CHAPTER 14: STONE ON A ROLL
Patrick Stone had indeed taken care of everything. He felt positively giddy. In a matter of hours, he’d be 30,000 feet above the havoc he’d wreaked. He practically danced his way between his closet, bureau and suitcases as he finished packing. Everything was falling into place.
His graduate assistant, Raymond wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, as his mother would have said (if she could still speak intelligently), but he did have a gift when it came to forgeries. The poor sap thought that all this time he’d been making teaching tools. In reality, Stone had merely been honing the young man’s skills for the day he had known would come. The day that came yesterday, when that dolt, West, had discovered the tomb in
Stone had stayed out of sight until after that Arab groundskeeper rescued West, and then easily made his way into the tomb to snag the stone bearing the inscription, as well as a jar full of what appeared to be bits of manuscripts. It had taken a bit of chiseling and scraping to remove the stone, but all in all, the block had come out fairly easily. If only he could say the same of the rest of his day.
He couldn’t believe what an idiot that dealer had been. Regulations smegulations. He had a priceless antiquity in his hands—something that could have made both him and the old man rich—not to mention famous. Well, it was the old guy’s loss—he’d keep all the money for himself, just as soon as he got the original out of the country. He would have settled for some authenticity paperwork—but it became clear even that wasn’t an option. That’s when he’d moved on to Plan B.
He’d made good time driving it over to the dump Raymond rented and because he’d made sure the student had no life other than to serve his professor’s whims, he knew the replica would be completed before day’s end, as he demanded. Promising to return later that evening for the original, he’d headed back to the antiquities shop in the hopes of convincing el Said to either play along with him, or, if worse came to worse, threaten the man into secrecy. Finding the shop closed, Stone weighed his options, and was about to leave when, impulsively, he decided to follow the man.
They’d taken a short windy walk up to the park. When the dealer paused at a bench, Stone, hand on his concealed father’s antique derringer, had meant to initiate a perfectly civil conversation. Unfortunately, he startled el Said, immediately putting the old man on the defensive. Raising his hands in a show of good faith, Stone had forgotten about the gun—which, now waving wildly from his right hand in plain view, did anything but placate the Arab. El Said reached for it, and darned if the relic didn’t actually fire! Tumbling forward, the man caught the bullet in the gut, and, to make matters worse, he’d cracked his head on the bench before landing in a heap, pulling Stone down with him and pinning the gun hand under El Said’s head. Panicked, he’d barely managed to pull out his hand from under the stricken man before he caught sight of West through the trees. Ducking back into a grove, he figured he could retrieve the gun when West inevitably went for help. But fate smiled upon him one more time that day. The idiot pulled out the gun before going for help!
Quickly reassessing the situation, Stone decided that he could now make a break for it—the gun would now have Arthur West’s fingerprints on it, and by the time authorities moved forward with any sort of an investigation, he, Patrick Stone, would be on his way to fame and fortune on a completely different continent.
He’d taken a labyrinth of alleyways back to his car and sped back to Raymond’s flat. When the student had finally answered the door, Stone barged his way in, and seeing that the replica, for all intents, was completed, grabbed the original, and mumbled something about being late for the theatre. Leaving Raymond with instructions to continue aging the faux stone, he promised to be in touch later. The quietude of the drive back to his own flat gave him the final bit of inspiration.
He left the stone wrapped in a raincoat he kept in the back seat and made his way into his apartment, not even aware that his self-congratulatory thoughts had made their way out of his head and into a rapid undertone. The paranoia didn’t set in until he reached his door. After checking out the windows and seeing no one on the street, he’d gone first to his desk. Rifling through his rolodex, he found Art West’s address scribbled on a crumpled card. He’d then grabbed a phone book, ordered a courier to stop first at Raymond’s and then at West’s and then, uncharacteristically, added 20% to the total fee, if they’d guarantee delivery by dawn. It was just money, and he’d have plenty of it soon enough. The best part, of course, he would save for last. One more well-placed phone call and Dr. West’s goose would be thoroughly cooked.
