James, the brother of Jesus
From non-believing brother to early Christian leader

The James Ossuary

The James Ossuary serves as physical evidence for the Christian faith. On the ancient casket, an epitaph written in the Aramaic language refers to the New Testament character, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." James, the brother of Jesus, was a prominent leader of the early Christians.

Imagine the impact of finding physical evidence that supports Jesus is the Messiah! To a believing Christian, this news makes them happy. But to people who do not accept Jesus as Messiah, the news may bring about icy feelings, even resentment that someone would actually accept the validity of such a discovery. This report investigates the available factual evidence based on scholarly examination and scientific analysis as well as opposing viewpoints about the archaeological discovery.

How does the discovery of James ossuary support the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? Is this discovery valid based on scholarly and scientific grounds? Why do people of non-Christian faiths view this discovery so negatively? Are there other archaeological discoveries that support the validity of the Christian faith?

How the James' Ossuary Supports Jesus' Bodily Resurrection

Jesus had younger brothers and sisters. The gospels written by Matthew and Mark give the family members as James, Joseph, Simon and Judas as well as mentioning that Jesus had at least two sisters (Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3). James was probably the second child of Joseph and Mary. So James was very close to Jesus as they grew up together.

However, the New Testament clearly shows that as James was growing up, he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, all of Jesus' brothers rejected their brother as being the Messiah or even that Jesus was a prophet. For example, Mark writes, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household" (Mark 6:4).

A more detailed version of James rejecting Jesus as the Messiah is found in the gospel of John. Six months before Jesus was crucified, the gospel of John records that Jesus' brothers did not believe in him. "Jesus brothers said to him," You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him" John 7:3-5).

This conversation between Jesus and his brothers occurred in the autumn, 6 months before Jesus' crucifixion since John records, "the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near" (John 7:2). The Feast of Tabernacles always occurs in September or October whereas the Passover (crucifixion time) occurs in the months of March or April. In addition, the time of this conversation relative to the crucifixion can be found. John's gospel records three Passovers during Jesus' ministry. Two of these Passovers are mentioned before the conversation between Jesus and his brothers (See John 2:13 and 6:4). So the conversation of Jesus' brothers ridiculing him recorded in John 7:3-5 occurs 6-months before Jesus' crucifixion that is recorded in John 11:55 to the end of the gospel.

Since Jesus' brothers rejected him 6-months before the crucifixion, then they would have continued to reject him when he was crucified. Why did James, the brother of Jesus, come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament prophets?

The biblical answer according to the Apostle Paul is that Jesus appeared to James after the crucifixion event as the resurrected Messiah.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ (Messiah) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." (I Corinthians 15:3-8).

According to the Apostle Paul, after Jesus arose from the dead he appeared to James in person. Where did the Apostle Paul get his information?

Paul writes that he met James in person. "Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother" (Galatians 1:19).

In addition, Paul refers to James as a pillar of the early Christians.

"James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me" (Galatians 2:9).

The gospels portray a sudden change in James' understanding and acceptance of Jesus based on the supernatural resurrection of his brother.

James became the leader of the early Christians at Jerusalem. New Testament writers show James was present at the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14). He is mentioned as being a church leader in Acts 12:17, 15:13, and 21:18. So prominent was James as leader of the early church that his younger brother Jude refers to him. "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James" (Jude 1:1).

James' witness to the world ended with his martyrdom. According to the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, James was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin under the leadership the High Priest, Ananus, who was a Sadducee around 62 CE [Antiquities 20:9:1 Search for "THE BROTHER OF JESUS" on the linked site"]. James' final witness to the world was his willingness to defend the Christian faith and die as a martyr.

James, who witnessed the resurrected Jesus, was transformed from a sarcastic non-believing younger brother to a faithful witness that willingly died for his faith in Messiah. What a dramatic story of personal change! We have credible viewpoints by the secular author, Josephus, as well as six Apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Jue, and Paul. (Just like James, Paul was a non-believer who changed from a persecutor of Christians to a renowned Apostle based on a supernatural meeting with the resurrected Messiah). The recent discovery of the James ossuary supports the credible viewpoints of the referenced six authors above.

