tv Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery CNN April 4, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
thank you so much for joining me. happy passover. happy easter. and you can follow me on twitter if you can spell smerconish. see you next week. onthe baptist. >> he's got it! >> the fearless prophet who hails the coming of a new messiah. he believes that some reckoning is imminent. >> the preacher who baptizes jesus. setting him on his mission towards god. >> it's at that moment that something profound changes for jesus. >> now science joins the quest to connect past and present, testing john the baptist's relics to discover a link to the man the bible says was john's cousin. jesus himself. to help us answer who really was john the baptist?
the judean desert in the first century pap wild, forbidding place at the fringes of the roman empire. this outpost on the banks of the river jordan is home to a revolutionary firebrand who promises the coming of a new savior. his name, john the baptist. >> john the baptist is the first chanter to the long and amazing
story of jesus. he tees it up for jesus to come in and really be the true messiah. >> he comes with the fire, and he wants people to feel it here. who are you? are you saved? why do you come here? he even questions their motives. this is a very intense figure. out in the wilderness, and the wilderness is where things really happen spiritually. >> he's a mysterious figure. he's strange. he's out there. he's dressed in this very, very odd way and slightly dangerous and scary. >> yet today the unique appeal of this charismatic prophet has been lost to history.
who was this fiery creature who would herald the coming of the messiah, and what was it that drew jesus to him? now, science joins history in a new quest. in the future, it may be possible to establish a blood link between john and jesus. today their mission is to test fragments of bone believed to be john's. >> for the fist time in history we're table to place these relics in their proper time and proper date and also to understand more about their history and how they came down to us. >> palestine in the first century is buzzing with prophets. they follow in the tradition of old testament preacher, men like isa
isaia. >> i'm here to warn you! >> but from the fringes of this civilization, one voice is louder and reaches further than any other. even though john the baptist faces himself at the edge of the wilderness, people come from far and wide to hear his uncompromising message. >> geographically speaking he's actually from the margins. he goes out away from the center of power to the wilderness and draws people to himself. >> it might seem to us today obvious that jesus is more important, but at the time, if we'd been alive in first century palestine, we would know the name of john the baptist, but we might not know the name of jesus. >> the son of a jewish cleric, john how condemns the religious establishment. >> my god, john was angry withr become a very exploitive class. >> in an echo with old testament
prophesies, the gospels recount his passionate belief that the end of the world is close. >> judgment is coming. >> and with it the coming of a new messiah. >> the kingdom of heaven is coming. >> to prepare themselves, john urges people to repent and cleanse their sins. and to do that, they must be baptized. >> to encounter john in the wilderness is to encounter a person who is bringing to your eyes the fact that you have fallen short of god's best for you and you had by golly better repent. >> john is like an apocalyptic free chur, in his case literally about fire. >> this firebrand is tells them the whole crop of israel is going to be burned up unless you repent. >> he talks about judgment. he talks about god's anger.
>> so he really is the sort of preacher of coming judgment. >> the kingdom of heaven is at hand. repent. >> inhe centuries after his death, bone relics of john the baptist begin spreading out from the holy land as early christians seek a physical connection with the man who played such a decisive role in the life of jesus. >> his relics become extremely important all over the world. so there are lots of narratives of discovering parts of his body, whether it's his head or other relics, his hands and arms seem to be incredibly important because he points to jesus during the baptism. >> by the 15th century, there are over 200 relics of john the baptist across europe, far more than could possibly be genuine. whether authentic or not, each piece is a clue to the growth of the early church.
