Jesus' death certificate on the Shroud of Turin?

Well. This is something.

Dr Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archives, said “I think I have managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth.” She said that she had reconstructed it from fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing imprinted on the cloth together with the image of the crucified man.

The text supposedly reads:

“In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year”. It ends “signed by” but the signature has not survived.

I never knew about this “writing” on the Shroud. How amazing – if Dr Frale is right.

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4 Responses to Jesus' death certificate on the Shroud of Turin?

  1. Christine says:

    Except — the Gospel of St. Luke says that John the Baptist began preaching in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign, which would have cut Jesus’ public ministry down to one year according to the alleged shroud text ?

    We walk with veiled eyes in this world, Word and Sacrament are enough. The yearning for “signs” can become a stumbling block.


    • Schütz says:

      I can’t say that I am “yearning” for the Shroud to be genuine, just fascinated at this discovery. Actually, the very fact you point out is another reason to perhaps conclude that the “certificate” is not a forgery – after all, would not the forger have known his Gospels? Why would he deliberately make an error like this when all pre-modern Christians assumed the Gospels were completely historical.

      • Peregrinus says:

        I’m sceptical about the “death certificate”. I’m no expert, but the various corroborative details put forward – e.g. that the bodies of the executed were kept for a year before being returned to their families – do not tally with what I have learned elsewhere. Is anyone other than Dr Frale claiming that this was the practice? My understanding was that, in keeping with the humiliating purpose of the mode of execution, bodies were disposed of disrespectfully – usually just left hanging as carrion for wild birds. This wasn’t acceptable to Jewish sensibilities, so in Judea bodies were taken down and burned at Gehenna. As I say, I could be wrong, but I’d like to see Dr Frale’s version of what generally happned from some independent source.

        Does such a “certificate” survive from any of the very large numbers of crucifixions that the Romans are known to have carried out? Or any reference to such certificates, or evidence that they were uses?

        I get really suspicious when I read in one of the press reports of this discovery that Dr Frale says this couldn’t be a medieval forgery because no person of the medieval period would have referred simply to Jesus the Nazarene, without any reference to his divinity. This is obviously wrong; a medieval artist would certainly point to the divinity of Christ, but a medieval forger would be trying to produce something that looked as though it could plausibly have been written by a first-century Roman official in Palestine. So, no reference to divinity. And, of course, one common (and unrefuted) theory for the provenance of the Shroud is that it is a medieval construct either originally made for, or later adapted for, the exploitation of commercial possibilities in the pilgrimage/relic trade.

        My instinct is that there’s a good deal of wishful thinking going on here.

        And, David, I think you may be a little condescending to pre-modern Christians. Anyone who is literate, and interested enough to read the gospels and think about them, can see that as direct historical narratives they do not completely tally, and in particular their time/event lines don’t tally. This just wasn’t an issue for pre-modern Christians because it is only we moderns who have a concept of a genre of writing called “history” whose overriding goal is a factually accurate narrative. For that reason, it’s only moderns who are bothered by the fact that the gospels aren’t “history” in that sense. Pre-moderns didn’t treat the gospels as “completely historical” in the sense you suggest; they were just unbothered by the fact that they weren’t completely historical.

        (The one-year public ministry implied by the dating here is quite consistent with John, isn’t it? )

  2. Christine says:

    Why would he deliberately make an error like this when all pre-modern Christians assumed the Gospels were completely historical.

    Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time. There is a great deal of Catholic hagiography that has proven to be the stuff of legend over time.

    The time frame for this just doesn’t work.


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