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Catacombs of St. Tecla
June 22nd, 2010
04:29 PM ET

Vatican: Oldest known images of apostles Andrew and John found

The oldest known image of the apostles Andrew and John have been discovered in catacombs under the city of Rome, dating back to the 4th century A.D., archaeologists announced Tuesday.

The paintings were found in the same location where the oldest known painting of St. Paul was discovered last year, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology said Tuesday.

They are part of a group of paintings around an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd on the ceiling of what is thought to have been a Roman noblewoman's tomb, experts said.

A painting of St. Peter makes up the fourth member of the group, but older images of him are thought to exist, Vatican experts said.

Their inclusion in the tomb shows the aristocrats were among the last Romans to convert to Christianity, archaeologist Fabrizio Bisconti said.

The Roman matron must have been very rich, he said, as the colors and richness of the decoration show.

The images of the apostles' heads and shoulders against a deep red background were uncovered after two years of work, Vatican experts said.

Archaeologists used a new laser technology to remove layers of white carbon calcium deposited on the frescoes over the centuries without disturbing the paintings.

They are located in the catacombs of St. Tecla, one of the 40 Roman catacombs under Rome. It sits under a modern eight-story building in a working-class neighborhood. It is closed to the public and its entrance is mostly hidden.

The Vatican spent about 60,000 euros (about $74,000) on the archaeological work, it said. The apostles were a group of a dozen men, according to Christian tradition, who spread the gospel of Jesus after his crucifixion.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. LuvinChrist

    Ditto @ Terry and Pasigiri......Im sure that these aren't exact replicas of the apostles considering their ethnicities. However, I appreciate the historic value of the pictures and it is the artist own interpretation so all of you with these negative comments can keep them to yourselves. 😉 Obviously you could use a little of Christ's love working in your lives.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  2. Amadea

    Dear Reality Et Al: The Apostles were Jewish ... not Roman. These depictions were wrought by Roman artists, so of course they are going to give them a 'romanized' look. Just because someone painted them in the 4th century doesn't mean they didn't exist in the first. You do not have to be a believer of the Bible to know that that in the first century there was someone called Jesus of Nazareth who did miracles and who preached the Good News. The twelve close friends that surrounded Jesus in life were so petrified of sharing his fate (crucifixion) they hid out. In a few days, they were once again acting fairly jolly, if not still afraid. At the Feast of Pentecost they were suddently galvanized with a zeal for preaching the Good News of Jesus that they flew out of their hiding spot and began preaching zealously, unafraid, with amazing courage. What galvanized them? Jesus' resurrection and ascension (leaving the Holy Spirit with them) is the only thing that makes sense. They were no longer afraid to die on a cross, becaue they knew eternal life awaited them.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • Lindsay

      These findings are amazing, and, well said!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Amadea,

      The same studies of the first to third century texts that concluded there were twelve apostles and two of them were named Andrew and John also showed that there was no pentecost. Pentecost was not an historical event but simply more myth concocted by Luke to gain members to the newest cult in town. Luke, was the only gospel writer to note the Pentecost, started this tale in Luke 24:49 i.e. a single attestation and therer historically unreliable.

      June 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  3. moloa

    Justin, when I was growing up, all the pictures of jesus and the saints that I saw were of blond haired, blue eye guys. I'm trying to imply that Jesus wasn't caucasian, not that he wasn't black..

    June 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • STEVE

      I,m Greek Orthodox and all the pictures of Jesus and the Apostles I remember growing up looked Greek.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  4. Ghel

    The article doesn't state how they know these paintings are supposed to be depictions of the early Christians. Are there captions near the paintings? And even if they are supposed to be depictions of the men the article claims them to be, it doesn't say anything about whether the men actually existed, or whether they looked anything like the paintings, which were made as much as 400 years after the men were said to have lived.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • dalis

      It's a Christian catacomb with a standard Christian iconography. Just let it be, man.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  5. servant

    I don't know what schools you attended Skeptic, but they sure did not teach you how to spell.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  6. Josh

    How about this just be a really cool discovery for historical reasons? Unreal that there has to always be people who question non-stop EVERYTHING that happens or is found in this world. Why not just enjoy the fact that something so old has lasted this long and we get to enjoy it? ANd it's not even just about who these images are of, it's the fact that it says something about ROman history; how this had to belong to someone VERY wealthy because of the richness of color...and it says something about Rome's conversion to CHristianity. I just with this world wasn't so full of cynical people. JUST ENJOY THE HISTORY OF THIS!!!! AND QUIT ARGUING ABOUT IT!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Jean

      AMEN!!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • The LORD

      And why should anyone do this Josh? Freedom of speech unless someone disagrees with you or says something you find unpleasant or distasteful?
      Perhaps you'd like to have some of us stoned?

      June 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Because, Josh, it SO much easier if we all just strap on plastic explosives and walk into crowded markets and blow ourselves up than to just admit that none of us know which fairy tale is the right one – if ANY...

      June 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  7. Curious

    My only question is why are these catacombs closed to the public? I am a avid reader/student of history and would love the chance to just see something like this with my own eyes...not in pictures. Why is it that the Vatican chooses to keep everything so secretive? Sorry...I have a problem with that...

    June 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • STEVE

      If the catacombs were open to the public the moisture given off by people breathing causes mold to grow on the paintings. It happened to the cave paintings in France and they had to close them to public visitation.
      On another point the paintings are not acurate pictures of anyone. They are four hundred years after the death of the Apostles. They are the oldest known representations that is all. No one at that time would have known what they looked like any more than today.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • dalis

      It's well known that many buildings in modern Rome contain Roman ruins underneath them. By definition, Christian catacombs were dug outside the Aurelian walls, which is why several of the pilgrimage basilicae with saints interred in their crypts are called "fuori le mura" ("outside the walls"). These areas were built up over the centuries and are now densely populated. They can't raze the entire living city just to expose what used to be – although Mussolini tried in some areas. Many of these catacombs are on private property, and the Vatican has to get permission from the Italian government to conduct excavations. Among the stipulations of this work is that they cannot undermine structures on the site, and they can't cause undue hardship on the people. As much as we'd all like to see them (me too!), we can't go traipsing through these peoples' houses to get to them.

      If you are in Rome, I would recommend some catacombs which are open to the public: the Church of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, the Vatican, and the Catacombs of Agnes, Callixtus, Domitilla, Priscilla, and Sebastian. Two Jewish catacombs are open at Vigna Randanini and Villa Torlonia.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
    • Michael

      They're closed to the public because the artifacts at the site are extremely fragile.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  8. icthus2

    Godless people! I'm sure you can tell by looking at your (self proclaimed intelligent) ugly faces. HE isn't for everyone either you know.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • dalis

      icthus2 Have some charity in speech, please. HE is so for everyone; it's not up to you. There are words in Scripture for those who would bar the gates of Heaven to those He calls to Him. God bless.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • JoeyE

      lol godless people? have you already judge others? if you're a christian.. you should know better.. pls read beautifcation.. matthew 5 to 7.. you might will realize that you're doing wrong way to judge others..
      even Jesus already explained to 12 disciples that they will knock the doors and if anyone rejected the beliefs of God.. let them be.. just clean up your sandal and move on.. when whoever dies.. will regret for their judgement. think before you spew.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  9. pasigiri

    I find it so funny how a lot of the "images" of the apostles and of Jesus Himself always looks caucasian. It would be more accurate if the images made were more middle eastern looking. I mean, think about it. Almost all of the apostles were of Jewish descent, read Isreali. Jesus is Jewish. From Nazareth. Find a Nazarite and base an image off him.

    But all in all, what does "what they look like" have to do with "what they did and accomplished"? Especially in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • pasigiri

      Correction all of the apostles were of Jewish descent.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • Joo

      Why would you ever think you knew what jesus looked like? He would only be half from nazreth right since his mom was from there, but not his dad. Are you implying god is from the same place mary was? Seems kind of silly to think that. You could only be half right.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  10. dk

    These were not caucasian men. St Paul looks like an Oriental

    June 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  11. Fred L. Fraud

    I think one of them is Kenny Rogers?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • Curtis

      hahaha..and Willie Nelson

      June 22, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  12. Melissa

    Sounds like a lot of you can't appreciate historical findings. It is what it is, just enjoy it.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  13. Lee

    It's all about faith. You have it or you don't.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Oneleg

      better would be, "You have yours, I have mine."
      Its always interesting to see the artwork in tombs, sometimes its the best of the era it was created in.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • Noocrat

      The issue comes when your "faith" aka brainwashing since childhood starts impacting the lives of others. Keep faith out of politics and I won't be irritated by you having it.

