Today’s reading: Luke 24:1-27
Regarding Luke’s account of the Resurrection there are some interesting things to note:
First, it is women who first find the tomb empty, learn of the resurrection and deliver the news to the Apostles. This is an important fact, in part because in the first-century women had no legal standing in society. In fact, they were not allowed to give testimony on important events. So the fact that these events are recorded in this manner helps to establish its veracity. The only reason to record it as this way is because that is the way it in fact happened. If the Resurrection was a made up story and its tellers were faking it they would have been much more inclined to have men in the spotlight at this pivotal moment.
Second, notice what is says when Peter arrives. He sees the burial cloth and believes. This is another curious detail and it also helps to establish veracity. If the body had been stolen it would be unlikely that a thief would have unwrapped the decomposing corpse. This detail implies resurrection cannot be explained by a theft of the body. Personally, I believe that the burial cloth of Jesus has been found (or more correctly, was never lost). Early tradition holds that the burial shroud of Jesus was venerated by the first Christians and that they made efforts to move or hide it at various times when they were under threat. It is now on display in a Catholic Church in Turin, Italy. Information on the “Shroud of Turin” can be found at the fantastic website www.shroud.com.
Some interesting facts about the shroud – it is the image of a man who was crucified, crowned with thorns, and pierced in his side. Microscopic pieces of thorns found in the shroud match a species that only grows around Jerusalem. A strip of cloth was torn off down the long axis of the shroud and then painstakingly reattached. It is believed that this is the strip of cloth used to tie up the body for burial. However, if this case the strip wasn’t just sown back and reattached to the shroud but it was carefully rewoven into the cloth. The only reason to so carefully reattach this strip of cloth is if the people who did it believed the shroud to be extremely important.
The image on the shroud contains blood. However, the blood sits only on the topmost layers of the threads. The blood does not soak into the fiber. There is no known way to do this with any method to transfer the image to the shroud from another source. That would require the transferring source be “wet” enough to transfer the image and that would mean that the pigment should be absorbed into the fibers of the shroud. In other words, the image was not painted or pressed on.
In fact, although the image on the Shroud of Turin contains blood the image itself is mostly not blood. It seems to have been “burned” into the shroud with a source of light or radiation. No known technology from the past could produce such an image. In fact, we are only now reaching the level of technological development that can produce the energy necessary to create the shroud image. Further, the image on the shroud actually contains 3D information. In other words, parts of the shroud that were “further away” are fainter. For example, the edge of the neck is dimmer than the point of the nose. It would take remarkably precise instruments to intentionally produce this effect.
About the only confounding factor in establishing the shroud’s authenticity is the carbon dating of the cloth. Carbon dating requires a piece of the shroud, albeit very small, to be burned. The Church allowed this one time. The test produced a date that was much later than the time of Jesus. However, the test failed to account for the history of the shroud. There was once a fire in the Church in which the shroud hung and the shroud was inundated with smoke, which is, of course, burned carbon. When later scientists went back and reviewed the data and accounted for the smoke exposure it produced a date that exactly matched the time of the crucifixion. Around 2013 scientists, using improved equipment retested the remaining fibers from the original source piece and dated the shroud consistent with the era of Christ.
There is much more. I encourage you to visit www.shroud.com By the way, the site is maintained by one of the members of an international team of scientists who were given access to the shroud for testing. He is a devout Jew and absolutely convinced that this is the burial shroud of the historical person known as Jesus of Nazareth.
Tomorrow: Luke 24: 28-53