Did Y’Shua really exist?

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in Faith, Messiah

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Reading about Y'Shua our Messiah in the Gospels

We will start a series of articles to show that the Apostolic Scriptures (also referred to as the New Testament) are in fact all that it is claimed to be.  In our frequent travels to Israel we have bumped into several anti-missionaries (Jewish Rabbis that try to convert believers in Y’Shua to rabbinic Judaism) and we have learned how they operate.  One of their main strategies is to create doubt.  They do this by first ensuring that the Tanakh is seen as superior to the Apostolic Writings. The next step is then to start making comments about the authenticity and reliability of the Apostolic Scriptures.  Once they have created enough doubt about the Apostolic Scriptures, they then start focusing on Y’Shua.  The slippery slope continues…. This has led us to start working on some articles that would help with defending what we believe in.  In theological circles, this is called Apologetics.  We will show these facts, not because we need them in order to have faith, but to help when we need to show unbelievers that what we believe in is not simply tales from the past.

We will put together a number of articles to counter the strategy of discrediting the Apostolic Scriptures.  In these articles we will provide you with proof that the Apostolic Scriptures are genuine and trustworthy.  In order to do that we will focus on proving three main points:

  1. Y’Shua did really exist (this article)
  2. What is contained in the Apostolic Scriptures are really the words of Y’Shua
  3. The quality and reliability of Apostolic Scripture manuscripts are as good, if not better, that the Tanakh manuscripts

In this article we will focus on the first topic – Did Y’Shua really exist?  In order to prove that the Apostolic Scriptures are valid and reliable, we need to show that the subject these documents discuss is valid.  Thus, they are not simply made up stories.  In order to do this, we will highlight some proofs from outside the Apostolic Scriptures to confirm that Y’Shua and other characters in these documents did really exist. We will focus on two main sources of proofs – writings and archeological artifacts.

Writings about Y’Shua

When we look at other authors that have written about Y’Shua, we can look at two sets of writings – Roman and Jewish.  As Y’Shua lived in a period where the Romans ruled over Judea and Samaria, these would be the two groups of people most qualified to comment on Y’Shua.  We will start by first looking at the writings of the Romans.

Roman sources

Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus was born around 56 AD. He was in Rome in 75 AD where he studied rhetoric in order to prepare himself for a career in law and politics. Around 77/78 AD he married the 14 year old daughter of the famous general Gnaeus Julius Agricola. General Agricola was a supporter of Vespasian and was given military command over Britian when Vespasian became emperor. Tacitus was an esteemed lawyer known for his oratory skills. Later,  Tacitus worked himself up to the rank of senator. Today, Tacitus is known for the books that he had written.  He is the author of 5 works that have remained:

  1. The Life of Agricola
  2. Germania
  3. Dialog on Oratory
  4. Histories
  5. Annals

Of these 5 works, the Histories and Annals are the best known works today. These two were written to form a series of thirty books that describe Roman history from the time of Augustus in the year 14, to the death of Domitian in 96 AD. Only around half of these works still exist today. In Book 15 of Annals, chapter 44, he makes the following note when describing the reign of Nero:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

We see here that he makes a reference to Y’Shua who was killed at the time of Tiberius after being sentenced by Pontius Pilate. This shows that his recording is historically correct, as Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea during the reign of Tiberius. Based on the negative view Tacitus has of the followers of Y’Shua, it is most unlikely that a later follower of Y’Shua would have inserted this.  Thus, this passage is considered to be authentic by most scholars.

The next Roman author that referenced to Y’Shua was  Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, also known as Suetonius. Like Tacitus, he was a Roman historian that came from the Equites, sometimes known as “knights”, who were the lower of the two aristocratic classes in ancient Rome. Like Tacitus, he was skilled in oratory.  Suetonius is known today for his works –  “About the Life of the Twelve Ceasers.” These are biographies of the 12 Roman rulers from Julius Ceaser to Domitian written around the year 121 AD.  At this time Suetonius was the personal secretary of emperor Hadrian. In the work on the life of Emperor Cladius, he makes the following note when speaking of the banishment of the Jews:

He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus.1

We see a couple of interesting points in this statement.  It is clear that Suetonius is not close to the Jewish population, as he sees the followers of Y’Shua as representing the complete body of Jews.  He makes no distinction between Jews and the followers of Y’Shua. What is more interesting is his spelling of the word “Chrestus“, using an ‘e’ rather than an ‘i’. Some scholars argue that Chrestus is not referring to Y’Shua, but rather to a proper name of a person.  Apparently, in this period, several slaves had the name Chrestus, as it means “useful” in Greek.  The counter to this argument is twofold:

  1. No disturbance caused by the followers of a slave is recorded anywhere for the period of Cladius’ reign. We do see a reference to this event in Acts 15:2. It is also recorded by several other historians, including Dio Cassius (Hist. 60.6.6) and Orosius (Orosius Histories 7.6)2 However, nobody mentions the reason for the Jews being banished from Rome.
  2. In a number of other manuscripts, we see this spelling to refer to the followers of Y’Shua – using Chrestianos rather than the expected Christianos.3

Thus, we must conclude that Suetonius was referring to a disagreement between the Jews and the followers of Y’Shua escalating to a point where the emperor felt that it was disturbing the peace in Rome.

