Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shroud News - August 2007

Here, belatedly, is my Shroud of Turin news for August 2007 (see


[Above: "Bust of Christ in the catacomb of Pontianus," Opus Dei Photography.]

also issue Jul-07). I have been so busy writing my paper, "A proposal to radiocarbon- date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin" (which is nearly finished as a first draft) that it was only when I realised that I had better post my September Shroud news this weekend that I realised I had not yet posted my August Shroud news! I will now try to soon post the September news. My comments are bold and in square brackets.

Shroud.com - Major Website Update Posted on July 31, 2007: Review of the Recent National Geographic Channel Documentary [According to Barrie Schwortz, "what started out as a reasonably fair and balanced debate about the Shroud of Turin, finished with a resounding thud"!] New Papers Added to Scientific Papers & Articles Page [This includes a paper, Szarvas, T., et al., "Model experiments and remarks on the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin," which concluded:

"Our model experiments ... on linen samples proved the probability of 14C contamination of the Shroud of Turin resulting in ... exchange reactions, which could influence ... the results of radiocarbon dating of the Shroud."

More evidence that, even if the Shroud originated in the 14th century, it should not have returned a 14th century date (as the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud did), but one even younger!]; ... British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) June 2007 Newsletter [See below.]; ... Shroud Exhibit Opens In the Philippine Islands [As reported on in July's Shroud news.]; ... The Shroud Report - Online Streaming Video Interviews With Shroud Experts [Having watched all these online streaming videos at least once (some many times) I recommend them all.]; New Shroud Books and Book Reviews [Brendan Whiting responds to Ian Wilson's review of his book, "The Shroud Story." I own that book, and while I agree with Wilson's criticisms of Whiting's inclusion of material from Maria Valtorta's visions as though they were historical facts, I still think the book is otherwise a valuable resource, albeit overpriced at $52.00AUD.]; BBC Commissions New Shroud Film [Apparently David Rolfe, producer and director of "The Silent Witness" has been commissioned by the BBC to produce a new film on the Shroud, titled, "The Three Shrouds of Christ."

[Left: "The Silent Witness," David Rolfe's award-winning 1978 documentary on the Shroud.]

The press release implies that it will show "new evidence that challenges the validity of the Carbon 14 technique applied to the Shroud." The BBC has also commissioned Rolfe "to make a special 1 hour HD documentary for Easter 2008 - the 20th Anniversary of the carbon dating."] ...

British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter No. 65 - June 2007:

[Right: The cover of the June 2007 BSTS Newsletter.]

Editorial - by Mark Guscin; Book Reviews - Three reviews by Joanna Emery and Mark Guscin; Author John Loken's Response to BSTS Review of "The Shroud Was the Resurrection" [Loken's response contains a number of fallacies: 1) Christians, in my ~40 years experience, don't describe themselves or other Christians as "devout"; 2) Loken's claim in his book, "The Shroud Was the Resurrection," that the Jerusalem authorities stole Jesus' body and then disposed of it, is one of the weaker (to put it mildly) naturalistic theories to try to explain away the resurrection of Jesus. That is because (as Mark Guscin wrote in his review):

"Why would the authorities steal a dead body when to all effects and purposes Jesus had come to an end? And why would anybody believe in a physical resurrection from the dead just because they saw an image on the burial cloth?"

Also, if the Jerusalem authorities' aim was to prevent the disciples stealing Jesus' body to `fulfil' His predictions that he was going to be resurrected (Mt 26:61; 27:40; Mk 14:58; 15:29; Jn 2:19-20, then removing His body from the tomb was the worst thing they could do, because it would have the opposite effect! And then when Jesus' disciples started claiming that Jesus had been resurrected, the Jerusalem authorities could have admitted what they had done and produced the body or its remains, but they never did. Finally Loken's theory does not really explain Jesus' resurrection appearances to both His followers (Mt 28:8-10,16-20; Mk 16:9-19; Lk 24:13-51; Jn 20:10-29; 21:1-24) as well as to then non-follower James and arch-enemy Paul (1Cor 15:3-8)]; Interview with Mechthild Flury-Lemberg in Oviedo - by Mark Guscin; The Invisible Mending of the Shroud in Theory and Reality - by Mechthild Flury-Lemberg; [Strong, if not conclusive, evidence against the late Ray Rogers' re-weave theory.] The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo by Mark Guscin. [This has the latest information on the Sudarium of Oviedo.]