CHAPTER 15: THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY
Sammy Cohen could set his watch by his own internal clock. Despite being awakened by Grace’s late-night plea for blood donors, his eyes opened, right on schedule at 6.18 a.m. No matter that he’d spent more than forty minutes making calls after ringing off with Grace. Living in a city that all too often doubled as a war zone, most companies had established phone trees for emergency purposes—much the same way Amercian Midwestern elementary schools used them for snow closings. By 1 am, most of the IAA employees would have been notified that O-positive blood was needed at Sinai.
Donning his tefillin, the black prayer boxes devout Jewish men affixed to their arms and foreheads with a series of leather straps, he’d moved methodically and comfortably through his morning prayers, adding an extra misheberach, for Kahlil’s recovery, before downing his usual Tuesday morning breakfast of muesli and strawberries. By 7.48 he had eased his car into his reserved parking space at the IAA, and by 8.00, on the dot, he was pouring the first cup of coffee from the pot in his office.
Still blowing the steam in anticipation of the first scalding sip, he paged through the emails littering his inbox. The knock at his door made him jump, bringing his coffee dangerously close to landing in his lap.
“So sorry to startle you Sammy! You didn’t spill that did you? I can see the steam from here.”
“Grace! I didn’t exactly expect to see you at my door so early. No my dear, disaster averted—coffee still in the cup. Come in. Can I pour you one? What news do you have? How’s Kahlil?”
“Good. Yes, to the coffee, thank you. Sara’s not opened Soloman’s Porch yet—she stayed on at hospital last night with Hannah. They hadn’t moved Kahlil from recovery to ICU when Art and I left around 3. Hannah understandably didn’t want to wait alone. The prognosis sounded good though. A charming young surgeon—Schwartz was his name—let us know he’d removed a bullet from Kahlil’s diaphragm, removed his spleen and that the coma—“
“Coma? I had no idea it was that serious.”
“Actually, he explained that the coma was expected—Kahlil apparently took a nasty spill and conked his head. He has some internal bruising in his head and the coma should help that heal. For as touch and go as we all know the first few hours are after any major trauma, Dr. Schwartz seemed very optimistic. Thank you again for starting that call chain for the O-positive.”
“How did Kahlil come to be shot in the first place?”
“Details on that are still sketchy. Art found him—already shot—in the park at the Shrine of the Book, called the police and then wound up at the station giving a statement and fingerprints before joining us at the hospital. You should know, he’s put in a call to Harry Scholer, who’s on his way here.”
Grace took a sip of coffee from the mug Sammy offered her, letting him digest the news.
“Harry Scholer? Harry Scholer! He didn’t make enough trouble for us with the James Ossuary authenticity report? What would possess Art to call Scholer?”
“There seems to be a little issue with the gun, presumably the weapon responsible for the hole in Kahlil. Art accidentally moved it and while he’s not really a suspect they had to rule him out. I think the call to Harry was more pre-emptive than anything. And you know that he and Art go way back.”
“But surely Art knows that after defending Oded Golan and exposing us to months of criticism, Harry’s not exactly welcome in these halls.”
“I’m sure that if Art had taken the time to think about it, he may have chosen a different attorney, but obviously he wasn’t thinking too clearly if he touched the gun at all. In his defense he did have one doozy of a day, yesterday.”
Sammy sighed. Maybe he was overreacting to Scholer’s impending arrival. He hoped so. He decided to move on. “About yesterday. When we returned from
“That’s a real shame. So, just an empty box? Not even any fragments? I hope Art won’t be too disappointed.”
“Quite the contrary, my dear. We found a scroll.”
“A scroll? Why would someone put a scroll in a casket?”
“Good question. That’s one of the reasons I set up a meeting for 10.30 this morning. Did you know that Andre Chartier was in town for a conference? He’s agreed to skip the morning session to join us.”
“Well, we couldn’t have planned that any better if we tried. Andre’s certainly the go-to man for ancient scripts!”
Though recently retired to the south of
“That he is. Perhaps the tide is turning for our friend Art. This may well turn into the find of a lifetime.”
“For Art’s sake, I hope so. He could use some good news.”
“For all our sakes. If you’ll excuse me for a bit, I need to get through my mail. You’re welcome to stay and drink your coffee.”
“Thanks, Sammy. I think I’ll take a walk. I didn’t get much sleep and the exercise will do me good. Why don’t I just meet up with you at 10.30?”
