Friday, July 03, 2009

More on the Bones of St Paul

This story, carried by Cathnews and originally on some website called "Monsters and Critics", seems quite reasonable to me.
Elburg, an expert on archaeological study of old bones and organic remains for the government of the German state of Saxony, told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview, "It's impossible to establish that it's him." ...Even a genetic analysis of the bones in a sarcophagus marked as Paul's would reveal nothing, because there were no proven descendants whose DNA could be compared. "But the bones could tell you the sex and age of death of the person," he said. ..."Traces of beheading can be identified with absolute certainty," he said. ...Elburg counselled maximum precision in opening the sarcophagus, saying, "It will be comparable to opening the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh."
Which is quite true - only I don't think the Vatican will ever sanction such an opening. Better to leave these things well enough alone, and let "pious tradition" embroider "reasonable possibility"...

2 Comments:

At Sunday, July 05, 2009 1:34:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

That sounds a little like my certainty that, on Good Friday last, I venerated a couple of bits of wood which can be said, with certainty, to have been brought back to Rome by Constantine's mother, St Helena, from Jerusalem... :-)

But I am inclined to give a bit more credence to the claim that the remains under the high altar of St Paul's are those of the Martyr and Apostle after whom the Church is named. I think people tend to remember where their friends and great men are buried, and a little under 300 years does not seem like a remarkable amount of time for such a memory to remain accurate. (I know, for instance, with accuracy where some of my Australian ancestors are buried, some of their graves going back almost 170 years ago). So it is not only possible (as the tests have shown), but indeed probable (as history and tradition attest), that the remains are indeed those of St Paul.

And I really don't think it totally beyond possibility (although certainly it requires a good dose of credulity - but, heh, that's what religion is all about!) that the bits of wood I venerated during the Good Friday liturgy at Santa Croce might indeed have been of the Holy Cross itself. It IS possible. Just probably not probable.

 
At Wednesday, July 08, 2009 9:16:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

Is that right? Well. I agree that then they could at least do that much testing. Interesting.

 

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