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.
Out of respect for those (like me) who view John to have been among the greatest figures in The Bible, it would be an appreciated sign of good faith for a Christian be involved in the handling and study of these artifacts. I appreciate the non-biased review of the evidence, however if (For example) these were the bones of Mohammad, no Athiest would be allowed within 100 yards of these relics. And with good reason, it is right to have respect for others beliefs, and take necessary precautions to show that respect.
The term "Christian" didn't even exist at the time of John the Baptist. But I find it disturbing that you equate what Muslims would do to what "Christians" should do. And ironic that it takes science - which more and more "Christians" are at odds with - to properly handle and uncover the mysteries of these relics.
Because an atheist would do what with the bones? study them, get DNA from them? what horrible thing could he do that bacteria, mud, water and time havent done already?
I assure you once they are done with them they will be handed over to christians... from there it up to you all to decide if the right sect got them or not.
What is astonishing is no one makes note of the message on these relics,i.e "God save your servant Thomas. To St. John. June 24." Thomas is a description from that time, not a given name, meaning 'twin' or as St Thomas was also known as Didymus (Greek,also meaning twin). There are those , me included, who tend to believe that the evidence shows Thoms (the 'twin') was brother to Jesus. If so, then Thomas was also cousin to John, that is to say, if you're willing to belive the mounting evidence including the Gospel of Thomas found, not once, but twice, in Egypt. Read, then pursue the travels of Thomas. The truth about Jesus and his cousin John, and his "Twin" Thomas may be much more exciting than the myths of the Middle Ages. Isn't it about time we revisted and examined the legends,etc,?
Mary Magdalene was his twin sister.
Well, if all those churches DO have bits of the same person, I hope they will agree to put him back together. Poor guy.
Scientists advise that these bones could be those of John the Baptist! If it is true they could be, then it is also true they might not be. But is there anyone besides myself who does not give a hoot? And I wonder if these scientists could be the same ones who warned us about global cooling a number of years ago.
If you don't give a hoot why read the article? Does CNN need to gain your approval before posting stories, just incase 'you' don't care? And also .. .why comment, if you don't give a hoot. It seems to me you give a larger hoot than you would lead us to believe. You may even give multiple hoots, I certainly don't give any about you though. No hoots for you.
Just curious how they're going to confirm that without science. Obviously carbon dating is a fraud, the earth is only 6k years old, and everything you need to know about life is in the bible.
I'd take those lucky bones to Vegas!
I'm beginning to think that the hobby of choice for atheists is to blog and comment online in some irrational attempt to try to be heard and tear down a God they don't even believe in.
His is a scientific inquiry, not an attempt to "tear down" anything. Try not to be overly sensitive about such things.
Or a fiction you cannot prove.
Certainly my hobby, but I also feel a certain responsibility to mankind to weed out ignorance. If it were just about being heard, it would seem rather pointless and if were just a hobby, I'd choose something more active. Obviously, one can't tear down something that doesn't exist, but you can try to shine a light of reason on the delusions people subscribe to.
I think it's funny Christians wants everyone to pay attention to their religion, they want it included in laws and gov't and public school, they put up billboards and have TV channels deicated to it. And then when atheists pay attention they say "you shouldn't even care why not just ignore us".
News update, you are impossible to ignore, so I am happy to spread reason to those who will listen and be an irritant to the rest.
Nothing wrong with searching for truth.
Typical religious lunacy. We found bones dating back to mid 1st century. It MUST be john the baptist! *eye roll*
@madonfan...You go on depending on your make belief friend, while the rest evolve...Your God in The Holy Bible hates women...says one thing, means another...you must really be a weak human..
The way we show we're advanced is by not building ourselves up by tearing others down. If you want the moral high ground and intellectual advantage, take them... but not resorting to ad hominem attacks when somebody believes differently than you.
Based on your comments, you have no clue what the Bible says or doesn't say. Your comments also show how ignorant you are, independent of your position on faith, and demonstrate you are at least as hateful as the people you claim to despise.
"you must really be a weak human" ...... Says the bigoted guy commenting on a CNN article.
Jesus Christs warns us about your kind again inanutshell, in Matthew 7:29.
John the Baptist, was a good man. He did what no one else would do. He loved Jesus and he wasn't afraid
to tell everyone. He spread the gospel like no one else could. He was not ashamed to do whatever it took to
spread the word that one day, Jesus would baptize, not with water as he had done, but, with the Holy Spirit.
John loved Jesus and he preached until the day he died. He gave real meaning to the word "CHRISTIAN".
