At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Antonio last November, BAR organized a session entitled “The Forgery Crisis,” to deal with widespread claims that many well-known and important ancient inscriptions are in fact forgeries. To insure that all sides would be represented and heard, we invited five scholars to deliver papers, including Dr. Uzi Dahari, deputy director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and chairman of the IAA committee that had pronounced the now-famous James ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) and the Jehoash inscription to be forgeries.a

Dr. Dahari concluded his talk with harsh criticism of BAR and its editor. In the interest of full disclosure, we offered to publish these remarks. Dr. Dahari refused to give us permission to publish his remarks because he would not publish anything in BAR. However, he did allow us to write a reporter’s account of his remarks, giving us a copy of his remarks for that purpose.

“Who appointed you, Mr. Shanks, to replace the official Christian Churches?” Dr. Dahari electrified the audience of scholars. “Why are they not interested in this relic?” he continued. “Probably because they are more serious and responsible than you.”

Dr. Dahari made a dramatic accusation against BAR and its editor reminiscent of Emile Zola’s famous accusation of French anti-Semitism in the notorious Dreyfus case:

“I accuse (publicly, not legally) the magazine BAR and its editor Hershel Shanks with being the catalyst for [a] series of forgeries … Mr. Shanks, you are playing with fire when you continually publish finds of this nature.”

Dr. Dahari claimed that BAR “mislead[s] the general public” and that ultimately BAR “will be judged by the public you have misled.” Dr. Dahari charged BAR with mixing “religious sentiments” with archaeological research.

Dr. Dahari also had harsh words for Professor James Harrell of the University of Toledo and secretary/treasurer of ASMOSIA (the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity), the geologist who has written critically of the two IAA scientists on whose analysis the IAA committee based its judgment.b Dr. Dahari said that in Professor Harrell, BAR found the “one geologist in all the United States to support” its position that the IAA had not proven that the two inscriptions were forgeries.

Dr. Dahari charged that, through Professor Harrell, BAR has “completely disregard[ed] the solid proofs” of the IAA committee that found the ossuary and the Jehoash inscriptions to be forgeries.

In conclusion Dr. Dahari called on the BAR editor to admit his mistakes: “Mr. Shanks, there is no shame in admitting one’s mistakes.” BAR’s publication of these alleged fakes makes BAR “direct partners in encouraging … antiquities theft and antiquities forgery.”