tv Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery CNN December 25, 2016 11:00pm-12:01am PST
this is cnn breaking news. >> i'm george howell at cnn world headquaters in atlanta. for our viewers here in the united states our cnn special finding jesus airs in just a moment but first t breaking news that we are following this hour here on cnn, the death of british pop star george michael. he was 5 3 years old and we're hearing from musicians and fans around the world mourning the loss of another great. he died at his home christmas day. his manager tells the u.k. press association he likely died from heart failure. he rose to fame with the 1980s
duo wham. let's listen. ♪ >> he then went on to have a successful solo career. michael's friends, fans they are reacting and sharing their feelings about his death online. one of them elton john that echoed what many people are saying around the world, posting this on instagram. i am in deep shock. i lost a beloved friend. the kindest most generous soul and brilliant artist. george michael died at his home. he was 53 years old. let's pause for our viewers in the united states as finding jesus begins in a moment but first or viewers around the world, stand by, our coverage continues on the death of george michael. stay with us. >> an ancient burial box
enscribed with the name james, john of joseph, brother of jesus. a box that might actually be a connection to jesus christ himself. but who was his brother, james. >> the gospels are very clear that jesus had siblings. >> from doubter. >> can you imagine if your brother said i'm the son of god. >> to leader. >> james run the whole show in jerusalem. >> but why has james been lost to history? >> james is the forgotten man. >> one of the longest forgery trials ever, could this be the first physical evidence of jesus and his secret brother james?
>> fall, 2002, royal ontario museum in toronto canada opens it's doors to what may be the most significant discovery ever in biblical archaeology. a limestone burial box. scientifically dated to the time of christ. on its side, an encryption in ancient arabaic which reads james, son of joseph, brother of jesus. >> it came just as we crossed the threshold.
we had the y2k bug, the visit to the holy land and this seemed to be another one of those happenings. >> it's claimed that this box measuring 10 inches by 20 is no less than the burial casket of james, the brother of jesus christ. >> it's so important not just for the fact that it says the brother of jesus. but you have to understand that there's no physical evidence of the existence of jesus of nazareth dating from the time. there's nothing except the gospels which were written down decades later. this would be the first physical evidence that jesus existed. >> this is such a landmark.
this is the only material evidence, nonliterary, we have for the family of jesus. >> i think most people would be extremely surprised to learn that jesus had siblings even though james is called the brother of jesus in the new testament. most people grow up learning that mary was a virgin and he didn't have any siblings so i think that most people would be astonished. >> the gospels of both matthew and mark name jesus' brothers. as well as james there's joseph, judas and simon along side at least two unnamed sisters. but exactly whose offspring these other children are is still the subject of debate. >> for catholics there's the emphasis on mary's virginity. she was not only a virgin at the time of jesus's conception and
birth but also afterwards so that's why i like to think of james t brother of jesus as probably a child from joseph's prior marriage before he married mary. >> but not all christians are in agreement. >> protestants were say there's other children that are the biological kids of mary and joseph, in which case jesus would be the older brother. and perhaps other siblings of jesus would have looked up to him. >> matthew 1:25 says literally, joseph was not knowing her in the carnal sense until she gave birth to jesus. now any normal reading of that sentence implies she went on to have more children after that and his brothers and sisters are, in fact, his brothers and sisters. >> the bible tells us very little about the early life of
jesus. the gospels really fast forward almost totally until he's 30 years old and he's the son of god. >> what about all the missing years when he was a teenager playing around with his brothers, getting into trouble. >> written around 100 years after jesus's death the gospel of thomas is a collection of stories about his childhood. >> there's a story about james and it's an interesting picture of jesus and james together as children. >> joseph sent james into the forest to gather sticks. jesus also went with him.
>> the gospel continues. a snake bit james on the hand and as he lay dying the boy jesus ran to james and did nothing but blow on the bite. and immediately the bite was healed. >> james is put there with jesus from the beginning. we see an organic connection between them. not only in terms of their relationship but also in terms of their common experience. >> but the story of james, the brother of jesus, will be forgotten until this casket reappears to launch one of the longest and most controversial forgery trials ever.
