The Shroud of Turin

November 27, 2009

Well today we talk about a well discussed hoax and some new developments that have occurred with it. So today we’re going to discuss the Shroud of Turin. For a little background, the Shroud of Turin is a piece of cloth said to have buried with Jesus Christ, and now contains the image of his face imprinted on it.

Here’s a picture of the shroud both the original and the negative where you can see the image of Christ’s face:

Now the authenticity of this piece of cloth has been a subject of hot debate ever since its discovery. The authenticity was thought to be disproven in 1988 when samples of the shroud were taken and tested at different laboratories, each coming to the same conclusion that the shroud if from around the medieval period. Recently though the test results have been disputed claiming that the samples that were taken from the shroud are chemically different from the rest of the shroud. The samples were taken from a corner of the shroud, not the main part because if the shroud was authentic it would be considered sacrilege. The claim is that a technique known as invisible reweaving, something practiced during medieval times, was used to repair the shroud after a fire that occurred during the Middle Ages had damaged it. This actually holds some validity for me, after reading different material on this it seems that it could be possible that sampling was taken from the wrong place, but then of course the obvious solution would be to simply determine the best place to take the samples from and then retest them. It should be noted that theories that the samples were contaminated by the fire or other chemical contamination should be dismissed; the samples were cleaned chemically before testing.

So where does that leave the authenticity of the shroud? Really, we’re basically back at zero. For me the report on the carbon dating does make it seem like it still has a chance to be authentic, but one thing really does it for me to believe it’s a hoax. The simple fact that we have no idea what Jesus actually looked like. No one knows what Jesus really looked like, the images we see now are depictions of him that artists have rendered over the years, with no real accurate account in the bible or elsewhere of what he actually looked like. Therefore even if we do determine that the shroud is from the time of Christ it would still have to be proven that the shroud was buried with Christ in order to authenticate it. I still think it’s possible that it might be, but it’s a very slight possibility.

And to the recent news about the discovery of text on the shroud, the text was proven to be false back in 1999, and according to some opinions is just being used to generate press for the shroud before it goes on display next year.

Link to the study of text on the shroud:


Noah’s Ark

November 23, 2009

Well today I’d like to talk about another important “artifact” that’s been talked about a lot and is considerably one of the most important relics of the Old Testament. I’m talking of course about the big boat itself, Noah’s Ark. One of the major places that they believe Noah’s Ark to be located is Mount Ararat in Turkey.  One of the pieces of evidence that these people put forth is the discovery of metal alloy fittings at the site, said to contain aluminum and titanium alloys, proving they are manmade. The problem with that is of course aluminum was used during the time of the Greeks but the story of Noah should greatly predate that, not to mention the discovery of Titanium didn’t happen until the 1700’s and while iron was also found in the rivets, people didn’t start working with Iron until about 1200 B.C. which would have to been after Noah’s flood. So the fact that Noah used metal rivets doesn’t make any sense from the standpoint of that we don’t find any evidence of the use of metal’s until much later on, long after Noah’s death and the events of the Ark. Other points made seem to be based off of the fact that the Turkish government has recognized the site as the site of the Ark and deemed it a national treasure. Now if your country had a potential tourist attraction in your country that would bring people from around the world would you pass up the opportunity to use it? The Turkish government may actually believe this is the ark but it also seems to have a bias by the fact that it can make some money of this discovery. One of the main problems is the fact that Turkish authorities won’t let them excavate the site to investigate, so no real scientific evidence can be shown about the ark in the first place. Other things uncovered there like petrified wood or animal droppings only point to the fact that wood and animals had been there, not the existence of the ark. The real thing that draws people to this place is the look of the location, which looks like a  long boat.

Here it is:

Really it seems to me like people are just reaching and haven’t really found evidence to support the existence of the Ark. Maybe one day they’ll excavate and we’ll find out the truth, but for now it’s a hoax.

