Alleged Ossuary of Apostle James Is Fake

JERUSALEM, JUNE 20, 2003 ( Israel’s Antiquities Authority says that the alleged ossuary of the bones of the Apostle James, stoned to death in A.D. 62, is a fake.

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The mortuary urn, which has the inscription «Jacob [that is, James], son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,» caught the attention of public opinion last November when the Biblical Archaeology Review took an interest in it.

The discovery created controversy, as some thought it would deny the position of the Catholic Church that Jesus was the Virgin Mary’s only child.

«The ossuary is real, but the inscription is fake,» Shuka Dorfman, the director of Israel’s Antiquities Authority, announced Wednesday, wire services reported. «What this means is that someone took the real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it religious significance.»

Gideon Avni, president of the Committee of Archaeologists who investigated the ossuary, told reporters that the conclusion was unanimous.

The urn belonged to Israeli Oded Golan, collector of antiquities, who purchased it in the 1970s. Last year, at Golan’s invitation, French epigraphist André Lemaire of the Sorbonne studied the ossuary, and concluded that it was authentic.

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