The Sunday Times, Sunday 31st March 1996

There has been a gathering storm of potentially explosive controversy between Christians and Jews that we have been observing with some interest. It may not be apparent to some that this issue has the potential to ignite global conflict, but if all factors are taken into consideration, including the fact that this very event was predicted years ago by Douglas Reed in his book Controversy of Zion, the arrangement of playing pieces on the board should give us some clue about what is in store.

Obviously, of course, it is only some Jews and some Christians, but the ramifications of the situation - especially considering the background and details - are startling. We hope that you will peruse this mini-series including some comments and understand that this is just another salvo in a long-term project and the when the storm finally breaks, things could get very ugly.

Let's begin our review with the basic claims.

The James Ossuary and the Jesus Ossuary

In 1980 an important 1st-century family tomb was unearthed during excavations at East Talpiot, Jerusalem. Archaeologists then moved the tomb's ossuaries into museum storage at Romemma, and Joseph Zias, Curator of Archaeology and Anthropology for the Israel Antiquities Authority, later commented that [unlike the James ossuary] this find was "really impressive" since it emanated from "a very good, undisturbed archaeological context".

It was subsequently hailed as the greatest Christian-related discovery of all time, but for a while its secret was held within Israel. This was because the Jewish establishment was not especially concerned with Jesus - a figure of the Christian religion, even though he had been twice mentioned in the 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews.

Comment: Now really, how likely do you think THAT is? That the Jewish establishment just wasn't concerned with the fact that they had just discovered the "proof" that their great rival religion - supposedly the cause of the hatred of Jews because the Jews were accused of crucifying Jesus - was a fraud?! Sorry, that doesn't fly.

The limestone ossuary inscribed "Jesus son of Joseph" (65 cm x 25 cm x 30 cm) came to Western attention when the BBC was preparing for a TV programme in conjunction with the J. Arthur Rank company CTVC. In the light of generally changing religious and secular attitudes concerning the literal interpretation of the Resurrection, a British research team flew to Jerusalem to establish what might have become of Jesus' body after his death. They included Chris Mann, director of the BBC's religious series Heart of the Matter, along with CTVC religious affairs director Barrie Allcott.

To their surprise, the research took hardly any time and, in a very matter of fact way, they were directed to the Israel Archaeological Authority storeroom, to meet with the curator Baruk Brendel. The Jesus ossuary was soon brought to their attention, along with the collection of ossuraries from the same family tomb. Not only the ossuary of Jesus son of Joseph, but those of his parents and siblings, together with another associated casket, inscribed with the name Matthew.

Oh, right! Just matter-of-factly they were shown the ossuary of Jesus.

Although all devoid of bones, it was explained that the Jewish law in this regard is very strict in Israel. When bones, or artifacts containing bones, are archaeologically discovered, the bones have to be sensitively reburied by the authorities, even though their containers may be separately removed. By 1996, however, the original burial site had become quite inaccessible beneath a large new apartment block.

Comment: No doubt about that. After all, if you are going to produce a fraud, best to cover the evidence.

The stunning news hit the British press on Sunday 31st March 1996, with front-page headlines and a lengthy feature article in The Sunday Times, entitled "The Tomb that dare not speak its Name"

Subsequently, on Sunday 7th April, excitement heightened when the BBC TV special, filmed in Jerusalem, was broadcast. It was Easter Sunday 1996 when Joan Bakewell, CBE (now Lady Chairman of the British Film Institute), hosted the much publicized feature documentary "The Body in Question".

As it was, the broadcast did not provoke much "debate" since there was not much for anyone to challenge - the first-hand evidence had been presented for all to see. However, it did create a huge interest, with the Irish Times reporting, "Hundreds of excited journalists and archaeologists have converged on a dusty, airless basement of the Israel Antiquities Authority for a glimpse".

Comment: That's probably all they got: a glimpse.

A few stalwart theologians, led by the Dean of Lichfield (a member of the Church Doctrines Committee), raised voices of protest, but they were very much in the minority. Some others criticised the BBC for filming relics in Israel when there was a war going on there, and a more current story to cover. However, the BBC pointed out that the Jesus mystery was by far the longer running story, and the vast majority of people (as proved by the substantial ratings, press correspondence and complimentary reviews) were very appreciative of the long-sought information.

Comment: Now we come to the present day.

Scholars, Clergy Slam Jesus Documentary

Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- Archaeologists and clergymen in the Holy Land derided claims in a new documentary produced by James Cameron that contradict major Christian tenets, but the Oscar-winning director said the evidence was based on sound statistics.

Comment: Notice that they don't claim that the evidence is based on sound archaeology. This is called CYA.

"The Lost Tomb of Christ," which the Discovery Channel will run on March 4, argues that 10 ancient ossuaries - small caskets used to store bones - discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family, according to a press release issued by the Discovery Channel.

One of the caskets even bears the title, "Judah, son of Jesus," hinting that Jesus may have had a son, according to the documentary. And the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.

Cameron told NBC'S "Today" show that statisticians found "in the range of a couple of million to one in favor of it being them." Simcha Jacobovici, the Toronto filmmaker who directed the documentary, said the implications "are huge."

"But they're not necessarily the implications people think they are. For example, some believers are going to say, well this challenges the resurrection. I don't know why, if Jesus rose from one tomb, he couldn't have risen from the other tomb," Jacobovici told "Today."

Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron's documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church.

In 1996, when the British Broadcasting Corp. aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

Comment: Here's the first clue that we are dealing with sound archaeology.

Cameron said his critics should withhold comment until they see his film.

Comment: Never mind that seeing the film has nothing to do with hands-on scientific analysis. But, we will come to that.

"I'm not a theologist. I'm not an archaeologist. I'm a documentary film maker," he said.

The film's claims, however, have raised the ire of Christian leaders in the Holy Land.

"The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection," said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem. The documentary, he said, "contradicts the religious principles and the historic and spiritual principles that we hold tightly to."

Comment: The Christians don't have a leg to stand on either, so the above argument is just silly. Based on the best evidence from Burton Mack in his analysis and exposition of the Q Document, Jesus not only was not crucified, he wasn't even Jewish and almost nothing of the Christian myth holds water. Nevertheless, Attallah Hana is reacting just as he is supposed to.

Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film's hypothesis holds little weight.

"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," Pfann said. "But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

"How possible is it?" Pfann said. "On a scale of one through 10 -10 being completely possible - it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."

Pfann is even unsure that the name "Jesus" on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it's more likely the name "Hanun." Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

Comment: We'll see more about script analysis a little further on, so keep this last remark in mind.

Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false.

"It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave." Kloner said. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time."

Comment: Again, keep in mind Burton Mack's assertion that Jesus wasn't Jewish.

Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that the James Ossuary - the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel - might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box.

Comment: Now here, things get interesting. Why? Because it is a Jewish archaeologist who is balking at the claim that the James Ossuary came from the same cave. Why? Well, we'll see that further on, but it is an important clue.