On "The Physics of Christianity", The Conservative Voice, Timothy Scheiter, August 09, 2007 ... The Physics of Christianity. Doubleday. ... Frank J. Tipler, professor of mathematical physics, University of Tulane, New Orleans, LA ....

[Left: Tipler, F.J., The Physics of Christianity (2007), Amazon.com]

There are many other detailed fascinations of the book. Tipler's treatment of the latest Shroud of Turin evidence, for example, is impressive. I had personally written off the Shroud as a real stretch of credulity, but was impressed with many new facts and arguments surrounding its authenticity as portrayed by the author. ... [I have never read any of Tipler's books (apart from his co-authored with John Barrow, "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle"), the main reason being that, from what I have read, of his earlier book, "The Physics of Immortality," he seems to be attempting the impossible-to prove by advanced physics and mathematics that under his Naturalism (i.e. nature is all there is = there is no supernatural = there is no God) he can have all that Christianity offers, including God and immortality, e.g.:

"immortality and the resurrection of the dead [are] consistent with the known laws of physics, provided by a computer intelligence he ... identifies with God." (Frank J. Tipler, Wikipedia)

I agree with cosmologist "George Ellis's review" of that earlier book " in the journal Nature," [ElIis, G., "Piety in the sky," Nature, Vol. 371, pp.115-115] that it is:

"a masterpiece of pseudoscience ... the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline." (Frank J. Tipler, Wikipedia)

However, I will check out this Tipler's latest book to see what he has about the Shroud.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blog: CreationEvolutionDesign


"But there is one example that is almost spectacularly different. ... one of Rome's least-known catacombs, the Catacomb of S. Ponziano, or St Pontianus. ... Importantly, since the whole catacomb was closed down after AD 820, any decoration inside it almost inevitably has to be of an earlier date. On one wall, slightly damaged, but its colours still fresh, is to be seen a very fine fresco ... of Christ Pantocrator iconographically so close to that of the coins of Justinian II that its date is almost certainly the same, the end of the seventh century. But its real feature of interest is the one which lies between Christ's eyebrows, and would be well nigh impossible to convey on anything as small as a coin. This is a sharply delineated topless square ... exactly corresponding in shape and positioning to that so unnatural mark between the eyebrows on the shroud. Now there can be no question of this feature perhaps being the result of some later tampering with the fresco. ... there are many indications that it was the work of the original seventh-century artist. Throughout the work, for instance, the artist used only a very limited range of colours, and it can be seen to have been painted in one of these. Furthermore, it has been created in fresco, thereby having been made integral to the original wall plaster, and can be adjudged as such by any expert. And if this originality is accepted, its significance in relation to the shroud's date is difficult to over-estimate. Just as the viewing of a single footprint on fresh sand provided for Robinson Crusoe the conclusive evidence that there was another human being ... on his island, so the presence of this topless square on an indisputably seventh/eighth-century fresco virtually demands that the shroud must have been around, somewhere, in some form at this early date. Since that form can have been scarcely other than the `holy face' of Edessa, the shroud's history is effectively established at least as far back as the sixth century, with the Abgar story offering a glimmer of how it may have arrived in Edessa back in the first. Of course, there is one alternative scenario that may occur to the more dogged sceptic. It is the inevitable chicken-and-egg one. Perhaps the hypothetical forger, in addition to his brilliance in creating the photographic quality of the shroud image, and his rendering of its bloodflows with such exactness, also knew of the strange markings on Christ portraits in art, and added these for yet more convincing effect? While such a possibility has to be acknowledged, it is equally important to stress its unconvincingness. As in so much else in his methodology, the hypothetical forger would have been alone among fourteenth-century artists, eastern and western, in taking an interest in these markings. Even in the Byzantine world the incidence of them fell away markedly following the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. Furthermore he would have had more than a little difficulty even finding out about the marking on the Ponziano catacomb fresco, for there seems no evidence that anyone knew of this catacomb's existence from its closure in 820 to the time the Italian archaeologist G. B. de Rossi began systematic excavation of all catacombs in 1852. Effectively, while there is a great deal to suggest that in the seventh/eighth century the Ponziano fresco artist might have taken his inspiration from a `holy face' cloth such as the shroud, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that in the fourteenth century the hypothetical shroud forger would or could have known anything of the Ponziano catacomb. Overall then, we have satisfied all the main requirements for confidence that something answering all the essential characteristics of the shroud was in existence as the `holy face' of Edessa between the sixth century and 1204. We have seen that the idea of Jesus imprinting the likeness of his face on cloth, and the physical existence of a cloth corresponding to this idea, goes back at least as far as the sixth century. We have found that the idea of Jesus imprinting wounds from his dead body (notably the wound in the side) onto this cloth, dates back at least as far as the tenth century. We have established that the idea of Jesus imprinting the full imprint of his body on cloth dates at least as far back as the twelfth century. Not least, we have identified markings that virtually fingerprint the shroud to having been in existence at least as early as the eighth century. Against all this we have been able to add virtually nothing to the credibility of the hypothetical fourteenth-century forger. So was there in the fourteenth century a brilliant unknown individual who transmuted the undeniably pre-existent idea of Jesus imprinting his image on cloth into the extraordinary reality that is the Turin shroud, embodying in it features it was virtually impossible for him to know of? Or could the accuracy of the shroud carbon dating somehow be not quite all that has been claimed of it?" (Wilson, I., "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, 1991, pp.167-169. My emphasis).

