Will the IAA Return the James Ossuary to Oded Golan?

The IAA is scheduled to return the ossuary inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” to collector Oded Golan.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is scheduled to return the famous ossuary, or bone box, inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” to Oded Golan, the Israeli collector who owns it, after a five-year trial charging that he forged the Jesus reference in the inscription.*

In March 2012, the trial judge Aharon Farkash acquitted Oded Golan of the forgery charge. Stung by the verdict, state prosecutor Dan Bahat (not the eminent Israeli archaeologist of the same name) mounted an appeal of some aspects of the verdict, but not the James Ossuary. The government apparently accepted as final the judge’s decision regarding the ossuary. On July 18, Bahat’s superiors in the office of the State’s Attorney announced to the Israel Supreme Court that it was withdrawing the appeal on other aspects of the verdict.

The state is still asking the Supreme Court to confiscate several hundred other objects taken from Golan’s collection, including the Yehoash tablet, which, if authentic, would be the only known royal Israelite (actually, Judahite) inscription. It describes repairs to the Temple. But the government is not asking to confiscate the James Ossuary. Apparently, it intends to return it to Golan.

A hearing before the Supreme Court is scheduled for July 31 to consider the government’s request to confiscate the Yehoash inscription and other items from Golan’s collection. But this does not include the James Ossuary.

Editor’s note: Earlier today, acquitted trial co-defendant Robert Deutsch wrote on the Ancient Near East-2 message board that the prosecutors remained only with the effort to “confiscate the [Yehoash] tablet and the ossuary together with some 280 items out of the 3000 artifacts from Golan’s collection, which were taken 9 years ago as evidence for the court.” This is inaccurate – the ossuary is not included among the objects still under request for confiscation.

*See Hershel Shanks, “Brother of Jesus” Inscription Is Authentic!BAR July/August 2012.

For more information on the James Ossuary and the forgery trial, visit the Bible History Daily James Ossuary Forgery Trial Resources Guide page, featuring over one dozen links on the trial and artifacts.

Download the FREE eBook James, Brother of Jesus: The Forgery Trial of the Century.

Posted in Artifacts and the Bible, Cultural Heritage, News.

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14 Responses

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  1. Diego says

    To this day, we have heard so many conflicting stories. It’s hard to tell… is the ossuary a fake or not in the end?

  2. Eliyahu says

    Diego is not paying attention or is a mouth piece for the xtians.

  3. Eliyahu says

    Not sure why there is no comments section in the “Brother of J-sus, Inscription is Authentic,” article. If H. Shanks really thinks that these finds have eternal significance, it is time he stops playing to the English speaking crowd. He needs to use the Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua and not J-sus. J-sus the Anglo/Greek/Roman word will always mean the anti-Torah, anti-Jewish, moniker of a religion that Yeshua/Yehoshua a man that scholarship, and now science and archaeology has proven to be completely Hebrew/Israeli/Jewish and Torah observant.

    If not, he should apologize to Meyers and the rest who continue posing as scholars but show unmitigated arrogance when the facts reveal their patronage to deceit. What is more deceitful as portraying a dead man as something he was not?

  4. Eliyahu says

    Sorry that was not well written.

    He needs to use the Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua and not J-sus. J-sus the Anglo/Greek/Roman word will always mean the anti-Torah, anti-Jewish, moniker of a religion that Yeshua/Yehoshua was not a part of. Yehoshua was a man that scholarship, and now science and archaeology have proven to be completely Hebrew/Israeli/Jewish and Torah observant.

  5. Benjamin says

    Eliyahu~ What exactly is your complaint about people using the name of Jesus? The Christian Scriptures that are the best primary source about Jesus were written in Koine Greek. The Hebrew/Aramaic name Yeshua/Yohoshua translates to Ἰησοῦς or Iēsous in Greek. The name Jesus is the English translation of the Greek form Ἰησοῦς/Iēsous which is the same name as Yeshua/Yehoshua. Whether a person uses Yeshua/Yohoshua, Jesus or Ἰησοῦς/Iēsous, they are speaking of the same person. The “religion” Christianity is very much a part of Yeshua/Yehoshua because he is the focus of Christianity. The very name of Christianity exists due in part the worship and recognition of Jesus Christ or Yeshua/Yohoshua Mashiyach as the divine Son of God. The name Jesus Christ or Ἰησοῦς/Iēsous Χριστός/Christos and Yeshua/Yohoshua Mashiyach translate to YHWH or Yahweh (God) is Salvation, the Anointed One. No one in Christianity disputes that Jesus Christ or Yeshua/Yohoshua Mashiyach was not a man who was not Hebrew/Israeli/Jewish and Torah observant. Christianity has always affirmed that and it is through Jesus Christ or Yeshua/Yohoshua Mashiyach that the writings of Torah and the Prophets were fulfilled and the Abrahamic Covenant was also fulfilled by blessing all nations through the seed of Abraham (Genesis 26:4).

