I just got done reading this article about the Oded Golan trial. The point of fascination is that Golan mentions a picture taken in the 1970s of some shelves inside the home of Golan’s parents. The photograph shows the now-famous James ossuary — with the complete “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” inscription. The authenticity of the photograph was vouched for by an FBI photo analysis expert (from the USA, naturally).
I was unaware of this photograph. I find it persuasive. It seems very solid proof that the full inscription is not faked, but authentic. The article describes attempts by the prosecution to argue the photo was faked, but the thinking is quite strained (and I’m willing to bet the FBL guy knew what he was doing). This would mean that the suspicious patina issues surrounding the inscription must have some other explanation (I am still not satisfied at all with the current defense of the inscription on that point).
The photo also means something else: The James ossuary cannot have come from the “Jesus Family tomb.” That tomb was discovered on March 28, 1980, according to Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who investigated the find at the behest of the Israeli Antiquities Authority.1 If the “Jesus Family Tomb” was discovered in 1980 but this photograph of the James ossuary is from the 1970s, the James ossuary has no connection to that tomb.
- See p. 15 of Amos Kloner, “A tomb with inscribed ossuaries in east Talpiyot,” Jerusalem. Atiquot 29 (Jerusalem):15-22. ↩
Glad to see you thinking in this way Michael. I have been urging folks to read Golan’s piece at Bibleinterp.com for months, which has even more detail, have you looked at it: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/authjam358012.shtml. So far I have not seen evidence that any of our colleagues who continue to regularly trash this inscription have taken seriously the evidence that Mr. Golan summarizes. At the top of the bibleinterp.com site right now is a heading that lists a number of other articles on the subject, several of which I would recommend, especially on the question of whether this ossuary might have come from the Talpiot tomb. I should also point out that our book, The Jesus Discovery, has a complete chapter on this subject. We reproduce the photo and discuss the dating question and all other relevant evidence, see for example, again at bibleinterp.com: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/JOT.shtml and http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/kilell358029.shtml.
Let me ask you something Michael. If you became persuaded that the James ossuary was from the Talpiot “Jesus tomb” would that sway you to be more open to a consideration that this is indeed the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth–we would then have all three brothers who died before 70CE buried together. Is theology a factor here for you–just asking, as I don’t know about that aspect of your approach. I know, that many scholars in Biblical studies who are so strongly opposed to even a possible identification of the Talpiot tomb with Jesus of Nazareth, believe his physical body was raised up, transformed, and taken to heaven–so by default, there can be NO Jesus tomb, period–other than an empty one. I have no idea if you are in that camp or not.
Short answer – I would still need more patronyms; without them it still feels like guessing. I also think Goodacre’s note about Yoseh is valid. Then there is Jesus naming his son Judas, which (to be polite) strains credulity. And it just makes no sense to me that the NT story of the resurrection could have ever survived more than a few days if people in Jerusalem knew that Jesus and his relatives were buried there. How could that be a secret? It’s not like this tomb would have been out or sight.
These are real hurdles in my mind (both in terms of overstating data and logical coherence).
I’m wondering how the Talpiot A tomb is at all possible of the James ossuary was known several years before the Talpiot A tomb was discovered. That makes your hypothetical moot. Do you have any approach to that? (If it’s at the link you noted, let me know).
For a couple of reasons I’d be a skeptic of this James being related to Biblical Jesus even if the ossuary was found after 1980:
1) James was martyred according to Josephus and it seems possible to me the murderers would not have allowed him a “proper burial” such as this.
2) There’s a book written by an Israeli researcher circa 2003 who did a name study of Palestinian Jewish names in that era and James,Joseph and Jesus were among the most popular names of the era, so I would expect to see “of Nazareth” after Jesus if this James were related to Biblical Jesus.
That’s common in the Gospel texts, the writers knew when to do that and when it wasn’t needed for rare names for differentiation.
