imageA reader writes:

I have just read your comments on the side bar of the Shroud of Turin Blog. Are you a practicing Christian or are you needing scientific proof because the Bible contradicts what the scientists are saying.

John 20:5-7 says

"He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen."

This indicates that there was at least three pieces of fabric that Jesus was wrapped in. So my question is "how can the shroud be His"? My faith lies in what the Bible says, not what scientists say.

Have a think about it.

As on a previous occasion in this blog, may I recommend an excellent paper by Diana Fulbright: “A Clean Cloth: What Greek Word Usage Tells Us about the Burial Wrappings of Jesus.” I hope you will find that there is no contradiction.

It is widely believed among biblical scholars that the cloth “which had been around Jesus’ head” was the sudarium used to cover Jesus’ face while he was carried to the tomb, perhaps even while he was being taken down from the cross, and possibly while he was being prepared for burial. Most likely, it would have been removed prior to the use of the shroud for burial and it would have been carefully rolled up and put aside in the tomb. There is another possibility. The cloth around his head may have been a chin band used to keep the jaw closed. Other strips, mentioned in John’s Gospel would have been a few strips of linen used as ties, to respectfully bind hands and feet or to tie a shroud around a body. All of this, including the use of a shroud would have been completely consistent with what we know of how a few people, mostly rich people like Caiaphas, Joseph of Arimathea, or Nichodemus, were buried in tombs in the environs of Jerusalem. None of this is contrary to what it says in the Bible. It conforms, but just not the way we sometimes imagined it or were told it or saw it in pictures. Joe Marino, a very knowledgeable shroud scholar also recommends the following works:

  • Safrai/Stern “Jewish People in the First Century,”
  • Rachel Hachlili (“Jewish funerary customs, practices and rites in the Second Temple period
  • Jürgen K. Zangenberg, “Dry Bones-Heavenly Bliss: Tombs, Post Mortem Existence and Life-After-Death in Ancient Judaism,”
  • (I am, in part, repeating material from an older posting).

Dear reader, I take great comfort that my faith lies in what the Bible says and that it is not contradicted by what scientists say. That is true, as I see it, for the shroud, evolution and the creation of the universe. I suspect we disagree on many ways of understanding, which Christians have done since Peter and Paul. So, now, to answer your specific questions, I am a practicing Christian and I am not needing scientific proof.