Fitzmyer Calls for Ossuary Re-Study

Sidebar to: Lying Scholars?

Father Joseph Fitzmyer, one of the world’s leading specialists in Aramaic, a prominent Dead Sea Scroll scholar and the author of highly praised New Testament commentaries, has joined the call for a re-study of the controversial first-century ossuary, or bone box, inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” A committee of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) last June declared the inscription a forgery. Two other scientific studies, however, one by the Geological Survey of Israel and another by Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, disagree.

An article in the January 11, 2004, issue of Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic newspaper with a circulation of more than 60,000, quotes Fitzmyer as saying that the IAA tried “to give the impression that the [sub-]committees that were set up came out with a unanimous decision, and it’s not unanimous at all.” Fitzmyer noted that one member of one IAA sub-committee found the inscription authentic but changed his mind only after another sub-committee studying the patina on the inscription said it had been forged.

Another member of the IAA committee said the latter part of the inscription, “brother of Jesus,” may be genuine.

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