The Forgery Trial of the Century
After five years, the “forgery trial of the century” concluded in a Jerusalem courtroom and defendants Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch were acquitted of all major charges against them. In this collection of BAR articles, learn about the infamous James Ossuary and other alleged forgeries.
Amazing as it may sound, a limestone bone box (called an “ossuary”) has surfaced in Israel that may once have contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. We know this because an extraordinary inscription incised on one side of the ossuary reads in clear Aramaic letters: “James, son of Joseph, brother of […]
“By accident most strange,” Shakespeare reminds us in The Tempest, can come “bountiful Fortune.” So, it might be argued, was the case with the tragic accident in which the now-famous ossuary (bone box) inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” broke last fall on its way from Israel to Toronto for exhibit at […]
20 June 2003 [released July 16, 2003] To: Shuka Dorfman, Director-General, Israel Antiquities Authority The Committees’ Establishment and Selection of Members
Sorbonne paleographer André Lemaire recently analyzed in these pages the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) report that declared the James ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) to be a modern forgery.a Lemaire considered various aspects of the IAA report, such as paleography and orthography, and convincingly found the report deeply flawed. As […]
In all the hubbub and flurry of the verdict last March in the “forgery case of the century,” one question—the central question—seems to have gotten lost: Is the ossuary inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” genuine or not? And if it is, does it refer to Jesus of Nazareth? After all, “Jesus” […]
Mystery, politics, Biblical implications, gold—a newly surfaced inscription purporting to be by King Jehoash has it all. And it may be a forgery! If authentic, it would be the first royal inscription ever found of an Israelite king. If authentic, it may provide evidence for Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount. If a forgery, […]
BAR’s reports on the so-called Jehoash inscription—which describes repairs to the Solomonic Temple by King Jehoash in the ninth century B.C.E.—are unhesitatingly condemnatory: It is a fake. A piece by the BAR editor on the 15-line inscription is headed “Demonstrably a Forgery.”a My long-time friend Frank Cross (we wrote two joint doctoral dissertations […]
BAR recently published a fascinating article by Gabriel Barkay reporting on his excavation of a small rolled silver amulet, dating from the seventh or sixth century B.C. When the amulet was unrolled, it was found to contain the tetragrammaton—the four Hebrew letters yod, he, waw, he that form the unpronounceable name of God, sometimes […]
BAR has defended the authenticity of the James Ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”)a and the Ivory Pomegranate inscription (“(Belonging) to the Temple of [Yahwe]h; holy to the priests”).b But we have taken no position regarding the Yehoash (or Jehoash) inscription, a lengthier text on a black stone plaque that records […]
On October 29, 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined a story by Matthew Kalman, datelined Jerusalem, “Case Involving Jesus’ Brother Burial Box Hoax on Verge of Collapse.”
Closing arguments in the Jerusalem trial to determine whether or not the James Ossuary, the Yehoash tablet and other ancient artifacts were forged by two defendants finally wrapped up in October. After five years of proceedings, all that remains is for trial judge Aharon Farkash to pore through the evidence and deliver his verdict.
Jonathan Pulik and I, reporting for BAR, were among the first to arrive in the tiny courtroom in the large courthouse on Salah e-Din Street in East Jerusalem. By the time the wheelchair-bound judge, Aharon Farkash, entered at about 9:10, the place was packed, however. Standing room only.
Forgery Hysteria Grips Israel