15 April 2009

How many heads did John the Baptist have?

In The First Crusade, Thomas Asbridge writes about the relics that were said to have been present in Constantinople near the end of the 11th century (p. 108):

A visitor to Constantinople might see Christ’s crown of thorns and pieces of the cross upon which he was crucified; the Virgin Mary’s robe and locks of hair; at least two heads of John the Baptist; and the bones of virtually all the apostles.
Either he was a multiple-headed alien from outer space or all of those relics were hoaxes.


Xtreme English said...

when i was a postulant in a nameless religious community, one of the professed sisters came back from rome with a first-class relic of st. therese of lisieux. (first class meant part of her person--bone fragments, usually.) one of the other postulants asked, "What IS it, sister?" and another postulant said, "the tip of her nose."


Aha! The very rare tip of the nose bone, but not as rare as the earlobe bone.

Frank Anderson said...

Either he was a multiple-headed alien from outer space or all of those relics were hoaxes.Well, to be fair, some of the relics could be genuine. I highly doubt it -- and I'm pretty confident that even genuine relics would lack special powers -- but it is possible. Of course, there's no way you could ever determine which (if any) are authentic, so the point is moot.

I suppose it is also possible that John the Baptist had "at least" two heads -- maybe he was a Siamese twin? I suspect that, were he two-headed, he would have been treated with revulsion rather than reverence, but what do I know?

xoggoth said...

John the Baptist could have left as many genuine heads as he liked, this is religion and your twisted atheist logic has nowt to do with it.


I wouldn't be surprised if relics, genuine or not, had healing powers of the placebo kind. But my point is that if we can decide, via rational means, that at least one of John's heads is fake (assuming he was not multi-headed), then the rest of the relics will be open to scrutiny as well. And once scrutinizing starts, if will be relatively easy to dismiss them all as fakes.