names included Jeshua or Yeshua (Jesus) and Maria (Mary). (EAEHL, II, 636.) In one of the surviving family tombs in Jerusalem are 18 ossuaries with Greek inscriptions, one of which contains the names “Joseph” (twice) and “Maria.” (EAEHL, II, 635.) By the typical media and religious standards this tomb should have been exalted as that of Jesus’s family.

In another example, in the “Tomb Cave in the Talpiot Quarter, discovered in 1945,” are found large charcoal crosses on one of the ossuaries, while “two other ossuaries had Greek inscriptions reading IhsouV iou. IhsouV alwq ,” a phrase that contains the name Jesus twice. “The excavator interpreted the crosses and the inscriptions as expressions of sorrow at the crucifixion of Jesus, an interpretation not accepted by other scholars.” The tomb itself dates to the beginning of the first century and demonstrates the commonality of the name Jesus before the purported time of the Christian messiah. (EAEHL, II, 635.) If this Jesus tomb had dated to a few decades later, no doubt the media and faithful would have had a field day in presenting it as the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, thus “proving” the biblical fable, although these two tombs mentioned herein would certainly infuriate the keepers and believers in the “Holy Sepulchre,” yet another profitable tourist attraction. It would be surprising that no such incautious and mirthful rush to judgment has occurred concerning this particular Jesus tomb. In reality, at least one sloppy sensationalist author has claimed this tomb to be that of “Jesus of Nazareth,” asserting that the tomb also contained the ossuaries of not only a Jesus, but also a Joseph, two Marys and a Jude. The excavation report, however, does not mention these other burials, leaving the question as to whether or not this particular author is prone to fiction, as is suggested by his other writings as well. As is evident, looks can be deceiving, such that caution should be utilized in regard to artifacts.

In Jerusalem there is even a “Tomb of Jason,” complete with an ossuary and a scratched image of a warship, which could lead to the conclusion that this is the tomb of the Jason of Greek mythology. “On the walls of the porch are charcoal drawings of ships, a Greek inscription, and several Aramaic inscriptions, the longest of which consists of three lines lamenting Jason, the deceased.” (EAEHL, II, 630) Using coins and pottery, the tomb is dated to having been used between the Hasmonean (2nd-1st cent. BCE) and the Herodian eras (37 BCE-70 CE). Although it is evidently the tomb of a real person of that era, true believers in the demigod Jason of Argonaut fame could attempt in the same manner as Christians to “prove” the existence of Jason and his Argonauts, such as Hercules, as “real people.”

The name or epithet “Jason,” meaning “healer” was commonly utilized in describing “Pagan” gods such as Asklepios, whose cult extended far and wide in the ancient Mediterranean world. As stated by Bronsen Wickkiser, fellow of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Asklepios was “known as a healer since Homer,” and his cult spread rapidly at the “beginning of the late fifth century B.C.” “So popular was he,” says Wickkiser, “that his sanctuaries spanned the ancient world, from Hispania in the west to Ecbatana in the east.” Hence, we have for several centuries prior to the Christian era a healing god–called “Iasios,” “Iesios,” i.e., Jason or Jesus–whose sanctuaries were widespread around the Mediterranean. A healer associated with these gods might be called a “brother of Jason” or a “brother of Jesus,” long before the Christian era. Indeed, all roads point to Christianity as an expose of the secret Pagan rituals that concerned a healing god with long curly hair who rose from the dead, etc. This particular designation of the “brother of Jesus” has been one of four that have been bandied about since early times. The news reports regarding the James ossuary mention only three: 1. James was Jesus’s blood brother, born of the Virgin Mary 2. James was one of Josephs’s children by another marriage or 3. James was Jesus’s “cousin.” These reports ignore what is likely the most appropriate, i.e., that “James” was a member of a brotherhood such as the Nazarites or Nazarenes.

