Welcome to Chirstian
Bible Studies
for home study

Here are books & manuscripts by many different authors revealing that truth. A wonderful introduction to studying the Bible.

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Step 1 - Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?

Step 1 - Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?

Step 2 - The Canons of the Bible

Step 3 - Bible Study Guides

Step 4 - Individuali in Religion

Step 5 - Sign of the End of Time

Step 6 -Prophecies in the BIBLE BOOKS of Danie and Revelation

Step 7 - Facts of Faith
NOTE:     To better appreciate this book study the prophecies of Daniel & Revelation first.

Step 8 -- The Sanctuary Service

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ADDITIONAL STUDIES:

1 - "Another Comforter", study on the Holy Spirit

2 - "Saving Faith"

3 - "What is Man" The Gospel in Creation

4 - "A Convicting Jewish Witness", study on the Godhead

5 - "The Place of the Bible
in Education"
- Vs. - Humanism religion as in the modern school system.

6. Bible As History - by Werner Keller - facts brought to light with relation to the Bible account

7. Three Days and Three Nights In the Tomb - study by Ray Cutts - Study on the timeline of the crucifixion of our Lord.

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Bible Search http://bible.gospelcom.net

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Bible Atlas http://www.gregwolf.com
/maps/maps.htm

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May God bless you as you dig for yourself into the treasures of your eternal destiny; into true religion; the truth as it is in Jesus.

2001-2018

 

 

The Bible As History
by Werner Keller

Part 8 of 10

 

p 321 -- DIGGING UP THE NEW TESTAMENT --

SECTION I -- Jesus of Nazareth

Chapter 35 -- PALESTINE ON MARE NOSTRUM -- A Province of the Roman Empire - Greek cities on the Jordan - The New Testament - The governor appears in history - A census every 14 years.

But when the fulness of the time was come God sent forth his son.... - Gal. 4:4

In the wide circle of countries which surround Mare Nostrum,   1   from North Africa and Spain to the shores of Asia Minor, the will of Rome, now mistress of the world, reigned supreme. After the disappearance of the great Semitic empires of the "Fertile Crescent", Palestine was drawn into the new world and shared its destinies. Roman occupation troops enforced the will of Rome in a land which was ruled and exploited by men who were likewise nominees of Rome.

Life in the Roman Empire took on more and more the stamp of Greece: Roman civilisation was to a large extent Greek civilisation: Greek was the world language which united all the subject peoples of the East.

Anyone wandering through Palestine at the turn of the eras might have imagined he was in Greece. Across the Jordan lay out and out Greek cities. The "Ten Cities"' of the gospels (Matt. 4:25; Mk. 5:20) took Athens as their model: they had temples which were sacred to Zeus and Artemis, they had their theatre, their pillared forum, their stadium, their gymnasium and their baths. Greek in architecture as well as in the habits of their citizens were likewise Caesarea, the seat of Pilate's government, which lay on the Mediterranean south of Carmel, Sepphoris and Tiberias, which lay a few miles north of Nazareth on the Lake of Galilee, Caesarea Philippi, built at the foot of Hermon, and likewise Jericho. Only the many small towns and villages in Galilee, as in Judah, had retained their Jewish style of architecture. It was in these genuine Jewish communities that Jesus lived and worked, and nowhere do the Gospel writers speak of his ever having lived in one of the Greek cities but only in their neighbourhood (Mark 7:31).

Nevertheless Greek dress and much of the Greek way of life had long before Jesus' day penetrated into the purely Jewish communities.
1 -- The Roman name for the Mediterranean.
2 --
Greek: Dekapolis.

p 322 -- Natives of Galilee and Judah wore the same sort of clothes as were worn in Alexandria, Rome or Athens. These consisted of tunic and cloak, shoes or sandals, with a hat or a cap as head covering. Furniture included a bed and the Greek habit of reclining at meals was generally adopted.

The Old Testament covers a period of nearly 1,200 years if we reckon from the Exodus from Egypt under Moses, or nearly 2,000 years if we reckon from the time of the patriarchs. The New Testament on the other hand covers a period of less than 100 years. From the beginning of the ministry of Jesus to the end of the Acts of the Apostles is only a little more than thirty years. The Old Testament largely reflects the varied history of the people of Israel; the New Testament is concerned with the life and sayings of a few individuals: it revolves exclusively round the teaching of Jesus, round his disciples and the apostles.

Archaeology cannot produce extensive evidence from the world of the New Testament. For the life of Christ offers nothing that would leave any material traces on this earth: neither royal palaces nor temples, neither victorious campaigns nor burnt cities and country sides. Jesus was essentially a man of peace, he taught the Word of God. Archaeologists have recognised their task to be that of reconstructing his environment and rediscovering the villages and cities where he lived, worked and died. Yet for this purpose they have been given a unique guide. No event out of the whole of Graeco-Roman history, no manuscript of any classical author has come down to posterity in anything like so many ancient copies as the scriptures of the New Testament. They can be numbered in thousands, and the oldest and most venerable among them are only a few decades removed from the time of Christ.

A manuscript containing part of St. John's Gospel, for example, the famous Papyrus Bodmer II, comes from the time of Trajan, the Roman emperor who reigned from A.D. 98- 117. This precious document in Greek script, so far probably the oldest New Testament writing, was discovered by a lucky chance in Egypt in 1935.

And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife... - Luke 2:1-5.

The census is by no means the invention of modern statisticians. Practised in ancient times, it fulfilled then as now two extremely

p 323 -- reasonable purposes. It provided the relevant information firstly for calling up men for military service and secondly for taxation purposes. In subject countries it was the second of these that mostly concerned the Romans.

Without exacting tribute from its foreign possessions, Rome would never have been able on the strength of its own resources to afford the luxury of its much admired magnificent buildings and pleasances, its extravagant way of living, or its expensive system of administering its empire. Roman emperors were able to guarantee their people "Panem et Circenses", "bread and circuses", on a grand scale at no cost to themselves. Egypt had to provide the corn for the free bread. And the great arenas for the games were built by slaves with money derived from tribute.

The census, which was its official name in Rome, was originally held every five years. This five year period even entered the literature of Rome as the "lustrum" and this word enjoyed great favour among Roman writers and in formal speech. Changes in the economy as well as in the constitution, the introduction of immunity from taxation for Roman citizens and the troubles of the later Republican period led to the gradual abandonment of the census. Especially in the later Republican period there was no longer any question of a regular five yearly census. It is true that Augustus revived the census, particularly in the provinces, but even he did not reintroduce it on the old five year basis. It is important to remember this for the dating of the birth of Jesus depends upon it to some extent.

:Cyrenius the governor" was the senator P. Sulpicius Quirinius, who is otherwise known to us from Roman documents. The Emperor Augustus rated highly the outstanding ability of this social climber both as soldier and administrator. He was born in modest circumstances near Tusculum in the Alban hills, a place which was reckoned among the favourite resorts of the noble Roman families.

In A.D. 6 Quirinius went as legate to Syria. Coponius was sent with him from Rome to be the first Procurator of Judaea. Between A.D. 6 and 7 they carried out a census. Can this refer, however, to the census mentioned by St. Luke? In the first place, Luke speaks of an Imperial decree "that all the world should be taxed", i.e. the whole Roman empire. But the census taken in the years 6 and 7 A.D. was merely a provincial one and, secondly, Jesus would then have been born around 7 or 6 B.C. as many believe. According to the Biblical account, the census decreed by Caesar Augustus took place about the year Christ was born. There is no record of a general census throughout the empire in the years 7 and 6 B.C.

Is it possible that St. Luke made a mistake?

For a long time it seemed as if he had. It was only when a fragment of a Roman inscription was discovered at Antioch that the surprising fact

p 324 -- emerged that Quirinius had been in Syria once before on a mission from the Emperor Augustus in the days of Saturninus the pro-consul.

At that time his assignment had been purely military. He led a campaign against the Homonadenses, a tribe in the Taurus mountains in Asia Minor. Quirinius established his seat of government as well as his headquarters in Syria between 10 and 7 B.C. Top

p 325 -- Chapter 36 -- THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM -- A suggestion by Origen - Halley's comet over China - Kepler's observations in Prague - Astronomical tablets found at Sippar-Babylonian astronomers' records - Modern astronomical calculations - December frost in Bethlehem.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him - Matt. 2:1, 2.

International expeditions of astronomers have been regarded as a matter of course for a long time now. Scientists from all countries, laden with special instruments and measuring apparatus, stream into every corner of the globe when there is a total eclipse or some other important astronomical phenomenon to be observed.

For centuries St. Matthew's story of the Messianic star has exercised men's imaginations. Laymen and experts alike have aired their views on the subject and these have found expression in a considerable volume of literature. Anything that has ever moved across the canopy of heaven, as well as much that has only existed in men's imaginations, has been dubbed the "Star of Bethlehem".