  6. MR says

    Regarding the contraversy around this ossuary, everybody may be barking up the wrong tree.
    The three names, James, Joseph and Jesus (the English translations) were possibly all
    common names in the nation of Judea over the centuries of Roman rule. Christians assume
    there was only one Jesus, and the ties to Joseph and James may seem to make the
    connection even more secure. But are they really? Of all the hundreds of Josephs in the
    land if Israel during the time of the Christians’ Christ, are we positive that there could not have been several or more who could have had two sons with the names James and Jesus?
    I haven’t heard this issue discussed, even though I’ve been reading the BAR for years, and
    remember the first reporting of the ossuary.
    I believe that Christians are so anxious to finally prove the existance and influence of
    the founder of their religion, that they will believe nearly any strand of proof that He is not
    a composite of several men of that period, all of whom were preachers (prophets) in the
    land of Judea during Roman rule.

  7. Diana says

    Well said Benjamin and Stanley come on! It is not just the names but the three names together AND the period that the ossuary comes from, the era, the year.

  8. Larry says


    I agree 100%. A wise person once said the devil is in the details. Yes James, Joseph and Jesus were common names. But combined together? Yeah, right!
    And remember, certain people have been trying to bury Christianity since the very beginning. That mentality or “spirit” continues today.

  9. Brian says

    … it not only continues today, this faith continues 2000 years later, about the same length of period in time before the incarnation as when Abraham entered the land.

    The bone box isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. It’s telling HUMANITY something THEY don’t know, as did the ossuary of Caiaphas, the Mernapta tablets and other various steeles…… DUCK! Jesus is coming! (lol)

  10. Scott says

    The IAA would prefer to judge the ossuary a fake, given the name involved. The other artifacts do not concern that name and they want to keep them because they know full well, all those artifacts they took are legitimate. So call them fake and keep them as “evidence” and you don’t have to pay a handsome finder’s fee to Oded. How convenient. “legalized” stealing, me thinks.

  11. John says

    Don’t think anyone needs to prove the “existence” of Jesus of Nazareth. There are well know extra-biblical (e.g. Josephus for one) that do that. The influence of Jesus is self evident from world history “Anno Domini”.
    The importance of this artifact is for Roman Catholics who adhere to the dogma that Mary was/is “ever virgin” and had no other children by Joseph.

  12. JOSEPH says

    Shanks’ article on the ossuary is excellent, and shows that it is indeed reasonable to conclude that the box is authentic, and that it is quite likely that the James being referred to is the brother of Jesus (Y’shua).

    Remember, Shanks is a Jew, not a Christian, and has no personal reason to desire this to be authentic.

    As a Christian (and former atheist) I am always interested in these things. However, we don’t need the ossuary or shroud or any other relic. There are plenty of other credible evidences.

    Those who deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth expose themselves as fools. It is fair to question his divinity and his resurrection, but it is just plain stupid to question his existence. You have to completely ignore history to do so.

    to John – Catholics will affirm Mary’s prepetual virginity in spite of this. The bible itself names Jesus’ brothers, and refers to his sisters, and history (ante-Nicene writings and even Josephus) is filled with references to his siblings, and they still say “just cousins.” So this won’t make a difference – that theology is not likely to ever budge.

  13. Rolf says

    Is it not true that there is no actual word in Aramaic for “brother?”

Continuing the Discussion

  1. ArchaeoVenturers - Grandiose Archaeological Claims: Do they Help or Hurt the Discipline? linked to this post on July 2, 2014

    […] authenticity. Some dubious examples that come to mind are the Etruscan terracotta warriors, the James Ossuary, the Kensington Runestone, or more recently a British maritime archaeologist claiming to have found […]

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