Biblical Archaeology Review 30:5, September/October 2004

First Person: Trial by Leak

Even alleged forgers have rights

By Hershel Shanks

It is time for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to formally charge Oded Golan and then try him for forging the inscription that reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The inscription appears on a now-famous first-century C.E. bone box, or ossuary.a

If they’ve got the evidence, they should produce it in court. The investigation has now gone on for more than a year-and-a-half. It’s time to put up or shut up.

Instead of trying him in court, the IAA has subjected Golan to what might be called trial by leak. For a long time, the IAA has shown favored viewers the contents of Golan’s supposed “forgery factory.” It is said to demonstrate that Golan is indeed a forger. I, too, was offered an opportunity to view the contents of the raid on Golan’s home and office, but I declined. We are not a source for this trial by leak.

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