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John the Baptist proof
`Proof' of John the Baptist's existence
By JACQUES PINTO in Kibbutz Tsuba, Israel

A BRITISH archeologist has uncovered a cave in mountains near Jerusalem which he claims is proof that biblical figure John the Baptist existed.

"The first concrete evidence of the existence of John the Baptist has been found on site," said Shimon Gibson.

Mr Gibson, 46, who holds a degree from University College London, said the discovery was "the first archeological proof of the historical veracity of the Gospels".

Other archeologists, however, believe his conclusions go too far.

They say finding an ancient place of worship linked to John the Baptist does not prove that he actually existed.

According to the New Testament, John the Baptist was a prophet and fiery preacher who lived in the mountains between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

A contemporary of Jesus, John called on people to repent for their sins, after which he would baptise them.

The cave, which is located on the grounds of Kibbutz Tsuba just outside Jerusalem, is "about an hour's donkey ride from Ein Kerem, the village where Christian tradition says John was born", Mr Gibson said.

In 1999, Mr Gibson was told about the cave, hidden behind vegetation for years. He discovered a crudely-drawn picture of John the Baptist carved into the limestone walls "dressed in camel hair robes" as described in the Gospel of Matthew. The cave will be opened to the public next year.
Posted on: 2004/12/6 14:03
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