Bulgarian bones could be John the Baptist's as claimed, scientists say
A reliquary box thought to have been used to carry the bones of John the Baptist.
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."

Scientists take samples of the bones for radiocarbon and genetic analysis.

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.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity

soundoff (1,475 Responses)
  1. Robert

    Funny, reading all of the Atheist comments here. Scripture says at the judgment bar that "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ." It will be amazing to see what it will take to bring these folks to such a state.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      We think it is amazing theists are so willing to worship something they pretend to know is real.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I'm still waiting on the evidence that supports your claim that:

      1. there was a man named Jesus

      2. he performed miracles

      3. that he is the "son of god".

      Until you provide evidence then there is no reason to believe. Anything else is delusion.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Steve O

      I don't know about other people's bar, but mine is set slightly higher than proving that there were men 2000 years ago.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Adam

      Is that kinda like "Simon says"?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Robert –
      If Allah is the real version of god, you are screwed.
      If Baal is the real version oof god, you are screwed.
      If Amma is the real version of god, you are screwed.
      If Bumba is the real version of god, you are screwed.
      If ...insert names of next 10,000 gods here... is the real version of god, you are screwed.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Honey...what type of evidence would you like? What evidence would satisfy you?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • TR6

      Scripture also says that Pi is 3

      June 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Huebert

      "It will be amazing to see what it will take to bring these folks to such a state."

      I would accept a direct communication from god. Well, he would need to cc someone else so that we could confirm that we weren't hallucinating but that would do it. I would convert to what ever religion god instructed immediately after receiving such a message.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • JWT

      There is nothing that bring about such a state except directly applied force which renders it all meaningless.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • cbinal

      "It will be amazing to see what it will take to bring these folks to such a state." The same thing it took in Luke 8:28 and John 18:6. Attempting to stand before him. But by then it will be too late for them.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Living History

      The idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, creator god makes absolutely no sense to me at all. I was raised a Christian and I have tried and tried to think it through, but the reasoning ALWAYS falls apart.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Living so, it is alot easier for you to believe that everything happened by chance? Sad. Definitely no "reasoning" there, get the pun?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • cbinal

      @TR6 Haha – you people just keep spouting the same old garbage. You obviously don't know what it's talking about. I've heard it before and believe me – it's your misinterpretation of a description of something being made. Think for yourself, research for yourself instead of spouting the same old athiest nonsense.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  2. cbinal

    Did "Scientist" just prove that something in the Bible might be true? Hmm.. Ninevah didn't exist... found that, Jericho didn't exist... found that, David didn't exist... found evidence he did, and now John the Baptist? Hmm.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Spiderman lives in New York.

      New York is real....therefore Spiderman is real.

      Science has not proven anything in the bible to make us think it is of divine origin.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Steve O

      They found evidence that a man lived about 2000 years ago, not that the remains are JTB. The only thing they weren't able to prove was that it was conclusively a fake, as almost all religious relics are.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Fiction writers often set their stories in existing locales and sometimes include the names of people that actually existed in their stories. That does not turn their fictional story into factual history. It's been said that the best way to construct a believable lie is to hang it on a skeleton of truth. Again, that does not turn the lie into the truth.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ab

      Ummm... No. They just proved that the bones are from about the same time frame. Where in the article did you read that scientists have said it IS John the Baptist?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • pinostabaum

      joseph smith existed. doesnt mean he really translated any gold plates. muhammad walked the earth. doesnt mean he actually conversed with angels. john the baptist likely existed. doesnt mean his claims are real, or even that the words put in his mouth by 1st century mystics are real, either.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Hugo

      Just Claims, No Truth : Who is "us" and why do you think it's important that you (plural, apparently) be convinced that the Bible has divine origin?

      There are claims by various authors (see Wikipedia article on "Biblical inpiration") claimed to have been inspired. One might have suggested (up for debate) that the entire Bible is inspried by God. I think such an interpretation is false because in Acts I, the Apostles cast lots to selected Mathias as the 12th Apostle (to replace Judas Iscariot). But if you read Acts 9:15-16 it appears that this business of selecting Mathias is no more than history and contrary to God's will.

