Entries in Oxford University (2)


Bones of John The Baptist Possibly Discovered

Credit: Oxford University(NEW YORK) -- A team of researchers believe a knuckle bone found buried beneath a Bulgarian church may belong to John the Baptist, the New Testament prophet who heralded the ministry of Jesus.

The archaeologists from Oxford University were surprised that the bones dated from the first century AD, the time of John’s life, and the DNA was consistent with a person of Near East heritage.

Scientists cautioned that although the bones discovered in a marble sarcophagus on the remote Black Sea island Sveti Ivan, Bulgarian for John the Baptist, bare intriguing similarities to those belonging to the biblical martyr, it is impossible to conclusively prove they are John’s remains.

“We were surprised when the radiocarbon dating produced this very early age. We had suspected that the bones may have been more recent than this, perhaps from the third or fourth centuries. However, the result from the metacarpal hand bone is clearly consistent with someone who lived in the early first century AD,” said Oxford archaeologist Thomas Higham in a statement.

“Whether that person is John the Baptist is a question that we cannot yet definitely answer and probably never will,” he said.

When first excavating the site two years ago, Bulgarian researchers discovered alongside the sarcophagus another small box made from volcanic ash and bearing an ancient Greek inscription referencing John and his feast day as well as a personal prayer asking God to “help your servant Thomas.”

Researchers believe Thomas may have been the person assigned to transport the relic to the island. They believe the box came from Cappadocia, a region of modern day Turkey. Bulgarian scientists believe the bones themselves may have come from the ancient city of Antioch, where a relic of John’s right hand is believed to have been kept until the tenth century.

There is some historical evidence, researchers say, to support a theory that John’s bones were removed from Jerusalem and brought to Constantinople, called Istanbul today, then the capital of the Roman Empire, in a box resembling the sarcophagus found on Sveti Ivan.

A National Geographic Channel program about the discovery premieres on June 17.

John the Baptist, venerated as a saint in many Christian denominations, was a New Testament Jewish prophet whom Christians believe heralded the ministry of his relative Jesus. According to the Bible he was martyred by decapitation on the orders of King Herod.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Student Pens Letter of Rejection to Oxford

Hemera/Thinkstock(HAMPSHIRE, England) -- Every year, thousands of students are rejected from Oxford, one of the most elite universities in the world. But how many times has Oxford been rejected by a student? The answer is at least once, thanks to Elly Nowell.

“I very much regret to inform you that I will be withdrawing my application,” Nowell, 19, wrote to Oxford’s Magdalen College in a rejection letter that parodied the ones universities send to students who are not admitted.

“I realise you may be disappointed by this decision,” Nowell continued, “but you were in competition with many fantastic universities and following your interview I am afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering.”

Nowell, of Winchester, Hampshire, told the BBC that the school’s interview process made her feel like “the only atheist in a gigantic monastery.”

In the letter, she criticized the school’s choice to hold interviews in “grand formal settings” and the gap she perceived between “minorities and white middle-class students” at the school.

A spokesperson for the college confirmed to ABC News Nowell had rescinded her application and called it a “non-story.”

Last year, 17,000 people applied for a seat at Oxford. Of that number, only a fraction -- 3,200 -- were admitted.

As for Nowell? According to her Facebook, she’s hoping to attend University College London.

“UCL was the first higher education institution in England to accept students of any race or religious or political belief,” she wrote on her page.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio