Bradley Bowen: Craig knows better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence

in the Atheist Channel of Patheos . . . 

imageToday in his blog, The Secular Outpost, Bradley Bowen dissects a book by William Lane Craig, a leading Evangelical apologist and theologian (pictured) on the historical evidence for the Resurrection:

Although Christian apologists bear the burden of proof to show that ‘Jesus actually died on the cross’, William Craig usually ignores this issue in his books, articles, and debates defending the resurrection of Jesus. In my previous post, I pointed out that there is at least one book in which Craig does make a case for the claim that ‘Jesus actually died on the cross.’ Craig makes a very brief attempt at this in The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (hereafter: TSR).

His case is made in just five paragraphs, in a little more than two pages of text. The first paragraph is the longest. We saw previously that Craig makes about 30 different historical claims in the first paragraph, but provides zero historical evidence in support of those claims.

The second paragraph is much shorter than the first, just two sentences:

The Shroud of Turin, whether it is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus or not, illustrates graphically the extent of Jesus’ physical suffering. The image of the man on the cloth is covered front and back with wounds from head to foot, where the flagrum, a multi-thonged Roman whip with metal or bone, had torn apart his flesh, furnishing us a grisly picture of what Jesus must have looked like when He was laid on the cross. (TSR, p.37-38)

Craig knows better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence for the death of Jesus, so he does not do so. Instead, he states that it “illustrates graphically” the wounds that Jesus had “when He was laid on the cross.” So, once again, Craig puts forward some historical claims, with no historical evidence to support those claims. By my count he makes five historical claims (about Jesus) in [that paragraph].

What are the five claims:

1. The front of Jesus’ body was covered with wounds from head to foot, just before he was crucified.
2. The back of Jesus’ body was covered with wounds from head to foot, just before he was crucified.
3. A flagrum is a multi-thonged Roman whip with metal or bone.
4. Some of the wounds on Jesus’ body that resulted from being whipped were deep and serious wounds (“had torn apart his flesh”).
5. The wounds on the front and back of Jesus’ body just prior to his crucifixion, were caused by being whipped with a flagrum.

Talk about overlap and redundancy! Bowen is nit-picking.

Anyways. You might want to read the entire article in three posts:

Why does Craig know better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence for the death of Jesus?

5 thoughts on “Bradley Bowen: Craig knows better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence”

  1. William Lane Craig is surrounded by other Biblical scholars, many of whom are liberal,sceptics, militant atheists, scoffers, cynics and more. He is wise, he is being careful, how can he be dogmatic about the Shroud?

  2. My comment on the thread “Can doubts about the shroud strengthen Christian faith” was “Easier said than done” and cannot be found there. It can also apply in this context.

  3. Craig personally knows Gary Habermas who is an apologist focused on the resurrection and uses the Shroud as an additional evidence. I think it’s likely Craig either just doesn’t feel he has done the research necessary to defend it or he hasn’t felt the need to use the space in his published books defending it.

  4. It’s simply because Craig follows a “Minimal facts approach”, that takes only into account historical data receiving the widest consensus among scholars (Jesus’ crucifixion, Paul’s conversion, the empty tomb, the rapid spread of christianity).
    Therefore he does not need the TS to prove the death of Jesus. Virtually all scholars already agree : Jesus died by crucifixion around 30 AD.

    Craig is familiar with the shroud : “The mystery of the shroud still remains. If it is a forgery nobody knows how it was done. It is so totally unlike medieval paintings of that time. If you’ve ever seen pre-Renaissance paintings, the figures almost look like flat cartoon figures without any perspective, whereas the man on the shroud is anatomically accurate. It’s quite a striking image. So some scholars who’ve been working on this whole shroud thing believe the carbon-14 test may have been skewed in some way because the shroud was damaged by fire around the 1500s. When the nuns repaired the shroud, they may have interwoven cloth into the fabric of the shroud in order to repair tears, patches or rips. It may be where they took the piece, a centimeter square piece of the hem of the shroud, some would suggest, that this may have been part of the repair work on the edge rather than the original fabric. So they want to rerun the test, but the Catholic Church doesn’t permit it because when you carbon date these things it destroys the sample, and so for them it’s destroying this precious relic. It’s sacred so they don’t want people doing it. The Church hasn’t agreed to letting it be done again, but until those carbon dating tests are reversed, I think one can’t say that the shroud is authentic. You would need to have those tests somehow shown to be erroneous. Apart from those tests, the signs of authenticity on the shroud are quite remarkable.”

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