The Titulus

November 17, 2009

So last time as I was talking about the true cross I came across another artifact known as the Titulus Crucis. The Titulus Crucis is the sign that was posted on the cross above Jesus Christ that stated “Jesus of Nazirunus King of the Jews”. Today it is kept in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, former palace of Saint Helen, who I talked about in my last blog post. Now the Titulus is considered by some to be the real deal for a couple of reasons. A man named Carsten Peter Theide, a professor of the New Testament, claims that the writing on the Titulus Crucis is authentic to the Time period of Jesus Christ, being that the spelling of Nazareth dates with the time of Christ and not with later versions of Latin. The first problem is, while that certainly does point in the direction of authenticity, it’s not actual evidence. Right after Constantine’s conversion to Christianity many relics such as pieces of the True Cross and the nails that Jesus was crucified with started popping up as people were forging them to make a profit. Now Theide states that no Christian forger would dare change the inscription written in John 19:19, which says “Jesus of Nazareth The King of the Jews” but the spelling of Nazareth would have been different in Latin by then and that spelling would have been used by John when writing, so most forgers would use that. None of this really gives weight to the argument, it could be argued that a forger who wasn’t Christian but wanted to make some money from Christians wrote it, or the fact that maybe someone at the time of Christ made is just to make a quick buck then. Though my arguments hold about as much water as theirs, there’s also the fact that it was tested in 2002 and dated around 1020 A.D. So really when I look at the evidence they put forward I’m not thoroughly convinced that this is the real deal. There’s no real solid evidence yet to support it, and the evidence that’s there has some obvious holes in it, Theide even calling it circumstantial. Hopefully one day we may find the real deal or this one is proven to be real, but for now I’m calling it a hoax.

Link to the carbon dating report done

The True Cross

November 12, 2009

For my first post I though I’d dive right into it and cover one of the most important relics in Christianity, the True Cross. Now what is the the True Cross? The True Cross is the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on before he was taken off and buried in the tomb. It was first claimed to be discovered a St. Helena roughly three hundred years after the crucifixion, mother of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor. Helena was said to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to have located the site of Golgatha or Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified, and the empty tomb where he was carried after. Although a temple dedicated to Venus had been built by Emperor Hadrian before over the site, Helena had it taken down and began excavation where she discovered the tombs under there, including the tomb of Jesus, and also discovering three crosses, one of them said to be the cross of Jesus Christ himself. Also discovered is a relic called the Titulus , a piece of wood that was engraved with the crimes that Jesus had committed and nailed to the cross with him, said to say “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. Now from there Helena returned to her son Constantine with fragments of the cross, leaving some in the church she built on the site of the Golgatha called Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the rest spread out over the centuries.  The reliquary containing the fragments of the cross still rests in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem as shown in this picture.

Many other reliquaries exist today in different parts of the world though of course the authenticity of them is questioned.

It is interesting though from my readings that while many joke that all the pieces of the true cross brought together could make a battleship, this excerpt taken from Catholic Encyclopedia points out:

The work of Rohault de Fleury, “Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion” (Paris, 1870), deserves more prolonged attention; its author has sought out with great care and learning all the relics of the True Cross, drawn up a catalogue of them, and, thanks to this labour, he has succeeded in showing that, in spite of what various Protestant or Rationalistic Cross brought together again would not only not “be comparable in bulk to a battleship”, but would not reach one-third that of a cross which has been supposed to have been three or four metres in height, with transverse branch of two metres (see above; under I), proportions not at all abnormal (op. cit., 97-179). Here is the calculation of this savant: Supposing theCross to have been of pine-wood, as is believed by the savants who have made a special study of the subject, and giving it a weight of about seventy-five kilograms, we find that the volume of this cross was 178,000,000 cubic millimetres. Now the total known volume of the True Cross, according to the finding of M. Rohault de Fleury, amounts to above 4,000,000 cubic millimetres, allowing the missing part to be as big as we will, the lost parts or the parts the existence of which has been overlooked, we still find ourselves far short of 178,000,000 cubic millimetres, which should make up the True Cross.

While this doesn’t prove that the pieces out there are real I though it was something to point out.

Just for the last part I’m going to link a series of videos uploaded to Youtube from a Australian public access channel documentary called “The Quest for the True Cross” (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5)