That this is a case of a phenomenon in the sky of quite an unusual type is indicated by the Bible in unmistakable terms. Astronomers are the experts in these matters of heavenly phenomena and we should therefore expect from them an explanation which would fit in with modern scientific knowledge.

If we think of a sudden bright light in the sky, we can only reckon with two types, apart from shooting stars: either a comet or an exploding star, technically known as a "nova".

Conjectures of this kind were expressed in early times. Origen, one of the Christian Fathers, who lived in Alexandria about A.D. 200, wrote as follows: "I am of the opinion that the star which appeared to the Wise Men in the east was a new star which had nothing in common with those stars which appear either in the firmament or in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Presumably it belonged to the category of these heavenly fires which appear from time to time and have been given names by the Greeks depending on their shape, either comets, or fiery beams, or starry hosts, or starry tails, or vessels or some such name."

Bright comets, with tails often stretching half across the sky, have

p 326 -- always made a deep impression on men's minds. They were held to portend special events. Is it surprising that this most magnificent of all stellar spectacles should be associated with the idea of the star of the Wise Men of the East? Artists seized upon this attractive motif: in many popular representations of the crib in pictures of the birth of Christ a radiant comet shines over the manger bed of Bethlehem.

Excavations and ancient writings which have come to light have produced astonishingly detailed information about astronomical occurrences stretching back over thousands of years. We now possess notes and observations from Greek, Roman, Babylonian, Egyptian and Chinese sources.

After the assassination of Caesar, shortly after the Ides of March in 44 B.C., a brilliant comet was seen. Seventeen years before the turn of the eras, another extremely bright comet appeared suddenly, and was observed for a whole night in Mediterranean countries. The next dazzling comet to be reported was in the year A.D. 66, shortly before Nero committed suicide.

Between these two there is another account with most precise details, this time from Chinese astronomers. Their observations are recorded in the Wen-hien-thung-khao encyclopaedia of the Chinese scholar Ma Tuan-lin: "In the first year of [the Emperor] Yuen-yen, in the 7th month, on the day Sin-ouei [25 August] a comet was seen in the region of the sky known as Toung-tsing [beside the Mu of the Gemini]. It passed over the Ou-tschoui-heou [Gemini], proceeded from the Ho-su Castor and Pollux] in a northerly direction and then into the group of Hien-youen [the head of Leo] and into the house of Thaiouei [tail of Leo].... On the 56th day it disappeared with the Blue Dragon [Scorpio]. Altogether the comet was observed for 63 days."

This very full account from ancient Chinese sources contains the first description of the famous Halley's comet, that great trailing star which always reappears close to the sun after an interval of seventy-six years. The last time it was seen was between 1909 and 1911. The strange display will be seen again in 1986. For the comet keeps to a strict time schedule on its tremendous elliptical course through space. But it is not always visible and not equally visible everywhere. Thus in the year 12 B.C in China it was an astral phenomenon which could be accurately observed in all its phases. Whereas in the Mediterranean countries, in Mesopotamia and Egypt, there is no mention whatever at that time of a heavenly body of such striking and impressive brilliance.

The same is true of "new stars". These "Novae" are constellations in space which suddenly burst asunder in an atomic explosion of colossal magnitude. Their radiance, which outshines the light of all other stars, is so noticeable and so unusual that it is always remarked upon. About the turn of the eras the blazing light of a new star is only twice mentioned, in 134 B.C. and A.D. 173. None of the old sources and

p 327 -- traditions says anything about a bright comet or a new star in the
Mediterranean world about the year A.D. I.

Shortly before Christmas 1603, on December 17th, the Imperial Mathematician and Astronomer Royal Johannes Kepler was sitting through the night high above the Moldava in the Hradcyn in Prague, observing with his modest telescope the approach of two planets. "Conjunction" is the technical name for the position of two celestial bodies on the same degree of longitude. Sometimes two planets move so close to one another that they have the appearance of a single larger and more brilliant star. That night Saturn and Jupiter had a rendezvous in space within the constellation of Pisces.

Looking through his notes later Kepler suddenly remembered something he had read in the rabbinic writer Abarbanel, referring to an unusual influence which Jewish astrologers were said to have ascribed to this same constellation. Messiah would appear when there was a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the constellation of Pisces.


Conjunction of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in December 1603 according to Kepler. Top

Could it have been the same conjunction at the time of the birth of Christ as Kepler had observed at Christmastide in 1603? Had it announced, as Kepler wrote later, the coming of the real "Star of Bethlehem"? Or was this constellation perhaps itself the "Christmas Star" as some people believed at a still later date with Kepler as their authority?

Kepler checked his calculations again and again. He was a mixture of scholar and quack, astronomer and astrologer, a disciple of those doctrines which had been put in the same class as mixing poisons as far back as the Code of Justinian. The result was a three-fold conjunction within the space of a year. Astronomical calculations gave the year as 7 B.C. According to astrological tables it must have been 6 B.C. Kepler decided in favour of 6 B.C. and dated the conception of Mary consequently 7 B.C.

His fascinating discovery was published in a number of books, but this enlightened genius who established the planetary laws named after him eventually steeped himself overmuch in the realm of mysticism. Consequently Kepler's hypotheses were for a long time rejected and finally disregarded. It was not until the 19th century that astronomers remembered them again.

Finally in 1925 the German scholar P. Schnabel deciphered the

p 328 -- "papers" in Neo-Babylonian cuneiform of a famous professional institute in the ancient world, the School of Astrology at Sippar in Babylonia. Among endless series of prosaic dates of observations he came across a note about the position of the planets in the constellation of Pisces. Jupiter and Saturn are carefully marked in over a period of five months. Reckoned in our calendar the year was 7 B.C.!

Archaeologists and historians have to reconstruct their picture of a bygone age with enormous effort, from monuments and documents, from individual discoveries and broken fragments. It is simpler for the modern astronomer. He can turn back the cosmic clock at will. In his planetarium he can arrange the starry sky exactly as it was thousands of years ago for any given year, any month, even any day. The position of the stars can be calculated backwards with equal precision.

In the year 7 B.C. Jupiter and Saturn did in fact meet in Pisces and, as Kepler had already discovered, they met three times. Mathematical calculations established further that this threefold coniunction of the planets was particular1y clearly visible in the Mediterranean area.

The time-table of this planetary encounter when it is presented in the prosaic dating system of modern astronomical calculations looks something like this:

About the end of February in 7 B.C. the clustering began. Jupiter moved out of the constellation Aquarius towards Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. Since the sun at that time was also in the sign of Pisces its light covered the constellation. It was not until April 12th that both planets rose in Pisces heliacally with a difference of 8 degrees of longitude. "Heliacal" is the word used by astronomers to indicate the first visible rising of a star at daybreak.

On May 29th, visible for fully two hours in the morning sky, the first close encounter took place in the 21st degree of Pisces with a difference of 0 degrees of longitude and of 0.98 degrees of latitude.

The second conjunction took place on October 3rd in the 18th degree of the constellation of Pisces.

On December 4th for the third and last time a close encounter of the planets Jupiter and Saturn took place. This time it was in the 16th degree of Pisces. At the end of January in the year 6 B.C. the planet Jupiter moved out of Pisces into Aries.

"We have seen his star in the east" (Matt. 2:2), said the Wise Men, according to the A.V. The translation is however incorrect, for the words "in the east" are in the original "En te anatole" - the Greek singular - but elsewhere "the east" is represented by "anatolai" - the Greek plural. The singular form "anatole" has, it is maintained,

Third conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 4th in 7 B.C. in the constellation of Pisces. Top

p 329 -- quite a special astronomical significance, in that it implies the observation of the early rising of the star, the so-called heliacal rising. The translators of the Authorised Version could not have known this.

When "en te anatole" is translated properly, Matt. 2:2 reads as follows:

"We have seen his star appear in the first rays of dawn." That would have corresponded exactly with the astronomical facts, if the constellation under discussion, and this, of course, is the big question, was the Star of the Wise Men, the Star of Bethlehem, the Christmas Star. Perhaps the following considerations will help us.

But why this ancient learned expedition of the three Wise Men to Palestine when, as we know, they could see the occurrence just as well in Babylon?

The skygazers of the east in their capacity as astrologers attached a special significance to each star. According to the Chaldeans, Pisces was the sign of the West, the Mediterranean countries: in Jewish tradition it was the sign of Israel, the sign of the Messiah. The constellation of Pisces stood at the end of the sun's old course and at the beginning of its new one. What is more likely than that they saw in it the sign of the end of an old age and the start of a new one?

Jupiter was always thought of by all nations as a lucky star and a royal star. According to old Jewish tradition Saturn was supposed to protect Israel: Tacitus equates him with the god of the Jews. Babylonian astrology reckoned the ringed planet to be the special star of the neighbouring lands of Syria and Palestine.