Pliny the Younger (Gaius Caecilius Cilo) was the nephew of Pliny the Elder, who left us the first encyclopedia – Natural Histories. Pliny the Younger was a lawyer and magistrate in Rome during the rule of Trajan. Like the previous two, he was also a member of the Equites. Pliny the Younger was a friend of Tacitus and employed Suetonius on his staff.  Like the two authors previously mentioned, Pliny the Younger was also a skilled orator and a prolific writer. He wrote his first work at the age of 14. The largest and best known contribution is his Letters.  This is a collection of documents that he wrote to friends and associates, including Tacitus. What is of interest to us is the letter Pliny wrote to the emperor Trajan, around 111 AD. In letter 10 (Epistulae X.96), Pliny is describing the followers of Y’Shua that he is interrogating (some  under torture) and executing while he was the Roman governor of Bithynia et Pontus, now in modern Turkey. In the letter he describes what he had personally witnessed and makes the following summary statement:

They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food, but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.4

He makes a number of interesting statements here, but the one we are interested in is the fact that the people worshiped the Messiah as a deity. He spells the word as C-H-R-I-S-T-U-S. This document is the first letter by a non-believer (pagan) to record the beliefs and practices of the early followers of Y’Shua.

These three authors make the group of early Roman writers that confirmed the existence of Y’Shua.  The chronological order in the documentation begins with Pliny writing around 111 AD, then Tacitus, writing in the Annals around 115/116 AD and then Suetonius writing in the Lives of the Twelve Caesars around 122 AD. From these three pagan writers, we have confirmation that Y’Shua lived, was tried by Pontius Pilate and executed.  Y’Shua then had followers all over the Roman empire following His teachings and were being executed for the fact that worshipped Y’Shua rather than the Roman gods.

Indirect references

We have two more references, that come from a slightly later period.  They are not as direct as the previous three references, but still interesting to look at.  These two are not as factual as the initial three, but are more person opinions or speculations that were doing the rounds at the time.

The first is from a person by the name of Celsus. Celsus was a late second century Platonist. We do not know much about him except that he was a harsh critic of Y’Shua and the believers. He compiled his view of Y’Shua and His followers in a document called “True Doctrine.” We do not have a copy of this document anymore, but we do know what his view of Y’Shua was, based on the document called “Contra Celsum / Against Celsus.” This is a treaty that was written in the mid third century (~248 C.E.) by the Christian theologian Origen.  Origen lived from 185–253 C.E. Being born in Alexandria, but spending a large part of his live in Caesarea. At an old age, Origen was tasked to respond to this document from Celsus. He quotes a lot of what Celsus originally wrote, and then counters this with his own arguments.  His response is a total of eight books.  We will not go into all the details, but will focus on a specific quote from this book.  This quote claims that Celsus in the late second century stated the following:

For he represents him disputing with Jesus, and confuting Him, as he thinks, on many points; and in the first place, he accuses Him of having “invented his birth from a virgin,” and upbraids Him with being “born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God.”5

We can see from this statement, as false as it may be, that in the late second century, Celsus was familiar with the following facts:

  1. Y’Shua existed
  2. Y’Shua is claimed to have been born from a virgin
  3. Y’Shua’s father was a carpenter
  4. Y’Shua went to Egypt
  5. Y’Shua performed miracles
  6. Y’Shua claimed to be a deity

Because Celsus is such a harsh critic, we can be sure that he would not have made up these points simply to deny them again.

The next document we will look at is called “The Passing of Peregrinus” or “The Death of Peregrinus.”  It is a satire written in Greek by the Syrian writer Lucian of Samosata (125 – 180 C.E.) Lucian is known for his for his wit and scoffing nature in his writings.  As part of this story, his main character, Peregrinus – a con man, spends some time in Palestine with the believers of Y’Shua.  Here is what he wrote:

It was then that he learned the wondrous lore of the Christians, by associating with their priests and scribes in Palestine. And—how else could it be?—in a trice he made them all look like children, for he was prophet, cult-leader, head of the synagogue, and everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained some of their books and even composed many, and they revered him as a god, made use of him as a lawgiver, and set him down as a protector, next after that other, to be sure, whom they still worship, the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world.6

Here he mentions that the believers in Palestine worshiped a man that was crucified in Palestine.  This is a clear reference to Y’Shua from a person that has no vested interest in confirming His existence.  We can assume that Lucian had this knowledge without studying any of the Apostolic Writings, as he was a pagan with a low regard for the “simple” believers.  What is really interesting in this statement is Lucian’s use of the Greek word anaskolopizō for “crucified.” Normally in Greek, the word  anastauroō  is used. Herodotus (c. 484–c. 425 B.C.) used the verb anaskolopízō for the living and anastauróō for corpses.7 Later these two words appeared to have become synonyms, with anastauróō being the more common. The lemma stauróō (σταυρόω) is used 46 times in 42 verses of the Apostolic Scriptures. Josephus, in all his writings, also use the word stauróō.  This leaves us with the question: Why did Lucian so late in history decide to use the verb anaskolopízō? Being such a skilled orator, he must have had an intention behind the choice of his word. Was he perhaps hinting at Y’shua’s resurrection?

We also have another very interesting quote in a letter that a Syrian, Mara bar-Serapion wrote to his son Serapion.8 The exact date of when the letter was written is being debated, but it is placed between the late first and early third century. Mara bar-Serapion was imprisoned at this time and he wrote this letter, in Syriac,  to his son to tell him not to be discouraged.  In this process, he takes the liberty to compare himself to three people that were well known to have been treated unfairly. One of these people is Y’Shua.  Here is a quote from the letter.

What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samon gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given. – British Museum, Syriac ms, add. 14, 658; cited in Habermas, 2008

By the way Mara bar-Serapion phrased it, we can see that he perceived Y’Shua to be a righteous man that was executed unjustly.  The fact that he refers to Y’Shua as “their wise king” indicates that he does not see himself as part of this group, but some members of the group did reckon Y’Shua to be their king.  His killing was unjust because the result of this was the devastation of the Jewish nation. It also shows that the message regarding Y’Shua was spreading to various parts of the world to other unbelieving nations.