      I was baptized and confirmed in the ELCA church. My life changed the day I finally had the courage to say, "What if?" I suggest you do the same.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • texokie

      @Newcrat: The trouble with thinking "What if?" is that anyone can think nonsense. Thinking is a narrowing process, eliminates the nonsense and half truths, and leads to what is known as dogma.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  14. blanketjackson

    the fab four.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  15. Skeptic

    Not exactly conclusive evidence that they are who they say they are.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • RyanDoubleU

      I found it doubtful that you studied anything or have any type of education. Your post is full of grammar mistakes. It is spelled testament NOT "testimant." I will leave it at that.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
    • Herman

      you would think that someone who has been through so much schooling would know how to spell wouldn't as well but i guess we all have issues don't we

      June 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • JoeyE

      btw it is not a grammar.. it is called spelling lol! pls use the correct word!

      June 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  16. Terry

    If you do not believe the story or there findings, that is fine. The bible on the other hand is 100% true. God would never let a spec of sand like us change his word. If you study the bible in depth you will find that it is all true. Those who criticize usually have very little knowledge of the bible. God bless all.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • Skeptic

      Ive studied the bible, old and new tesimants. Ive been to theology schools in three states. You know what I've found. The stories and teachings in the bible are inconsistent and full of contridictions. It seems to me if god was all knowing as the bible sais he is whouldnt the bible be consistent? There is more evidence that there is inteligent live on other planets than there is of a God.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • Gerry

      Yeah because the bible itself is evidence, and because it is the bible, does not need corroborative evidence like anything science has used to prove facts. No, just read the bible and assume it's all true. Including a talking fire bush, an ark with hippie animals, and a zombie jew who somehow became christian...

      June 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • raised catholic

      the bible is 100% true? ...really? where u there when GOD supposedly created Adam & Eve? ... The Bible was written by mortals like you and I ... Mortals yearning for power ... some of it its true ... but is the same truth that other faiths teach (ie. you reap what you sow) .. u do your research...you'll find out that the so called "Hell" its also a man made illusion ... created by the same mortal men who wrote The Bible in the first place just to have a grip on all of us and keep us under control .... please! give me a break!

      June 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • texokie

      @Skeptic: The scriptures have several layers of meaning. One has to dig deeper to find the underlying truths in the bible. A talking snake in Eden, for instance, is less important than the underlying theme that humanity is a fallen creature. Also, certain biblical events had to be expressed in different ways according to the understanding of the listener.

      As to the existence of God, S/He will never be derived mathematically or discovered in a test tube. People who know things only through their senses tend not to discover God. More intuitive people have a greater tendency to believe.

      It would be interesting to note the contradictions between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox on the same story.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • EmElEm

      The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • Aerian

      While I do consider myself Christian, and have read the Bible, I also find there are many inconsistencies within it, and there have been parts left out, changed and added by flawed human beings who think they can know the mind of God. If the Bible is 100% true, then it means that everyone on the planet is related to each other through incest via Noah and his wife and children. While I do believe there was a flood, I think the story of Noah is just that...a story, as is the story of Adam and Eve. Being a woman, I'm sorry I don't believe God took a rib from Adam to make a woman. I think it's a nice Jewish creation story attempting to explain how humans were created. Regarding the apostles pictures, if that is them, then I find it very fascinating. Images from that time period are an incredible find. Thanks and lets try to be tolerant of other people's religions and beliefs. Cannot all names for God be God? Peace.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • gstannard

      God is larger than any one book, of course, there is more God in art an scence than many churches..
      , it is more interesting to me, they appear to be the Beattles but the names don't seem to match to familar faces?
      God loves laughter most of all , why he gives it so freely to the young at heart an mind body or soul. peace

      June 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • dawn

      Yeah, I am a christian and I believe that humans have flawed the bible. Additionally, I don't think many of the things are literal. I don't think we are truly expected to believe that a snake talked to Eve. I think humans were more simple in the beginning and needed simple analogies. Can you imagine a supreme being with all the knowledge of the universe trying to explain everything to a simple human with no understanding of anything. Not too easy.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mariam H

      Ok BUT the bible says that Jesus had "wooly hair," and "bronze skin?" So where is the reference to that in any of your depications across the planet?

