Century Marks

Century Marks

Dating the shroud

New scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin date the cloth to ancient times, challenging earlier experiments that dated it only to the Middle Ages. The burial shroud purports to show the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man, with nail wounds at the man’s wrist and pinpricks around his brow, consistent with the crown of thorns pressed onto Christ before his crucifixion. Many experts have stood by a 1988 carbon-14 dating of scraps of the cloth that dated it to the years 1260 to 1390. In a statement, Pope Francis was careful to refer to the cloth image as an “icon,” not a relic, reflecting the Vatican’s policy of not claiming the cloth was used to cover Christ after the crucifixion (RNS).

Pastoral care

Megachurch pastor and popular Christian author Rick Warren said he was “overwhelmed” by the love and support offered after the apparent suicide of the youngest of his three children. The Warrens said in an e-mail to church staff Saturday that Matthew Warren had taken his own life in a “momentary wave of despair.” It said he had long struggled to control his emotional pain despite years of prayers and the best available treatment (AP).

Iraq, a hard place

Ten years after the beginning of the Iraq War, Americans remain deeply divided over it: 46 percent say the United States mostly achieved its goals in Iraq, while 43 percent say the war was mostly a failure. Americans also continue to disagree over the invasion of Iraq: 44 percent say it was the wrong decision, 41 percent say it was the right thing to do (Pew Research, March 18).

Four-part harmony

Choral music was a major part of the Lutheran Reformation and goes back to Luther himself. He was a competent songwriter and singer, and he saw music as a powerful means of proclaiming the mysteries of God and of moving human hearts. Luther knew that music as an art form has the capacity to bring people together, so he encouraged people to sing together, and in harmony. Luther’s ability to join vernacular words with popular song tunes was instrumental in spreading the Reformation among illiterate as well as literate people. Lutheran schools taught children to sing “psalms and songs” and to sing in four parts (Church History, March).

Revised edition

Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus is one of the most important books on biblical theology in the modern period. Many people don’t realize that Schweitzer published a greatly revised edition—an edition that didn’t appear in English until 2000. Theologians in the U.S. often quote a passage from the original text without realizing that Schweitzer excised it in his revision: “the coming Son of Man lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which [will] bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, He has destroyed them.” Another famous section, “He comes to us as one unknown,” was retained in the revised version (Early Christianity 3 [2012]).