|Man Without Qualities|
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Israeli archaeological experts said Wednesday an inscription on an ancient stone box suggesting it once contained the bones of Jesus' brother, James, was a forgery. The burial box and its Aramaic inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" had excited speculation it could be the earliest physical reference to the founder of Christianity outside the New Testament.
But the director of Israel's Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, called it a hoax.
"The ossuary is real. But the inscription is fake. What this means is that somebody took a real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it a religious significance," Dorfman told Reuters after a news conference on the matter.
The committee concluded that "even if the ossuary is authentic, there is no reason to assume the bones of Jesus' brother were inside," and that the stone of the box was more typical of Cyprus and northern Syria than ancient Israel.
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