Biblical Archaeology Review 30:2, March/April 2004
Ossuary Update

The Seventh Sample

IAA Report Shows Evidence for Authenticity of “Jesus”

By Hershel Shanks

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) last summer declared the inscription on the James ossuary—which reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”—to be a fake.a Since then, however, both the reasoning and the conclusion of the IAA report have been widely attacked by experts.b And the members of the committee have not responded to the criticism.

Now there is new reason to believe that at least the word “Jesus” on the ossuary is authentic.

The IAA’s conclusion was driven by the findings of the two geologists on the committee, who saw three layers of coatings on the ossuary, the topmost only in and around the inscription. Based on the oxygen isotopes in this topmost coating, the geologists concluded that it could not have formed in a cave environment over 2,000 years.

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