6 comments:

LaShawn Pulkoski said...

I am not a scientist but I have eyes. I wish they could explain the lack of distance between the front of the image and the back. I placed a blanket on my head there was an 8-inch gap of where my face would have touched the front and where my head would have touched the back. Looking at the PHOTOs there is less than 2 inches. This is also depicted in most of the artwork that I've seen. I do not doubt that there was one at some time in the past. I would just like someone to explain the lack of distance between the face and the back.

Stephen E. Jones said...

LaShawn

>I am not a scientist but I have eyes. I wish they could explain the
lack of distance between the front of the image and the back.

Thanks for your comment. I am away from my home while it is being painted and so I don't have access to my Shroud books. So this is an answer off the top of my head (no pun intended!).

My first point is that claims of apparent gross anatomical blunders in the Shroud's image (and in this case there may not even be that-see below) argues more in favour of the Shroud's authenticity than the alternative forgery theory.

That is because: 1) other anatomical features of the Shroud (e.g. the wounds, blood-flows, etc) exhibit an accuracy (if not a perfection) that would require an an artistic genius of at least the level a Leonardo da Vinci. But then an artistic genius of at least that level would hardly commit gross anatomical blunders that even an average art student would not make.

2) If there were such apparent major anomalies, that would be evidence that the Shroud's image was formed not by human or normal natural processes, but by some extraordinary or supernatural process, e.g. the image actually is a type of xray originating from within the body (see my CED blog post of 14 May 2007), where distances are less than at the surface, and not from its surface where distances are greater; and/or the image was formed as the linen collapsed downward as Jesus' body was resurrected through it, as proposed by physicist John P. Jackson.

>I placed
a blanket on my head there was an 8-inch gap of where my face would
have touched the front and where my head would have touched the back.

According to this anti-authenticity article, an "8-inch gap" is is fact what exists between the Shroud's front and back head images: "The front and back images of the head are separated by a gap of perhaps 20 cm (8 inches)"!

But as I said, I don't have my books with me, but when I get home I will refer to my large photos of the Shroud and measure the gap and report the result in a further comment.

>Looking at the PHOTOs there is less than 2 inches. This is also
depicted in most of the artwork that I've seen.