using carbon dating and dna techniques, scientists help to build a map showing the crucial role played by relics in the spread of christ's message. >> we're obviously aware of the fact that the vast majority of the material of the relics we'll be testing are probably not going to fall into the period which historically we would expect. but this is just the first step in a big project in which we're looking at other similar relics, getting dates for them, getting reliable scientific data for them, to find out more about who these people were, where they came from. >> the ambitious project to draw that historical map across europe begins in bulgaria in 2010. with an excavation that makes headlines around the world. buried beneath the ruins of a 5th century orthodox christian monastery dedicated to john the baptist, a box the church
believed contains recomme s rel bones. >> it was the first time we investigated using modern scientific techniques a relic that was found in a place with which had a very reliable context. >> and when the results of the carbon dating finally come in, they discover something truly remarkable. >> my jaw was a little bit town on the floor. >> right there, 30 a.d. that's when john the baptist is supposed to have died. you can see the date fits right within that margin. >> 30 a.d. a date consistent with the death of john the baptist. the dna results go even further, indicating the bones came from a middle eastern man. could these actually be the bones of john the baptist and a connection to what the bible
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it uses a vague term, kinswomen. and our best guest is that means something like cousins. >> not all the gospels mention the episode. but in luke, the story begins when one night jesus' mother, mary, is visited by an angel. >> do not be afraid, for you have found favor god. you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will name him jesus. >> but mary cannot believe the angel's message since she is still a virgin. the child to be born will be holy. he will be called son of god. >> when mary is told by the angel that she's carrying the messiah, she's shocked and surprised and she feels very
humbled. she says she's unworthy of this kind of great honor, but she's willing to accept it. >> luke describes how the angel gabriel then reveals to mary that her cousin elizabeth is also pregnant. mary then sets out on a 70-mile journey to find her cousin in the judean hill country. >> she comes to visit her cousin elizabeth, the one person she could really talk to about this unusual turn of events in her life. sowy bitradition she would have come here to ankara. perhaps she hurries along a street like this looking forward to being with her cousin, with whom she can share this amazing secret.
>> elizabeth! elizabeth! >> mary? >> elizabeth tells marine layer how, despite being too old to conceive, she really is now six months pregnant. >> as soon as i heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. >> when mary goes to elizabeth and they're both pregnant, john the baptist leaps for joy. we can imagine there's a rapport between these women. >> there is an attempt throughout the gospels to portray john as the forerunner who prepares the way for the coming of the lord, the lord being jesus himself. >> 2,000 years on, the possibility that john and jesus are related has triggered fresh investigation into the study of
john the baptist's relics. with their ongoing quest to trace how his relics were scattered, british researchers tom higham and george kazam have come to the nelson atkins museum in kansas city. they want to analyze an ancient treasure reputed to be the finger of john the baptist. could it come from the same individual as the bulgaria find? >> this is containing the relic, dates to about the year 1400. >> what's really exciting about the kansas baptist relic is that for the first time we're going to be able to compare the radio carbon date of this particular relic with the one we've already obtained from bulgaria. >> the bone has been identified as a human bone coming from a hand. >> what's interesting about the finger is it's part of a medieval treasure that has connections with the german lord henry the lion.
we know that he visited constantinople and requested relics, but it's possible that it may have had origins much older than that. >> should we get the bone out and have a look at it now? >> sitting in an elaborate gilt housing dating back to the 4th century, for the researchers the challenge will be how to remove the bone from its precious casing. and when they try to extract the bone from its mount, there's a problem. >> the mount does not come off of the bone. >> oh you mean i can't actually take the bone out? >> no. >> and that means tom will struggle to reach the central part of the finger containing collagen, the most reliable material for carbon dating. >> that's very tricky in order
to get a decent-sized sample. so we're constantly battling against curators, which is not to take too much, and our own scientific requirements in order to get just enough. and i want's off an very interesting play that takes place over the course of the hour or two that it takes us to take a sample. >> 2,000 years earlier, on the banks of the river jordan, john the baptist's magnetic preaching continues to pull in the crowds. one of those drawn here is a man who will change not just the course of john's own life but the course of history. t-mobile can set you free. now we'll pay off your phone. stuck in a contract. we'll cover that too. so switch to t-mobile today.
the earliest gospel, that of mark, records how jesus arrives on the banks of the jordan to find john the baptist. luke's gospel tells us jesus is 30 years old. >> i think one of the few indisputable facts about the ministry of jesus that we as historians can be clear about is that jesus was, indeed, baptized by john the baptist and began his career within the ministry of john the baptist.