Thus, we have more references from non-believers, that Y’Shua existed, was unjustly crucified in Israel by the Jews and then was worshiped by a large group of followers.

Jewish sources

Having had a look at the Roman/Greek authors, we will now turn our focus more towards the Jewish writers.  We will start with the most famous of them, Josephus.

Josephus is most likely the best known of the Jewish historians writing about this period.  Flavius Josephus  was most likely born shortly after the crucifixion of Y’Shua.  He survived the great revolt of 66-70 by switching sides and with a prediction he made, came into the favor of Vespasian. He later moved to Italy where, he lived a true Roman life. In one of his works on the history of the Jewish nation, called Jewish Antiquities (or Antiquities of the Jews) he makes a couple of references to Y’Shua.  It is believed that Josephus himself did not believe that Y’Shua was the Messiah. He did, however, mention Y’Shua as an historical figure.     The most significant of his remarks can be found below:

  1. (63) Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. – Antiquities 18.62–64 11

The exact words of this specific piece of the text is being disputed. A large number of scholars argue that the text was altered or inserted by a believer in Y’Shua, at a later stage and was not part of the original. As Josephus was not a believer in Y’Shua, it is most unlikely that Josephus would have written “He was the Messiah.” Thus, there exists the possibility that the Greek text was altered at some point in time. If we look at the text we can rule out the theory that the complete verse was inserted.  This can be done for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is within the context of the discussion going on
  2. The text follows the style and format of the rest of the document
  3. Some of the words, e.g. “Jesus, a wise man” would not have been the word choice of a believer
  4. Later in the book, it assumes that the reader is already familiar with Y’Shua

An Arabic version of the text of Antiquities of the Jews also exists.  This was maintained separate from the Greek version. The disputed verse also appears in the Arabic manuscript, but with some alterations.

At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders. [cited in Habermas, 186]8

Thus, it is likely that this Arabic version is unpolluted and closer to the original.  It does not confirm Y’Shua as more than a man, or a Messiah, but it does acknowledge His existence, teaching and crucifixion by the Romans.

The second reference in Antiquities is a mention of James (Yacov) the brother of Y’Shua and how he was stoned by Ananus ben Ananus, the high priest.

(200) when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; – Antiquities 20.200 11

We find here a confirmation of Y’Shua and his brother.  There is no dispute regarding the authenticity of this verse.  The existence of James will be discussed again later in this article.

We also find references to Y’shua in the rabbinic literature, including the Talmud. However, due to the persecution by the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages, most of the references to Y’Shua were either removed, or disguised.  In order to find the references we then need to go back to the older manuscripts of these documents. Luckily, as with Biblical text, archeologists are finding more and more of these old manuscripts that were hidden.  When you look at some of the modern translations of the Talmud, you will find references to where the Talmud was “censored” to remove references to Y’Shua.  Below you will see good examples of this. You see how they did their best to make Y’Shua into an idolater, justifying their decision to crucify Him.

 It has been taught on Tannaite authority: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says, “Also in one’s natural impulse, as to a child or a woman, one should push away with the left hand and draw near with the right hand.”

         [Freedman, p. 736, n. 2: The uncensored edition continues: What of R. Joshua b. Perahjah?—When King Jannai slew our Rabbis, R. Joshua b. Perahjah (and Jesus) fled to Alexandria of Egypt. On the resumption of peace, Simeon b. Shetach sent to him: ‘From me, (Jerusalem) the holy city, to thee, Alexandria of Egypt (my sister). My husband dwelleth within thee and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shown him. ‘How beautiful is this Acsania?’ (The word denotes both inn and innkeeper. R. Joshua used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant.) Thereupon (Jesus) observed, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wretch,” he rebuked him, ‘dost thou thus engage thyself.’ He sounded four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him. He (Jesus) came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would pay no heed to him. One day he (R. Joshua) was reciting the Shema’, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and made a sign to him. He (Jesus) thinking that it was to repel him, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. ‘Repent,’ said he (R. Joshua) to him. He replied, ‘I have thus learned from thee: He who sins and causes others to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.’ And a Master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray.’] – b. Sanh. 11:1, XIII.3.C 13

The same story is recorded in b. Sota 9:5, VII.19.B–I, but without the name of Y’Shua being mentioned.  It was a common teaching among early Judaism (up to the 11th century) that  Y’Shua the Nazarene was a disciple of Rabbi Joshua ben Perachiah.14 We can see from this reference that they did acknowledge the existence of Y’Shua from Nazareth and also to the fact that Y’Shua moved to Egypt for a period of time.  As Egypt was the “head office” of magic at this time, they simply concluded that Y’Shua was doing His wonders because of the magic He had learned in Egypt.

The next reference is found in the part of the Talmud where the rules for execution are discussed.  Once again, this portion has been removed from the printed editions of the Talmud, up to this date.

  1.       Just before [the execution], but not prior to that time.

 [Schachter, p. 281–2, supplies a full translation of the following, which is omitted in censored editions of the Talmud and is not found in the standard printed text, translated here. What follows is verbatim Schachter’s translation.]

  1.       This implies, only immediately before [the execution], but not previous thereto. [In contradiction to this] it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! – b. Sanh. 6:1h, II.1.B–C 13

Here we find a reference in the Talmud that Y’Shua was hanged (the word used in the Talmud also refers to being crucified) on the eve of the Passover. We not only get the crucifixion confirmed, but also the time that it happened.