See above.

>I do not doubt that
there was one at some time in the past. I would just like someone to
explain the lack of distance between the face and the back.

Hope this has helped.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

LaShawn

Further to my comments above, you may be mistakenly thinking that what is actually a water stain between the front and back head images, is the back of the head image itself.

See this front head image photo with the following comment: "The bright spot on the top of the head (at the bottom of a bowl-shaped line) is from a water stain giving the impression of top-lighting."

See also this head-to-head photo where the water stain between the two head images can be clearly seen.

Having checked my books and the Internet, as far as I can see, no anti-authenticity critic has raised it as a problem that the gap between the front head and back head images is too small.

Stephen E. Jones

LaShawn Pulkoski said...

Yes it does. Thank you. If you look at the photograph they show on TV it dosn't come close.

Thank You

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Jones,

Recently I noticed for the first time your web blog on the Shroud of Turin. Congratulations on your efforts to familiarize more people with the Shroud. I share with you a belief in the authenticity of the Shroud as that of Jesus.

I also noticed your comments there in your August/September Shroud News about me and my recent book, The Shroud Was the Resurrection. Your comments seem to be based on your reading of Mark Guscin's Dec. 2006 BSTS review of my book and on my response to that review in the June 2007 BSTS Newsletter. If you had read the book itself, you might not have made such comments, for many of them are mistaken.

Would you be kind enough to place on your blog my response to your own comments about me and my book? Or at least to summarize them accurately? Here now is my response.

1. You write, Mr. Jones: "Christians - in my 40 years experience, don't describe themselves as 'devout'..."

I would reply that Christians (I am not one) most certainly sometimes do describe themselves as "devout" (one such self-description in a personal letter to me from a prominent member of the Shroud field comes immediately to mind). In any case, the phrase "devout Catholic" is a rather standard one. I never stated that Mr. Guscin called himself a "devout Catholic," merely that he was one. It was a tiny point in my 176 page book, and for Guscin to be upset by it amazes me.

2. You next write, Mr. Jones: "... that the Jerusalem authorities stole Jesus' body and then disposed of it, is one of the weaker ... naturalistic theories to try to explain away the resurrection of Jesus."

I would reply to this statement by saying that the theory is not at all weak, only one of the least explored of all naturalistic theories to explain the empty tomb. I know this for a fact because, once I had conceived the idea and started thinking it through, it took me months of searching to find anyone else out there who had ever even briefly proposed such a thing. My theory is strong, valid, and well elaborated in over two dozen pages of my book.

3. You next write, quoting Guscin's hostile review of my book, "Why would the authorities steal a dead body when to all intents and purposes Jesus had come to an end?"

But as I pointed out in my published response to Mr. Guscin, which you read, I had already answered that question abundantly in my book, the answer being that a dead hero can still be a major inspiration to his followers as a martyr, and that the most important aspect of that martyr status is the knowledge of where that person is buried, so that his/her grave can be honored and worshipped.

4. You next write: "Also, if the Jerusalem authorities' aim was to prevent the disciples stealing Jesus' body to 'fulfill' His predictions that he was going to be resurrected ... then removing his body from the tomb was the worst thing they could do, because it would have the opposite effect."

To this I must reply that I completely agree with you. In fact, I included a lengthy paragraph on that very subject in my book (p. 18). My own paragraph is, by the way, much more specific and comprehensive than your brief statement is. The only problem I have with your objection is that I never claimed in my book that the Jerusalem authorities' aim in removing the body of Jesus from its tomb was to prevent the disciples from falsely claiming a resurrection. I show at length in the book that the notion that Jesus predicted his resurrection from the dead after three days was a later fiction, due to the discovery of the shroud with its image on that third day after his death. So the authorities would not have used that "mock resurrection" excuse to justify posting guards at the tomb. The excuse they would have used was the need to hinder a potentially violent rally at the tomb (it was Passover, and massive excited crowds were in Jerusalem). Mr. Guscin, who read my book, knows very well that I made such statements, and knows that I included that important paragraph on p. 18. You, who have not read my book, are unaware of this, so I don't blame you for the mistake.

