BAR 41:05, Sep/Oct 2015
Predilections—Is the “Brother of Jesus” Inscription a Forgery?
We all have our predilections, BAR no less than those I write about here.
The massive effort to expose and condemn the ossuary inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” as a forgery ended with the acquittal of owner Oded Golan, but this effort has risen anew, enlisting a prominent American paleographer in the cause. From beginning to end, as we shall see, however, the effort to establish the forgery was motivated by predilections more than facts.
Although the ossuary inscription had been authenticated by an internationally respected paleographer (André Lemaire of the Sorbonne) and the ossuary (bone box) had been submitted for examination to the Geological Survey of Israel, which found no suggestion that the inscription was a forgery,a the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which is well known for its antipathy to antiquities collectors and the antiquities market, made the almost unprecedented decision to appoint a committee to study the inscription and report.b Their predilection was plain.