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article imageArchaeologists discover tomb of Jesus's disciple

By Christopher Szabo     Jul 29, 2011 in World
Izmir - The tomb of a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered by archaeologists in Denizli, western Turkey under a newly-unearthed church in what was once the ‘city of priests’, Hieropolis.
Word Bulletin reported Professor Francesco D'Andria, an Italian archaeologist heading up the dig, said the structure of the tomb as well as inscriptions found on it prove that it belongs to Saint Philip the Apostle, who also died a martyr.
According to the New Testament, Jesus had 12 special followers who were called “apostles”, which means something like “ambassador”. The 12 were Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Mathew, another James (son of Alpheus), Jude, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
(Initially, all Christian believers were called “saints,” but later only those who lived an exemplary life or were martyred for their beliefs were referred to as “saints.”)
D’Andria, who described the find as a “major development” for both archaeology in general and the Christian world in particular, said he expected the tomb would become a major Christian pilgrimage destination.
The traditional sites of three other Apostles are known, Saint Peter in Rome; Saint Andrew in Greece; Saint John and Saint Bartholomew, also in Turkey, and Saint Thomas in India.
The National Catholic Register said Saint Philip preached in Greece, Syria and a region of modern Turkey called Phrygia. While Pope Benedict XVI referred to Saint Philip’s life as having the “characteristics of true witness” to the Christian faith, the report referred to the tomb as Philip’s “alleged” tomb, pointing out it had not yet been opened.
The Wikipedia entry on Saint Philip points out that another Philip, Saint Philip the Evangelist,was confused by early Christian writers with the Apostle Philip and that an apocryphal, or unofficial version, not accepted by Christians, of the Acts of Philip had been written, compounding the confusion.
It points out that Islamic tradition, which accepts Jesus as a prophet and his apostles as “helpers to the work of God,” places Philip in Carthage in North Africa, a long way from Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Gadling Blog casts doubt on the find. Author Sean McClachlan warns that the Catholic Church doesn’t recognise Hieropolis as the traditional place where the Apostle, that is the personal follower of Jesus, died.
So what does it all mean? Is this the tomb of a martyred follower of Jesus Christ? And if so, does this mean the New Testament is true and that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and rose from the dead, offering new life to those who would believe in him.
The answer has to be “no”, because even if irrefutable evidence existed of Jesus’ life, it would remain a matter of faith whether he (or He) rose from the dead. Science, in this case archaeology, is not competent to comment on matters of faith.
Nonetheless, it would be very interesting indeed to find proof that yet another of his 12 special disciples had been found.
At least to those who choose to believe in something.
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