      I could have done this wrong but I'm not accepting that the entire Bible is of divine origin and fail to understand why you think it's relevant.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Answer

      Religious people are always the instant suckers. Give them some bones and they will adamantly think it is of some important biblical associated bones. Too easy and too stupid.

      Another form of convincing what you want to believe in because you are so frail to reality. Keep up with those justifications.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • pinostabaum

      lots of things in the bible are real. its a collection of writings written over centuries, that, like any writings, are grounded in their day and age. myth usually is. its not concocted out of an imaginary world like lord of the rings. its not fantasy. but that doesnt mean its real. rome was real. egypt was real. jerusalem was real. the pharaohs were real. the assyrians were real. babylon was real. nebuchadnezzar was real.

      so what? we have lots of corroborating evidence for these thing. we dont have corroborating evidence for creation of the world by god. giants walking on the earth. a world wide flood. angels interceding on behalf of man. men being raised from the dead.

      you could find a living, direct ancestral line of people all the way back to james the brother of jesus, and it wouldnt mean jesus was the son of god. and not finding the bones of jesus does not mean he ascended to heaven.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      I assume and you can correct me if I am wrong, that you consider parts of the bible to be of divine origin, whether it is the Jesus story or whatever. How does one seperate what is divine and what is made up? If part of the bible is fabricated couldn't all the divine claims be fabricated? I think these questions go to the heart of whether it is true, untrue or should be considered undetermined.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Kae

      All atheists need to come out of the closet and admit they are satanists that worship the devil.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Answer the same can be said for Evolution, dinosaur bones, and the theories. Do I think these were the bones of John the Baptist – maybe not, and truthfully dont really care. I just love to stir up the people who obviously are so paranoid about everything religious that they supposedly don't believe in, that they have to come here and bash every Bible related article. And you guys say we are the ones trying to cram our beliefs down your throats. Get a life.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  3. Friedman

    Bart: Are you hurt?
    Homer: Just my bones...and organs

    I guess you had to be there to laugh.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Jesus

    Most atheist have never did the serious research themselves because if they did they would be shocked that not only did Jesus exist but that he was who he said he was and those events really did occur.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • James PDX

      Could you please explain what research I could do that would prove that not only did Jesus exist, but that he was the son of a god? Do you, by chance, own a DeLorean that can do 88mph?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jack

      Most you have never did learn grammar.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Steve O

      No one's ever provided evidence that Jesus existed, or that the events credited to him transpired. That's the responsibility of the claimant, and you'd think if any of the stories were true, there would be some way of providing evidence.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      And what research proves he was god or god like or did any of the magic that is claimed?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • The Guy

      If by "those events really did occur" you mean "those events really did get stolen from greek, babylonian, and roman mythology" then yes, you would be right. With a little bit of research into mythology you'd realize every story from the NT was a repurpose of those that existed hundreds and thousands of years before jesus was even born.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Answer

      Why are religious people the first ones to make such silly claims?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. stephendouglas

    Wow, I'd like to have one of those bones to put with the Last Supper waiter's receipt I bought on the black market last year, signed by Judas Iscariet himself. With tip, it came to – are you ready – 30 pieces of silver. No wonder he sold out JC for thirty pieces of silver, that rascal! He got his money back.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • javalatte

      That's some funny stuff – thanks for the laugh!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  6. Timothy Rinehart

    This is amusing. Many atheists don't believe that Jesus didn't exist as a person. He most likely did exist, but his actions, much like Mark Twain's death, were probably "greatly exaggerated".

    June 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • TC

      What is more amusing is that atheists assume they can speak for other people's spiritual experiences and readily dismiss an event as extraordinary or a miracle eventhough they were not there and have no personal knowledge of it.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      I don't speak to your personal experience but at the same time using your personal experience to convince me what you say is true is rediculous. Just because someone has an experience of being abducted by aliens does not mean I should therefore believe in aliens or think that the person was actually abducted.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Sunflower

      But you support it, and were not there as a witness... What's the difference???

      June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  7. kjrussell

    So, they can find a man who's been dead for about 2000 years, but Jimmy Hoffa is still missing?

