A team of researchers believe a knuckle bone found buried beneath a Bulgarian church may belong to John the Baptist, the New Testament prophet who heralded the ministry of Jesus.
The archaeologists from Oxford University were surprised that the bones dated from the first century AD, the time of John’s life, and the DNA was consistent with a person of Near East heritage.
Scientists cautioned that although the bones discovered in a marble sarcophagus on the remote Black Sea island Sveti Ivan, Bulgarian for John the Baptist, bare intriguing similarities to those belonging to the biblical martyr it is impossible to conclusively prove they are John’s remains.
When first excavating the site two years ago, Bulgarian researchers discovered alongside the sarcophagus another small box made from volcanic ash and bearing an ancient Greek inscription referencing John and his feast day as well as a personal prayer asking God to “help your servant Thomas.”
There is some historical evidence, researchers say, to support a theory that John’s bones were removed from Jerusalem and brought to Constantinople, called Istanbul today, then the capital of the Roman Empire in a box resembling the sarcophagus found on Sveti Ivan.
Source: ABC News
An interesting discovery and theory, which might have some merit to it with dating. But as the archaeologists and scientists involved mention and make very clear, it’s impossible to say for certain whether or not the remains are of John the Baptist.
Of course there’s a TV special lined up for the discovery on National Geographic (what, NOT Discovery Channel?) which will be aired on June 17. So, the hype will begin.
John the Baptist is venerated as a saint by many Christian denominations. According to the Bible, he was decapitated on the orders of King Herod. The reasons surrounding this are a bit cloudy.