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James ossuary found to be authentic
Posted: 19 July 2012 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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@Thevillageatheist.  This is the article I read—“Brother of Jesus” Inscription Is Authentic!.  But it is basically an over-excited op-ed piece, full of hyperbole, lots of sinister conspiracies, and very little science, So it may not be the one you are thinking of.  Shanks does give an awkward and fumbling summary of a statistical analysis, but not one that determined the probability that the ossuary belonged to James.  It determined the probability of there being more than one wealthy literate “James brother of Jesus” being buried near Jerusalem from 6 to 70 AD. 

Also palaeographers are not archaeologists.  Certainly not the ones Shanks cites.  Scientific techniques can be applied in palaeography (e.g., ink manufacture), but judging “shape and stance “of letters is not science.  That doesn’t make it wrong, but it’s more like art history and connoisseurship.  But I am perfectly happy to accept their judgment without any intersubjective evidence in this case.  They are, after all, “world class” wink  .

Out of context artifacts are crap evidence—that is just a basic tenet of archaeology, whether you take issue with it or not.  And archaeologists very rarely authenticate unprovenanced artifacts, especially if they are on the market.  There are ethical issues. Biblical archaeology is a world unto itself, but I don’t think they are that far gone.  The people you are thinking of are probably art historians.  As for Carter, using looted artifacts to locate unlooted sites is perfectly valid.  If you think about it, the historical value of Tutankhamen’s tomb lies in the fact that everything is in context (i.e., has a provenance). 

You are also confusing provenance with authenticity.  It doesn’t matter if the ossuary is authentic or not.  Yes, we’d know for sure it was authentic if it was provenanced, and could move on to interesting questions, instead of inanities. But it was looted, so we are stuck with in-depth discussions of writing-style, patina, and whose expert is more “world class”.  And in the end, its authenticity doesn’t matter from a scholarly point of view—it is out of context, and therefore has very little, if anything, to tell us.  However its ideological and market value will certainly improve.

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Posted: 25 July 2012 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I don’t claim to know anything about the James ossuary, but the way that “Supporters of James Ossuary Inscription’s Authenticity Vindicated” from the Biblical Archeology Review Magazine reads it seems to be more interested in proving that the Israeli Antiquities Authority is humiliated, and vindicating André Lemaire and Ada Yardeni, than it was in proving that the bone box is ancient and connected to Jesus.  Please everyone beware that this is a standard technique of the GOP to try to distract from the pertinent facts with personal attacks against the people involved who the GOP doesn’t like.  It says, “proved humiliating for the IAA” and, “André Lemaire of the Sorbonne and Ada Yardeni of Hebrew University.  All appear now to be vindicated.”

I mean no offense to anyone here, but the BAR article was weak on fact.

The titles of the other articles linked in the that BAR article seem like hyperbole too “James Ossuary Forgery Case in Shambles”, “Israel Antiquities Authority vs. Conspiracy of (Alleged) Forgers”.

The “‘Brother of Jesus’ Inscription Is Authentic!” BAR article is full of strong conclusions about the people involved and the ossuary but no reasons for those conclusions: “... it is “too good to be true.”, “... I have no doubt, however, that it is.”, “... they believe Lemaire and Yardeni have erred.”, “But don’t tell me it is forged simply because it was looted.”, “... a questionable provenance and had come to the public’s attention with such hoopla.”, “...  this “hoopla,” rather than as an insider. The IAA was furious.”, and so on.

Wouldn’t a good article talk about the age of the ossuary, and why people think it is that old?  Or say why it is a forgery?

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Posted: 25 July 2012 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I’ve seen but never read this BAR magazine. Has anyone dug into who funds it, who the editors are, etc.? I have a feeling there’s an ulterior motive to be found, and it’s to push a certain religious viewpoint, and only make it *appear* to be legitimate scholarship.

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Posted: 25 July 2012 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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There’s no doubt that this will be an ongoing controversy until either finally proven a forgery or proven scientifically to be the genuine article. And even if that it may be well neigh impossible to prove that it belonged to THE James. They’ll probably stuff it away until at sometime in the future more modern methods will reveal the facts. Here’s yet another opinion with more details including one I hadn’t previously read; there were bone fragments in the oussary. As to the sectarian nature of BAR, I’ve taken the mag off and on for the last 20 years and have detected no particular sectarian influence. The articles are meant to incite interest in biblical archeology and nothing more. It doesn’t carry a religious message created to advance a particular religious creed. My take on it is that the mag is meant for the general public and is definitely not meant to be a scholarly publication but a way to generate interest in the time period and the artifacts from that era.


http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar95.htm


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Posted: 25 July 2012 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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There used to be an article dealing with the James Ossuary at http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Final_Reports.htm but when I checked it out, I got one of those 404 Not Found pages so it may have been moved.

Be that as it may Herschel Shanks has invested a lot of effort in trying to prove this thing even though there was good reason to believe it was a hoax from the git go. (One of the parties involved had a track record for antiquities fraud.) Even though it’s questionable, Mr. Shanks is still at it. This is the reason I no longer have anything to do with BAR. When the editor decides what the conclusions are and sticks to his guns no matter how compelling the dis-confirming evidence is, there’s no science there and it’s time to move on.