@Mary....Your God hates women...Where are the equally important women in the Bible, huh? Your god does not put women on the same level as men. WOW<! Maybe because it was written by men so they could control women, yes, yes, that's it...you are weak if you think that's how your God feels...says one thing, means another...Either you like to be treated lower than men or your god is racist...
Eye of Horus, only the spiritually strongest souls came into this world, born of women, as females. For a reason bumpkin.
Every time something old is found the religious fanatics try to connect it to the bible..,,You CAN"T prove God or the Bible is real, no matter how much you scratch the dirt...
God is never going to prove He is real without a doubt. He says you have to live by "faith" alone. Sooooooo don't expect that. God is awesome!
Madonfan... You spoke to God and he told you that?
Madonfan... I was going to play nice but, Ya know what? I'm tired of people spouting off whatever they believe as if it were a fact. Please show me, from the bible, where your god ever, ever, ever says that he is supposed to be a mystery and believed on faith alone. Your god wanted everyone to know him and how great he was through his actions in leading the Jews from one senseless murder to the next horrible massacre. So please... show me where it backs up your statement in the bible in your god's words.
Believing anything based on unfounded faith is delusion, it is poison and should be avoided.
I find it amusing to see religious folks using carbon dating to prove the age of religious relics but disputing it's use to disprove the theory of evolution. Somehow it makes sense to them that the validity of the process depends on the motive of the researcher...
inanutshell obviously fell out of his nut as he believes the scribes and pharisees that slither ... like snakes on their bellies, offsprings of satan.
inanutshell... You CAN"T prove God or the Bible is NOT real either.
@kn, of course the bible is real. It's just not accurate. This we can prove. Simply take the story of Noah's Ark. There is plenty of evidence that it did not and COULD NOT have happened. In terms of proving there is no god, you cannot prove there is no Zeus, leprechauns, fairies, Odin, and any of the other thousands of gods. That's why the burden proof lies on their person making the claim of fact.
On the subject of radio active dating bible proponents do endorse dating surrounding evolution. The fact that the Earth is fairly young 4.6 billion years old compared to the universe 12.6 billion years old is considered proof that not enough time had transpired for living cells to form.
@chance, 13.7 ± 0.13 billion years. And, that's not an argument based on evidence, it's one based on reductive reasoning.
Hebrews 10:38: Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.” It says here "faith" not "proof" alone.
@kn...it is NOT up to the non-believer to prove something exists, it's up to the believer that something does exists. You can't simply say you saw a three headed dog and that's proof of it's existence, you need solid proof..video, pictures, statements from current witnesses.etc. We say there is nothing, NOW YOU prove their is something !
@madonfan I am a Atheist and I have faith, it's not strictly used by religion alone, It's not a magical word that only believers are allowed. I have faith my son will recover from his accident. I have faith my 35 year marriage will last til my death. I have faith that someday the believers will realize they call us crazy, when they profess to believe in talking snakes, burning bushes, walking on water, staff turning to snakes, a giant boat, a virgin birth, talking angels, hell, demons, resurrections, parting seas, and that the world revolves around men...give me a damn break.
@Eye of Horus, Well said, but I would love it if we could move away from the word, "faith". I believe you mean "hope" instead. There's a great video our there called, "Faith: pretending to know things you don't know". The speaker rightly points out that faith is a knowledge claim whereas hope is a wish for a desired outcome. Probably this is nitpicky, and I certainly agree with everything you said.
the point is radio active dating is used on both sides believer or non believer. The age of the Earth or Universe is not a subject that believers shy away from.
God is awesome!
So is LSD.
Prayer changes thing s
In that case I'll pray for your change....
Bet the people in the twin towers and the aircraft that hit them prayed stronger than anyone on the planet at that moment. Didn't help them a whole lot did it.
@ david G
proof for your claims or admit you are lying.
like rain dances change the weather
what if these are the bones of the man thought to be Jesus himself? The ramifications would be radical.
Is there a way to find out if these are the bones of Jesus? Or perhaps if they can't be those of Jesus?
Maybe Fred Flintstone.
Had he worn his magic underwear he would still be alive today.
Mormonism is not Christianity. Jehovahs are not Christianity. Catholicism is not Christianity. One bible, no other books added to it. That is Christianity. Because if you look at all the above mentioned denominations, they all recognize Jesus, but deny His power. Even Catholics. They put Mary on a pedestal which the bible does not put her on, and they even pray to her which is not bibical. Jehovah's and Mormons had 2 men alone that started the denominations. All these denominations use the bible along with their teachings, but they have all rewritten different versions to their own liking. Even Muslims use the Psalms and the Gospels along with the Quran. So who is right? I would say the one bible that they all try to duplicate. The Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is the only one that says you will get to God no other way. No denominations. God established the church, not denominations. The best way is to take the bible, read it verse by verse, and let it soak in. People have problems with denominations because they establish rules that were never set by Jesus and aren't biblical. ONE BOOK. The bible. That's it.
