I’ve Read Jesus’ Death Certificate, Scholar Claims

23/11/09 | Posted by MattPage

A Vatican expert claims to have deciphered Jesus' death certificate. Dr Barbara Frale, who works for the Vatican's secret archives, has for many years been studying the Shroud of Turin - the cloth some claim was used to wrap Jesus up after his death. She claims that letters which are imprinted on the shroud were transfered on to it from his death certificate.

image
 The face on the shroud is most visible when seen as a photographic negative

“I think I have managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene,” Dr Frale announced recently ahead of the release of her new book ‘The Shroud of Jesus of Nazareth’ which discusses her findings. Frale claims that the letters on the shroud (which weren’t even discovered until 1978) say:

“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”.

Despite the fact that some of the letters were illegible, Frale pieced together the words on the certificate using fragments of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. It was common for all three languages to be used in first century Judea. John’s gospel notes that the the sign on Jesus’ cross was also written in these three languages.

The date given in the “certificate” is particularly interesting because whilst it’s after the date given for the start of Jesus’ ministry (the 15th year of Tiberius according to Luke 3:1), it’s two years earlier than the date traditionally given for Jesus’ death - the 18th year of Tiberius. A forgery would perhaps be expected to adopt the traditional date.

Nevertheless Frale is yet to convince everyone. According to The Times, “some scholars have suggested that the writing is from a reliquary attached to the cloth in medieval times”. And of course, many experts consier the shroud to be a fake. It was carbon dated in 1988 and found to be from the 13th or 14th century. It’s possible that the piece of cloth that was tested consisted of threads from a later repair, but even the Vatican has not been sufficiently convinced to release another part of the cloth for a re-test. It is still yet to endorse the shroud as genuine, though Pope Benedict XVI is to put it on show again next Spring in Turin.

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