The James ossuary is a 2,000 year old box claimed to be the ossuary (“bone box”) of James, the brother of Jesus. On the side of the box is inscribed in Aramaic: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. If authentic, the inscription is the first historic record found of Jesus apart from manuscripts.1 Furthermore, it provides physical testimony to the 1st century belief in the resurrection, since Jesus had been crucified as a criminal, and yet was given a place of high honour on a family ossuary.2
The ossuary and its inscription were examined extensively by Ed Keall of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)3, who along with many other scholars is convinced of its authenticity.2 André Lemaire, a leading paleographer from the University of Paris, found ancient patina within the lettering of the inscription, lending strong evidence for its authenticity.4
However, shortly after its discovery the ossuary met with a firestorm of controversy as claims that the name of Jesus had been added to the inscription spread like a contagious disease.2 The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) later announced that the inscription was a forgery and initiated a trial against the owner of the ossuary.5
Criticisms of these accusations were previously reported. A major concern was the antichristian bias of the IAA committee that investigated the ossuary.4 According to Lemaire, the committee did not include any Christian scholars, only people with known bias who had “expressed their opinion against the authenticity of the inscriptions”.6 In addition, the IAA never offered a detailed report that would allow the ROM to reevaluate its findings, so the ROM continues to support the inscription’s authenticity.3….
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