Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Will the James Ossuary be Destroyed?

Most people know the story of Solomon and the baby. Two women claim the same baby as their own son. Solomon decides that the easy way to discover the truth is to divided the baby and give the women each a half. The real mother decides to save her son and give up the baby. Solomon then gives her back her son.

The story certainly provides some wisdom for dealing with disputes. But is that always the case? A judge in Israel is set to announce today the fate of the James Ossuary that some have claimed belonged to James the brother of Jesus. The judge acquitted Oded Golan of forgery charges, but the fate of the ossuary and some other artifacts is to be decided sometime today. The judge has suggested that one to settle the dispute is to destroy it. Here is what the Jerusalem Post reported.

A Jerusalem judge will announce on Wednesday whether he has decided to order the destruction of a burial box that could have held the bones of the brother of Jesus and an inscribed tablet that could have come from the First Temple.
At a Jerusalem District Court hearing in April, Judge Aharon Farkash said he might exercise “the judgement of Solomon” and order both items to be destroyed.
At a hearing in April, the prosecution demanded a tough sentence including jail time and said that the ossuary, the tablet and many other items should be confiscated by the court, even though Golan had been acquitted of all charges related to them.
“Maybe I’ll order them to be destroyed and neither side will have them,” said Farkash in comments that were not recorded in the official court transcript.
It would be “the judgement of Solomon,” said Judge Farkash.“Neither of you will have the ossuary or the Jehoash tablet. They broke once already; they can be broken again. Just destroy them,” he said.
The judge also suggested that the items might be put on display for the public.“Maybe they should be exhibited at the Israel Museum as items from this trial suspected of being fakes,” he said.
Experts who gave evidence for both sides last night urged Judge Farkash not to destroy the items.

I have my doubts that this will happen. It sounds more like he was exasperated with both sides and spoke out of frustration. I suppose we will find out.

Update: The judge didn't order the destruction of the ossuary. But he did give the government 30 days to demonstrate why it should be given custody of the ossuary rather than Golan. Read the brief here.


  1. I thought they had decided this was a fake. From the sounds of it, though, I guess they are still on the fence.

  2. Kirra,

    No, the only thing that was decided is that there was not enough evidence to prove that Golan was a forger. As to its authenticity, that question is still open.