The bones of Paul the Apostle?

From the New York Times: “The first scientific tests on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul, the Roman Catholic saint, ‘seem to conclude’ that they belong to him, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday”.

Not sure of the archaeological value of this. Comments?

4 thoughts on “The bones of Paul the Apostle?

  1. The bones would have been a hundred years old by the time that the martyr-cults of the second century got into full swing, with Perpetua et al. That’s enough I think to trash the idea.
    But also: It’s very unlikely that the bones of Paul would have escaped some mention by the Ante-Nicene Fathers. It would have resolved whether he was tall or (as his adopted name suggested) short, which was now and then discussed. I’d expect Jerome (347-419) to have settled this in “Lives of Illustrious Men” if there was a shrine nearby, but he merely writes he was “buried in the Ostian Way”.
    In any case martyrology is usually not too fussy about relics. I may have quoted this previously here, but since we’ve been discussing Calvin:
    “As to the matter of relics, it is almost incredible how impudently the world has been cheated. I can mention three relics of our Saviour’s circumcision; likewise fourteen nails which are exhibited for the three by which he was fixed to the cross; three robes for that seamless one on which the soldiers cast lots; two inscriptions that were placed over the cross; three spears by which our Saviour’s side was pierced, and about five sets of linen clothes which wrapped his body in the tomb. Besides, they show all the articles used at the institution of the Lord’s supper, and an infinite number of similar impositions. There is no saint of any celebrity of whom two or three bodies are not in existence. I can name the place where a piece of pumice stone was long held in high veneration as the skull of Peter. Decency will not permit me to mention fouler exhibitions. Undeservedly, therefore, are we blamed for having studied to purify the church of God from such pollutions.”
    The Necessity of Reforming the Church (1543).


  2. I don’t think Paul was the only person who existed in the 1st century, so the fact the bones are from the 1st century don’t confirm their identity.
    Of course, they could be… although it still seems a bit of an exercise in “so what”? I don’t think Paul would have thought his bones had any magical properties.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s