>> the new testament doesn't reveal whether this was their first meeting or if they'd met before. >> we know that jesus respects john the baptist enough and is drawn in by his charisma, his teaching enough to go and get baptized himself. so he's certainly drawn to john. >> until now, john the baptist is the undisputed leader of this movement. but today meeting jesus, something unexpected happens. i need to be baptized by you. will you come to me? >> but jesus dismisses john's plea. it is he who has come to be baptized by john. his baptism will be like no
other. >> i think the baptism of jesus by john is a crucial part of the story. it tells us, if nothing else, that jesus absolutely endorsed what john was doing. >> i myself baptize for this reason -- that he might be revealed to israel. >> and it means that he endorsed john's message that god's people did need to repent, they did need to receive forgiveness for their sins. >> and just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the spirit descending like a dove on him. and a voice came from heaven -- "you are my son, the beloved.
with you i am well pleased." >> it's at that moment that something profound changes for jesus and now he feels this vocation, this call, to go spread his own message. this is the beginning of jesus' ministry. >> when they met, when john the baptist's charisma, when his preaching ability, when his apocalyptic fervor, when his criticisms of the powers of the day, when all of that hit jesus' ears, i imagine it sparked all of that latent ability to preach that jesus had and launched him into his ministry. >> strike yourself. >> but for biblical historians there's a dilemma. >> there's something that's not being said here. all the gospels really emphasize that john the baptist was subordinate to jesus and yet he's the one that's doing the
baptizing. >> in the gospels you see this trying to tackle this problem of jesus being baptized by john indicating jesus was in a subordinate position, which was a problem for the early church. >> for all the attempts by the gospel writers to reconcile john's status with that of jesus, what is certain is that ultimately it is jesus' movement that survives and prospers. >> initially it seems that john is a mentor figure to jesus, obviously baptizing jesus in the river jordan and has attracted him there, but afterwards they go their separate ways. one of the great lines of john the baptist that i love is while jesus is growing in popularity while jesus has a minist ministry, his disciples say, look, everyone's going to jesus' baptism. and john said, "i must decrease
and he must increase." that amazing humility of john to know that he is about jesus and not about himself, to me is such a witness of humility and of discipleship. >> jesus will never meet john again. but following his baptism, he takes a page from john's book and heads into the wilderness on his own journey of self-discovery. >> in the book of p the prophet isaiah, it says, "in the wilderness, prepare the way of the lord." so they thought of that desert as wilderness an went out there to prepare for the coming of the lord. >> for 40 days and nights he goes without food. he has been touched by god. now he must face the devil.
>> according to the gospel of luke, the devil takes jesus' side and tempts him three different ways. m ♪ nm ♪ ♪ >> first he tempts him to turn rocks into bread because he knows that jesus hasn't eaten and he's hungry. >> jesus casts him away with the words, "it is written one does not live by bread alone." >> the next one he offers him
power. he offers him control over all the kingdoms of the world. >> "worship the lord your god and serve only him." >> and the third temptation he takes him to the pinnacle, the highest point, and he tells jesus to fling himself off so that he can be rescued by angels. >> "it is said do not put the lord, your god, to the test." >> we know that jesus doesn't fold. if it had been me you'd have lost me at turning stones into bread. just imagine if you could get past this temptation of hunger when you haven't eaten for days. if he could make it through that trial, all the other ones were probably a piece of cake.
>> john, too, is changed forever by his encounter with jesus. he now propels his ministry towards his greatest confrontation yet. >> the kingdom of heaven is at hand! ins from the second we're born. after all, healthier doesn't happen all by itself. it needs to be earned... every day... using wellness to keep away illness... and believing that a single life can be made better by millions of others. healthier takes somebody who can power modern health care... by connecting every single part of it. for as the world keeps on searching for healthier... we're here to make healthier happen. optum. healthier is here. the switch to t-mobile is on. even verizon customers are seeing the light.
yoo fired up by his meeting with the coming messiah, jesus, john the baptist walks with a new sense of conviction. for all his appearance as the wild man of the desert, john knows what he is doing by speaking out against sin. fearless of the consequences, he vents his anger on the moral corruption of harrod, the puppet ruler installed by palestine's roman overlord. >> herod, i'm here to warn you! >> in the first century, in the roman world, you weren't allowed to criticize the ruler. so someone like herod had his own private army. he was watching everything very carefully. >> the servant of god speaks
plainly. >> herod was the worst kind of leader that you could hope for. he really needed to prove himself to rome and because of that he was a little bit overzealous, let's say. >> with the protection of rome, herod antipas rules galley with all the contempt of an autocrat. but herod has made his first serious miscalculation. he's turned his back on jewish law by marrying his brother's wife, herodeus. >> this was in violation of a law in leviticus which says a man must not uncover the nakedness of his brother's wife. >> it's the wife of your brother. >> john the baptist was very critical of the political regime. in particular, he was critical of herod for having married his brother's wife, and he was critical of their immorality and their treatment of the people.