Here’s a video on this subject:
““Oded Golan has owned the ossuary since the late 1970s; he proved this with old photographs authenticated by an ex-FBI agent as using paper no longer used at a later date.”
That paper was: “Kodak Polycontrast rapid RC paper, exp 3/76 F|mw”
I’ve maintained scientific information presented by the most eminent and authoritative scientists in this case in my website (www.netzarim.co.il), in our History Museum pages. This information corroborates almost everything you’ve written–with one glaring exception that, as far as I know, was never brought up in the trial and no one seems to have noticed: I discovered with a quick internet search that, in 2006.06.21 (and perhaps still today) I could buy Kodak Polycontrast rapid RC paper, exp 3/76 F|mw at http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/28987-old-photographic-paper.html#post320858.
Mr. Golan’s claim stems from the fact that if Oded Golan had obtained possession of the Yaaqov Ossuary after 1978 then it would belong to the State of Israel, not Mr. Golan. Indeed, Prof. Krumbein certified that, at some time in the distant (not recent) past, the Yaaqov Ossuary had been exposed to the elements for a period of two centuries. Comparisons of the patina, etc. demonstrated that the Yaaqov ossuary originally came from the Talpiot Tomb complex in which the ossuaries of Ribi Yehoshua and some of his immediate family were discovered in 1980.
The implication is clear: the Yaaqov ossuary–IAA 80-509, like the other ossuaries of the Talpiot Tomb, was discovered in 1980 and came into his possession thereafter. The “old” photographic paper, which I was able to find in 2006, was Mr. Golan’s attempt to claim an earlier ownership to prevent ownership of the ossuary from passing to the State of Israel.
Further details in our History Museum pages can be found at http://www.netzarim.co.il by clicking on our History Museum (in the navigation panel at left), then click on “Mashiakh” in the menu that appears at the top of the page. Then scroll down to the “???? ?? ???? [????] ?????” ossuary and click on the “Burning Issues: Ya·aqov Ossuary Update: 2008.03.04? button.”
Comment entirely by Paqid Yirmeyahu ben David, Raanana, Israel
So, if I am following, you are saying that the basis for the FBI analyst’s conclusion that the photo was authentic (this Kodak paper) is flawed — that it could be obtained today and used to take a photograph post-1980?
Secondly, the article mentioned that there was *some* rebuttal offered to Golan’s claim that the photo was PRE-1980, but that rebuttal did not include the fact that one could buy this paper after 1980 and even now? This seems hard to believe — how could a photo expert not know that so it was part of the trial discussion?
Elliot and Kelty claim that the patina from the James Ossuary places it in the talpiot tomb. They say it was probably removed from the tomb earlier, but the patina matches so it has to be from the same place. Is that always the case?
This would not be possible if the photo was pre-1980, which was the point of this post. Amazing how convoluted and detailed this all gets.
It seems the general idea, is that Talpiot A was broken into years earlier (maybe 200 some) and the ossuary was moved. That would account for the extra wear and pitting on the ossuary. The study Pellegrino did on the James Ossuary claims that they compared the geochemical footprint of 14 different tombs and Talpiot A was the only one that had a match on the chemicals. The study does not mention the tomb where Golan claimed to have found it. That might have been one of the 14, but the article does not specify it.
Let’s assume for a moment that the photo is genuine and that the ossuary has been sitting on a shelf since the 1970’s. How does this prove that the whole inscription is genuine?
I have no particular vested interest in whether it is or not. Even if it is, it still doesn’t prove that these are the bones of the biblical James. I’m just curious, if there is genuine reason to suspect forgery based on the physical evidence, why this photo changes anything? It might prove that someone else faked it, or that it was faked back in the 70’s… but how does it prove that it was not faked at all?
technically it doesn’t – it could still have been faked back in the 1970s. Or so logic would allow that. It seems off, if that were the case, that the ossuary would only have been put to public eye more recently. But that in turn begs the question of why, if the inscription was real back in the 1970s, it didn’t become famous back then. The only “answer” seems to be that it was in the hands of a private collector (Golan) who didn’t care to make it a public thing.
