Box holding the bones of Jesus' brother was stolen, then a steal
The discovery of an ossuary that provides the best evidence that Jesus truly existed makes the front page of many major newspapers today. Most recount basic facts and reaction also found in our story yesterday, but a few more details and reactions have emerged as well, especially regarding the bone box's history.
The discoverer and lead researcher, André Lemaire of the Sorbonne University in Paris, says the owner bought the ossuary 15 years ago from an Arab dealer who said it came from Silwan, a Jerusalem suburb with many ancient tombs. The owner paid between $200 and $700 for what is now being called "the most important find in the history of New Testament archaeology."
Lemaire told The Washington Post that the owner "didn't know about Christian traditions." The reason he asked Lemaire (whom he met by chance at a reception last spring) to take a look was because the inscription on the ossuary seemed extraordinarily long.
After translating the stone etching, Lemaire only told the owner that it was "interesting."
Actually, The National Post of Canada has a bit of a different story of the ossuary: "An Arab villager found the ossuary 16 years ago near Jerusalem. … The villager brought the box to a dealer, who resold it to a collector for about $1,500."
"No one wants an ossuary in their home," says Simcha Jacobovici, a Canadian filmmaker who is making a documentary about the ossuary for the Discovery Channel. "People are creeped out."
While the documentary is due out around Easter, the ossuary may actually be on display in North America as early as next month, reports The Baltimore Sun. The first likely stop? A Toronto gathering of archaeologists.
Reaction among archaeologists ...