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the casket that may have held the bones of james, the forgotten brother of jesus, starts with one of the world's greatest collectors. >> he is one of the great experts on artifacts. >> i have actually the biggest private collection in israel probably in the world. >> most of his collection tells the story of the development of the civilizations here and that includes the biblical era. his collection must be worth millions and millions of dollars. >> in the early 1970s he bought an empty first century from a dealer in jerusalem. >> i could see some o the names
which are mentioned and especially the first name, meaning james. it came by itself without any item to accompany it. >> in first century jerusalem the bones of the dead were placed in underground tombs. byron mccain is a leading expert on burial practices in ancient palestine. >> we're just south of the old city of jerusalem. there are a number of burial caves from the time of jesus right around here. in the jewish tradition, on the first anniversary of the death they gather the bones of their loved ones. it's marked with the name of the deceased and then placed somewhere in the tomb.
>> back in 1970s jerusalem there's a vibrant market. >> i didn't see anything particular in this. it was set for many years at my parents apartment together with several others that i purchased at that time because i didn't put any special attention. >> but if april 2002, he invites a renowned scholar of ancient aramaic to examine some items in his collection. his attention is drawn to it. he disciphers the mysterious encryption. it reads james, john of joseph, brother of jesus. >> he found that there is a very high probability that it belonged to james, the brother of jesus christ.
frankly i didn't even know that jesus christ had brothers or sisters. >> he immediately sends it to the geological survey of israel to help with it's authentication. using high power microsofts they inspect it and the encryptions. they conclude the lettering has not been made by modern tools. >> it's not a question of authentic. it's a question of if it belongs to james. >> intrigued about the probability of finding the names james, jesus and joseph in more than one family in first century jerusalem, he asked them to audit the names on the encrypti encryption. >> we have 168 from that period in jerusalem. >> while joseph appears on 7%, jesus on 4 and james on 2%, he
concludes it's improbable that another family combining these three names existed. >> it is very likely in my opinion that james on this is the james that is the brother of jesus. >> the likelihood that this could be some other family with those three names where the father is joseph and the two brothers are james and jesus seems very unlikely. >> 2,000 years ago everything changes for the brothers jesus and james when joseph dies. >> we really don't know when joseph died but somewhere around
27 a.d. joseph is nowhere on the scene. >> it's the central core of first century jewish society. they lost somebody that could be providing for this family. living at a subsistence level. the family would really have relied on jesus to pick up the slack to have provided for the family. they would have really needed his income. >> but around 30 jesus makes a life changing choice. >> jesus leaves the family and goes walk about in galilee and judea. >> according to the gospels jesus seeks out john the baptist on the banks of the river jordan.
>> jesus's baptism by john the baptist galvanized him and got him thinking i must act now and convert people now. >> he begins performing miracles. casting out demons. >> according to the gospels there are large crowds drawn to jesus throughout his ministry. jesus's healing miracles would have drawn a lot of attention. >> but while jesus embarks on his mission, his family remain in nazareth. >> jesus leaves james and the other brothers and sisters in charge of the family and that is what is uncomfortable about this story. the village itself was a small village.
so tongues would wag about this whole deal of jesus going off and doing some kind of ministry and leaving his family to take care of business. >> they would have experienced because they had this slightly crazy, embarrassing brother. and we can imagine that would have created friction between jesus and his family. >> but as the fame of jesus spreads, the tension with his family, will come to a head. >> james looked upon what jesus was doing as something that brought the family into dishonor. >> and set brother against brother. says it won't let up for a while. the cadillac xt5... what should we do? ...tailored to you.