5. You next write: "... then, when Jesus' disciples started claiming that Jesus had been resurrected, the Jerusalem authorities could have ... produced the body or its remains...."

To this I must reply , as I stated already in my book, that according to the Acts of the Apostles, the first public declaration of a resurrection of Jesus was made at Pentecost, some seven weeeks after his death, and even then the Jerusalem authorities are not recorded as having heard it or taken any notice of it. Only some indefinite time later (weeks? months?) were the authorities clearly aware of the Christian claims of a resurrection of Jesus, and beat the Christians to stifle that claim. By then, of course, the body of Jesus, if not already destroyed by fire or lime upon its removal from its honorable tomb, would have been at least half-decomposed and entirely unrecognizable if it had been reburied anywhere. So the authorities could not have produced it, or, if they could, they could not have convinced anyone that it was the corpse of Jesus. Anyhow, the Christian sect was a tiny one of only a few dozen people at this point, and nothing to concern the authorities much.

6. Lastly you write: "Finally, Loken's theory does not really explain Jesus' resurrection appearances to both his followers ... as well as to then non-follower James and arch-enemy Paul."

Actually, my book covers all those issues in detail. James may well have been shown the shroud with its mysterious image of his brother on it, an experience that may have converted him to the Christian cause. Or James may have had visions of his brother as risen. Paul was almost certainly converted to the Christian cause by some guilt-induced crisis vision (a blinding "light from heaven" is all he saw, says Acts), which in any case occurred some three long years after the crucifixion of Jesus and is therefore not at all credible as an historical "resurrection appearance" of Jesus.

Mr. Jones, I hope this response has been useful to you and that you will place it on your blog for others to read in the interest of accuracy. Keep up your shroud research. I sincerely wish you the best of luck with it.

John Loken

Stephen E. Jones said...

John

>Dear Mr. Jones,
>
>Recently I noticed for the first time your web blog on the Shroud of Turin. Congratulations on your efforts to familiarize more people with the Shroud. I share with you a belief in the authenticity of the Shroud as that of Jesus.

Thanks for your comment.

>I also noticed your comments there in your August/September Shroud News about me and my recent book, The Shroud Was the Resurrection. Your comments seem to be based on your reading of Mark Guscin's Dec. 2006 BSTS review of my book and on my response to that review in the June 2007 BSTS Newsletter. If you had read the book itself, you might not have made such comments, for many of them are mistaken.

I have indeed not yet read your book: Loken, John, "The Shroud Was The Resurrection : The Body Theft, the Shroud in the Tomb and the Image that inspired a Myth" (2006), but I will eventually buy and read it.

Although it is the second point in my Shroud News comment:

"2) Loken's claim in his book, "The Shroud Was the Resurrection," that the Jerusalem authorities stole Jesus' body and then disposed of it, is one of the weaker (to put it mildly) naturalistic theories to try to explain away the resurrection of Jesus."

it was my main point of criticism of your book. That is, my comments were primarily based on the first paragraph of Mark Guscin's review in of it in the December 2006 BSTS Newsletter :

"The aim of this new book is quite clear from the title - there was no physical resurrection of Christ, and what made the disciples believe in a physical resurrection was nothing less than the image on the Shroud. The body was not in the tomb because some time after the burial but before the visit to the tomb on the Sunday morning the (Jewish) authorities stole the dead body of Christ, fearful that the tomb would become a rallying place for his followers. They either threw the body into a common grave or otherwise disposed of it."

And in your response in the BSTS June 2007 Newsletter , you state:

"I am grateful that Mr. Guscin reviewed the book and especially grateful that his first short paragraph was an accurate one."

