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Part of the New Testament Proven True?


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Part of the New Testament Proven True?




Archaeologists have found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples, offering extraordinary proof of a central New Testament figure and his theology.


The Associated Press reports that the cave is located on the Kibbutz Tzuba, which is 2-1/2 miles from Ein Kerem, John the Baptist's hometown that is now part of Jerusalem. The cave includes a huge cistern with 28 steps that lead to an underground pool of water. Some 250,000 pottery shards were also found and are presumed to be remnants of small water jugs used in the Christian baptismal ritual performed by the fiery New Testament preacher. Wall carvings etched into the cave tell John's life story; they were likely made by monks in the fourth or fifth century. In addition, a stone was found in the cave that researchers believe was used for ceremonial foot washing.


"John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life," British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who supervised the dig outside Jerusalem, exclaimed to AP. He is the head of the private Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit and has written a book on the subject titled "The Cave of John the Baptist." In a separate interview, Gibson told Reuters, "Nothing like this has been found elsewhere. It is the first time we have finds from the early baptismal period. It is an amazing discovery that happens to an archeologist once in a lifetime."


But because there were no inscriptions found in the cave, some experts insist there is no proof that John the Baptist ever set foot in it. Instead, they think Byzantine-era monks commemorated John at this site linked to him by local tradition. Gibson heartily disagrees, insisting the carvings, foot washing stone, and other artifacts provide strong circumstantial evidence that the cave was actually used by John and is not just a memorial to him.


John the Baptist was a contemporary of Jesus Christ and was known as a somewhat bizarre, long-haired character who preached a message of redemption. Since he is considered one of the most important figures in Christianity, the discovery--if it can be confirmed--would be among the most significant breakthroughs for biblical scholars in memory, reports AP.


Gibson thinks the cave appealed to John because it contained an immersion pool. "It apparently was adopted by John the Baptist, who wanted a place where he could bring people to undergo their rituals, pertaining to his ideas of baptism," he told AP. The baptismal candidates would have walked down the 28 stone steps, discarded their clothes in a niche carved into the wall, and then placed their right foot onto a stone that contained an imprint of a foot. A small depression to the right of the imprint would have contained oil, to be poured over the foot for cleansing.


Gibson thinks John the Baptist used the cave in the early years of his ministry when he sought solitude in the wilderness. "In addition to John the Baptist, there's a possibility that Jesus used this cave as well," Gibson explained to Reuters.



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