    Maybe some Catholics should set out to find him!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Katherine Gazunis

      If it's in Bulgaria, then they are probably Eastern Orthodox.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  8. Q

    Hilarious!! They used carbon dating to try and confirm that it is JTB. So if any Christian is excited about this, they have to say it's not true since they believe carbon dating is inaccurate....

    June 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Q

      Or will they do as they use the bible and say that it is relevant for this situation only, but not relevant for dating other artifacts, etc...

      June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • cbinal

      I'm a Christian – I don't have a problem with Carbon Dating up to it's halflife of 5730 years plus or minus 40 years. From there own it is outrageously multiplied to justify millions of years.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • The Guy

      Haha, and don't you know it, 5730 years roughly correlates to the "creation" of the earth. Funny how that just worked out for you, huh?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Primewonk

      cbinal wrote, " – I don't have a problem with Carbon Dating up to it's halflife of 5730 years plus or minus 40 years. From there own it is outrageously multiplied to justify millions of years."

      This is what I don't get. Carbon dating has nothing to do with dating objects millions of years old. It.s only used for ORGANIC material less than about 60,000 years.

      So fundiots, like cbinal, who choose to be ignorant about science, come onto these threads and demonstrate this ignorance for all to see.

      The question is, Why? Why do they do this? Kinds who pay attention in Junior High science class would know you don't use c14 dor objects millions of years old. How come the fundiots don't know this?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • mandarax

      Cbinal, two things for you to consider:

      1. radiocarbon dating is never used to justify millions of years. That comment just demonstrates that you don't know what you're talking about.

      2. If you accept the half-life of 5730 for C14 but no more, then how in the world do you explain all the samples that have less than half of their original C14? According to what you "accept" no sample in existence should have less than half it's original C14.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Prime and Mandy – Boy, have to be careful how I put it around you guys – you guys is smart. I agree Radiocarbon dating is used up to 62000 years by multiplied amounts from halflife – but, by what I said, the meaning was that was the basis or standard for other dating methods which causes a flawed result. Their are many factors ignored to get the result you want. And Prime – the same goes for you – spouting things "you don't know" about the Bible that you think you do.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • cbinal

      @The Guy Yep funny how that works out because there is no way that science and the Bible could agree on something – right? Actually, it doesn't match the "Creation" time period but, the Flood.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  9. Barry G.

    Jesus said: Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

    John the Baptist was one of the few leaders who truly served the people (unlike our greedy, corrupt politicians); for, John took nothing for himself, he served the people (and God) faithfully, and he was willing to die, in order to stand up for what is right.

    I wish we had more leaders like him.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Q

      Dang, you used to hang out with him?? I mean you seem to know a guy that has been dead for thousands of years (if he ever existed). That's pretty cool mate...

      This reminds me of the guy that died and you KNEW he was a b@stard, but at the funeral, the pastor says, "he was a great man" and all of the people that didn't really know him agree, but how do they know, they never really knew him, they are just going off what was said...

      June 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  10. TC

    I hear you Laurence but the atheists that come to these forums are looking for spiritied debate but to lob grenades and cause chaos. The topics do not even remotely impact them so why would an atheist come here other than to pick a fight?

    June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Who lobed grenades at Laurence? Intellegent questions were asked of his reasoning and the issues he brought up and he has yet to answer. Would you care to answer?

      The topics do impact me, christianity permiates our society and has a huge impact on the world. If Christianity had the same impact on us that Scientology has (next to none) then I would not care.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Q

      Who is Laurence?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • TC

      @JCNT – If a "claimed" christian church had control or influnece over how you lived your life (in a specifc topic that is) then I would agree. But most topics, like this one of bones of a holy man, are not of any nature that an atheist needs to be concerned about.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Jack

      The same reason any article about evolution or cosmology draws out fundies trying to discredit science.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      That is garbage, the article says that the guy who tested the bones is an atheist, according to your logic because of that he wasted his time becasue it should have no bearing on him.

      And you ignored my other 2 questions, no surprise there.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Veritas

      TC – Just think of Isaac Newton – Great scientist and also Christian. He said:-

      "Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the Solar System, I see the Earth at the right distance from the Sun to receive the exact amount of light and heat .......to sustain life......THAT did not happen by chance."

