Biblical Archaeology Review 30:2, March/April 2004

First Person: Taking It Personally

A member of the IAA ossuary committee feels we've been one-sided

By Hershel Shanks

I was talking to a scholar/friend who was a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) committee that had declared the ossuary inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” to be a fake. I will refer to the person as “he” simply because I don’t want to keep repeating “he or she.” In short, he was a little angry with me. He was referring to Sorbonne scholar André Lemaire’s piece in the November/December 2003 BAR (“Israel Antiquities Authority Report on the James Ossuary Deeply Flawed”).

“You didn’t print the other side,” he said.

“I would certainly print the other side,” I replied, “if it came in.”

“No, I mean in the same issue,” he said. He was angry because I hadn’t solicited an article from someone on the committee to print in the same issue with Lemaire’s piece.

We print many critical articles—and letters. We also print replies to these criticisms—almost always in a later issue, typically in the second issue after the critical piece appears. I assured him that we would certainly print anything from him that he cared to submit.

No, he wouldn’t submit anything.

In fact, we have not received any defense of the IAA report, nor any substantive criticism of Lemaire’s article.

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