Eric Meyers’ reaction to the verdict in the forgery trial in Israel

Posted in: Antiquities Market, Archaeology and Bible, Archaeology in the News, Cultural Heritage and Property, Inscriptions
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Reaction to Golan Acquittal, Professor Eric M. Meyers, Duke University

The verdict announced today, March 14, by Judge Aharon Farkash in Jerusalem, acquitting Oded Golan and Robert Deustch of all major charges comes as no surprise. The James ossuary first came into public view some ten years ago in Toronto when a special exhibition was mounted at the Royal Ontario Museum coterminous with the conventions of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research. I was among the very first to question the wisdom or such an exhibition after the artifact had a questionable provenance and had come to the public’s attention with such hoopla, which is not the normal way for important artifacts or subjects to be vetted. Speaking at a plenary session of SBL I also drew attention to portions of the inscription which seemed questionable at best and to the rush to judgment that this was the brother of Jesus of Nazareth. Secondary burial in an ossuary was a common form of inhumation in late Second Temple times that continued on for some time after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE in the Galilee. It was the dominant form of burial at the Jewish necropolis of Beth She`arim near Sepphoris where Rabbi Judah the Prince was buried in the 3rd c. CE. (more…)

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17 Comments for : Eric Meyers’ reaction to the verdict in the forgery trial in Israel
  1. Reply

    This is such a superb statement by Professor Meyers.

  2. Reply

    Prof. Meyers,

    True, Judge Farkash focused only on the criminal aspects of the case. He also said that the present methods of testing the ossuary are insufficient to prove the forgery accusation beyond reasonable doubt. But as we all remember, these were the same mothods employed to "formulate" the accusation. When one is using insufficient metods – this is the resonable result. Judge Farkash also mentioned the experts of the IAA, who firmly declared: "forgery". Now, that three lab reports have confirmed that the James ossuary came from the Talpiot Tomb(a), it seems that the burden of proof has found different shoulders.

  3. Reply

    Eric, is it not the case that in the trial it was determined by the tests Yuval Goren administered that original patina was in fact confirmed in the letters of "Yeshua"? This was reported by Matthew Kalman and Amnon Rosenfeld who attended every session of the trial…have to give them a medal and a new pair of pants for that! My understanding was that Yuval confirmed this. Oded aside, was that not the main issue with the charge that the inscription was forged. At least that was the case asserted in the original indictment, and confirmed by Zias's claim, as he told you and me in Atlanta at the SBL, that he had seen the ossuary years ago with only "Jesus son of Joseph" inscribed. Maybe you know something on this point I do not know. Doesn't prove it is Jesus of Nazareth, or make Oded innocent of other charges, but would it not indicate the inscription is authentic and not forged?

  4. Reply

    Thanks, James,

    Somehow I am not surprised that someone else, except for Golan, saw the James ossuary years ago. This idea keeps me busy here and there. I wonder where could Zias see it "years ago". But since he did, he could well be a key witness in Golan trial. It's odd he wasn't.

    • WoodbridgeGoodman
    • March 14, 2012

    There's a landmark principle emerging here though: what happens, as we began to apply the legal standards of honesty and fairness, to religion?

    What if for example, we demanded that those who promise huge physical miracles, "all" and "whatever" we "ask," actually produce them in a timely way … or else be sued for fraud?

  5. Reply

    My mistake; Zias did testify in Golan trial. Yet no doubt, he wasn't a key witness, when we consider the results.

  6. Pingback: PaleoBabble » Responses to the James Ossuary Forgery Trial Verdict

  7. Reply


    I just heard briefly from Yuval Goren who is traveling in the UK right now, but briefly, he confirmed there was original patina in part of the last letter of the word Yeshua. He says it might have been already there, if I understand him correctly, meaning the "forger" added a word that happened to connect into an ancient scratch or mark that had ancient patina. I am hoping he might weigh in here or elsewhere in time, which I am sure he will do at some point.

  8. Pingback: TaborBlog » Blog Archive » Keeping up with the James Ossuary Issues

  9. Pingback: ‘James ossuary’ verdict adds to burial box furor | Hubrise News

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    • K. Samuel
    • March 18, 2012

    I was wondering if the chemical signature from the Talpiot tomb is characteristic of only that tomb or is it representative of other tombs in the area? I think this is a significant question because I have repeatedly read that the James Ossuary came from the Kidron Valley before 1980. The "Jesus Tomb" supporters claim this is a way for Golen to get around the IAA regulations for artifacts found before 1978, but that seems too convenient for their case. Maybe archaeologists should be looking in the Kidron Valley for the real resting place of James if this ossuary and inscription turn out to be real. It would likely discredit their theory the the Talpiot Tomb is the "Jesus Family Tomb" if James and Simon (2 leaders of the early Church and relatives of Jesus) are not buried in the "family tomb".

  11. Reply

    K. Samuel, there was quite a discussion of the Kidron Valley location in BAR some years back, and particularly the location of our Tomb of the Shroud that Zissu, Gibson, and I published and studied in 2000. You might want to look that up. It is interesting that the charge in the IAA case states that sometime around 2000 Oded obtained the ossuary. So far as Jesus brothers being in the Talpiot tomb, it would only include, of course, the ones who died before 70CE, thus Jesus, Yoseh, and James…if James was put there later. I discuss this in my book in an entire chapter, including the burial accounts of James that we have. The chemical tests compare many tombs in the area of course, that is the point, and there are also now soil tests that are even more telling, in that the soil itself in each tomb, especially if there is terra rosa, steeps into the limestone. Thanks for your comment here.

  12. Reply

    That is some kind of witness that the prosecution "said" they had. 60 Minutes has been known to advertise these type of witnesses and build a fable on one specter.

    But the authenticity of the ossuary is hardly questionable and that it originated in the Talpiot Tomb, is beyond doubt.

  13. Pingback: TaborBlog » Blog Archive » “Brother of Jesus” Inscription is Authentic! by Hershel Shanks

  14. Reply

    The James Ossuary: The Earliest Witness to Jesus and His Family?

    Joseph M. Holden, Ph.D.

    *Text Removed. We do not allow posting other people's papers as comments on the Blog*

  15. Pingback: Responses to the James Ossuary Forgery Trial Verdict | Filter_paleo

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