Biblical Archaeology Review 38:3, May/June 2012

Strata: Defendants Acquitted in Forgery Trial

By Suzanne F. Singer

Jonathan Pulik and I, reporting for BAR, were among the first to arrive in the tiny courtroom in the large courthouse on Salah e-Din Street in East Jerusalem. By the time the wheelchair-bound judge, Aharon Farkash, entered at about 9:10, the place was packed, however. Standing room only.

I had introduced myself to defendant Oded Golan in the lobby. It was he who had been charged with forging the ossuary inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” I had met him before, but this time there was no conversation. This was before the verdict was announced, and he was visibly and understandably concentrated. He was wearing a jacket and cheerful tie with what appeared to be little animals, as if he were confident of what the verdict would be.

Just before the judge came in, the television cameramen and still photographers were required to leave. Journalists, from AP, Jerusalem Report, The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, were there and remained. While we were waiting for the judge to arrive, I asked the man next to me if he had been following the case closely. No, he replied, he was there because the judge was his big brother and told him he should come.

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