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Ossuary was genuine, inscription was faked
November 6, 2002 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Ossuary was genuine, inscription was faked Lots of excitement when this ossuary with inscription found and thought to be a direct link back to Jesus...alas, not what it seemed.
posted by Postroad (30 comments total)

 
ROM: "Phew!"
posted by maudlin at 1:27 PM on November 6, 2002


Please don't attack me for asking the question, but has anyone found this anywhere else? I do see some potential questions in the news source and I just wondered why a report this shocking didn't make it to the front page of CNN etc? Just asking, I certainly as sceptical as the next guy on this whole ossuary deal...
posted by Pollomacho at 1:36 PM on November 6, 2002


This thread is still open for comments and updates. I'm just sayin'.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:37 PM on November 6, 2002


has anyone found this anywhere else?

Pollomacho: I heard about it in this article from the BAR.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:44 PM on November 6, 2002


goddammit.
posted by quonsar at 1:46 PM on November 6, 2002


No, the inscription WAS on the front of CNN, I mean the part about it being fake! Thanks though!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:59 PM on November 6, 2002


Globe and Mail
posted by gametone at 2:09 PM on November 6, 2002


I read about it (don't laugh, it's an office subscription!) in Time.

The analysis of the inscription in the article Postroad linked is quite interesting. It looks like even non-specialized academics would be able to see the same things in even a simple photograph of the text. The Time article, instead, obsesses about the math of probabilities for James, Joseph and Jesus.

And, of course, the age of the ossuary.

Even when reading about the artifact and all the testing that proved the box came from the time period, I was thinking, "The box could be from the Stone Age, but carving the golden arches into it doesn't prove dinosaurs were killed off by Big Macs."

Might change plans for the exhibition in Canada... But even if it is declared a fake, the "topic" is still timely for the joint conference of the Biblical Archaeological Society, the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research.
posted by pzarquon at 2:10 PM on November 6, 2002


Didn't see that Maudlin beat me too it. oops.
posted by gametone at 2:10 PM on November 6, 2002


Pollomacho, I'll back you up on the skepticism. Just as I'm skeptical that the ossuary is real, I'm not swayed the other way by a single report that it is fake. These things are credited or discredited based on verifications by many, many people, not just one person.

I mean, you could trot out an archeologist who believes dinosaur bones are fake, but that doesn't mean he's right.
posted by me3dia at 2:13 PM on November 6, 2002


P.S. Rochelle Altman has posted her Final report on the James ossuary. It has a considerably more detailed analysis of the inscription text.

The section on the Placement of the Inscription was what I found most interesting here. The "whole" inscription is offset to the right, which is unusual... except, of course, if you consider only the first part (and in Altman's view the only genuine part) of the inscription, in which case it's centered.

True, as in attempting to validate the ossuary, a concerted effort by independent academics from many institutions would be needed to invalidate it. But again, Altman notes many things I think even a casual student of this stuff could see in a newspaper or magazine photo, so if her conclusions have merit, additional affirmations should be forthcoming shortly.
posted by pzarquon at 2:26 PM on November 6, 2002


The author of the article is a PhD with beaucoup credentials.

Bet Time magazine won't run an article about this debunking to match up with their worshipful piece they ran on the ossuary recently. What a piece of crap that was. I quote: "No educated person denies that Jesus existed."
posted by bannedThrice at 2:36 PM on November 6, 2002


I think it would take just as many independent analyses to validate the ossuary as to invalidate it to be technical, but with that said, just an idea, could maybe the inscription have been added later to say, "Hey, THIS guy is the one that's Jesus's brother" not the James son of Joseph over there." One of the articles said that there could have been many James sons of Josephs in town, maybe some later person wanted to make sure that people know which was THE James. Just an idea, talk amongst yourselves...
posted by Pollomacho at 2:39 PM on November 6, 2002


Jesus existed. He celebrated passover. He was circumcised.

OK I DON'T DENY IT.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:40 PM on November 6, 2002


I wish this whole ossuary thing would be put to rest, simply because "ossuary" looks like "oissubke" when skimming, and it's very distracting to me.
posted by oissubke at 2:52 PM on November 6, 2002


This will probably end up how the 'Bible Code' ended up, big hoopla over the discovery, less so on the debunking.
posted by bobo123 at 2:53 PM on November 6, 2002


bannedThrice wrote, "Bet Time magazine won't run an article about this debunking to match up with their worshipful piece they ran on the ossuary recently."

They sure won't, because, as far as I can tell, religion (Christian) stories sell these magazines (or advertising). Each of the big three (Time, Newsweek and USN&WR) runs a religious cover story about 3-4 times a year. One is predictably around Easter. And of course, they're always pure fluff journalism.
posted by tippiedog at 2:54 PM on November 6, 2002


Well, crap.

I guess us Christians are back to living by faith.

