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In said book, Thiede submits some tantalizing and, more valuably, convincing evidence for this titulus to specifically be that of Christ's. Number one is the order of languages in which the mocking Roman inscription----which always was used to convey the charge against the criminal being executed----"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is transcribed onto the titulus. Actually, since only a fragment of the headboard remains, this line should be modified to only state "Jesus of Nazareth". In the Bible, this order is written first in Hebrew, Greek, then Latin. This order on the Titulus of Santa Croce is one that violates the order in which the Bible documents the languages as appearing on the headboard. This permeates with credibility, because, had this order on the titulus been fabricated, no one would have crawled to producing such a glaringly bad imitation. Consequently, this can only mean one thing, that, were the Santa Croce Titulus really a fabrication, the professional forger would have been duped into copying the contraband order written in the Bible, because it was more accessible. Secondly, is the suspiciously eye-rasing direction in which the Hebrew inscription "Jesus of Nazareth" is written, which is from right to left. Once again, discounting fakes because of its horrid obviousness, Thiede believes this was inscribed by a Jewish scholar, as it was the traditional Hebrew writing style of the day, around the date of Christ's crucifixion. Thirdly, is the introduction of a specific style of abreviation on the Titulus of Santa Croce, one that died out from common use at the time after Christ's crucifixion, once more linking the headboard to the official one.
Furthermore, to prove that the titulus belonged to Christ, Thiede has to establish a definite connection between the crucifixion and that part of the cross actually coming to the Roman Empire in the 4th century, because said titulus is from Santa Croce, the church in Rome. According to legend, the titulus was recovered to Rome by Helena, Emperor Constantine's 80-year old mom. Constantine seized control of the whole Empire when he defeated his arch-nemesis, Emperor Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. The Empire had, up to that point, been ostracized into 4 regions, each governed by 4 different Roman rulers. Constantine, allegedly, had a vision of the Cross in the clouds, before crossing the Milvian Bridge in the battle against Maxentius, which implored him to paint a Chi-rho symbol---the 1st version of Christianity's symbol---on all his men's shields. Constantine embezzled that Christianity had granted him his victory-----he then started to oppress Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. As another part of his ambivalent "conversion" of himself and the entire Empire to Christianity, he procured his mom to bring the relic to 3 parts of the Empire as a rallying point for early Christians to have something palpable to believe in.
What Thiede does is to try to produce legitimate connections to the titulus which was carried back by Helena and the actual titulus of Christ by citing logical coincidences of events that could only happen during the specific range of the time of Christ. For instance, nowadays, there exists the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sitting over the place where Christ was crucified, and believed to have been the site of the titulus. In the catacombs beneath this church lie inscriptional records of early pilgrims' journeys to this site-one such from Crusaders, and another from seafarers who make a definite reference to a biblical psalm in giving thanks for their opportunity to worship at the site, believing it to be the licit place containing Christ's relics, and who wouldn't have risked catastrophic chances traveling across the sea to get there, were they not actually certain of its status. This verifies the already historical knowledge of the fact that, in the 1st few centuries of Christianity, there was NEVER any dispute over the actual holy sites. Additionally, there is evidence of Jews building tombs over this same area, even for the ones stigmatized as "criminals", as proven by the finding of a burial box containing a nail through the heel bone of a foot, and Jesus would have been libeled as a "criminal" by the Jews. Another tying of the Santa Croce Titulus to Christ's time is the fact that in the 1400s, it was discovered in Helena's "palace"-directly behind Santa Croce-hidden behind a fresco because Helena is supposed to have taken it, the 3rd fragment of the entire headboard, back with her after discovering the titulus at the previous site of, 1st, the temple to the Roman god Venus which was then promptly aborted for Constantine's building of a monumental complex to Christianity, all on the same site. Upon the uncovering of the titulus, again, in the 1400s, El Greco used it in a painting of his, further documenting its validity.
These may be circumstantial evidence, but they stimulate the next best thing towards solid proof of this titulus being that of Christ's: raising the question of a plausible feasibility that the Santa Croce Titulus could be that of Christ's.
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Ties in indirectly to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Great reading!!
This book provides more evidence that the gospels were written as eyewitness accounts. This is no surprise to evangelical scholars, but it is more vindication nonetheless.
The most amazing fact to me continues to be the lack of attention to this amazing find by the theological, cultural and media establishments. It should rightly turn Biblical scholarship on its head, but this age's disdain for truth in the face of comfortable old paradigns (e.g. holding to the theory of evolution despite mounting evidence that it is impossible in a thousand different ways) is exasperating!!
My favorite chapter was the fourth. Its summary of Huleatt, the Victorian missionary and scholar, gives us a small window of life in the last half of the 19th century.
This book is a good counterpoint for those who claim that the Gospels were written long after Christ died.