jerusalemholyland tour


The trial has dragged on for years.

Around 2000, a noted Israeli collector of antiquities named Oded Golan, came into possession of an old stone box identified as an ossuary. It had been discovered in Silwan in the Kedron Valley, south of the old city of Jerusalem, about where the city of David once stood. (If you have followed my series of articles you will remember the one about the pillar discovered  jutting out of the ground also in Silwan. Go to the blogs at my website) .

The Old City of Jerusalem as seen today

The Old City of Jerusalem as seen today

This particular ossuary was special because of the amazing inscription found on it: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”.

Ossuaries were used to store the bones of the deceased, once the flesh had decayed away,  in order to save space. Such boxes were common in Israel around the time of Jesus.

The reported find of this box containing the inscribed name”Jesus “ set the Archeological and Biblical studies worlds virtually in a swoon.

Here, finally, was a concrete mention of Jesus from outside of the Bible. If true it would be astounding and significant.

The existence of what became known as the James Ossuary was made public in 2002 and almost immediately the controversy exploded.

The dating of the James Ossuary was not in dispute and was apparently universally recognized as contemporaneous with Jesus.

The ”brother of Jesus” inscription however was a different matter.

Mr. Golan was accused of creating a forgery and perpetrating a fraud and put on trial. One might wonder, why would he cook up such a fraud?  Follow the money is always good advice.

In 2012 the court proceedings came to an end and he was found not guilty of fraud but this did not clear up the controversy about the authenticity of the inscription itself.

Scholars remain divided as the dating and the significance of the inscription.

One pointed out that it was unusual for someone to identify themselves as “brother of” someone. That would seem to argue that the referred to deceased’s brother must have been  of some significance.

Another scholar indicated that this might even be a form of family  bragging.

What we do know of James, the brother of Jesus, was that he was slow to accept the miraculous nature of his older brother. One can understand that as they grew up together. One could almost hear him wondering: is it possible that my brother is the Messiah?

May have seemed incredulous to him at first.

It was only following the resurrection and his personal confrontation with the risen Christ  that he fully came into his own and became  the leader of the Jerusalem church.

As if to underscore this fact, Paul in the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians made a point of stating that the resurrected Jesus appeared to James.

So bottom line: Is this the Ossuary of James, Jesus’ brother? Maybe.

But it doesn’t really matter now ? Does it?

Just kind of interesting.

Dr. Robert Grant has been traveling to the Middle East for more than 46 years and has been there more than 125 times as he hosts holy land tours for his friends. As a result he has been designated, much to his amusement, the holy land guru, by some.