"I don't think the James Ossuary came from the same cave," said Dan Bahat, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University. "If it were found there, the man who made the forgery would have taken something better. He would have taken Jesus."

Comment: That is not only illogical, it is disingenuous.

None of the experts interviewed by The Associated Press had seen the whole documentary.

Comment: Now, it is time to look at some of the background. There is more to this story than meets the eye.

Blockbuster. This time, the ship he's sinking is Christianity.

In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn't resurrected --the cornerstone of Christian faith-- and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem. And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.

No, it's not a re-make of "The Da Vinci Codes'. It's supposed to be true.

Let's go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archaeologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.

Comment: Did it really take ten years to decipher, or did it take ten years to cook up a fraud using real artifacts as the basis?

Israel's prominent archaeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn't associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn't afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names.

Comment: Now, remember what Kloner was quoted as saying in the previous article?
Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.
Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false.

"It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave," Kloner said. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time."

©Discovery Channel
A tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem seen in March, 1980, was found to contain at least 10 ossuaries, or limestone bone boxes, some of which are alleged to have belonged to Jesus Christ and his family.

There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshipping the empty tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ's resurrection, after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a carpenter's wife in a manger is the Son of God.

But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence through DNA tests, archeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10 coffins belong to Jesus and his family.

Ever the showman, (Why does this remind me of the impresario in another movie,"King Kong", whose hubris blinds him to the dangers of an angry and very large ape?) Cameron is holding a New York press conference on Monday at which he will reveal three coffins, supposedly those of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene.

Comment: In the above paragraph, the author has hit upon the crux of the matter: the Christian rage that is going to erupt against the Jews, because, certainly, the Christians are not going to believe this for a minute - and rightly so, though for the wrong reasons.

News about the film, which will be shown soon on Discovery Channel, Britain's Channel 4, Canada's Vision, and Israel's Channel 8, has been a hot blog topic in the Middle East (check out a personal favorite: Israelity Bites) Here in the Holy Land, Biblical Archeology is a dangerous profession. This 90-minute documentary is bound to outrage Christians and stir up a titanic debate between believers and skeptics. Stay tuned.

--Tim McGirk/Jerusalem

Comment: The blog referenced above contributes to our understanding of the strange circumstances of this "find."

Bones of Jesus & son uncovered in Jerusalem?

Devout Christian congregations will abhor Cameron's publicity stunt as absolute heresy. Some 27 years after archaeologists first uncovered this unprepossessing family tomb containing half a dozen inscribed caskets and four unmarked ones, the sensational scientific claims now threaten to debunk belief in the Resurrection, a cornerstone of the Christian faith. The New Testament recounts how three days after crucifixion, Jesus arose from the grave (which is now supposedly the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the heart of Jerusalem's old walled city.) But scientists, archaeologists, DNA experts, statisticians,and antiquities specialists are suggesting that Jesus's burial site was on a hill rather far away from the old rugged cross.

Repercussions of the initial discovery were minimized, even after Israeli professor Amos Kloner deciphered the inscriptions containing such profoundly familiar Biblical names a decade ago, because the Israeli Antiquities Authority stored the caskets in their Beit Shemesh archive. Little publicity leaked out. Biblical archaeology has proven to be a minefield, albeit with a certain sects' appeal.

Who could have foreseen that forensic tests could be made on Jesus' bones in a New York crime lab?

If you thought that the Israeli archaeologists' salvage tunnel close to the Al Aqsa mosque ignited some religious fury, get ready for another white hot fight. Remember the Spanish Inquisition? Or the fuss over teaching Darwin's theory of Evolution? After Monday's press conference, Izzy imagines it won't be long before an intelligent design component emerges for the holy caskets in the cave. "King of the World", eh?

Comment: Indeed, 27 years of secrecy - or almost secrecy - about this "find" is most mysterious. But it will become less mysterious as we go along.

Jesus Tomb in the News Again

24th February 2007

[...]The 2,000 year old cave reportedly contained ten coffins; six of which were carved with inscriptions reading the names: Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus' brother), Judah son of Jesua (Jesus' son - or so the filmmakers claim).

As always there is much hype and sensationalism surrounding this story; see for instance, this bold claim from Ynet News:

If it proves true, the discovery... could shake up the Christian world as one of the most significant archaeological finds in history.

The coffins which, according to the filmmakers held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene will be displayed for the first time on Monday in New York.

Comment: And don't the Zionists want to "shake up the Christian world"!

It will be interesting to see what the actual announcement will be at Monday's press conference (26 February 2007). After that we'll have to sort through the mixture of fact and fiction to determine what actually has been discovered, especially considering Jacobovici's track record of sensational yet somewhat misleading documentaries.

The documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, is scheduled to be aired in Canada on VisionTV on Tuesday 6 March at 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET.

There are also a couple books related to this discovery. Simcha Jacobovici co-authored a book with Charles Pellegrino related to the documentary:

* The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History (HarperCollins, February 2007.

while Jame Tabor has written a more scholarly book on the subject:

* The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity is available from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

The first chapter of Tabor's book, "The Tale of Two Tombs" is available from the ABC News website.

Comment: A clue to follow! Looking at the Tabor (scholarly) material as promoted on amazon, we read:

Tabor begins with several exciting archaeological finds with which he was involved, including the discovery of a cave that might have been used by John the Baptist and the very recent discovery of a tomb with ossuaries that could be linked to Jesus' family members.

The empty tomb narratives may contain an historical memory that the body had been removed (possibly by his brothers and sisters) from the temporary tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and reburied in an ossuary such as the one that has been discovered that possibly contains the remains of his brother James.
So, again, a reference to the possibility that the James Ossuary was found in the same tome.

Notice also that the film-makers claim that they have evidence of the exodus but there are dozens of scholarly works on the subject and it seems that there really is NO evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible.

Notice the interesting juxtaposition of ideas: Exodus is true, therefore Judaism is authentic vs. Crucifixion is false, therefore Christianity is bogus.

In any event, it is now time to look at what is posted on the Discovery Channel site itself.

Jesus Family Tomb Believed Found
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Feb. 25, 2007 - New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world's foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.

Comment: Those are pretty extraordinary claims! Let's see how they follow them up.

The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah.

The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts - originally excavated in 1980 - open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.

A documentary presenting the evidence, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," will premiere on the Discovery Channel on March 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary comes from executive producer James Cameron and director Simcha Jacobovici.

The Talpiot Tomb

On March 28, 1980, a construction crew developing an apartment complex in Talpiot, Jerusalem, uncovered a tomb, which archaeologists from the Israeli Antiquities Authority excavated shortly thereafter. Archaeologist Shimon Gibson surveyed the site and drew a layout plan. Scholar L.Y. Rahmani later published "A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries" that described 10 ossuaries, or limestone bone boxes, found in the tomb.

Scholars know that from 30 B.C. to 70 A.D., many people in Jerusalem would first wrap bodies in shrouds after death. The bodies were then placed in carved rock tombs, where they decomposed for a year before the bones were placed in an ossuary.

