I awoke to find an interesting article about Easter courtesy of Yahoo News. Written by Tia Ghose, a LiveScience Staff writer, I had a couple questions. First, we have the first half of the title: Easter Science. In my mind, those two words represent the term “oxymoron” well.
Then we have the word “facts” in the second half of the title used as though there aren’t any questions about the mythology. Very odd.
This Sunday (March 31), more than 2 billion Christians will celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. While there is no scientific way to know whether that supernatural event at the heart of Christianity actually happened, historians have established some facts about his life.
If there’s “no scientific way to know whether the supernatural event occured,” then why use the word “science” in your title? Oh well. I’ll let it slide. Let’s hear what the historians have to say. First, she talks about the manger birth.
Most historians believe Jesus was a real man. To test the veracity of biblical claims, historians typically compare Christian accounts of Jesus’ life with historical ones recorded by Romans and Jews, most notably the historians Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus.
And though a manger may or may not have figured prominently in the birth, scholars do agree that Jesus was born between 2 B.C. and 7 B.C. as part of the peasant class in a small village called Nazareth in Galilee. Historians also back the claim that Joseph, Jesus’ father, was a carpenter, meaning Jesus would have gone into the family profession as well.
Huh? I’ve heard the opposite; that there is thin evidence outside the Bible for such a human/deity. I also dislike phrases like “most historians” and “scholars do agree.” Who are these historians? Who are these scholars. I know a number of professors (perhaps they’re scholars?) who most certainly do not agree with this scenario.
Then we have the “mystical baptism” (her second “fact”). Where’s the science in this claim (as per the title) and where are the “scholars” who would study such things about a mystical subject?
As for Jesus being a “reformer” and “wise teacher” (facts number 3 and 4), this author tends to quote Josephus a lot. A fast Google search gave me much to ponder concerning the validity of this individual’s writing.
“Fact” number five details the “timing of Jesus’ crucifixion.”
Several sources mention Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. Christian Gospels say the skies darkened for hours after the crucifixion, which historians viewed either as a miracle or a portent of dark times to come. Using astronomy, later historians have used this mention to pinpoint the death of Christ. Some tie the crucifixion to a one-minute 59-second total solar eclipse that occurred in 29 C.E., whereas others say a second total eclipse, blocking the sun for four minutes and six seconds, in 33 C.E. marked Jesus’ death. (C.E. stands for Common Era or Christian Era, and is an alternative name for anno Domini, or A.D.)
“Historians viewed either as a miracle or a portent of dark times to come.” Huh? Scholars I know don’t use words like “miracle” or “portent.”
Then we have the historical relics (“fact” number 6):
The historical veracity of various physical relics, such as the crucifixion nails and crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross, have decidedly less historical or scientific backing. Most scientific studies suggest that these relics originated long after Jesus died. But the most famous relic of Jesus, the shroud of Turin, may be on more solid footing: Whereas some parts of the shroud date to A.D. 1260, other analyses have suggested that the shroud is about as old as Jesus.
If it’s Easter, it must be time to talk about the shroud of Turin. Its authenticity is always in question, the most common assumption is that it was created in the medieval ages. You can find a great article about it here.
As for this Yahoo article, I suppose it’s fine except it uses the word “fact” in a very flippant way, it assumes truth where there is only faith, and it misuses the word “science” in the title when never mentioning it again. Poorly written, poorly researched, I’m amazed it got published. So many questions.