V RaptureChrist Newsletter
November 1, 2002

James' Ossuary

The discovery of the ossuary of James, brother of Jesus, our Messiah, is the most exciting development in the history of New Testament archeology.   This ancient relic has been called 'the most important extra-biblical evidence of its kind.'

It was found south of the Mount of Olives, in the town of Silwan, a densely settled Arab village full of  subterranean Jewish burial caves dating from the 1st century.  According to the ossuary's owner, a Jerusalem Jewish archeological collector, the dealer who sold it to him told him that it was unearthed in the 1970's from a cave in the Silwan area. 

James' OssuaryFrench scholar Andre Lemaire,  from the University of La Sorbonne, believes that this 1st century burial box, which measures approximately 20 x 10 x 12 inches, is the first archaeological proof of the existence of our Lord Jesus.

To assess the box's composition,  Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, sent it to be examined.  Scientists from the Geological Survey of Israel determined that the ossuary was made of a limestone quarried  from the Mount Scopus ridge (which includes the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem).  They dated it to the 1st or 2nd century A.D., noting that the undisturbed cauliflower-shaped structure of its patina indicated that it had spent centuries in a cave, confirming its antiquity and ruling out forgery.

The inscription on the box reads from right to left "Yaakov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua" which in English translates to "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."  The language of the inscription is the Aramaic spoken by Jews in Jerusalem in the 1st century A.D.

Inscription on James' ossuary

The words are so simple that any Hebrew reader would be able to understand what it says. 

There are 3 possibilities to spell the name "yeshua": the three letter Yeshu , the four letter Yeshua , or the five letter Yehoshua .  The latter was the most common in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus.

The old editions of the Talmud, compiled by rabbis during the 3rd to 6th centuries A.D.,  referred to Jesus as Yeshua .  They never referred to Jesus with the five letter word Yehoshua (the most common name).

If we look at James' ossuary, the name is spelled  Yeshua , confirming the Talmud for the correct name of our Lord Jesus.

To find the name of a brother in the obituary of the deceased is rather odd; it would only be done if that brother was well known by the community, just as Jesus was. 

The box contains small bone fragments, the largest one measuring three inches by half inch.  These fragments will stay in Jerusalem, but the ossuary will be sent to Canada this month.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), located in Toronto, Canada, announced recently that the James Ossuary will be placed on exhibit in the Mediterranean World Feature Exhibition Gallery by Saturday, November 16, 2002 and remain until Sunday, December 29, 2002.

Remember Jesus words about the stones:

Luke 19:40
He answered them, "I tell you that if these were silent, the stones would cry out."

Yes, James' stone burial box is crying out to us the truth about our Messiah. 

For more information, see:


Who Was James?

According to the Gospels, James was one of the brothers of Jesus.

Matthew 13:55
"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary (Miriam), and His brothers, James (Yaakov) and Joseph (Yosef) and Simon and Judas?

So we read that Jesus had at least 4 brothers. Judas was Jesus' youngest brother, the writer of the Epistle of Jude.  Jesus also had sisters.

Mark 6:3
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary(Miriam), and brother of James(Yaakov) and Joses(Yosef) and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.

But Jesus' brothers did not believe in Him till after the resurrection.

John 7:5
For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

Christ appeared to his brother James soon after his resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:7
Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Seven week after the resurrection, at the time of  Pentecost, when all of Jesus' followers were meeting in the temple, we find Jesus' brothers were also there.

Acts 1:14
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary(Miriam) the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

After his conversion, James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

Galatians 1:19 
But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

Peter, after escaping from prison, leaves a message for James and the Apostles at the home of Mary the mother of John.  By mentioning James' name first, he implies the preeminence of James over the other brethren.

Acts 12:17
But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, "Report these things to James(Yaakov) and the brethren." Then he left and went to another place.

James, Peter, and John are considered "the pillars" of the Christian church.  James is mentioned first, meaning he had higher standing among the brethren.

Galatians 2:9
And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

James wrote the Epistle of James.

James 1:1
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus says that James, the brother of Jesus, was martyred in 62 A.D., by being thrown down from the Temple in Jerusalem and finished off by being clubbed in the head.  His burial box is dated to that 1st century as Jews stopped the practice of using ossuaries to transfer the bones of the deceased after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

James was of a similar mentality to his brother Jesus in keeping the law. When Jesus was asked "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said:

Matthew 19:17
...if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.

Notice that Christ requires actions from us, not simply faith. James also says:

James 2:17
Even so, faith without works is dead.

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