Oded Golan Innocent on All Counts in James Ossuary Forgery Trial
by James Tabor
I got the news by phone from Israel an hour ago, posted the news on Facebook and Twitter. Reports are beginning to appear slowly:
A Roman-era burial box inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was reprieved from the scrapheap of history on Wednesday when a Jerusalem judge completely exonerated an Israeli antiquities collector who had been accused of forging it.
The verdict, delivered by Judge Aharon Farkash in a tiny, crowded courtroom in the Jerusalem District Courthouse, ended a seven-year ordeal for the accused, Oded Golan, 60, but it will do little to extinguish the decade-long scientific controversy over the authenticity of the limestone box which has raged since it was first displayed to the public at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2002. Matthew Kalman
Both Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch were declared innocent of the main counts of forgery for both the James ossuary inscription and the Yohoash tablet. Predictably, prejudiced parties who had pilloried Oded unmercifully for the past seven years are already declaring–oh well, the verdict is innocent but the inscription is still a fake. So much for due process and the evidence. Why not just cast it all off and maintain your position? These very critics obviously have not read Oded’s own testimony of the trial, posted at bibleinterp.com, which had been up for months and totally ignored by those who have nothing to say but silence in the force of the evidence. This is a victory for justice and the judicial process as well as for those who are falsely maligned. The only question I guess is the famous Ray Donovan query: “Where do I go now to get my reputation back?”
This also opens the way for Dr. Aryeh Shimron to complete his soil tests on the James ossuary, see The Jesus Discovery, chapter 6 (pp. 159ff) where we discuss the whole issue of the James ossuary and the latest evidence as to its provenance. Oded Golan will have possession again of the ossuary and he has already said he would co-operate with us Dr. Shimron on these tests. It will also now be possible to carry out DNA tests that we have long had in mind involving the significant quantity of bone fragments that were in the ossuary even as recently as 2002 which have been in safe keeping until after the trial. We do, by the way, publish in the book the complete new results of our DNA tests on both the bone fragments from both the Yeshua bar Yehosef and the Mariamene Mara ossuaries. We had new tests done at the Paleo-DNA lab at the University of California at Davis. So far everyone has been arguing about the four-line Greek inscription and the Jonah and the fish image and have not gotten to that bit of news yet. We are also going to do some tests on the limestone boxes themselves, which are remarkably similar in shape, size, and appearance, as you can see in the photo above. It is possible to tell from the artisan’s engraving marks, in hollowing out and shaping the block of limestone, whether they come from the same hand.
I guess the lesson I take away from this, likely to be ignored by many in our field is how horrible it is to destroy a person’s life by this sort of media/internet “crucifixion” process. I know Oded quite well and he is a heck of a good guy, contrary to all the nasty things people have said about him who have never met him or even had a single word with him. I know the same to be true of Robert Deutsch from our exchanges by e-mail.
For those who want to keep up with the latest, even before this trial verdict was declared, be sure to read these two posts that many apparently have missed:
The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries: http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/JOT.shtml
The James Ossuary in Talpiot: Kevin Kilty and Mark Elliot: