Biblical Archaeology Review 31:4, July/August 2005

Update: Finds or Fakes?

Biblical Archaeology Review

There is a saying in archaeology: The answer lies below. The corollary to this is: Dig deeper.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is indeed digging deeper. But not as an archaeologist would in an effort to find the answer to a problem. It is digging itself deeper into a hole.

The whole world wants to know whether the inscription on the James bone box—“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”—is authentic or a forgery. The IAA is doing everything it can to prevent this from being scientifically determined. Why? Because it is absolutely convinced that the inscription is a forgery—or at least part of it is a forgery (which part is unclear.)

The IAA’s first mistake was not to allow scholars and scientists freely to explore the issue and—if differences occurred—to allow differing viewpoints and insights to be openly debated. Instead, the IAA and its strongheaded director Shuka Dorfman appointed a committee to act as a judge—to make a final decision, like a court.

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