“10.30 it is. We’ll meet here in my office and head up to the lab together.”
“Wonderful. See you then.”
CHAPTER 16: POLICE ON THE PROWL
Johah Katz rubbed his eyes and face, aware of the day’s worth of stubble building on his chin and cheeks. By the time he’d finished reviewing what little they’d collected on the el Said shooting he’d realized that there was no point in going home for two hours sleep. Shaving kit in hand, he ducked into the locker room at the station.
No sooner had he lathered his face than a young rookie appeared.. “Um. Sir. Excuse me? We just got a tip on that shooting last night? I was told to let you know right away?”
Katz met his eyes in the mirror. “Kadinsky, right? Thank you, son. I’ll be there as soon as I finish shaving.”
The rookie seemed to have grown roots. “Anything else?” Katz waited for a reply, and getting none, turned to face the young officer. “If that’s all you’ve got, you’re dismissed.”
Kadinsky blinked. “Oh. Yessir. Thank you sir. Sorry sir.”
Katz turned back to his stubble. Had he ever been that nervous around his superiors? He hoped not. Wondering what sort of new information might have come in, he quickly finished with the razor and rinsed off his face before heading back into the squad room.
Leibowitz and Riess were waiting for him, looking like he felt. They’d obviously not gone home after their shift ended last night either. “Well men, what do you have?”
Riess fingered a pink message slip in one hand. “We’re not sure this has anything to do with the attack, but some guy just called—wouldn’t leave a name or contact number—saying that he had it on ‘good authority’ that Professor West was stealing and forging antiquities. Said we’d find proof at the professor’s flat.”
Leibowitz chimed in. “Maybe we got it all wrong last night. Maybe Mr. el Said figured out what West was doing and confronted him. We don’t have the forensic reports back from last night yet—lab was closed by the time we finished up with the Professor—so we don’t know for certain that the professor didn’t shoot the old guy.”
“Ordinarily I wouldn’t put too much stock in an anonymous call, but it’s a bit suspicious that Dr. West’s name pops up so soon after the incident last evening. I think we need to check it out, but we also need to be sure we do absolutely everything by the book. Just to be sure, I’m going to see this through myself. This Dr. West is very well connected here in town. Before we go anywhere though, you two need to hit the showers—you’re both looking a little rough. Meet me in my office no later than ten-thirty. Understood?”
“Yessir!” The officers seemed reinvigorated. It wasn’t often that the Inspector included the responding officers in his follow-ups. Usually, by this point in a case, he turned it all over to the detectives and waited for the reports.
Art had wasted no time getting to bed. He hadn’t objected when Grace offered to let herself out—climbing the stairs to his room as she descended those to the front door. He’d managed to remove his shoes, before taking what would be his final sip of the sweet bourbon and sugar mixture she’d fixed him. Leaning back against the pillows, he’d fallen asleep instantly—sitting upright, fully clothed.
Though sleep came easily, rest eluded him. He dreamed of caves filled with stalactites that, as they hung from the ceiling like popsicles, melted into drops then torrents of blood. The blood then rose in pools around him becoming encrusted, engulfing him like quicksand. Above him he could see a sliver of light that played with the edges of an inscription too dusty to read. The cave became a cell, and as the blood-red sand continued to rise, potsherds and bone began to emerge like small shells and plankton in a tide that rolled not straight against a beach, but rolled in on itself, with him in the midst of what was rapidly becoming a whirlpool. Trying desperately to catch his breath he inhaled a mouthful of tinny-tasting sand. Something—a small rodent—scurried across his right arm. Flinging it off, his hand brushed the ceiling, now rough like limestone. He reached up with both arms and began pounding with every fiber of his soul. Noiselessly he screamed for Kahlil.
It took more than a few minutes for Art to make the journey back from his nightmare to the late morning sun beating down onto his bed. It took a few more, still, to realize that the pounding wasn’t a lingering reminder of the dream, but emanating from his front door.
“Open up. Police. Dr. West? Dr. Arthur West?
Completely disoriented, Art looked at the clock. 11. 10 am. Why was he still in bed? Why were there police at his door? Why was—it all came back in a rush. The ossuary, the tablet, the trap...Kahlil!