      The fact is the New Testament was written by four men who lived and worked with Jesus. One of them, John stood at the foot of the Cross with Mary, Jesus' Mother when Jesus died.
      Atheists drone on about the Bible being written hundreds of years AFTER Jesus died. They obviously confuse the Gospels written at the time, with the APOCHRYPHAL Gospels written much later.


      June 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Explain how four men who did not know the greek language wrote the gospels in greek?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Aslo history is full of scientists that claim supernatural explainations for things they could not understand scientifically, it does not make their supernatural claims true.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Veritas –

      Maybe you can help me out. I can't find a valid source for your Newton quote. All I can find is creationist sources that have a terrible habit of lying and quotemining. Perhaps you have an actual valid source of scientific quotes?

      Also, perhaps you aren't aware, but Newton also believed in alchemy and magic.

      Also, I hope you know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • pinostabaum

      @veritas, you should get the quote newton quote right. you have his reasoning all wrong after "atheism is senseless". he is actually wondering not about the sun, but about the similarity of all createures: how can all creatures be all so similar in shape and form and function if they were not all created by an ingenious god.

      had newton lived another 100 years, he would have met the next scientist on par with his genius who would have answered the question for him: charles darwin.

      you can read newtons actual quote by searching for "A short Schem of the true Religion by Isaac Newton"

      June 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The key operative word used in this article is "MONEY" and you better think about it before you part with yours.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  12. BOBBY

    so let me get this straight...you behead the guys and distribute them?

    June 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  13. LeoTheGreater

    Is there a skull in the bone find? Hey if the bones consist of "No Head", maybe it is the John The Baptist.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • BOBBY

      the heads in duetchland

      June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • The Guy

      Is that a German form of decapitation?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  14. Joe Rockbottom

    Kind of silly, isn't it?! There is no evidence whatsoever that a single person called John the Baptist ever exisited. The "books" of the bible attributed to him have been shown to be conglomerations of several authors over many centuries. In fact, the first "book" attributed to him was not written until a minium of 100 years after the supposed time it is supposed to cover. Not much chance any of those "books" have any relation to any sort of reality!!

    So, Bones are his? not a chance. Of course the 40% of US citizens who believe in ghosts and believe outspace aliens live among us will believe it. They have nothing else to do with their lives!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Scott

      You win for knowing your history and mythology. Good for you!

      June 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Mike

      Apparently you didn't read the article, and know nothing about the Bible.
      First, the article mentions that John the Baptist can be found in the works of the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus. That's "historical evidence", in addition to the references in the Bible–which are also historical evidence. Also, the Gospel according to John is not "attributed" to John the Baptist. While all recognize that the Gospel developed over years by more than one author, it was finalized before the end of the 1st century. The initial testimony was thought to be by John the Apostle. That's a different guy. I'm not sure what your reference to 40% of citizens is all about. More than 90% of Americans believe in God. If you've hit Rockbottom, Joe, I'd encourage you to join a faith community. Peace.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • steve

      There are other sources than the bible for a lot of the bible. The gospels show no proof of being written by more then one person. They were written in a collage style that was combination of multiple stories combined into one to further the point the author was trying to convey to his followers at the time. Mark was very matter of fact, life sucks you die etc. If you read them you get an idea of the situations each author and their followers were in at the time.
      All the gospels were written from different location, and at different times but within the first century. None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D which would of been a huge deal for these writings.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Keith in NJ

      The jewish historian Josephus lived at the time so his writing of JTB comes from first hand knowledge. JTB did not write any of the books of the Bible. You are confusing him with John the evangelist who wrote most likely after the first century. an yes the gospels were written most likely by those who were not eyewitnesses buby what was handed down to them. Mark wrote first and the Matthew and luke wrote used mark's gospel and son other source. Faith is a gift. I pray that someday all will have and appreciate the gift.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • The Guy

      Just to interject, everyone here knows that Peter, John, and Mark, according to Roman records, could not read or write, right? Not to mention that – to Joe's point – a written account of the NT gospels didn't surface until Emp. Const. became christian (more than a full lifetime later) and he hired the entire greek quarter of Rome to "make copies". Funny how that just happened out of no where....

      June 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    More Pablum for fools.

    If Christians weren't so dangerously stupid, they would be hilarious.

    I remember the whole Shroud of Turin fiasco.

