Friday, November 04, 2005

Jesus and the Ossuaries

Craig Evans' new book Jesus and the Ossuaries: What Jewish Burial Practices Reveal about the Beginning of Christianity is a tour of 1st century history unlike many others. [See The Intro]
The recent discovery and exhibition of an ancient Jewish ossuary (a burial box) that bears the inscription "James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" has stunned scholars and public alike. Could it really be that this small stone box actually contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus Christ?
While the preliminary scientific and paleographic study suggests that this ossuary may well be authentic (i.e., datable to the first century) and may well refer to James, the brother of Jesus, whose leadership to early Christianity in Jerusalem has become public, what is still shrouded in mystery is that this ossuary is only one of several that shed important archaeological light on the historical Jesus and the origins of Christianity. In Jesus and the Ossuaries Craig A. Evans helps all readers, expert and layperson alike, understand the importance of this recent find for the quest for the historical Jesus and any historical reconstruction of early Christianity.
Evans provides an overview of the most important archaeological discoveries, including those near the Dead Sea, before summarizing archaeological findings relevant to first-century Galilee and Judea.Against this backdrop, Evans then provides a detailed study of nine other inscriptions (six on ossuaries, three on stone slabs) thatpertain in one way or another to the historical Jesus and the arguments for and against the authenticity and identification of therecently discovered James Ossuary (the tenth major inscription).Evans concludes his volume with a measured consideration of the historical, exegetical, and apologetic value of the archaeologicaldata afforded by the several inscriptions.

1 comment:

Jon Watson said...

This Craig Evans book is also now part of the Baylor New Testament Backgrounds Collection on Logos.