A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land
By Nina Burleigh
(Smithsonian, Hardcover, 9780061458453, 288pp.)
Publication Date: November 2008
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In 2002, an ancient limestone box called the James Ossuary was trumpeted on the world's front pages as the first material evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ. Today it is exhibit number one in a forgery trial involving millions of dollars worth of high-end, Biblical era relics, some of which literally re-wrote Near Eastern history and which could lead to the incarceration of some very wealthy men and embarrass major international institutions, including the British Museum and Sotheby's.
Set in Israel, with its 30,000 archaeological digs crammed with biblical-era artifacts, and full of colorful characters—scholars, evangelicals, detectives, and millionaire collectors—Unholy Business tells the incredibly story of what the Israeli authorities have called "the fraud of the century." It takes readers into the murky world of Holy Land relic dealing, from the back alleys of Jerusalem's Old City to New York's Fifth Avenue, and reveals biblical archaeology as it is pulled apart by religious believers on one side and scientists on the other.
Nina Burleigh is the author of four books. She is a noted journalist whose articles have appeared in Time, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Elle, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.
“A real-life Da Vinci Code told with the tension of a top thriller. Nina Burleigh uncovers the mysterious secrets, the dirty deals and the personal hatreds at the heart of the trade in biblical antiquities.”
-Matt Beynon Rees, author of A GRAVE IN GAZA
“A real-life Da Vinci Code told with the tension of a top thriller. Nina Burleigh uncovers the mysterious secrets, the dirty deals, and the personal hatreds at the heart of the trade in biblical antiquities.”
-Matt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in GazaMatt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in GazaMatt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in GazaMatt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in GazaMatt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in Gaza
“In this brilliantly absorbing book, Nina Burleigh shows us that the sacred and the profane are not opposites but twins.”
-Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great
“A fascinating journey through the labyrinth of biblical forgery, fakery, and archaeological adventure. Nina Burleigh skillfully guides us through twists and turns of this bizarre tale of big money and headline-grabbing discoveries--and its colorful cast of modern collectors, clerics, scholars, detectives, and con men.”
-Neil Asher Silberman, coauthor of The Bible Unearthed
“A bracing account...Burleigh skillfully navigates the theological dilemmas....and leads readers through the murky world of Holy Land relic-looting, forgery, and smuggling.”
-Washington Post Book World
“[A] lively account”
-Wall Street Journal
“Burleigh draws readers in from page one and brilliantly captures the compelling debates about archeology’s relationship to narratives of faith.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A dramatic narrative...”