Holy Relics: The Quest & Question

DATELINE: Shoddy Documentary

Pia's 1898 negative photo

Another French documentary tackles the tricky question of the history of relics associated with the crucifixion of Jesus.

With so many collectible and miraculous items over two centuries, it is hard to believe that no documentary has given itself time to debunk them all. Holy Relics: the Quest aims high, but we must confess that we are not happy with those who want to gut crypto-science by fallacies.

This show wants so badly to expose the frauds that it commits fraud in itself.

There is no shortage of Jesus relics: his shroud, the nails, the true cross,  the crown of thorns, his sepulcher, the lance that pierced him, even samples of his blood. They have all been saved and sold for profit and political gain by the faithful and the greedy.

Taking each in turn, the documentary presents false information: claiming the shroud is done by dyes and blood in Medieval times, the so-called Italian scientist fails to recognize that the tests done proved it was not a dye or paint on the shroud.

The film does explain “contact relics” which are items of nails, cloth, or wood , that touched the original. According to Vatican laws, these are as good as originals. So, there are over 100 known nails (only 3 were used on Jesus –featuring one spike for both feet, but the documentary claims 4 nails). Pieces of wood from the True Cross are innumerable.

There is even rare footage from inside the tomb in Jerusalem where the body of Jesus rested for three days. It doesn’t look too special. And, the stone slab on which the body of Jesus was washed is a proven replacement item. It does not seem to make any difference for worshippers.

Yet, in its brevity as a documentary, items are omitted: the lance that pierced Jesus’ side is given only a cursory mention—and there is no mention of a bloody cloth in Spain that was used to wrap around the face of Jesus.

So, the film has more holes in it than they even realize if their zealotry to debunk all religious icons.

As much as there may be a need for a catalogue of iconic relics on Jesus, this show is not it.

DNA in Unlikely Places, like Burial Shroud of Jesus

DATELINE:   Scoffers, Begone!

Jesus dna      Shroud of Turin image

Leave it to the History Channel to come up with a quest with two millennial kids who look like they have been given a banana split at the local ice cream parlor. Nonetheless, The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA is fascinating.

In all fairness, the researchers are George Busby who is a geneticist from Oxford, and his partner is Pastor Joe Basile, with credentials in Bible Studies. They are young and exuberant.

Together they decide with the upgrade in DNA research to see if there is a strand that identifies Jesus of Nazareth and his bloodline. So, before you can hop and skip over 2000 years, they are finding the DNA results from the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, both purported to be two cloths mentioned in the New Testament.

The jet-setting research is intriguing, and our boyish scientists only betray their preconceived notions when they reject testing bones from a Jewish ossuary that could be confirmation, or denial of a connection.

Some archeological research is new as well, like the bones found ten years ago that are 2000 years old, testing from the 1st century and called the bones of John the Baptist.

They even look at nails, less likely to maintain DNA and a dead end.

Their startling results show how much can still be learned. The blood, on the two cloths, is from the same man who died in crucifixion. With rare AB bloodtype, most prevalent in Middle Eastern people, the man thought to be Jesus shows a connection to the Druze religious sect that has kept its purity for a thousand years.

Someone in his family intermarried with Druze people, likely his mother’s side. The descendants come down from the unnamed sisters of Jesus in the gospels.

Non-believers may scoff, but still find the result not inconsistent with identifying the man of the shroud. Believers may be more inclined to reject the findings that go against their dogma.

All in all, it is a whirlwind of discovery that makes for what passes for revelations in our cynical age.