From the Jerusalem Post:

A Jerusalem judge will announce on Wednesday whether he has decided to order the destruction of a burial box that could have held the bones of the brother of Jesus and an inscribed tablet that could have come from the First Temple.
At a Jerusalem District Court hearing in April, Judge Aharon Farkash said he might exercise “the judgement of Solomon” and order both items to be destroyed.

It’s hard to believe that the judge was being serious, especially since he has concluded that the artifacts may be authentic. Advocates on both sides of the forgery debate are against destruction of the objects.

Andre Lemaire, the Sorbonne scholar who published the first analysis of the ossuary in 2002 and has stood by its authenticity, said its destruction would be “scandalous” and “a manipulation of historical evidence.”
“It would be necessary from a scientific point of view to start a new suit, on a real basis this time, for voluntary destruction of historical evidence and tentative manipulation of history,” Professor Lemaire told The Jerusalem Post.
Christopher Rollston, professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Emmanuel Christian Seminary who appeared as a prosecution witness, said “it is never prudent to destroy antiquities, regardless of the controversy surrounding them.”
“I would certainly not wish to see the Ya’akov (“James”) Ossuary destroyed. Indeed, to destroy the ossuary would only fuel the controversy, effectively turning this ossuary into an archaeological martyr of sorts. I wish to see it returned to its legal owner,” he said.

The full article is here.

HT: Joseph Lauer


Five geologists have written a new article in light of the judge’s acquittal of Oded Golan on charges that he forged the Jehoash Inscription. The geologists believe that the inscription is genuine and make their case in a 30-page document recently published by The Bible and Interpretation. The abstract:

The carbon particles in the patina yield a radiocarbon age of approximately 2250 years BP (third century BCE). The presence of micro-colonial fungi and associated pitting indicates slow growth over many years. No modern elements related to the use of modern tools were found. All evidence indicates that the production of the tablet and the carving of its inscription occurred at essentially the same time….. We would like to emphasize that we found nothing suspicious to indicate that the JI [Jehoash Inscription] is a forgery. We came to the conclusion that our analyses strongly support the antiquity of the patina, which, in turn, strengthens the contention that the inscription of the JI is authentic…..

It’s possible that these five experts have been fooled by someone more brilliant in geological matters, but it’s too much to ask me to believe that they are part of a conspiracy to conceal a forgery.

I do not recall hearing of the alleged provenance of the inscription (before it was sold on the antiquities market), but the article claims that it was found “near the southeastern corner of the wall of the Temple Mount complex where it was used as a secondary building stone in a tomb.” New tombs have been dug in this Muslim cemetery in the last decade, but whether or not this claim is true is impossible to know apart from some trustworthy witnesses. Some had speculated previously that it came from the Muslim construction of an exit for a mosque in “Solomon’s Stables.”

Temple Mount southeast corner from south, tb091306324
Southeastern corner of Temple Mount where the Jehoash Inscription was allegedly recovered (photo source)