Archaeological Discoveries: Fake or Real?

The Biblical Archaeology Review has a report on line about three artifacts that are at the center of a controversy among archaeologists. These three artifacts are:

1. The James Ossuary

The ossuary, or a box containing the bones of a dead person, has the following inscription: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The controversy is focused on whether the ossuary may once have held the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. According to the New Testament, James, Jesus’ brother, was the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

2. The Ivory Pomegranate

This ivory pomegranate has an inscription that reads: “Holy to the Priests, belonging to the Temple of [Yahwe]h.” According to some archaeologists, this is the only surviving article from Solomon’s Temple.

3. The Jehoash Inscription

The inscription contains a reference to the repairs of the Temple in Jerusalem, ordered by Jehoash, the King of Judah, who ruled from 837-800 B.C.

Archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority have declared these three items to be forgeries. However, many archaeologists and other specialists believe that these three items are genuine.

Read the Biblical Archaeology Review’s report on line and the discussion related to the authenticity of these three artifacts by clicking here. The report also includes three beautiful pictures of the items in question.

The Biblical Archaeology Review is an excellent magazine that publishes informative articles on recent archaeological discoveries in Israel. They don’t pay me to say this, but I encourage you to subscribe to this magazine. For subscriptions, click here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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3 Responses to Archaeological Discoveries: Fake or Real?

  1. Jim says:

    >All of those items are forgeries, and BAR has had no small part to play in the affair. Ads on its pages which offer antiquities for sale simply add to the problem. For BAR, the study of ancient Israel is an economic enterprise only.


  2. >Dear Jim,Thank you for your comment on those items in BAR. I am aware of the controversy about the authenticity of those items, but even though the people at the Israel Antiquities Authority have declared these three items to be forgeries, there are reputable scholars who dispute their conclusions.I want readers to read about the debate. There are many people who have never heard or read anything about this controversy. Pastors and lay people should be aware of the tough time archaeologists have in deciding what is real and what is fake.Jim, congratulations on the publication of your article, “Competing Traditions and the Birth of Texts,” published in SJOT 19 (2005) 290-301. Are you sure that if Kenneth Kitchen and Hershel Shanks read Hjelm’s book that they will jump ship?Claude Mariottini


  3. Jim says:

    >Oh yes, without question!


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