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22.10.02

Stone Box May Be Oldest Link To Jesus

A nondescript limestone box, looted from a Jerusalem cave and held secretly in a private collection in Israel, carries an inscription that could be the earliest known archaeological reference to Jesus, according to new research released yesterday.

The box, an ossuary used at the time of Jesus to hold bones of the deceased that dates to about 60 A.D., has almost no ornamentation except for a simple Aramaic inscription: Ya 'a kov bar Yosef a khui Yeshua -- "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."


I'm a bit skeptical about this find, which has been trumpeted as The Real Thing all over the media. James, Joseph, and Jesus were fairly common names in first-century Judea. And the possibility of a 2000-year-old forgery can't be ruled out. This is an example of antiquarian archaeology -- collecting neat artifacts, rather than systematically examining the remains of a site that can give a fuller picture of how ancient people lived.

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