There also exists a document titled “Toledoth Jesu” – The Generations of Y’Shua.  The document may date as far back as the 8th century.  It is a Jewish document that was written with the purpose to discredit Y’Shua.  It contains a lot of stories depicting Y’Shua as an illegitimate and disrespectful child. The document claims that by performing miracles (see previous point about learning magic in Egypt), He attracted followers. The document also confirms that Y’Shua was executed and that an empty tomb was found.  However, it goes further to state that the corpse was later recovered.15  It is clear from this document that the Jewish people saw the followers of Y’Shua as a threat very early in history.  They did what they could to stop the impact of this new group and the impact they could potentially have on the Rabbinic authority.

Unorthodox sources of early believers

We have several Gnostic documents, including the Gospel of Thomas, that refer to Y’Shua.  We will not go into these in detail, as many would see these authors as biased. Let us simply look at one example.

The reference comes from a Gnostic document called “Gospel of Truth.”  It is believed that this document was most likely written by Valentinus (135-160) or one of his followers.  The original Greek text is no longer available, but two copies were found in Coptic as part of the Nag Hammadi.9 This document contains a number of allusions to, or paraphrases of, Apostolic Scripture writings.  He also makes specific mention of Y’Shua and His crucifixion. Here are some references from the document.

“That is the gospel of him whom they seek, which he has revealed to the perfect through the mercies of the Father as the hidden mystery, Jesus the Christ. Through him he enlightened those who were in darkness because of forgetfulness. He enlightened them and gave them a path. And that path is the truth which he taught them. For this reason error was angry with him, so it persecuted him. It was distressed by him, so it made him powerless. He was nailed to a cross. He became a fruit of the knowledge of the Father.” 10

He is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which had not strayed and went in search of that one which was lost. He rejoiced when he had found it.”10

It is clear that the author of this second century document knew the contents of at least one of the gospels. Despite being classified as a heretic, the author of this document did believe in the deity of Y’Shua.

There are also a number of documents being referred to in early writings from people like Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Origen,  that reference earlier documents that we do not have any copies of anymore.  These include documents like “The Acts of Pontius Pilate” and “Chronicles” by Phlegon.8  We do have quotes from these documents that were used to prove in later documents the existence of Y’Shua and His crucifixion.

Archeological Artifacts

We have spent a bit of time looking at what has been written about Y’Shua in sources other than the Tanach or Apostolic Scriptures. We have seen a number of people from different religious persuasions comment about the life, works and followers of Y’Shua. None of these people claim to have actually seen or interacted with Y’Shua or any of His disciples.

The next step is to investigate if we have any physical proof for the existence of Y’Shua. This topic is a lot more controversial that the writings. Let us start with the most controversial, archeological proof that Y’Shua actually existed.

The Shroud of Turin and the sudarium of Oviedo

The most interesting artifact to look at here is called the Shroud of Turin.  It is named this way because the piece of cloth that is believed to be the cloth that Y’Shua was buried in, is kept in the Italian town of Turin. Together with this we have another cloth, called the sudarium of Oviedo, that is believed to be the cloth that covered the face of Y’Shua during and after the crucifixion. This small cloth has been kept in the cathedral in Oviedo since 1113.  Its history has been recorded for us by the 12th century bishop of Oviedo – Pelagius, and this cloth had made its journey from Jerusalem to Alexandria, to Spain.  First Cartagena, then Seville, then Toledo and eventually to Oviedo.  Here it was first kept in a cave outside the town until King Alfonso II built a chapel for the chest.  This chapel was later incorporated into the cathedral in Oviedo.16

The idea of two cloths is actually supported by the gospels.

John 20:6–7
6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.

Luke 24:12
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

The word for linen wrappings in the Greek is ὀθόνια (othonia) is a plural noun indicating that there exists more than one linen wrapping.  We also find in the gospel of John a specific mention of the face-cloth that had been on Y’Shua’s head.

When we read about Joseph of Arimathea wrapping the body of Y’Shua in a linen cloth, we also see that the body was already wrapped with spices.

John 19:38–40
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Y’Shua, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Y’Shua; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Y’Shua and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Thus, from Scripture we can see that there was a face-cloth and a cloth that Joseph and Nicodemus used to cover the body of Y’Shua.  While wrapping the body, they also placed spices of weighing around 100 pounds, together with the body in the cloth.  It is also clearly stated that they wrapped the body according to the custom of the Jews.

Now that we know what the Scriptures have recorded, let us have a look at what we know about the shroud. The shroud is a cloth with the imprint of a man showing both the front and the back. We know that this man died from crucifixion because of the marks on the wrists and feet.  Also, the blood stains on the arms show that the man had his hands above his head when he died. From the marks on the back, we can also see that the man was tortured, with a Roman style whip, before he died. Tests have revealed that the stains on the shroud was caused by human blood, more specifically by the blood with of type AB.   There were also two coins placed on the eyes of the man.  From the marks on the cloth, we know that the coins originate from the time of Pontius Pilate. The man had tefillin between the eyebrows.  Thus, we can summarize that we have the burial cloth of a Jewish  man that was whipped by the Romans before being crucified and this happened in the time that Pontius Pilate ruled.

Now we need to get specific about the location and time of the crucifixion. The body was also surrounded by flowers when it was wrapped. Most of the flowers were placed around the head of the man.  These flowers, and their pollen, have now been investigated by at least two experts.

