|The Man Whose Image Appears on the Shroud|
Hello My Friend and Welcome.
Today we examine the third, and final, Relic of Christ’s Passion & Death — the Shroud of Turin. The length of this post exceeds our norm, but given the topic only a thorough discussion will do it justice. Before we begin, there’s an issue we must be address.
DENIAL OF THE POSSIBILITY OF IT BEING A RELIC
You frequently hear that the Shroud is a forgery. Something created by a skillful 13th Century artisan. It’s even been speculated that some unknown religious fanatic intent on creating a relic actually beat, tortured, and crucified some poor soul just to create an authentic looking shroud. People express pity and lament for this nameless individual who died producing the image. As with so many falsehoods, this nonsense is easily refuted by fact.
Many, many scientists have studied the Shroud. Some came to the work as atheists, others as skeptics, and some as agnostics. Interestingly enough, of the two thousand scientists who have studied the Shroud, 95% of them eventually converted to Christianity. Such is its power.
Consider this, suppose someone placed a piece of cloth in your arms and said, “This has been absolutely, positively verified to be the cloth that wrapped the body of Yeshua of Nazareth, the man we know as Jesus Christ.” What would you feel?
|Facial Image from the Shroud|
Tourists visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem primarily because it is all that remains of Herod’s Temple and the wall was there when Jesus lived. People walk the Via Dolorosa because Jesus trod those same paving stones on his way to Golgotha. The whole purpose of visiting the Holy Land is to see, hear, feel and experience the places where Jesus lived. And yet all of these experiences pale when compared to holding the cloth that wrapped his body in your arms.
STUDYING THE SHROUD ITSELF
The cloth of the shroud is not your typical burial linen. It is very fine cloth with a three-by-one herringbone twill weave. By comparison, Cleopatra’s burial shroud was not made of cloth anywhere near as nice. There is a legend which says it was the tablecloth used at the Last Supper. This could possibly be true since no one pre-planned his burial and time was of the essence due to the approaching sundown. They very well may have used it for expediency. Support for this theory comes from drip patterns on one side of the Shroud. It appears as if perhaps a piece of bread was dipped in sauce and then passed to others. Recall that at the time of Jesus, they ate on only one side of the table. They reclined with the table in front of them and servants brought food and utensils from the opposite side. Jewish law prohibited passing food behind someone.
|Presenting the Shroud for Scientific Analysis|
ANALYZING THE IMAGE
The popular belief is that the image on the Shroud is a contact image. This is false. There are places where the shroud clearly touched the body, but others where it just as clearly did not. Yet the image is complete and coherent. If you want an example of a contact image, visit our earlier post on the Sudarium HERE.
There is also no paint or pigment on the cloth and no brush strokes of any kind. The image resulted from the oxidation of the top six microns, less than the thickness of a human hair, of the linen fibrils. In other words, it is essentially a scorch.
Current thinking suggests the image was burned onto the cloth by the intense burst of radiant energy, light and heat, occurring at the instant of the Lord’s Resurrection. The image is essentially a photographic negative. Therefore, the negative of a photo of the Shroud displays the positive. The Shroud was first photographed in 1898. Only when they developed the plate did its fine details became apparent; most can’t be seen with the naked eye.
The reason for this photographic effect again, relates to the light, energy, and radiation of the Resurrection. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard of similar occurrences in Hiroshima. If a person happened to be passing a building at the time of detonation, they would have been instantly vaporized. However, in the process, a photographic negative image of them was burned into the wall beside them…their shadow was flashed onto the wall.
Like Veronica’s Veil and the Sudarium, the Shroud has been subjected to NASA three-dimensional imaging software. Place a photo of the Shroud under their equipment and you get a perfect 3-D image. A typical photograph or painting becomes distorted when subjected to the same process. The shroud is the only object in the world that, when its photograph is placed under this analyzer, produces a perfect 3-D image of a human being.
The image on the Shroud is also anatomically correct in all details. The wounds, blood patterns, etc., all correspond to what we know of the wounds Christ suffered. The man in the Shroud was 5’11” tall and weighed about 175 pounds. He was Jewish, in good health between the age of 30 and 35.
A Swiss criminologist gathered samples of 58 species of pollen off of the Shroud. Forty-five of them are from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. We have an exact history of the shroud from the year 1350 forward. If it originated in Europe at that time, how did it acquire all this pollen from the Holy Land? Of those 45, 18 of them are found nowhere else but in the Holy Land. A Jewish scientist and expert in pollen stated unequivocally that he has no doubt the Shroud originated in the area between Jerusalem and Jericho. Interestingly, most of this pollen comes from plants that bloom in the spring, which is, of course, when the crucifixion took place.