Additional support for Jesus being the resurrected Messiah comes from the Einstein Method. Using this analytical approach for studying Daniel's 70-weeks prophecy begs the question, "How is it possible for a human being to go to Jerusalem before its destruction in 70 CE, perform a death wish to prove himself as Messiah (Daniel 9:26: Messiah to be killed), and remain a successful Messiah?"

Daniel's 70-weeks infers that a supernatural event has to take place for the Messiah to be a success. A normal human being performing a death wish will undoubtedly fail.

Since the Einstein Method supports that humanity has received spiritual truth from outside time-space (at the 99.94% confidence level), we would expect to find archaeological evidence supporting the story of the resurrected Messiah. The James ossuary appears to be one more artifact that supports the biblical viewpoint.

Secular Evidence About James as Jesus' Brother

Discovery of the James ossuary brings to the forefront the question of Jesus as being the Messiah. It is very simple. We have more archaeological evidence to support the Jesus story.

But another source other than the Bible and the James' ossuary has already ensured that we knew of James, the brother of Jesus. Josephus, a non-Christian historian, wrote about James' martyrdom that occurred sometime in the year 62 CE in Jerusalem. So a non-Christian historian supports the biblical story. Now we can take what Josephus revealed about James as a martyr and add the evidence of the James' ossuary. The story is even more credible.

Finally, the Einstein Method brings this information into sharp focus and supports that humanity has received spiritual truth from outside time-space (at the 99.94% confidence level). Discovery of artifacts like the James' ossuary are expected based on such high levels of confidence.

 

Is the Ossuary Genuine or a Fraud?

To begin, both scholarly analysis and scientific investigation of the ancient inscription confirm that it is authentic and comes from the year 63 AD. Andrẻ Lemaire, a world renowned leading epigrapher (specialist in inscriptions) examined the ossuary in person. Lemaire has detailed knowledge about the shape and stance of first century (Herodian-era) Hebrew and Aramaic letters. Lemaire concluded that the James inscription is "genuinely ancient and not a fake."(1)

To support his conclusions with other sources, Lemaire had the ossuary examined by the Geological Survey of Israel laboratory. Two scientists performed in-depth analysis of the ossuary for several reasons.

First, the stone material out of which the ossuary is made was analyzed. The scientists concluded that the material was taken from a Jerusalem area quarry that was used for ossuary production during the 1st and 2nd centuries.(2)

Second, the scientists examined the stone and the material residues (called patina) that collect over time using magnifying lenses. They observed that the patina had a gray to beige color as well as a cauliflower shape (most likely when observed under magnification) that occurs in a cave environment. Most important, the scientists made note that the patina material was distributed both on the surface of the ossuary as well as within the letters except for several letters that had been cleaned.(3)

Comment: It is important to note that the even distribution of the patina verifies that the inscription had not been tampered with or that it is a modern day forgery.

To conclude the study, the scientists took samples of the stone material, the patina, and soil attached to the ossuary for chemical composition. For the patina, the "first two and last two letters of the inscription were analyzed(4) using a Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with EDS (Electron Dispersive Spectrometer).

Comment: If there were a difference between the chemical composition between the patina on the first two letters and the last two letters, the scientists would have made note of this difference.

