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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Friday, April 18, 2003

 

And I, James...
About 2000 years ago on this day, after a sham trial and a hasty sentencing, an itinerant carpenter was executed in a minor Roman colony at the behest of its territorial governor and religious leaders. His mother was in attendance, and witnessed the horrific and degrading spectacle. But the carpenter, later known among his followers by his title in Greek, "Jesus," or, in English, "Savior," was not the only son of that esteemed lady. And it is another of her sons whom a scientist has brought to light on this day when the world mourns the death of his brother.

The discovery focusing the world's attention on Jesus' brother James is a limestone ossuary, a box used to house the bones of some prominent Jews in the first century AD. The box, rare in itself, bears the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Among historians, there is little doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure, thanks to the many writings of his followers and Josephus, the great Jewish secular historian. (Or Roman propagandist, depending on how you read him.) However, there has, to this point, been no physical evidence of this ossuary's magnitude. The presence of three names on the box, James, Joseph, and Jesus, narrows the possibility for error significantly. James, brother of Jesus, was a leader in the early church, heading the congregation at Jerusalem, settling controversies, and writing one of the clearest, toughest, and most practical of the epistles. Archaeologists estimate that the chances of another family bearing all three names in first-century Jerusalem are extremely slim.
"This is probably going to be the biggest New Testament find in my lifetime, as big as the Dead Sea scrolls," said Ben Witherington, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
"Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all historical religions, and they have to be open to historical inquiry," he said. "To some extent they stand or fall on the authenticity of the historical record. This gives us one more piece of evidence outside of the Bible that these are real people, and that they're important people, and provides a small confirmation for the claims made about James as the brother of Jesus." Biblical Archaeological Review.


Allegations of tampering or falsification of the inscription have been discounted due to the wealth of geological and archeological evidence provided by the ossuary. The Christian, Jewish, and secular archeologists who have examined the box have come to the conclusion that it is indeed the final resting place of James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ.


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