Five of the 10 discovered boxes in the Talpiot tomb were inscribed with names believed to be associated with key figures in the New Testament: Jesus, Mary, Matthew, Joseph and Mary Magdalene. A sixth inscription, written in Aramaic, translates to "Judah Son of Jesus."

"Such tombs are very typical for that region," Aaron Brody, associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion and director of California's Bade Museum told Discovery News.

Ossuary Inscriptions

At least four leading epigraphers have corroborated the ossuary inscriptions for the documentary, according to the Discovery Channel.

Comment: Four, eh? Well, can we have their names? All four of them? After all, we would like to know if any of them have obvious agendas.

Frank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, told Discovery News, "The inscriptions are from the Herodian Period (which occurred from around 1 B.C. to 1 A.D.). The use of limestone ossuaries and the varied script styles are characteristic of that time."

Comment: Oh, expert number one. Pretty fancy guy with a big title. Nevertheless, pay attention to this mention of "varied script styles" and his declaration that was "characteristic" as it will become important further on. Also, a search of the web might reveal that Cross is often involved in debunking probable valid inscriptions and validating fake ones in the interests of his Zionist masters.

Jodi Magness, associate department chair of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Discovery News that, based on the New Testament writings, "Jesus likely lived during the first century A.D."

Comment: Well, not a surprise there! Looks like they just needed a reason to quote another expert's name. Looks to me like they are pretty short on real experts, though.

In addition to the "Judah son of Jesus" inscription, which is written in Aramaic on one of the ossuaries, another limestone burial box is labeled in Aramaic with "Jesus Son of Joseph." Another bears the Hebrew inscription "Maria," a Latin version of "Miriam," or, in English, "Mary." Yet another ossuary inscription, written in Hebrew, reads "Matia," the original Hebrew word for "Matthew." Only one of the inscriptions is written in Greek. It reads, "Mariamene e Mara," which can be translated as, "Mary known as the master."

Francois Bovon, professor of the history of religion at Harvard University, told Discovery News, "Mariamene, or Mariamne, probably was the actual name given to Mary Magdalene."

Comment: Oh, now we have another expert. But funny that they aren't quoting him as confirming the validity of the inscriptions themselves.

Bovon explained that he and a colleague discovered a fourteenth century copy in Greek of a fourth century text that contains the most complete version of the "Acts of Philip" ever found. Although not included in the Bible, the "Acts of Philip" mentions the apostles and Mariamne, sister of the apostle Philip.

"When Philip is weak, she is strong," Bovon said. "She likely was a great teacher who even inspired her own sect of followers, called Mariamnists, who existed from around the 2nd to the 3rd century."

Comment: So what. Does that have anything to do with the confirming of the actual evidence that the inscriptions are not faked in any way? Odd how they avoid that issue here and just name experts and quote odd bits from them with no scientific confirmation of the authenticity of the inscriptions themselves.

DNA Analysis

Jacobovici, director, producer and writer of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," and his team obtained two sets of samples from the ossuaries for DNA and chemical analysis. The first set consisted of bits of matter taken from the "Jesus Son of Joseph" and "Mariamene e Mara" ossuaries. The second set consisted of patina - a chemical film encrustation on one of the limestone boxes.

The human remains were analyzed by Carney Matheson, a scientist at the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada. Mitochondrial DNA examination determined the individual in the Jesus ossuary and the person in the ossuary linked to Mary Magdalene were not related.

Comment: So what?

Since tombs normally contain either blood relations or spouses, Jacobovici and his team suggest it is possible Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a couple. "Judah," whom they indicate may have been their son, could have been the "lad" described in the Gospel of John as sleeping in Jesus' lap at the Last Supper.

Comment: A lot of assumptions going on here and precious little science or logic. Their first flawed assumption was that there was any historical basis to the Jesus myth to begin with, so their efforts to destroy it only come across as pathetic and illogical.

Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in New York, analyzed both the patina taken from the Talpiot Tomb and chemical residue obtained from the "James" ossuary, which was also found around 1980, but subsequently disappeared and resurfaced in the antiquities market. Although controversy surrounds this burial box, Genna found that the two patinas matched.

"The samples were consistent with each other," Genna told Discovery News.

Upon examining the tomb, the filmmakers determined a space exists that would have fit the "James" ossuary. Given the patina match and this observation, Jacobovici theorizes the lost burial box could, in fact, be the "James" ossuary.

Comment: Ah! Now we have something to go on even if it is a bit iffy. The empty space itself is only suggestive, but same patina suggests that the James Ossuary and the Ossuaries of the "Jesus Tomb" existed side by side for a very long time under the same conditions. We'll be looking at the James Ossuary then, for some wider expert opinions which do not seem to be available on this particular find. After all, the Discovery Channel is not really about science, it is about propaganda.

Statistical Data

A possible argument against the Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb is that the collection of names on the ossuary inscriptions could be coincidental.

Comment: There is actually a better argument against it, but we will come to that.

But Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the University of Toronto, recently conducted a study addressing the probabilities that will soon be published in a leading statistical journal.

Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the tomb's time period with the instances of every other name. He initially found "Jesus Son of Joseph" appeared once out of 190 times, Mariamne appeared once out of 160 times and so on.

Comment: And from what documents was the good professor extracting this data? And how representative of the times were those documents? But that doesn't even matter. There is a far more serious issue at hand which we will come to shortly in the analysis of the James Ossuary.

To be conservative, he next divided the resulting numbers by 25 percent, a statistical standard, and further divided the results by 1,000 to attempt to account for all tombs - even those that have not been uncovered - that could have existed in first century Jerusalem.

The study concludes that the odds are at least 600 to 1 in favor of the Talpiot Tomb being the Jesus Family Tomb. In other words, the conclusion works 599 times out of 600.

Comment: Yawn...

Another Tomb?

The researchers discovered a second, as-yet unexplored tomb about 65 1/2 feet from the Talpiot Tomb. During the documentary, they introduced a robotic camera into this second tomb, which captured the first-ever recorded footage of an undisturbed burial cave from Jesus' time. The team speculates that this other tomb could contain the remains of additional family members, or even disciples, though further examination and analysis are needed.

Comment: They sure are big on speculation and assumption here, aren't they?

In the meantime, Discovery has set up a special Web site, to provide related in-depth information and to allow viewers to come to their own conclusions about the entire matter.

As Academy Award-winner Cameron said in a press release, "It doesn't get bigger than this. We've done our homework; we've made the case; and now it's time for the debate to begin."

Comment: It isn't a "debate" they want, it is a war.

Now, let's come back to the issue of the James Ossuary.
Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in New York, analyzed both the patina taken from the Talpiot Tomb and chemical residue obtained from the "James" ossuary, which was also found around 1980, but subsequently disappeared and resurfaced in the antiquities market. Although controversy surrounds this burial box, Genna found that the two patinas matched.

"The samples were consistent with each other," Genna told Discovery News.
Well, since they have linked it to the James Ossuary, let's look at that.

The ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus? Not likely.

