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'2,000-year-old Jesus box'

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'2,000-year-old Jesus box' may not be a fake, as Jerusalem forgery trial nears collapses


Last updated at 12:55 AM on 30th October 2008

A judge is set to throw out charges against experts accused of faking a stone box that claimed to offer the first physical proof of the existence of Christ - raising the possibility once again that it could be genuine.

The discovery of the 2,000-year-old ossuary, or bone box, bearing the words, 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus', was regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries when it emerged nearly a decade ago.


Fake or genuine: Men accused of forging an inscription of the 'Jesus Box' could be released

But other experts decided the inscription on the 'priceless' limestone artefact had been added at a later date.

It was dismissed as a fake and Israeli authorities began criminal investigations.

But yesterday a three-year forgery trial in Israel was close to collapse, reopening the possibility it might indeed be the only tangible evidence for the life of Jesus.

Jerusalem judge Aharon Farkash told prosecutors trying Israeli collector Oded Golan: 'Have you really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that these artefacts are fakes as charged in the indictment?


The disputed inscription on the 'Jesus Box'

'The experts disagree among themselves.

'Where is the evidence to show that Oded Golan faked them?'

The 20-inch long empty box, apparently found near the Mount of Olives, was sold to Golan by an Arab antiquities dealer.

Golan was arrested and, with four others, charged in 2004 with 18 counts of forgery, fraud and damaging archaeological artefacts.

They were accused of taking valuable objects and adding inscriptions to massively increase their value.

Charges against two men were dropped and only Golan and antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch, the alleged leaders of the forgery ring, remain on trial. They deny all charges.


My opinion ... At first I thought the ossuary had been faked. However, I became somewhat agnostic after so many experts had trouble deciding -- and some of them did a complete about-face: going from con to pro (some of those experts being members of the IAA who, in the end, thought it a forgery!). Another factor was the Talpiot Tomb. If I remember correctly, the patina found on this ossuary matched those found in the Jesus tomb -- the Talpiot Tomb. That evidence was entered in to court for the defense. I have to wonder how much that played into the outcome of this trial? Most intriguing.

Here's a little more background on the ossuary from the book The Jesus Family Tomb (pages 49+):

The Jesus Family Tomb



Most kindly,


Edited by seanph

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I think you have to step back and look at the big picture, there are 18 counts of fraud in this case.

If it can be demonstrated that these people had a history of "modifying" artifacts to increase their resale value,

what does that say about the chances of the "Jesus Box" being genuine?

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Do other, similar, artifacts from this time regularly list all the direct male relatives (and only the male relatives) of the owner/occupier? Was Jesus the only brother of James?

While I have no reason to doubt the find I am skeptical as I consider the inscription terribly convenient.

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I think it's great if it's genuine. But lets face it. If people don't accept Christ now, finding the sarcophagus of his brother is not going to change much. IMO.

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I've been reading about this from different sources, which of course gives different perspectives. Going by what I've read here's what I think at the moment.

For one thing it was said that the the box was owned by someone who had no ide of it's significant. So some believe that who ever had it (Antique dealer if you will) used chemical solutions to clean it and this could have an effect on their observation of it and it's genuineness. I'm not expert but that basically means that what they did to it made it harder, if not impossible, to run some tests on it to find out if it's faked or not. Another argument is that the "Brother of Jesus" part of the inscription is angled differently then the first part. This could indeed be proof of being faked but there are other explanation for this too. The position of the inscription makes me wonder about that. It's in a corner and the end may have been angled differently to be able to fit it on there before running into the edge of the box. I hope that makes sense.

But we do know where it turned up: in the Tel Aviv apartment of Oded Golan, an Israeli entrepreneur, amateur pianist, and one of the world's biggest collectors of biblical antiquities. He says he bought the ossuary from an Arab dealer in the 1970s and never thought twice about the inscription, because, as a Jew, he knew nothing about Jesus.

"I didn't know at the time at all the Jesus had any siblings," says Golan, who says he had the ossuary for more than 25 years and didn't know the potential significance of it.

It was only in 2002, Golan says, that an eminent scholar happened to see the ossuary at his home and told him what the writing could mean. Golan sprung into action. He had the box scrutinized by specialists in different fields. They were impressed. So Golan shipped it off to Toronto for its unveiling before a colloquium of archaeologists, who gave it their undivided attention.

Another thought is that Jesus, James and Joseph where very popular names at that time. As was Mary. Judah was a known name but not as popular as the rest of them. These are the names in that Tomb. This to me is very interesting.

Here's what I think will become of all this.

-Some will believe it to be genuine no matter what is proven or disproven (Hence the essence of religious belief).

-Some, such as I, will find it very interesting and could indeed prove that the Jesus that is so often brought up in the bible was indeed a real person and that the book had his family tree somewhat correct. But this by no means proves the bible is correct about him. It, to me anyway, would make it a "Based on" story. As in based on Jesus but very embellished. (A modern example of this kind of establishment would be the movie "The sixth Sense" which is based on a real boy but doesn't contain many truth about him and made to look more paranormal then the real boy is).

-Other people are going to take this as absolute proof that every single word in the bible is now proven to be fact.

- Lastly, many will think it's all fake and discard it.

So, I'm left to wonder if this is going to be yet another things to fight about when it comes to religion.

Edited by MagicJaxon

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Paranoid Android

If it's real, I would actually be quite surprised. That there would be any physical evidence left of a man who started a minor revolution and died at the hands of the ruling parties would be quite a sight. It was only after Jesus was dead and buried (and resurrected, if you believe the Bible) that the Jesus-movement became popular. What physical evidence is likely to show up with this? Perhaps Jesus as a carpenter might have made a few wooden crosses to sell at the markets on Friday morning's.

If it turns out to be real, all well and good - at least it would put the jesusneverexisted.com (and other such sites/books) rubbish to the sword. If it doesn't, then no big problem - there is still more than enough supporting evidence to acknowledge that at the very least there was a real-life figure named Jesus who reportedly did strange deeds and feats. Whether you actually believe the Bible's accounts of him being a miracle-worker though, that is up to the individual. This box wouldn't change that one way or the other.

~ Regards, PA

Edited by Paranoid Android

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