Mad... I have news for you; Christianity isn't what Jesus preached either. Christians practice Paulianity. Jesus was a savior for the Jews only. He would have sooner stepped on a Gentile than spare a drop of spit for water.
According to the myth, Jesus was born, raised, lived and died a Jew. Should he return, christers might be in for a bit of a shock...
Madonfan Which Holy Bible is that, the 4 gospels that were selected in 150AD and the other books selected in the 300s? the Gnstic Gospels? There are plenty of versions of text out there so which ones are devine truth and what made them that?
*** One bible, no other books added to it. That is Christianity.
What the heck do you think the bible is ?
Its nothing but a collection of books, idiot.
Was that stupid comment from our first lady? It could not be could it ?
Isn't it funny how Adam and Ever weren't supposed to eat from the tree of KNOWLEDGE? Knowledge is bad? Then why give our brains the capacity to learn? Anyhoodles. So, they may/may not have found the bones of John the Baptist. That's great. I'm sure he did live. I'm sure he was a good man. But still...he was just a man.
knowledge of good and evil genius...
How is it that God made everything and "saw that it was good", yet the tree had knowledge of evil? Where did that evil come from if everything god made was good?
If evil is the absence of good, as thought classically, then if you make good and also allow freedom, then you get evil along for the ride.
@BittyKitty....Kudos....just a man, but don't try to get believers approval..I love the way they are the first to get angry and belittle and scoff at non-believers, usually FIRST, but blame us for thinking different. All the Atheists I personally know, do not try to fight with anyone not to believe. We simply do not believe in a idea which cannot be proven unconditionally. I know the dinosaurs existed, BECAUSE, I have seen proof. I know that Caesar was real because we have proof by people living with or around him, not 100 years after his death, like the words of the Bible which is based on people stories given to them by their ancestors or rumors and stories. We all know what happen when a story starts and goes around and around several times, it will NEVER be the same, It will be twisted, exaggerated, sensationalized and edit to make it seems more interesting...aka, THE BIBLE. There was NEVER a war by non-believers to force anyone not to believe, but how many died in the name of God, being forced to change or accept a new belief. I will be first in line to be saved IF and WHEN, someone puts forth correct, tangible PROOF of any GOD. So let the believers exhibit their hate, it's nothing new, but shame on you all for trying to cast the first stone at your neighbors for not believing as you do, in Fabels.
How is it that God made everything and "saw that it was good", yet the tree had knowledge of evil? Where did that evil come from if everything god made was good?
Do you smell what i smell ?
Its christian brain cells burning up.
Sorry, folks, false alarm. They found the head.
They found Obama's head too...up his azz.
He was made perfect, he was set up to live perfect. He also was his own person; able to make His own decisions, that is perfection.
What about that time Jesus hooked up with those Dominican sailors? I hear He took it up his "holiest" of holes. Perfect.
Meant to post elsewhere...
the post was about Adam, please try again....
lol i have a person who stole my name.Thats funny
PERFECT....My AS*... supposedly your God knows all, even how our lives play out. SO WHY? did your God pick and choose who would be seen as perfect ad who would not? Tell that to someone with disabilities who have led a good life despite their pain. We seem to be a reality show at the hands of a man who does not treat us equally but has fun twisting and turning lives up side down. Tell the millions of starving beings, that god made something perfect but fu*ked up their lives for no reason. You need to look into your heart and not a make believe deity, to live, love, and treat others like you would like to be treated. No make believe God is going to pick up the pieces for you, only YOU have control of your life, so stop hoping for a Fable to help you find a job, your cellphone, or any answers to your problems, and get out there and take responsibility for your life. You believe in talking snakes, parting seas. making a woman out of rib, etc, and you dare call us nutz.
Do some research on Christianity, the belief is humanity started out perfect, then man fell. When man fell perfection did as well and death, disabilities and so on came into existence. We are not a reality show; as you said "only YOU have control of your life". I agree we are free to do as we please. The millions starving could be helped by the inhabitants of earth, GOD made us more than able to take care of our fellow man. Again "only YOU have control of your life", so we could send food aid but we buy iphones ipads and so on by the thousands every second. I also agree with you that we shouldn't wait on GOD for every need; He made us able to work things out. No one is calling anyone names but your attempting to belittle my belief. You actually help me convey one of my main points in why I believe so much suffering is in the world. That is if you don't believe there is GOD then you can't blame him for the pain in the world so that leaves Man as the culprit for the cause of the majority of the pain we see in the world.
