Vatican "discovers" Paul's tomb, AGAIN.
Today’s London Telegraph claims: “St Paul’s tomb found under altar.” It told readers that the tomb “has been found under of Rome’s largest churches and the stone coffin will shortly be raised to the surface to allow pilgrims to see it.”
There is nothing new in this. They made this claim a few years ago for the first time. I read a report from a few years ago on it just yesterday. Is the media’s memory so short-term that the Vatican can make the same announcement over and over and get tons of free publicity each time?
Here is a report from February, 2005 saying the same thing (that’s almost two years old). And this report says the tomb was discovered in 2002. I wonder how many times they have announced the discovery of this same tomb. Clearly they announced it in 2002, 2005 and now again in 2006. It’s the same tomb each time. And assume another flurry of press reports on Monday when the Vatican announces the discover again.
All this ignores whether the body is that of Paul or not. A Vatican archaeologist (isn’t a Vatican archaeologist anyone who tries to figure out the Pope’s thinking?) says: “I have no doubt that this is the tomb of St. Paul, as revered by Christians in the fourth century.”
Well, he would say that wouldn’t he? But notice what he said a bit more carefully -- most people won’t. He says he has no doubt it is Paul “AS revered by Christians in the fourth century.” Actually all he is saying is that the tomb he thinks he found was the one which was presented to the public in the 4th century as that of Paul. Remember that would be a few hundred years after Paul died. The only evidence that it is Paul is that in the 4th century people said it was. Remember the faked Shroud of Turin -- same sort of provenance.
So what inspired this search for a relic? Well the Archbishop “was inundated with queries from pilgrims (i.e. tourists) about the whereaboouts of the saint. The same requests have persuaded the Vatican that there is enough demand from tourists to warrant raising the sarcophagus to the surface so that it can be viewed properly.” It’s a Vatican equivalent of a new ride at Disneyland.
Last year the archaeologist, Giorgio Filippi, also said: “The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperoror Theodosius saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostile.”
Theodosius began to rule in 379 which is three hundred years after Paul died. Now do you really think that in the year 379 the Emperor and the Pope made any real effort to determine if this was Paul or not. These are people who made all sorts of absurd claims about saints, miracles, etc.
So they will bring the coffin to the surface and put it on display. Hundreds of thousands of people will rush to the Vatican and light a candle in front of the dead man in the tomb. Each time they light a candle they will drop a little money for the impoverished Vatican. It is no accident they use very short candles for such purposes -- the sooner they have to be replaced the sooner someone else will light it for a fee. No doubt there will be banks of these candles so no tourist misses the opportunity of donating to the Vatican. And come morning the magic money machine of the coffin starts pulling in the cash again.
One Christian website pulls some distortions. It announced the Vatican will announce that archeologists “have positively identified the tomb of St. Paul.” But the sources they cite use words like “may” and “might” nor “is”.
There is little doubt that this man Paul existed. And he is a critical figure in history. After all he is the man who invented Christianity -- really invented it. His letters laid out Christian doctrine. That he never knew Jesus and was in conflict with those who did know Jesus is of little importance in the end. He set the course for what Christians would believe far more than Jesus did.
There really are no tests that can be made to show whether this is Paul or not. It’s not like we can compare DNA samples. There is nothing to link the Paul of 65 A.D. with the body that was presented by Theodosius three hundred years later. In fact there is dispute over when Paul died. It is said he was martyred but his demise is lost in history except for stories. There is no hard evidence as to the date of his death or how he died. There is little doubt that the tomb they are putting on display is the same one that was presented to the public by Theodosius. But nothing really links that tomb with Paul.