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.
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.
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update.