Israel's Antiquities Authority begins investigation of James ossuary, wants Joash tablet
A first-century limestone box that may have held the bones of James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the early church, is back in Israel after its display at the Royal Ontario Museum. The Antiquities Authority has created two separate commissions of archaeologists, geologists, and language experts to study the ossuary, the Associated Press reported yesterday. It's trying to authenticate the box and its inscription. Many scholars already accept their legitimacy, though there is some question about whether the inscription "James, the Brother of Jesus" must refer to the biblical men.
There's still plenty of mystery surrounding the James ossuary—questions of where it was found, for example, may forever remain unclear—but a bigger biblical archaeology tempest is swirling around the Joash inscription, which describes repairs to the First Temple in language very similar to 2 Kings 12.
The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reports that the inscription is "stirring controversy and suspicion among archaeologists, historians, religious and state authorities, and even the police."
Biblical Archaeology Review says the inscription is big news, whether it's real or fake:
If authentic, it may provide evidence for Israel's claim to the Temple Mount. If a forgery, some Israeli may be trying to manufacture evidence of Israel's claim to the Temple Mount. Or some Palestinian may be trying to plant an obvious forgery in order to undermine supposed evidence of Israel's claim to the Temple Mount. If authentic, it would support the historicity of the Book of Kings. If authentic, it might even show that the First Temple—Solomon's Temple—was decorated with gold. If authentic, ...