Remains of Jesus' Brother

Written by Frank Jamerson.

The Ledger (Tue., Oct. 22) carried an article about a burial box found in Israel that “could be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus Christ, according to a French scholar whose findings were published Monday.”

     The article said: “An inscription in the Aramaic language - ’James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’- appears on an empty ossuary, a limestone burial box for bones.

Andre Lamaire 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...a professor at Catholic University (Joseph Fitzmyer) who studied photos of the box, agrees with Lamaire that the writing style ‘fits perfectly’ with other first century examples. The joint appearance of these three famous names is ‘striking,’ he said.”

The article also quoted the first century historian, Josephus, who said that James, “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,” was stoned to death as a Jewish heretic in A.D. 62. “If his bones were placed in an ossuary the inscription would have occurred the following year, A.D. 63.”

The claim “was attacked by Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach, who unlike most scholars thinks that ‘Jesus’ existence is a very shaky thing.’ Since Eisenman is highly skeptical about New Testament history, he considers the new discovery ‘just too pat. It’s just too perfect.’”

     I found two things very interesting about these reactions. First, the professor at Catholic University agreed that James was the brother of Jesus and son of Joseph. This agrees with what the New Testament says. Jesus had  brothers “James, Joses, Simon and Judas” and “sisters” (Mt. 13:55,56). It does not agree with the doctrine that Mary was a perpetual virgin. Second, the professor at California State University does not  believe that Jesus ever existed, therefore could not have had a brother named James.

We need to be careful about jumping to conclusions before all the evidence has been presented. In years past, some (especially the Seventh Day Adventists) have claimed to have found Noah’s ark. That would be an amazing find, but evidence for that is not very convincing. My faith in the flood does not depend upon archaeological proof that it happened. Nor does my faith in the existence of Christ depend upon finding a tomb that has His name on it. The evidence for the Bible being the word of God is overwhelming, and no archaeological discovery has ever contradicted the truth found in Scripture, but not every Scriptural fact has been confirmed by archaeological evidence. It will be interesting to follow the investigation of this latest discovery.

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