In 1973, some clerics in Turin had asked police crime expert Dr. Max Frei to examine the shroud with a microscope and to apply to it the method he had developed to study crimes, for the purpose of determining its origins. Among the flax fibers of which the shroud is made, Frei found dust particles, parts of plants, and grains of pollen. He placed strips of transparent adhesive tape on the shroud, folding them after taking the samples in order to prevent contamination. An expert on the flora of central Europe, Frei had trouble identifying the pollen. He made several trips to Israel to collect plant samples from the Jerusalem and Dead Sea areas: with their help he succeeded in identifying twenty-five species of plants whose pollen he had found on the shroud.17

Unfortunately, Dr Frei passed away before he could finish his study of the materials that he found. The material he collected has now been used by two Israeli botanists, Dr. Avinoam Danin and Dr. Uri Baruch, to determine the location.  Dr. Danin has a database of all the flowers and pollen in Israel, that allows him to place a collection of flowers and pollen within a very specific location within Israel.  Here is a summary of their conclusion:

I also checked the distribution pattern in Israel of the plants that had already been identified on the shroud. In my database on local plant distribution (designed by Barak Danin), data is organized in topographical squares of five kilometers to a side. The database includes more than ninety thousand units of information, including the names of the plants and the squares in which they appear. I asked Barak to correlate twenty-six of the species whose imprints were found on the shroud with the plant lists on the various squares superimposed on the country.

At first we analyzed squares of 5 km to a side; later we combined four such squares to form squares of 10 km to a side, and then squares of 20 km to a side. We discovered that there is one square of 10 km to a side that contains 70% of the species we were seeking – and is located midway between Jerusalem and Jericho. Another check determined that five of the 5-km-sided-squares containing twenty-seven out of the twenty-eight species are in the Jerusalem area: one includes the villages of Aminadav and Mevo Beitar, two include the eastern and western sections of Jerusalem, another includes the village of Kfar Adumim, and the last includes the ruins of Qumran. Other combinations of squares will be examined in the future.

As far as establishing the shroud’s provenance, Zygophyllum dumosum is the most significant plant on the list. Max Frei identified pollen grains of this species on the adhesive tapes he examined. The northernmost extent of the distribution of this plant in the world coincides with the line between Jericho and the sea level marker on the road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. As Zygophyllum dumosum grows only in Israel, Jordan, and Sinai, its appearance helps to definitively limit the shroud’s place of origin. The fact that the images of winter leaves appear on the shroud together with the previous year’s petioles indicates that the plant was picked in spring. This conclusion is reinforced by the state of growth of the other plants whose images are to be found on the shroud

From this report, we can extend our conclusion as follows: we have the burial cloth of a Jewish  man that was whipped by the Romans before being crucified in the season of Spring (time of Pesach) in the area of Jerusalem and this happened in the time that Pontius Pilate ruled.

Can we make this even more precise?  If we include another artifact we may add one more fact to the conclusion. This is where the fact mentioned earlier about multiple cloths being used starts to play an important role.  We now need to bring the information that we can gather from the sudarium of Oviedo into our investigation.

First, let us establish a line between the two cloths.  How do we know that they are even related? Based on the studies we have several points that prove they were used on the same person.  These points include:

  • The blood on both cloths belongs to the same group, namely AB.
  • Exact fit of the stains with the beard on the face.
  • The thorn wounds on the nape of the neck also coincide perfectly with the bloodstains on the Shroud.
  • The length of the nose on both clothes are exactly the same.

What we also learn from the sudarium is that from the composition of the main stains, it is evident that the man whose face the sudarium covered died in an upright position.  This aligns with the blood stains on the arms of the shroud, confirming the death by crucifixion. From these stains we also learn that the sudarium was put into place while the body was still on the cross. The composition of the stains on the sudarium gets even more specific.

The stains consist of one part blood and six parts fluid from a pleural oedema. This liquid collects in the lungs when a crucified person dies of asphyxiation, and if the body subsequently suffers jolting movements, can come out through the nostrils. These are in fact the main stains visible on the sudarium.16

The stains also add the additional fact for us.  From the investigation, the following conclusion was made:

It would appear that the sudarium was pinned to the back of the dead man’s head, and that these spots of blood were from small sharp objects, which would logically be the thorns that caused this type of injury all over Jesus’ head. 16

Thus, we now have blood spots on the back of the head that was caused by small sharp objects. This could most likely have been caused by the thorns placed on Y’Shua’s head.

Dr. Max Frei also investigated the pollen on the sudarium and found a specific species of pollen called “quercus caliprimus.” This specific pollen is limited to the area of Palestine. Residues of what is most probably myrrh and aloe have also been discovered on the sudarium. This is mentioned in the gospel of John.

John 19:39–40
39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Y’Shua and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Thus, we now expand the conclusion: we have the burial cloth of a Jewish  man that was whipped by the Romans and an object causing small puncture marks on the head before being crucified in the season of Spring (time of Pesach) in the area of Jerusalem and this happened in the time that Pontius Pilate ruled.

This makes the probability of Y’Shua being the man in both the clothes very high. But do we have any proof that would make it beyond reasonable doubt?

We have a very unique fact regarding the shroud.  The image of the man, not the blood stains, only penetrated the cloth for a couple of nanometers (0.2±0.2 micrometers.)  The only method known for creating such an image is via radiation.  This implies that the image of the man on the shroud could not have been painted onto the cloth. Scientists in Italy have spent five years trying to recreate such an image without any success.18 The scientist also concluded that the shroud did not make contact with the complete body, but yet, the complete body is represented on the cloth.  What is even more unique is that the dimensions are precise for a three dimensional negative.  Remember, this happened hundreds of years before the first camera was invented. Thus, using several advanced techniques, including laser and ultra-violet light, they could not recreate the image.  Thus, we have a theory that states that the image of Y’Shua was “burned” into the shroud at the time of His resurrection. The conclusions of the 5 years of experimentation do not contradict this theory.