      Also, isn't it a sin in the first place to create an idol aka an statue in the image of something of which people pray to? "You shall not make for yourself an idol" and aren't the statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus prayed to, literally?

      June 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
    • Interested

      You know what I love about whenever stories like this come out? You got the atheists going out of their way to come here and state their beliefs..and yet we christians are the ones who supposedly "force our beliefs down people's throats" But now I will get the replies of how atheists don't have a "belief" which unfortunatley to their dismay they do whether they want to believe that or not-I could care less. And to every one else on..here who cares what they looked like! Its the teachings that matter-nothing else.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • DREW

      Not all with eyes will see nor all in flesh are with spirit, I will never follow the will of man which is flesh driven, blind deaf and idolistic. The faithless are to be left where they are with this, everyones salvation is there own. The rust and dust they idolize the things they can feel and touch has blinded them. You get what you get when you do what you do. For the believers with much fear and trembling serve humbly. May peace be in you all

      June 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Aerian: I hate to break it to you, but science has confirmed that we can all trace our ancestry back to the same woman, the mitochondrial "Eve" (although way before the time of Noah). That goes for all races, all people on earth, so that no one can boast that their ancestors are better than anyone else. So yes, we are all technically related.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • JoeyE

      wrong!
      did find out with the genes in the world.. population in world has M180 or something which is all the connection to the same species.. however they discovered few people in the word has different codes.. not belong to M180 genes.. how come? of course different species of human breed within m180 genes
      i did watch the Discovery and they did ask the world for their blood test to study their genes.. they find out its not all the people who are the same..
      btw in bible.. you need to check it out.. it said that Adam's children met other people outside of their family.. so it's possible that there are other people too.. but we are dominated in this world so im sure Adam and Eve took out all other species for the survival.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • raised catholic

      @ Terrry ..I believe the only Hell that does exist is on this Earth...If you don't live a loving, fulfilling live attracting the abundance of this Universe to you and your loved ones, you live in Hell..if you wake up thinking and believing the end is near, you live in Hell... If you believe that God, our Father will put us in a hole filled with fire for an eternity....guess what? ur already living in Hell...whats the joy in living a life like that...Hell is a place on Earth and so is Heaven..its up to YOU to chose which way to live.

      @ Interested ... I'm not an atheist my any means..i believe in God, Supreme Being, whatever we choose to call it, it doesn't matter...what i don't believe (like its written in The Bible), is that there is a God who will tell me to kill my only son, who would flood the whole Earth on purpose to put us in check, who would put us here on Earth to suffer first so we can have happiness after we die...all that is the Bible teachings...sorry, I don't buy it anymore! ..people say the end is near..they've been saying that since Jesus walked this Earth..the ONLY end that is near, is the end of organized religion who have kept us hostage for over 2,000 years... "As you sow so shall you reap"

      June 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
    • Seriously?

      I think that this statement printed anywhere will be questioned by any educated person. How could it possibly be 100% correct? It has been translated from the original language (Aramaic? Sanskrit?) into Greek, then, latin, and then hundreds of other languages. Not to mention the picking-over and shredding that went on with a number of Popes. The bible is full of things that the Catholic Church wants people to believe. And it was well known that the Catholic Church was full of "sinners" and money-hungry men with power. I'm sorry, but, really? How could it be 100% correct?

      June 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  17. Tom

    How do they know that they are depictions of the apostles? First no one alive knows what they realy looked like. Second even if they match some biblical descriptions there must have been billions of people over the centuries that have matched those descriptions. For all we know they were just some politicians or family members of the obviously wealthy deceased who was entomed in that catacomb.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • evaxave

      It is interpreted so because they are placed on the ceiling in a format, Christ in the center surrounded by the four Evangelists, or sometimes symbols of the four, that has been reproduced again and again and again over the course of art history.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • evaxave

      I forgot to mention too that depictions of the apostles are often very formulaic, meaning that often display the same attributes repeatedly, and consistently for a couple millennia, making identification or interpretation possible.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • Sheila

      I am Christian, and I question how do they figure these are apostles and not other people ? They certainly don't look Jewish except for one maybe, and one has a cut beared, which was against biblical teaching.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • dalis

      The four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – often symbolized by an angel, griffin, ox, and eagle. This painting depicts the four main Apostles: Peter, Paul, Andrew and John.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
    • Joeymom

      Iconography tells us a good deal. We also have similar, later images like this that are labeled.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Reality

    So what?? Are said images proof that these two humans lived? We already knew that from exhaustive studies of the texts from the first to third centuries CE. See Professor JD Crossan's book, The Birth of Christianity for minute details.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • Nite Shayde

      I don't think that was the point of finding them, but you run with that.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  19. Selfish Gene

    And only 400 years after the fact.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  20. moloa

    Don't see any blond hair or blue eyes there.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • justin

      what are you trying to imply? I don't see any dark skin...........does that mean that heaven forbid...............jesus wasn't black?!?!?

