(5)There is evidence that the man buried in the shroud was very possibly raised from the dead, such as the absence of decomposition, an apparent lack of unwrapping the body, and a probable scorch from a dead body. If the man in the shroud is Jesus, as indicated by the similarities in dissimilar areas pointed out in (2), then (4) becomes possible evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. Other Archaeological Data
A few additional finds bear on the historicity of Jesus, if only indirectly. The existence of the pools of Bethesda and Siloam “can be identified with certainty” due to archaeological discoveries.^29 Although the very existence of these two pools does not prove anything in Jesus’ life, it is still interesting that the Gospel of John associates one of Jesus’ healing miracles with each site (John 5:1–9; 9:1–41).
29 Bruce, Christian Origins, p. 188.
One other note concerns the historical existence of Pontius Pilate. Coins have been discovered, minted to honor Pilate’s rule, dated AD 30–31.^30 Additionally, an inscription containing his name was discovered at Caesarea.^31 Again, this does not prove anything specifically concerning Jesus. However, the historical connection between Pilate and the crucifixion of Jesus is well established by such ancient historians as Tacitus and Josephus.^32 Synopsis of Archaeological Sources
From these archaeological sources we learn numerous facts that are beneficial in a study of Christ’s life, especially with regard to his death and possibly his resurrection. But unless the shroud is Jesus’ burial cloth, the sources chiefly provide background information that helps verify the Gospel accounts.
Concerning the taxation-census reported in Luke 2, data from archaeological discoveries reveal several facts. Such processes were fairly common in the ancient Roman Empire, involving persons traveling to their own cities. This taxation-census began during Augustus’ reign (37 BC–AD 14) and continued to the third century AD, often at fourteen year intervals. One such taxation-census was apparently enacted at approximately the same time as Jesus’ birth.
With regard to crucifixion, much depends on one’s conclusions concerning Yohanan and the Shroud of Turin. If they can be taken at face value, we learn that victims had their wrists and feet nailed to the cross (shroud; cf. Yohanan), and were apparently made to carry part of the cross to the crucifixion site, which often resulted in falls (shroud). Normal crucifixion procedure usually involved breaking the victim’s legs (Yohanan). The shroud corresponds to Jesus’ death by numerous agreements in points of abnormal crucifixion procedure, such as the crown of thorns, the severe whipping, the absence of broken ankles, the post-mortem chest wound and the flow of blood and watery fluid. Other “odd” similarities in the burial include an individual burial for a crucified person, yet a hasty burial in fine linen. We also learn much about medical factors, such as the cause of death being closely related to asphyxiation, as the victim pushed up and down in order to breathe (shroud; cf. Yohanan).
The Jewish burial process sometimes involved a sealed tomb, and usually the presence of a large stone. There were apparently reports in Palestine that caused the emperor to issue an exceptionally strong warning against grave robbing, which was punishable by death (Nazareth Decree).