Luke 23 – Jesus before Pontius Pilate & Disease and Medicine with Ancient Man

I’m sure a lot of people died due to the lack of medical knowledge that most of the doctors had.  The mighty kings and the wealthy could purchase outlandish tombs.

Tomorrow we’re going to look at…

Luke 23
Jesus before Pontius Pilate

1 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.

Medical astrology (traditionally known as Iatromathematics) is an ancient medical system that associates various parts of the body, diseases, and drugs as under the influence of the sun, moon, and planets, along with the twelve astrological signs.

Each of the astrological signs (along with the sun, moon, and planets) is associated with different parts of the human body. The underlying basis for medical astrology, astrology itself, is considered to be a pseudoscience or superstition as there is no scientific basis for its core beliefs.

“Pilate” – the Roman governor had his main headquarters in Caesarea, but he was in Jerusalem during passover to prevent trouble from the large number of Jews assembled for the occasion.

2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

“Perverting the nation” – large crowds followed Jesus, but He was not misleading them or turning them against Rome.

“Saying that he himself is Christ a King” – Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, but not a political or military king, the kind Rome would be anxious to eliminate.

3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.

4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

“Throughout all Jewry” – may here refer to the whole of the land of the Jews (including Galilee) or to the southern section only, where the region of Judea proper was governed by Pilate.

6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.

7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.

“At Jerusalem” – Herod’s main headquarters was in Tiberias on the sea of Galilee; but, like Pilate, he had come to Jerusalem because of the crowds at passover.

Life in the ancient world was risky business. The perils of war, disease, famine and childbirth are a just a few examples of circumstances that contributed to a much lower average lifespan in the ancient world than we have in the modern era.

People in antiquity were no less concerned about the prevention and cure of maladies than they are now, however, and entire cults, sanctuaries and professions dedicated to health dotted the spiritual, physical and professional landscapes of the ancient world.

8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

“Was desirous to see him” – Herod was worried about Jesus’ identity, but there is no record that Jesus ever preached in Tiberias where Herod’s residence was located.

9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.

11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.

12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,

14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:

15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.

16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

“I will therefore chastise him” – although Pilate found Jesus “not guilty” as charged, he was willing to have Him illegally beaten in order to satisfy the chief priests and the people and to warn against any possible trouble in the future.

Scourging, though not intended to kill, was sometimes fatal.

Cancer is a man-made disease fuelled by the excesses of modern life, a study of ancient remains has found.
Tumours were rare until recent times when pollution and poor diet became issues, the review of mummies, fossils and classical literature found.
A greater understanding of its origins could lead to treatments for the disease, which claims more than 150,000 lives a year in the UK.

That’s politics for you. I believe that many, if not all, of the stupid and improper things that Bill Clinton had done were to satisfy Hilary.  Bill has no more guts than Pilate. 

Obama, the stupid and evil things he does is due to peer pressure, i.e., he needs to satisfy everyone because of his insecurities (definitely plural).  We can’t call him narcissistic because he lacks the most important symptom, intelligence.

Old Man Bush has as much wit to run a country as a slug does to fly an airplane.

Baby Bush, he’s just flat out evil.  Evil enough that would throw rocks in a glass house. 

Hilary Clinton makes the Wicked Witch of the West look like a saint.

Nancy Pelosi could be Hilary’s ugly evil twin. 

Michelle Obama, because her husband is president, thinks she has accomplished something.  Who is the biggest racist in the world?  It isn’t Al Sharpton.

Pope Francis isn’t intentionally evil, he’s just in love with himself, but he like all of those above will find himself in hell if he doesn’t leave them altar boys alone and get right with Jesus.

17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:

19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)

By the fifth century B.C., physicians and the god of healing had become intrinsically linked, with Asklepios as the divine patron of the medical profession.

Hippocrates, the most famous physician of antiquity, lived during this time, and medical treatises that he authored would be used as medical textbooks for centuries to come.

From such writings, as well as other inscriptions, we see that ancient physicians knew that lancing, draining and cleaning infected wounds promoted healing, and that they knew of certain herbs that had healing and disinfecting properties.

