The IAA Exhibit at the Museum of the Bible– Part Two

The IAA Exhibit at the Museum of the Bible– Part Two February 7, 2018

The new Museum of the Bible in D.C. is already garnering lots of visits and praise too. In a recent weekend it had 10,000 visitors in the museum at one time, and it can actually accommodate that many. Up on the sixth floor the IAA exhibit has many interesting artifacts, for instance lamps and glass perfume bottles from the Biblical period….

Far more interesting to me were the ossuaries, or bone boxes from the era stretching from the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. These reburial boxes are what people put the bones of the deceased in about a year after the flesh had decayed. The reason for keeping the bones together was the common belief in a future resurrection. As you know by now, James, the brother of Jesus was placed in one of these ossuaries, and Hershel Shanks and I wrote an entire book about it entitled The Brother of Jesus (2nd ed. Harper). We both think it and the inscription on it are genuine, as the expert epigraphers like Andre Lamare and Ada Yardeni confirmed multiple times. But here are some other ossuaries from the same period with the usual floral or rosette designs.


These ossuaries, unlike the James box are for people of considerable social status who can afford a nicely decorated box. The James ossuary was not a Gucci ossuary, but rather the ossuary of someone of modest means, the Walmart ossuary, as I like to call it.

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