Thursday, August 5, 2010

John the Baptist Relics in Bulgaria, Blah Blah Blah

If one ever took the time to add up all the various bones/relics that are supposed to be of St. John the Baptist, how many men would there be?  (a) 57 (b) 34 (c) 13.7 (part of a left foot seems to be missing to make a complete 14 -- perhaps several someones used it as the equivalent of a rabbit's foot for good luck charms???)

I'm joking of course - and this story is a joke.  But 'Sis sent it to me, probably because (1) she knows I am interested in biblical archaeology and (2) it's damn funny.

According to the article, John the B.'s remains are scattered around the world, heh? Let's see, John the Baptist was killed by Herod Antipas sometime in the late 20's CE? His head was chopped off - was it buried with the body? I do not believe there is an account that addresses this issue, but I'm not Jewish - there may be something in Jewish records; there is nothing in the Bible. In fact, John the B. was a minor player in the greater saga of the Bible, his only role being to proclaim Jesus as the Christ and "baptize" him in the Jordan River. That was before Christianity was instituted so what, exactly, did this baptism accomplish? Anyway, once John the B. had fulfilled his purpose of declaring Jesus the Son of God and the little Dove came down from Heaven and shown it lights over the Christ's head, John the B was out of the limelight and was, evidently, rather promptly dispatched. Christ did not resurrect him - his own cousin. I surmise this happened some time during Christ's 40 day sojourn in the desert (where he went almost immediately after being baptized) where he was constantly wrestling with the Devil's temptations, and by the time he got back to civilization he had more important things on his mind than resurrecting his dead cousin. 

Anyway, just exactly when would some enterprising Christians have dug up John the B's body and chopped it up into relics for sale to the highest bidders? I mean, that is basically what this comes down to. Think about it. They would have had to know where he was buried; they would have had to have confirmation that the body was, indeed, John the B. Did they seek permission from the nearest surviving relatives? The Temple kept records back then, the priests would have known whom to contact. Of course, if the body snatchers worked after 70 CE they were tough out of luck because the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, the records were burned, and the priests who knew the family histories were either killed or sold into slavery.

Well, here is the silly article:

From Discovery News
John the Baptist's Bones Discovered?
Analysis by Teresa Shipley
Wed Aug 4, 2010 01:51 PM ET

A 5th century monastery in the Black Sea may house the last remains of John the Baptist, the biblical prophet famous for baptizing Jesus.  Bulgarian archaeologists excavating under an ancient basilica last week unearthed a reliquary, or a container full of human relics.  Bone fragments of a human skull, hand and tooth were found inside.

The monastery is located on Sveti Ivan island, just off the coast of Bulgaria's popular seaside town of Sozopol. The archaeologists believe that a date inscribed on the alabaster jar, June 24, is a good sign that the reliquary houses John the Baptist's remains.

June 24 is the day Christian's celebrate the birth of Jesus' contemporary.  But the Vatican is waiting for more information before making a statement about the find's validity.

Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent of the Vatican Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, told CNN that the commission "will wait until a more thorough study has been conducted, including anthropological analysis, before it will express an opinion on the finding."

According to biblical lore, John the Baptist was beheaded by the first-century Galilean ruler, Herod Antipas, for renouncing Herod's divorce and subsequent remarriage to another woman.

Bisconti also told CNN that the Church believes John the Baptists remains are currently scattered around the world, rather than being housed in one location.

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