Man Without Qualities

Monday, October 21, 2002

Could They Have Saved Themselves The Trip?

In the Middle Ages, Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain, was a high holy city along with Jerusalem and Rome, and an important center of religious pilgrimage. During those centuries, almost half a million people a year came to view what they believed to be the grave of James the Apostle

But an empty ossuary (a limestone burial box for bones) recently discovered in Israel and dating to the first century bears an inscription in the Aramaic language: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Andre Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions at France's Practical School of Higher Studies, said it's "very probable" the writing refers to Jesus of Nazareth. He dates the ossuary to A.D. 63, just three decades after the crucifixion.

But, then, the recently discovered box is empty.

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