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tv   Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery  CNN  December 25, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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♪ an ancient burial box, inscribed with the name "james, son of joseph, brother of jesus." a box that might actually be a connection to jesus christ himself, but who was his brother james? >> the gospels are very clear that jesus had siblings. >> from doubter -- >> can you imagine if your brother said, "i'm the son of god"? >> to leader. >> james ran the whole show in jerusalem. >> but why has james been lost
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to history? >> james really is the for gotten man. >> narrator: embroiled in one of the longest forgery trials ever, could this box be the first physical evidence of jesus and his secret brother james? ♪ ♪ >> narrator: fall 2002. royal ontario museum in toronto, canada, opens its doors to what may be the most significant discovery ever in biblical archeology. a limestone burial box known as
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an ossuary, scientifically dated to the time of christ. on its side, an inscription in ancient aramaic which reads, "james, son of joseph, brother of jesus." >> it came just as we'd crossed the millennial threshold. we had already had the y2k bug, we had had the pope's millennial visit to the holy land, and this seemed to be another one of those millennial happenings. >> narrator: it is claimed that this box, measuring 10 inches by 20, is no less than the burial casket of james, the borough of jesus christ. >> the ossuary is so important not just for the fact that it
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says the brother of jesus, but you have to understand that there's no physical evidence of the existence of jesus of nazareth dating from the time of jesus. there is nothing except the gospels, which were written down decades later. this would be the first physical evidence that jesus of nazareth existed. >> this is such a landmark. i mean this is the only material evidence, non-literary we have for the family of jesus. >> i think most people would be extremely surprised to learn that jesus had siblings, even though james is called the brother of jesus in the new testament, most christians grow up learning that mary was a virgin and that he didn't have any siblings. so i think most people would be astonished. >> narrator: the gospels of both matthew and mark name jesus's
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brothers. as well as james, there's joses, judas and simon alongside at least two unnamed sisters, but exactly whose these offspring are is still the subject of debate. >> for catholics, there is still that emphasis on mary's virginity. she was not only a virging at the time of jesus conception and birth, but also afterwards. so that's why i like to think of james, the brother of jesus, as probably a child of joseph's prior marriage before he married mary. >> narrator: but not all christians are in agreement. >> but protestants would say there are other children that are the biological kids of mary and joseph, in which case jesus would be the older brother and perhaps other siblings of jesus would have looked up to him.
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>> matthew 1:25 says, literally, joseph was not knowing her in the carnal sense until she gave birth to jesus. now, any formal reading of that sentence implies she went on to have more children after that, and his brothers and sisters are, in fact, his brothers and sisters. >> narrator: the bible tells us very little about the early life of jesus. >> the gospels really fast forward almost totally until he's 30 years old and he's the son of god. >> what about all of those missing years when he was a teenager, playing around with his brothers, getting into trouble? >> narrator: written around 100 years after jesus' death, the infancy gospel of thomas is a collection of stories about his childhood. >> there is a peculiar story about james, and it is an interesting picture of jesus and james together as children.
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>> joseph sent james into the forest to gather sticks. jesus also went with him. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> narrator: the gospel continues. >> an abominable snake bit james on the hand, as and he lay dying the boy jesus ran to james, and did nothing but blow on the bite and immediately the bite was healed. >> james is put there with jesus from the very beginning.
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we see an organic connection between, not only in terms of their relationship but also in terms of their common experience. >> narrator: but the story of james, the brother of jesus, will be for gotten -- until this casket bearing his name reappears to launch one of the longest and most controversial forgery trials ever.
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>> narrator: the story of the james ossuary, the casket that may have held the bones of james, the forgotten brother of jesus, starts with one of the world's greatest antiquities collectors. >> oded golan is one of the great experts on archeological artifacts. >> i have actually the biggest private collection of ossuaries in israel, probably in the world. >> most of his collection tells the story of the development of the civilizations here, and that includes the biblical era. his collection must be worth millions and millions of dollars. >> according to golan, in the early 1970s he bought an empty first century ossuary from a dealer in jerusalem. >> i could see some of the names that are mentioned, especially
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the first name. the meaning of james, it came by itself without any item to accompany it. >> narrator: in first century jerusalem, the bones of the dead were placed in ossuaries in underground tombs. archeologist byron mccain is a leading expert on burial practices in ancient palestine. >> we are just south of the old city of jerusalem. there are a number of burial caves from the time of jesus right around here. in the jewish tradition, on the first anniversary of the deaths they gather the bones of their deceased loved ones. those bones are placed in an ossuary. the ossuary is marked with the name of the deceased and then placed somewhere in the tomb. >> narrator: back in 1970s jerusalem, there is a vibrant
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market for antique ossuaries. >> i didn't see anything particular in this ossuary. it was set for many years at my parents' apartment together with several other ossuaries that i purchased at that time because i didn't put any special attention to this ossuary. >> narrator: but in april 2002, golan envieds andre lemaire, a renowned scholar of ancient aramaic, to examine some items in his collection. lemaire's attention is immediately drawn to the unidentified ossuary golan bought 30 years before. he deciphers the mysterious inscription. it reads, "james, son of joses, brother of jesus." >> he found that there is a very high probability that it belonged to james, the brother of jesus christ.