20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

“Weep for yourselves, and for your children” – here Jesus is talking about the present and future.  Present – because of the terrible suffering to befall Jerusalem some 40 years later when the Romans would besiege the city and utterly destroy the temple.

Future – the time prior to Jesus’ Second Coming, it’s going to get real ugly, but it will be much worse after the rapture.

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhibiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev 12:12).

29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

“Blessed are the barren” – it would be better not to have children than to have them experience such suffering.

30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

“Fall on us” – people would seek escape through destruction in death rather than endure God’s judgment.

Surgical techniques in the ancient world could be surprisingly advanced. The famous Roman physician Galen (c. 129–199 A.D.), who was born in the city of Pergamum near the Asklepion, is generally regarded as the most accomplished medical researcher of the Roman world, and some of his surgical procedures would not be seen again until modern times.

He successfully conducted cataract surgeries by inserting a needle behind the lens of the eye in order to remove the cataract, and his described methods of preparing a clean operating theater reveal a keen awareness of contagion.

While some of Galen’s practices and theories are still followed and praised by physicians today, others, such as his rejection of the stomach wall as having no role in digestion, have been proven by modern science to be erroneous.

31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.

33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

“Calvary” – the Latin word for skull is Calvaria.

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,

37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.

38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

“Veil of the Temple” – the curtain between the holy place and the most holy place.  It’s tearing symbolized Christ’s opening the way directly to God.

Asclepius is a demi-god and best known for medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion.

Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia (the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso (the goddess of the healing process), Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy).

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

54 And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.

55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid.

56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

“Spices and ointments” – yard of cloth and large quantities of spices were used in preparing a body for burial.  “About a hundred pounds” of myrrh and aloes were already used on that first evening.  More was purchased for the return of the women after the Sabbath.

“According to the commandment” – it is clear by this phrase that the Sabbath in question was Saturday, the day the fourth commandment enjoins to be kept holy.  That Christ died on Friday seems beyond question.

Disease and Medicine with Ancient Man

Ancient doctors were few in number, expensive, most lacking in knowledge of effective treatments and, although learned for their time, still quite ignorant and superstitious.

Ancient Greek medicine was a compilation of theories that were constantly expanding through new ideologies and trials.

Many components were considered in Ancient Greek Medicine, intertwining the spiritual with the physical. Specifically, the theories and ideologies from which Ancient Greek Medicine derived included the humors, gender, geographic location, social class, diet, trauma, beliefs, and mind set. Early on, Ancient Greeks believed that illnesses were “divine punishments” and that healing was a “gift from the Gods.” (Cartwright, Mark in “Greek Medicine.”)

As trials continued wherein theories were tested against symptoms and results, Ancient Greek medicine also grew such that the pure spiritual beliefs as to “punishments” and “gifts” were converted to a foundation based in the physical, i.e., cause and effect.

Temples to Asclepius, the Greco-Roman god of healing, were found all over the Mediterranean world. These temples were somewhat like the spas of today; therapy consisted more of rest, massage and a modified diet than of what we would call medicine.

Religion also played a major role. A common healing method was “incubation,” whereby the sick person would sleep in the confines of the temple of Asclepius in the hope of receiving a dream-revelation from the god.

Those who had been healed made special contributions to the temples, which often included plaster reproductions of whatever parts of their bodies had been healed. These were set on display as testimonies to healing power of the god.

The 2nd century orator and chronic invalid Aelius Aristides, in his Sacred Tales, gives us an insight into the need people had for healing and the methods employed to that end.

After falling ill on a journey to Rome and enduring brutal surgery at the hands of Roman doctors, Aristides became a devotee of Asclepius.

The cures prescribed for him in the dreams included bathing in a churning river during winter, pouring mud on himself before sitting in the courtyard of the temple, walking about without shoes all winter and blood-letting from various parts of his body.

It was in such a world that Jesus performed his ministry of healing. Unlike many doctors connected to temples, Jesus healed without charge or fanfare.

Also, He did not follow any specific ritual that might have been regarded as the key to tapping into magical healing power.

Sometimes He would touch a person; in other instances he might place a daub of mud on a blind man’s eyes or simply speak a word.

