Apostle Paul’s remains?

I came across an article about the Apostle Paul.  After Emporer Nero burned Rome, he blamed the fire on the Christians.  Various apostles were rounded up, and tradition has it that the Apostle Paul was beheaded around 60 AD.  A basilica was built to house parts of his body in about 390 AD.  (Oddly, his complete body is not there, but spread throughout various churches.  Apparently, the Orthodox/Catholic churches felt that bones from dead saints hold some spiritual power, and have often arranged to have bones sent to various churches so that many can share a claim to have various saints bones.)

Anyway, tradition has it that the largest part of his bones reside in a white marble sarcophagus located under the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.  Recently, current Pope Benedict XVI allowed scientists to carbon date the bones.  They do date to the 1st or 2nd century AD.  Pope Benedict feels vindicated, proclaiming,

“This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul,” Benedict said, announcing the findings at a service in the basilica to mark the end of the Vatican’s Paoline year, in honor of the apostle.

More information can be found here.  Anyway, while the bones date to the proper time, I doubt there is a way to conclusively tell if the bones really belong to Paul, or just some other 1st century person.  I’m sure skeptics will remain unconvinced, and disagree with Pope Benedict’s proclamation.

So what do you think?  Could the bones really belong to Paul?  Would it help your testimony one way or the other?

19 comments on “Apostle Paul’s remains?

  1. Since I don’t believe our bodies are resurrected, but we are with a new physical body. I came to that conclusion with a close examination of the scriptures with scientific logic of body decay and lifetime cell regeneration. This doesn’t have any faith value to me. Mostly it is historical curiosity that I agree cannot be proven.

  2. It’s interesting, but doesn’t affect my beliefs one way or the other. They need to get Dr. Brennan to figure it out. Seems she could tell how the person was killed by examining the bones. Don’t know if that is possible in real life though…

  3. I have to agree. I don’t base my testimony on the Apostle Paul, so it doesn’t really matter to me one way or the other. I suspect most Catholics don’t pay this much attention either.

  4. I like the Apostle Paul, and while I wouldn’t base my testimony on him, he certainly is a strong influence on where I am spiritually. Certainly as strong an influence as any other biblical writer. I guess I don’t understand why I’d care where his remains are or what that would have to do with anything. Maybe you have to be Catholic to understand why this would be a big deal.

  5. So would the carbon dating of these bones be considered a blue shirt?

    There are many who believe that without Paul, there would be no Christian faith…that it is him that kept it from going the way of all the cults of the time. It was Paul that took Christianity beyond Judaism. Until then, it was really just another Jewish sect.

    I don’t have a fundamental problem believing that Paul existed, therefore, proving that he did doesn’t affect me in the least.

    Now if we could prove that those bones belong to Jesus or Lehi, now you’ve got my interest.

  6. Yes, Bishop Rick, there are many who credit Paul with spreading Christianity. However, I do want to point out that it is Orthodox Christianity (which would have encompassed the descendant religions of Catholocism/Protestantism, etc) that Paul spread. However, the Gnostics also spread Christianity, and rivaled the Orthodox Church in size.

    Western Christians usually have no clue about Gnosticism being another form of Christianity that spread just as greatly as Orthodox Christianity. Other heretical movements, such as Montanism spread widely too, so sometimes I think Paul gets a little more credit than he deserves for spreading Christianity–it was Orthodox Christianity that he was most influential with. Other forms of Christianity spread independent of Paul, but most of these were persecuted out of existence at the time of Constantine.

  7. I don’t think it’s a blue shirt because the bones are merely proof of location, not existence (even if they were proven not to be Paul’s, Paul’s bones may be elsewhere. If someone were trying to prove Paul’s miraculous conversion by showing the bones were truly his, that might be a blue shirt.

    MH, Western Christians generally know what they learn in Sunday school – which is why we have literalism and its ilk. It is refreshing to read your broader perspective on issues such as this.

  8. Thanks Chicken. I really enjoy learning about religions, and try to put things in proper perspective.

  9. I was wondering who would call me on Gnosticism…should have known it would be swift and MH. I have to admit, I don’t know anything about Montanism.

    I think the credit that Paul gets is deserved though, since it is his form that survived.

  10. Bishop Rick, you should check out the hyperlink on Montanism in comment 6. I think there are some really cool similarities between Montanus and Joseph Smith.

  11. Why should anyone care about this fake discovery when a much more important holy relic has already been discovered in Stephan Huller’s book, the Real Messiah:


    Huller went to Venice and proved that the Throne of St. Mark in the Basilica San Marco dates to the beginning of Christianity. It proves that Christianity started in Egypt rather than Rome (the title ‘Pope’ or Papa is universally acknowledged to have been appropriated from Alexandria).

    Huller’s throne is a real historical object, i.e. it is not a fake. You can see it with your own two eyes the next time you go to Italy. It is also being made into a TV documentary for a US Cable network.

    Again, why waste your time with this nonsense about ‘bones of St. Paul’ (the authoritative canon does not specify a location for Paul’s death); it is completely fake.

    You don’t have to buy Huller’s book. Here are some photos of the throne – http://www.therealmessiahbook.blogspot.com or go to his blog instead wwww.stephanhuller.blogspot.com.


  12. @Mormon Heretic
    One of those annoying History Channel shows (again) this week pointed out that because it was Constantine, the co-emperor of the Westernmost part of the Western Empire (Britain, Gaul, etc.) who triumphed in the Civil War to take control of Rome, and then took the Eastern Empire a few years later, it was the WESTERN-MOST version of Christianity (Paul’s) that ultimately became dominant in the Nicene Creed, and was enforced upon the other centers of Christianity by the Emporer to avoid rioting among Christian sects.

    Irony indeed. Superior generalship rather than superior theology played a bigger role than we may think.

  13. So if the Gnostics had won out, would there have been a need for a restoration?

  14. Probably. But different things would have to have been restored. Since Christians were trying to slaughter each other, they were all obviously a little unclear on the concept of Prince of Peace.

    We think we “know” the correct doctrine, but it’s not the knowing, but the living, that matters.

  15. Gnostic is a really interesting term. Just as the term “protestant” doesn’t fully describe one certain belief, but rather several, sometimes conflicting types, so does Gnostic.

    While I find that Gnostics have some very interesting similarities to Mormon beliefs, some are rather strange. For example, some Gnostics are much more polytheistic. Some believe in 2 Gods–a good God, and a bad God. The bad God created the earth, and his name is Jehovah. The Good God (I forget his name) is trying to get us to return to him.

    So, I believe the Gnostics had some truths, as well as some falsehoods. In my mind, the Gnostics help illustrate the apostasy better than ever–truths mixed with pagan ideas.

    FireTag, I love these types of shows. I’m watching “The Exodus Decoded” right now (bought it on iTunes), and I feel another post coming on (to go with Pres Veazey’s address–that one looks like 2 posts to me.)

  16. Jacob, I have mentioned before that the Gnostics were big in Egypt. I’ll have to check out your links.

  17. Jesus and Paul were masons? I was under the impression that Masonry was invented in the Medieval time period.

  18. […] a previous post on the Apostle Paul’s Remains, Bishop Rick said, There are many who believe that without Paul, there would be no Christian […]

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