Saturday, April 15, 2017

Friday, good

I've always felt it's best to let Good Friday be one of quiet contemplation, and simple food, at home - going out and camping or having fun of some type just doesn't fit in with the theme of the day.

So I had a particularly quiet day yesterday, and found on the shelf a book I bought at a remainder  place a few years ago and never got around to reading - Murder at Golgotha, by Ian Wilson.

Wilson is a historian (originally from England, but living in Brisbane for a long time now) who has written many historical books on Christian topics - most notably, he remains a defender of the authenticity of the Turin Shroud (yes, despite the carbon dating results.)

You may think his position on that hurts his credibility greatly, but I really find he still has a disarming writing style the makes him quite persuasive.   (I'm a bit of a fence sitter on the Shroud, as it happens.  I think it more likely a forgery, but there are quite a few oddities about it that really make me wonder about the extraordinary care that was taken in its creation to reflect what a real crucified body would look like.)

Anyway, Murder at Golgotha is an easy to read account of the Easter story, in which Wilson picks out the Gospel details which he finds most convincing, and the reasons why.  (He feels John gives the most authentic version, actually.)  He also spends quite a bit of time discrediting Mel Gibson's The Passion of the The Christ, a movie which I have only seen a bit of, but it was enough to make me think it was rather ludicrous in its depiction of the violence.

I learnt a thing or two, and it actually made it very easy to visualise the events in a more or less authentic fashion, in contrast to movies and art.

I thereby had an entirely appropriate Good Friday.  Wilson hasn't written anything for a while, and he would be in his 70's now.  I think he may actually live on my side of town, and he is a Catholic.   Would be nice to see him in a Church and say "hi, enjoyed your work..."  


not trampis said...

Crucifixion was a very violent act. what was the criticism?

Steve said...

Homer, much of the detail in the movie apparently comes from the alleged visions of the Passion from the 18th/19th century stigmata suffering nun Anne Emmerich. This is not in any sense a historical source for details.

Wilson criticises the depiction of the flogging as being improbably extreme, and the detail (from Emmerich, I forget?) of Jesus having a "face plant" after being nailed to the cross. These are two criticisms I recall.

From the clips I have seen of the movie, the description that Christopher Hitchens gave it of torture porn appears quite accurate to me.

None of which is to deny the awfulness of crucifixion as method of capital punishment. Wilson fully acknowledges that.

not trampis said...


I never saw the movie but have read plenty on how crucifixions were done.
There are loads of experts on the history of Rome who could have assisted Gibson. Strange he did not use any.