The James Ossuary

By Dr. Rochelle I. Altman

The Size and Shape of the James Ossuary

The size and shape of the James Ossuary are non-standard. The box is custom-made. It is 20 inches in length; the shape is a trapezoid: 10 inches in width at one end and 12 inches at the other. The shape is not convenient for either stacking or side-by-side storage. Its dimensions suggest that the box was intended for one-person storage only. The trapezoidal shape would reduce the amount of room. As the bones were arranged in a specific order, the skull would have been at the 12 inches end. The leg bones are long and the angle would reduce the amount of space.

The shape of the box bears a decided resemblance to a truncated Egyptian mummy case. The probability that this is indeed what was meant gains support when we turn to the inscription on the side of the box.

The Inscription on the James Ossuary

©Roger Viklund
The James Ossuary Inscription

The inscription on the "James" ossuary is anomalous. First, it was written by two different people. Second, the scripts are from two different social strata. Third, the first script is a formal inscriptional cursive with added wedges; the second script is partly a commercial cursive and partly archaic cursive. Fourth, it has been gone over by two different carvers of two different levels of competence.

Placement of the Inscription

The inscription on the James ossuary is placed to the right hand side of the box, approximately one hand's span in width from the outside edge and roughly one-third of the height of the box in distance from the top of the box. Contrary to all other known ossuaries where little attention is paid to the placement of the inscription, here the placement is clearly carefully calculated, and the first part of the inscription is balanced in proportion to the overall size of the box. This careful balance has been disturbed by the second part of the inscription.

The Two Parts of the Inscription

The inscription is in two distinct parts. Below is the transcription by Ada Yardeni:


(The question mark is on the form that has been stated to be a dalet but is an open question. See below. The second vav is actually a yod that has been inexpertly over-carved. The above is encoded in the Michigan-Claremont encoding for computer manipulation.)

The inscription has been translated as "Jacob son of Joseph brother of Joshua."

The two parts are not related; the differences between them are striking.

Part one Jacob son of Joseph is written in a carefully executed and expertly-spaced *inscriptional* cursive -- including careful angles and added cuneiform wedges on the bets, the resh, and the yod.

These added wedges give us information about the family of Ya'acob ben Yosef (but not him). These are not full wedges. The full wedge is reserved for official and authoritative documents only. The authoritative and/or official script is forbidden for use by the common people. Yet, here we find small wedges included in this formal I inscriptional cursive design. Priests would not use the official square script with full wedge for an inscription on an ossuary, nor would a government official. The addition of the wedges indicates a family with pretensions.

In keeping with the careful placement of the inscription and the custom-made shape of the box, this part of the inscription was very probably written by the eldest son of a second generation, nouveau riche mercantile family. The shape of the box suggests that they also are quite likely to have had commercial connections in both Alexandria and Jerusalem. This would also accord with the nefesh, or pyramids, found among the tombs in the Kidron Valley. The wedges also indicate that Jacob ben Josef probably lived and died during the age of Herod.

Part two, Brother of Yeshua, could not be more different. The script is a poorly-executed, mostly *commercial* cursive without any sign of wedges. Mostly, commercial cursive is correct; the aleph and het are both archaic forms. In Paleo-Hebraic the het was "eared." In cursive square script, the het retained its "ears" until the 2nd century BCE and then disappeared from standard use.

The third questionable graph is the one referred to as an "angular dalet." The shape of this graph is exactly that of an archaic 6th-4th centuries BCE Greek cursive upsilon. At no point did a dalet, whether in cursive Paleo-Hebraic or cursive square, not have a "cup" at the top. This graph does not have even the smallest "cup" at the junction of the two parts of the graph. The graph in question looks like this:


Whether the graph is an upsilon or a very poorly copied version of a dalet is irrelevant in the overall examination of the writing system. What is relevant are the clear and striking differences in the script and the execution between the two parts of the inscription.

While it is customary to dismiss such differences as unimportant ("scribes are not typewriters"), here the differences between the two parts are glaring.

Comment: But remember, Frank Moore Cross has tried to pre-empt this criticism by saying "varied script styles are characteristic of that time." Yet here we have an unequivocal statement backed up by references (check the linked site), that the differences in the two parts of the script are so glaring as to startle a competent expert.

The Differences between the Two Parts of the Inscription

In part 1, the script is formal. The left-hand "arm" of the ayin has an acute angle and the arm meets the lower extension cleanly at a precise distance from the right hand arm. The bets, resh, and yod have the reduced cuneiform wedge, and the yods are consistent in size and cannot be confused with the vavs.

The person who wrote the first part of the inscription was necessarily a surviving member of the family. He was fully literate; he clearly was familiar with the formal square script (those cuneiform wedges), the writing is internally consistent, and this part of the inscription is his expertly written holograph. The ease with which he wrote on stone further implies a mercantile family; commercial contracts and real property transactions were often painted on stone and over-carved. The carver of the [first part of the] ossuary inscription was an expert.

In part 2, the script is informal. The right-hand arm of the ayin curves and the left-hand arm has been over-written and widened to move the join from the lower extension at the right-hand arm to a position that more closely approximates that on the ayin in the first part. The ayin in the second part is completely different from the ayin in the first part. When we compare the two yod graphs in the first part with the yods in the second part, we immediately can see that this is a different person writing. One yod is distorted by a slip on the part of the carver and has no sign of a wedge.

The other yod is at an angle running from left-to-right in contrast with yods in the first part, which are perpendicular. The yod in the second part does not have a wedge and does not resemble the yod in Yosef [ YWSP ] as written in part 1 which does have a wedge. The shin in the second part is wedgeless, does not belong to this script design, and certainly does not belong to the formal design of the first part. In the script design of the first part, the shin would have a small wedge on each arm, and both the left-hand and central strokes of the shin would be curved. The carving on the second part was executed by a competent, but not expert carver.

The person who wrote the second part may have been literate, but it is doubtful that he was literate in Aramaic or Hebrew scripts. The script of the second part is a conglomeration of unrelated graphs from across the centuries and not a coherent script design. This peculiar diversity suggests that the writer chose graphs from examples on other ossuaries and/or documents stored in a tomb-cave or other dug-out family "mausoleum." (Ossuaries in Greek-Hebrew and Greek-Aramaic have been found. Perhaps the questionable upsilon/dalet is the result of imitating the inscription on one of these dual language ossuaries.)

Once again, the writing in this part is internally consistent in its inconsistencies. Part 2 has the characteristics of a later addition by someone attempting to imitate an unfamiliar script and write in what could have been the correct "archaic" spelling for the language of the right period.

Text Security Measures

There is yet another point that we must address. Much as in writing on lined paper, stone scribes used frames to align and keep their writing straight. In this case, the frame would have been held against the right-hand edge of the box. From the professional quality of the over-carving on the first part of the "James" box, it seems quite possible that the professional who made the box to order held the frame for the son, who wrote the name in ink with a brush, and then the box-maker over-carved the handwriting.