>Would you be kind enough to place on your blog my response to your own comments about me and my book? Or at least to summarize them accurately? Here now is my response.
>
>1. You write, Mr. Jones: "Christians - in my 40 years experience, don't describe themselves as 'devout'..."
>
>I would reply that Christians (I am not one) most certainly sometimes do describe themselves as "devout" (one such self-description in a personal letter to me from a prominent member of the Shroud field comes immediately to mind). In any case, the phrase "devout Catholic" is a rather standard one. I never stated that Mr. Guscin called himself a "devout Catholic," merely that he was one. It was a tiny point in my 176 page book, and for Guscin to be upset by it amazes me.

We must agree to disagree, and I stand by my comment. That is, I agree with Mark Guscin's point that labelling him (albeit indirectly) as a "devout Catholic" is an attempt (either consciously or unconsciously) to discredit his views by "suggesting that a person's beliefs automatically disqualify them from serious investigation."

>2. You next write, Mr. Jones: "... that the Jerusalem authorities stole Jesus' body and then disposed of it, is one of the weaker ... naturalistic theories to try to explain away the resurrection of Jesus."
>
>I would reply to this statement by saying that the theory is not at all weak, only one of the least explored of all naturalistic theories to explain the empty tomb. I know this for a fact because, once I had conceived the idea and started thinking it through, it took me months of searching to find anyone else out there who had ever even briefly proposed such a thing. My theory is strong, valid, and well elaborated in over two dozen pages of my book.

Again, we must agree to disagree, and I stand by my comment above. Although Guscin in his review does not mention it, as I mentioned, albeit "lastly" (see below), the strongest argument against your main thesis is that it does not explain the evidence of Jesus' personal appearance on several different occasions to a total of "more than five hundred" of followers:

Lk 24:36-51: While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven."

Jn 20:19-20;24-29: "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. ... Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jn 21:1-14: Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead."

Acts 1:1-4: "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

1Cor 15:3-8."For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

Of course you (or anyone) can simply ignore this evidence and/or superimpose your own personal naturalistic reconstruction ~2000 years after the event over the evidence.

>3. You next write, quoting Guscin's hostile review of my book, "Why would the authorities steal a dead body when to all intents and purposes Jesus had come to an end?"
>
>But as I pointed out in my published response to Mr. Guscin, which you read, I had already answered that question abundantly in my book, the answer being that a dead hero can still be a major inspiration to his followers as a martyr, and that the most important aspect of that martyr status is the knowledge of where that person is buried, so that his/her grave can be honored and worshipped.

Again I agree with Guscin and stand by my comment. The authorities had nothing to fear from Jesus as crucified "dead hero". The only fear they would then have in the case of Jesus would be a claimed resurrected > "dead hero," as in fact the gospel of Matthew records:

Mt 27:62-66: "The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."

>4. You next write: "Also, if the Jerusalem authorities' aim was to prevent the disciples stealing Jesus' body to 'fulfill' His predictions that he was going to be resurrected ... then removing his body from the tomb was the worst thing they could do, because it would have the opposite effect."

>To this I must reply that I completely agree with you. In fact, I included a lengthy paragraph on that very subject in my book (p. 18). My own paragraph is, by the way, much more specific and comprehensive than your brief statement is. The only problem I have with your objection is that I never claimed in my book that the Jerusalem authorities' aim in removing the body of Jesus from its tomb was to prevent the disciples from falsely claiming a resurrection. I show at length in the book that the notion that Jesus predicted his resurrection from the dead after three days was a later fiction, due to the discovery of the shroud with its image on that third day after his death. So the authorities would not have used that "mock resurrection" excuse to justify posting guards at the tomb. The excuse they would have used was the need to hinder a potentially violent rally at the tomb (it was Passover, and massive excited crowds were in Jerusalem). Mr. Guscin, who read my book, knows very well that I made such statements, and knows that I included that important paragraph on p. 18. You, who have not read my book, are unaware of this, so I don't blame you for the mistake.

If you really could "show" "that the notion that Jesus predicted his resurrection from the dead after three days was a later fiction" then you, and your book would be world-famous as the final destroyer of Christianity!

However, the actual Biblical evidence is that Jesus did predict " his resurrection from the dead after three days":

Mt 12:40: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Mk 8:31: "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."

Mk 9:31: "because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise."