Since Nebuchadnezzar's time many thousands of Jews had lived in Babylon. Many of them may have studied at the School of Astrology in Sippar. This wonderful encounter of Jupiter with Saturn, guardian of Israel, in the constellation of the "west country", of the Messiah, must have deeply moved the Jewish astrologers. For according to astrological ways of thinking it pointed to the appearance of a mighty king in the west country, the land of their fathers. To experience that in person, to see it with their own eyes, that was the reason for the journey of the wise astronomers from the East.

This is what may have happened: on May 29th in the year 7 B.C. they observed the first encounter of the two planets from the roof of the School of Astrology at Sippar. At that time of year the heat was already unbearable in Mesopotamia. Summer is no time for long and difficult journeys. Besides that, they knew about the second conjunction on October 3rd. They could predict this encounter in advance as accurately as future eclipses of the sun and moon. The fact that October 3rd was the Jewish Day of Atonement may have been taken as an admonition, and at that point they may have started out on their journey.

p 330 -- Travel on the caravan routes even on camels, the swiftest means of transport, was a leisurely affair. If we think in terms of a journey lasting about six weeks, the Wise Men would arrive in Jerusalem towards the end of November.

"Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." "When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him"(Matt. 2:2-3).

For these Eastern astronomers that must have been the first and obvious question, which would however arouse nothing but startled concern in Jerusalem. They knew nothing about schools of astrology in the Holy City.

Herod, the hated tyrant, was alarmed. The announcement of a new-born king brought his sovereignty into question. The people on the other hand were pleasurably startled, as appears from other historical sources. About a year after this conjunction of planets which has just been described, a strong Messianic movement came into being. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, records that about this time a rumour went around that God had decided to bring the rule of the Roman foreigners to an end and that a sign from heaven had announced the coming of a Jewish king. Herod, who had been appointed by the Romans, was in fact not a Jew but an Idumaean.

Herod did not hesitate. He "gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together" and "demanded of them where Christ should be born". They searched through the ancient sacred scriptures of the nation and found the allusion which is contained in the book of the prophet Micah, who had lived 700 years before in the kingdom of Judah: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel ..." (Micah 5:2).

Herod therefore summoned the Wise Men and "sent them to Bethlehem" (Matt. 2:4-8). Since Jupiter and Saturn came together for the third time in the constellation of Pisces on the 4th December, "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" and set out for Bethlehem "and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them" (Matt. 2:10, 9).

On the road to Hebron, 5 miles from Jerusalem, lies the village of "Bet Lahm", which was the old Bethlehem of Judah. The ancient highway, which Abraham had once passed along, lay almost due north and south. At their third conjunction the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared to have dissolved into one great brilliant star. In the twilight of the evening they were visible in a southerly direction, so that the Wise Men of the East on their way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem had the bright star in front of their eyes all the time. As the gospel says, the star actually "went before them".

Every year millions of people all over the world hear the story of the Wise Men of the East. "Star of Bethlehem", a symbol which is always

p 331 -- associated with Christmas, impinges on life in other ways. In biographical dictionaries and on tombstones it has its place beside the date of birth. Top

Christendom celebrates Christmas from December 24-25. Astronomers and historians, secular and ecclesiastical, are however unanimous that December 25 of the year one was not the authentic date of the birth of Christ, neither as regards the year nor the day. The responsibility for this lies at the door of the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus, who made several mistakes and miscalculations. He lived in Rome, and in the year 533 he was instructed to fix the beginning of the new era by working backwards. But he forgot the year zero which should have been inserted between I B.C. and A.D. 1. He also overlooked the four years when the Roman emperor Augustus had reigned under his own name Octavian.

The Biblical tradition gives us this clear indication: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king ... " (Matt, 2:1). We know from numerous contemporary sources who Herod was and when he lived and reigned. In 40 B.C. Herod was designated king of Judaea by the Romans. His reign ended with his death in 4 B.C. Jesus must therefore have been born before 4 B.C. if Matthew's statement is correct.

December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 354 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian   it was recognised as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the "Dies Natalis Invicti", "the birthday of the unconquered", the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival, and therefore a time when the Christians could feel most safe from persecution.

Webmaster note: Regarding Dec.25 - refer to The Two Babylons , by Rev.Alexander Hislop, Ch. III, p.91 "Festivals". Top

Meteorologists as well as historians and astronomers have something of importance to contribute to this question of fixing the date of the birth of Jesus. According to St. Luke: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8).

Meteorologists have made exact recordings of the temperature at Hebron. This spot in the southern part of the highlands of Judah exhibits the same climatic conditions as Bethlehem, which is not far distant. The temperature readings show over a period of three months that the incidence of frost is as follows: December 2.8 degrees; January 1.6 degrees; February 0.1. The first two months have also the greatest rainfall in the year: approximately 6 inches in December, and nearly 8 inches in January. According to all existing information the climate of Palestine has not changed appreciably in the last 2,000 years,
1 --
A.D. 527-565.

p 332 -- consequently modern accurate meteorological observations can be taken as a basis.

At Christmas-time Bethlehem is in the grip of frost, and in the Promised Land no cattle would have been in the fields in that temperature. This fact is borne out by a remark in the Talmud to the effect that in that neighbourhood the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again at the beginning of November. They remained out in the open for almost eight months.

Around Christmas-time nowadays both animals and shepherds are under cover in Palestine.

What St. Luke tells us points therefore to the birth of Jesus as having taken place before the onset of winter, and the description of the brilliant star in St. Matthew's gospel points to the year 7 B.C.

In recent years, several publications dealing with the life of Christ have appeared. They have attracted a good deal of attention although some of them are not from the pens of professional Biblical specialists. We cannot merely disregard them, as some of them provide us with thoroughly prepared collections of material while also presenting us with a reliable assessment of the opinions of the specialists. These publications have not actually produced any new facts, although they have sometimes shed new light on already published material. Yet, in fact, this new light is not really new, for these views have for long been under discussion among the experts. The public has been made aware of these questions, however, by these publications and this is a sufficient reason for not neglecting them.

It will probably not be generally realised that Johannes Kepler himself did not consider the conjunction of the planets Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn, which he had calculated, as the actual "Star of Bethlehem", the "Christmas Star", but merely as its forerunner. For his part he still remained convinced that Jesus was born later and not as early as 7 or 6 B.C. Of course, nobody can guarantee that in the days of Jesus people saw any connection between him and the heavenly phenomenon calculated by Kepler and observed in Babylon. Everything else that can be deduced and has actually been deduced from this heavenly phenomenon and from the fact that it was also noticed in Mesopotamia may indeed be very ingenious, but it remains mere speculation, however brilliant, which in itself lacks all conclusiveness and would require convincing proof in order to be unreservedly accepted as correct.

For the problem of the "assessment" mentioned in Luke 2:1-5 still remains. It is a historical fact that it was made in the year 6/7 after Christ's birth, although with the reservation that during the year in question no general census throughout the empire was made, as Luke asserts, but merely a limited provincial one.

In consequence, of all these facts and considerations, the views

p 333 -- expressed today in regard to the date of the birth of Jesus are much more restrained than was the case a few years ago. The period between the year 7 B.C. (if Kepler's conjunction of planets is to be connected in any way with the birth of Jesus) and the year A.D. 7 (on account of the population census by Quirinius) is the time span in question. Jesus must have been born during this period. It is not possible today to be more specific ...

One thing is remarkable. Towards the end of Herod's reign, about the year 6 B.C., a Messianic dispute between Herod, who regarded himself as a kind of Messiah, and the Pharisees who had other notions about the Messiah, became so acute that the Pharisees predicted Herod's early death, whereupon Herod had the ringleaders executed. This was about the time of Kepler's conjunction of the planets. We naturally do not know whether there were people who believed in the stars and who actually ascribed some Messianic interpretation to this conjunction and whether it was this, among other things, which inflamed people's minds and feelings. That would, however, be a possibility. It would also be possible that the action taken by Herod against his opponents in the Messianic quarrel was the reason why the Evangelist Matthew portrays Herod as a pitiless persecutor of the Messiah who did not even shrink from the Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). Top

p 334 -- Chapter 37 -- NAZARETH IN GALILEE -- Death of King Herod - "The most cruel tyrant" - Unrest in the land - Checking Jerusalem's finances - Sabinus steals the Temple treasures - Varus crucifies 2,000 Jews - " Nazarene" or "Nazarite"?

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.... But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither - Matt. 2 19, 20, 22.

Herod died at the age of seventy in 4 B.C., thirty-six years after Rome had made him king. It is said that immediately after his death there occurred an eclipse of the moon which modern astronomers reckon to have happened on March 13th.

