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James Ossuary Owner Arrested on Fraud and Forgery Charges

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Israeli police arrest owner of the James ossuary and Joash tablet
After a six-month investigation, Israeli police on Monday arrested antiques collector Oded Golan on charges of fraud, forgery, using forged documents, and perverting the course of justice. In recent days, investigators searched Golan's home and storerooms, including a workroom on his roof where they say he forged antiquities. "A number of other 'antiques' in various stages of production were uncovered," reports the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha'aretz.

Also on Golan's Tel Aviv roof, "without any security or protection from the elements," was Golan's most famous possession—an ossuary that apparently once held the bones of "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Is this treatment of the ossuary another indication that the ossuary is a fraud, or that Golan is merely careless? After all, when he shipped the ossuary for display and testing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, he packed it so poorly that it cracked—right in the middle of the inscription.

Now even the ROM's Ed Keall, who has been one of the main scholars saying the ossuary is authentic, says Golan might have intentionally damaged the bone box to make testing harder. "I'm afraid at this stage I can't discount anything," he told The Ottawa Citizen. "The story's so bizarre."

Keall said Golan, who was remanded for four days while police continue their investigation, seemed trustworthy: "He really came across as a very innocent, almost gullible person. Aside from all our investigation, scientific analysis…this guy seemed to be a very genuine item. He didn't come off as a fast car salesman who was trying to deceive you. That's why it is all the more puzzling to have this notification that the police arrested him." ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns:
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