Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Oded Golan

The forgery case against Oded Golan has been concluded with the court’s rejection of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s claim of ownership of the Jehoash Inscription. Matthew Kalman has covered the case for nearly a decade and he reports on the 2-1 decision by an appeal panel of Israel’s Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruling caps a crushing defeat for the Israel Antiquities Authority following the sweeping 2012 acquittal of Golan and dealer Robert Deutsch on multiple charges of archaeological forgery. Israeli prosecutors advised by the Israel Antiquities Authority had argued that even though they continue to believe the inscription is a modern forgery, the reverse of the stone had been “dressed” in ancient times and was therefore classified as an antiquity that should belong to the state. But those arguments were rejected by the majority decision of the court. Oded Golan is now poised to reclaim both the tablet and the more famous item, the James ossuary, along with dozens of pieces confiscated by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israeli police at the time of his arrest in 2003. Golan greeted the decision as “good news.” He says he plans to put both the ossuary and the tablet on public display. The latest about-turn could be the final twist in a nail-biting finale to the decade-long pursuit of Golan. However, a sternly-worded ruling by the same court in September suggests that the battle over the future of the antiquities trade is just beginning. In an 8,000-word ruling handed down on September 29, a panel of three Supreme Court Justices rejected Golan’s appeal against his conviction and sentence on three minor charges and used the opportunity to declare war on the antiquities market. Branding the trade in antiquities “damaging” and motivated by “avarice,” the ruling authored by Supreme Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez depicts “a world of collectors exchanging treasures teeming with trembling hands and heart – often within the law, and sometimes without,” and notes with approval that “in most countries of the world there is a general ban on the trade in antiquities, because of their recognition as a national resource.” She further observed, that this "conception also serves as the basis for the antiquities law” in Israel.

The full story is at The Bible and Interpretation and includes Golan’s response to the court’s broadside on the antiquities market. Since I believe that the tablet is likely authentic, I am happy to hear that Golan plans to put the artifact on public display.


2 thoughts on “Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Oded Golan

  1. I want to note 3 things about the ossuary and the Jehoash tablet and/or the ruling. The first is that Herschel Shanks by his own statement is not a Christian (let alone an evangelical Christian). He believes the Ossuary and Jehoash tablets are genuine. If I recall the book correctly, he has a few very pertinent things to say about the IAA bias. You can get a free copy of his Ebook, which is well worth a read, at http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/get-ebook/?download_this_freemium=172

    Second, as has been noted, the ham-handed Israeli authorities subjected the items to their own tests, which destroyed much of the patina. Please notice I chose ham-handed instead of words indicating someone destroying evidence that might contradict their world view.

    Third, the only label I saw on this article said "forgery." Not that it matters to my relationship with Jesus, but can't you do better? There is a good chance these articles are the real thing, exactly what Golan says they are. Shanks certainly thinks so. James Ossuary, Jehoash tablet, controversy, evidence, artifacts, proof of Biblical text, etc. come to a coffee deprived mind early in the A.M.

  2. John – "Forgery" is not a label, but a category. We have a limited number of categories for the blog, and over the years this entire discussion has been part of the "forgery" controversy. If one reads the content of the posts, it will be clear what I think about the particular subject.

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