no, no you didn’t find the remains of john the baptist

John Electrophoresis Gel

Gel electrophoresis does not work this way.

Come on people, this is getting ridiculous!

Reports out of Bulgaria are that the remains of John the Baptist have been found while excavating a 5th century monastery on the Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan. Yes, that John the Baptist.

But here’s the problem: they didn’t, and there’s no way of ever proving that they did. And they know this. This is nothing more than a small island community attempting to drum up tourism for their local Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The BBC video of the press conference demonstrates as much. This same gimmick was recently attempted by another small island community, who claimed to have found nails from the cross of Christ. Needless to say, the fact that the story is getting picked up is evidence of the success of their campaign.

There is never any way of knowing whether or not the remains of some ancient person are who people claim they are. Remember when James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici claimed that a tomb with ossuaries with names like ‘Mary’ and ‘Matthew’ and ‘Judah’ was the family tomb of Jesus? Really? How can anyone ever prove that the buried remains of someone are who some other ancient person says they were, especially when the remains are venerated relics transported thousands of miles from their original context? A historical John the Baptist would have died in ancient Israel/Palestine. Additionally, there have been dozens of claims regarding the whereabouts of the remains of John the Baptist. What is a DNA test going to tell the discoverers? Running a DNA gel doesn’t return a result of, ‘Yep, it’s John’ (see photo).

Here’s a rule of thumb: if someone claims you’re dealing with the remains of some venerated individual from 2000 years ago a thousand miles away from where said individual supposedly died, you’re probably not.

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6 Responses

  1. Of course the head of John the Baptist is in Munich Germany. And in Damascus … and Antioch. And a few other places. That guy really gets around.

  2. My contact in the spirit world tells me that Herod Antipas is quite surprised at this discovery — and had no idea that John was an earthly stand-in for Cerberus.

  3. [...] UPDATE: Robert Cargill has a reasonably scathing post against it. [...]

  4. Aficionados of the True Cross will be interested to know that almost constantly … pieces of the True Cross are available on … ebay. Yup: ebay.

    Here ya go … this is just the latest webpage, and by the time you click this link these items may be gone and new ones may be made available. All pieces of True Cross are subject to prior sale:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/Relics-/13770/i.html?_nkw=true+cross

  5. [...] rounds that bones have been found which some think might have belonged to John the Baptist. This is a story which first appeared in 2010, but which has been revived by the carbon dating of the knuckle bone to the first century.The site [...]

  6. [...] set out to correct the typical media hype such as Mark Goodacre (noting Robert Cargill’s post 2 years ago), John Byron, Jim West, Michael Heiser, Claude Marionette, Dienekes, Christopher [...]

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