June 22nd, 2012
07:55 AM ET
Bulgarian bones could be John the Baptist's as claimed, scientists say
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN)– When the tools of modern science are applied to religious relics, the results are almost always the same: Science says the relics aren't what their supporters claim.
The most famous of them all, the Turin Shroud, is widely regarded as a Middle Ages forgery, and even the Catholic Church does not insist the shroud was actually used to wrap the body of Jesus himself.
So when Bulgarian archeologists announced two years ago that they had found the bones of John the Baptist, Tom Higham was skeptical.
He got a surprise.
Higham, an Oxford University scientist and an atheist who doesn't believe in "any kind of religion or God or anything like that," was asked to test six small bone fragments found on an island named Sveti Ivan - St. John.
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The bones turned out to be from a man who lived in the Middle East at the same time as Jesus, Higham said.
"We got a date that was exactly where it should be, right in the middle of the first century," said Higham, a radiocarbon dating expert.
It's not proof that they belonged to John the Baptist, since there's no DNA database of early Christian saints, the archeologist who found the bones said.
But the mere fact that the testing didn't prove the bones are fakes is unusual.
Archeologist Kazimir Popkonstantinov led the team that found them under the altar of a fifth century basilica on Sveti Ivan, a Black Sea island off Sozopol on the south coast of Bulgaria.
The bones were in a reliquary, a container for holy relics, with a tiny sandstone box.
Written on the box in Greek were the words, "God, save your servant Thomas. To St. John. June 24."
The date is the Christian feast day of John the Baptist, believed to be his birthday.
When the bones were found in 2010, Popkonstantinov said it was "logical to suggest that the founders of the monastery did their best to bring relics of its patron saint."
Higham, the deputy director of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, got involved because a colleague knew the Bulgarian archeologists. National Geographic was also interested, so it provided funding for more extensive testing than Higham originally planned, and made a film about the project.
Radiocarbon dating showed that the bones were from the right period to be from John the Baptist, Higham said, while genetic testing showed it was a man and all the bones were from the same person.
DNA testing by colleagues at the University of Copenhagen suggested that the person was most likely to have been from the Middle East, he said.
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More detailed nuclear DNA testing could pin down his location even more accurately, Higham said, but "does cost quite a lot of money."
There is reasonably good historical evidence that John the Baptist, whom Christians believe baptized his cousin Jesus, did exist, said Paul Middleton, a senior lecturer in Biblical studies at the University of Chester.
All four gospels and the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus say he was beheaded on the orders of the ruler Herod Antipas, Middleton said when the bones were found.
The six small bones are far from the only relics purporting to belong to him.
Four locations, from a mosque in Damascus, Syria, to a museum in Munich, Germany, claim to have his head, while the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, has a relic alleged to be his right arm.
A monastery in Montenegro says it has his right hand, while another in Egypt has a crypt containing relics of the saint.
Tom Higham says he can test them to see if they match.
"We have a complete genome. It's possible that we could step this a step further and see if there is any similarity," in the genetic material of all the relics.
"We've sort of got interested in this. It's not beyond the realms of possibility, and we know that there were relics moving out of the Middle East in the fourth and fifth century," he said.
But for him, the project remains a purely scientific one.
"I'm an atheist," he said. "I perceive this as an archeological dating problem. We have some bones and we're trying to get as much information out of them as we can."
CNN's Simon Hooper and Susannah Palk contributed to this report.
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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.
Karl Marx’s extremist followers were not in any way impeded in their blood-thirsty global quest by fear of a Higher Power. Atheism took very efficient care of this “limiting factor.” Since the end justified the means, as Machiavelli had instructed, they could do whatever was necessary to bring about a workers’ paradise. Because the opposition in some cases proved to be powerful and resilient, drastic means were used. Large numbers were killed for refusing to abandon their religious beliefs. A great many were sent to concentration camps. (For an enlightening, "first-hand" account of suppression of Religion and other "enemies" of Atheistic-Communism in Russia, please read, The Gulag Archipelago, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn - especially Chapter 2.)
For your premise that atheism itself leads to immorality to be true you would have to show a correlation to religious belief and moral actions.....I don't think you want to go there. The ends justifying the means has been used in the religious persecuting others. It can just as easily be argued that religion and specifically christianity allows people to act immorally because all one has to do is ask forgiveness from a none existent god.
Communists leaders were motivated by a strong desire to impose an ideological "package" over the whole world. The package included the eradication of Religion, defined by arch-atheist, Karl Marx, as “The opium of the people.” According to Marx, religion helped keep the masses passive before the abuse of the wealthy and powerful, and the only way to free them from the “stupor," God and religion had to be eradicated. Lenin embraced Marx's views and so did Stalin up to the Second World war. The enforcement of Atheism was a “critical” requirement for Communism’s success, and thus it had to be implemented at all costs. This meant oppressive measures, such as brainwashing in state schools, the closing of houses of worship and arresting countless religious leaders. (For an enlightening discussion of Atheistic-Communism's persecution of the Christian church see the article, Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union.)