Dragging the blanket with him to the window, he raised it and stuck out his head. “I’ll be down in just a moment. Sorry-I was asleep—I didn’t hear you.”
Even to himself he sounded like an idiot. The officers below sounded like they were trying to raise the dead. How could he not have heard them? Then he remembered the dream and blanched. Disentangling himself from the blanket, he splashed some water on his face, ran a comb through his hair and tried to press out the wrinkles in his clothes with his still damp hands, as he ran down the stairs to the door.
Flinging it open, he found Inspector Katz accompanied by Leibowitz, Reiss, and two other officers. “What can I do for you gentleman?” Art exhaled.
“May we come in, Dr. West? We have some follow-up questions for you.” Again, Inspector Katz sounded amiable, almost apologetic.
“Of course—“ The officers didn’t wait for him to finish the sentence before stepping over the threshold. As he started to lead them upstairs, he turned back around. “what’s this all about? Did you find out who shot Kahlil, I mean, Mr. el Said?”
Katz started to reply when he was interrupted by an outcry followed by a curse not swallowed quickly enough. They all turned back towards the door. “What is it Reiss?” the inspector demanded.
“Nothing Sir. I apologize. I stubbed my toe on this package...” A light could almost be seen going off in the young officer’s face. “...on this package here. I wonder if this could have something to do with that call we got?”
Art didn’t like the way his empty stomach was beginning to turn. “What call?”
Katz ignored him for the moment. “Maybe we ought to have a look.” Turning back to Art, he chose his words carefully. “Dr. West, we received a call this morning that gives us reason to believe that you may be, ah, how shall I put this, you may be in possession of some things you shouldn’t have...may we see what’s in this package?”
Something hammered in the back of Art’s head. A conversation from yesterday that he couldn’t quite recall. “What package?”
Reiss, with some effort, held up the package that had stubbed his toe. “This package sir. From Lo’mi Courier Service.”
“I have nothing to hide. I...” Again, the officers didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence, taking his “nothing to hide” as permission to tear open the wrapping. As the others audibly gasped, Art had to sit on the stair. There, right there in his foyer, stood an officer holding an engraved limestone tablet. He shook his head in disbelief, unable to form the words of protest running at mock speed through his brain.
“Dr. West. I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you to come with us. This is exactly the sort of item we were told we would find here. You can make any calls you need to make from the station.” Inspector Katz’s tone had changed, the graciousness replaced by authority. Leibowitz reached for his handcuffs but Katz shook his head no.
“Dr. West? I’d like to spare you any embarrassment. If you’ll come with me?”
Only then, did yesterday’s conversation come back to him. “...don’t talk to anyone. Especially not the police...” How he wished he’d listened to Harry.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: STONE COLD
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: STONE COLD
Tuesday had been a memorable day – good and bad – for Dr. Patrick Stone as well. On the plus side, he had managed to lead Arthur West into such a quagmire that it should take him days, maybe weeks, to clear himself. He ALSO had in hand a jar with some bits of old manuscript plus the genuine Lazarus inscription – both of which Raymond had found in the tomb early Monday afternoon. And now he was weighing whether to become more famous by going to the press and creating an international sensation, or whether to feather his retirement nest by making millions.
Stone was the kind of person who got as much satisfaction from seeing West stumble as from receiving personal praise. Praise is ephemeral and not necessarily lucrative. On the whole, he decided it would be far better to take the money and run. But he realized through his experience with el Said that there was no way he could sell the stone here in
But how would he handle the manuscripts? And how would he get the far more valuable inscription out of the country? More to the point, since he didn’t want to let the stone out of his sight, how was he going to get out of the country with the stone? As he drank his cup of hot Nigerian coffee he pondered these problems at length.
As for the down side of the day, true enough sealing Art West inside the tomb was a nasty prank – but he knew Art would find a way out in short order. Plus, it gave him time to consider options for the rest of the day.
Worse, however, was the episode in the park with el Said. Stone had hoped to talk again, this time more calmly, in el Said’s home. However, when he arrived, el Said was just leaving. He followed el Said to the park and confronted him there hoping to threaten him into cooperating or keeping quiet about the inscription. He had taken with him, just as a defensive reflex, an old hand gun which had belonged to his father. But his antique derringer was just that – a conversation piece. Unfortunately, when confronted, el Said had grabbed Stone’s hand causing the gun to go off, and el Said to tumble on top of him. To top that off the old man hit his head on the iron park bench.