Flavius Josephus passes harsh judgement on him when he comes to write about Herod a few decades later: "He was no king but the most cruel tyrant who ever ascended the throne. He murdered a vast number of people and the lot of those he left alive was so miserable that the dead might count themselves fortunate. He not only tortured his subjects singly but ill treated whole communities. In order to beautify foreign cities he robbed his own, and made gifts to foreign nations which were paid for with Jewish blood. The result was that instead of their former prosperity and time honoured customs the people fell victim to utter poverty and demoralisation. Within a few years the Jews suffered more misery through Herod than their forefathers had done in the long period since they left Babylon and returned under Xerxes."

In thirty-six years hardly a day passed without someone being sentenced to death. Herod spared no one, neither his own family nor his closest friends, neither the priests nor least of all the people. On his list of victims stand the names of the two husbands of his sister Salome, his wife Mariamne and his sons Alexander and Aristobulus. He had his brother-in-law drowned in the Jordan and his mother-in-law Alexandra put out of the way. Two scholars who had torn down the golden Roman eagle from the gateway of the Temple were burned alive.

Hyrcanus the last of the Hasmoneans was killed. Noble families were exterminated root and branch. Many of the Pharisees were done away with. Five days before his death the old man had his son Antipater

p 335 -- assassinated. And that is only a fraction of the crimes of this man who
"ruled like a wild beast".

The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem, which the Bible lays at his door (Matt. 2:16), fits in perfectly with this revolting picture of his character.

After the murder of Antipater, Herod on his death bed made a will in which he nominated three of his younger sons as his successors. Archelaus was to succeed to the kingdom, Herod Antipas and Philip were to be tetrarchs, rulers of Galilee and Peraea, part of Transjordan, and the territory north-east of the Lake of Galilee. Archelaus was acknowledged as king by his family and was acclaimed by Herod's mercenaries-Germans, Gauls and Thracians. But throughout the country the news of the despot's death brought uprisings of a violence which had seldom been seen in Jewry. Their burning hatred of the house of Herod was mingled with their loathing of the Romans.

Instead of lamenting the death of Herod they proclaimed their grief over the deaths of his innocent victims. The people demanded that the learned Jehuda ben Saripha and Mattathias ben Margoloth, who had been burned like torches, should be atoned for. Archelaus replied by sending his troops to Jerusalem. Three thousand people were butchered on one day alone. The courts of the Temple were strewn with corpses. This first act of Archelaus revealed at one stroke the true character of the man-Herod's son yielded nothing to his father in cruelty and in justice.

However, the will had to be approved by the Emperor Augustus. Archelaus and Herod Antipas accordingly set out for Rome one after the other. At the same time fifty of the elders representing the people of Israel hastened to Augustus to beseech him to rid them of this "monarchy". In the absence of the Herodians the unrest assumed more serious proportions. As a security measure a Roman legion was despatched to Jerusalem. Right in the midst of this turmoil, as luck would have it, there arrived one of the hated Romans in the person of Sabinus, agent of the Imperial Treasury. Disregarding all warnings he took up his abode in Herod's palace and proceeded to audit the taxes and tribute of Judaea.

Masses of pilgrims were streaming into the Holy City for the Feast of Weeks. Bloody clashes ensued. Bitter fighting broke out in the Temple area. Stones were thrown at the Roman troops. They set fire to the arcades, then rushed into the Temple and pillaged all they could lay hands on. Sabinus himself relieved the Temple treasury of 400 talents. At which point he had to retreat precipitately to the palace and barricade himself in.

.Revolt spread from Jerusalem through the country like wildfire. The royal palaces of Judaea were plundered and set ablaze. The governor of Syria hastened to the scene with a powerful Roman army strengthened

p 336 -- with troops from Beirut and Arabia. As soon as the marching columns appeared in sight of Jerusalem the rebels fled. They were pursued and captured in droves.

Two thousand men were crucified.

The Roman governor of Syria who issued this order wrote his name in the history books through a decisive defeat which he suffered in A.D. 9. He was Quintilius Varus, who was posted from Syria to Germany, and lost the battle of the Teutoburgian Forest. Top

This was the terrifying situation when Joseph, on his way back from Egypt, "heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod". It was for this reason that "he was afraid to go thither".

King Herod is one of those figures in world history whom we know only from what their adversaries said about them. The impression created is correspondingly sinister. It is confirmed by the account of the Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). At the same time, however, it must be remembered that we have here an example of the widespread literary motive of the chosen child, who for that very reason is exposed to danger - a motive that was attached to a number of prominent figures in antiquity, to Sargon of Akkad, Moses, Cyrus the Great and even to the Emperor Augustus as well as to such mythical characters as Oedipus whom his father Laius maimed and rejected.

We have consequently become much more cautious nowadays in regard to our views on the historicity of the Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem. Today we look upon the doubtful story rather as an attempt, prompted by the mentality of those days and using the methods current at the time, to emphasise the importance of Jesus. In so doing, matters such as the historicity of the measures taken by Herod in his quarrel with the Pharisees concerning the Messiah form an additional factor (cf. the end of the preceding chapter). Furthermore, the story of the Massacre of the Innocents linked Jesus with Moses who, as the Bible tells us, miraculously escaped from similar persecution by the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 1:15 - 2:10). Herod's persecution of Jesus fits in very well with the flight of Joseph, Mary and the child to Egypt, for which the Evangelist gives as the real reason: "... that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son (Matthew 2:15. Cf. also Hosea 11:1). This constitutes another reference to Moses whose name can mean "son" in Egyptian. On the other hand, there is absolutely no historical or archaeological proof of the flight to Egypt any more than there is for Jesus' stay in Nazareth.

Strictly speaking, the term "Nazarene" is capable of more than one interpretation. Although it means "man from Nazareth", there may also be a punning intention on the Hebrew word nezer which means twig" or "rod" (cf. Isaiah 11;1: "... a rod out of the stem of Jesse"). The word "Nazarene" occurs in Matthew in connection with a

p 337 -- promise: "... that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23). This does not make matters any easier, for to which words Matthew is referring, if not to the words quoted from Isaiah, is not clear. Perhaps a certain echo of the appellation Nazarite ("consecrated by or dedicated to God") is intended, although this presents certain philological difficulties. Nazarite is a descriptive term, earlier applied to Samson (Judges 13:5 and 7, also 16:17) which demanded of him who claimed to be one, a certain asceticism, such as the observance of a number of taboos. Again there is uncertainty and it cannot be denied that more than one specialist considers the statements in the Gospels regarding the birth-place of Jesus as emanations from the fantasy of the Gospel writers who, not properly understanding the word, simply changed it to Nazarene. Mark Lidzbarski has even asserted that a place called Nazareth did not exist in the time of Jesus. It can be objected, however, even if we do not know what Nazareth was called in Jesus' day, that occupation of this spot, if by "occupation" we mean living in wretched caves, was continuous from about 900 B.C. to about A.D. 600, as has been shown by the unearthing of small objects among which are a number dating from the time of King Herod the Great (40 or 37-4 B.C.). The somewhat deprecatory words of Nathanael (John 1:46): "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" may well refer to the wretchedness of the place in those days, although the Bible calls it a "town". There is no reference to Jesus, Mary or Joseph. The spring in Nazareth where women still draw water in pitchers as they did in the time of Jesus is not on record under the name "Mary's spring or fountain" before the 11th century .... Top

p 338 -- Chapter 38 -- JOHN THE BAPTIST -- The witness of Josephus -A forbidden marriage - Herod Antipas orders an arrest - The castle of Machaerus in Moab - The dungeon of death - Princess Salome - Capernaum "on the sea" - Ruins in a eucalyptus grove - The place where Jesus taught.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, unto John, to be baptised of him - Matt. 3:13.

This was the event which took Jesus for the first time from his Nazareth home. After the years of childhood and youth, about which we are told almost nothing, he stepped on to the stage for his public ministry. "And Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23 - R.V.).

John preached and baptised in the Jordan valley south of Jericho, where the river is crossed by the well-known ford. He was therefore in the territory of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch appointed by Rome.

Apart from his baptism of Jesus, it is principally through his tragic end that John has become known throughout the world. He was beheaded.

Specialists are puzzled by many questions concerning him. What was his attitude towards the Essenes who left behind them the famous Dead Sea scrolls in Qumran? Was he perhaps a Nazarite, as the Old Testament calls the sort of person, like the hero Samson, who had dedicated himself entirely to God and as a sign of this observed certain taboos? And was he really the forerunner of Jesus as the New Testament describes him? What part did he play in the Messianic movements of his day? Did he consider himself, or did people consider him perhaps as a kind of Messiah? Was he perhaps, as has been suggested, a sort of rival to Jesus whom the Jesus tradition has appropriated and remodelled as the forerunner of Jesus?

Did the godly Baptist, who appears at the decisive turning point in Jesus' life, exist at all? His contemporary, Josephus, tells us that John was a high-minded man "who urged the Jews to strive towards perfection and exhorted them to deal justly with one another and walk humbly with God and to present themselves for baptism. As they flocked to him from all directions Herod Antipas began to be alarmed lest the influence of such a man might lead to disturbances. In conse-

p 339 -- quence of Herod's suspicions John was put in chains, sent to the castle of Machaerus and there beheaded."