Gotta love a religion that dismembers its leaders and scatters their carcasses to the four corners of the world. Sounds to me like the most effective way of keeping them from reanimating back from the dead.
Christians didn't behead John the Baptist. Kind Herod did. We would Christians want to kill John the Baptist?? He is believed to be the cousin of Jesus FYI. Actually all of this is in the article.
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire
I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.
HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
except to love God and serve Him alone.
This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
and lose the grace of God.
See for yourself. Transcend your 5senses.
Your post and the quote below do indeed show us the One True Way:
"As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice." – Adolf Hitler
Just because you don't want proof doen't mean I don't want proof
Prayer really changes no things.
When confronted and confounded by Truth an atheist wanna be will often steal a handle to try to defeat Truth, like Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things for example
"It is necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." – Pope Boniface VII
Prayer really changes things.
Prayer does nothing but make those who are powerless to help, feel better, that's about it. It does no harm but is useless in curing anyone. Put your faith in medicine and science. Prayer certainly did not help " god's so called chosen people" as the Nazi's threw them into the ovens. Next thing, someone will say, well 'god works in mysterious ways'. LOL Yeah right, very mysterious.
Perhaps the bones are from Ralph the Plumber? RIP Mr. Hitchens, you were right about everything. Religion Poisons Everything.....and god is definitely not 'great'.
The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called "faith." – Robert Green Ingersol
Still praying for personal wealth and naked men?
This is my experience... Thank you.
MY personal testimony.
A thought to consider without an ego response
Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
The world denounces truth....
Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.
Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.
The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.
Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.
We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .
Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
See the truth...
do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..
Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .
Trancsend the temporal world.
Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .
Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.
Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.
Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....
Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.
You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.
Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.
I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.
once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it
You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
confess – you make it sound like a crime.
I feel sorry for you.
your post was way to long and boring. Sorry.
Your personal experience does nothing for the rest of us.
I don't want to be saved. Can't you hyperzealots understand that? The only thing I would want to be saved from is YOU!
It would be very cool if this person turned out to be JB's. For you non-believers, no one comes to the father unless he calls them...I will pray for your souls.
Jeff, do yourself a favor, and get a life will you.
We will think for you...
You may pray for the sole of my shoe; otherwise, mind your own business.
Interesting how people who purport no belief in prayer enthusiastically deny the offer of it.
very interesting to think about
for those sniping back and forth:
respect for others is a good start
to show that you walk with the
Author of Life
contempt for those with different beliefs
implies you are not securely plugged into
Prayer changes things .
Still praying for personal wealth and naked women?
To be fair, I'm an atheist and I pray for thos things.
neither respondent could have a prayer heard in heaven but the sinners prayer.
But if you convert to Moronism, you get your own planet when you die.....imagine that, your very own planet.....and a Moron wants to be the next President of the United States of America to sit in the White House with 'holy bloomer's' on.....its all so sad really.
About the picture with the caption "Scientists take samples of the bones for radiocarbon and genetic analysis."
What kind of bone is that? I don't thing human bones come in 1" thick solid blocks.
Must be his femur. or just a chip off the ole block.
How does this get allowed feature coverage. Lets do the logic. I can name a chicken in coup Fog Horn Leg Horn. I can then eat chicken and give you the date I ate it. Bury it in my yard with no identifying mark with other chicken bones. You can then dig up lots of foghorn leg horns in my yard but are they they foghorn leghorn you can never prove it so why post this article.
@Peteyroo: Hi Pete. I must point out that you're a bit confused. The guy really meant a chicken coup. Seems that the Cuban revolutionary Chick Guevera made a bid to take over the coop, but his coup failed. He was able, however, to escape with his life – he drove away in a fast coupe.
Birdman. You got the trifecta! Good word play.
Also found in the box was the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
If all the relics of the saints and of the True Cross were real, the saints would have been bigger than Gojira and the True Cross would have been fashioned from a redwood.
a dating problem, says the atheist. WOW still cannot believe unless the facts follow his own faith and beliefs.
Atheists don't have faith–they have science.
At least Ralph's belief system is based on facts and intellect...not on indoctrination of the strange fairytale.
Based on the words written by both of you – you got nothing absolutely nothing.
Science AND reason will put an end to religion soon. It can't come soon enough either.
Apparently none of you atheists actually read the story. The investigators are using scientific analysis, not faith. Several different historical records apart from the Bible indicate that John was a real person. It is probably impossible to definitively state that the bones came from John the Baptist, but there is fair certainty it is not a medieval forgery. You atheists are not using reason or science, you are just blindly denying with no foundation. There was undeniably a starting point when what we know call Christianity began, and it undeniably was started by real people. No one is denying that a lot of religious relics are fakes created much later, but there is every reason to believe authentic relics exist.