Stone, frightened, had barely been able to extract his hand (sans gun unfortunately) from under el Said’s body, beat a quick retreat, and hide before West showed up. That was a shock! As the devil would have it, things turned out almost perfectly. The one person who could clearly link Stone to the Lazarus tablet was now in a coma, according to the news reports, and Stone’s nemesis would surely be implicated. He had not told his doctoral student, Ray Simpson, about the incidents with el Said – plausible deniability. So far as Simpson knew, Stone had simply gone to the theater last night.
Stone ordered Simpson to make the knock off copy of the inscription Monday afternoon. Simpson had a steady hand and experience in making replicas of artifacts for use as visual aids in Stone’s lectures. Posting the stone anonymously to West by overnight courier, and tipping off the police were the fun parts. Stone would have loved to hear West try to explain away that copy!
Simpson was sworn to silence and given the rest of the week off. He would leave Simpson some money to stay in
Stone decided to leave the manuscript fragments in
Stone finally devised a step-by-step plan for how to get the precious object out of the country. Wednesday would be an insanely busy day. He made an abbreviated list on his palm pilot. First,
So it was off to
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: UP IN THE AIR
Harry Scholer had had two careers and the second one as head of the ASBA was bidding fair to be far more interesting, though far less lucrative than his law career. Scholer had been called many things in his career, but no one accused him of lacking intelligence and insight. He had a real nose for what was significant and what was not, what mattered and what didn’t. He also had good friends of all sorts of faith commitments, including evangelical Christians like Art West.
Art had done numerous articles for ASBA’s popular magazine Biblical Artifacts which sold hundreds of thousands of copies. While in Reagan Airport, Harry picked up the latest edition of Ha’ Aretz and was working through the Jerusalem Post while on the plane, taking readings on what the temperature would be in Jerusalem in regard to the West arrest. He wanted to use the popular appeal of West and his reputation for honesty to good advantage, especially if this proved to be a big story.
The Alitalia stewardess came to Scholer’s seat bringing him another gin and tonic. Scholer only flew first class these days, especially on the long flight to Tel Aviv. The problem was that Scholer himself was persona non grata with various people in
Harry pushed the call button again for the stewardess. His palm pilot was the one piece of technology he had proudly mastered. For the rest, he always begged for help.
“Ma’am, do we have wireless access to the internet here in first class?”
“Yes. Did you know the hull of the front part of the plane is actually a huge receptor for wireless signals? Anyway, now that we’re at cruising altitude you’re welcome to do what you like. Just dial into our AT+T wireless connection number off your laptop to connect to the internet.”
“So simple,” said Harry with a wry grin.
He quickly pulled out his Sony Vaio, waited for Windows to come up, clicked on Internet connection, and typed in the necessary phone number. He was surfing the net within another minute. His Hotmail account was hot indeed— twenty-three new messages in his inbox since yesterday, and another 15 in the junk mail. This was going to take some time. But what he was mainly looking for was access to a file he had lodged on the ASBA website just before he left, which detailed information on whether and to what degree Israeli Law could be enforced on foreign nationals. This was going to take a while, but fortunately he had several hours before he landed in Tel Aviv Thursday afternoon.
At the Tel Aviv airport, Patrick Stone managed to get through customs with nary a raised eyebrow. His authentication papers had worked like a charm, and now he was going through yet more security checks. He was feeling pretty smug. Soon he would be wafting his way through the friendly skies to
Arriving at Gate 6 with an hour to kill, he entertained himself by examining the pictures in the morning paper showing the notorious Arthur West, who had seemed to be such a nice Christian man. But now, who knew what he was really capable of? Stone allowed himself to smile at all this mayhem.
“Serves that arrogant fool right,” he muttered under his breath.
Stone had contacted a Sotheby’s agent as well as an old colleague from his Tübingen days who worked in the
The loud speaker at the gate began blaring,
“All first class passengers are now welcome to board El Al flight 315 non-stop to
“That’s me,” thought Stone. “Time to get out of town while the getting is good.” As he walked down the ramp he realized he would likely never go back to
CHAPTER NINETEEN: SCROLL DOWN
Grace had been fretting ever since Art’s call around 11:30. Arthur West had really gotten himself into a jam. He was naive and good and honest, and he lived as though he expected everyone else to be that way as well. Was it just his Christian faith that prevented him from having a healthy fear of danger, or from having a wariness of the wicked ways of the world?
