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RESEARCHERS ANNOUNCED that the discovery of an ossuary—a limestone box used to keep the bones of a deceased person—may be the first physical evidence linked to Jesus of Nazareth. The limestone burial box dates to A.D. 63 and has an inscription in Aramaic, which translates to: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Aramaic was the language of Jesus. The box was first identified in Jerusalem last spring when a collector, who had purchased the box unaware of its significance, took it to a dealer for evaluation.

Experts in antiquity noted that the box was unusual because of the inclusion of Jesus' name in the inscription. While many men named James had fathers named Joseph, and could easily have had a brother named Jesus, ossuaries used by Jews between 20 B.C. and A.D. 70 rarely included a brother's name unless the brother was well known and of importance. According to experts, of the hundreds of ossuaries found with Aramaic writing, only two include the name of a brother. Christians believe that James, the brother of Jesus, was the leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem.

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The family of Abraham
November 18, 2002

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