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If CNN Wasn’t Enough, Get Ready for NBC on Easter Sunday

March 6, 2015 3 comments

and eleven more Sundays after that

As reported yesterday on WNDU (University of Notre Dame Television, an NBC affiliate):

Hollywood producer Mark Burnett and his wife, "Touched by an Angel" star Roma Downey, were at Notre Dame in February for a special screening of episode one.

The couple is eager for fans to see the finished product which they describe as "’The Bible’ meets ‘House of Cards’ meets ‘Game of Thrones.’"

The story starts with the crucifixion of Jesus, and covers the first ten chapters of the book of Acts.

Filmed in Morocco with a massive cast and crew, "A.D. The Bible Continues" creators sought to capture the grit of the times with the epic stories woven throughout the Bible.

“But also bringing the Bible story to the screen brings with it a responsibility and we certainly take that very seriously. We worked with scholars and Bible advisers and pastors, priests to make sure we told the story accurately and authentically, and then we pulled from the historian Josephis and other historians at the time to tell the story as authentically as we can.”

The 12-part series starts Easter Sunday.

And CLICK HERE to see the NBC webpage.

Will the shroud be mentioned?

Barrie Schwortz on the CNN Shroud of Turin Program

March 6, 2015 4 comments

“My first impression was that the program’s content was more superficial
than the image on the Shroud!”  — Barrie Schwortz


imageBarrie has joined the ranks of many who are reacting unfavorably to the first episode of Finding Jesus on CNN. He has posted A Brief Review of the Recent CNN Documentary and Further Comments on the Medieval Photograph Theory on the shroud.com website:

I personally hate to write reviews of television programs and usually leave them for others to do, but after weeks of media hype and the controversy created after this program aired, I felt compelled to write a brief review of CNN’s latest “docudrama” on the Shroud of Turin, which premiered Sunday, March 1, 2015, as the first episode in their six part “Finding Jesus” series….

On the experts:

It was also interesting to see who the producers considered to be Shroud “experts.” It was good to see a few familiar faces, like Dr. John Jackson and Mark Guscin, who both appear in the program and who are well known as credible Shroud scholars. (Although Russ Breault was originally interviewed for the program, his comments were not included in the final edited version). However, most of the other “experts” were unfamiliar to me and I could find no evidence that any of them ever actually studied the Shroud themselves. Unfortunately, that happens frequently in Shroud documentaries.

On the carbon dating of the shrouud:

Even more frustrating, when discussing the radiocarbon dating, absolutely no mention was made by anyone of the credible scientific data that exists indicating the single sample chosen for dating was anomalous and not necessarily representative of the entire Shroud. Although that theory is controversial and not accepted by everyone, it was in fact the first research to challenge the radiocarbon dating in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Simply ignoring it does a great disservice to those who dedicated themselves to doing credible scientific research on the Shroud and it certainly makes it more difficult for those who are not as well versed to understand what we truly know. Based on all the e-mails and calls I received, its absence was certainly obvious to most of the viewers of this website, since that was the question they asked me the most.

On the medieval photograph hypothesis:

But the most frustrating part of the program for me was the considerable time spent resurrecting the long ago discarded proto-photography theory presented by South African art historian Nicholas Allen, who claims the Shroud is a medieval photograph. In 2000, I presented a paper at the Sindone 2000 Shroud Conference in Orvieto, Italy, titled, “Is The Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph? A Critical Examination of the Theory” that addressed Allen’s conclusions directly and presented a side-by-side comparison of his results to the image on the Shroud (something Allen never did). I then pointed out the dramatic differences between the two images and you can see them for yourself at the above link.

In addition, Barrie has added a section to the Late Breaking News page for 2015. It reads:

Now that several days have passed and many people have had the opportunity to view the CNN documentary, it is time to look at some reviews of the program. In fact, I received so many letters and phone calls that rather than try and answer them all, I decided to write my own review of the documentary, which you will find linked below. In addition, I am providing a link to a relevant article that addresses certain issues raised in the program and links to other online sources with reviews you might find interesting. So let’s get started:

This is just a small sampling of the many comments posted on various blogs and websites. If you do a little searching, I’m sure you will find a lot more.

