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Ossuary that refers to 'James brother of Jesus' to go on public display

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A controversial ossuary dating from the time of Christ will go on display soon. The ossuary is controversial because it has a reference to Jesus etched into it. The relic has been subjected to intense scrutiny.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An ossuary dating from the time of Christ bearing the inscription, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" has proven controversial since its discovery over a decade ago. The inscription suggests that Jesus was real and that he had a brother. Critics cried foul and the owner was charged with forgery.

The Owner, Oded Golan was acquitted of forgery in 2012, although several experts believe the second half of the inscription referring to Jesus, is a forgery. In other words, it's partially real and partially fake. Nonetheless, the ossuary, a small box used for storing the bones of the dead, is itself authentic and dates to the time of Christ.

Another reason for the controversy is that Jesus is believed to be the only Son of the Virgin Mary. The inscription suggests that Jesus had a brother. According to biblical scholars, close relations, such as cousins and close friends were often referred to as brothers.

Some modern skeptics, typically atheists, argue that Jesus didn't even exist and was instead a myth developed by those promoting Christianity in the first century by plagiarizing older religious stories from other beliefs. -How the Jesus story was then matched by various authors has never been explained.

Such non-believers were greatly troubled then by the suggestion that physical, hard evidence of the existence of Christ could exist. Had the inscription been verified beyond doubt would have set the atheist world upon its head.

But it also would have raised questions for the Catholic Church as well as other faiths that believe Jesus had no brothers, as in born of Mary.

The ossuary still remains the subject of controversy because the Israeli Antiquities Authority denies the authenticity of the inscription, saying it was added in modern times and coated with an additives to make it look ancient. The first half of the inscription is also more deeply etched than the second half, for some reason.

Notably, the judge in the trial also says that Golan's acquittal should not be takes as proof the inscription is authentic.

Defenders say the IAA used flawed techniques when analyzing the relic. A study by the Royal Ontario Museum found that there was nothing wrong or suspicious about the quality of the inscription and that it could very possibly be authentic.

While the scholars debate, the public will be free to view the relic so they can decide for themselves. The relic will soon be put on public display. The location of the display is yet to be announced.

Of course, for most of us the ossuary and its inscription matters little. The reality of Christ and his present-day influence on our lives, as well as the future he offers us, is hardly influenced by scholarly wrangling over a 2,000 year-old box.



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