I've just finished reading the BAR article on the ossuary of James.
Here's the scoop:
The ossuary belongs to a private collector, who obtained it on the black
market about 15 years ago. He recently asked Andre Lemaire, a reknowned
philologist who specializes in Aramaic to look at it. The inscription,
"James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" is about 7.5 inches long and 1/3
Jews in Jerusalem only used ossuaries for about a century, from ca 20BC
to 70AD (with the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome), so all evidence must
fit that timeframe, plus the region of Jerusalem.
The style of Aramaic fits the first century AD. A geological survey of
the ossuary shows that it is made of chalk (limestone) from quarries
belonging to the Menuha Formation of Mount Scopus group, near Jerusalem.
Limestone was quarried from this region in the first century AD, and was
a primary source for ossuaries of the time period. The patina and stone
were checked under scanning electron microscope among other tools. They
ascertained that the patina was firmly connected to the stone, and was in
a cauliflower shape, normally found in caves. The dirt on its underside,
as well as the chalk ossuary itself, all come from the Mount Scopus
All three names, James (actually Jacob in Hebrew/Aramaic), Joseph and
Jesus (Yeshua or Joshua) were popular during the timeframe.
Statistically taking info from all 233 ossuaries from the time and place,
about 1/4 of one percent (.28 percent) of the male population were either
"James/Jacob son of Joseph" or "Joseph son of James/Jacob". This means
about 0.14 percent were "James/Jacob son of Joseph" (1/8 of one percent).
Jerusalem is believed to have had at most, 80,000 people with probably
half as men. They assume in the article, each male had two brothers,
meaning that 18 percent of the "James son of Joseph" would have a brother
Jesus. Over the 2 generations there is a 0.05 percent of the population
being names "Jacob son of Joseph brother of Jesus." If I remember
correctly from my sadistics class years ago, that means it is
statistically significant, or very big odds that there were more than 20
men named "James/Jacob son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" during the two
generations. Of course, then we have no idea how many of them would have
been buried in an ossuary, or how many would have been inscribed.
Next, there is only one other Aramaic ossuary with a brother's name on
it. So it is a very rare thing. Obviously, the brother must be someone
well known, and which Jesus is more well-known than the Christ?
A side note they have: the inscription was shown to Father Joseph
Fitzmeyer, one of the world's leading experts in first century Aramaic.
He questioned the spelling of the word "brother." It didn't seem
standard. On the ossuary, it is spelled, aleph, het, waw, yod. In Hebrew
it is spelled aleph het. Only after several hundreds of years would this
spelling form appear in Aramaic, and then it would be plural.
However, Father Fitzmeyer did some research and found this spelling in
the Genesis Apocryphon and on another ossuary where the person was
identified as someone's brother. "I stand corrected," said Father
Fitzmeyer. The article states that a forger would have used the standard
spelling of 'brother' rather than try a different and rarer form. Either
the forger knew first century Aramaic better than Father Fitzmeyer, or it
is an authentic inscription.
As I read this, it reminded me of the arguments we often use on the BoM.
For example, the name "Alma" was derided as being a Spanish word for
'soul' and a woman's name. Only with the Bar Kosiba letters was Alma
discovered to be an authentic man's name. Using this same logic then,
Either Joseph Smith was a brilliant forger who knew more about early
Hebrew names than the experts, or it is authentic.
And although not 100 percent known whether it is James the Just's
ossuary, there is a greater than 99.9% chance that it is his.
Gerald/gary Smith gszion1 @juno.com http://www
"No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he's free." -
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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