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frankly, i didn't even know that jesus christ had brothers or sisters. >> narrator: golan immediately sends the ossuary to the geological survey of israel to help with its authentication. using high-powered microscopes, they inspect the patina coating the box and the inscriptions. they conclude the lettering has not been made by modern tools. >> it is not a question of authentic. it is a question of if it belongs to james. >> narrator: intrigued about the probability of finding the names james, jesus and joseph in more than one family in first century jerusalem, golan asked renowned statistician to audit the names on the inscription. >> we have 168 inscribed ossuaries from that period in jerusalem. >> narrator: while the name joseph appears on 7%, jesus on 4% and james on 2%, he concludes
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it is improbable that another family combining these three names existed. >> it is very likely, in my opinion, that the james on this ossuary is the james who is the brother of jesus. >> the likelihood that this could be some other family with those three names where the father is joseph and the two brothers are james and jesus seems very unlikely. ♪ >> narrator: 2,000 years ago everything changes for the brothers jesus and james when joseph dies. >> we really don't know when joseph died, but somewhere around 27 a.d. joseph is nowhere
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on the scene. >> family is the central core of first century jewish society. they had lost somebody who could be providing for this family, who were essentially living in a kind of subsistence level. the family would really have relied on jesus to pick up the slack, to provide for the family. they would have really needed his income. >> narrator: but aged around 30, jesus makes a life-changing choice. >> jesus leaves the family and goes walkabout in galilee and judea. >> narrator: according to the gospels, jesus seeks out john the baptist on the banks of the river jordan. >> jesus' baptism by john the baptist really galvanized him.
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it got him thinking, i must act now and convert people now. >> narrator: he begins performing miracles, casting out demons. >> according to the gospels, there are large crowds that are drawn to jesus throughout his ministry. jesus's healing miracles would have drawn a lot of attention. >> narrator: but while jesus embarks on his mission, his family remain in nazareth. >> jesus leaves james and the other brothers and sisters in charge of the family. >> hey! enough. >> and that is what's uncomfortable about this story. the village itself was a small village, so tongues would wag about this whole deal of jesus
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going off and doing some kind of ministry and leaving his family to take care of business. >> there would have been a lot of social marginalization that they would have experienced because they had this slightly crazy, embarrassing brother. and we can imagine that would have created friction between jesus and his family. >> narrator: but as the fame of jesus spreads, the tension with his family will come to a head. >> james looked upon what jesus was doing as something that brought the family into dishonor. >> narrator: and set brother against brother. ♪ there's no place like home ♪
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argh! i'm trying... ♪ yippiekiyay.
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♪ mom. ♪ ♪ >> narrator: capernaum, on the banks of lake galilee. according to the gospel of mark, in the synagogue a man asks jesus to cure his withered hand. >> jesus tells him to stretch out his hand and he's healed. >> narrator: but this is the sabbath, and working on the sabbath is prohibited.
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>> the fact that jesus heals the man with the withered hand on the sabbath in the synagogue suggests that he's just going to do what he wants. >> it's an action that brings jesus into conflict with the jewish priesthood. now his reputation precedes him wherever he goes. the number of his followers increases. the crowds he attracts bring him to the attention of the roman authorities. >> when jesus is active in galilee, those areas were under roman occupation. you could believe whatever you wanted to believe in the roman empire. you could practice your religion in whatever way you chose to practice your religion, but what the romans didn't like is one charismatic figure, especially
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one who was messianic. >> narrator: fearing for jesus's safety, james and his family come to capernaum. >> i think it would be terribly frightening to have a member of your family get involved in that kind of religious environment, potentially leading up to violence. >> the family have heard these reports that jesus is preaching and casting demons out and they think, has he gone mad. >> we want to see jesus. i am his brother and his mother is here. >> narrator: when jesus gets word that his family has come for him, he refuseds to ss to s. he asked, "who are my mother and my brothers? here are my brother and my brothers. whoever does god's will is my brother and sister and mother."
