For 2,000 years, pilgrims and archaeologists have hunted for physical evidence of Jesus and his family, without success.
But now an ancient burial box claiming to contain the earliest reference to the Christian saviour is about to go on public display in Israel after its owner was cleared of forgery. It has not been seen in public since a single, brief exhibition in Toronto in 2002.
The modest limestone burial box, known as an ossuary, is typical of first-century Jerusalem, and is owned by Oded Golan, an Israeli antiquities collector. Chiselled on the side are the words "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."
James the Just was the first leader of the Christians in Jerusalem after the Crucifixion. He was executed for apostasy by the local rabbinical court.
At that time, Jews were not buried but laid in a cave. The bones were collected after a year and placed in an ossuary. Thousands have been discovered, some of them inscribed with names to identify whose bones they contain. One other ossuary mentions a brother.
"This is the oldest evidence that mentions the name of Jesus Christ," said Golan, who bought the box in the 1970s but did not realise its significance until Sorbonne professor Andre Lemaire noticed it in Golan's collection. Lemaire published his findings in 2002 and the ossuary was briefly displayed at a Toronto museum, causing a worldwide sensation.
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This was a real surprise to me. I had not ever heard about it, but I guess the fact that it dropped out of sight in 2002 would explain that...12 years ago.
In any event, I gather from reading the article that there was some suspicion of forgery, but that has evidently been resolved in the favor of the man who made the find.
It would be great if it was real, because as Urantia Book students know, James WAS indeed, the brother of Jesus...the next to him in age. James was very close to Jesus, and was a great help and a loving brother to him all through his life. But even if it's a fake, it doesn't change the fact that Jesus DID have a brother James.
We have a nice compact study of the siblings of Jesus, compiled from the Life and Teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book. If this is your first time hearing this information about Jesus having brothers and sisters, you'll really enjoy it! There is quite a bit in there regarding James.
I was not able to find any solid info in The Urantia Book about how James finally died, but there is this. The first reference is from TruthBook's Timeline
30 A.D. - April 16. John Zebedee took Mary the mother of Jesus to his home in Bethsaida. James, Jesus' eldest brother, remained with his family in Jerusalem. Ruth remained at Bethany with Lazarus's sisters. The rest of Jesus' family returned to Galilee.
And from The Urantia Book:
194:4.12 Stephen, the leader of the Greek colony of Jesus’ believers in Jerusalem, thus became the first martyr to the new faith and the specific cause for the formal organization of the early Christian church. This new crisis was met by the recognition that believers could not longer go on as a sect within the Jewish faith. They all agreed that they must separate themselves from unbelievers; and within one month from the death of Stephen the church at Jerusalem had been organized under the leadership of Peter, and James the brother of Jesus had been installed as its titular head.
And then broke out the new and relentless persecutions by the Jews, so that the active teachers of the new religion about Jesus, which subsequently at Antioch was called Christianity, went forth to the ends of the empire proclaiming Jesus. In carrying this message, before the time of Paul the leadership was in Greek hands; and these first missionaries, as also the later ones, followed the path of Alexander’s march of former days, going by way of Gaza and Tyre to Antioch and then over Asia Minor to Macedonia, then on to Rome and to the uttermost parts of the empire.