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.

  1. See p. 15 of Amos Kloner, “A tomb with inscribed ossuaries in east Talpiyot,” Jerusalem. Atiquot 29 (Jerusalem):15-22.