Grace knew in her heart he couldn’t possibly be responsible for either forgery or attempted murder, but the rest of those connected with the IAA didn’t really know the man personally. Besides that, they were now hypersensitive, having already gotten enough bad press from the James ossuary mess. They were going to leave no stone unturned this time in this investigation. After all, they had an object that everyone agreed was a clear forgery, or was it?
The stone could be a fraud without being a forgery. In other words, the stone might be a copy of the original, which would make it a forgery. However, it might just be a fraud, there being no original to copy. West’s digital photos showed what appeared to be the original stone with its inscription in situ. Had Art fashioned this stone and placed it in the niche for all to see? No, this couldn’t be! There must be an original stone!
And was there any connection between Art’s entombment and the grave robbing? Between the grave robbing and the possible murder attempt on el Said? Between the grave robbing and the sending of the forged stone to West? Surely there must be. But Grace could not put all the pieces together in her mind. There was some sort of huge animus that precipitated this chain of events. As a child Grace had loved reading the Arthur Conan Doyle stories about Sherlock Holmes. So far, this was a puzzle he would love, she thought.
It was nearly one o’clock – she needed fresh air and lunch. Her plans to work at the University were slipping away. Maybe a sandwich at Solomon’s Porch and Sarah’s friendly smile would help get her back on track. And she would ask Sarah if there was anything she could do to help Hannah and her father.
Grace arrived at Solomon’s Porch about 1:30. Sarah had already left to be with Hannah, so Grace was finishing her lunch alone when the phone rang. It was Sammy Cohen at the IAA office.
“Oh, Sammy, have you heard that Art was picked up by the police late this morning. And somebody sent him a copy of the missing inscription!? He’s probably in some small, dank police cell being interrogated as we speak! It’s awful! Part of me wants to call Mr. Golan and ask him what he went through – but I’m not sure I want to know!” said Grace, the words tumbling out.
“Slow down, Grace. Remember, we’re partially responsible for Mr. Golan’s plight. Anyway, one of our lawyers called from the police station. She’s keeping her eyes and ears open. They haven’t charged him with anything. I believe this is just scare tactics, however. Art wouldn’t hurt Kahlil, and he didn’t steal that stone! We don’t know much about the forgery though. Try not to worry!”
“You’re right. But, after all, they do have a victim and now a forgery to deal with. Who knows what they are thinking? I can’t stop worrying right now.” replied Grace, her voice shaking.
“What you need is something to take your mind off this problem! Can you come to the IAA building? It’s time to scrutinize what we found inside the Lazarus ossuary!”
The ossuary sat on top of the examination table and all the fluorescent lights were turned on. The limestone surface of the box gleamed in the dazzling light of the room, which was enclosed in the middle of the building, had no windows and required keycard access to enter. Most precious antiquities were examined in this special room. Unlike Sammy’s office, it was immaculately clean and pristine.
When Grace arrived, already present were Cohen , several other members of the IAA and, surprisingly, Professor André Chartier. Sammy had invited him to the IAA office this morning.
Chartier was one of those rare scholars that would be consulted by all parties in a dispute, so great was his reputation.
Sammy Cohen knew that there could be no rush to judgment, no mistakes, in dealing with the Lazarus ossuary. He still felt the sting of criticism from various factions interested in the authenticity of the James box. When he made an announcement about this ossuary, he wanted to be as sure as is humanly possible he was right about the authenticity of this new find.
What intrigued Grace right off the bat is that no one was looking at the ossuary. Rather, they were all staring at a rather substantial scroll which Chartier had been examining since mid-morning.
Grace interrupted, “What exactly was there in this ossuary?”
Dealing with bones was a delicate matter in
Chartier had his magnifying glass out and was muttering to himself, “Extraordinaire! Extraordinaire!”
Turning to Grace he said, “Welcome, Mademoiselle Levine. What we have is a document from the Herodian period, written in clear beautiful Aramaic by a quite literate person.”