      June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Sara

      Good one Moloa. Not everybody in religion had blonde hair and blue eyes.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Not quite

      Huh? St Andrew looks blonde to me.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • ohhiya

      Umm, only paul was european (italian) of the original apostals. The rest were from the roman region of israel and surrounding areas.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • agrl4god80

      Sorry, never pictured the apostles to be blonde hair blue eyes...don't know any Christian who does. They were Roman, Greek and Israeli mostly...and so I didn't picture them black either. I pictured them to be pretty similar in hair color and skin color as they actually are in the pics.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
    • DaTruthTeller

      I don't believe the paintings. They can't be true portrayals because all of the apostles along with Jesus(Isa/Yeshua) had dark skin with hair like wool. Their hair was probably locked instead straight and flowing free with the wind. The most accurate portrayal of any person from those times can be seen at.....

      June 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • dalis

      Paul was a Roman citizen; that doesn't mean he was Italian. He was born at Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, and he had a Hebrew name (Saul).

      June 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • dalis

      @ DaTruthTeller No one in the article or at the Vatican claims that these are supposed to be true to life. They are depictions; that just means that they are the earliest representations of the apostles known to still exist, but it's taken for granted that artists from the 4th century would not have ever seen them, alive or dead.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • JoeyE

      actually, St. Paul is really Saul and he WAS from turkey, not italia 😛
      btw rapture is a FALSE word to use.. trust me.. in bible.. there is no WORD that had called Rapture.. quit using that hypocrite word!
      only word you know is taking away.. not rapture. even in greek bible.. no such as word as Rapture.. that word is only exist beyond 1700 and it created to confuse us.. so please stop use that word.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Claes

      If this is a troll comment it was a good one...

      June 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • well shucks

      Since Jesus and all the disciples are from the Middle East, I always thought they looked similiar in color to Osama Bin Laden.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The only place I've seen Jesus illustrated with blond hair and blue eyes was in The Little Golden Book Children's Bible, which I found confusing, even as a boy.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
    • msmith

      These are four centuries AFTER death.. No one said they were portraits. They are images as we continue to display today.

      June 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • botrys

      Many of the repliers are really bunch of idiots, and that putting it mildly. Have any of you been to the Middle East, met the people that live there, studied the history of the region, before making such comments. People with light skin, light hair color, colored eyes, always existed in the Middle East.
      Let’s give some of you a surprise, all Europe genetics was originated from the Levant around 10 to 15 thousand years ago. From a genetic point of view, not much changed since then.

      June 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
    • MOSES

      Notice the mis-information thru a false assumption; most people reading this would assume these images to accurate but they are a false rending of the original apostles that Rome had mostly killed. Now 400 hundred years later they are reinventing a religion that they tried to eliminate yes including Jesus himself. It's a lie and it's Time the world was given truth. Check Palestine 2000 years ago tell me where are the original hewbrews that Jesus came back for and you will see the cover up.

      June 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • MOSES

      Notice the mis-information thru a false assumption; most people reading this would assume these images to accurate but they are a false rending of the original apostles that Rome had mostly killed. Now 400 hundred years later they are reinventing a religion that they tried to eliminate yes including Jesus himself. It's a lie and it's Time the world was given truth. Check Palestine 2000 years ago tell me who were the Jesus original people Bloodline he came to save and you will see the cover up.

      June 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • Rod

      So because Bill Wiese tells us he's seen hell, we're just supposed to believe him?

      June 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
    • John Galbraith

      Who gives a crap what color they were. People are so stupid about race. When you break down our dna, all humnas are 99.9% alike anyway.....SO GET OVER IT ALREADY!