    Proven bogus a thousand times over, yet the Bible Thumpers still stand in awe.

    Charlatans are wise not to underestimate the gullibility of Christians

    June 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Doc Magnus


      June 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • James PDX

      So more than one group claims to possess John's head? That doesn't seem possible unless they are talking about different heads, in which case one of them has something really gross and I really hope it's not on display.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • steve

      I dont believe the shroud either, but find it interesting. The size alone is too tall, but last I read the cloth tested was from a part of a repair on the shroud and they needed to test a different part?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Mike

      "Proven bogus a thousand times over"? My understanding is that the sample was taken from a patch that was added to the shroud to fix the damage from a fire in the middle-ages. And, how the image came to be on the cloth is still unknown.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • cbinal

      I'm a Christian and I believe the Shroud is just a work of art, probably Divinci. I don't even think the majority of Christian's believe it is real. Probably a very small percentage.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  16. HotAirAce

    I bet the various scattered body parts alledged to be remnants of some dead alledged saint will never be brought together or DNA tested. The RCC might be a complete crock of sh!t and run by a pedophile protecting Pope-A-Dope, but they/he are smart enough to realize that every time they allow science to investigate a relic, science never comes up with a definitive supporting answer, and often proves the relic to be a fake. The RCC usually ends up looking stupid and the money-making potential of the relic is reduced. They will not take the risk that science might prove the body parts are from different bodies.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Lalo Alan

      Ace, HotAir is right

      June 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Thanks for agreeing with me.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Healthy Skeptic

      So– you're suggesting that the Roman Catholic Church will deviously prevent DNA testing in all of those locations to keep us from discovering that the four different heads attributed to John the Baptist were not all his? (I've seen the one in Istanbul– but not the others) Maybe they just understand that veneration isn't the same approach as verification– but is actually the more universally human response...

      June 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      June 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • steve

      Um there are four heads. I dont think anyone thinks they are his.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Where in the article does it say there are 4 heads? I see mentions of several body parts but no obvious duplications.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  17. palintwit

    Middle of the 1st century A.D.? According to teabaggers, that puts it right about the time dinosaurs became extinct.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • James PDX

      Dinosaurs never existed. It was a conspiracy by God to test our faith. Now unicorns and dragons, those are Noah's fault. Thanks to all of the incest in Noah's family, his mentally handicapped family did a terrible job and left the last ones behind.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  18. weezer

    Interesting story, regardless of ones beliefs. The better story would be how they ended up in Bulgaria. If there was a John the Baptist, I could see monks getting their hands on the bones. Death, bodies, and bones seemed to be an obsession with early Christians. His bones would have been very carefully guarded and tracked because of who he was and his importance to Christianity. In other words, the location of his remains would have been secret, but well known in the inner circle of early Christian monks. They may have been moved to the island to protect them from invading armies/Romans/Muslims, etc. I see another Dan Brown book in the making.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  19. King David 13


    June 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  20. Laurence Ringo

    Wow.I strive mightily to be patient,loving,understanding,and open-minded.I try to refrain from insults,name-calling,mockery,derision,scorn,and hatred when engaging with my atheist friends,no matter how trying they can be.When I'm confronted with the bias,ignorance,misinformation,and animus of people like"Jim"or"Honey Badger",I am genuinely saddened and perplexed.Whem"Jim"claims that there is..."Zero evidence that Jesus actually existed"...I can only shake my head in wonder and amazement.As a Biblical scholar and church historian of some 35 years standing,I have read the works of hundreds of well-respected,well-educated men and women who are in some case giants in the fields of archeology,history,ancient manuscript interpretation and transmission,systematic theology,etc;people who have PHDs,doctorates,and are tenured proffessors at some of the most prestigious,most venerated,most hallowed halls of learning in the world:Harvard.Princeton.Rutgers.Dartmouth.Oxford.Cambridge.Now here's the question for people like"Jim".Can he explain to the readers of this site why these august schools of the very highest learning would dispense these degrees( that in most cases takes many years and many dollars to aquire)to people they know are writing papers,dissertations,and books,in some case multiple volumes(and getting paid for them)about that which does not exist? I myself have read hundreds of books about Jesus the Christ(Yeshua HaMashiach),some written by secular scholars and Jewish scholars,and I have yet to find any writer from the time of Jesus up to now that has convincingly proven that Jesus didn't exist.To not put too fine a point on it,such a claim is sheer,unadulterated nonsense,and smacks of inexcusable mental laziness.If any atheist blogger can recommend any reputable historian or scholar who has written any well-researched paper,book,or anything else proving that Jesus didn't exist,I would have no problem reading it.So...bring it on,"Jim"!! Peace & Love in Christ!