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>> he's saying to his family, if you don't support me i am going to deny you too. >> he won't see them. >> it is almost like he disses his family. >> tell him his mother is here! >> sorry. >> that was actually a rejection of the flesh and blood family, and i think his family would have been shocked by that. >> he's out of his mind. leave, go! >> james is not unlike us. i mean can you imagine if your brother said, you know, i'm the son of god, you know, what would you say? i mean obviously we would think they're crazy. >> narrator: a few weeks later jesus enters jerusalem. hundreds of thousands line the streets. according to the gospels, he's later arrested in the garden of
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gethsemane and the following day is tortured -- and executed. jesus's family have failed to save him. ♪ >> narrator: an apocryphal gospel not found in the new testament tells us about james. >> the gospel of the hebrews portrays james as being in jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion. >> james has probably found the whole business of jesus being crucified about astra matting, about as life-changing as you can imagine. >> he goes into a period of
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fasting and mourning. that no one else of jesus's followers did. >> narrator: but then the bible reveals that james' grieving is brought to a sudden end. jesus returns. >> he was buried and he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures. then he appeared to james. >> james has spent of of his life wondering who his brother is, especially during this extraordinary mission that jesus has been on, and the resurrection is the moment where james comes to believe that jesus really is something
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special. perhaps that was the moment where he came to acknowledge jesus was not just his brother but also his lord. >> narrator: james's life is transformed. now from doubting brother he will become jesus's most devoted follower and helps shape a new world religion. you might take something for your heart... or joints. but do you take something for your brain. , he will become jesus's most devoted follower and helps shape a new world religion. to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. in america, the zip code you're born in can determine your future. the y helps fill the opportunity gap with education programs for all. for a better us,
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♪ >> narrator: october 2002. news of the most astonishing archeological discovery of the new millennium makes headlines around the world. the james ossuary is put on display at the royal ontario museum in toronto, canada. >> at that point i thought we were dealing with just a fantastic archeological story about perhaps the only item ever to come from the family of jesus. >> narrator: but controversy is about to engulf the ossuary. >> while it was on display in toronto some questions were asked here in israel as to how it got there.
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the antiquities authorities said, we didn't realize it was such an important item that he wanted to send abroad. >> narrator: two months after it is first put on display, the israel antiquities authority refused to grant oded golan an extension to his export license. they demand the immediate return of the ossuary to israel. >> the israeli police and the iaa felt as though they had been embarrassed in front of the wholly world by golan and they went after him. >> narrator: in july 2003, tel aviv police accompanied by officers of the iaa swoop. >> his premises were raided in the middle of the "the tonight show." >> we came with a search warrant to search his apartment. >> narrator: along with the james ossuary, golan has other rare antiquities they want to
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examine. >> the whole apartment was full of archeological finds. >> they turned up all of these boxes of materials and drawings and computer programs and other documents that they said looked like a forgery workshop. >> in the end, we had dozens of pieces that were supposedly forged. >> narrator: the police confiscate boxes full of artifacts for investigation, including the james ossuary. >> carefully. carefully. >> from that moment on, a totally different area of inquiry was opened, not just concealing antiquities from the authorities but actually faking them and selling them, which is a criminal act. and so you have this very bright, quite obsessive character coming in contact with this strange world of antiquities, an awful lot of which is based on very shady, dodgey dealing and tomb robbing.
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so you've got a very interesting and perhaps volatile mix. >> narrator: it is an allegation oded golan vigorously denies. >> this is just ridiculous accusation. all what i hold in my hand was a small box of very old tools in which i use to restore antiquities like any other collector. >> narrator: for more than a year golan is held under house arrest while the iaa prepares its case. >> the story switched from being a nice, happy archeological story to being a story about a criminal mastermind trying to change the course of history. >> narrator: in december 2004 at the district court of jerusalem, golan and four others are charged on 44 counts of fraud and forgery. >> they accused him of being part of an international forgery ring, faking the historical record by forging such important items as the burial box of
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james, the brother of jesus. >> narrator: the prosecution launch a case to prove that golan added the three most contentious words "brother of jesus" to the inscription. >> it is a genuine ossuary from that period of time, but what oded golan did was he made a supplement and making the whole new meaning of them. >> narrator: part of the prosecution's case is based on an examination by epigraphy experts who had analyzed the lettering for any inconsistencies. >> if you look at the inscription really carefully, you will notice that there's a difference in depth, clarity and the presence of kerning between the first half of the inscription and the second half of the inscription. i believe that the chances of at least the second half being a modern forgery are at least 75%
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to 85%. i think the forger attempted to replicate the style of writing at the first half of the inscription but really didn't do it with enormous precision. >> narrator: but the defense disagrees. so next the prosecution turns its attention to the patina, the coating on the box. over the next five years their scientists repeatedly scrutinize micro organisms embedded inside the lettering. they believe this is all the work of golan. >> he made the fake patina at home. he went to archeological sites and he took out dirt from that period, took it back home and mixed it with water and then poured it over the ossuary. >> narrator: now witnesses for the defense contradict this claim. >> to fake a real patina you need time.