Prehistoric medicine is any use of medicine from before the invention of writing. As the timing of the invention of writing varies per culture and region, the term “prehistoric medicine” encompasses a wide range of time periods and dates.

The study of prehistoric medicine relies heavily on artifacts and human remains, and on anthropology.

In short, Jesus’ healings pointed to the power of God that dwelled within him; they did not encourage people to seek out rituals for magical healing but were part of his proclamation of the kingdom.

Physical healing pointed always to the restoration of creation.

…Jewish burial places.

Mark 15 – Jesus Before Pontius Pilate & The Shroud of Turin Controversy

Archaeologists have found skeletons that are over a million years old, but would it be possible for clothes to last over 2,000 years? 

Archaeologists have unearthed six ancient skeletons dating back 1.8 million years in the hills of Georgia.
The Georgian bones – which include incredibly well preserved skulls and teeth – are the earliest humans ever found outside Africa.

I would have to say that wouldn’t be very likely.  Yet, in regards to clothing that Jesus wore, certainly because Jesus was and is life.

Remember the lady with the blood disease, how when she touched His garment He knew someone touched Him because power was taken out of His body (Mk 5:21-33).

Everything about Jesus is mysterious and powerful, his touch can heal or even rejuvenate.

Tomorrow we’ll read the last chapter of the Book of Mark and…

Mark 15
Jesus Before Pontius Pilate

1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

“Straightway in the morning” – the working day of a Roman official began at daylight.

Even in Death We Do Not Part.
At Mantua, in an amazing echo of that heartrending story, archaeologists revealed the discovery of a couple locked in a tender embrace, one that has endured for more than 5,000 years.

“Morning” – Friday of Passion Week.

“Held a consultation” – apparently to accuse Jesus before the civil authorities for reason rather than blasphemy (see Lk 23:1-14).

“Pilate” – the Roman governor of Judea from 25 to 36 A.D., whose official residence was in Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast.  (In 1961 archaeologists working at Caesarea unearthed a stone contemporary with Pilate and inscribed with his name).

When he came to Jerusalem, he stayed in the magnificent palace built by Herod the Great, located west and a little south of the temple area.  Mark uses the Latin word “Pretorium” to indicate this palace in v. 16, and it was here that the Roman trial of Jesus took place.

2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.

“Pilate asked him” – judgment in a Roman court was the sole responsibility of the imperial magistrate.

3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

A late 19th-century photograph of the Chapel of the Shroud

4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.

“Answerest thou nothing” – if Jesus made no defense, according to Roman law, Pilate would have to pronounce against Him.

5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled.

6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.

7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.

“Barabbas” – probably a member of the Zealots, a revolutionary Jews group.

“Insurrection” – nothing from other sources is known about this insurrection, or uprising, though Mark speaks of it as if it were well known.  Under the Roman prefects such revolts were common (see Lk 13:1).

8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.

9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

Full length negatives of the shroud.

13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.

14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

“Scourged” – the Romans used a whip made of several strips of leather into which were embedded (near the ends) pieces of bone and lead. 

The Jews limited the number of stripes to a maximum of 40 (in practice to 39 in case of a miscount), but no such limitation was recognized by the Romans, and victims of Roman floggings often didn’t survive.

16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band.

“Pretorium” – the word was used originally of a genera’s tent, or of the headquarters in a military camp.

“The whole band” – the soldiers quartered in the Pretorium were recruited from non-Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land and assigned to the military governor.

17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,

“Purple” – probably an old military cloak whose color suggested royalty.

“Crown of thorns” – made of a prickly plant (the Greek word means simply “briers”), of which there are many in the Holy Land.  Both robe and crown were parts of the mock royal attire placed on Jesus.

18 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!

Station biologique de Roscoff in Brittany, France where the first scientific analysis of the photographs of the shroud was performed by Yves Delage in 1902.

19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.

21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

“A Cyrenian” – Cyrene was an important city of Libya in North Africa that had a large Jews population.

“Alexander and Rufus” – only mentioned by Mark, but referred to in such a way as to suggest that they were known by those to whom Mark wrote.  Rufus may be the same person spoken of in Rom 16:13.  Otherwise, who would care to know the names of this man’s children?