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a man asks jesus to cure his witherred hand. >> jesus tells him to stretch out his hand and he is healed. >> but this is the sabbath and working on the sabbath is prohibited. >> the fact that jesus heals the man with the witherred hand on the sabbath suggests he's just going to do what he wants. >> it's an action that brings jesus into conflict with the jewish priesthood. now his reputation precedes him where ever he goes.
the number of his followers increases. the crowds he attracts bring him to the attention of the roman authorities. >> when jesus is active in galilee those areas were under roman occupation. you could believe whatever you wanted to believe in the roman empire. you could practice your religion in whatever way you chose to practice your religion but what the romans didn't like is one charismatic figure, especially. >> fearing for jesus's safety james and his family come. >> it would be terribly frightening to have a member of your family get involved in that kind of religious environment potentially leading up to
violence. >> the family heard these reports that jesus was casting demons out and they thought, has he gone mad? >> when jesus gets word that his family have come for him, he refuses to see them. he asked who are my brother and my brothers. here are my mother and my brothers. whoever does god's will is my brother and sister and mother. >> he is saying to his family, if you don't support me, i am going to deny you too. >> it's almost like he disses his family. >> it's actually a rejection of the blood family and i think his family would have been shocked by that. >> he's out of his mind, leave. go. >> james is not unlike us.
can you imagine if your brother said, you know, i'm the son of god. what would you say? obviously we would think they're crazy. >> a few weeks later jesus enters jerusalem. hundreds of thousands line the streets. according to the gospels he is later arrested in the garden and the following day his torture and execution. jesus's family have failed to save him.
>> the gospel of the hebrews portrays james as being in jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion. >> james has probably found the whole business of jesus being crucified about as traumatic and about as life changing as you can imagine. >> he goes into a period of fasting and mourning. something that no one else of jesus followers did. >> but then t bible revealed that james's grieving is brought to a sudden end. jesus returns. >> he was buried and he was
raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. then he appeared to james. >> james spent much of his life wondering who his brother is. especially during this extraordinary mission that jesus has been on. and the resurrection is the moment that james comes to believe that jesus really is something special. perhaps that was the moment where he came to acknowledge jesus was not just his brother, but also his lord. james's life is transformed. now from doubting brother, he will become jesus's most devoted follower and help shape a new
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is heard around the world. >> at that point i thought we were dealing with just a fantastic story about perhaps the only item ever to come from the family of jesus. but controversy is about to engulf them. >> while it was on display, some questions were asked here in israel as to how it got there. the authority said we didn't realize it was such an important item that he wanted to send abroad. >> two months after it is first put on display the authority refused to grant an extension. they demand the immediate return to israel. the israeli police and iaa felt they had been embarrassed in
front of the whole world. and they went off to him. >> in july 2003, police accompanied by officers from the iaa. >> his premises were raided in the middle of the night. >> we came with a search warrant along from his apartment. >> other rare things they want to examine. >> it was full of finds. >> they turned up all of these boxes of materials and drawings and computer programs and other documents they felt looked like a forgery workshop. >> in the end we had dozens of pieces that were supposedly for. >> the police confiscate them
for investigation. >> from that moment on a totally different area of inquiry was open. not just stealing them from the authority but faking and selling them which is a criminal act so you have this very bright, quite obsessive character coming in contact with this strange world. a lot of which is based on very shady dodgey dealing. so you have a very interesting and perhaps volatile mix. >> it's an allegation he vigorously denies. >> this is just ridiculous accusation. all i held in my hand was a small box of very old tools in which i use to restore like any other collector. >> for more than a year he is held under house arrest while the iaa prepares it's case.
