Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The James ossuary

Back in 2002 I was privileged to see an ossuary (bone box) in Toronto which had the inscription, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."  The "James ossuary," as it has been called, was presented as the burial box of Jesus' brother, James.

Since that time the authenticity of the inscription has been called into question. In fact, there was actually a court trial in Israel in which someone was accused of forgery. The verdict has come down. The court held that "the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the inscription was a forgery."

In an article in the July/August 2012 Biblical Archaeology Review (26ff.) noted archaeologist Hershel Shanks not only convincingly demonstrates that the inscription is authentic, he explains why the skepticism is entirely unfounded. Not only that, but Shanks produces statistical arguments showing that there is a 95% probability that the James ossuary is not just the burial box of some guy named James, but that it belonged to James, the brother of Jesus of Nazareth.

Excellent article!