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Bones of John the Baptist – again?

August 5, 2010 No Comment

Various news reports claim the bones of John the Baptist have been found on an island in the Black Sea in Bulgaria. Archeologists discovered a stone urn under the altar of a ruined monastery inscribed with a reference to June 24, the festival day of John the Baptist. Inside they found parts of a skull, bones from a jaw and an arm, and some teeth. A Bulgarian government official at the site is certain these are the last remains of John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod.

St. John the Baptist. Painting by Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632)

Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod pastor isn’t convinced of the find. “I always greet such claims with maximum skepticism,” he told LCC InfoDigest. “In the case of John the Baptist, there are at least twelve claims to his head and body parts being in different locations.” He said that the baptizer’s head is supposed to be in a chapel at the main mosque in Damascus. 

Others interested in the bones are asking for carbon dating of the remains before considering the find genuine. 

John the Baptist was the son of the Virgin Mary’s sister, Elizabeth, making him the cousin of Jesus. He is known as the one who prepared the way for the Messiah (Jesus) and for his call for repentance and baptism. He was arrested and beheaded by Herod, the Roman tetrarch. The Bible records John’s disciples burying the body.

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