    June 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Actually, it has always been a mystery to me why respected universities dabble in religion and give out degrees related to it. I can only speculate that they started doing so when "the church" wielded much greater power than it does today, when everybody was expected to believe (and when to not believe might get you killed!), and they do not have the guts, or are not willing to forego the financial benefits of having a College of The Babble, to admit that while there might be some evidence that a dude names jesus lived 2,000+ years ago, there is in fact no definitive proof of any god or for the jesus myth.

      To give out degrees such as Doctorates of Divinty makes about as much sense as giving out Doctorates of Harry Potter.

      In other words, the existence of religious programs in otherwise respected univesities in no way signifies that what is being studied is real.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • jim tom

      Regardless of whether or not a man name Jesus existed, there is not really any reason to believe one religion over another. It is all personal preference, along with upbringing.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      People can get degrees in English Lit. but that does not make the the characters real. We don't know for sure whether Plato or Shakespeare were "real" or if they were a combination of other people. The difference is no one is claiming Plato or Shakespeare were divine and could do supernatural actions. Jesus may have existed as a person but that says nothing of the truth of what has been histoically attributed to him. George Washington was a real person but we know the story of the Cherry tree was not real.

      Whether Jesus was a real person isn't the issue. King Auther may have been real in some sense but the point is the circu.mstances of the story of Camalot are known fabrications. Prove the story of Jesus isn't the same type of fabrication.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Jim

      Laurence Ringo, is too much to ask that you pay attention? It all started when doctore0 said: " IF Jesus actually existed.. but he did not;"
      I quoted him and responded "Other than pure dogma, what exactly are you using to support that claim?"
      Obviously, I was responding to doctore0's claim "he did not". (Do you see his original post and the quotes around that in my response?
      Doctore0 also said "There is zero evidence for Jesus actually existing.. that is a fact Christians must face(No, the bible is not proof)". Which I quoted.
      I am genuinely saddened and perplexed that the information is right there in front of you, you don't need to research it on the internet, but simply read the post which are right in front of you. Why is that so hard for you to see?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Keith

      Hold on a minute Ringo, all you have quoted here merely says that there may have been a person who could have been the source of the Jesus myth. None of these scholars will say that this person was the son of a god as the rulers of the Christian religion would have us believe. Nowhere is there one iota of evidence that this person performed miracles, rose from the dead, sits at his fathers right hand and watches over our lives. There is a universe of difference between evidence that someone might have existed and might have been the source of the myths and evidence that this person was a GOD.
      of course as there is NO SUCH THING as a GOD so there never will be any evidence that you so desperately crave. Your simple childlike faith is pathetic and to people like myself it is dangerous, you have NO ability to see reason and reality you just cling to the fairy tales that are are so liberally dispensed by the people who seek to cow you into submission.
      I am so very sorry for you.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Scott

      The above is absolutely classic. The hubris is breathtaking. Note how this so-called researcher has no knowledge of English syntax. Note how this man demands that 'atheists prove Jesus didn't exist'. In other words, prove a negative. That, people, is not how it works. He who claims a thing must prove his assertion. It is NOT up to and NEVER has been up to 'atheists to prove a negative'.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Seems this discussion amounts to yet another attempt by those making the extraordinary claim (that gods exist and the jesus myth is true) to shift the burden of proof onto those saying "wait a minute, where's your proof for your claim." The fact that we cannot disprove your claim does not prove your claim! The claimnant needs to provide definitive evidence for their claim or at least admit they cannot, but religious people will rarely do this because it could be the beginning of the end for their house of cards.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Kathy