The carver sometimes marked the frame on the surface and sometimes left the surrounding surface blank. The frame is always visibly marked in official or authoritative inscriptions and frequently appears on other stelae, small inscriptions, and funerary markers. 16 The frame will always be used when someone wants to protect the inscribed words from possible alteration.

In accord with the script, custom-made shape, and carefully balanced placement of the first part of this inscription, there would definitely have been a frame. Where is the frame?

The original frame would have been the barest minimum distance, one-quarter ayin from the text and have appeared something like this:


The person who wrote the second part could not hold a straight line; it is also clear that he did not use a frame when a frame clearly was used on the first part. Nor was he accustomed to writing on stone. The text would have been written in ink. Limestone absorbs ink; mistakes cannot be erased. Although the second carver was not as professional as the carver of the first part, we cannot blame the carver for the incongruous mix of graphs from different centuries nor for their inexpert execution. It becomes increasingly clear what happened to the frame: it was removed to add the second part of this inscription.

We must also ask: Why would anyone bother to add extra identification to the original inscription? The box would have been placed in the family "mausoleum," a family cave-tomb. A child of Jacob bar Yosef would be identified as X bar Jacob. If X then had a son named after Jacob, then the child in turn would have been Jacob bar X. If, by any chance somewhere down the line we again had a Jacob bar Yosef, the inscription would read Jacob bar Yosef bar X to distinguish him from his who-knows-how-many-times great-grandfather.

What if Jacob bar Yosef had a brother named Yeshua? Then the ossuary would have been "inscribed" Yeshua bar Yosef and placed in the family cave-tomb. The family would know who was meant. There was no reason for any member of Jacob bar Yosef's family to have added the second part of the inscription.

There are other odd points, such as some question as to whether the inscription is incised or excised. While Ada Yardeni's transcription in BAR shows the inscription as mixed incised-excised with raised sections, as does the photograph, Andre Lemaire states that it is incised. This question is not really relevant as it does not change the concrete evidence given by careful examination of the complete writing system.


If the entire inscription on the ossuary is genuine, then somebody has to explain why there are two hands, two different scripts, two different social strata, two different levels of execution, two different levels of literacy, and two different carvers. They could also explain where the frame has gone.

The ossuary itself is undoubtedly genuine; the well-executed and formal first part of the inscription is a holographic original by a literate (and wealthy) survivor of Jacob bar Yosef, probably sometime during the Herodian period. The second part of the inscription bears the hallmarks of a fraudulent later addition, probably around the 3rd or 4th centuries, and is questionable to say the least.

James ossuary a fake, experts declare

A limestone box that was supposed to have held the bones of the brother of Jesus is a fake, Israel's Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The so-called James ossuary, which was on display in Toronto late last year, bears the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Some scholars called it the oldest archeological link to New Testament figures, but Israeli authorities called the inscription a forgery.

"The ossuary probably is real, the inscription is a fake," said Shuka Dorfmann, with Israel's Antiquities Authority. [...]

Comment: Now, just imagine that you are Zionists wanting to destroy the validity of another religion and archaeologists under your control (for their livelihood and reputation) discover a tomb with ossuaries that belong to the right period and even have some similar names to the individuals in question, what would you do? Well, you want to create a bit of a forgery but you want to make absolutely sure that it is an air-tight case.

So, you decide to "test the waters" by releasing, via questionable channels, an altered artifact in order to get the world of experts to examine it and pronounce on it so that you will know how to perfectly execute the coup de grace forgery. There may be other purposes involved, including just creating confusion, but I think that we can see from the above analysis that any forger now has full details about how NOT to create a forgery that will be exposed.

Also, it should be noted that there are techniques to "age" such finds, so it is unlikely that the hoaxed additions were actually made in the 3rd or 4th centuries.

In any event, we now begin to understand why it is the Jewish archaeologists who are denying the possibility that the James Ossuary came from the same tomb as the "Jesus family" ossuaries: that one has been proven to have been tampered with so best not draw attention to that fact.

There were, of course, many arguments in favor of the James Ossuary which came mainly from fundamentalist "Biblical archaeology types." It seems obvious that their zeal to authenticate the James Ossuary was simply to authenticate the reality of the existence of Jesus, only they did not realize that there was something else in the background: i.e. that the whole thing was going to lead to a deconstruction of the very thing they were trying to defend!!!

The James Ossuary

Dr. Paul L. Maier

It was an electrifying announcement: a stone burial box had come to light in Jerusalem that may have contained the bones of Jesus' half-brother James. An Aramaic inscription on the artifact reads: Ya'akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

If these three names are our familiar New Testament personalities, then this is a discovery for which the term "astounding" is not too strong. This would mark the first time that Jesus' name has appeared in stone from the first century.

While this October announcement may be gladdening - even sensational - news, believers should always weigh such evidence carefully.

What are the facts?

An ossuary is a limestone box for burying bones that was used by Jews primarily in the first century AD. As a kind of space-saving way to deal with the dead, this "second-burial" system first interred the deceased in sepulchers to decompose for a year or two, then gathered the bones that remained and put them into stone boxes or "ossuaries." Jesus Himself was in the first stage of this burial method, and had it not been for the resurrection, His bones would have been transferred to an ossuary a year or two after His crucifixion and death.

Archaeological aids

In fact, three crucial ossuary discoveries in the last quarter century have been extremely supportive of the New Testament records.

Critics used to doubt that Jesus was ever nailed to a cross, insisting that John's Gospel was indulging in fantasy rather than fact in claiming such. No longer! In 1968, at a suburb of northern Jerusalem, the ossuary of Yohanan ben Ha'galgol was discovered. While otherwise unknown, this man had been crucified, as the seven-inch iron spike still transfixing his heel bones offers mute testimony.

In November 1990, the bones of the first Biblical personality ever discovered came to light in another ossuary, which was magnificently carved with perfect fluting along the edges and two great whorls adorning its face. Clearly, this bone box must have been adorned for an important person. And, indeed, on the other side was his name, incised twice in Aramaic: Iosef bar-Caiapha, or "Joseph, son of Caiaphas," the high priest who indicted Jesus before Pontius Pilate on Good Friday, a major Biblical figure and another stunning discovery.

Now, a dozen years later, we have number three: the James ossuary, a slightly trapezoidal box about 20 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 12 inches high, with removable stone lid. It has no adornment other than a narrow marginal border about a half-inch wide.

Is the Ossuary authentic?

Let's explore the evidence pro and con.

Against authenticity: Unfortunately, the ossuary was not discovered in situ, that is, it did not come to light in the course of an archaeological dig as was the case in the two previous. Accordingly, the context of this find is lost, and we have no exact idea where the ossuary was found, what else was buried there and the like - priceless evidence that has now vanished.

Some 30 years ago, an Arab antiquities dealer in Jerusalem sold the ossuary for a few hundred dollars to a now-51-year-old engineer named Oded Golan living in Tel Aviv.

The dealer stated that the ossuary - one of many rifled from ancient tombs - came from the Silwan area in the Kidron Valley, southeast of the site where the Jerusalem Temple once stood.

