James Ossuary, Not A Forgery?

Hello F(r)iends,

The James Ossuary is the bone box that has the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

For a long time, it has been thought that this archaelogical find was a forgery. The two arguments for forgery are as follows: (1) The side that the inscription was on was visibly weathered differently than the other side that contained an inscription of a rosette and thus the entire inscription was recently added to the bone box. The “visibly” part is largely because the inscriptions on the James Ossuary are deep incisions (2) The words “brother of Jesus” were added to the first part of the inscription “James, son of Joseph”.

However, according to a new article, there are a few things that can be said:

(A) No one questions the paleography (the style of writing) of either part of the inscriptions.
(B) The entire inscription was carved by the same hand–even the ossuary’s critics agree.

These two combined arguments refute the notion that “brother of Jesus” was added to the original inscription. So, the only deterrent to the authentication of the ossuary is the charge that the side the inscription is on is weathered differently.

Now, there is new information:
(note, the full article is not available to non-subscribers).

The article suggests that the “Child’s Ossuary” has inscriptions on the same side as the rosettes. However, there is, according to the author or the article, a big difference between how the rosettes visibly appear and how the inscription on the “Child’s Ossuary” appears. That is, the inscription on the “Child’s Ossuary” is also marked by deep incisions and they appear to have “weathered” differently than the rosettes. Thus, the differences in the visibility may explain why the “James Ossuary” inscription also bears a difference in visibility when it is compared to its rosettes.

Any thoughts?



This is very interesting. Perchance you have any other places of information that you could point towards?

I’d like to see more information before asserting an opine.

Hello F(r)iends,

Hi Mastriani, I don’t really have another source. The news is quite recent. Sadly you would have to be a Premier Member to have access (and membership is not free). I can add that BAR (the magazine) is a sholarly magazine and less a theological magazine.

For what it’s worth, I think the inscription is likely authentic, but it does not mean that it is the same James brother of Jesus CHRIST.


thanks thirst,

I’ll keep my eyes open for more information on this, and certainly agree that the inscription, although possibly authentic, does not necessarily lead back to brother of Christ … that might be a tough one to prove.

What does it mean if it is the brother of Jesus?


Why would anyone have “Brother of so and so” inscribed on their “tombstone”. I mean these things usually have son or daughter of so and so or wife or husband of so and so but brother of? Unless the brother is someone special enough to want to be associated with throughout posterity…

I’m not saying that it is Jesus’ of the new testaments’ brother either but it is an odd thing to have, no?

Hi Liquidangel,

You ask: “What does it mean if it is the brother of Jesus?”

Yeah, I don’t know spiritually if it would or should have any impact but it would provide more evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus.

Hello F(r)iends,

Not sure. Actually, just like with many other archaeological findings, several claims could be made.

  1. Jesus had a brother which lends credence to the idea that he was not an only child.

  2. Jesus had a brother and the son of the same father, thus Jesus was not the son of god.

  3. Jesus existed.

The James Ossuary is but a piece of a puzzle that we have no picture of how to complete…


Hmm…I would posit that the Son of God business is not in the literal sense…but that is another discussion.

I would say that if proof is required, but there are all sorts of other prooves. of course that too is another discussion.

I’ll just shut up.


Hello F(r)iends,

Faith doesn’t really need proof…
Faith does occassionally need a little bump to help it along…


Eh, it’s kind of a hit and miss thing. If It was THE James, brother of THE Jesus, all it would show is that Jesus really existed. It’s rare to run into a skeptic that tries to argue the ‘there never was a Jesus’ angle these days, so it wouldn’t change much.