Thus, we now have all the facts mentioned earlier, plus the fact that the image of the man was created during a supernatural event, making it most probable that this is the shroud that was draped over Y’Shua.  The only fact that is used to discredit the shroud is a carbon dating study that was done.  Looking at the protocol of how this study was done, is now placing a big question mark behind the results.  For more details, please have a look at this shot video – https://vimeo.com/159184788.

Bone Box of Yakov the Brother of Y’Shua

The next item we will look at indirectly confirms the existence of Y’Shua. There also exists some controversy around this object, but recent court cases have put some attention to the authenticity of this article. The article we are referring to is called the “Ossuary of James, brother of Jesus.” The ossuary, or bone box, is a limestone box that was used to store the bones of a deceased person.  Several of these have been found around the world. Even in Jerusalem, a large number have been found19.  What makes this one so unique and interesting is the writings that are carved on the side of this box.

On the side of this box is carved the following inscription in cursive Aramaic “Yakov, son of Joseph, brother of Y’Shua” or the Aramaic in transliterated text – “Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua20  This ossuary is owned by a private collector who purchased it from an antiquities dealer.  As it was not recovered in an official excavation, we do not have records of exactly where it was found or what other objects were found together with the box.  It is assumed that it came from the Silwan area in the Kidron Valley, southeast of the Temple Mount.  Also, the contents of the box were removed.

The names Joseph, Yakov and Y’Shua were fairly common male names at the time.  Using some statistics on the frequency of the occurrence of the names in archaeological finds of the period, it is possible to estimate how many people would have fit this inscription.  Based on starting assumptions of:

  • The population of Jerusalem was 80,000 at the time (based on several expert opinions)
  • A ration of 50:50 between male and female
  • Every male has an average of two brothers

It is possible to estimate that there could have been 20 people that would have been called “Yakov, son of Joseph, brother of Y’Shua.” How many of them would have been buried in ossuaries in Jerusalem, we do not know.

However, in 2005 Camil Fuchs, a statistician, published an article where  he had examined the frequency of the occurrence of the names of Jewish males in Jerusalem during the first century. His conclusion was that within a 99% probability, he could show that between 45 – 70 AD, only one person lived in Jerusalem that would fit the names on the ossuary. 25

What is casting doubt on the inscription is that Yakov is not referred to as “Yakov the righteous” as he is referred to in the Scripture.  Also Y’Shua is not specified as “Y’Shua of Nazareth” as we could have expected.

André Lemaire, a Parisian Semitic epigrapher, was asked to investigate the carvings on the box.   He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading specialists in ancient Semitic writing, including epigraphy, paleography, linguistics and philology, and serves as a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris. He determined that the text was consistent with script from the first century.  He also stated that the carvings were not made with modern tools.  His conclusion was that the box dated box  between 20 B.C to 70 A.D.  He also stated specifically that the practice of placing ossuaries around Jerusalem ended around 70 A.D. with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.  He further clarifies by remarking that the cursive shape of three of the letters used (dalet, yod and aleph) help us narrow this down to the last decades before the destruction of the Temple.  This would be in line with the time that James was recorded to have been killed.  According to Josephus, James was brought before the Sanhedrin in 62 A.D.

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned – Antiquities of the Jews  20.200

Of course, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) was unhappy when this artifact was announced to the public in October 2002. In 2004 they charged the owner, Oded Golan, with 44 counts of forgery, fraud and deception as well as illegal trading in antiquities. The IAA claimed that the inscription was of a much later date. They did this based on their analysis of the patina that covers the inscription. They did not argue the age of the ossuary, but the date of the inscription. They never released an official report detailing the findings that they based their conclusion on.  It has become known that their conclusion was based on the study of oxygen isotope in the patina.21 These tests were performed by Avner Ayalon on behalf of the IAA. The conclusion that these tests showed that the inscription was a fake, was made by Yuval Goren, a professor at Tel Aviv University and chairman of its department of archaeology.

This meant that the validity of the inscription was reviewed by experts, from both points of view, in preparation for the trial. During the trial the defense produced photos taken in 1976, that showed the ossuary with the full inscription in place.  This disproved the IAA’s claim that the inscription was a recent forgery.  The IAA had claimed that parts of the inscription were made after 2000. During cross examination, the IAA’s chief expert, Yuval Goren, acknowledged  that there were original patina found in the word “Y’Shua.” The IAA could also not produce any experts that were willing to contradict the paleographical findings of Andre Lemaire and Ada Yardeni,  one of Israel’s top two or three most highly regarded paleographers. The result of the trial was that  on 14 March 2012 the judge ruled that “that there is no evidence that any of the major artifacts were forged, and that the prosecution failed to prove their accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.23

In 2008 a new study24 was published by  Amnon Rosenfeld, Howard Randall Feldman, and Wolfgang Elisabeth Krumbein.  This report showed that based on archaeometric analysis:

  • The patina contains no modern elements and adheres firmly to the stone.
  • The engraving clearly does not cut the patina.
  • Ultraviolet illumination does not indicate any new engraving marks

Thus, as we stand today, the scientific proof is indicating that the inscription on the side of the ossuary, is not a recent fake, and was most likely made when the box was put into use. The statisticians are showing us that most likely there was only one “Yacov, son of Joseph, brother of Y’Shua” living in Jerusalem at this time.

