I know I promised to write about priest’s’ wives, but it’s Easter and I would like to talk about something else, so next week I’ll continue to talk about the fascinating topic of the possibility of priests in the Amazon basin having wives or of wives having priests, if you are not a chauvinist like me. Fascinating. Can’t wait.
Dear Rev. Know-it-all,
I want to recommend a movie. It’s called “Risen”. (2016 starring Joseph Fiennes) It’s the story of a Roman soldier who is assigned the task of finding the body of Jesus of Nazareth after his tomb is discovered empty. He finds the body sure enough; the problem is that it is alive and walking around.
The movie is excellent archeologically, theologically and really a cliff hanger. The first thing about the movie is that there is no “hill of Calvary”. Jesus is not taken up a hill to be crucified. That’s exactly accurate historically. Jesus was not crucified on a hill far away. He was crucified in a quarry downtown. The traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion was just outside one of the main gates of ancient Jerusalem. Romans didn’t want to waste a perfectly good execution. It was meant to be horrible and very public. The point was, “Do bad things against Roman rule and this is what will happen to you.” The movie is not explicit about the location of the tomb, but the scriptures say that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea in which Jesus was buried was right there in the same abandoned quarry. Therein lays the problem. Because Jesus’ execution was public, his burial and his empty tomb were also public. The movie spins out the theory that they had to find the body in order to end the ridiculous story that Jesus had risen from the dead. That is the central point of the movie. No one can deny the tomb is empty. No one has ever denied the tomb was empty. They just want to explain the empty tomb with anything but a miracle.
Another great point about the movie is its tremendous portrayal of the resurrection. Most people think of the resurrection as resuscitation. Jesus wakes up, stretches, yawns and walks out of the tomb. Risen portrays the resurrection in a completely different way. The resurrection is an EXPLOSION! Jesus doesn’t walk out of the tomb. He explodes out of the tomb. I am sure you know about the Shroud of Turin. It is the most mysterious archeological artifact in existence. It has been the subject of more man hours of scientific research than any other similar artifact and still they cannot quite explain how it was made.
There were radio carbon dating tests in the last century that claimed to date the shroud to the middle ages, but those tests have been pretty much proven to be only those of a medieval patch that was sown on to the cloth. In other words the sample taken from the cloth was not really the cloth. More recent tests of vanillin content and other linen properties date the Shroud to the time of Christ. Whether you claim that the shroud was the burial cloth of Christ or a medieval forgery, you still can’t explain how the burn marks on the cloth were made. That’s what makes up the image, faint burn marks that rest on the top fibrils of the top fibers of the cloth. Take a razor blade, scrape the cloth and the image disappears.
So, there is this perfect negative image of a tortured, spear-pierced, thorn-crowned, crucified Jewish man that couldn’t be really be seen until the invention of photography. The cloth is covered with a kind of limestone dust that comes only from Jerusalem, and soaked with blood and blood serum that was invisible until the invention of ultra-violet lights. There also seem to be coins on the eyes of the fellow that were minted by Pontius Pilate around 29 AD. The cloth is covered with pollen from plants that bloom in spring only in the area of Jerusalem.
So maybe it’s a really, really good medieval forgery, or maybe it’s the real thing. Either way, there is no way to explain exactly what made those burn marks which have such unique photographic properties, including photo negativity and three dimensionality as well as holographic information. Well, there wasn’t until recently.
It seems that an intense explosion of ultraviolet light can make those kinds of marks, at least according to researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) in Italy. The Shroud is far beyond the capability of medieval forgers. "(Our) results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin.” The explosion of intense light would have had to be only billionths of a second in duration to make the marks without destroying the cloth. Furthermore at the present time there aren’t enough lasers in the world to scorch a cloth so instantly with such perfect precision.
So there you have it. The Shroud of Turin was formed by an instantaneous explosion of light brighter than the sun. Another interesting observation comes from Dr. Isabel Piczek, a particle physicist. She holds that the image on the Shroud shows the total absence of gravity. The shroud represents an event horizon. In other words the laws of the universe demand gravity, space and time, a least since the Big Bang in which the universe began. The Shroud seems beyond time, space and gravity. The body represented in the cloth seems to stand outside these physical necessities. I think of the words of the Nicene Creed, “Light from light, True God from true God.” I think, too, of another quote from the Gospel of Luke (16:31) “'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Rev. Know-it all