V RaptureChrist Newsletter
December 1, 2002

Is it Authentic? 

On November 24, 2002 there was a public presentation at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto about the authenticity of the James' ossuary.

Hershel Shanks

According to Hershel Shanks, one of the speakers at the conference and president of the Biblical Archaeological Review magazine, antiquities are not always found from an excavated site. For many years there has been looting, and a black market for antiquities, but that does not make the antiquity less real. In whatever form the antiquity comes to us we should investigate it, and if it is of importance, we should publish these findings for all to partake of. 

Eric Myers, from Duke University, is very opposed to publishing information on antiquities found on the open market, in other words not found from an excavated site. This is a topic which is now under much debate by the biblical archaeological scholars (if antiquities found on the open market should be published in magazines such as the BAR and others).  Today we have important antiquities that were put on the open market by the Bedouins who found them, such as the dead sea scrolls.

The topic of statistics was brought up in the discussion 
panel. The probability that the inscription belongs to James the Just, the brother of our Lord Yeshua has also been calculated by Camil Fuchs, head of Tel Aviv University's Department of Statistics and Operations Research in the School of Mathematical Sciences.

Professor Fuchs used for his calculation the number of adult Jewish males named James, who had a father named Joseph and a brother named Jesus during the period. He also incorporated literacy rates (it was important for the family to be able to read the inscription) and the affordability factor (the family had to be able to afford this costly custom).

Fuchs' calculations estimate that only one person could be "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus".  As far as we know, Fuchs did not even lower his probability from using the right name on the box, Yeshua.  See the November 1, 2002 newsletter.

These facts all narrow down the possibilities and make it more likely to be authentic.  But ultimately why are we so intrigued by the box?  Could it be that inside us all we know that God exists and to see physical proof of that existence just makes us shake?  Now God's existence has become more material to us, not anymore just simply an idea.

The Owner of James' Ossuary

And who is the owner of the box, this man who in the  beginning wanted to stay anonymous, but with the damage of the box to Toronto, decided to go there to view the repairs, and then became known to the world? 

Oded Golan

The owner is Oded Golan, a 51 year old engineer from Tel Aviv and one of the largest private antiquities collectors in Israel with a collection of over 3,000 pieces.  The second son of Eliezer and Rivka, an engineer and a micro-biologist, Oded began his love for collecting antiquities since he was 8 years old.

Aside from his interest in archaeology, according to his brother Yaron, Oded is also a very talented piano player: "He's a gifted pianist, not just another pianist. Even his dog had musical talent."

Oded Golan studied at the Tichon Hadash high school in Tel Aviv, and engineering at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.  He currently works in South Tel Aviv, where he owns two companies.  In one, he is the director and the sole shareholder, in the other, his parents and brother are managers along with him.

Oded, according to his mother, showed an interest in archaeology from an early age; he joined Yigael Yadin’s excavation at Masada when he was only 11 years old. 

After the Six-Day War, when he was a teenager, he often traveled to the Old City in Jerusalem looking for antiquities.  In the early 1970s he bought the now famous James' ossuary.  He only paid a few hundred dollars at the time, as this ossuary was very plain and less costly than the rest in the antiquities market.  The box has been in his possession for about thirty years, some of this time in a shed.

Last year, French scholar André Lemaire was in Jerusalem. He attended a private party where he met Golan who asked him to decipher some inscriptions for him. When Lemaire read the inscription on the ossuary, he immediately understood its significance. 

Oded had no understanding of the importance of the inscription.  How could the son of God have a brother? He didn't know that Jesus had a brother named James.  From that moment on, the somewhat normal life of Oded was radically changed.  

According to Golan, he found at the age of 10, 
within a pile of rubble behind a hotel, the oldest dictionary known today. This man seems to have been blessed with being able to find antiquities of much value since a young age. It seems that this box has been his destiny.

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