As Frank Zindler points out, the “brother of Yeshua” (Joshua/Jesus) could also be translated “the brother of the Savior,” which would indicate a title of someone involved in a specific society or cult, rather than a familial bloodline. The fact that James is cited in this inscription as the “son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” creates suspicion since it is by no means agreed within all the Christian sects that Jesus had any blood brothers, despite the assertions in the New Testament. The wording on the James ossuary, if it is to be interpreted as referring to a blood brother born of Mary, would indicate that of the many sects one particular was involved in its apparent forgery. A Protestant minister at the Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, Ben Witherington III, argues that the phrase “brother of Jesus” refers to a blood brother, giving etymological reasons for his assumption. However, in an article from Believenet.net and reproduced by ABCNEWS.com, Witherington ironically uses a passage from Acts 15:13-21, in which James is made to address a group of men using the word “Brethren.” The word in the original Greek for “brethren,” i.e., brothers, is adelphoi, which is the plural of the word, adelphos, used to describe James at Galatians 1 and elsewhere. Witherington argues that this word adelphos, as in Philadelphia, “City of Brotherly Love,” probably refers to blood brothers. Yet, in the passage at Acts, James is clearly not referring to blood brothers but to “brothers” in the sense of the word as used by the clergy and members of other brotherhoods and fraternities into modern times. The proper usage concerning James is in reality the fourth interpretation, which is that to be called a “brother” means you are a member of a male-based society, church, organization, secret or otherwise. In another instance, Witherington points out the phrase in 1 Cor. 15:3-9, which discusses � brethren.” Now, if that refers to Jesus’s blood family, he certainly had many brothers! It is quite clear that the phrase � brothers” refers to members of the community, not a family, so why has this meaning been ignored constantly over the centuries? Matthew 13:55-56 also mentions Jesus’s “sisters,” but this phrase too is usually ignored. As we know, such Christian communities as the Quakers refer to their female members as “sisters,” while their male members are “brothers.”

Unbeknownst to the masses, tombs of gods are common around the world and are part of well-established priestcraft. The mention of a character on such a tomb or ossuary does not prove that the person really existed. No doubt many Indians, for example, have recorded the names of their various gods on their own epitaphs–by this “logic,” all these gods would have to have existed as “historical characters.” Certainly in ancient Egypt Osiris and Isis were included in all solemn events, especially burials, and Osiris’s numerous tombs may be found all over Egypt–they therefore must have been real people!

Aramaic for an Orthodox Jew?

A scan of the ossuaries dating from the Herodian period reveals that many, if not most, were inscribed in Hebrew and Greek, not Aramaic. It would seem unusual for an orthodox Jew such as James, as he has been shown to have been by Robert Eisenman, et al., to have his epitaph written in Aramaic, which is Syriac, the language of the northern kingdom, as opposed to Hebrew, which was that of Judea and of “true” Jews. Educated Jews may have settled on Greek, but possibly not Aramaic. The Aramaic inscriptions on the “Jewish” ossuaries seem to be mainly warnings, advising “Do not open it.” It is possible that inscriptions written in Aramaic were designed for the common people, the speakers of the vulgar lingua franca, rather than for the elite, for whom the Greek and Hebrew inscriptions were written. Having this identification written in Aramaic might also be a bit suspicious, even though there were some ossuaries in family tombs with Aramaic writing. Yet, again, for an orthodox Jew? It is possible that a forger supposed, as have millions of Christians, that historical Jesus spoke Aramaic, as would his purported sibling, James therefore, in order for the inscription to appear “authentic,” according to Christian tradition, it should be written in Aramaic.

BAR reports that, according to Lemaire, the cursive style of Aramaic in which the inscription appears occurred only from 10-70 CE. Lorenzi also writes that the inscription’s cursive Aramaic “would date the ossuary to the last decades of 70 A.D.” This latter statement is meaningless, as it is undoubtedly a typo. In any case, it should be noted that epigraphy is an inexact science and that clever forgers have been able to replicate just about any style imaginable. That the style “fits perfectly” with the writing of the era, as stated by Lemaire and Catholic University’s Joseph Fitzmyer, proves little, since, again, forgers are often well skilled in reproducing styles. In the end, Fitzmyer honestly concluded that nobody can show that the box’s “Jesus” is really Jesus of Nazareth.

