Bones in Bulgaria may be of John the Baptist: study

Jun 15, 2012
An alabaster sculpture of John the Baptist is pictured in France. Scientists have found new evidence they say supports the theory that a knuckle bone and other human remains found under a church floor in Bulgaria may be of John the Baptist.

Scientists have found new evidence they say supports the theory that a knuckle bone and other human remains found under a church floor in Bulgaria may be of John the Baptist.

The relics found in a small marble sarcophagus two years ago on a Bulgarian island called Sveti Ivan, which translates as Saint John, also included a human tooth, part of a skull and three .

A research team from Oxford University dated the right-handed knuckle bone to the first century AD, when John is believed to have lived until his beheading ordered by king Herod, the university said in a statement.

And scientists from the University of Copenhagen analysed the DNA of the bones, finding they came from a single individual, probably a man, from a family in the modern-day Middle East, where John would have lived.

While these findings do not definitively prove anything, they also don't refute the theory first proffered by the Bulgarian who found the remains while excavating under an ancient church on the island.

Many sites around the world claim to hold relics of the saint, including the Grand Mosque in Damascus which says it has his head.

The right hand with which the prophet allegedly baptised Jesus in the River Jordan is also claimed to be held by several entities, including a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Montenegro.

"The result from the metacarpal hand bone is clearly consistent with someone who lived in the early first century AD," Oxford University professor Tom Higham said of the new study.

"Whether that person is John the Baptist is a question that we cannot yet definitely answer and probably never will."

Bulgarian archaeologists had found a small box made of hardened close to the sarcophagus.

The box bore inscriptions in that referred to John the Baptist and the date that Christians celebrate his birth, June 24.

The findings of another Oxford researcher, using historical documents, suggest that the monastery of Sveti Ivan may have received a portion of John the Baptist's in the fifth or early sixth centuries.

The findings are to be presented in a documentary to be aired on The National Geographic channel in Britain on Sunday.

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OldBlackCrow
3 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2012
How can he have been beheaded by a king who died when John was just born? Timeline people!
Birger
4.1 / 5 (7) Jun 15, 2012
While the remains may originate in the Near East, the idea that this is the real John the Baptist is ridicilous.

How are the late-Roman Christians supposed to have found the right grave among millions of other graves in Palestine centuries after his death (even supposing the king' s soldiers did not simply dump the corpse of the executed preacher in an anonymous ditch)?
jadrevenge
4.6 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2012
I hope they didn't find another head, he has 3 already
wealthychef
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2012
Something tells me these scientists are probably religious -- nobody would advance such a tenuous theory without such an agenda.
Didymus
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2012
> How can he have been beheaded by a king who
> died when John was just born? Timeline people!

Herod the Great died approximately 4BC, one of his sons Herod Antipater (or Antipas) had John the Baptist beheaded - sometimes sons are named after their father. Think people!

> How are the late-Roman Christians supposed to
> have found the right grave...

Matthew 14.12 "John's disciples came and took his body and buried it". I guess people remembered where they had buried the body, but hey, that would be far too radical an idea to suit people's prejudice!

Relics are like old scientific theories - irrelevant now but they are a step on the way to the right answer.
Anorion
3 / 5 (12) Jun 15, 2012
John or not, who cares, its an irrelevant information.
Total waste of research money.
tadchem
5 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2012
Barring some more definitive form of identification, all that can be claimed at this point is that the bones assayed *appear* to belong to a middle-eastern male who died within 100 years of the death of John the Baptist, who was killed (according to Josephus) in Machaerus before the year 36 CE.
That doesn't narrow it down very much.
But the market for Saints' Relics has been a booming one for two millennia now.
powerup1
4 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2012
This information proves nothing about John the Baptist.
flashgordon
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2012
Digging out my works of Josephus(it's been awhile since I've bothered with archaeology, which inevitably involves biblical archaeology), looking up John the Baptist, Josephus says in his Antiquities of the Jews that Herod put John the Baptists to death after imprisoning him. He did so(Antiquitites of the Jews, book 18, chapter 5, section 2) because Herod feared more jewish rebellion by John the Baptists just lifting a finger and telling them to do so.

Now, Josephus turned roman; in fact, he was called "Flavius" Josephus; Flavius was an offical imperial roman name; in fact, that of the Flavians of Vespasian and Titus(Vespasians son). Josephus gives Vespesian the title of the Annointed one, or the Christ. Josephus was even there at Masada(a Herodian temple) when a Roman legion went to retake it from the messianic jews(according to Josephus at least; the reason he turned roman is he didn't like the messianic strain of jews; not all jews; just perhaps many). There's much more to say;
sigfpe
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2012
Well you can't fault the title. They *may* be the bones of John the Baptist, in the same sense that if I toss a coin 20 times it *may* come up heads every time.
SatanLover
1 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2012
it may prove i will fart out a coin worth a million dollars.
OldBlackCrow
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2012
@ Didymus - okay, my bad on that... even still, there is absolutely no way to prove it was John the Baptist. They mentioned DNA but all that can prove is certain bones belong to eachother. For all we know, some early Jesus (or John) follower robbed a random grave and claimed it to be John.

This information can have no real context unless an ossuary of John the Baptist was verified and still had bone fragments in it... which is highly unlikely.
TransmissionDump
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2012
SatanLover... Bet you a million that coin would look like shit.
ahmedgnz
5 / 5 (2) Jun 16, 2012
Bulgarian archeologists have also discovered corpses with stakes driven through their hearts. Might as well claim the corpses belonged to vampires.
IronhorseA
5 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2012
Bulgarian archeologists have also discovered corpses with stakes driven through their hearts. Might as well claim the corpses belonged to vampires.


Maybe John the Baptist was a vampire. ;P
JohnMoser
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2012
Phys.org reprints more pseudoscience from misanthropes like these. http://phys.org/n...ale.html Religion, whether Christianity or the Cult of Anthropogenic Global Warming is not science. For shame.
Hev
1 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2012
how many heads?
Au-Pu
5 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2012
Sounds like the shroud of Turin all over again.
they originally had seven of them before the Vatican decided that challenged credibility.
So Turin won the raffle and theirs got to become the "Real" one.
So it matters little how many heads turn up they can simply run another credibility raffle and "find" another "Real" one.
It is all bull shit. So who really cares.
TkClick
1 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2012
Phys.org reprints more pseudoscience from misanthropes like these.
Is it misanthropic to call the people into responsibility for the sake of the safe life of the further generations? Or is it more misanthropic to advice people into over-consumption based strategy of the corporations, which do follow their temporal private profit only?
Lex Talonis
2 / 5 (4) Jun 18, 2012
It's my grand father... that's who it is.

Now fuck off all you pious types - and take your religious bullshit with you.