OTHER SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS
Ultraviolet analysis of the shroud shows blood serum halos around the blood stains. Such a detailed understanding of blood chemistry and ultraviolet technology was unknown in the 14th century.
In addition to soft tissue information, the shroud also shows bone. In some respects, the intense burst of radiation produced an X-ray effect. Under magnification, teeth can be detected through a closed mouth. Ribs, vertebrae and other bone structure can also be seen. When looking at photos of the Shroud, you may have wondered why the fingers appear so long. This is because you are seeing the metacarpal bones that form the hand itself. Images of the thumb can even be seen through the hand.
|Bloodstain from Wound Through the Wrist|
Notice also, where the nail marks are in the hands. They’re not in the hands, but in the wrists. Studies have shown that a nail in the hand, as most artists depict it, would not support the weight of a human body. In the wrist bone, however, there is a small opening that allows the nail to slip through and hold fast.
OFF BODY IMAGES
There are other images on the Shroud in addition to a man’s body. For instance, before he was buried, they attached a phylactery to his forehead. This and his hairstyle is how we know he was Jewish. Phylacteries were small leather pouches that Jews of that day tied around their head and left arm in fulfillment of the command in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
|Man Wearing a Phylactery|
Verse nine relates not to phylacteries, but to the mezuzahs, or scroll cases, Jews attach to their door posts even to this day. Inside both would be a small scroll containing the words of the Shema. In Hebrew, the prayer that proceeds the command in Deuteronomy begins, Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai eleheinu Adonai ehad… “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD…and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
Three-D imaging done in the 1970’s also showed coins on the man’s eyelids. With detailed analysis, the coin itself was identified. It was found to be a lepton. Leptons circulated in Judea at the time of Tiberius Caesar. They were minted in AD 29 during the reign of Judean Prefect Pontius Pilate.
WHAT ABOUT THE CARBON-14 DATING?
In 1988, to the naysayers delight, the Vatican authorized a Carbon-14 test. The results dated the cloth to the 14th Century — somewhere between 1290 and 1360 to be exact. End of story, right? The Shroud’s clearly a fake, a forgery, a fraud. Not quite.
Like many modern analytic tools, the reputation that Carbon-14 Dating has for accuracy is seriously overstated. It is definitely a useful scientific tool, but it depends upon skillful interpretation, multiple samples, and knowing the surrounding strata in which an object was found. But there is no surrounding strata; the Shroud was not recovered in an archeological dig. And, as you will see, the outcome of the much reported 1988 tests resulted from flawed science. Could someone have deliberately attempted to skew the results? You decide.
The 1988 tests used three postage stamp sized samples. The stated plan was to take them from three different areas. However, the researchers in charge violated this protocol and took them all from the same region. Under magnification, the site where they took the sample was also shown to have a slightly different weave pattern than the rest of the material. When this occurred, no one knows. What is known is that at some point in time it had been re-woven, perhaps during the Middle Ages, to repair earlier damage.
Because of these and similar mistakes, their work did not pass peer review by other scientists, making it essentially a worthless exercise. Results could not be published in any of the respected scientific journals such as Radio Carbon, American Journal of Chemistry, American Journal of Archaeology, etc. Instead, the results were published in the popular magazine, Nature, with no peer review.
Over the years, the Shroud has been in three recorded fires. The worst one occurred in 1532. This fire was so hot that it melted the silver overlay on the Shroud’s case sending molten silver dripping onto the Shroud. Silver, by the way, melts at 920 degrees centigrade. Since the Shroud was folded at the time, this resulted in 24 holes. The patches over those spots are easily seen in photos. The place where they took their sample was quite near a burned segment, meaning the cloth they took had been subjected to extreme heat.
When a piece of linen undergoes such an intense fire, it causes a caboxylation of its glucose structure making it appear younger than it is. Russian scientists tested the effect fire had on the Carbon 14 dating of linen. They took a piece of linen that tested 2,000 years old and subjected it to heat similar to the 1532 fire. When the linen was retested, they found the heat caused a 700 to 1,300 year shift in the results, causing the linen to appear much younger than it actually was.
Carbon-14 testing on mummies reveals that the mummy itself reads 300-600 years older than the linen they’re wrapped in.
BACTERIA AND MICROORGANISMS
As you know, microorganisms are in the air we breathe, on our skin, our clothing, our furniture…everywhere. The University of Texas studied the microorganisms found on the Shroud. Because it has been exhibited publicly so many times, a number of various bacteria had settled on the cloth. The presence of bacteria and other microorganisms is known to distort Carbon-14 Dating.