Post Apostolic Scripture period

In this last section we will now focus on the period after the death, resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua.  We will look at artifacts other than the Scriptures to see if we can find more evidence that Y’Shua existed. Here we will start looking at a very strange area of historical research.  The artifacts that we will look at now, is not the same type of materials that are normally in the scope of Biblical studies.  These are not manuscripts that contain parts of gospels, letters or even commentaries.   We will look at different artifacts that were used as part of magical practice during the first couple of centuries. These artifacts will also show us how the people of this period “protected”themselves from the spiritual dimension.

We artifacts we will look at is a group of documents referred to as the “magical papyri.” This is a collection of ancient Greco-Roman documents that show us what the common people of the era believed.  Typically, these documents contained spells, incantations, rituals or formulas.  Most of the documents we have available today were written in Greek on papyrus.  This is why they are also sometimes called “Greek Magical Papyri.”  At the moment there exists around 230 of these types of documents in museums all over the world.26 They typically come  in the form of spells that either gives a person specific power or fortune, or protects the person from spiritual attacks.

We are specifically interested in the spell recorded in PGM IV lines 3007-3086.  It is also referred to as “Charm of Pibechis for those possessed by daimons.27 This papyrus contains a number of spells that could be used to ward off evil spirits.  The spell was most likely written by Pibechis, a famous pagan Egyptian magician.  In the times of Y’Shua, Egypt was known as the capital of magic. He refers to this charm as the “tested charm  of Pibechis” and mentions that this specific charm is “is terrifying to every daimon, a thing he fears.” Using this charm, the magician must also pronounce a spell that contains the following lines:

I conjure you by the god of the Hebrews, / Jesus who appears  in fire, who is in the midst of land, snow, and fog; ……..
I conjure you by the one who appeared to Osrael in a shining pillar and a cloud by day; who saved his people from the Pharaoh and brought upon
Pharaoh the ten plagues because of his disobedience.
I conjure you, every daimonic spirit, to tell whatever sort you may be, because I conjure you by the seal which Solomon placed on the tongue of Jeremiah, and he told. ….
And I conjure you, the one who receives this conjuration,  not to eat pork, and every spirit and daimon, whatever sort it may be, will be subject to you.

In this spell we can see a very strong Jewish influence, with the name of Solomon specifically mentioned. In the Jewish tradition, Solomon had a reputation as an exorcist and spiritual authority. But, what is most fascinating in this spell is the fact that a pagan in Egypt refers to Y’Shua as the “god of the Hebrews.”  Y’Shua was used in this spell because He was known to be a mighty healer and one who could drive out demons. This would, according the pagan magician, be a power that demons would fear. From this we can assume that Pibechis was aware of the details about the life of Y’Shua as we have it recorded in the gospels.  He believed it to be true and powerful.

The next text we will look at comes from a silver phylactery that originates from Beirut.  Today it can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.  A phylactery is an object that is worn by a person as a means of protection. It is also sometimes referred to as an “amulet.” Today it may be referred to as a “lucky charm.” This specific phylactery includes the following text:

I adjure you, the one above the heaven, Sabaoth … protect Alexandra.… The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob: Protect Alexandra, whom Zoe bore, from demonic forces … I adjure you by the living God … protect Alexandra from every demonic force, male and female, and from every disturbance of demons … One God and his Anointed, help Alexandra.3

Here again we find a very Jewish inspired document referring to the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It calls on the “One God and his Anointed ” to provide the protection.  We know that the term “anointed” also implies “Messiah.” Thus it could be that this piece of silver was worn with the hope that YHVH and His Messiah would protect Alexandra, daughter of Zoe, from demonic forces.

The third source we turn to keep us within the realm of ancient magic.  Now we are looking at objects called “magic bowls.” These are bowls that have text written in a circular pattern on the inside of the bowl.  There is not yet any certainty as to how exactly these bowls were used.  These bowls date back to the third century, but some date back as late as the fifth century.  They were most often written in Aramaic, although some have been found that contained Syriac text.  In the Bible Lands Museum In Jerusalem, you can see some of these artifacts.  Bowl number 17 is also referred to as ” Confounding the evil eye that smote Yoyia son of Rasnendukh” and it was written in Aramaic. Lines 4 and 5 of this bowl reads as follows:

He said, ‘I have raised a dead man, and he caused Yoyi’a, son of Rashnendukh, to win …’ May the power of the Messiah rise and become awake.

The Messiah here could refer to the Jewish messiah that is to appear some time in the future, or it could be referring to Y’Shua. Some other bowls also make reference to Christos, or Iēsou. These could also be references to Y’Shua.  Because of what Y’Shua did while he was on earth, He had developed a  reputation, even among foreign pagans, to be a fierce and effective opponent to evil powers.  Even in Mark  9:38–40 we hear that people had already started to cast out demons in Y’Shua’s name. We can conclude from the fact that so many of these types of bowls were found in  Jewish homes in the diaspora, that many Jewish believers of this time also participated in these customs.  In the Babylonian city of Nippur almost every Jewish home that was excavated had one of these bowls.28

The last group of artifacts we will look at is called “curse tablets.”  There exists a comprehensive collection of around 18,000 Latin inscriptions that are dated to the time of the Roman Empire. This collection is called the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL.) In it is a large number of public and private inscriptions that reveal to us a lot of the Roman life and history. This collection is still being updated on a continuous basis. In this collection we have one lead tablet that was found in Yugoslavia. It is referenced by the number 119. It is a lead tablet of 10x12cm with two holes on the left edge.  It dates from around the sixth century5. It was made to be worn as an amulet. This specific amulet was supposed to protect the wearer from a foul spirit of Tartarus. The amulet contains the following text in Latin:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I denounce you, most foul spirit of Tartarus, whom the angel Gabriel bound with burning fetters.

