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?

And More Still on the Roman Flagellum and Flagrum

imageYannick Clément writes:

. . . I have found an interesting document that has been posted online years ago by William Meacham concerning the Roman flagellum and flagrum.

It is interesting. It is an entry from the 1874 Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities by Anthony Rich.

Roman Variety

clip_image001Yannick Clément writes by email:

Just like it is a historical fact that the Romans used various positions for crucifixion, it is also a historical fact that they used various types of things at the end of their flagrum. In the case of the Shroud man, the most important thing to note concerning his scourge marks is the fact that, beside a Roman flagrum, there is no other ancient type of whip (coming from Antiquity or Medieval time) that could have leave those types of dumbbell shape marks on almost every parts of his body… If someone can show me a whip that was used during Antiquity or Medieval time in Europe or outside the Roman empire during Antiquity that also had something round at the end of the leather tongues (like a metal ball or an animal bone), I would consider the scourge marks evidence differently. But so far, I have not come across anything of that nature to change my mind…

Goodness me, look what I’ve found

clip_image001. . .  writes Hugh Farey in a comment.


Description in French:

  • Fin Ier siècle après J-C.
    Provenance: Vayson-la-Romaine, France.
    Ancienne collection des années 1950.
    Plusieurs éléments de ce type étaient accrochés à l’extrémité de lanières en cuir, elles-mêmes attachées au bout d’un court manche en bois. Cet instrumen (FLAGRUM ou FLAGELLUM), servait a punir les légionnaires romains.
    TRES RARE et en très bon état de conservation !!! Belle patine "vert-bouteille".

Google Translation to English:

  • Late first century AD.
    Provenance:. Vayson-la-Romaine, France
    . Former collection 1950
    Several elements of this type were hung at the end of leather straps, attached themselves after a short handle wood. This instrumentation (flagrum or flagellum), used to punish the Roman legionaries.
    VERY RARE and in very good condition! Patina "green bottle".

This has followed a discussion in Dissent of the day: I’ll say one thing for Jones


The Dictionary Entry

Stephen Jones on the Stuttgart Psalter

imageStephen Jones has put together a thoughtful posting on the Stuttgart Psalter image of Jesus being flogged:  A 9th century depiction of Christ being scourged naked from behind with the scourgers’ fingers in the shape of the reversed 3 bloodstain on the Shroud!

Do read it. It is nicely done. I should mention, though, I don’t find the configuration of the fingers on a hand of each man doing the scourging very compelling. The whip mark distribution and the fact that Jesus is naked in the picture in a pose that seems shroud inspired is, to my way of thinking, more important.

Berry: Shroud was Scourged, Not the Man. A Critical Look at Faccini and Fanti

imageThis is interesting but I am a long way from thinking Colin Berry is onto something with his posting Shroud Scope 8: 372 impossible scourge marks (surely?) on the Shroud of Turin:

So areas of image intensity which are identified on the F&F [=Barbara Faccini and Giulio Fanti] map as being scourge marks – if not the Type 1 flagrum type – but the Type 2 rod type – can be located on the Shroud Scope image, if somewhat indistinct (F&F used a range of image-enhancement techniques). But they are not confined to the forearm as indicated on the map. They extend onto the fabric. Why should they do that, if the scourge mark is a type of wound that while imaging at least partly on account of seepage of blood, does not bleed so profusely as to create blood trails onto the fabric beyond the immediate image. If the latter occured generally, then many more “scourge marks” would have shown the same propensity to leak beyond the site of the lesion.

However, if scourge marks – or at any rate, some of the 372 of them on the Man in the Shroud – were not on the figure at the time of imaging, but applied directly to the latter, then it is perhaps not surprising that some were misapplied so as to leave imprints beyond the intended area. The risk of the latter occurring would be greatest, needless to say, with a slender limb than with a more extensive part of the anatomy like the chest, back and shoulders.

My next post will look critically at the entire range of alleged scourge and blood markings on the Shroud, and ask the question: “Is the range and presentation of these markings too good to be true – are we seeing clear evidence of a hoax or forgery?”

Be sure to read Faccini and Fanti: New image processing of the Turin Shroud scourge marks

The Passion and the Scourging

imageDavid Winkle writes a thoughtful meditation for a reading from Mark for September 1, 2011* in his blog Sunday Education:

In 2004 my wife and I were among the millions of Christians who packed into theaters to see the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” It is a very powerful film, and it burns indelible images into your mind. Many of the critics of the movie attacked the explicit violence depicted during those last twelve hours of Jesus’ life. (Indeed, in 2005 there was a rerelease of the movie with about five minutes of the most graphic violence removed.) The violence was indeed graphic, but it was also accurate. It was the accuracy and historic truth of it that made it difficult to watch (at least for me). It is one thing to read a sentence that tells us Pilate had Jesus flogged. It is quite another thing to watch it. The same is true for the abuse of Jesus as the soldiers made sport of him.

. . .

imageWhether we want to look or not, the truth is that Jesus was taken and shackled to a post . The soldiers then beat him with a type of whip which is called a flagrum, which had shall lead balls and mutton bones at the ends of the leather straps. These objects were designed to tear the flesh and to cause contusions. The idea was to weaken the victim, in order to shorten the times needed for crucifixion. Although Jewish law limits the number of lashes a person may receive to forty. Roman law had no such limitations. If indeed the Shroud of Turin holds the image of Jesus, he received somewhere between one hundred and one hundred twenty lashes. The soldiers then placed a crown of thorns on his head, dressed him in a purple robe, mocked him, and made sport of him. We may not want to see this or read about it, but it happened.

Or was it about 40 lashes with a flagrum with three thongs? This seems to be the consensus among many shroud researchers. See Not True: The Shroud of Turin and Flagrum Proportions and Measurements Are Identical and More on Flagrum Proportions and Measurements and Now the Side Strip.

* Mark 15:12-21 for Thursday, September 1, 2011 from the Book of Common Prayer Daily Office as commonly used by many Protestant churches. Not to be confused with the Revised Common Lectionary used by the Roman Catholic Church and almost all liturgical Protestant and Anglican churches worldwide.

Passionate Passion – Mark 15:12-21 [Daily Devotional] | Sunday Education