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  • incognito_lightbringer
    Just popped up on the AOL news section. AOL News: Scholar says artifact provides evidence of Jesus WASHINGTON (Oct. 21) -- An inscription on a burial artifact
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 21, 2002
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      Just popped up on the AOL news section.

      AOL News: Scholar says artifact provides evidence of Jesus

      WASHINGTON (Oct. 21) -- An inscription on a burial artifact that was
      recently discovered in Israel appears to provide the oldest
      archaeological evidence of Jesus Christ, according to an expert who
      dates it to three decades after the crucifixion.

      Writing in Biblical Archaeology Review, Andre Lemaire, a specialist
      in ancient inscriptions at France's Practical School of Higher
      Studies, says it is very probable the find is an authentic reference
      to Jesus of Nazareth.

      The archaeology magazine planned to announce the discovery at a news
      conference Monday.

      That Jesus existed is not doubted by scholars, but what the world
      knows about him comes almost entirely from the New Testament. No
      physical artifact from the first century related to Jesus has been
      discovered and verified. Lemaire believes that has changed, though
      questions remain, such as where the piece with the inscription has
      been for more than 19 centuries.

      The inscription, in the Aramaic language, appears on an empty
      ossuary, or limestone burial box for bones. It reads: ''James, son of
      Joseph, brother of Jesus.'' Lemaire dates the object to 63 A.D.

      Lemaire says the writing style, and the fact that Jews practiced
      ossuary burials only between 20 B.C. and A.D. 70, puts the
      inscription squarely in the time of Jesus and James, who led the
      early church in Jerusalem.

      All three names were commonplace, but he estimates that only 20
      Jameses in Jerusalem during that era would have had a father named
      Joseph and a brother named Jesus.

      Moreover, naming the brother as well as the father on an ossuary
      was ''very unusual,'' Lemaire says. There's only one other known
      example in Aramaic. Thus, this particular Jesus must have had some
      unusual role or fame - and Jesus of Nazareth certainly qualified,
      Lemaire concludes.

      It's impossible, however, to prove absolutely that the Jesus named on
      the box was Jesus of Nazareth.

      The archaeology magazine says two scientists with the Israeli
      government's Geological Survey conducted a detailed microscopic
      examination of the surface patina and the inscription. They reported
      last month that there is ''no evidence that might detract from the
      authenticity.''

      The ossuary's owner also is requiring Lemaire to shield his identity,
      so the box's current location was not revealed.

      James is depicted as Jesus' brother in the Gospels and head of the
      Jerusalem church in the Book of Acts and Paul's epistles.

      The first century Jewish historian Josephus recorded that ''the
      brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, James by name,'' was stoned to
      death as a Jewish heretic in A.D. 62. If his bones were placed in an
      ossuary that would have occurred the following year, dating the
      inscription around A.D. 63.

      The Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer, a Bible professor at Catholic University
      who studied photos of the box, agrees with Lemaire that the writing
      style ''fits perfectly'' with other first century examples and admits
      the joint appearance of these three famous names is ''striking.''

      ''But the big problem is, you have to show me the Jesus in this text
      is Jesus of Nazareth, and nobody can show that,'' Fitzmyer says.

      The owner of the ossuary never realized its potential importance
      until Lemaire examined it last spring. Hershel Shanks, editor of
      Biblical Archaeology Review, himself saw the box Sept. 25.

      Lemaire told The Associated Press the owner wants anonymity to avoid
      time-consuming contacts with reporters and religious figures. The
      owner also wants to avoid the cost of insurance and guarding the
      artifact, and has no plans to display it publicly, he said.

      AP-NY-10-21-02 1159EDT

      Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. The information contained in the
      AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
      otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The
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