We also see a silver lamella (small, thin fragment) dated to the fourth century, now housed in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, referred to as “Froehner 1212.” It was found in Cyprus and bought by Froehner around 1874. It records the following text in Greek:

(I adjure you in the name of the) Nazorean, Jesus Christ, and his holy apostles and (his) angels, (to come out of …)”

From all these artifacts we see that in the years that followed the resurrection for Y’Shua, the name of Y’Shua was used to ward off all forms of evil spirits.  This was not only done by believers, but also by pagans, even as far away as Egypt.  This does not exactly proof 100% the existence of Y’Shua, but it does show us that what is recorded about the life and the power of Y’Shua was also considered to be true by third parties i.e. non-believers. Thus we have artifacts, outside of artifacts compiled by the followers of Y’Shua, that are based on the fact that Y’Shua did really exist and while on earth He was able to defeat demons and heal the sick.

Conclusion

As stated at the start of the article, the purpose of this study is not to convince you to believe in Y’Shua.  Only the Spirit of YHVH can really convince you of that.  If you already believe that Y’Shua is the Messiah, this article is not to prove to you that you are correct.  The purpose of this study is to equip you when you need to defend your believe in Y’Shua to an unbeliever.  In these types of discussions it is always good to have a number of facts, archeological, scientific or whatever at your disposal.

Thus, in this article we started by looking at textual proof outside the Apostolic Writings. These included both Roman and Jewish documents that were compiled relatively soon after the resurrection of Y’Shua. Even though some of the documents are not accurate about exactly who Y’Shua was, they do acknowledge His existence. We have also looked at two archeological artifacts that proves with an extremely high probability that Y’Shua did exist, that He was crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem and that His body was placed in a grave as described in the Gospels.  Further, as proved in a court of justice, we have a bone box with an inscription that point to James (Yacov) the brother of Y’Shua. Statistically the probability is high that this really was the brother of Y’Shua that we read about in the book describing the Acts of the Apostles.

In the last section we had a look at what people outside His followers, believed about Him.  Here we see that in the world of pagan magic, Y’Shua was seen as a power that was able to defeat the strongest of demons.  In several artifacts we see that all different types of people called on the name of Y’Shua to protect them from the effects of evil spirits.  This can only be because these people believed that what was recorded, and verbally transmitted, about Y’Shua to be true. These people believed that Y’Shua was able to deliver people from demons and heal the sick.

In future articles we will start to investigate how accurately the words of Y’Shua could have been recorded and then how well these recordings were preserved.  Once again this will be done to allow you to defend our believe that the Apostolic Scriptures are true and accurate to those who are skeptical of the content of these books.

References

  1. Tranquillus, C. S. (1889). Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars; An English Translation, Augmented with the Biographies of Contemporary Statesmen, Orators, Poets, and Other Associates. (A. Thomson, Ed.). Medford, MA: Gebbie & Co.
  2. Palmer, D.W., 2000. Suetonius C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter, eds. Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship.
  3. Evans, C.A., 2014. NT313 Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  4. English translation, Loeb edition, 1915, http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/Pliny/Pliny10-096-E.html
  5. (1885). Origen against Celsus. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), F. Crombie (Trans.), Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second (Vol. 4, p. 408). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.
  6. Retrieved from http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/lucian_passing_of_peregrinus.htm
  7. Burke, D. G. (1979–1988). Cross; Crucify. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 1, p. 828). B. Eerdmans.
  8. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (p. 383). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
  9. Mirecki, P. A. (1992). Valentinus. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday.
  10. Retrieved from http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/got.html
  11. Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson.
  12. Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 16, pp. 577–578). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  13. Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 16, p. 220). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  14. Mangum, D. (2016). Jesus in the Talmud. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  15. Blomberg, C. L. (2009). Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey (2nd Edition, pp. 433-434). Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.
  16. The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin, https://www.shroud.com/guscin.htm – Retrieved 2016/10/02
  17. Pressed Flowers. Where Did the Shroud of Turin Originate? A Botanical Quest, http://www.shroud.com/danin.htm – Retrieved 2016/10/29
  18. Paolo Di Lazzaro, Could a burst of radiation create a Shroud-like coloration?, ENEA Italy, http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/dilazzarovppt.pdf – Retrieved 2016/10/30
  19. Lemaire, André. (2002) . Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus. Biblical Archeology Review, vol 28 (Nov/Dec 2002).
  20. James Ossuary. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ossuary. Retrieved 2016/11/3.
  21. Shanks, Herschel. Was Cleanser Used to Clean the James Ossuary Inscription? (2005). Biblical Archeology Review, vol 31(Jan/Feb 2005).
  22. Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson.
  23. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/breaking-news-golan-and-deutsch-acquitted-of-all-forgery-charges/- Retrieved 2016/11/12
  24. Rosenfeld Amnon, Feldman Howard R, Krumbein Wolfgang E. Archaeometric Analysis of the James Ossuary. https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2008AM/finalprogram/abstract_139934.htm – Retrieved 2016/11/12
  25. Tabor, James. What’s What Regarding the Controversial James Ossuary?. https://jamestabor.com/whats-what-regarding-the-controversial-james-ossuary/#rf12-4122 – Retrieved 2016/11/22
  26. Arnold, C. E. (2000). Magical Papyri. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  27. Betz, Hans D. The Greek Magical Papyri in translation including the Demotic Spells. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-04444-0
  28. R, Rajkumar. Aramaic Bowl Spells – Its Beliefs and Practices. http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/02/aramaic-bowl-spells-its-beliefs-and.html. Retrieved 2016/11/26.
  29. Gacer, John G. Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World. P 27. ISBN-13: 978-0195134827
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