Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land by Nina Burleigh

There are some non fiction books that you learn from and make you a better contestant on Jeopardy and then there are non fiction books that really make you ponder and question how you, yourself, see and think about things. Unholy business is one of the later and a pretty good one at that.

Nina Burleigh’s book traces the tale of the James Ossuary and the trial that is still under way. An ossuary is a limestone box for containing bones and the James Ossuary has an inscription that when translated reads, “”James son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus”. This may not seem important until you think about it for a minute. If authentic, it could be the first archaeological evidence for the historical existence of Jesus.

Biblical archeology is not the Indiana Jones type archeology that you usually picture. It is awash with hucksters, moral dilemmas and more. After all, you are not just studying history, you are sifting through time and a subject which many hold near and dear to their hearts and minds. Wars are fought over the differing opinions of religion and the archeologists are locked in the struggle as well. For every person that is looking to prove that what is in the bible actually happened, there is someone that wants to prove that it is all fiction or that their religion is the only “true” religion and of course, there are those that are just wanting to make a buck with the whole situation.

The people that Burleigh interviewed for her book came from all sides and by doing so, she gives you an amazing picture of not only the illegal trade in objects, but of biblical archeology as a whole. Unholy Business made for some interesting discussions at my house and we are not what I would call religious. If you are, it just may make you look at your faith from a new angle.

Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land
by Nina Burleigh

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Collins (October 21, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061458457
ISBN-13: 978-0061458453
Amazon: $18.15 new