The scientists concluded: "It is worth mentioning that the patina does not contain any modern elements (such as modern pigments) and it adheres firmly to the stone. No signs of the use of modern tool or instrument were found. No evidence that might detract from the authenticity of the patina and the inscription was found." (5)

To further support the authenticity, Biblical Archaeology Review magazine had the inscription examined by Father Joseph Fitzmyer. Father Fitzmyer is a world-renowned expert in 1st-century Aramaic and a pre-eminent Dead Sea Scroll editor that has edited a number of Aramaic texts from the scrolls. At first, Father Fitzmyer was troubled by the Aramaic spelling of the word "brother," which used four letters instead of the Hebrew method that uses two letters. Father Fitzmyer researched the spelling for "brother" in the Dead Sea Scrolls and found the same spelling (in the Genesis Apocryphon). Furthermore, another ossuary that refers to a "brother" used the same spelling. In conclusion, a modern day counterfeiter would have to know many intricate details of first century Aramaic to produce a counterfeit.(6)

Officials with Israel's Antiques Authority
Claim the James Ossuary is a Fake

Since the patina inside the first two letter and the last two letters was analyzed using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) equipped with EDS (Electron Dispersive Spectrometer), it is certain that any deviation between the letters would have been picked up. In the event that a deviation occurred, then it could be asserted that the letters about Jesus could have been added at a later time. However, the data showed that the letters were made at the same time in ancient history.

In response to the claim that this discovery most likely is the James, Jesus' brother, Israeli Archaeological Experts studied the box and proclaimed it to be a fake.

Based on the SEM-EDS analysis, the letters could not have been created in modern times. However, this is the claim of the so-called panel of experts. "Officials with Israel's Antiques Authority announced Wednesday that while the box may date from the correct era, the inscription is a forgery added at a much later date. 'The inscription appears new, written in modernity by someone attempting to reproduce ancient written characters,' the officials said in the statement."

Several questions need to be answered as follows:

  1. Are we to believe that a panel can come to a conclusion that is completely opposite to the test results of the SEM-EDS, a scientific instrument that only gives data, not opinions about authenticity?
  2. Why was the panel of experts made up of people that would only oppose the Christian faith? Perhaps the panel should be made of Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews: Messianic, Orthodox and Atheists, for a more objective analysis.
  3. The Officials with Israel's Antiques Authority have come to conclusions that appear to be preconceived since there is opposing technical information and the fact that SEM-EDS would have shown a difference between the beginning and ending letters. Certainly, scientists would trust the data from the SEM-EDS instead of preconceived beliefs. (This is a common problem with engineers and scientists working in a technical environment: making the data fit a person's viewpoint). If there were doubt about the SEM-EDS data, then another scientific system could be used to find out if the data is actually different. However, this has not been done.
  4. The panel of experts appears to contradict actual scientific data, which makes their position appear to be biased. I have to accept the SEM-EDS before I listen to a panel of people who did not use the data. (In support that the select group preconceived their decision, no one in this group is allowed to talk to people on the outside. Since the Einstein Method yields excellent confidence levels for the Christian faith, I can only wonder why the panel wants to keep silent)?

The hypothesis that the James ossuary is a modern day forgery is based on the idea that someone would be able to carve such intricate letters that would match methods and types from the 1st century. The forgery has to be so good that it fools the experts in the field of epigraphy (specialist in inscriptions).

To support the modern day forgery hypothesis, it is claimed that the forger would have used the book, "A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries," by L.Y. Rahmani, which requires a highly subjective interpretation. In contrast to opinion, the scientific instruments of high quality show the hypothesis is without technical support. I have taken my conclusions from the SEM-EDS report shown in Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov-Dec 2002 issue.(7).

If someone wants to bring a hypothesis forward to make such a claim, then scientific tests and analysis would be required to support their hypothesis. Clearly, this has not been done. However, let's test the modern day forgery hypothesis using the book, "A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries," by L.Y. Rahmani.

Investigate the Modern Day Forgery Hypothesis

The hypothesis that the James ossuary is a modern day forgery is based on the idea that someone would be able to carve intricate letters that would match letter types from the 1st century. The forgery would have to be so good that it would fool the experts in the field of epigraphy (specialist in inscriptions). To date, the epigrapher remains firm on the decision that the ossuary is authentic.

