Sunday, February 25, 2007

Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes full of Bible people

During the 2002 American Academy of Religion-Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum had a well-timed display of the so-called "James ossuary."

It was a 1st-century CE stone box of a type used in the Middle East back then for storage of cleaned and dismembered skeletons of the dead. This one was inscribed, "James the brother of Jesus," and much excitement was felt over that.

Until it turned out to be a fake. The box was real enough, but the inscription was not.

So you have to wonder about these inscriptions that claim to read "Judah son of Jesus," "Mary," and so on.

Now the Discovery Channel is about to unleash a show about a whole stack of ossuaries. Yes, it's the Jesus Family Tomb.

Ah, biblical archaeology. It's rarely dull. The "Lost Tomb of Jesus" indeed. How the Christian bloggers will blog, the preachers will preach, and the dull thumping sound you hear is an archaeologist beating his head against the wall.

(The title is an homage to Malvina Reynolds, whose songs helped me to survive high school.)

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