James Ossuary is Genuine
Scholarly Analysis Supports the Ossuary is Genuine
Scientific Data Supports the Ossuary is Genuine

Is the Ossuary Genuine?

To begin, both scholarly analysis and scientific investigation of the ancient inscription confirm that it is authentic and comes from the year 63 AD. Andrẻ Lemaire, a world renowned leading epigrapher (specialist in inscriptions) examined the ossuary in person. Lemaire has detailed knowledge about the shape and stance of first century (Herodian-era) Hebrew and Aramaic letters. Lemaire concluded that the James inscription is "genuinely ancient and not a fake."(1)

To support his conclusions with other sources, Lemaire had the ossuary examined by the Geological Survey of Israel laboratory. Two scientists performed in-depth analysis of the ossuary for several reasons.

First, the stone material out of which the ossuary is made was analyzed. The scientists concluded that the material was taken from a Jerusalem area quarry that was used for ossuary production during the 1st and 2nd centuries.(2)

Second, the scientists examined the stone and the material residues (called patina) that collect over time using magnifying lenses. They observed that the patina had a gray to beige color as well as a cauliflower shape (most likely when observed under magnification) that occurs in a cave environment. Most important, the scientists made note that the patina material was distributed both on the surface of the ossuary as well as within the letters except for several letters that had been cleaned.(3)

Comment: It is important to note that the even distribution of the patina verifies that the inscription had not been tampered with or that it is a modern day forgery.

To conclude the study, the scientists took samples of the stone material, the patina, and soil attached to the ossuary for chemical composition. For the patina, the "first two and last two letters of the inscription were analyzed(4) using a Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with EDS (Electron Dispersive Spectrometer).

Comment: If there were a difference between the chemical composition between the patina on the first two letters and the last two letters, the scientists would have made note of this difference.

The scientists concluded: "It is worth mentioning that the patina does not contain any modern elements (such as modern pigments) and it adheres firmly to the stone. No signs of the use of modern tool or instrument were found. No evidence that might detract from the authenticity of the patina and the inscription was found." (5)

To further support the authenticity, Biblical Archaeology Review magazine had the inscription examined by Father Joseph Fitzmyer. Father Fitzmyer is a world-renowned expert in 1st-century Aramaic and a pre-eminent Dead Sea Scroll editor that has edited a number of Aramaic texts from the scrolls. At first, Father Fitzmyer was troubled by the Aramaic spelling of the word "brother," which used four letters instead of the Hebrew method that uses two letters. Father Fitzmyer researched the spelling for "brother" in the Dead Sea Scrolls and found the same spelling (in the Genesis Apocryphon). Furthermore, another ossuary that refers to a "brother" used the same spelling. In conclusion, a modern day counterfeiter would have to know many intricate details of first century Aramaic to produce a counterfeit.(6)

References:

  1. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, p 24-33.
  2. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, p 28.
  3. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, Ibid, p 29, Letter dated 17/9/2002 from The Ministry of National Infrastructures Geological Survey, State of Israel, signed by Dr. Amnon Rosenfeld and Dr. Shimon Ilani.
  4. Ibid, p 29.
  5. Article written by Steven H. Sanchez, Th.M, Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Seminary, "James Was Not a Midget!: Observations on a Visit to the James Ossuary Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum," who reveals that Hershel Shanks, Editor of BAR Magazine, had the first two and last two letters examined at the laboratory.
  6. Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2002, Vol. 28, No. 6, Ibid, p 29, Letter dated 17/9/2002 from The Ministry of National Infrastructures Geological Survey, State of Israel, signed by Dr. Amnon Rosenfeld and Dr. Shimon Ilani.

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