Mk 10:34: "who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.""

Jn 2:19-20: "Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"

Mt 26:61: "Finally two came forward and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' " =Mk 14:58: "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.' "

Mt 27:40: "and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"" =Mk 15:29: Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,"

Mt 27:63: "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'"

But again, you are free to ignore this evidence and/or superimpose your own personal naturalistic reconstruction ~2000 years after the event over that evidence.

>5. You next write: "... then, when Jesus' disciples started claiming that Jesus had been resurrected, the Jerusalem authorities could have ... produced the body or its remains...."
>
>To this I must reply , as I stated already in my book, that according to the Acts of the Apostles, the first public declaration of a resurrection of Jesus was made at Pentecost, some seven weeeks after his death, and even then the Jerusalem authorities are not recorded as having heard it or taken any notice of it. Only some indefinite time later (weeks? months?) were the authorities clearly aware of the Christian claims of a resurrection of Jesus, and beat the Christians to stifle that claim. By then, of course, the body of Jesus, if not already destroyed by fire or lime upon its removal from its honorable tomb, would have been at least half-decomposed and entirely unrecognizable if it had been reburied anywhere. So the authorities could not have produced it, or, if they could, they could not have convinced anyone that it was the corpse of Jesus. Anyhow, the Christian sect was a tiny one of only a few dozen people at this point, and nothing to concern the authorities much.

This and your whole thesis is based on "cafeteria theology," which "is the method by which the writer or critic simply picks out of the gospel material what suits his tastes":

"The Cafeteria-Line Approach is the method by which the writer or critic simply picks out of the gospel material what suits his tastes. Again, Cassels commented: `The amazing thing about all these debunk-Jesus books is that they accept as much of the recorded gospels as they find convenient, then ignore or repudiate other parts of the same document which contradict their notions.' [Cassels, Louis. "Debunkers of Jesus Still Trying." Detroit News, 23 June 1973, p.7A] This approach is especially noticeable in those who hold a naturalistic view toward the gospel accounts. Liberal theology of the nineteenth century; for example, tended to accept everything in the gospel narratives except the supernatural elements and any statements supporting the deity of Christ. ... Those who study form and redaction criticism will also observe the cafeteria-line approach in operation. The choices made as to what is `authentic' and what is `unauthentic' in the gospel accounts often are quite arbitrary, based on a preconceived bias, and supported by previous arbitrary conclusions. ... Sometimes popular writers and journalists pick up `scholarly conclusions,' which are primarily opinions supported by cafeteria-line evidence, and they report as fact those conclusions which suit their own tastes add preconceived conclusions." (McDowell, J. & Wilson, B., "He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus ," Here's Life Publishers: San Bernardino CA, Second Printing, 1988, p.322. Emphasis original)

That is, you simply ignore what Matthew's gospel records of the guards reporting "to the chief priests everything that had happened" (my emphasis):

Mt 28:11-15: "While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day."

>6. Lastly you write: "Finally, Loken's theory does not really explain Jesus' resurrection appearances to both his followers ... as well as to then non-follower James and arch-enemy Paul."

>Actually, my book covers all those issues in detail. James may well have been shown the shroud with its mysterious image of his brother on it, an experience that may have converted him to the Christian cause. Or James may have had visions of his brother as risen. Paul was almost certainly converted to the Christian cause by some guilt-induced crisis vision (a blinding "light from heaven" is all he saw, says Acts), which in any case occurred some three long years after the crucifixion of Jesus and is therefore not at all credible as an historical "resurrection appearance" of Jesus.

See above, especially on "cafeteria theology"!

>Mr. Jones, I hope this response has been useful to you and that you will place it on your blog for others to read in the interest of accuracy. Keep up your shroud research. I sincerely wish you the best of luck with it.
>
>John Loken

Thanks.

I will probably eventually include (and answer) your arguments in my Chapter 5 "AGAINST THE SHROUD BEING JESUS' BURIAL SHEET " of my book, "The Shroud of Turin: Burial Sheet of Jesus?."

Stephen E. Jones