      June 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
    • the scientific cowboy

      Justin, these pictures were made in Rome. They would have wanted to make their religious leaders look like them. Besides, Jesus would have looked Middle Eastern, not black. Not that the color of his skin should matter anyway.

      June 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • mark

      absolute and utter nonesense. the article is irresponsible in not making clear to the reader that these images were created hundreds of years after the fact by enemies of Christ (Romans) who subsequently saw it as political beneficial to gain political control of the otherwise uncontrollable christian cult for the purpose of expanding the roman empire. The Roman Catholic Church was established starting with the conference in Nice (322ad). The images are those of Romans/Italians and bear no relationship whatsoever with the actual people. It is ulterly incorrect and misleading to refer to these as "images of apostles" or even worst stating that they are the "oldest known". We must categorically reject the continued propagation of such shameless falsehoods almost 2000yrs later in this 21st century. These are no more the apostles than Michaelangelos' images of his uncle in churches across our nation are true images of Jesus. The life of jesus and the apostles and emulating it is what we should obsess over – not ancient Roman propaganda.

      June 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Gordo

      "dating back to the 4th century A.D." Well that is 4 hundred years after they lived. I stopped reading the article after the first sentence.

      June 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
    • Cmm1002

      Really? Pictures were discovered of the apostles? Why not a picture of Jack climbing the beanstalk? It is absolutely ridiculous that people continue to believe in fairytales and chase them to prove they are "real."

      June 23, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • Keith

      Come on people ! we've got to stop this. what difference does it make what color they where. it's 2010..

      June 23, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • Ryan

      Terry, people have been saying those same things for 2 millenia. The early church thought that Jesus was coming back "very soon" too.
      So, just because some joker named Bill Wiese had either a delusional episode or made up some colorful writing about hell certainly does not make it real.

      It's just as imaginary as your imaginary friend up in the sky.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:23 am |
    • Michael

      Who cares, they were human no need to go beyond that.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:25 am |
    • perspectiveB

      I am kind of curious. Early images in Christianity were taken from Pagan Religion and early Greek religions, Jesus as the Shepard appears in earlier religions and cults. As Christianity was a cult religion originally, and imagery was typically first found in catacombs etc, I was wondering if these images derive from earlier religions as well.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am |
    • jimjohn

      hey, wait you guys were there to see him and know what he looks like?
      so is everything else about him true?

      June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am |
    • corey

      "Their inclusion in the tomb shows the aristocrats were among the last Romans to convert to Christianity"

      not surprising, they were probably the best educated and the least likely to fall for the nonsense of christianity.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am |
    • justin

      at the very least the paintings are from 200 years after the death of all the disciples, no one is saying the portraits are actually accurate.

      June 23, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • Kynt

      I'd love to see the pictures, too. It says "Gallery expired".

      June 23, 2010 at 2:39 am |
    • ggplex

      The reason why race matters in all of this is because of media's painstaking effort to portray Jesus Christ as Caucasian, which is just plain media distortion. It is part of Samuel Huntington's shallow, and probably racist, east vs. west, black vs. white thesis. The truth is that there are a lot of people who would go completely nuts were they to find out that Jesus was a person of color. My thought is, if a person has so much at stake in having Jesus be a white man, then he/she probably doesn't understand Jesus Christ to begin with.

      June 23, 2010 at 2:56 am |
    • DTK

      It would not be carbon calcium. There is no such thing. It would be calcium carbonate.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:26 am |
    • BillinNYC

      Putting aside the new age Da Vinco Code anti-Catholic chatter from the left and its evangelical counter-point on the right that is to be expected with a discovery of this kind, what I find interesting about the discovery is the remarkable consistency in the depiction of each Apostle in art prior to the year 800 in both the Latin and Greek Orthodox traditions. Peter’s curly head and beard, Paul’s male pattern baldness and pointy beard, John’s obvious youth and Semitic features are all standard fare. Hair colors, beard styles, facial features of these figures are amazingly consistent across the Christian world in the later Roman period. Whether or not this reflects an artistic tradition based on work by artists who had met the men and painted them or not is the real interesting question raised by these 4th century images. Anyone who has looked at Roman tomb art, either in Italy or in the Egypt of the period, will be aware that these kinds of portraits of ordinary people and famous people were done with a view towards realism, even if “air brushed” a bit for the person paying for the portrait. I would think a strong historical argument could be made that these images do represent an oral/artistic tradition arising in the first century.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:12 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.