I'm an atheist, I read the story and I agree that the bones could belong to an alledged saint. Now, what's the probability they are? 100%, 10%, 1%, 0.1%, 0.000001%? Of course, I tend towards the latter. The probability they belong to some dude named John is about the same that there are gods and the jesus myth is true – somewhere between slim and none.
It's quite simple. You're a fool and quite naive to history if you believe this headline. John the Baptist does not exist outside of certain likely-cobbled books of the bible. It's most likely he was never more than a fictional character. And even more likely that these bones are a medieval gaffe meant to steal a fool's money.
Seyedibar- MOST people were NEVER written about at all. Does this mean they never existed? Your logic is flawed, actually, you have no logic! : ))
To Valerie:Seyedlbar contends that John does not exist and suggests that he may be an amalgum or a composite of personalities that were written about in the works that went into the bible.
You reply that most people weren’t written about at all, and contend it is axiomatic that this does not mean they did not exist. You then, apparently, follow a line of logic that if a person is written about in any fashion, it means that such a person is more likely to have really existed than a person of whom nothing was written, so that since some written history of John exists, he must be at least as real as the very real people of whom nothing was ever written. So he is, therefore, real.
Am I following your reasoning properly?
Try reading the story instead of showing off your ignorance. Tacitus was not a Christian. He wrote of John from contemporary historical records. The investigators used carbon dating to establish the bones are not medieval.
Thus says The Lord, to the United States and to this wicked generation of modern peoples...
Hear the word of The Lord your God, The God of Israel, The God of All, for there is no other: You are walking into death... Dead man’s bones lost in a sea of sin, a dark ocean of transgression! You have forgotten Me, days without end, thus must I also forget you in the Day of Harvest. Yet of your evil deeds, even all this wickedness of which you are guilty, I shall remember! Behold, I shall bring it to the forefront, that all who walk in it may receive of My punishment!... Then you shall know, there is a God in Heaven who reigns and judges the earth.
God is full of hate–we get the message. He is essentially saying: "My way or the highway" and the highway is hell. I don't understand why we don't all flock to this sweet old man. Wait, yes I do. There are two reasons. 1) hate and condemnation is everywhere and not something to look forward to for eternity & 2) he doesn't exist.
Such a "god" is unworthy of worship.
Jesus was the first to predict his return.....and fail.
@Peetyroo and JTW
Yep!! I'd like to see those sort of responses become the standard reply to statements like Toma Joel
Hasn't god killed more people than satan, hitler, stalin, etc....... I may be mistaken but your loving god sure does like to kill....
From p. 10:
"Estimating the population of Palestine in antiquity relies on two methods – censuses and writings made at the times, and the scientific method based on excavations and statistical methods that consider the number of settlements at the particular age, area of each settlement, density factor for each settlement.
According to Magen Broshi, an Israeli archaeologist "... the population of Palestine in antiquity did not exceed a million persons. It can also be shown, moreover, that this was more or less the size of the population in the peak period—the late Byzantine period, around AD 600".
Bottom line: There is approximately one chance in a million that the topic bones are JB's.
For estimating the population of Palestine for any generation of any time period since the big bang, you just count the corpses laying around.
Well back to something Christians have always said. If they are wrong, it will not make any difference, if and athiest is wrong, they are deep trouble.
Now there is something objectionable. Pushign your religious views on other people. As a non-believerinr in your personal religious sect your threats are just that idle threats, showing a real lack of character.
If the threats belong to your god then your god is beneath conempt.
Let me guess if I am wrong your god is going to needlessly punish me for eternity... unless it is not your god but someone elses god then we are both screwed....
You're right on one point. If Christians are wrong and there are no pearly gates, no harm done, except for a wasted life of fantasy and wickedness here on earth. The Christian scorched-earth policy of condemnation of all who disagree with them will have made their earthly lives miserable. They will be in the cold, cold ground having accomplished nothing.
To your second point I must say there is an underlying basic fault with the reasoning that should heaven exist, recently expired atheists would be shocked and dismayed to find that there is a heaven & a hell. Shocked yes, but dismayed hardly. What you may not realize is that we have no desire to go to heaven. Hell will be just fine for us. Going to heaven means spending eternity with the miserable folks we wanted no part of on earth. Hell will do just fine. We'll get to spend quality time with a lot of interesting people. For all you know, atheists long departed have already remodeled hell with efficient air conditioning, museums, science fairs, one hellacious internet, etc. You know what I mean–all the stuff you heaven-bound sheeple have no interest in.
Watching You: You are exhibiting poor logic. Your post assumes that there are only two possible realities, that there is no god and that there is the god that Christians envision. Both can be wrong, in which case Chrstians could be in as much trouble as you imply atheists are with your god.
Watchingyou...what if the Muslims had it right..you are now essentially an atheist along with the rest of us enlightened folks....no virgins for us ..luckily for you as all the religious stories are just that I would not worry to much about the afterlife. Enjoy the time you have left here, and contemplate the journey your atoms took to be you, and how old they are...that is worth the trip around the sun 70 times alone dont you think?