“Finding Jesus” – the Shroud of Turin – A Review

The first episode of the new CNN Series “Finding Jesus – Faith Fact Forgery” uses selective evidence to support the unwarranted conclusion that the Shroud of Turin is a forgery.

Sunday night CNN launched a new documentary series on the Christian faith titled “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery”.  The first episode, “The Shroud of Turin” was, as the title implies, a re-examination of the highly venerated, highly questioned burial cloth of Jesus. The question is, of course, is the cloth authentic? Is it really the cloth of which the gospel writer Mark records:

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
Mark 15.46

… or is it a forgery? Based on the title, the producers want to draw a sharp line of demarcation between what is faith (that which science can neither affirm nor deny); what is fact, and what is unwarranted faith (that which science can attempt to either affirm or deny and if denied, declare a “forgery” or false). Based on the first episode, the producers want to remove any scientific basis for faith – even when such evidence is overwhelming. This is clearly the case because of the wealth of evidence that exists concerning the authenticity of the well studied, well researched Shroud that the producers chose to ignore. I say chose to ignore, because as producers of a documentary on the well known relic, they are responsible for being aware of such public domain information and should surely  know about these evidences which contradict their theories. And if they don’t know, they are not qualified to be doing a documentary on it. This first episode (and thus presumably the rest of the series) is clearly biased against evidence that confirms the veracity of Christian claims.

In an apparent effort to cover their bias, the documentary is overall respectful of the faith – providing a traditional retelling of the events leading up to the burial of Jesus.  In my previous article Physical Evidence Jesus Existed I list 6 evidences of authenticity for the Shroud; 3 of which are not mentioned in the documentary, the others are either ignored or outright denied. Below is further exposition and clarification on some of those evidences, and the addition of new evidence from an effort to date the Shroud apart from Carbon dating. Obviously a documentary cannot be expected to present every piece of evidence, but certainly some of the well established evidences – especially those which contradicts your proposed theory – should be presented – if the goal is to present a fair and balanced piece of journalism. Of course if you’re not interested in fair and balanced reporting, then liberal usage of the fallacy of suppressed evidence is a viable course, and the route which they have obviously chosen for this episode, and presumably the series. 

So what is the theory that they resort to suppressing evidence to protect? Continue Reading

“Exodus – Gods and Kings”: a biblically based review

  Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.
Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses in Ridley Scott’s Exodus Gods and Kings

There is no question that Hollywood knows how to make big, beautiful, epic, blockbuster movies with wide appeal. In that regard they are second to none. With the release of the recent Biblical themed movies – the latest of which is Exodus – Gods and Kings by Ridley Scott, the question for Christians is has Hollywood learned, or more appropriately, recalled how to do Biblical themed movies that Christians will both enjoy and approve of? I say ‘recalled’ because of course Hollywood used to know how to make such movies. Anyone who has seen  Cecille B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments understands why it is regarded as the standard against which every other Biblical epic is judged.

To answer the question:  no, Hollywood has not learned or has chosen not to recall how to make movies Christians can both enjoy and approve of.  If Exodus – Gods and Kings is the gauge, then it’s clear Hollywood remains clueless in this regard – or perhaps more appropriately – remains willfully antagonistic toward the Christian messages inherent in Biblical themed movies.

This assessment stands in stark contrast to the article in Christianity Today
from which the caption (Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.) is derived. In that article, Brett McCracken wants to give you “Ten reasons to not be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.”  Here’s my assessment in a nutshell:

For Ridley Scott, director of films such as Gladiator (2000),  Hannibal (2001) and American Gangster (2007) the account of the exodus is just another story. He could not possibly care less if it is a Biblical story that has theological meanings, symbolism and message. He doesn’t care if it is cherished by Jews and Christians the world over. He’s a story teller, and he’s going to do it his way. And do it his way he did.

After viewing the movie I sat down and wrote over 3 dozen inaccuracies and problems (from a Christian perspective) in the film without having to look hard or dig for them. What follows are what I consider to be 10 of the most egregious.  After that I’ve included commentary on the ten reasons that Brett McCracken thinks it’s okay to see the film.

Here are links to the two sections:
Spoiler Warning: – Many parts of the film are discussed – but if you’re familiar with the Exodus account, not much should be a surprise – other than the many changes Scott made.

 

Part I.  Ten Reasons to be Hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic

 

Part II.  Brett McCracken’s  “Ten reasons to not be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic” – in italics, followed by my comments.



Part I:
Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic

1. No concern for Biblical authority
Right off the bat you know that there will be little regard for Biblical authority when the first thing you see is the time period: 1300 BCE. That date – known as the “late date” for the exodus is used because many scholars date the exodus to 1270 BC during the reign of Ramses II.  (In passing, BCE – Before the Common Era – is used by those who don’t want to acknowledge the Christ in BC – Before Christ.) Scholars who affirm the 13th century date do so disregarding recent archeological evidence[1], and more importantly the testimony of scripture which says:

Continue Reading