The Body Theft, the Shroud and the Tomb, and the Image that Inspired a Myth

by John Loken

I believe in life after death because of the historical Jesus and the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud of Turin is in Italy, and has on it an image of the executed and tortured Jesus. An intelligent question is: What caused the image? According to In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins by Robert Drews, Gnostics created the relic in the 1st or 2nd century using methods that have been lost to history with the help of a crucified victim or volunteer. A unintelligent question is: What caused the Resurrection of Jesus? This is not a good question because the Resurrection is an historical event that cannot be explained in terms of any other historical event. This book and a more recent work (The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection by Thomas de Wesselow) attempts to answer this question by assuming that the Shroud of Turin is authentic and taking its existence into consideration. The mistake that Christian advocates of the authenticity of the relic make is that they confuse the Resurrection as an historical event with the Resurrection as an act of faith.

According to Loken, Jesus died on Friday afternoon, and servants of Joseph of Arimathea wrapped his head in a linen cloth during the transit to the tomb. In the tomb, this cloth was removed, and a strip of cloth was tied around his head to keep his jaw closed. Jesus' body was then covered with the imageless Shroud of Turin. On Saturday night, Jewish and/or Roman officials stole the body and destroyed it, along with the strap for the jaw. They left behind the Shroud of Turin and the smaller cloth. The smaller cloth is now located in Spain, according to Sacred Blood Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo: New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin by Janice Bennett. On Sunday morning, followers of Jesus saw the Shroud with its mysterious image and the empty tomb. They interpreted what they saw to mean that Jesus was alive in a new life with God. The subsequent appearances of Jesus were really observations of the Shroud of Turin. The author ended the book by saying, "We need wisdom, not religion. And survival, not resurrection."

The author repeatedly uses the phrases "bodily resurrection" and "supernatural explanation." To me this means that he doesn't understand that the human soul is spiritual and doesn't even know the cosmological argument for God's existence. This cannot be said of all atheists. Consider the following quote from a famous atheist:

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion." (Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology by Jean-Paul Sartre, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

The existence of God raises the question of what motivated God to create finite beings. God could only be motivated by self-love. Finite beings exist because God loved Himself as giving. But God could just as well love Himself without giving. This means the existence of finite beings is a mystery, and this is pretty close to saying the concept of God is contradictory. Unlike Sartre, Loken needs someone to explain to him why God exists. Unlike Sartre, Loken doesn't realize that life is meaningless if it ends in the grave.