"For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him and put him in prison for Herodias' sake..." (Matt. 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19). According to the Gospels this was the reason for John's arrest. Josephus has some more background detail to offer:

In the course of a trip to Rome Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great got to know Herodias, his brother's wife, and was so much attracted by her that he ventured a proposal of marriage. Herodias agreed and brought with her into the marriage her daughter Salome.

According to Mosaic law marriage with a sister-in-law was forbidden and - according to the gospels - John the Baptist denounced it, an offence which in the eyes of the enraged Herodias could only be expiated by his death.

Josephus puts the event in a concrete historical setting, the castle of Machaerus, one of the numerous strongholds which Herod the Great had built in Palestine.

Machaerus, the place where John forfeited his life, lies in dark and rugged country on the east side of the Dead Sea. No road links this isolated spot with the outside world. Narrow paths lead up from the valley of the Jordan into the bare and desolate mountains of what was once Moab. In the deep wadis a few Bedouin families wander with their flocks over the scanty rough grass.

Not far from the river Arnon one lofty peak rises above the round humps of the other mountains. Its summit, which is swept by chill winds, is still crowned with ruins. "El Mashnaka", "The Hanging Palace", is what the Bedouins call this deserted place. This was the fortress of Machaerus. Far to the north can be seen with the naked eye the part of the Jordan valley where John baptised the people and where he was arrested.

So far no excavations have been carried out among the ruins of "El Mashnaka" and few have visited the lonely spot at all. Below the summit the rock-face is at one point hollowed out to a considerable depth. Narrow passages lead into a large vaulted chamber which from time to time provides shelter for nomads and their flocks when sudden storms take them by surprise among the mountains of Moab. From the carefully shaped walls it is obvious that this was once the castle dungeon. This gloomy vault sheltered John the Baptist after his arrest. It is probable that he was beheaded here, if the statement of Josephus is correct, for according to Mark 6:17ff the execution evidently took place in Galilee, presumably in the new palace which had recently been constructed by Herod Antipas at Tiberias on the Lake of Galilee.

Anyone who has heard of the beheading of John associates automatically with it the name of Salome, and thinks at once of the daughter of Herodias who at her mother's behest is said to have asked for the

p 340 -- head of John as a reward for her dancing. This Salome has taken her place in the literature of the world. Oscar Wilde wrote a play "Salome", Richard Strauss made the story of this Jewish princess the theme of his famous opera "Salome", even Hollywood has used the story of Salome as the subject of one of its epoch-making films.

But in the New Testament we may search in vain for the name of this princess. The Bible makes no mentioh of Salome. In the story of John the Baptist she is simply called the "daughter of Herodias" (Mark 6:22).

It is Josephus who has told us the name of this "daughter of Herodias". A small coin has preserved her appearance for posterity. She is depicted on it with her husband Aristobulus. The coin bears the inscription "King Aristobulus - Queen Salome". Salome must have been still a girl when John the Baptist was beheaded - about nineteen years old.

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison he departed into Galilee: and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of ZabuIon and Nephthalim - Matt. 4:12,13.

During the short course of Jesus' ministry, which according to the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke cannot have lasted more than a year and a half, one place always takes priority. Matthew indeed on one occasion calls it "his own city" (Matt. 9:1): Capernaum on the Lake of Galilee.

At the north end, not far from the spot where the fast running waters of the Jordan pour into the lake, the shore curves into a small bay. Out of the dark greenness of eucalyptus bushes comes a glint of white stone flags with four pillars rising out of them. Tufts of grass sprout from between the paving stones of the courtyard, shattered columns and blocks of basalt with carved ornamentation lie strewn around. All that remains of what was once the entrance are the broad steps of a staircase, the last remnants of a one-time splendid synagogue.

That is all that is left to bear witness to ancient Capernaum.

In 1916 the German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger discovered hidden under rubble and overgrown with grass the fragmentary remains of this edifice. Franciscans rebuilt part of the old facade out of the ruins. The walls of the original building consisted of white limestone: on three sides it was surrounded by rows of tall pillars. The interior, measuring 80 x 50 feet, was decorated with sculptures of palms, vine branches, lions and centaurs. From there the view through a large window ranged southwards over the broad surface of the lake to where Jerusalem lay behind the pale blue outlines of distant hills.

Both archaeologists were convinced that they had found the synagogue of Capernaum dating from the time of Christ. But in the whole of Palestine there is not one synagogue left from those days.

p 341 -- When the Romans in two bloody wars razed Jerusalem to the ground and the inhabitants of the ancient country were scattered to the four winds, their sanctuaries also fell a prey to destruction.

This building came into being for the first time about A.D. 200 on top of the ruins and foundations of the synagogue in which Jesus often stood and taught on the Sabbath day: "And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught" (Mark 1:21).

Most of the inhabitants of the little town of Capernaum lived on the natural riches of the lake: huts and houses in large numbers nestled quietly on the gentle slopes or surrounded the synagogue. On the day when Jesus came from Nazareth to Capernaum he took the first decisive step towards proclaiming his message: "Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them: Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1:16-17). He met another pair of brothers, James and John, as they were mending their nets. The first people to listen to his words, to accept his teaching and to become his disciples, were simple men, fishermen of Galilee.

Jesus often wandered up from the lake into the Galilean hills, and preached in many of the towns and villages, but always returned to the little fishing town: it remained the main centre of his mission. And when one day he left Capernaum and set out with twelve disciples for Jerusalem, it was his last journey. Top

p 342 -- Chapter 39 -- THE LAST JOURNEY, TRIAL AND CRUCIFIXION -- Detour through Transjordan - The tax-collector of Jericho - View from the Mount of Olives - Arrest on the Mount of Olives - The "clubs" of the high priests - The Procurator Pontius Pilate - Vincent discovers the "Pavement" - Scourging in the courtyard of the Antonia - "The most cruel form of execution" - A crown of Syrian Christ-thorn - A drink to stupify - Heart failure as the cause of death - Crurifragium hastens the end - A solitary tomb under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Tacitus mentions "Christus" - The evidence of Suetonius.

Then he took unto him the twelve and said unto them, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished - Luke 18:31.

Out of all the journeys that Jesus undertook in his lifetime, one can be traced without difficulty - his last journey through Palestine, the journey from Capernaum to Jerusalem.

He went a long way round to get there. The shortest route from Galilee to the Holy City lies directly south through the hills of Samaria. The path keeps to the hills, over the tops of Gerizim and Ebal, the site of ancient Shechem, and then on through Bethel into the heart of Judah, along the old high road which Abraham followed with his family and his flocks.

It took three days to make this journey on foot from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Jesus too would have chosen this road through Samaria (Luke 9:51-56). But since the anti-Jewish feeling among the Samaritans was well known it seemed doubtful to him whether they would permit his little company to pass through their territory. To make sure, he sent his disciples James and John in advance. And indeed the Samaritans refused permission.

Jesus and his disciples therefore went by way of "the borders of Judaea and beyond Jordan" (Mark 10:1 - R.V.). The road goes down-stream through the middle of the wide and torrid valley, where the banks alone are fringed with tropical growth, with little clumps of tamarisks and poplars, with castor oil and liquorice trees. There is solitude and stillness in the "pride of Jordan" (Zech.11:3'; Jer. 12:5) . For

p 343 -- the valley, which for nine months of the year is as sultry as the tropics, is but thinly populated.

At the ancient ford, where once the children of Israel under Joshua's leadership had passed over in safety, Jesus crossed the Jordan and arrived in Jericho (Luke 19:1). It was no longer the fortified city of old Canaan, entrenched behind its walls. On the south side of the hill lay a new up to date city, built by Herod the Great, a gem of Graeco-Roman architecture. At. the foot of the citadel called Cyprus, a magnificent palace had arisen. A theatre, an amphitheatre, cut into the hillside, and a circus, all adorned with dazzling white pillars, sparkled in the sunlight. Magnificent fountains played in the luxuriant gardens with their massed banks of flowers. Outside the town stretched the balsam plantations - the most precious plants in the whole of the Mediterranean land - while deep palm groves offered coolness and shade.

Jesus spent the night in Jericho in the house of the Jewish tax-collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2ff), far away from all this magnificence. He could not have avoided Jericho, which was a centre of Greek paganism. For the road to Jerusalem led through the city.

It is 23 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem. Twenty-three miles of dusty road winding and twisting between steep and almost barren cliffs nearly 4,000 feet high. Hardly anywhere else in the world can there be a stronger contrast than this short stretch of road affords. Straight from the wonderfully luxuriant growth and the sheer unbearable heat of a tropical sun by the Jordan's banks, one is whisked into the chill air of forbidding and barren mountain peaks.