Is the hypothesis valid that someone carved letters based on the book, "A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries," by L.Y. Rahmani?

Below are photos of the letters carved into the ossuary shown side-by-side to the hypothesized letters that were used to replicate the ossuary inscription. Consider the hypothesis yourself and come to your conclusion instead of those from a biased individual.

Statement against the Ossuary: "The word 'Yaakov' (Jacob or James) has a suspiciously great resemblance in style to the same word found on ossuary Cat. No. 865 (p. 257)."

Below on the left are the referenced letters. On the right are the letters from the ossuary.

Catalog Item 865 (James)

Ossuary (James)

inscription of James Ossuary

Overlay (compare directly)

Actual Ossuary

inscription of James Ossuary

Would you personally be able to make the link from the catalog set to the actual ossuary?

Would the letters claimed to have been used for the modern day forgery have been modified enough to fool an expert epigrapher?

Furthermore, the spelling from the catalog does not match the ossuary since the 4th letter is not used. A very wide gap is seen between the 2nd and 3rd letter in the catalog compared to the ossuary. The details of the letters are very different and unique.


Statement against the Ossuary: "The word 'Yosef' (Joseph) is almost identical in spelling and style to the one on ossuary Cat. No. 573 (p. 201)."

Below on the left are the referenced letters. On the right are the letters from the ossuary.

Catalog Item 573 (Joseph)

Ossuary (Joseph)

Overlay (compare directly)

Actual Ossuary

I noticed that the details of the letters are very unique. Would you personally be able to make the link from the catalog set to the actual ossuary?

Could you fool an expert epigrapher using this example?


Statement against the Ossuary: "the word 'Achui' (the brother of) is almost a replica in style and spelling of the same word on ossuary Cat. No. 570 (p.200). I found that there is no other documented inscription with such an unusual word."

Below on the left are the referenced letters. On the right are the letters from the ossuary.

Catalog Item 570 (brother of)

Ossuary (brother of)

Overlay (compare directly)

Actual Ossuary

Once again, I noticed that the details of the letters are very unique. Would you personally be able to make the link from the catalog set to the actual ossuary?

One last thing. The catalog shows that the last letter for "brother of" had to be assumed or that it is reconstructed. Brackets are used in the catalog. Why wasn't this mentioned?

Could you fool an expert epigrapher using this example?

The evidence for the hypothesis that the James Ossuary is a modern day forgery appears to be highly subjective and unlikely. Especially when the scientific instruments showed no deviation between the first two letters and the last two letters. Most people will agree with this assessment.

Objective Conclusion

Christians are biased to the positive side for the James Ossuary

Jewish people are biased to the negative side for the James Ossuary

The Hypothesis that the James ossuary is a modern day forgery reveals complete bias based on the details of the letters in the catalog compared to the ossuary.


Since the Einstein Method supports that humanity has received words from outside time-space (at the 99.94% confidence level), we expect to find archaeological evidence supporting the analysis. The James ossuary is just one of many artifacts that support the analysis.

People may choose to reject the analysis based on preconceived world views, but the evidence is very sound based on substantial evidence presented on various pages on this website.


References:

  1. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, p 24-33.
  2. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, p 28.
  3. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, Ibid, p 29, Letter dated 17/9/2002 from The Ministry of National Infrastructures Geological Survey, State of Israel, signed by Dr. Amnon Rosenfeld and Dr. Shimon Ilani.
  4. Ibid, p 29.
  5. Article written by Steven H. Sanchez, Th.M, Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Seminary, "James Was Not a Midget!: Observations on a Visit to the James Ossuary Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum," who reveals that Hershel Shanks, Editor of BAR Magazine, had the first two and last two letters examined at the laboratory.
  6. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, Ibid, p 29, Letter dated 17/9/2002 from The Ministry of National Infrastructures Geological Survey, State of Israel, signed by Dr. Amnon Rosenfeld and Dr. Shimon Ilani.
  7. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, p 29.


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