Ancient burial box contains earliest reference to Jesus
London – An ancient burial box claiming to contain the earliest reference to Jesus is set to go on display in Israel after its owner was cleared of forgery.
It has not been seen in public since a single, brief exhibition in Toronto in 2002, the Guardian reported.
The modest limestone burial box, known as an ossuary, is typical of first-century Jerusalem, and is owned by Oded Golan, an Israeli antiquities collector.
Chiselled on the side are the words “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
James the Just was the first leader of the Christians in Jerusalem after the Crucifixion. He was executed for apostasy by the local rabbinical court.
At that time, Jews were not buried but laid in a cave. The bones were collected after a year and placed in an ossuary.
Thousands have been discovered, some of them inscribed with names to identify whose bones they contain. One other ossuary mentions a brother.
Golan, who bought the box in the 1970s but did not realise its significance until Sorbonne professor Andre Lemaire noticed it, said that this is the oldest evidence that mentions the name of Jesus Christ.