Thursday, 14 June 2012

“James, Brother of Jesus” Ossuary Is Most Probably Ancient and Authentic

New research suggests that the James ossuary and its inscription are genuine. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

An ancient limestone bone box or ossuary with the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” made headlines around the world when Biblical Archaeology Review published an article written by André Lemaire, an expert of Hebrew and Aramaic epigraphy at the Sorbonne in Paris, in the November-December 2002 issue of the magazine. It was toted as one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of all time.

However, as it became known that the ossuary was owned by a private collector, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) called together a committee to investigate the matter. It failed to produce conclusive evidence for or against, however.

The IAA nevertheless filed a lawsuit, accusing the owner, antiquities collector Oded Golan, of forging the inscription on the ossuary.

In early March this year, Judge Aharon Farkash of the Jerusalem District Court issued a verdict in the case, clearing Mr. Golan of all suspicions of forgery.

There is no compelling evidence that would support the forgery hypothesis. In addition to André Lemaire, some other experts also regard the ossuary and its inscription as genuine.

Writing in Biblical Archaeology Review, Hershel Shanks concludes: “There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the inscription on the James Ossuary. Whether it refers to Jesus of Nazareth remains a question.”


Shanks, Hershel. 2012. “Brother of Jesus” Inscription Is Authentic!
Biblical Archaeology Review 38 (4), 26-33.