Grace said, “Why would anyone put a scroll in a casket?”
“A good question. But let me translate a bit for you. Perhaps it will sound strange, yet familiar. There is first of all a heading: ‘Memoirs of the One Whom Jesus Loved.’ This is followed immediatement by:
“A testimony of John when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests to ask
him who he was. He did not fail to say, but instead confessed freely,
‘I am not the Mashiach’ . . . “
Grace blurted out, “This is almost a verbatim quote from the first chapter of John’s Gospel.”
“Exactemente,” said Chartier, who had at one point been a priest and who was well familiar with the New Testament.
Grace spoke again, “But how much of John’s Gospel do we have in this scroll? All of it?”
“No, no,” said Chartier, “It will take much time to study. Understand, I have only surveyed parts of the document. But, it appears to be, I believe, similar to John 1.19 to 20.31. I did not find the pericope adulterae, the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 7.53-8.11.”
At this point, Grace interjected, “As far as I know, that passage is not canonical – just traditional. In short, few believe that story is part of John’s original Gospel. The oldest texts do not contain it.”
“Very true,” agreed Chartier. “But there is more to say. The heading of the document is not in the same hand as the rest of the document. Furthermore, I have looked at some parallel passages from John 13-19 where the Beloved Disciple is mentioned. He is not called this in these memoirs. Rather he is called Eliezar! It is interesting that at the point where we find John 11.3 that there Lazarus, our way of rendering the name Eliezar, is clearly identified in indirect speech as “the one whom you love”.
Grace asked, “Are you saying that this memoir equates Eliezar with the beloved disciple?”
Chartier replied emphatically, “It is possible. In sum, we seem to have the basis of most of the so-called Gospel of John here. Now, finding this scroll in this ossuary, which seems to be from the Herodian period – well, we may say with a high degree of likelihood that these memoirs were written prior to the fall of
Grace’s brain was about to burst.
“How did the inscription read again? Show me the digital pictures that Art took Tuesday morning.”
Cohen picked it up and read it, “Twice dead under
No one spoke for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally, André added,
“I understand, the police have a copy of this stone inscription. And Professor West took these pictures only yesterday. The original must be out there somewhere. And the original attests that Lazarus died twice during the reign of Pilate, but also that he was somehow reborn through Jesus, and he looked forward to resurrection in the future. In sum, this inscription in the tomb, like the inscription on the James ossuary, bears a testimony to the strong belief in resurrection amongst Jesus’ followers.”
Again there was silence.
Cohen then spoke: “We know that in early Judaism many Jews, especially Pharisees, believed in bodily resurrection, and we know Jesus and his followers shared that belief. That is indisputable. But this inscription, if not also the scroll, supports the story in John that Lazarus died and was raised from the dead by Yeshua. Those who buried Lazarus had seen him die - twice. They may have been at the tomb when Jesus raised him from the dead, according to the Gospel.”
Again silence, dead silence.
Cohen then said carefully, “We cannot allow any leaks of this information to anyone, anywhere, anytime, before we are totally ready to authenticate or discredit the scroll, the ossuary, and hopefully the inscription.”
Another IAA official from the legal department added, “The task now is to recover the original stone. It must surface for surely whoever stole the stone yesterday will be trying to sell it quickly. We have already begun interviewing various dealers and brokers. But there are so many ways to get the stone out of the country – it will be difficult to monitor the airport and all the border crossings.”
Grace nodded in agreement.
“We need absolute silence in this matter. Let’s begin the testing on everything here, even the bones. And don’t forget Art and the forged stone. We can vouch for his whereabouts for some of Tuesday. Can we also put out an APB with Interpol to look for the missing stone? And fast?!”
In the corner of the room, Sammy had been talking to Mrs. Dembski, the lawyer who called earlier to alert him of Art’s plight. Apparently, Art had been interrogated on and off this afternoon. He would probably be held overnight and questioned further tomorrow. Given that Art was an American citizen, chances are he would be released by the end of Thursday. After hanging up, Sammy called out,
“It looks like Art will be enjoying the hospitality of our Israeli police tonight!”
Grace quipped: “ I wonder if he likes the standard issue matzo ball soup they will likely serve him?”
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