=)
posted by cinderful at 3:31 PM on November 6, 2002


(If that's a vav, -- then it's Hebrew, not Aramaic; if it's yod, then it's says 'my brother', not 'his brother' or 'brother of'. By no stretch of the imagination can one claim this to be in Aramaic... 'of' in Aramaic is 'di'.)

Clearly, this was JESUS' bone box. They (the Romans maybe?)hucked him in there and mislabeled it for any of a number of nefarious reasons. Jake, wearing a funny false beard, snuck in later with his engraver buddies and scrawled the correction on his own ostensible ossuary: "My bro jesus."
posted by damehex at 4:03 PM on November 6, 2002


kumbaya.
posted by quonsar at 4:32 PM on November 6, 2002


Please don't attack me for asking the question, but has anyone found this anywhere else? I do see some potential questions in the news source and I just wondered why a report this shocking didn't make it to the front page of CNN etc? Just asking, I certainly as sceptical as the next guy on this whole ossuary deal...

Probably for the same reason that accusations are on page A1, and retractions are in the bottom left-hand corner of page A25. Owning up to your mistakes doesn't sell newspapers, making ridiculous claims does.
posted by Hildago at 4:32 PM on November 6, 2002


Surprise, surprise.
posted by rushmc at 4:40 PM on November 6, 2002


Just add one more pile of BS to the whole religion thing. Anyone on the fence better get off and pick a side.

On one side legions of scientists, laypeople and intellectuals willing to ask questions on anything including their own theories, stating there is no proof of God, Jesus as the son of God, or anything mystical ever happening.

And the other side you have bible thumpers claiming that most if not everything in the bible happened, and if it's proven to have not happened by the aforementioned group, that it was a "parable" and only written as a moral example because as we all know....people just knew more 2000 years ago than we do today. Also, that's ok to subjugate or even kill someone if they don't agree with your beliefs.

Which side you on? It's all or nothing.
posted by CrazyJub at 4:56 PM on November 6, 2002


Jub: I really don't see how this has anything to do with issues of religious faith. Archaeological evidence of the historical Jesus (or his family) would be just as important to secular cultural history as it would be to Christianity. I also don't see anyone making faith-based arguments regarding the authenticity of this ossuary: this all seems like mainstream, scientifically grounded archaeology. You need to calm down, man.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:47 PM on November 6, 2002


Yes, CrazyJub, every person needs to be either an atheist or a fundamentalist. Way to miss out on millions of shades of complexity. Christ.

I'm actually kind of surprised by all the hoopla about this -- I didn't know that anyone was actually thinking that this was the genuine article. I thought that it was kind of a curiosity that the media was making a big deal of. I can't believe that anyone actually had any stock in it.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:31 PM on November 6, 2002


Did anyone really expect the damn thing to be real? I had hoax written all over it. The only real problem now is that my christian friends will spend the rest of their lives citing this as proof of their faith even though it's been debunked. Christ... It enough to make one become a Buddhist.
posted by mojoey at 9:40 PM on November 6, 2002


my christian friends will spend the rest of their lives citing this as proof of their faith

Do you actually know anyone whose spiritual faith is based on the existence of a relic? To most real Christians, finding this ossuary would have been "proof" of the existence of Christ as much as the discovery of John Adam's casket would prove the existence of George Washington. Either people believe it because they've just swallowed it their whole lives, or they've had an actual spiritual experience. Neither group is particularly likely to shape their opinions around an ossuary.

On one side legions of scientists, laypeople and intellectuals willing to ask questions....And the other side you have bible thumpers claiming that most if not everything in the bible happened, and if it's proven to have not happened by the aforementioned group,

Um. Yeah. How about intellectually lazy and spiritually naive folks like yourself who clearly don't fit in either category?
posted by namespan at 11:24 PM on November 6, 2002


Either people believe it because they've just swallowed it their whole lives, or they've had an actual spiritual experience. Neither group is particularly likely to shape their opinions around an ossuary.

Yeah, who needs "proof", "facts" and "evidence" when all you really need is "faith", "fear" and "blind obedience".

And to be fair, I'm not the one dividing people into two categories, I think there are many shades of gray in between. But as my own Catholic priest used to say...you either belive everything we tell you as the truth...well until we change it (going to hell for eating meat on Friday, working on a Sunday...) or you are NOT Catholic.
posted by CrazyJub at 6:23 AM on November 7, 2002


Christ... It enough to make one become a Buddhist.

Now that's what I'm talking about!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:27 AM on November 7, 2002


Jub, I'm confused -- was your priest right about the dichotomous nature of religion and wrong about the existence of god, or was that the other way around? Pretty idiotic.

Nice backpedaling at any rate. Sounded a lot like you were the one dividing people into two categories to me, what with your talk of fences and all.

Try a real argument next time.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2002


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