The study of such ossuaries reveals that, as is claimed by Lemaire, et al., it is true that the inscriptions usually ran something like: “Judah son of Johanan, son of Jethra,” rather than including a brother’s name. This fact concerning the James ossuary would actually cast doubt as to its genuineness indeed, it seems contrived in order to prove a point., i.e., the existence of Jesus. Indeed, in an article “Ossuary was genuine, inscription was faked,” for Jewsweek magazine, “expert on scripts and historian of writing systems” Rochelle I. Altman has pronounced the ossuary genuine, as well as the first part of the inscription. However, the last part, “brother of Jesus” is unquestionably a sloppy fake. Says she:

The bone-box is original the first inscription, which is in Aramaic, “Jacob son of Joseph,” is authentic. The second half of the inscription, “brother of Jesus,” is a poorly executed fake and a later addition. This report has already been distributed on at least two scholarly lists.

Altman also notes that the phrase is certainly not written in Aramaic and “You have to be blind as a bat not to see that the second part is a fraud.” Altman is no naysaying slouch: She has “a great deal of experience at spotting ancient frauds and forgeries.” As such an expert, Altman was able to determine that the James ossuary inscription was clearly written by two different people. The inscriber of the first part was a member of the family and “fully literate,” says she, while the “person who wrote the second part…may have been literate, but it is doubtful that he was literate in Aramaic or Hebrew.” Also, Altman points out that the original excised frame around the first part of the inscription had to be removed to fit the last, faked part, i.e., “brother of Jesus.” Even to the untrained eye, it is obvious that the latter part of the inscription, i.e., “Brother of Jesus,” was written by a different, less skillful hand than the first part.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, another expert, Eric Meyers, professor of Judaic studies at Duke University, also has a “bad feeling” that the inscription is a forgery, noting that its owner is being investigated by authorities for theft of “an object now worth between $1-million and $2-million dollars if its authenticity holds up under scrutiny.” Meyers relates Altman’s conclusion that “the brother of Jesus” part of the inscription is in a different hand from the rest and dates to centuries later. Obviously, such a potential payoff would provide–and has provided–motive for fraud.

The James ossuary is suspicious not only for the lack of its provenance, a development frequently indicating a forgery, but also for the tidiness of its inscription, which seems to have been written not by an early “innocent” Christian but by a propagandist such as those who created so many bogus relics over the centuries. Unfortunately, the news reports, which include conclusions that the ossuary is “genuine,” never mention the countless forgeries and fraudulent Christian artifacts of centuries past, a fact that would surely provoke caution in more prudent observers.

Too Many Jesuses

Although the reports claimed that the odds of the combination of the three names James, Joseph and Jesus appearing together on an ossuary are “very slim,” even Lemaire admits that there could have been about 󈬄 Jameses in Jerusalem during that era [who] would have had a father named Joseph and a brother named Jesus.” (MSNBC) Zindler also remarks that there were many individuals in Judea and Palestine by the names of James, Joseph and Jesus, such that, even if “the brother of Jesus” part of the inscription were genuine, the odds of having these particular relationships are far greater than what has been designated by believing scholars such as Lemaire. Indeed, we have already seen examples of such names on various tombs and ossuaries from the “Holy Land.”

The believing argument runs that, because it is unusual to include the name of a brother in one’s epitaph, this brother must have been a “well-known figure.” There are, in fact, “too many Jesuses” of renown, as Harold Leidner shows in his book The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. These Jesuses, as found in the works of the Jewish historian Josephus and in biblical texts, include the following (list quoted from Leidner, 19-20):


Watch the video: Άγνωστες λεπτομέρειες από τα γυρίσματα του Ιησού από τη Ναζαρέτ αποκάλυψε ο Γιώργος Βογιατζής (August 2022).