>> the story switched from being a nice happy archaeology story to being a story about a criminal mastermind trying to change the course of history. >> in december, 2004, at the district court of jerusalem he and four others are charged on 44 counts of fraud and forgery. >> they accused him of being part of an international forgery ring. faking the historic record by forging such important items as the burial box of james the brother of jesus. >> the prosecution launch a case to prove that golan added the three most contentious words, brother of jesus to the encryption. >> it is from that period of time but what he did was he made a supplement in making a whole
new meaning. >> part of the case is based on an examination by an expert that analyzed the lettering for any inconsistencies. >> if you look at the encryption really carefully you'll notice that there's a difference in depth, clarity and the presence between the first half of the encryption and the second half of the inscription. i believe the secochances of th second half being a modern forgery is 75 to 85 atmpt. the forger attempted to replicate the style of writing in the first half of the encryption but didn't do it we nor mouse precision. >> but the defense disagrees. next the prosecution turns it's attention to the coating on the box. over the next five years their scientists repeatedly scrutinize the microorganisms imbedded
inside the lettering. they believe this is all the work of golan. >> he made the fake pattern at home and went to archaeological sites and took dirt from that period and took it back home and mixed it with water and then poured it over it. >> now witnesses for the defense contradict this claim. >> to fake it, you need time. you need years and years. maybe 50 years, maybe 100 years to develop this pattern by growing the microorganisms that form it. >> every day new evidence is presented. >> more than 120 witnesses in this trial. many of them leading scientific experts. >> the case itself lasted for almost 8 years. >> physics, chemistry, stone,
glue, ink, you name it. >> i don't think there was ever any case like this in the world. >> the judge said to each of them, look, if you, the best experts in the world can't tell me whether this is fake or authentic then how on earth can i decide? >> finally in march 2012 after one of the longest ever forgery trials 12,000 pages of transcripts and more than 400 exhibits, the judge reaches a verdict. he is found guilty on two charges related to the trade but when it comes to forgery he is found not guilty and acquitted on all accounts. >> i felt a release but i felt that i lost many years just in order to prove something that should not have even had to go into court. >> but the verdict is not
comment on whether the box could really have been of jesus's brother james. that debate is still very much alive. >> by the end what we're left with is an item that might be or might not be associated with jesus's family. >> but the bible does record what happens to james. his fate will impact the course of world history.
>> it's thought this once held the bones of jesus's brother james. his story may have been hidden but there's clues to his life. >> in the gospel according to thomas, jesus tells his disciples when they want to find leadership after his departure, they should go to james. >> james was a very devout man. a second century historian tells us that james was continually on his knees praying. so much so that he had calloused knees like a camel's knees. >> james becomes the first bishop of jerusalem.
>> my brother. >> he becomes a rock of the movement in many ways because he provides the kind of stability that a new christian movement like that needs. >> overtime he progressively develops a sense of commitment and ownership for his brother's messa message. >> but his authority is soon to be challenged by someone that was once a sworn enemy of jesus and his teachings. >> paul had been one of those against the group and changes sides and once he comes into the community he comes in incredibly strongly and takes a huge role. >> paul has been traveling across the roman empire preaching his own version of the jesus message for more than ten years. his manifesto even reached non-jews or gentiles.
>> the tricky issue of what do we do with gentiles was the hot button issue in earliest christianity. you have to remember all the earliest followers of jesus were jews. all of them. so where do the gentiles fit into this? >> ball doesn't want the gentiles to convert to judaism in order to become christians or in order to be followers of the christ. >> his letters make up a third of the new testament. his teachings show how determined he is to reach out to gentiles. >> jesus said go and make disciples of all the nations and that meant not just the jews. >> if i were james, and i had heard about paul and what paul was doing, i would be hugely frustrated. paul never met the human jesus. here was james that was jesus's brother and this upstart was
presuming to teach jesus's message and go out among the gentiles with this message. >> things got so bad in the relations between paul and james that ultimately they have to have a big conference in jerusalem to sort it out. >> around 50 a.d., 20 years after the execution of his brother jesus, james presides over a council of the movements leaders. the outcome will decide the future. will they remain a small jewish sect? or will christianity stand alone? >> paul comes to the foundation afforded by the death and resurrection of christ that also extends to gentiles and he brings a saved christian to jerusalem in order to try to prove his point. >> here is my friend.
>> he brings with him titus an uncircumsized greek. and he's saying what are you going to do about this. >> when we read the acts it's quite clear that there's tension and there's especially tension between james and paul. so if you were jesus's brother and he came along preaching and teaching a different message from the one that you learned from your brother, i imagine you would have felt immense frustration. >> what the counselor witnessed is the birth of early christianity. >> the process by which christianity and judaism become two different things is a process that takes centuries. in my opinion, paul's decision is a critically important moment
in that division. >> paul clearly believes you really need to go out there and spread the message if your legacies are going to be protected. >> listen to me, james is a true jew and he got along apparently just fine with the jewish authority but this jewish following of jesus had really taken on a life of its own. it wasn't just another sect of >> james eventually sides with paul. this decision will soon revolutionize christianity, but it will also seal james' fate. he is now seen as a threat to the jewish religious order.