This was the road, like a prelude to the end, which Jesus followed with his disciples a week before the Passover. This was the time when Jews from far and near flocked to celebrate the feast in the Holy City.

At the highest point on the road, which is almost at the end of the journey, the Holy City emerges from behind the top of the Mount of Olives as if some wizard had conjured it out of the hills. The view that Jerusalem presented to Jesus and the disciples can be imagined from a contemporary description:

"Anyone who has not seen Jerusalem in all its beauty has never beheld a great and lovely city in all his life: and anyone who has not seen the structure of the second Temple has never seen an impressive building in his life." This was the proud verdict of the Jewish rabbis of the time.

Research into the appearance of old Jerusalem has been summed up by Garstang in the following words: "At no point in their history can the Temple and the city have presented a more wonderful picture. The rhythm and harmony of Graeco-Roman art, which stood out so marvellously against the eastern sky, repressed the extravagant architectural tendencies of Herod, and brought order and good taste into the traditional chaos of the city."

p 344 -- The great walls towered 250 feet high above the valley. Behind their battlements rose the contours of mighty edifices from a constricted chequer-board of houses, streets and alleys.

Immediately opposite the Mount of Olives lay the Temple, right in the foreground, and outshining all other buildings in its magnificence. Its facade 150 feet high and of equal breadth, faced eastward and consisted entirely of light marble. Its decorations were of pure gold. Pillared colonnades hemmed in the spacious courts and vestibules. The crowning glory was however the Tabernacle in the centre, sparkling "like a snow capped mountain", to quote Josephus' words.

Directly on the north-west side of the Temple wall rose the Tower of Antonia, perched on a rocky eminence. Each of its four great corner turrets measured nearly 120 feet high. A viaduct led from the south side of the Temple area to the palace of the Hasmoneans in the upper city. At the highest point in the city stood Herod's palace by the west wall, likewise surmounted by three towers 130, 100 and 80 feet high. Herod had named them Hippicus, Phasael and Mariamne. From this point a thick wall ran through the sea of houses to the Temple area, thus dividing the heart of the city once more into two sections.

There is an indomitable air about this city with its multiplicity of fortifications, walls and towers surrounding its Temple. As the sight-seer looks over Jerusalem he almost feels that he is breathing in its obstinacy, rigidity and inflexibility. It was these very attributes of obstinacy, rigidity and inflexibility which helped Israel for more than 1,000 years to stand out against every world-power. Obstinacy, rigidity and inflexibility were also responsible for the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the ejection of Israel from the land of their fathers.

Jesus predicted the future fate of Jerusalem. "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it" (Luke 19:41). Top

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. ... And so Pilate willing to content the people ... delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified - Mark 15:1, 15.

The descriptions of the trial, sentence and crucifixion in the four Gospels have been checked with scientific thoroughness by many scholars and have been found to be historically reliable accounts even to the last detail. The chief witnesses for the prosecution against Jesus have been indirectly attested and the place where sentence was pronounced has been accurately ascertained by excavations. The various incidents in the course of the trial can be verified from contemporary sources and modern research.

With the arrest the incomparable tragedy began to unfold. Jesus had gathered his disciples round him in the Garden of Gethsemane on the

p 345 -- Mount of Olives, "and immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders" (Mark 14:43).

A taunt-song in the Talmud reminds us of the "clubs" and "staves" of the Boethusian high priests who had been in control since Herod's day:

"A plague on the house of Boethus: a plague on their clubs! A plague on the house of Annas: a plague on their spying!"

It ends: "For they are high priests and their sons are in the Treasury, and their sons-in-law in the Government and their servants beat the people with staves."

Among the high priests who are expressly named is one well known to us: the "Annas" in the gospels. "Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first: for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people" (John 18:12-14).

Joseph ben Caiaphas had been appointed high priest by the Roman procurator Valerius Gratus. He remained in office 1   under his successor Pontius Pilate also.

After his arrest Jesus was brought before the High Council - the Sanhedrin - which at that time was the highest Jewish authority and combined within itself all spiritual and temporal power. At the same time it functioned as the highest judicial court of the Jews. It met below the Temple near the bridge which gave access to the upper city.

What were the grounds on which the council condemned Jesus to death?

"The expectation of the old Jewish prophets which centred on a future Messianic king," writes Professor Martin Noth, "had developed during the long period of foreign domination into hope of a political liberator; and the greater the resentment of the Roman government of the country the more this picture of a Messianic conqueror who would destroy the hateful foreign power filled their minds. Measured by these standards Jesus of Nazareth could not be the Messiah they were waiting for. ... But if Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah, 'the Christ', then he must be a fraud and an impostor. And if he was a fraud and an impostor then for the safety and peace of the religious life of Jerusalem he must be got rid of. ... The fact that Jesus during his trial claimed to be the Messiah and therefore, on the basis of Old Testament teaching, the Son of God was sufficient ground for condemning him to death on a charge of outrageous blasphemy."
1-- From A.D. 18 - 36. Top

p 346 -- According to the existing law the sentence had to be confirmed by the Roman procurator, to whom belonged the so-called ius gladii. Only he could authorise the death penalty. The procurator of Judaea was Pontius Pilate. 1

Contemporaries like Josephus and Philo of Alexandria describe him as an extortioner, a tyrant, a blood sucker and a corruptible character: "He was cruel and his hard heart knew no compassion. His day in Judaea was a reign of bribery and violence, robbery, oppression, misery, executions without fair.trial and infinite cruelty."  2   That Pilate hated and despised the Jews was made unmistakably plain to them again and again.

Pilate must have recognised at once that the accused man, Jesus, was the object of a hatred which had been stirred up by the Pharisees. That alone must have been sufficient reason for him to reject their demand and to acquit him. Indeed first of all and without hesitation he actually declared him to be innocent: "Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man" (Luke 23:4).

But the mob, incited and goaded by the councillors, tumultuously repeated their demand for the death penalty. Pontius Pilate gave in.

How was it that this tyrannical enemy of the Jews yielded to their request?

St. John's Gospel contains a cogent explanation: "But the Jews cried out, saying, if thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend; whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar" (John 19:12).

This was a dangerous political threat which clearly implied reporting Pilate to Rome for neglect of duty in acquitting a rebel. "Making himself a king" meant treason against the Roman emperor. According to the Lex Juliana the penalty for that was death. Pilate was afraid of this unambiguous threat. He had not forgotten that the Jews had carried it out once before.

As Philo tells us, Pontius Pilate had brought to Jerusalem the golden shields bearing the emperor's name and had hung them up in Herod's palace in the middle of the city. That was a serious offence against the rights of the Jewish religious community which had been guaranteed by Rome. It was a challenge. He scornfully rejected their request to have the golden shields removed from the Holy City. Thereupon the Jews appealed to Rome and secured their rights. The Emperor Tiberius himself ordered the removal. of the golden shields. Because of this and sundry other arbitrary actions, which ran counter to Roman colonial
1 -- A.D. 26-36.
2 -- Philo of Alexandria A.D. 25-50.      

                                                                                                                         Coins of the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate. Top

p 347 -- policy, Pontius Pilate's reputation in Rome was at a low ebb at the time of the trial.

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgement seat, in a place that is called t'he Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. ... Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified - John 19:13, 16).

The Pavement in Pilate's court, where this scene took place, survived even the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D- 70. Its rediscovery was the result of years of work on the part of the archaeologist Father L. H. Vincent. His success was due to the exact description given in St. John's Gospel.

The Authorised Version has translated the word "Lithostroton" by "Pavement". It means a stone pavement. The Aramaic word "Gabbatha" means "raised ground".

Just beside the north-west perimeter wall of the Temple there lay in the time of Jesus the powerful Tower of Antonia. It stood upon a rocky eminence, therefore on "raised ground". Herod I had built it and called it after a friend. The Roman occupation troops had taken it over as a garrison. In A.D. 70, at the conquest of Jerusalem, Titus had the castle of Antonia demolished. Later buildings arose upon the ruins.

On the spot where the courtyard of the Antonia had been, Vincent was able to establish the existence of a large flat pavement nearly 3,000 square yards built in the Roman style and typical of the time of Jesus.

This was where Jesus stood before Pilate while the mob howled outside. It was on this Pavement too that the scourging took place (John 19:1). This always preceded crucifixion, as Josephus expressly mentions twice. For this horrible punishment the body was stripped naked and flogged until the flesh hung down in bloody shreds.

Then Jesus was seized by Roman soldiers to complete the sentence of crucifixion. Cicero calls it "the most cruel and most frightful means of execution", Josephus recoils from it as "the most pitiable of all forms of death". This typically Roman death penalty was unknown in the
Jewish penal code.

Still inside the court buildings the soldiers vented their wanton mischief on Jesus and "clothed him with purple and platted a crown of thorns and put it about his head" (Mark 15:17).

