Is This the Burial Box of Jesus' Brother? Still No Answer

Judge unable to determine whether ossuary once held bones of James
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2012 1:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – After seven years of hearings about a 2,000-year-old box, an Israeli judge has let an alleged forger off the hook without ruling on whether the burial box once held the bones of James, one of four brothers of Jesus named in the New Testament. The limestone box carries the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" in Aramaic. The judge said he had heard so much conflicting testimony from dozens of experts that he could not determine whether collector Oded Galon was guilty of forging the inscription, AP reports.

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"This topic is likely to continue to be the subject of research in the scientific and archeological worlds, and time will tell," the judge wrote in his 475-page verdict. The trial exposed plenty of shady dealings in the Holy Land antiquities trade, with witnesses describing grave robbing and looting of archeological sites. Golan, who claimed he bought the box from Arab traders in East Jerusalem, was convicted of other charges, including selling artifacts without a license and possessing stolen artifacts. Reuters notes that The Roman Catholic church, along with other Christian churches, don't believe Jesus had brothers. (Read more Jesus Christ stories.)

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