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Relics of the Christ

by Joe Nickell

Availablecloth$35.00s 978-0-8131-2425-4
232 pages  Pubdate: 03/16/2007  6 x 9  photos, illus, map

The Holy Grail, the Lance of Longinus, and the True Cross are some of the most revered artifacts in the world today. These Christian relics are also a source of limitless controversy. They have incited bloodshed and, some say, are a source of miracles. They inspire fear and hope among the faithful, and yet are a perennial target for skeptics, both Christian and secular. To research the authenticity of numerous Christian relics, Joe Nickell employs a scientific approach, using such techniques as radiocarbon dating, polarized-light microscopy, and forensic serology. Examined here are such significant relics as the Shroud of Turin, the multiple heads of John the Baptist, and the “incorruptible” corpses of saints. For each relic, Nickell examines evidence indicating that the item is legitimate, evidence suggesting that it is not, and whether or not the relic and the miracles attributed to it can be recreated. In addition to his own experiments, Nickell presents findings from the world's top scientists and historians regarding these controversial objects of reverence and ire. But he is ultimately guided by the maxim, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” In treating each relic as a mystery to be solved, Nickell seeks only to find the truth.

Joe Nickell, Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), is the author of more than twenty investigative books, including Secrets of the Sideshows and Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal.

Joe Nickell is the embodiment of the Mythbusters, Sherlock Holmes, and Richard Feynman: one part lab tinkerer, one part field sleuth, and one part theoretical genius. And the relics of the Christ that he investigates in this delightful narrative render themselves bare to the magnifying glass of his inimitable mind. Having Joe Nickell show up at your miracle is like having Mike Wallace arrive at your company -- Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific Amer

A provocative book. -- Milton C. Moreland, editor of Between Text and Artifact

Free of sarcasm and without any sort of denigration of religion in general or Christianity in particular, this book provides an indispensable guide to the subject of relics, especially in its detailed refutation of hot-off-the-presses, spurious claims on behalf of the Turin Shroud and associated hoaxes. -- Robert M. Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Johnnie Colemon T

“Thorough, fair and entertaining.” -- Journal of American Cultures