So far, botanists have not been able to agree on what sort of plant this was. The only thing that is certain is that the "Christ's Crown of Thorns",  1  familiar to Europe and U.S.A. in the present day, has nothing to do with the Biblical crown of thorns. "It is a native of Madagascar and was completely unknown in Jesus' day," says the American botanist Dr. Harold Moldenke. Many other experts assume that the crown of thorns was woven from the Syrian Christ-thorn,  2
1 -- Euphoribia milii desmoul.
2 --
Sisyphus spina Christi.

p 348 -- hence its name. The Syrian Christ-thorn is a bush or small tree, 10 to 15 feet high, with pliant white twigs. Its stipulae have each two strong thorns which curve backwards. According to Dr. G. E. Post, who is an expert on these matters, this plant grows in the neighbourhood of old Jerusalem, especially in the area where Golgotha is said to have been.

The way from the courthouse to Golgotha was mercifully short: "for the place ... was nigh to the city" (John 19:20), beside the main road which entered Jerusalem from the north-west. A pilgrim from Bordeaux who visited Jerusalem in the year 333 specifically mentioned "the little hill of Golgotha  1   where the Lord was crucified".

"And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not" (Mark 15:23). Similar acts of mercy are frequently recorded on other occasions. We read in an old Jewish Baraita: "Anyone who is led out to execution is given a small piece of incense in a beaker of wine to numb his senses. ... The good women of Jerusalem have a custom of dispensing this generously and bringing it to the victims." Moldenke, who has done much research into Biblical flora, has this to say: "Wine mixed with myrrh was given to Jesus just before the Crucifixion to lessen the pain, just as in the days before anaesthetics, intoxicating drinks were poured into the unfortunate patients on the eve of big operations." Jesus however declined the drink and endured with all his senses the torture of being nailed to the cross.

And it was the third hour and they crucified him - Mark 15:25.

According to our division of time the "third hour" in the Ancient East is 9 a.m. "And at the ninth hour", in our reckoning three o'clock in the afternoon, the tragedy came to an end. "And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost" (Mark 15 34, 37).

What was the cause of Jesus' death? Some years ago Dr. Hermann Modder of Cologne carried out scientific tests in an attempt to answer the question from a medical point of view. In the-case of a person suspended by his two hands the blood sinks very quickly into the lower half of the body. After six to twelve minutes blood pressure has dropped by 50% and the pulse rate has doubled. Too little blood reaches the heart, and fainting ensues. This leads to a speedy orthostatic collapse through insufficient blood circulating to the brain and the heart. Death by crucifixion is therefore due to heart failure. 2

It is a well authenticated fact that victims of crucifixion did not usually die for two days or even longer. On the vertical beam there was often a small support attached called a "sedile" (seat) or a "'cornu" (horn). If the victim hanging there eased his misery from time to time by supporting himself on this, the blood returned to the upper half of his body and the faintness passed. When the torture of the crucified man
1 -- Monticulus Golgotha.
2 --
Coronary insufficiency.

p 349 -- was finally to be brought to an end, the "crurifragium" was proceeded with: his legs were broken below the knee with blows from a club. That meant that he could no longer ease his weight on the footrests and heart failure quickly followed.

Jesus was spared the "crurifragium". "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs" (John 19:32-33).

The Jews had asked Pilate for the "crurifragium", for it was "the day before the sabbath" (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54) and also the day of preparation for the Passover. According to Jewish law the bodies of victims after crucifixion were not allowed to remain hanging overnight (Deut. 21:23) . And at 6 p.m. the Sabbath of Passover week began, when all kinds of normal activity were forbidden. The imminence of this important festival explains the precipitate haste of the events which preceded it, the arrest by night, the condemnation, execution and burial of Jesus all within a few hours. Top

It is barely 1,000 paces from the Ecce Homo arch, the site of Pilate's judgement seat, along the narrow Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In 326 the Emperor Constantine erected a magnificent sepulchral tower over the tomb of Jesus, which had just then been rediscovered. Richly decorated pillars supported a roof of gilded beams, as can be seen from old books on pilgrimages and early Christian art. Today the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a chaotic jumble of dim chapels. Every branch of the Christian Church has established for itself a little place of worship in this holiest of all the sites of Christendom.

In the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre a well worn flight of steps leads down to a grotto where a 6 foot long tomb is hewn out of the rock. Is this the burial place of Jesus?

Over 1,000 graves have been found in Palestine dating from this period, but all of them were in cemeteries or family vaults. This tomb is however by itself. According to the Gospel tradition Jesus was the first to be laid in a great sepulchre: "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (Matt. 27:59-60).

One question has always been pressing for an answer since early times: How is it possible that apart from the books of the New

It was in a Palestinian tomb of this sort, with a millstone rolled across the entrance, that Christ was buried. Top

p 350 -- Testament no contemporary records exist which deal with the events of those days? "World history at the time took no notice of him [Jesus of Nazareth]," writes Professor Martin Noth in his important History of Israel. "For one short moment his appearance stirred men's minds in Jerusalem: then it became an episode in past history and people had to concern themselves with what seemed more important things. And yet this was a final decisive crisis in the history of Israel. It was only when the numbers of his followers made them a force to be reckoned with in terms of world history that his name began to be mentioned at all."

Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, which he wrote in the last part of the 1st century A.D., in referring to the early Christian community in Jerusalem, speaks of "Jesus who was called Messiah".  1   Tacitus the Roman historian mentions Jesus specifically in his Annals,  2  while explaining the meaning of the word "Christians": "Christ, from whom they derive their name was condemned to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius."

The most important comment comes however from the Roman Suetonius:  3   he is describing a messianic movement during the reign of Claudius, who was Roman emperor from A.D- 41 to 54. Suetonius says of him in his account of the life of the Emperor Claudius: "He drove the Jews out of Rome who were rioting because of Chrestus." The writer Orosius mentions that this expulsion took place in the ninth year of Claudius' reign, i.e. A. D. 49. That means that a Christian community is attested in Rome not more than fifteen to twenty years after the Crucifixion.

There is, in the Acts of the Apostles, an amazing corroboration of this Roman evidence. When Paul came from Athens to Corinth he found there "a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla: because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome" (Acts 18:2).

It cannot be denied, however, that the rare non-Biblical reports on Jesus are very problematical. Although there is a phonetic connection between Greek long "e" and "i", which is known as "itacism", so that chrestos meaning "capable", "skilful", "valuable", "good", could easily be confused with christos, which means "the anointed one" and is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messias, it is not at all certain whether the disturbances in Rome which were provoked by the question of the Messiah and which Suetonius mentions in his account of the life of the Emperor Claudius, really had anything to do with Jesus. The above quoted passage in Josephus must be considered a forgery. In its positive and approving tone it does not fit in either with Josephus' basic anti-Messianic attitude or with the surrounding
 1 -- Antiquities, XX , 9, para. 200.
 2 --  Annals, XV, 44 - written A.D. 115-117.
 3  -- A.D. 65-135.

p 351 -- text which gives an account of the uprisings of Jewish nationalists which in the opinion of Joseph were abominable and to be condemned. Moreover, the internal structure of this passage is not typical of Josephus' way of writing. It is more like the preaching style of the Evangelist Luke. The statement made by Tacitus does not yield much either. It nevertheless confirms that there were Christians who derived from Christ their name "Christians" - Christ who
had been crucified at the time of the Emperor Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) under the procurator Pontius Pilate. It is an open question whether Tacitus himself thought this true. The only safe deduction we can make is that during the reign of the Emperor Nero (A.D- 54-68), whose persecution of the Christians provides the opportunity for Tacitus to make his statement about them, a Christian community was in existence in Rome and that in certain respects their traditions coincided with points in the New Testament.

The year of Jesus' death, moreover, is no less debated than the date of his birth, concerning which we were able to say with any certainty only that it must have occurred somewhere and at some time between 7 B.C. and A.D. 7. The time span between the limits set by modern specialists for the year of Jesus' death is not so great, however, as that for his birth. Today the possibilities have been narrowed down to A.D. 29, 30, 32 and 33. If we wish to be very cautious, then we have at our disposal the ten years of the period that Pontius Pilate held his office (A.D. 26-36). Caiaphas, the High Priest, held office from A.D. 18-37.

Even the day of the trial and execution of Jesus is uncertain for if we work out the dates indicated by the Evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke and compare them with those given by John, they show a difference of a day. There is even less uniformity concerning the hour of Jesus' death.