“Bear his cross” – men condemned to death were usually forced to carry a beam of the ross, often weighing 30 or 40 pounds, to the place of crucifixion.  Jesus started out by carrying His (Jn 19:17), but He had been so weakened by flogging that Simon was pressed into service.

22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.

17th-century Russian icon of the Mandylion by Simon Ushakov.

“Place of a skull” – it may have been a small hill (though the Gospels say nothing of a hill) that looked like a skull, or it may have been so named because of the many executions that took place there.

23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

“Crucified” – a Roman means of execution in which the victim was nailed to a cross.  Heavy, wrought-iron nails were driven through the wrists and the heel bones.  If the life of the victim lingered too long, death was hastened by breaking his legs (Jn 19:33).

Archaeologists have discovered the bones of a crucified man, near Jerusalem, dating between 7 and 66 A.D., which shed light on the position of the victim when nailed to the cross. 

Only slaves, the basest of criminals, and offenders who were not Roman citizens were executed in this manner.  First century authors vividly describe the agony and disgrace of being crucified.

25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

A poster advertising the 1898 exhibition of the shroud in Turin.
Secondo Pia’s photograph was taken a few weeks too late to be included in the poster. The image on the poster includes a painted face, not obtained from Pia’s photograph.

26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

“His accusation” – it was customary to write the charge on a wooden board that was carried before the victim as he walked to the place of execution, and then the board was affixed to the cross above his head.  THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The wording of the charge differs slightly in the Gospels, but all agree that Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the king of the Jews.

27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.

“Two thieves” – according to Roman law, robbery was not a capital offense.  Mark’s term must signify men guilty of insurrection, crucified for high treason.

28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Mark doesn’t include many Old Testament quotations, writing as he is for a non-Jewish audience, but these words are from Is 53:12.

29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,

30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

“They that were crucified with him” – one of the criminals later repented and asked to be included in Jesus kingdom (Lk 23:39-43).

The Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, but it’s not for certain.
The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom.
The Garden Tomb is an alternative site to the famous Holy Sepulchre for you to consider the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

The words were spoken in Aramaic, but with some Hebrew characteristics, one of the languages commonly spoken in the Holy Land in Jesus’ day.  They reveal how deeply Jesus felt His abandonment by God as He bore the sins of mankind.

35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

“Elias” – the bystanders mistook the first words of Jesus’s cry (“Eloi, Eloi”) to be a cry for Elijah.  It was commonly believed that Elijah would come in times of critical need to protect the innocent and rescue the righteous.

36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.

37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a Christian church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The ground on which the church stands is venerated by most Christians as where Jesus was crucified. It is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century.

“The loud voice and gave up the ghost” – the strength of the cry indicates that Jesus didn’t die the ordinary death of those crucified who normally suffered long periods of complete agony,  exhaustion and then unconsciousness before dying.

38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

“Vail of the temple” – the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place (Ex 26:31-33).  The tearing of the curtain indicated that Christ had entered heaven itself for us so that we too may now enter God’s very presence (Heb 9:8-10, 12, 10:19-20).

39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

“Arimathaea” – see note on Matt 27:57.

“Kingdom of God” – see note on Matt 3:2.

“Craved the body of Jesus” – He wanted to give Jesus’ a decent burial.  Many criminals didn’t receive such.

44 And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.

“Marveled” – crucified men often lived two or three days before dying and the early death of Jesus was therefore extraordinary.

45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

“He gave the body to Joseph” – the release of the body of one condemned for high treason and especially to one who was not an immediate relative, was quite usually.

46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher.

“Sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock” – Matthew tells us that the tomb belonged to Joseph and that it was new, i.e., it had not been used before (Matt 27:60).  The location of the tomb was in a garden very near the site of the crucifixion (see Jn 19:41).

There is archaeological evidence that the traditional site of the burial of Jesus (the Church of the Holy Sepulture in Jerusalem) was a cemetery during the 1st century A.D.  

However, there is also good evidence that the “Garden Tomb” was also used in the 1st century and that an early church was once constructed over the site as well.