Worse still, the bones originally inside the ossuary had been dumped out somewhere, which is the case in nearly all ossuaries not discovered by archaeologists. If the skeletal remains were left inside such bone boxes, looters would encounter hostility from ultra-orthodox Jews, who object to all disruption of human remains.

For authenticity:

The evidence for authenticity of the James ossuary, however, is much stronger. The very fact that an ossuary is involved all but proves its first-century origin, since the only time Jews buried in that fashion was from approximately 20 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The fragile condition of the ossuary cracks that widened en mute to its first public display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto further attest to its antiquity. Any perpetrator of archaeological fraud would have found some way to make the "find" public much sooner than was actually the case. And finally, the Israel Geological Survey submitted the ossuary to a variety of scientific tests, which determined that the limestone of the ossuary had a patina or sheen consistent with a many-centuries-long sojourn in a cave.

Is the inscription authenic?

In a word, yes. The same patina covers the incised lettering of the inscription as the rest of the surface. If the inscription was recent, this would not be the case.

Comment: Here, Maier is either revealing his ignorance or his agenda. The patina over both parts of the inscription is NOT the same. In fact, it occurs to me that if chemical means were used to artificially age the second inscription, and those chemicals were applied overall, then the age of the ossuary itself must be questioned.

It is true that the first part of the inscription, "James son of Joseph," seems more deeply incised than the latter "brother of Jesus," but this may have no significance. Even if it does, differences in the hardness of the limestone may have been responsible, or the carver may have been pressed by time. Conceivably, he or someone else may have thought to add the further defining clause subsequently in view of its importance.

We see from the previous analysis that this is not the case and again, either Maier is revealing his ignorance or his agenda.

The script is cursive Aramaic - fully consistent with first-century lettering, according to Dr. Andre Lemaire, the Parisian epigrapher who first saw the importance of the inscription when Golan invited him to view the ossuary in his apartment. Furthermore, the inscription was not incised with modern tools, and contains no elements not available in the ancient world. The inscription, then, appears genuine.

Our James, Joseph and Jesus?

Here the evidence is not as conclusive. All three names were frequent for that era. Josephus, for example, mentions a score of different Jesuses in the first century. But this exact relationship Joseph the father, James a son, and Jesus a brother has never been cited in any extrabiblical ancient literary source or on stone. According to best estimates, only a tiny fraction of Jerusalem men would have had such a relationship, and even fewer would have been able to afford an ossuary. [...]

Comment: The irony of it is that, without knowing it, Maier has contributed to the deconstruction of the very religion that he sought to shore up with the James ossuary. What is so interesting is the way the James Ossuary was handled by the Jewish authorities. They went after the James Ossuary with a vengeance.

James ossuary part of Israeli fraud charges

Israeli authorities charged four antique dealers and collectors Wednesday with running a forgery ring that created fake biblical artifacts, including the so-called James ossuary exhibited at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum in 2002.

The limestone burial box, which purportedly held the remains of James, Jesus' brother, was among a number of items listed as forgeries. The 27-page indictment also singled out an ivory pomegranate touted as the only existing relic from King Solomon's temple.

Comment: Ya gotta hand it to these forgers for chutzpah since there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for the existence of the "Temple of Solomon," or even the Davidic Kingdom as described in the Bible!

"During the last 20 years, many archeological items were sold, or an attempt was made to sell them, in Israel and in the world," read the indictment. "These items, many of them of great scientific, religious, sentimental, political and economic value, were created specifically with intent to defraud."

Police indicted Oded Golan and three dealers - Robert Deutsch, Shlomo Cohen and Faiz al-Amaleh - on 18 counts, including forgery, receiving fraudulent goods and damaging antiquities.

The authorities believe that the members of the forgery ring took genuine artifacts and altered them, adding inscriptions and chemically aging the pieces in order to inflate their value.

"We only discovered the tip of the iceberg. This spans the globe. It generated millions of dollars," Shuka Dorfman, head of Israel Antiquities Authority, told the Associated Press.

In fall 2002, the stone box was damaged and left with a crack during its trip to Toronto from Tel Aviv. As museum officials repaired the crack, they were able to examine the ossuary more carefully and discovered ancient fossils of roots in the stone.

About eight months later, Dorfman announced that though he believed the limestone ossuary truly dated from ancient times, the inscription that labelled it as the tomb of Jesus' brother had been forged.

Also, the Israel Museum announced last Friday that it believed the ivory pomegranate in its collection to be a forgery.

In a statement, Golan denied the accusations as a campaign of lies spread by the local archeological community to destroy the antiquities trade and said his name would be cleared in court.

"There is not one grain of truth in the fantastic allegations related to me," he said.

~ Authenticity ~

In 2002, experts hailed the discovery of a burial box as a historic find. Now, accusations are flying.

The first group of experts heralded it as one of archaeology's greatest discoveries, a burial box inscribed with the earliest reference to Jesus ever found. But after a closer look, another group of specialists debunked the find as an elaborate hoax.

Now Israeli authorities have indicted the owner of the "James Ossuary" as a serial forger. The indictment has further polarized opposing sides in an increasingly vitriolic dispute.

Magazine editor Hershel Shanks, the most outspoken advocate of the box's possible authenticity, published an article in Biblical Archaeology Review detailing mistakes in what he called a "badly bungled" investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The response was immediate. Uzi Dahari, deputy director of the Antiquities Authority, dismissed Shanks as "totally crazy" and his claims as "pathetic." Dahari denounced ossuary owner Oded Golan as a "scoundrel" and a career criminal who lives off the proceeds of doctored artifacts.

All this has left the box trapped, perhaps forever, in historic limbo - revered by many believers as the onetime repository for the remains of Jesus' brother, James, even as skeptics revile the ossuary as an attempt to deceive biblical history.

Comment: All of these claims and accusations going back and forth about the James Ossuary... with no awareness that it is part of a "set" as has been announced by the filmmakers of this new "Jesus Documentary" and that a new installment of the story was eventually to be unveiled, hoisting the "true believers" on their own petard.

But actually, the plot is a bit thicker than even that as we next see. Not only do we now have a documentary that claims that Jesus was buried in an ossuary in Jerusalem, along with his wife, Mary Magdalene and their son, but the original hoaxster has emerged with new evidence that the James Ossuary is authentic!!

Collector accused of forging 'James ossuary' says old photos prove authenticity

By Amiram Barkat

Mysterious photographs from the 1970s are to be brought as evidence to prove that the so-called ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus, is authentic. They are to be presented by attorneys for Oded Golan, the antiquities dealer charged with forging the item, which when it was made public, was dubbed "the most important archaeological discovery from the beginnings of Christianity."

The photographs, copies of which have reached Haaretz, have already been examined by an American expert and are to be submitted as evidence in court. But they do not remove doubts about the item, which touched off a storm in the archaeological world.

In December 2004, after a lengthy police investigation, the State Prosecutor's Office indicted Golan and three other Israelis for what they called the most serious case of antiquities forgery ever uncovered in Israel.