Moreover, the Evangelists linked the crucifixion of Jesus with so many passages from the Old Testament that it would almost be possible to have doubts about Jesus' crucifixion. Can all these terrible things have been imagined merely for the sake of cross references in the Bible? And it must not be forgotten that Jesus was by no means the first god to be crucified! He had been preceded by fertility gods who suffered and were put to death. In Berlin, for example, there is a* small amulet with a crucified person, the Seven Sisters and the moon which bears the inscription ORPHEUS BAKKIKOS. It has a surprisingly Christian appearance. The same can be said of a representation of the hanging Marsyas in the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

On the other hand, we know that a crucifixion took place and we also know who ordered the crucifixion and who suffered this dreadful form of death. The Dead Sea Scrolls mention as outrageous a mass crucifixion ordered by Alexander Iannaios (103-76 B.C.). The Romans

p 352 -- showed a preference for this manner of execution. It was inflicted on persons belonging to defeated peoples who had committed crimes against the Roman State as well as on slaves. But the question arises as to the actual cause of death of the crucified person as well as to the length of time he remained alive on the cross.

There was also disagreement concerning certain details of the way in which the cruel punishment was carried out. A macabre discovery on a hill named Givat Hamivtar on the eastern edge of Jerusalem helped solve the problem. Two Israeli specialists, the archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis and the pathologist Nicu Haas, have published a report on it, while the American journalist and author Jerry M. Landay has written an account of it for the general public in his book on Biblical archaeology Silent cities, sacred stones. Top

It was in the summer of 1968. In the course of construction work a bulldozer cut into graves dating from the time between the accession of Herod the Great (37 B.C.) and the destruction of Herod's temple (A.D. 70). These graves lay on the hill of Givat Hamivtar so that the people buried in them must more or less have been contemporaries of Jesus. The name of one of the dead was Johanan Ben Ha'galgol. It was noticed with feelings of horror that his feet were separated from the smashed skeleton and were lying one on top of the other and joined together by a rusty nail which had been driven through both feet. Fragments of wood, the remains of a wooden slab, were attached to it. Behind Johanan's feet, the nail was bent obviously by having been driven into harder material. Johanan's fore-arms also showed signs of having had nails driven through them. In the course of Johanan's death struggles, his skin had suffered abrasions on the nails.

This discovery undeniably called for detailed investigation. Vassilios Tzaferis and Nicu Haas wondered whether any conclusions could be drawn from Johanan's injuries concerning the shape of the crucifix and the way in which the victim had been nailed to it. In fact, the nails had not been driven through the palms of the hands in the way usually depicted, but through the forearms near the wrist. Presumably this was the usual practice for this manner of execution, for the palms of the hands when pierced by nails would have torn under the weight of a body writhing in the agonised throes of death. This fact had already been established, moreover, in the gruesome experiments of Dr. Barbet of Paris in connection with the "Turin Shroud" which will be discussed in the next chapter. The crucified person, whose imprint the shroud shows, contrary to all the artistic conventions of the usual manner of depicting a crucifixion, had not had the nails driven through his palms. There was one way, however, in which the case of Johanan Ben Ha'galgol obviously differed from the normal Roman method of execution. The question has been raised whether the crurifragium, the smashing of the shinbones with a blunt instrument, was an additional torture

p 353 -- or perhaps in the end an act of mercy, a "coup de grace", for the victim then collapsed and died more quickly. In Johanan Ben Ha'galgol's case, however, this "act of mercy" was not deemed sufficient. Together with the nail and the wooden slab his feet had been cut off his smashed legs. ... Top

p 354 -- Chapter 40 -- THE TURIN SHROUD -- Books from Constantinople - Discovery in the photographic negative - Tests by forensic medical experts - A scientific proof of authenticity?

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury - John 19:40.

In the year 1204, during the course of the Fourth Crusade, the Crusaders captured Constantinople. In connection with this event the chronicler Robert de Clari reports that a Frenchman named Otto de la Roche came into the possession of a linen cloth as part of the spoils. This cloth, which measured 1.10 metres in width and 4. 36 metres in length, had the peculiarity that it bore marks made by blood and sweat. On closer inspection the indistinct outlines of a human body, which must have measured about 1.80 metres in height, became apparent. Otto de la Roche took it with him back to France.

A century and a half later, the linen cloth reappeared in Besancon where it was worshipped as Christ's shroud. When a fire occurred, it was not consumed by the flames, it is true, but it did sustain slight damage. Its subsequent history can be followed in detail.

When the plague broke out in Milan, the devout Carlo Borromeo, bishop of the town, who was subsequently canonised, fulfilled his vow to make a pilgrimage to the shroud which had been brought for him from the south of France to Turin where it has since remained.

The linen. cloth is said to have been in Jerusalem until the fifth or sixth century. Tradition has it that this is the linen cloth in which Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Christ.

It is impossible to provide historical proof of these, claims. There are, moreover, two pieces of linen in addition to that in Turin, for which the claim is also made that they came into contact with Christ's body.

The more important of these is the handkerchief of Saint Veronica. According to legend, the saint gave Christ her handkerchief as he was on the way to his crucifixion. When she received it back, it bore the imprint of his face.

The portrait of Christ in the possession of King Abgar V of Edessa, "Antiochia", was also considered authentic, but the French theologian and historian Chevalier came across proof to the contrary in the Papal archives in a document dated 1389 which states that an artist had painted such a cloth. When this became known, the Turin shroud was

p 355 -- identified as a copy by that artist and consequently in the estimation of all those interested, it ceased to have any value as a contemporary document.

That might have been the end of the matter if interest in the legendary piece of linen had not been aroused anew in 1889. Technical progress had made possible the first photograph of the "Turin shroud". Something extraordinary was the result, for the photographic plate converted the impressions on the cloth into black and white. A face became clearly visible.

Specialists all over the world studied the sensational photograph. Art specialists, to whom it was submitted, noticed, moreover, that the negative was astonishingly natural and anatomically correct for, as with every human being, the features are not the same on both sides of the face. Artists in the early Middle Ages certainly did not pay any attention to this dissimilarity. Attempts made by painters showed that no artist was able, even when using a model, to convert a human face by the processes of the mind into a negative image and paint it.

The "Turin Shroud" could consequently not be a forgery insofar as it was the imprint of a human face. Even art specialists, who began by denying its authenticity, now admit that it cannot have been painted as a negative. Nobody can do that.

After this exciting discovery, scientists also began to take an interest in the shroud and a number of prominent specialists in various branches of science began their researches. Decades of study, experiments and investigations have brought certain conclusions. Concrete and very significant results have been obtained. A whole mosaic of infinitely painstaking studies exists which were undertaken to answer the question:

How did the shroud originate?

Professor Vignon of Paris was the first to concern himself experimentally with the impression of a body on linen. He placed a cloth sprinkled with aloes in contact with a corpse. The experiments were not satisfactory, however, as considerable distortions seemed unavoidable. Italian forensic medical specialists, Professors Judica of Milan and Professor Romanese of Turin, were more successful. In their experiments they adhered to the Biblical account which indicates the correct method: and there camealso Nicodemus ... and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred weight. Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (John 19:39-40). A long series of experiments showed that the corpse must be powdered and the cloth moistened with aromatic oil. Impressions which do not show any distortion are obtained more particularly when the hair on the head prevents too close contact of the side of the face with the cloth. The results of the Italian tests provide the highest degree of correspondence.

p 356 -- The imprint on the "Turin shroud" shows swellings on the face. It is possible that they result from blows. "Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palm of their hands" (Matthew 26:67). Patches of blood are clearly visible on the forehead and neck. "And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head" (John 19:2). Small swellings can also be seen on other parts of the body. They come from wounds on the hands and feet made by nails as well as from a wound on the right side of the chest ". . . one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34).

Dr. Barbet of Paris has thoroughly investigated the nature of these wounds and here, too, the results were surprising. The wounds do not correspond to the customary manner of artistic depiction. The "Turin shroud" clearly shows the places where the nails were driven in. They were not driven through the palms of the hands, but through the wrists. From the physical and medical angle, the artistic depictions are wrong. And here, too, an unusual experiment led to a conclusion in the shroud's favour.

Dr. Barbet nailed a corpse to a crucifix.The wound in the palm of the hand was torn when bearing a weight Of 40 kilos. A wide tendon runs through the wrist, however, and is strong enough to support the weight of the human body.

Some medical men believed they were able to detect two kinds of blood in the traces left by the wounds. They distinguished between blood which must have flowed while the victim was still alive - such traces are found on the head, the hands and the feet - and blood after death from the wound in the side of the chest and also on the feet.

From what period does the linen of the famous shroud date? Because of the manner of weaving, specialists have repeatedly situated the shroud in the decades around the beginning of our era, although a precise determination of the time has not yet been attempted. It would be possible to undertake this, however, by using highly sensitive Geiger counters. The C 14 method developed by Professor W. F. Libby of the Chicago Institution of Nuclear Physics would allow the date to be determined within a range of a few years. We should then know at least when the flax was grown from which the linen was made (cf. also p. 376).

These are the results which scientific investigation could achieve, but the question as to who the dead man was who lay in the shroud and when he lay there would still not have been answered.

To Part 9

 

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