47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

The Shroud of Turin Controversy

No other artifact in the history of scholarship has been the subject of as much debate and study as the Shroud of Turin. This piece of linen cloth is said to bear the front and rear images of a man apparently crucified in Roman fashion. 

His injuries correspond to those suffered by Jesus. Proponents argue that this is the actual burial cloth of Christ, while opponents see to it as a clever hoax.

The History of the Shroud

The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive left, negative right. Negative has been contrast enhanced.

The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino) is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.

There is no consensus yet on exactly how the image was created, and it is believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, despite radiocarbon dating placing its origins in the Medieval period.[1] The image is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color.

The basic historical details, as we know them, are as follows:

– The shroud’s first known appearance was in France in the 1350s.The original owner died in 1356 without having revealed where or how he had acquired the cloth.

– A fire in 1532 damaged the cloth, and repair patches were added.

– It has been housed in Turin since 1578.

– Some theorize that the shroud is the same as the Mandylion, a sacred relic of Constantinople that was said to have borne the divine and miraculous imprint of Jesus’ face.

The Mandylion is said to have been discovered in 525 in Edessa in eastern Turkey. It found its way to the Byzantine capital in 944 A.D.

The shroud disappeared from Constantinople in 1204, when a crusader army looted the city. The leaders of the expedition were French, which could explain the shroud’s westward journey.

Basic Facts About the Shroud

The shroud is a swath of linen cloth measuring 14 feet 3 inches  by 3 feet 7 inches. The figure on the cloth is naked, with hands folded across the pelvic area. He is bearded and between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 1 inch in height. The cloth bears a number of extraordinary features:

– It’s purple stains may be from blood.

– Potsherds or coins may have covered the eyes. Some argue that the outline of a coin from the time of Pontius Pilate is present, but the fabric is so coarse and the image so unclear that substantiation is difficult.

– The image is barely visible up close, and only a rough outline can be discerned by standing farther away. However, when photographed and viewed in negative, the shroud reveals a clear image, formed in such a way that a three-dimensional reconstruction of the man’s appearance is possible.

Full-length image of the Turin Shroud before the 2002 restoration.
The origins of the shroud and its image are the subject of intense debate among theologians, historians and researchers.

Scientific and popular publications have presented diverse arguments for both authenticity and possible methods of forgery. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since been proposed, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis.

– The image, on the very surface of the cloth only, is said to be no more than two fibrils (filaments or fibers) deep.

– It was not painted on. Rather, some of the threads were themselves changed to produce the image. Adherents suggest that at the moment of the resurrection Jesus’ body radiated energy and fixed his image upon the shroud.

– The traces of flogging on the body are said to accurately depict Roman scourging. The 100+ lash marks evident on the image have a dumbbell shape, conceivably reflecting the use of a Roman flagrum.

– The shoulders are said to exhibit abrasions that could have been the result of the victim’s having carried the crossbar of a cross.

– Studies on the soil and pollen preserved in the fibers suggest that the cloth originated in or near Jerusalem.

Recent Developments

Supporters of the shroud’s authenticity argue that no individual in the Middle Ages could have had the expertise to deliberately create such a piece.

In 1988, however, British scientists released the results of carbon 14 testing that dated the cloth to between 1260 and 1390.

The shroud was judged to have been proven a fraud, yet subsequent researchers have argued that the sample for the carbon 14 test was taken from a part of the shroud that had been repaired and not from the original fabric.

In 2002 the shroud underwent substantial restoration, including the removal of the repair patches from 1532.

Some researches fear that this process will limit or invalidate any further testing.

The enigma of the shroud continues. It remains either the most significant archaeological artifact ever found or one of the most ingenious forgeries in history.

A poster advertising the 1898 exhibition of the shroud in Turin.
Secondo Pia’s photograph was taken a few weeks too late to be included in the poster. The image on the poster includes a painted face, not obtained from Pia’s photograph.

It would be something else to find out that the shroud was the actual one that Jesus wore.  And if it is ever proven you know it would be worth millions and millions of dollars, if not billions.

I can’t find anything that states whether the shroud was seamless or not, like the robe Jesus had worn:

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did (Jn 19:23-24). 

…there are some questions about it.