>> jews feel themselves oppressed by a foreign pow they're they can't do anything about. john gives them a vision of someone who can do something about it. >> ignoring the peril, john openly accuses herod and his wife of violating jewish law. >> give up this woman! send her away! >> if john the baptist said out loud what everybody else was really murmuring about, then that put him in the category of someone who could be accused of sedition, of treason. he would be like a terrorist. >> if john the baptist is successful in his campaign against herod antiphus it could spark a political revolution. john's provocation puts him in mortal danger as he enters a duel with the jewish leader in which only one man can emerge the winner.
>> herod, you should be punished! >> you've done this before and you know what you're doing. >> we'll just have to see how it goes. >> in kansas city, the professor is trying to figure out a way of drilling into a relic of john the baptist. >> here it's pretty open already. i think it's best to go in here. >> he hopes to dig the carbon inside the bone and perhaps even get a dna profile that can then be matched against the first century relic he has already tested from bulgaria. >> it's the collagen part of the bone that we want to take. that's the protein part. and that many modern people is about 20% by weight, but of course in older materials is collagen decays and degrades, and so it's often not present in that large an amount. and of course when we're taking very small relics, tiny bones, it becomes very, very difficult to get a useful enough sample
size if we're to extract the collagen for dating. >> with limits to how far he can drill, he can't be sure they've got enough to determine whether this bone could have belonged to john the baptist. in jerusalem, the more john the baptist denounces herod, the more he risks inflaming herod's anger with all the danger that could follow. >> you could talk about repentance and judgment day and maybe not get into much trouble, but you start to attack herod personally and he's going to attack you personally. >> what's wrong? >> i see herod antipas caught
between his desire to rule and for his wife. by marrying his wife, he had transgressed jewish law and that put him in a difficult situation as he sought to control his power. >> a man insults your wife and you let him get away with it. >> she was a formidable character. >> you're not a man, you're a coward. >> she acts on her own desire, her own lusts, and breaks laws by doing so. >> humiliated by john, herod antipas is forced to put a stop to his verbal assaults. he arrests him as a threat to state security. and even then john will not be silenced. >> judgment is coming! judgment is coming, herod! you are the criminal! not me!
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>> in the despair of his isolation, john how faces his own demons. >> john's had lots of time in prison to think about the jesus movement and worry about it, is this indeed the one he'd been prophesying or wasn't it? >> alone in confinement, john starts to agonize over the wisdom of placing his faith in jesus as the coming messiah. >> this is someone who had a fire burning in his heart. to change people's lives, to change society. and heed been thwarted, so that's the reason he reached out to jesus. are you really the one? because that could give him hope from his prison cell. >> finally, john sends his followers on a mission to find jesus and ask an urgent
question. >> forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sin against us. >> the answer that comes back from jesus will prove one of the most famous moments in the new testament. >> jesus asks the disciples to tell john that he's doing all these things, it's all about action. >> what did he say? >> the good news is preached to the poor. the maimed walk, the blind see. i am doing all of this stuff, john, so i am what you expected to happen. >> as he languishes in his prison cell, jesus' words are like a comforting balm to john the baptist. filling him with courage for what lies ahead.
>> he believes that this really is the messiah and that all of the unjustice that john has witnessed in the world is about to be righted. >> confess your sins. confess and you will be truly free. >> john's stinging attack on herod's immoral marriage to his broth ears wife humiliates herod at court. even with john in jail, herodias is still not satisfied. she seeks revenge and demands herod deal with the outspoken prophet once and for all. >> he had criticized herod for divorcing his wife and then marrying his half brother's wife. >> confess your wins. >> but he knew what it was really about was that he was a threat. >> prepare the way of the lord.
>> while herod seems reluctant to go further, herodias knows prison will never silence john's smears on her honor. according to the dpgospel of ma, herodias makes her move against john at a bank kwwet for john's birthday, where her daughter salomi is providing the entertainment. ♪ it may seem like a harmless dance, but it's part of an elaborate plot by herodias to force herod's hand. she has instructed salomi to dazzle herod so that he will do
exactly what herodias wants. herod agrees to grant her whatever she desires. she pleased herod and his guests, and the king said to the girl, ask me for whatever you wish and i will give it. and he solemnly swore to her, whatever you ask me, i will give you, even half of my kingdom. >> there was a parlor game, the result of a good dance. >> what should i ask? >> for herodias, it's the chance she's been scheming for -- to finally rid herself of her or the mentor. >> give me the head of john the baptist.
