- Hardcover: 226 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (March 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060556609
- ISBN-13: 978-0060556600
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,875,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Brother of Jesus: The Dramatic Story & Meaning of the First Archaeological Link to Jesus & His Family 1st Edition
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Before lay readers can grasp the significance of this book, theyll need a little historical reference. In the time of Jesus, the Jews of Jerusalem often buried their dead in tombs. After a year, when the flesh had disintegrated, it was customary to gather the bones and place them in a small limestone chest called an ossuary. Sometimes the name of the deceased would be inscribed onto the outside of the box. Flash forward to the spring of 2002 when Andre Lemaire, a specialist in ancient texts, was asked to read the Aramaic inscription on an ossuary that was owned by a collector in Israel. When Lemaire translated the inscription--"James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"--he knew he had just stumbled upon an artifact in the same caliber as the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Just as this artifact is now in safe hands, so is the amazing story of its discovery. Co-authors Hershel Shanks (The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Ben Witherington III (The Jesus Quest) are esteemed scholars as well as riveting storytellers. They expertly recount the exciting moments of discovery and the darker moments of despair (at one point the ossuary is improperly shipped and breaks into five pieces). They build a convincing case against its forgery and offer a flourishing finish in which they delve into the life of James, who was a linking force between the Jews and Christian of the first millennium, and could possibly continue that role into the second millennium. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Last October, biblical archaeologists stunned the world with news that a limestone ossuary with the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" had surfaced in Palestine and may have once contained the bones of James, the early church leader and brother of Jesus of Nazareth. While it may seem a startling claim for the unassuming and unadorned 20-inch box, numerous scholars who have examined the ossuary now vouch for its first-century origins, if not its theological significance. Jews employed ossuaries for a relatively brief historical period (approximately 20 B.C. to A.D. 70), which fits with the textual evidence of James's martyrdom around A.D. 62. This book is the first full-length treatment of the ossuary, and is written by a couple of big guns: Shanks is the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review (which first broke the story), and Witherington is a seminary professor and author of a score of books on the Bible. Their collaboration is a well-argued and truly fascinating study of the ossuary and its importance. The opening chapters tell of the box's discovery and authentication, while the later chapters discuss its potential relevance and describe what is at stake if the ossuary is genuine. Particularly interesting is the book's discussion of what the ossuary does for Jewish-Christian relations: James, the bishop of Jerusalem, was known for encouraging Christians to retain aspects of their Jewish heritage instead of jettisoning that heritage as Paul had. This engaging book invites readers to ponder the numerous questions and possibilities raised by the ossuary's discovery.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Really, much hasn't changed since this book was published. It gives a compelling case why there is a high probablilty that the inscription is real. It also addresses the claims of those who think it was a hoax. Many will be surprised that a close look at their claims reveals much uncertainty on the skeptics' part. Their claims of "hoax" aren't as cut and dry as they made it sound. It's like they want it to be a hoax and grasp at straws trying to prove their assertion. A great read to illuminate the vague headlines. See also The Truth About the Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery,The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible &Searching for the Ark of the Covenant
The box itself is inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The Bible agrees: Jesus’ father was Joseph and one brother was James. The box was discovered in the collection of a private collector, who had no recollection of its origin … and no idea of its potentially incredible value. It’s dated pretty accurately to the first century, so while we cannot say with any certainty that it’s authentic to THE Jesus, both authors are convinced it’s an authentic first-century bone box.
This practice of removing the bones from the tomb and burying them again in a small box was practiced only for a short time, from about 20 BC to 70 AD. This, too, points to the period of Jesus. But what are the odds that this box once held the bones of the brother of Jesus? All three of these names—Jesus (Yeshua), James (Ya’akov), and Joseph (Yosef)—were quite common back then, but it’s still possible to estimate the odds. One estimate is that about 20 such James’s (with the indicated brother and father) would have lived in that period; another estimate is between 2 and 4. But how many would have a brother so famous that his brother’s name would be indicated on his ossuary? That would be a rarity. If this is the brother of the “real” Jesus, then, as Shanks posits, this little box may be “the most astonishing find in the history of archaeology.”
Then Witherington takes over halfway through the book to tell us about James, the brother of Jesus. Who he was, what he taught, how he died. While Peter and Paul may have become the most famous apostles, James was in reality probably the most important after the death of Jesus. He was appointed as the head of the Jerusalem church, the mother church.
Among other things, Witherington goes head to head with the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. While the Bible lists several brothers of Jesus, Catholics maintain that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus was born, and many believe the listed “brothers” are really just cousins. This idea was promoted by St. Jerome. Witherington quotes John P. Meier, a leading Catholic New Testament scholar, as saying that if the James ossuary is authentic, it is probably the last nail in the coffin of Jerome’s view of the brothers of Jesus being cousins.
I’ve always enjoyed the writings of both these authors, and this book doesn’t disappoint.