Golan, 55, a Tel Aviv resident, was charged with allegedly masterminding a ring responsible for the fabrication of antiquities over a period of more than 15 years. According to the charge sheet, the group stands accused of attempting to sell items to museums and wealthy collectors for millions of dollars.

The indictment states that in 2001 or shortly before, Golan forged the inscription on the ossuary (bone receptacle) and that at approximately that same time, also forged the so-called "Joash inscription."

The ossuary was unveiled in a press conference in Washington, D.C., in October 2002. It was inscribed in Aramaic with words interpreted as "Yaakov the brother of Yeshua," alluding to the fact that the individual whose bones it held was Jesus' brother, James, mentioned in the New Testament. A geological test commissioned by the owners of the ossuary and confirming the authenticity of the find was presented at the briefing.

A panel appointed by the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Shuka Dorfman, determined in June 2003 that the inscription on the ossuary was "added recently," while the ossuary itself was authentic.

In the defense's photographs, dated 1976, the ossuary is shown on a shelf, apparently in Golan's home. In an enlargement, the whole inscription can be seen with great difficulty. The photo was examined by Gerald Richard, a former FBI agent and an expert for the defense. Richard testified that "Nothing was noted that would indicate or suggest that they were not produced in March 1976 as indicated on the stamps appearing on the reverse side of each print."

Comment: Oh, geeze! Come on! They can fake an antiquity from many thousands of years ago well enough to fool many experts and you don't think they can fake a photographic stamp???

Golan's attorney, Lior Beringer, told Haaretz that the photos support the defense's position. "The prosecution claims that Golan forged the inscription after the beginning of 2000. But here is a detailed report from an FBI photo lab that states that the inscription existed at least since the 70s," Beringer said. "It is unreasonable that someone would forge an inscription like this in the 70s and suddenly decide to come out with it in 2002," he added.

Comment: All of the above seems to be designed to confuse the issue completely because, as we recall from reports above, the ossuary was purchased by Oded Golan right around the time of the discovery of the tomb in question, and there is the scientific evidence:
Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory in New York, analyzed both the patina taken from the Talpiot Tomb and chemical residue obtained from the "James" ossuary, which was also found around 1980, but subsequently disappeared and resurfaced in the antiquities market. Although controversy surrounds this burial box, Genna found that the two patinas matched.
What this means is that if the tomb was discovered in 1980 as has been repeatedly stated, and the scientific evidence shows that the James Ossuary was in the same tomb, then there could NOT have been a photograph of the Ossuary dating back to 1976. Unless, of course there was something else going on in the area at that time that no one yet knows about.

The date of the photo is also significant legally because any antiquity discovered in Israel since the passage of the 1978 Antiquities Law belongs to the state.

The IAA refused yesterday to comment on the new finds and would say only that the matter was being dealt with by the state prosecutor.

The photos join experts in Israel and other countries who have tried to disparage the credibility of the IAA panel, in what the IAA at the time described as a well-orchestrated campaign backed by interested parties. The accusation was leveled against Hershel Shanks, the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, published in the U.S. Shanks' identification of the ossuary brought him credit worldwide. He funded the exhibition of the ossuary in a Toronto museum, from which money poured in from thousands of visitors to the organizers, including Shanks. Shanks has told Haaretz in the past that he is motivated by the desire to get to the truth in the matter.

Comment: Or motivated to assist in one of the greatest frauds of the century created to achieve political goals.

But it is the way the ossuary was found that seems to raise the most doubts. Golan, whose friends say his knowledge is "phenomenal," said that for years he did not realize that he had of the most important archaeological finds in the world on his shelf. When asked by Haaretz about this in an interview, he explained, "It didn't set off any bells, I am not an expert in Christian tradition."

Comment: Yeah, right. More on the subject that indicates that the new twist in Oded's trial, designed to support the new "Jesus Tomb" claims, may actually be a colossal blunder.

Jesus tomb claim sparks furor
Feb 26, 2007

Stuart Laidlaw
Faith and Ethics Reporter

Claims by a Canadian documentary filmmaker to have found not only the burial place of Jesus, but his DNA and evidence he had a son, are being dismissed as "fanciful and absurd" by both church leaders and archaeologists.

"I think this is more fanciful and absurd theorizing. Every Christian knows that Jesus, the son of God and man, died and rose again on Easter Sunday," said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Catholic church in New York, where details of the discovery will be unveiled this morning.

"No alleged DNA test or Hollywood film is going to change that," he told the New York Post.

Comment: Gads, the absurdity of the Christian argument. Well, can't say they didn't set themselves up for this!

The discovery could have profound implications 2,000 years after the boxes were placed in the ground, shaking the foundations of modern faith and raising Da Vinci Code-like speculation that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene.

Comment: Hmmm... Now we begin to get a clue as to why that trashy novel "The DaVinci Code" was given so much publicity by the Zionist controlled media. It was just "preparing the ground."

"It's mind-boggling. It's an altered reality," Toronto documentary director Simcha Jacobovici told the Star. The burial box of Jesus and one said to belong to Mary Magdelene will be on display at a press conference in New York City this morning to announce the $4 million documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The press conference is being held at the New York Public Library at 42nd St. and 5th Ave. at 11 a.m.

Jacobovici said the discovery should not shake anyone's belief in the resurrection of Jesus, saying he consulted several theologians in making the film.

"What convinced people in the New Testament of the resurrection was Jesus's appearances, not his disappearance from the tomb."

Traditional Christian belief holds that Jesus ascended bodily to heaven. More liberal interpretations of the Bible have allowed for a spiritual ascension.

"I am not a theologian. I didn't want to take anyone on," said Jacobovici, known as the Naked Archeologist for his TV show by that name.

The Lost Tomb airs on Discovery in the U.S. and on Channel 4 in the U.K. on Sunday, and March 6 in Canada on Vision TV. A book, The Jesus Family Tomb by Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino, is out this week. Titanic director James Cameron, executive producer of the documentary, wrote the introduction.

James Tabor, chair of religious studies at the University of North Carolina and an expert featured extensively in The Lost Tomb, said the discovery of the tomb could even strengthen the belief of anyone who doubted that Jesus even existed.

"To have a material link to Jesus ... is wonderful," he says. "It's an archeological dream."

Tabor, an experienced archeologist, says that as an academic he has seen enough to convince him of the evidence, but admits to some trepidation about claiming that the tomb of Jesus has been found.

"There's a part of you that says, it's too amazing. How can it be right?" Tabor told the Star.

Critics are already dismissing the documentary's claims.

"It's a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever," Amos Kloner, professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Kloner researched the tomb for the Israeli periodical Atiqot in 1996.

Comment: Thankfully, there are honest archaeologists, both Jewish and Christian, though it would certainly be better if they were all agnostic!

Jacobovici says there is nothing in the documentary that should offend devout Christians, since he does not argue that Jesus did not ascend to heaven, at least spiritually, as told in the Bible.

The tomb was unearthed in 1980 during construction of an apartment building and was first connected to the Jesus family in a 1996 BBC documentary. Jacobovici's documentary uses scientific methods, including DNA testing, statistical analysis and forensic examination, not available to the BBC 11 years ago.

