Robert Eisenman on the ossuary
Robert Eisenman has had friends direct his attention to the threads that
have developed from the posting of Dr. Altman's report, and he asked me to
post to this list a link to an op-ed article he wrote for the Los Angeles
Times (USA), and which appeared in their 10/29 edition.
The link requires you to register to access the article. I've had a little
trouble registering (can there really be two of me?) so I've also asked them
for permission to post the full text of the article here (for free), but
will not know how they feel about that for a day or so.
In the meantime, I will summarize his article as follows (forgive me, Prof.
Eisenman, if I end up putting words in your mouth that you might disagree
Aside from the reasons many have to be suspicious, such as the inscription
appearing cleaner than the rock surface, sudden miraculous appearance, no
confirmed provenance or authenticated chain of custody or transmission,
Eisenman has concerns about the content of the inscription itself.
As many here know, he is not sure that "son of Joseph" is even correct in
the case of James the Just. He would feel more secure if it had been "Jacob
the son of Cleophas," "Clopas" or even "Alphaeus" (considering all three as
probably interchangeable), mainly because these would generally *not* have
been expected by most critics in spite of their prevalence in early
Christian tradition. However, Eisenman would be willing to accept a simple
"son of Joseph" if the inscription stopped there.
But what Eisenman considers more troublesome is the phrase "brother of
Jesus," saying that almost no ancient source calls James this*. To him, this
sounds like the kind if phrase a later pilgrim from the 4th or 5th century
might have said of James, at the earliest. Paul calls him "James the brother
of the Lord," and many, including Hegesippus from the 2nd century and
Eusebius from the 4th, call him "James the Zaddik" or "Just One." In
addition, calling James by both his paternal and his fraternal name seems
very unusual to Eisenman.
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
*The exceptions being, I [Dave H.] think, the account in Josephus'
Antiquities 20.9.1, which is cited directly by Origen, and probably
indirectly by Hippolytus (both late 2nd century). However, this will revolve
heavily around the genuineness of Josephus' statement, which I believe must
be determined by the fact that in War 4.5.2 it is the death of *Ananus* by
the Idumeans during the Jewish rebellion that led to the destruction of the
city of Jerusalem, combined with the fact that Ananus is *the* central
figure of the story of Ant 20, and not James.