The only thing on here that is perfect, Is the perfectly stupid, lame AS*, twisting remarks for God's existence..
I don't have to twist words for discussing my beliefs. If that were the case I wouldn't stand behind them. Lame argument.
Your wiring is crossed.
You are in danger of internal combustion.
Please seek help.
Yeah and I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale cheaply.
I had it carbon tested and it's made from the same wood as the table in the last supper....or it's from the same time...I think...hooey
He knew that the tree would bring death, please read the bible, do some research. Satan, tempted the woman, saying God was keeping them from being like a god. They new the tree was death but Satan told them other wise.
Cool story, bro.
They ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In christian mythology the original sin was mankind learning the difference between right and wrong.
Hebert- actually the original sin was disobeying God and eating from the tree of knowledge not learning the difference between right and wrong. I will instead of God's will.
Posted this in the wrong reply, but @Jem has it right.
I like the part where Ender kills the buggers.
@Jem or Chance
If Adam and Eve had not eaten from the tree of knowledge how were they supposed to know that it was wrong to disobey god's will?
He didn't have to put the tree there. If god knew even one person would have to suffer he is ultimately responsible for that suffering.
Adam was made perfect; he was a perfect human. In other words innocent and free to do as he pleased. He wasn't perfect in the sense of a programmed robot; only being able to do as provisioned. He was a perfect human. The tree was placed as a symbol of freedom, a path away from God if desired. All the knowledge Adam could ever want was at his request, he had direct contact with God.
LOL so he was perfect and imperfect at the same time. Yup that makes complete sense.
He was gifted of choice and he made a wrong choice, period.
"All the knowledge Adam could ever want was at his request, he had direct contact with God."
And we get the garbage that is the bible as our 'prrof', what a joke.
Bible is hinduism, corruption of truth given to Adam by hindu Magi's, criminal tricksters of Egypt and Persia to hind, fool humanity to make them gentile, slaves. Divide and rule humanity for ages.
Your conclusion is incorrect; I'm not implying a contradiction. I'm saying he was a perfect human with freedom. It's not a difficult concept.
A perfect being making an imperfect decision is a contradiction. But if you want to hang onto that, how do you know god (another supposed perfect being) didn't make a mistake in the laws he put forth?
He was created in spirit perfection but his hindu soul, negative desire put him on a wrong path and paid the price.
Here is another angle for you; same idea. He was made perfect but given freedom, his freedom was his human nature. Something made perfect can be corrupted if freedom is given. It was up to Adam to remain perfect or choose his own path. Again it's not a hard concept perfection can be corrupted if freedom is involved. Again Adam was human not a programmed robot.
If adam was corruptable, then he was not perfect. Something perfect cannot choose to be imperfect, that just another contradiction. But let's accept your little premise for the moment. Is god considered to have freedom to do as he wills?
Only one with gift of choice in "HIS" own image, none other. He forgot to live in La, th
Your forgetting the component of freedom, again Adam was not a robotic being only confined to programmed directives. He was created perfect, with the ability to do as he wanted. Your overlooking the central point he was given freedom. Perfection given freedom can be corrupted.
You have not addressed my other point. Does god have freedom? Is he free to do as he wishes?
I see the problem now; I'm not implying Adam was perfect and imperfect at the same time. I'm saying God made Adam perfect additionally he gave Adam freedom. God made a perfect vessel Adam's human body; that is the perfection I'm referring to. Adam's conscience was innocent and given freedom. He choose wrong.
Since you refuse to answer my question, I suppose I'll just ask another. So Adams consciousness was imperfect?
@HG Adam's consciousness was what he made of it; he was given freedom to do as he pleased.
to directly answer the question Adams consciousness was innocent/pure; it was without fault. He was blameless.
as for the nature of God:
Eternal (with out end thus had no beginning), all powerful, all knowing, perfect, unchangeable, above all things.
I don't believe in God, and none of your double talk will ever change it. However as long as Christians want to insist He is responsible for every, then it IS his fault. Take him out of the equation, then it's mans fault. As much as you wish to have it both ways, you cannot, we all have to wake up sometime.
Man is responsible for mans action; that's my stance, its not double talk. I believe God gave us all the freedom to do as we please. Like you said we are responsible for our selves. I agree with that. I don't ask for things both ways Gods fault and Mans fault, that's your insinuation. I'm clearly stating man is free and responsible for his own actions, we shouldn't pass the buck. Man needs to own up for its mistakes in the world, its not double talk.
Everything God made was good. (Perfect).
So he created the tree of knowledge for what purpose ?
To test Adam & Eve ?
So if Adam & Eve had to be tested, they are not good. (Perfect).
Your God has major flaws.
And to top it off.......everything he creates........dies.