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you need years and years, maybe 50 years, maybe 100 years to develop this patina by growing micro organisms that form the patina. >> narrator: every day new evidence is presented. >> there were more than 120 witnesses in this trial, many of them leading scientific experts. >> the case itself lasted for almost eight years. >> geology, physics, chemistry, stone, glue, ink, you name it. >> i don't think there was ever any case like this in the world. >> the judge said to each of them, look, if you, the best experts in the world, can't tell me whether this is a fake ora then tick, then how on earth can i decide? >> narrator: finally, in march 2012, after one of the longest-ever forgery trials, 12,000 pages of transcripts and more than 400 exhibits, the
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judge reaches a verdict. oded golan is found guilty on two charges relating to the trade in antiquities. but when it comes to the charges of forgery, he's found not guilty and acquitted on all counts. >> i felt a release, but i felt that i lost many years just in order to prove something that should not even have had to go into court. >> narrator: but the verdict does not comment on whether the box could really have been the ossuary of jesus's brother james. that debate is still very much alive. >> by the end of this ten-year odyssey, what we're left with is an item that might be or might not be associated with jesus's family. >> narrator: but the bible does record what happens to james. his fate will impact the course of world history.
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♪ >> narrator: it's thought this ossuary once held the bones of jesus's brother james. his story may have been hidden, but there are clues to his life.
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>> the gospel according to thomas, jesus tells his disciples when they want to find leadership after his departure they should go to james. >> james was a very devout man. a second century historian tells us that james was continually on his knees praying, so much so that he had calloused knees like a camel's knees. >> narrator: james becomes the first bishop of jerusalem. >> my brother. >> he becomes a kind of rock of the movement in many ways because he provides the kind of stability that a new christian movement like that needs. >> over time he progressively develops a sense of commitment and ownership for his brother's message. >> narrator: but his authority is soon to be challenged by someone who was once a sworn enemy of jesus and his
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teachings. >> paul had been one of the pharisees who was against the jesus group, who changes sides as it were. and once he comes into the community, he just comes in incredibly strongly and takes a huge role. >> narrator: paul has been traveling across the roman empire, preaching his own version of the jesus message for more than ten years. his manifesto has even reached non-jews or gentiles. >> the tricky issue of what do we do with gentiles was the hot button issue in earliest christianity. you have to remember all of the earliest followers of jesus were jews, all of them. so where do the gentiles fit into this? >> paul doesn't want the gentiles to convert to judaism in order to become christian, in order to be followers of the
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christ. >> narrator: his letters to new christian communities, the epistles, make up a third of the new testament. his teachings show how determined he is to reach out to gentiles. >> jesus said, go and make disciples of all the nations, and that meant not just the jews. >> if i were james and i had heard about paul and what paul was doing, i would be hugely frustrated. paul never met the human jesus. here was james who was jesus's brother, and this upstart was presuming to teach jesus's message and go out among the gentiles with this message? >> things got so bad in the relations between paul and james that ultimately they have to have a big conference in jerusalem to sort it out. >> narrator: around 50 a.d., 20 years after the execution of his brother jesus, james presides over a council of the movement's leaders.