THE ISSUE OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
I’m sure we’ve all seen TV crime shows or movies in which the defense attorney tells the dogged investigator, “That’s all circumstantial evidence. You have no corpse, no fingerprints. You can’t prove my client did it. No jury will ever convict him based on merely circumstantial evidence.”
Meanwhile, we the viewer know his client is guilty as sin. The point being, when an overwhelming preponderance of circumstances all lead to a single conclusion, and at the same time eliminate all other possibilities, the only reasonable course of action is to accept those findings. Remember the little name tags your mother had to sew into your clothes before you left for summer camp? Unfortunately, no one bothered to sew a tag on the Shroud that read, “This shroud belongs to Jesus of Nazareth, if lost, please return.”
|Full Shroud - Back and Front|
Or perhaps they did.
In a report entitled The Shroud of Turin, The Holographic Experience given by Dr. Petrus Soons states, “My presentation summarizes work connected with digitizing Shroud photographs taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931, enhancing the digitized images to improve details, translating the enhanced images “gray scale data into depth data”, generating a sequence of up to 625 images of each of these, and combining these images with a Holoprinter to produce holograms (3D images) of the Shroud. It also summarizes my study of these holograms and discovery of heretofore unseen details, which confirm many previous findings and reveal some surprises.” One of those surprises was what he calls The Letters. While enlarging the photos he discovered the image of an unknown object with three letters on it lying under the man’s beard. The Aramaic word Ayin-Aleph-Nun means: “The Lamb”, a clear reference to Jesus Christ, The Lamb of God. If you wish to read the full report of The Ohio State University Conference, here’s a LINK. If you prefer, you can watch the video below which also deals with the written clues on the Shroud.
SUMMING IT UP
Let’s play Perry Mason for a few moments. We’ll put Mr. Skeptic on the witness stand and see how he interprets all of this circumstantial evidence. Then Perry can bring out the Shroud, which cannot be accurately dated. Opening it across a table he’ll ask him to tell us whether, it is, or is not, the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth?
But, before he does that, Perry will sum of the facts for the jury:
1.The Shroud displays the image of coins minted in Judea in 29 AD.
2. The Shroud also displays off body images of flowers that grow and bloom in the spring time…the time of the crucifixion. Co-incidentally, there are many early paintings of Christ’s burial that depict his body surrounded by flowers.
3. The person wrapped in the Shroud was of the proper age and religion.
4. The wounds to his body correspond exactly with those described in the Gospel accounts.
5. There is no paint or pigment anywhere on the Shroud's image.
6. The blood flows match the expected gravitational pattern.
7. The wounds greatly exceed what is typically portrayed in paintings by the Great Masters, and we all know how much flack Mel Gibson got for doing that in The Passion of the Christ.
8. The image on the Shroud is anatomically correct in every detail.
9. The image on the Shroud also aligns with one of the earliest and most famous ikons of Jesus, Christ Pantokarator, which is often taken as proof the Early Church knew of its existence.
|The Shroud Overlaid on Christ Pantocrator|
10. And last, but not least, it corresponds in every detail with both the image on Veronica’s Veil and the Sudarium, both of which are correctly dated to the First Century.
At this point, Perry points out that there are only two possibilities.
A. The Shroud is what it is purported to be, or…
B. Some immensely skilled individual living in the 14th Century possessed scientific and medical knowledge not discovered until four or five centuries later. Relying upon this secret knowledge and their skill, they somehow created an image on a piece of cloth without using paint or pigment. Then, knowing their work might someday be called into question they acquired a byssus scarf and imprinted an identical facial image on it. To further substantiate their work they made a three dimensional cast of their image, obtained blood, faked wounds and created a Sudarium.
Once the three forgeries were complete, they cleverly dispersed them to different locations making sure they were properly recognized and venerated. To do this required the use of a time machine since each of the Relics has a different pedigree. Nevertheless, they then traveled back in time between 700 and 1,000 years to various places and civilizations. At each stop they forged letters, dispatches, and other documents, both Christian and Muslim, referencing the images they’d just created.
With all that done, they returned to their own time and took a well-deserved rest. Spent, no doubt, congratulating themselves on their cleverness. Unfortunately, they could never take credit for this scheme of theirs. Because if they did, all the work they did would collapse in an instant.
Perry now turns and approaches the witness stand. He rests an elbow on the railing. Leaning forward, he looks you in the eye and asks, “Well, what say you?”
The next time we’ll look at the traditions of Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.
Until then, we wish you Peace and Blessings.
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