The New Testament is the main source of information about Jesus Christ, but the gospels lack important information about his life. In what year was he born, in what he died, was he married? Historians are trying to provide answers to these and other important questions.
Yesterday Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants all over the world celebrated the bright holiday of Easter, the day of the Resurrection of Christ.
Most historians agree that Jesus Christ really existed, but many of the circumstances of his life - in particular, the supernatural phenomena and miracles attributed to him - make it difficult to separate legends from facts.
We present five questions about Christ that still remain unanswered from a scientific point of view.
When was Jesus born?
Protestants and Catholics celebrate the Birth of Christ on December 25, and Orthodox Christians on January 7. However, according to historical information and preserved facts, Christ was born on another day.
Even around the year of his birth, there are fierce disputes. According to the opinions of various experts, Jesus Christ was born from 2 to 7 BC.
In 2008, astronomer Dave Renecke suggested that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial phenomenon commonly associated with Christmas) is actually Venus and Jupiter, fused together to form the brightest light source in the night sky.
Using computer models, Renecke was able to calculate that this rare cosmic event took place on June 17, 2 BC.
Other astronomers claim that we are talking about a similar conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which took place in October 7 BC.
Many historians argue that Jesus was born in the spring, referring to places in the biblical text, which speak of shepherds who looked after the flocks of sheep on the night of the Nativity of Christ. This could only happen in the spring, and by no means in January or December.
Was Jesus married?
In recent years, with the world bestseller The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, soon to be filmed with Tom Hanks in the title role, controversy has flared up over whether Jesus really could have a wife.
Many Bible scholars believe that Mary Magdalene, who is often mentioned in the New Testament, was in fact the wife of Christ.
In the apocryphal "Gospel of Philip", for example, you can read the following phrase: "And there were three women who followed the Lord everywhere: his mother, Mary, her sister, and also Magdalene, whom He called his friend."
A Coptic manuscript found in 2012, dubbed The Gospel of the Wife of Christ, in turn confirmed the legend that Jesus was married. The ancient papyrus contains the following phrase: "Jesus said to them: My wife …".
Using the methods of micro-Raman and infrared spectroscopy, researchers literally two weeks ago were able to prove that the ancient manuscript is not a modern forgery, but was compiled many hundreds of years ago.
Did Jesus walk on water?
One of the most impressive miracles attributed to Christ is his walking on the waters of Lake Galilee, now in Israel. Modern researchers believe that this is not a supernatural phenomenon.
The fact is that exactly at this time, due to unprecedented cold weather, the temperature in that area dropped to -4 degrees Celsius. Because of this, floating ice floes formed near the shores of the lake, which were difficult to notice in the evening hours.
When did Jesus die?
Biblical sources agree that Christ was sentenced to death and crucified during the reign of the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate in Judea. The Gospel tells how the sky darkened for several hours after the crucifixion, which was perceived by witnesses as a miracle and an omen of impending disasters.
Therefore, many historians associate the date of the crucifixion of Christ with a total solar eclipse in 29 AD, which lasted for about two minutes. Other researchers cite a longer eclipse (over 4 minutes) in 33 AD.
Was Jesus Buried in the Shroud of Turin?
For many centuries, the authenticity of the Turin Shroud, in which Jesus was allegedly wrapped and buried, has been questioned. Even modern scientific research has failed to resolve this issue.
The Catholic Church does not have an official position regarding the authenticity of the Shroud, despite the fact that thousands of believing pilgrims visit the Turin Cathedral every year for the sake of this shrine.
Through a series of radiocarbon analysis tests carried out in three different laboratories in the 1980s, it was established that the image on the Shroud is no more than 800 years old, and was made in the late Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390.
However, in 2014, a sensational message appeared about a new hypothesis by Italian scientists: the image on the Shroud could have arisen as a result of a strong earthquake in Jerusalem in 33 AD, which led to strong neutron radiation.
It was the neutron emission as a result of the reaction with nitrogen that "highlighted" the face of Jesus on the linen cloth, and at the same time increased the level of carbon isotopes. This, in turn, skewed the results of the radiocarbon analysis tests.
Be that as it may, disputes about the authenticity of the Turin Shroud do not stop, and are unlikely to ever subside - as well as discussions around other issues about the life of Jesus Christ.