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James Brother of Jesus


James Ossuary

It came to light in 2002. A first-century ossuary or bone box, decorated and inscribed. The ancient writing, once deciphered, was stunning in its simplicity and amazing in its implications: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Was this the first archaeological evidence of the historical Jesus?

The world thought so. And then, just as suddenly, it didn’t. The Israel Antiquities Authority had confiscated the ossuary and subjected it to a battery of tests that contradicted all earlier validations.

In the public’s mind the so-called “James Ossuary” is a forgery. But the reality is that the jury is still out on that artifact—literally. The trial of collector Oded Golan is still ongoing in Jerusalem. At issue: did the antiquities dealer fake the inscription? Scholars have been at war, with telling evidence that the inscription is false, and equally compelling evidence that it is the real thing.

In 2006, Professor Wolfgang E. Krumbein, of Oldenburg University, Germany, the world’s foremost expert on stone accumulated patina, declared the inscription to be authentic. He explained that the “isotope reading” that led the IAA to declare the inscription a forgery, was most probably due to the fact that the letters had been cleaned—rather than forged—by an overzealous antiquities dealer (and possibly Oded Golan’s mother). In any event, there is no issue concerning the authenticity of the ossuary, or the first part of the inscription i.e., “James, son of Joseph”. The controversial words are “brother of Jesus.”

The documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” presents startling new evidence in the ongoing debate concerning the “James Ossuary.” The James ossuary was found around 1980. “The Jesus Family Tomb” was discovered in 1980.

One of the ten ossuaries went missing from “The Jesus Family Tomb.” Its hastily scribbled, rounded-out dimensions generally match the James ossuary.

And the film documents recent tests conducted at the CSI Suffolk Crime lab in New York which demonstrate that the patina (a chemical film encrustation on the box) from the James ossuary matches the patina from the other ossuaries in the Talpiot tomb.


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