The search for Christ’s DNA

492px-DNA_Structure+Key+Labelled.pn_NoBBForensic archaeologists have been extracting the DNA that can still be found in old bones and on ancient artifacts.  Some are aiming at the big prize:  the DNA of Jesus!

We may have found the bones of John the Baptist.  He was a cousin of Jesus, so they would share some DNA patterns.  We may have found the ossuary that contained the bones of James, Jesus’ brother.  And there is genetic material on the Shroud of Turin.  And there are other relics that purport to be connected to Jesus.  Scientists are studying all of this stuff.  Read Oxford geneticist George Busby on this quest, excerpted and linked after the jump.

What would that mean if Jesus’s DNA could be extracted?  Would it have only His mother’s genetic information?  Presumably God created a Y chromosome, since Jesus male.  But could DNA data shoot down the doctrine of the Virgin Birth?  Or give evidence of Christ’s divinity?

And if we could reconstruct His DNA would there someday be an attempt to clone Him?  And what would that give us?  We might have information about His human nature, but without His divine nature, He would seem like any other ancient Jew, though of the House and Lineage of David.

First of all, this isn’t going to happen!  You can’t identify anyone from the past based on their DNA.  And attaching a name to bones and relics is itself highly speculative.  The quest to find Christ’s DNA is surely a wild goose chase.  But still, it sends the mind reeling. [Read more…]

Another Dead Sea Scrolls cave discovered 

640px-QumranArcheologists have discovered a 12th cave that once held Dead Sea scrolls, ancient Biblical and other texts dating from 400 B.C. to 100 A.D.

This cave, though, had been looted and contains no scrolls.  (One wonders, where are they?)  But it does preserve some artifacts from the ancient Jews–whether members of the Essene sect or, as some scholars now think, priests– who kept the library.

 

Photo of Cave 4, where 90% of the scrolls were found, by Effi Schweizer – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3089552

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Did the Greeks make China’s terracotta army?

Archaeologists have discovered European DNA at the site where those 8,000 lifesize terracotta soldiers guard the tomb of China’s first Emperor.  They are concluding that Greek sculptors may have been involved with their creation, especially since the realistic statues correspond to Greek styles and techniques.

They were made in the 3rd century B.C., which means that the contact between West and East pre-dated Marco Polo by some 1500 years. The Emperor may have become aware of Greek statuary as a result of Alexander the Great’s march to India a century earlier.

I would say, however, that while the Greeks might have had a role in making the individual statues, the Greeks never used art on such a colossal scale.  Greek sculpture honors the individual.  This army of statues is profoundly collectivist.  So the Chinese can still claim credit.

Photo Credit:  Creative Commons. The Chronicles of Mariane.

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The end of the “noble savage”

Archaeologists have discovered the site of a deadly massacre in which 27 people were killed by primitive weapons.  The researchers date the site at some 10,000 years ago and say the people were hunter-gatherers.  This upsets the theory that warfare and organized violence appeared only when early humans settled down into permanent settlements.

This also upsets the perhaps related theory of the “noble savage” of Jacques Rousseau, according to which primitive people in “the state of nature” live lives of peace and virtue, with violence and other evils coming only as a result of “civilization.”  Apparently, human beings have been fallen and sinful as far back as we can see. [Read more…]

Treasure from the grave of a Greek warrior

Archaeologists have made an astounding discovery:  the tomb of a warrior at Pylos from 1,500 B.C., before the Homeric era, filled with gold, jewels, and priceless artifacts. [Read more…]

More of the Epic of Gilgamesh discovered

Big news in world literature:  A new tablet containing additional lines for the ancient Babylonian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh has been discovered. [Read more…]