>> james was the face of early jewish christianity in jerusalem. he represented all of that. so, of course, the authorities are going to take out on him whatever they had heard about the revolutionary beliefs about the followers of jesus. at that point, the jewish authorities knew that they couldn't control this. >> in spite of james' good behavior, they still associated him with that troublemaker jesus that had been crucified back in the early 30s. >> james is arrested on the orders of the same jewish priesthood who only three decades earlier had condemned his brother jesus to death. this thing is a beast. steel or aluminum? steel. why? science. it's gonna hold up over aluminum, big time. you can get special holiday pricing and when you find your red tag,
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jerusalem a.d. 62. a leading member of the jewish priesthood gives james an ultimatum. renounce his brother jesus as his messiah or face death. but james refuses. >> the link between jesus and james ultimately means that james can't survive. >> james is led to the temple walls. only a few hundred meters from where jesus was crucified. >> he's martyred for this cause, and he's martyred for his sincere devotion.
>> but pushing james from the walls doesn't kill him. ancient texts record that the final blows come when he's stoned to death and his body is buried on the spot where he falls. in accordance with jewish custom of the time, one year after his death, james' bones would have been collected and interned in an ossuary. >> i think it is likely that james' body was claimed by his followers and buried. there was considerable support from within the city of jerusalem right across the board for james to be honored against the demeaning death that was inflicted on him. >> after james' murder, the crucial role he played in the development of the early church will fade from view.
but today in jerusalem, james is still venerated. the 12th century armenian cathedral is dedicated to him. >> st. james is our first patriarch. we feel privileged that our brotherhood here in st. james are in direct succession and in direct line to st. james the first bishop of jerusalem. in our daily prayers, james is our lord. james is sitting next to christ. >> it's claimed the cathedral is built on the site of james' home. worshipers also believe his remains are buried here. >> according to armenian tradition, the bones of st. james were brought from the valley of kidron where they were originally buried, and they were reburied under the main altar of
the present st. james cathedral. >> but what happened to the box that first held his mortal remains? >> so is the james ossuary real or not? that's a tough question. the jury is still out on that one. >> at the end of it, you still have a mystery. we'll never quite know if the james ossuary is real or not. we'll never quite know if it's that james, the brother of jesus. >> after golan is acquitted of forging the inscription, the ossuary is eventually returned to him. now he is hoping to put it on display for a second time. >> it should be exhibited to people who have interest in early christianity. and we have a lot of material now that everyone can evaluate, read and even get his own impression or conclusion.
>> but the dispute over the authenticity of the box has left one lasting legacy. >> i think james the just is one of the most important figures in earliest christianity, and the controversy about the ossuary has caused people to become more aware of the fact that jesus had brothers and that james was preeminent among them. >> so why has james' memory been lost to history? >> we are guided so much by the theology that suggests that mary can't really have had other sons than jesus. >> this really bad idea that mary's perpetual virgin really kicked jesus' siblings off stage in early christianity. >> the first gospels are written only a few years after james' death, by which time
christianity, as it will become known, is already moving away from its jewish roots. >> by the 2nd century, there were more gentiles in the early church than there were israelites. and the memory of james was diluted. and now we come to think of him as a purely historical figure and not as the transitional figure that he truly was. >> theologically, it becomes difficult for us to talk about the important history of the early jesus movement. and that history does involve james. >> everyone else knew jesus. they knew jesus, the great teacher, they knew jesus the great healer. james knew the invisible jesus. james knew the jesus that he was
when no one was watching . . >> i'm george howell in atlanta for our viewers in the united states finding jesus will air in its entirety in just a moment. the breaking news we are following this hour, the death of george michael. he died christmas day. he was 53 years old. george michael rose to fame with the 1980s duo wham. michael manager says the singer likely died of heart failure. police say it is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. ♪