Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

When Jesus said there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist, he wasn't kidding:
Archaeologists in Bulgaria claim they have found remains of John the Baptist while excavating the site of a 5th century monastery on the Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan...

Christians believe John the Baptist prophesied the birth of Christ and baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. According to the Gospels, John was put to death by beheading on the orders of the local ruler, Herod Antipas.
Given that John the Baptist* was six months old when Jesus was born, for him to have prophesied the birth of Christ is quite a feat.

UPDATE: The comments are a hoot.  My favorite thus far? The guy who refers to a previous poster as "Bob the Misinformed" and then says, "the first reference to Jesus were by Pseutonius, three hundred years later." Funny, I must have missed that historian.

For the historically impaired, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (aka Suetonius) wrote his history of the Twelve Caesars sometime around 110ad. In his books, which are rather a "People Magazine" type of history, Seutonius states of Claudius that, "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." (Claudius 25).

Historians have argued over whether "Chrestus" is a personification of the Jewish/Christian argument over "Christ." Given the violent tumults created among the Jews** for this very reason in other Roman cities recorded in Acts (c.f. 16:22, 17:5, 18:12, 19:23-41, 21:27-34), which was published almost a half century before Seutonius, I am inclined to believe that is exactly the case.

* Pictured, however inaccurately, lower left.
** Now when I say, "among the Jews" here, what I mean is "between Christian Jews and Jewish Jews."  Early in the church, and especially in its first generation, the leaders of the Christian church, with very few exceptions, were Jews and considered themselves such. 

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