Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drumroll, Please....

After five years and more witnesses than live in the state of Rhode Island, the trial over the alleged forgery of the James ossuary is FINALLY over. The verdict? The IAA failed to prove its case.

No one disputed that this is a first century Jewish ossuary. No one even disputed the inscription, "James, the son of Joseph." The whole debate was about whether the second half of the inscription, "...he is the brother of Jesus" and the patina over it were authentic.

Here is a short summary of the case from the only reporter who was left standing by the end: "Judge Mulls Verdict in Jesus Forgery Trial."

Here is a short summary from one of the experts: "The Forgery Case Will Be Dropped"
The entire forgery case revolved around the last part of the inscription, “achuyi d’Yeshua,” which syntactically is “brother (of him) of Yeshua.” The question was whether this was forged, and a fake “shake and bake” patina placed over it. I have some competence as a paleographer and contended the entire inscription was incised by one scribe. In 2002, I claimed that IF there was ancient patina in the second part of the inscription (achuyi d’Yeshua), the entire ossuary and all of the inscription was genuine. I was severely criticized by some “pro-forgery” scholars. I have stuck to my guns. For the last 6 years I have claimed the ossuary inscription is genuine. In the trial Yuval Goren admitted that microscopic analysis confirms ancient patina in “Yeshua.” That shattered the forgery claim and the entire case. On that basis, the judge has advised the IAA to drop the forgery case. The James ossuary inscription is genuine.
Are you kidding me?

What bums me out is that I'm not sure if the cloud of suspicion this trial has caused to hover over potentially one of the greatest discoveries ever in the history of biblical archaeology will ever dissipate. Will the media report the end of the trial as aggressively as it trumpeted the beginning? I doubt it.

Speaking of biblical archaeology, I've spent the last four months putting together an online course surveying the major artifacts. If you're interested in being part of the first group of students, call Reasons To Believe and register. It will begin in January and it only costs $150! If you're a homeschool parent looking for a really cool science/Bible elective for your high schooler, consider this. (Mark it on your transcript as "Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.") I'm going to have my 11 year old go through the course. I'll simplify the reading and assignments for her, but she's more than capable of understanding all the lecture material.

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