The film and book follow years of growing interest in the private life of Jesus, fuelled by the 2003 Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code, made into a movie last year, in which Jesus is said to have married Mary Magdalene and had a daughter, sparking a centuries-long cover-up.

Comment: And, conveniently, the ossuary of the alleged child of the alleged Jesus and Mary Magdalene is a son, so we can now go on with endless speculations about the fate of the daughter.

The novel, denounced by church groups around the world, spawned a mini-industry speculating about the historical Jesus, his relationship to Mary and his family life. Church leaders, including the Pope, dismissed the book and movie as pure fiction.

Tabor, whose book The Jesus Dynasty last year raised many of the same questions as the documentary, says the film cannot be as easily dismissed as Brown's novel, even though it too suggests that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene.

"This is archeology. We got the casket. We've got the bones," he told the Star.

"I think we can say, in all probability, Jesus had this son, Jude, presumably through Mary Magdalene."

Comment: Oh, puhleeeeeeze....

DNA tests conducted for the documentary at Lakehead University on two ossuaries - one inscribed Jesus son of Joseph and the other Mariamne, or Mary - confirm that the two were not related by blood, so were probably married.

"Perhaps Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married as the DNA results from the Talpiot ossuaries suggest and perhaps their union was kept secret to protect a potential dynasty - a secret hidden through the ages," narrator Ron White says over re-enacted scenes of a happy Jesus and Mary home life.

"A secret we just may be able to uncover in the holy family tomb."

The tomb was found in the Talpiot neighbourhood of Jerusalem during the construction of an apartment building in 1980.

Archeologists were given three days to document the tomb and excavate it for treasures.

Inside, they found 10 ossuaries and three skulls. Six ossuaries had names etched into them - Jesus son of Joseph, Judah son of Jesus, Maria, Mariamne, Joseph and Matthew - all Jesus family names.

Comment: What kinds of tests - including DNA - have been done on the skulls?

At the time, however, the inscriptions raised few alarms.

These were, after all, very common names at the time of Jesus. Besides, with all the construction around Jerusalem at the time, it was a boom time for uncovering tombs, and the Israeli Antiquities Authority could barely keep up.

Any connection to the holy family was not made until 15 years later, when a BBC crew researching an Easter special stumbled across the collection in a storage room belonging to the Israeli Antiquities Authority. They immediately began work on a new program, based on the tomb, which aired a year later.

Comment: As a previous report indicates, they didn't "stumble" across the collection, they were "led to it" deliberately and slyly.

That show, aired as part of the BBC's acclaimed Heart of the Matter newsmagazine, was dismissed by Biblical scholars as "laughable" for suggesting, as Jacobovici does, that the tomb was that of Jesus Christ's family.

Today, Kloner and others still argue that the names were so common that there is no significance to them being found in a tomb.

"The names that are found on the tombs are names that are similar to the names of the family of Jesus," he conceded.

"But those were the most common names found among Jews in the first centuries."

In The Lost Tomb, however, University of Toronto statistician Andre Feuerverger calculates that while the names are common, the chances of them being found together are 600 to one.

His conclusion is based on a few assumptions: that the Maria on one of the ossuaries is the mother of the Jesus found on another box, that Mariamne is his wife and that Joseph (inscribed as the nickname Jose) is his brother.

As the documentary tells us, there is reason to make these assumptions.

Maria is the Latin form of Mary, and is how Jesus's mother was known after his death as more Romans became followers. Mariamne is the Greek form of Mary. Mary Magdelene is believed to have spoken and preached in Greek. Jose was the nickname used for Jesus' little brother.

Comment: So, we have a Mary in Latin and a Mary in Greek. The explanations as to why these two forms of the names appear in a 1st century Jewish tomb are not just weak, they are laughable. It is far more likely that the two forms were used because the two women were nationals of those countries: one a Roman, one a Greek (assuming any authenticity to the whole thing to begin with.) And who says that "Jose" was the nickname of Jesus' little brother?

As well, the Talpiot Tomb is the only place where ossuaries have ever been found with the names Mariamne and Jose, even though the root forms of the name were very popular and thousands of ossuaries have been unearthed.

This is not, however, the first time a Jesus ossuary has been found. The first was in 1926.

Another famous ossuary, inscribed James son of Joseph brother of Jesus, is also featured in the documentary.

Forensic testing of the patina on the Jesus ossuary and that of James conclude that they came from the same tomb - seemingly proving the authenticity of the often-questioned James ossuary and further increasing the likelihood that it is the tomb of the holy family.

Comment: Actually, quite the opposite. Since it is clear that the James Ossuary is highly questionable, and the means of its "release" to the public is also very suspicious (and not just from the point of view of antiquities fraud), then the taint on the James Ossuary falls also on the "Jesus Tomb"

Feuerverger calculates for Jacobovici that if James is added to the equation, there is a 30,000 to one chance that the Talpiot Tomb belonged to the holiest families in Christendom.

The documentary speculates that the James ossuary was stolen shortly after the tomb was found.

Comment: Or was deliberately handed over to a known antiquities forger for a very specific purpose: to learn how to create the ultimate fraud.

The archeologists examining the tomb 26 years ago found 10 ossuaries, but only nine are in storage at the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

Comment: Ah, that adds to the data collection. So far, no one has mentioned the missing Ossuary, only the "empty space," with the reader left to think that there might have been 11, total. It is then, even more probable that the James Ossuary came from this tomb and that the fraud was created deliberately to "test the waters."

In The Lost Tomb, it is alleged that the James ossuary is that missing box.

But there is one wrinkle that is not examined in the documentary, one that emerged in a Jerusalem courtroom just weeks ago at the fraud trial of James ossuary owner Oded Golan, charged with forging part of the inscription on the box.

Former FBI agent Gerald Richard testified that a photo of the James ossuary, showing it in Golan's home, was taken in the 1970s, based on tests done by the FBI photo lab. The trial resumes tomorrow.

Jacobovici conceded in an interview that if the ossuary was photographed in the 1970s, it could not then have been found in a tomb in 1980.

But while he does not address the conundrum in the documentary, he said in an interview that it's possible Golan's photo was printed on old paper in the 1980s.

Comment: Or it is a stupid mistake that may lead to the exposure of the entire hoax.

But, none of this is a surprise. Douglas Reed stated in Controversy of Zion that one of the planks of the Zionist platform was the destruction of Christianity. This looks like the beginning of the end.

And that's not to say that Christianity, as it is formulated and promulgated is even close to truth.

One thing is certain: it is going to be interesting. All the Christian Zionists have long had in mind that they would support Israel and then convert the Jews and those they can't convert will be "lost" in the Armageddon they intend to initiate.

Meanwhile, the Zionists are moving forward with their plan to destroy Christianity so that they can "rule the nations with a rod of iron." And since the Zionists have more "gung ho" as in control of the media, though they are statistically fewer in population, the outcome is anybody's guess.

Welcome to Bizarro World.