      Lawrence, if you look at the "names" involved here, the question is partially answered. HotAir, Just Claims, etc. are offering nothing to anyone except to trash the belief systems of others. One of the sad reflections of this country today is the the Almighty refers to the dollar and the golden rule is "If it's mine, it's mine and if it's yours, it should be mine." Religion as I was taught respected others and offered a system of respect and hope for the future. How sad for anyone not to believe that they can one day see a loved one after they have died. I feel sorry for you if you think that you die and all that is left is for you to become compost.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      I feel sorry that you believe things, not because they are true, but because it makes you feel good, and then denegrate others who don't agree with your delusion. You can believe anything you want and I will fight for your right to believe it, but I will call out those that claim something to be true that is not.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Kathy, my user name is from an entirely different area of interest, but I continue to use it here because I learned that it distracts and amuses those with little else of value to say.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • why does it matter?

      All of you who "insist" God doesn't exist, Jesus didn't exist, or God does exist, Jesus lived; please, explain WHY it matters if anyone else believes you or not? Does it make your life more full to have these people believe as you do? Beliefs are merely opinions. There is no proof one way or the other. That is why it is a belief and not a truth. The existence of God/or non-existence of God is a belief.
      Now, as for the article, why they bring in the fact the scientist is an athiest is beyond me. It's irrelevant. He was dating bones to see if they fit the time frame for someone who may have lived around an account in an ancient text. True or not, it is an ancient text. That part is a fact.
      I, for one, find it really cool that they have mapped the genome of these bones and have dated them to this time period and could possibly test others for a match.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "Beliefs are merely opinions. There is no proof one way or the other. That is why it is a belief and not a truth."

      Beliefs matter, our beliefs inform our actions. Actions taken because of false beliefs have very real consequences. For many theists the belief is "truth". If their beliefs did not have impact on the world and our lives personally no one would care.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Also most of us don't insist god does not exist, just that there is no good reason to think he does. "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer to a question that at this point can't be answered.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      It matters because many believers insist on forcing their cult's beliefs on others through legislation. You only have to look at the American election to see that "faith" is becoming a larger part of politics. If believers practiced their religion in the privacy of their own homes or houses of worship (like nice astrologers do) and did not use their unsupported Babble (or the equally unsupported Koran and other so-called holy books) to deny other people their civil rights, many of us, at least I, would shut up.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • JWT

      You nailed it HAA. If the religious would stop persecuting others because they don't believe the same things, and putting people down for the same reasons then I would not publically care what they believed in. Yet they try to deny rights and all that fun stuff – claim non-believers are flawed. So we have to stand up and be heard as a voice of reason when it comes to the religious.

      Of course most religious people are fine and would never put their fellow citizens down.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • why does it matter?

      @HHA, where has legislation ever been passed based on cult beliefs (and been held up by the Supreme Court)?
      @JustClaims, people do horrible things to each other for MANY reasons, not just religious ones. It still doesn't mean that anyone's beliefs should matter to anyone else. The "why" the tragedy occurs may be because of a religious thought or a gang war, doesn't make it any more or less tragic. And in the US, the punishment in the court deals with the crime.
      I'm just trying to point out that getting so worked up over what someone else believes is unnecessary. No one can make you believe something you don't want to. If it upsets you when someone challenges you, maybe you should rethink your beliefs to figure out why.
      Have a GREAT weekend!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      I did not specify the the action be violent. It could be trying to teach Intelligent design as science or downplaying the truth of science in order to elevate the religious belief. Dissmissing vacsinations for children. Not allowing interfaith marriage. Parents shunning their children because the child does not accept their dogma. The list is endless. The violent action is just the extreme tip of the iceberg. All kinds of poor actions are undertaken by poeple pretending to know something they don't know. I was taught I would go to hell for any number of reasons. My dad died when I was a child and I spent many sleepless night terrified he was in hell. This isn't some harmless hobby.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      why does it matter, how many states have passed laws banning gay marriage? How many states are looking at const!tutional amendments to ban gay marriage, foolishly thinking a supreme court won't or can't overturn them? Who are behind these attempts to deny people their civil rights if not the believer crowd? Why, in the 21st century, are appeals to the supreme court required to do what many, if not most, know to be the right thing – to allow everybody (EVERYBODY) their civil rights without limits because of some mythical story?

      June 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
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About this blog

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.