Joe Zias and the James Ossuary

Joe Zias recently posted a new article at Bible & Interpretation on his claim to have seen the famed “James ossuary” in a Jerusalem antiquities shop in the 1990s which would contradict the owner of the ossuary, Oded Golan’s claim to have purchased it in the 1970s. I remember well when Joe first made this claim to me and a group of friends in our hotel room at the AAR/SBL/ASOR meeting in Atlanta in November, 2003. At that time I communicated his claim to both Eric Meyers and Hershel Shanks and we all spoke with Joe about it in the hallways of those meetings that year. Joe remembers this and quite a few other things differently1 but his article is worth working through. Most helpful are Greg Doudna’s responses in the comments. So far Joe has not responded but it seems much of the confusion has been solved by Greg and it is most likely that Zias is simply not remembering things correctly. What is even more odd about the piece is that Zias seems to ignore the abundant testimony presented in the protracted trial that appears to seriously call into question the case for forgery, see the summary article by Rosenfeld, et al. here as well as Oded Golan’s persuasive testimony, at least on this topic of the James ossuary, here.


  1. For example, he asserts that he first told us about seeing the ossuary at the ASOR meeting in Boston in 2003–but the annual meetings were in Atlanta