I’m starting to think any sort of certainty on this is hopeless.
The claim concerning the patina on the James ossuary and the connection to Talpiot was investigated by A. Rosenfeld and his colleagues, not Elliott and Kilty http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/JOT.shtml We commented on what the impact of the discovery would be on the calculations regarding the names in the Talpiot tomb. As for Jesus naming his son Judas, we find the arguments against that as approaching apologetics. As visionary as Jesus was we are doubtful that he would have avoided naming a son Judas because in the future he would be betrayed by a disciple named Judas. As for Goodacre’s comments on Talpiot, we do not find his arguments convincing that Yoseh should always be regarded as Joseph and as some are now indicating Yosi. After all, the family chose Yoseh as the name to be inscribed on the ossuary, not Joseph or Yosi. Goodacre points to the change from Joses in Mark to Joseph in Matthew as evidence for why Joses should be always regarded as Joseph.The Greek spelling of Joses in Mark is very rare, which we believe is an attempt to recognize the distinctive use Yoseh, the name on the ossuary .Matthew changed the name to Joseph, a name he was more familiar with. He had no real insight concerning the name of Jesus’ brothers. We doubt he ever met anyone who actually knew all the names of Jesus’ family. He simply relied on Mark. As with most of Mark, Matthew rewrites and changed the gospel to suit his theological understanding of Jesus. We see no reason why Matthew’s Joseph should have priority over Mark’s Joses. If we are mistaken then someone needs to explain the rare use of Joses by Mark. Why the use of that form?
I don’t find this response substantive. Goodacre has shown the synoptic material (which is quite clear) shows the interchange of the name forms. It’s plain as day. He’s a recognized expert on the synoptics, so I’m pretty sure your suggestion hasn’t escaped him. And since is noting an incongruity apologetics? The oddity of Jesus naming his son Judas is about having a firm grasp on the obvious. It would be just as incongruous for Jefferson Davis to name his son “Lincoln”, or Winston Churchill to name his son “Adolf”, etc. This has nothing to do with apologetics. It’s about taking the NT story of Jesus at face value (he was betrayed by a guy named Judas) and noting the utter incongruity of naming a son after him.
Funny how the NT story is taken at face value when it scores points for an “alternative” reconstruction, but not in something so obviously incongruous as this. I wonder why that is.
Well it’s not like he named his son after he was betrayed, that is if this Judas is really Jesus’ son. But I think Mark Goodacre is spot on, it seems strange to me that the whole reason anyone is excited over this is that some of the names we have collaborate very well with the NT but in places where the evidence is silent or contradictory we feel the need to disregard it.
As for the question regarding Jesus’ marriage is concerned, that is if he ever was, didn’t males married later in life than did women? In Greece I know, men usually married after they were grown and had some means of providing whereas women married as soon as they were able to reproduce. So if Jesus decided at some point that he was going to over ride his duty to procreate with his duty to serve God [as is typical of Jesus, contrasting imperatives I mean] then the hypothesis that Jesus was celibate his whole life retains its validity. Not that the possibility that Jesus was married is impossible but considering that they are never mentioned, whereas his mother and brothers are, and that celibacy was a legitimate way of showing devotion to God back then. It would seem to me that caution rather than boldness is the way to go.
Huh? Is your theory that if Jesus had a son, the son was born in the last week of his life? Prior to that, he had no reason to believe he’d be betrayed by Judas. Besides which, he was Jewish, and the name Judas is a common name that would have been perceived primarily as a way of expressing loyalty to Judea. It would be like Jefferson Davis having a son in 1850 and naming him William, despite the fact that William Tecumseh Sherman would one day be the man whose troops tracked him down and captured him – utterly unsurprising in other words.
uh, no… the point was the incongruence of the naming.