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the outcouple decide the future. will they remain a small jewish sect or will christianity stand alone? >> paul comes to defend the salvation afforded by the death and resurrection of christ that also extends to gentiles, and he brings a "saved" christian to jerusalem in order to try to prove his point. >> here is my friend, a greek. >> paul brings with him titus, an uncircumcised greek, as a sort of symbol of the gospel that he's preached, and he's really bringing him there to say to everyone, so what are you going to do about this? >> the only thing that counts is faith. >> when we read the acts of the apostles, it is quite clear that there's tension and there's especially tension between james and paul. >> so if you were jesus's brother and this upstart came along, preaching and teaching a different message from the one
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that you had learned from your brother, i imagine you would have felt immense frustration. >> narrator: what the council are witnessing -- >> my brothers -- >> narrator: -- is the birth of early christianity. >> the process by which christianity and judaism become two different things is a process that takes centuries. that said, in my opinion paul's decision is a critically important moment in that division. ♪ ♪ >> jews or greeks. slaefs or free. >> paul clearly believes you really need to go out there and spread the message if your legacy's going to be protected. >> listen to me. >> james is a torah-true jew, and he got along apparently just
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fine with the jewish authorities. but this jewish following of jesus had really taken on a life of its own. it wasn't just another sect of judaism. it was a movement. >> narrator: james eventually sides with paul. this decision will soon revolutionize christianity, but it will also seal james's fate. he is now seen as a threat to the jewish religious order. >> james was the face of early jewish christianity in jerusalem. he represented all of that, and so, of course, the authorities are going to take out on him whatever they had heard about the revolutionary beliefs about the followers of jesus. at that point the jewish authorities knew that they couldn't control this. >> in spite of james' good behavior, they still associated him with that troublemaker jesus
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that had been crucified back in the early '30s. >> narrator: james is >> james is arrested on the orders of the same jewish priesthood who only three decades earlier had condemned his brother jesus to death. i switched to geico and saved hundreds. that's a win. but it's not the only reason i switched. the geico app makes it easy to manage my policy. i can pay my bill, add a new driver, or even file a claim. woo, hey now! that's a win-win. thank you! switch to geico®. it's a win-win.
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jerusalem a.d. 62. a leading member of the jewish priesthood gives james an ultimatum. renounce his brother jesus as his messiah or face death. but james refuses. >> the link between jesus and james ultimately means that james can't survive. >> james is led to the temple walls. only a few hundred meters from where jesus was crucified. >> he's martyred for this cause, and he's martyred for his
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sincere devotional piety. >> but pushing james from the walls doesn't kill him. ancient texts record that the final blows come when he's stoned to death and his body is buried on the spot where he falls. in accordance with jewish custom of the time, one year after his death, james' bones would have been collected and interned in an ossuary. >> i think it is likely that james' body was claimed by his followers and buried. there was considerable support from within the city of jerusalem right across the board for james to be honored against the demeaning death that was inflicted on him. >> after james' murder, the crucial role he played in the development of the early church will fade from view.
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but today in jerusalem, james is still venerated. the 12th century armenian cathedral is dedicated to him. >> st. james is our first patriarch. we feel privileged that our brotherhood here in st. james are in direct succession and in direct line to st. james the first bishop of jerusalem. in our daily prayers, james is our lord. james is sitting next to christ. >> it's claimed the cathedral is built on the site of james' home. worshipers also believe his remains are buried here. >> according to armenian tradition, the bones of st. james were brought from the valley of kidron where they were originally buried, and they were
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reburied under the main altar of the present st. james cathedral. >> but what happened to the box that first held his mortal remains? >> so is the james ossuary real or not? that's a tough question. the jury is still out on that one. >> at the end of it, you still have a mystery. we'll never quite know if the james ossuary is real or not. we'll never quite know if it's that james, the brother of jesus. >> after golan is acquitted of forging the inscription, the ossuary is eventually returned to him. now he is hoping to put it on display for a second time. >> it should be exhibited to people who have interest in early christianity. and we have a lot of material now that everyone can evaluate, read and even get his own
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impression or conclusion. >> but the dispute over the authenticity of the box has left one lasting legacy. >> i think james the just is one of the most important figures in earliest christianity, and the controversy about the ossuary has caused people to become more aware of the fact that jesus had brothers and that james was preeminent among them. >> so why has james' memory been lost to history? >> we are guided so much by the theology that suggests that mary can't really have had other sons than jesus. >> this really bad idea that mary's perpetual virgin really kicked jesus' siblings off stage in the history of early
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christianity. >> the first gospels are written only a few years after james' death, by which time christianity, as it will become known, is already moving away from its jewish roots. >> by the 2nd century, there were more gentiles in the early church than there were israelites. and the memory of james was diluted. and now we come to think of him as a purely historical figure and not as the transitional figure that he truly was. >> theologically, it becomes difficult for us to talk about the important history of the early jesus movement. and that history does involve james. >> everyone else knew jesus. they knew jesus, the great teacher, they knew jesus the great healer. james knew the invisible jesus.
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james knew the jesus that he was when no one was watching king herod is one of the most notorious characters in the bible. he is the man who tries to kill the infant jesus. >> kill them all. he orders this appalling act where all of the male children are slaughtered. >> but in history, herod is a powerful and successful ruler. >> history should remember herod the great as a ruthless but very


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