I’ll grant that it may be genuine…(the problems were in the petina surrounding the inscription)...but I’ll withhold judgement until I hear it for myself from an impartial source. Mr. Shanks is NOT impartial.

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Posted: 25 July 2012 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I’ll grant that it may be genuine…(the problems were in the petina surrounding the inscription)...but I’ll withhold judgement until I hear it for myself from an impartial source. Mr. Shanks is NOT impartial.


That’s the one issue I’ll agree with you on EOC. It appears that he may have “target fixation” and I’m sure you catch my meaning. However, I still think that many of the articles are worth reading.

 

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Posted: 26 July 2012 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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However, I still think that many of the articles are worth reading.

I agree to the point that I’ve never had any real cause to question the integrity of the authors. BAR and Bible Review are the closest one can come to being able to acess peer reviewed articles on this dicipline outside of academia which is readily available to the public.

It’s just the pall Mr Shanks casts over both with his “These are my views and I’m sticking to them” approach which I can’t easily get past.

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Posted: 29 July 2012 01:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I asked Richard Carrier about this tonight. He gave me the backstory. As I could understand it (the room was noisy and I am not sure I caught it all), it has to do with a trial. The owner of the ossuary was on trial for fraud, and although the trial ended with the charges unproved, the judge lambasted him as a huckster. The magazines took the results—charge unproved—and turned it into ‘ossuary NOT a fake’. I will see Carrier again in 2 weeks and will ask him again to make sure I got it right.

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Posted: 29 July 2012 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I asked Richard Carrier about this tonight. He gave me the backstory. As I could understand it (the room was noisy and I am not sure I caught it all), it has to do with a trial. The owner of the ossuary was on trial for fraud, and although the trial ended with the charges unproved, the judge lambasted him as a huckster. The magazines took the results—charge unproved—and turned it into ‘ossuary NOT a fake’. I will see Carrier again in 2 weeks and will ask him again to make sure I got it right.

Thanks for the info Asanta. That’s one man I’d like to meet. But that’s not what happened. The trial only proved that Golen was not fraudulent in claiming the oussary’s authenticity and his innocence hinged on faking the artifact in 2002 when photographic evidence proved that he owned it since 1976 and the inscriptions were on it then. There are many experts in their field who have already published papers on the box but it will be , as usual, years before it has been conclusively proven to be authentic or a clever forgery. Yet even then it may never be determined to be from the actual Biblical James. Shanks has stated many times that his mission is to popularize biblical archeology by producing articles, sometimes controversial to capture the public’s attention. He probably jumped the gun here but it has generated tremendous curiosity, especially over the internet. Our discussion here is even mentioned on google of all things. Hoping to hear what Prof. Carrier says in the future.


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Posted: 29 July 2012 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Here’s the update from wiki BTW:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ossuary


I still don’t know how to cut and paste on this thing. I need to attend an I pad workshop!

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Posted: 29 July 2012 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 29 July 2012 05:28 AM

Thanks for the info Asanta. That’s one man I’d like to meet. But that’s not what happened. The trial only proved that Golen was not fraudulent in claiming the oussary’s authenticity and his innocence hinged on faking the artifact in 2002 when photographic evidence proved that he owned it since 1976 and the inscriptions were on it then. There are many experts in their field who have already published papers on the box but it will be , as usual, years before it has been conclusively proven to be authentic or a clever forgery. Yet even then it may never be determined to be from the actual Biblical James. Shanks has stated many times that his mission is to popularize biblical archeology by producing articles, sometimes controversial to capture the public’s attention. He probably jumped the gun here but it has generated tremendous curiosity, especially over the internet. Our discussion here is even mentioned on google of all things. Hoping to hear what Prof. Carrier says in the future.


Cap’t Jack

Your statement actually explains what he said much better than I did. His explanation agrees with what you said. My recounting of it was just very poorly done. I’ll ask about it again when I see him in 2 weeks. I’ll be able to have a one on one conversation with him at that time.

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Posted: 29 July 2012 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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All I can say to that is, I wish I was going with you. No one stops by here in the boonies. Except televangelists and country music stars. I rely on you guys for sparkling conversation!

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 30 July 2012 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 29 July 2012 03:00 PM

All I can say to that is, I wish I was going with you. No one stops by here in the boonies. Except televangelists and country music stars. I rely on you guys for sparkling conversation!

Cap’t Jack

Both he and Eugenie Scott live near me. I think I see both of them in various places several times a year. Carrier and I will probably be spending time discussing a DVD movie I loaned him. He is actually very nice, so is Eugenie Scott. Sorry you don’t live in my neck of the woods…

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Posted: 30 July 2012 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Both he and Eugenie Scott live near me. I think I see both of them in various places several times a year. Carrier and I will probably be spending time discussing a DVD movie I loaned him. He is actually very nice, so is Eugenie Scott. Sorry you don’t live in my neck of the woods…


Believe me Asanta, you have no idea. This is not “freethinker” territory. Many of the profs I work with here are conservative xtians. But we do have other advantages; the Fall is incredibly beautiful and the traffic is all but nonexistent. And the fishing is good if you’re into that form of rec. And if we want the city experience we’re only 2 hours from 3 big ones.


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Posted: 31 July 2012 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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SI volume 27.2, March / April 2003: Joe Nickel reported on the James ossuary

He doubts it, without making a strong conclusion.

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