Synopses & Reviews
For 2,000 years
we've gone without
of Jesus and his family . . .
until now . . .
This is the dramatic inside story of what may well be the most momentous archaeological discovery of our time: the first-century ossuary of Jesus' brother, James, the head of the Jerusalem church. Reportedly found just outside ancient Jerusalem, the fragile limestone burial box bears the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." The ossuary and its inscription are now regarded as authentic by top scholars in the field; they represent the first visual, tangible, scientific evidence of Jesus' existence. The implications are monumental for understanding Jesus, his family, and the Jewish Christian movement during the formative years of Christianity.
Hidden for centuries, the ossuary was purchased many years ago by an Israeli collector of ancient artifacts who never suspected its importance. Only when the renowned French scholar Andr? Lemaire saw the Aramaic inscription (Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus and his earliest followers) in April 2002 was its significance discovered.
In October 2002, Lemaire announced the news to the world, asserting that it was almost certain that the inscription referred to Jesus of the Bible, his father Joseph, and his brother James. Controversy immediately erupted over the age and authenticity of the inscription. The discovery also rekindled an ancient debate over whether Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin throughout her life -- a doctrine that still divides Catholics and Protestants.
Hershel Shanks, a central figure of biblical archaeology, who led a forceful campaign to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available to the world, recounts the story of the ossuary's discovery and authentication. Ben Witherington III, a leading New Testament scholar, shows how the discovery reveals surprising facts about a story people thought they knew: How Jesus was raised in a large, religiously conservative Jewish family; how his brothers and sisters were skeptical about his claims -- until he died; how Jesus' brother James went on to head the Jewish Christian movement in Jerusalem, becoming the leader Peter and Paul looked to for guidance and approval; how James brokered the major church controversy of the first century and wrote a book of the Bible; how he was martyred and soon written out of history by the Church of Rome. The dramatic discovery of the ossuary allows us to get reacquainted with the towering historical figure the apostle Paul called a "pillar of the church."
“Readers...will learn much about archaeology and early Christianity from this good example of archaeological and biblical popularization.” America Magazine
“Anyone with an interest in archaeology or the historical Jesus will find this book fascinating.” Booklist
“A most interesting and helpful book...a thorough and balanced job. An essential purchase for libraries of all sizes.” Library Journal
Here is the first definitive account of the recent discovery of the 1st-century ossuary -- a limestone bone box -- that directly confirms the existence of Jesus. In June 2002, Andre Lemaire of the Sorbonne in Paris made the shocking discovery of the ossuary with the legend, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."
Hershel Shanks, who has been at the forefront in making archeological discoveries known and understood by the public and dared to make the complete Dead Sea Scrolls available to the world, now joins forces with renowned scholar Ben Witherington to recount the discovery and the authentication of the ossuary in compelling detail. They examine its implications for understanding Jesus, his family, his followers, and they open a unique window to the early days of Christianity and the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem that Jesus' brother James led. The media only have scratched the surface of this groundbreaking story. Now, The Brother of Jesus explains why and how it matters.
The first definitive account of what scholars and the media are calling 'the most important archaeological discovery' about Jesus and his family.
This is the definitive story of the recent discovery of the first–century ossuary (limestone bone box) with the legend 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus', and its implications for understanding Jesus, his family (mother, father, brothers), his followers, the first Christians and the Jewish Christian movement in Jerusalem that James led. This ossuary is the first ever archaeological discovery directly confirming the existence of Jesus, and his relationship to his father, Joseph, and brother, James, who became the leader of the important Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem. No one is as qualified and well connected to recount the discovery and its authentication as Hershel Shanks, whose magazine first broke the story.
"A scientific detetective story with extremely high religious stakes."
About the Author
Hershel Shanks is the premier figure in communicating, through his magazines, books, and conferences, the world of biblical archaeology to general readers. Hershel Shanks is "probably the world's most influential amateur Biblical archeologist," declares New York Times
book critic Richard Bernstein. Shanks was also a leading figure in making the complete Dead Sea Scrolls available to the world. He is the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Bible Review, Archaeology Odyssey,
He is the author and editor of several major books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem, and biblical archaeology, including Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple, Christianity and Rabinnic Judaism, The Search for Jesus, Recent Archaeology in the Land of Israel, Archaeology and the Bible,
and Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography.
He lives in Washington, D.C.
Ben Witherington III is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. The author of more than thirty books, including The Brother of Jesus, he has twice won the Christianity Today award for one of the best biblical studies books of the year, and he has presented seminars for churches, colleges, and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Witherington writes for many church and scholarly publications, is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and Beliefnet.com, and has been featured widely in the national media.