>> guards! >> i think when john the baptist realizes that herod is going to execute him is this astonishing sense of ending and conclusion, and he knew as a prophet this is the completion of a prophetic call. the scientific questions to identify the finger bone attributed to john baptist is reaching its climax. >> successful in retrieving enough material for an accurate reading at oxford university's archaeology research lab, they use the mass spectrometer. it will analyze the amount of carbon in the sample and,
through that, determine the relic's age. >> using scientific techniques for first time it's really possible to build up a template of scientific similarities between different individuals to understand more about the movement and the passage of relics across this part of the world during the time. >> now the scientists' work is done. they can only wait for a final answer. could this bone belong to john the baptist?
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visionary prophet. impassioned preacher. fearless revolutionary. following herod's sentence of death, john the baptist awaits his fate. >> there's nothing in scripture that would cause me to believe that he had doubts or even fear in that moment. >> john was executed as a cautionary tale to others that might stand up publicly against them as john did.
>> in 2010, the world of archaeology was galvanized by the discovery in bulgaria of a relic whose date and dna are compatible with those of john the baptist. in oxford's archaeology lab, tom and georges wait for the results of this new test. as they work to build up a comprehensive date map of john the baptist's relics across europe, could this latest test match the individual from bulgaria? >> here's the actual date between 661 to 770 a.d. >> right. >> so that's much younger than john the baptist. it's not john the baptist. >> so it's not the same finger that we looked at in bulgaria. >> the result isn't surprising to me. there are many bones attributed to john the baptist. and they can't all be. in this particular case, using radiocarbon, we've managed to show that the date from this particular bone is about six
centuries later than it ought to be. >> we've tested now two relics of john the baptist. we had one date from the 1st century and one from the 7th or 8th century and we're just starting to get a feel for what is out there. it's very exciting. it gives us a bit of new information. i'm hopeful that we'll go from here and ask more questions and test more relics. >> for tom and georges, the investigation goes on. with as many as 200 relics associated with john the baptist, they hope they may once again find a piece that could be a match for him bringing science closer to the man who may actually have been jesus' blood relation. >> the science does matter. even if a relic is a thousand years old or 1500 years old, venerating a relic maintains that connection with the tradition, with our past.
>> we hear from the gospels that when jesus heard that john died, he actually withdrew into the wilderness and spent some time on his own. it was obviously a traumatic event in jesus' life. >> the idea of someone dear to you that had been beheaded must have struck his heart, but it didn't change anything about the mission. in fact, it must have emboldened o him. >> jesus saw john as the catalyst for change. as the person that signaled now was the hinge, now was the turning point in the story. >> john the baptist was, in a sense, the model for jesus in that he never compromised. we see jesus in the same way even unto death. >> in mobilizing his followers to repent and turn towards god, john the baptist had dared to
speak truth unto power. and for this, he pays the ultimate price. >> i think he understood that he was a martyr. he was a martyr in the cause of something greater. he was the martyr in the cause of a beautiful kingdom of god on earth, which is what he had preached all his life. >> i see jesus and john as being very similar in terms of their conception of god, in terms of what they wanted people to do, in terms of their call for repentance, in this idea that the world would be transformed. and they're calling people really to start it in the here and now. >> in the wake of john's death, many of his followers turn to jesus as john's movement slowly declines. eclipsed by the new growing christian church whose message spreads across the world. >> john's disciples are still
around long after the death of jesus. perhaps the biggest difference is that ultimately, in the early jesus movement, there's an appeal to gentiles and as soon as the gentiles are converting to this new movement, we get a much more successful global kind of mission. >> but john's voice can still be heard in a very direct way through one of jesus' most famous teachings, the lord's prayer itself. >> father, hallowed be thy name. >> the words spoken by jesus were directly inspired by john. >> give us this day our daily bread. forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
an ancient burial box, inscribed with the name james, son of joseph, brother of jesus. a box that might actually be a connection to jesus christ himself. but who was his brother james? >> the gospels are very clear that jesus had siblings. >> from doubter -- >> can you imagine if your brother said, i'm the son of god? >> -- to leader. >> james really is the forgotten man. >> embroiled in one of the
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