Keeping an audience in suspense

March 5, 2015 15 comments

imageBrian Lowry, writing in Variety, figures out what is going on in the first episode of Finding Jesus:

Despite all that’s been reported about the Shroud (including debate over carbon dating conducted in 1988 to determine its age), it’s pretty clear that the program is less concerned with ascertaining whether the artifact is fake than it is with simply keeping an audience that hasn’t read much about it in suspense for as long as possible. Along the way, viewers are treated to what amounts to a Sunday-school recap, courtesy of the various talking heads, regarding what the Bible doesn’t tell us about Jesus and the horrors of crucifixion.

But maybe the producers, writers, talking heads and CNN, itself, realized they couldn’t ascertain whether the artifact is fake. Maybe a news agency is better at understanding this than a so-called history channel or a geographic society.

Categories: Television Tags: ,

Mark Goodacre Answers Carbon Dating Questions on CNN Website

March 5, 2015 216 comments

… and several other questions, too.

To keep up with all the Tweets to Mark click on @goodacre

To follow the continuing dialog on Facebook, visit facebook.com/FindingJesusCNN

imageMark, a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University, is a featured expert in the CNN series, Finding Jesus.

Here are his answers to two carbon dating questions:

Vance Lipsey: Is there a better way to check the shroud than carbon dating? I’ve been told carbon dating is very inaccurate.

Goodacre: Actually, carbon dating is an excellent way to ascertain the date of an artifact. Many are disappointed, not surprisingly, that the shroud dated to between AD 1260 and 1390. I recall my own disappointment (but not surprise) on hearing the results back in 1988. But the scientists doing the carbon dating were not amateurs, and the samples were tested in three separate labs. Moreover, the carbon date cohered with other evidence that the shroud was a medieval forgery, like the fact that there is no evidence of its existence until the 14th century.

Cynthia Restivo: So I know the carbon dating was off, but wasn’t it later shown that the piece of cloth used for the testing was a section that had been repaired after some fire damage or something? Which would explain why it dated different?

Goodacre: No, that’s not been established. Those who defend the authenticity of the shroud often say the sample might have been taken from a part of the shroud that was repaired after it was damaged by fire in the 16th century. But this is special pleading. The scientists who took the sample knew what they were doing. Professor Christopher Ramsey noted that the unusual weave on the sample matched the weave on the rest of the shroud perfectly.

Daily Beast Review of CNN’s Shroud of Turin Episode

March 2, 2015 8 comments

imagePoet and scholar Jay Parini, author of Jesus: The Human Face of God, writing in The Daily Beast, reviews the CNN series and particularly last night’s episode on the Shroud of Turin:

The television version is typical, well, television. The music is overly dramatic. There are trite dramatized scenes of Jesus being arrested and tried, nailed to the cross, his body being wrapped in a shroud, and so forth. These scenes are not, in fact, so much dramatic as illustrative: we get visual representations of what people are talking about. The better moments are those where we get the actual history of the Shroud: its sudden appearance in the middle of the 14th century, its even more stunning acquisition of huge importance to the faithful when, in 1898, an amateur photographer took a picture of the Shroud and a positive image of a man appeared. Was this the actual face of Jesus?

Decades of scientific investigation of the Shroud ensued, with the conclusion by art historian Nicholas Allen in 1988 that the Shroud is a fake but an interesting one that pushes the history of photography back five hundred years. A further series of radiocarbon tests on the Shroud in 1988 suggested that it dated to the 13th or 14th century, although even this has come into question, as scientists go deeper, looking at pollen samples and so forth.

The mystery was really never solved. It was complicated by the Sudarium. A sudarium is simply a piece of cloth (like a handkerchief) put over the face of a recently deceased person, and one of these corresponding to the Shroud itself was found to have ancient origins dating to about 700 CE by radiocarbon testing. But there are many complications, and—to fully understand them—one really needs the companion book. The television version glosses over the details, as it must; yet the details are riveting. By way of conclusion, Fr. Martin says, “When we look at the authenticity of the Shroud, my gut tells me that it’s real.”

Real or fake, to me, seem the wrong categories. Useful or not as aids to faith and spiritual reflection might be better categories.

Full Shroud of Turin Episode of Finding Jesus Available on CNN Website

March 2, 2015 11 comments

Open Discussion About Finding Jesus, Episode One: Examining the Shroud of Turin

March 1, 2015 7 comments
Categories: Television Tags: ,
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