For 2,000 years, pilgrims and archaeologists have hunted for physical evidence of Jesus and his family, without success.
But now an ancient burial box claiming to contain the earliest reference to the Christian saviour is about to go on public 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 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.
There’s various bits and pieces about whether Jesus had brothers and so on. Whether Mary had more than the one child etc. And no, I’m not worried about all of that.
Instead, a different question. The name Joseph was very common in that time and place. James too. John, etc.
Jesus…..is that a unique name? Is it even a name at all or is it more like a title?