22 October 2002

Oldest Link to Jesus Found

WASHINGTON (AP) - A burial box that was recently discovered in Israel and dates to the first century could be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus Christ, according to a French scholar Andre Lemaire, whose findings were published Monday, in Biblical Archaeological Review. An inscription in the Aramaic language — "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" — appears on an empty ossuary, a limestone burial box for bones.

Lemaire writes that the distinct writing style, and the fact that Jews practiced ossuary burials only between 20 B.C. and A.D. 70, puts the inscription squarely in the time of Jesus and James, who led the early church in Jerusalem. Until now, the oldest surviving artifact that mentions Jesus is a fragment of chapter 18 in John's Gospel from a manuscript dated around A.D. 125, discovered in Egypt in 1920.

Though there were no actual bones found in the nearly 2000 year old relic, there was one artifact of significance:

A baseball signed by Jesse Orosco.

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