Is the Shroud of Turin authentic?

Or is it a forgery?

by , Robert Carter

Published: 16 August 2019 (GMT+10)

Summary

Shroud-of-Turin
Figure 1: The Shroud of Turin contains a faint dorsal (top half) and frontal (lower half) image of a man, with many features paralleling the Crucifixion. Yet, the historical record of the Shroud is spotty, multiple features on it conflict with the biblical record of events, and carbon dating places it squarely in the medieval era.

Table of Contents

Summary

Introduction

Is it a genuine image?

What did Shroud researchers actually find?

The Shroud’s whereabouts before the Middle Ages

Dating the Shroud

Other considerations

Conclusions

A list of arguments used to support the authenticity of the Shroud, and their refutation

Acknowledgements

Controversy surrounds the Shroud of Turin (hereafter ‘the Shroud’), which some say is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This cloth shows the front and rear image of a man who appears to have undergone a lot of torture. Here we present our view on the authenticity of the Shroud. Due to several lines of evidence, we think that the Shroud of Turin is not the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ:

Bible: Our conclusions are primarily based on the biblical evidence, namely that according to John 11:44 and John 20:7 the Jewish custom was to bury their dead using several cloths, not just one. The Jews buried Jesus with a face cloth, which disqualifies the Shroud as being the burial cloth of Christ. Furthermore, Jesus was buried with seventy-five pounds of extremely sticky spices, according to John 19:40, whereas the Shroud shows no signs of them.

Morphology: Several features of the man in the Shroud appear to be distorted, and he is unusually tall, compared to the average height of a first-century Jewish man. Also, he was clearly not wrapped in the cloth, as the image does not show the sides of the head or body.

Physical Chemistry: It is also questionable why the blood stains have remained red so long after death.

Nuclear chemistry: Pro-Shroud researchers have always called the reliability of the multiple carbon dates that have been obtained from the Shroud into question. However, despite their attempted re-evaluation of the radiocarbon dates, the only conclusion one can draw from them is that the Shroud is not 2,000 years old. We reject the idea that Jesus’ body disappeared from within the Shroud while emitting neutron radiation, which supposedly left traces on the front and rear sides of the Shroud.

Provenance: Many false relics are known from the Middle Ages, including many from the regions of northern Italy and France. This raises the suspicion that the Shroud is also a forgery, since it was first displayed in the 14th century in France. There is no ‘paper trail’ that gives us a clear chain of custody and it cannot be known that earlier objects with similar claims (e.g. the Image of Edessa) are one and the same.

Manufacturing: It is possible that the image on the Shroud was formed by common biochemical reactions called Maillard reactions. But, even if the Shroud was once wrapped around a human body, this would preclude the body of Jesus because these reactions are associated with decomposition. We should also not overlook the ingenuity of medieval artisans. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was known for his detailed descriptions of anatomy and the mechanical structures that he engineered.

In the end, we do not know how the Shroud was made, nor do we know how old it is, but we also do not need to know. We lose nothing if it is not authentic. Even the Apostles did not appeal to physical evidence for the Resurrection. Instead, they appealed to eyewitness testimony. Those testimonies are still with us today, in the pages of the New Testament.

Introduction

There is a controversial piece of linen cloth residing in a cathedral in Turin, northern Italy. Called the Shroud of Turin, it is claimed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Strangely, it bears the full-length frontal and dorsal negative imprint of a man’s body (figure 1).

The Shroud is a single piece of cloth about 4.3 meters (14.2 ft) long and 1.1 meters (3.6 ft) wide. It was first displayed publicly in the 1350s in Lirey, France. In 1532 the Shroud suffered fire damage in the chapel where it was housed. Since it was folded at the time, this resulted in a series of repetitive burn holes. Patches were then sown on to repair the more damaged sections. In 1578 it was passed into the hands of the Dukes of Savoy, who deposited it at the cathedral of Turin, in northwestern Italy. Further repairs were made to it in 1694 and 1868. In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Vatican, but it still resides in St. John’s Cathedral, under the guardianship of the archbishop of Turin.

Its authenticity has always been debated, but this has only gotten worse in recent years, and we regularly receive inquiries about it. Therefore, we have taken the time to examine the ‘for’ and ‘against’ cases based upon both scientific and biblical evidence. This review depends heavily on two recent books, both of which argue for the authenticity of the Shroud. The first is Mark Antonacci’s 2015 book, Test the Shroud at the Atomic and Molecular Levels.1 Antonacci is a lawyer and founder and president of Test the Shroud Foundation. He is a leading expert on the Shroud of Turin and has spent 30 years studying it. Second is Thomas de Wesselow’s 2012 book The Sign – The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection.2 Wesselow is an art historian who holds a Ph.D. from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. He has researched the Shroud for 12 years. We also studied Sacred Blood, Sacred Image, the Sudarium of Oviedo,3 by Janice Bennett, who has a Masters of Arts in Spanish literature and a certificate in advanced Biblical studies from the Catholic Biblical School of Denver. From a somewhat skeptical position we also referenced Relic, Icon, or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud, 4 by Harry E. Gove, late emeritus professor of physics at the University of Rochester, New York. Finally, we also read but didn’t find much new material in The Truth about the Shroud of Turin, by journalist Robert K. Wilcox.5

Is it a genuine image?

The big question is, does the Shroud really bear the image of Jesus? Is it a genuine burial cloth of some unknown person, or is it just an elaborate forgery? Is it possibly a by-product of naturally occurring chemical processes? Or maybe a combination of these things?

Different groups have different stakes as to whether the Shroud is real. It is one of the most high-profile relics of the medieval Roman Catholic Church and is venerated by many Roman Catholic faithful. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church has a very real interest in the authenticity of the Shroud. Despite this, the church itself does not make any direct claim that the Shroud is authentic.

On the other hand, atheists and skeptics do not believe the Shroud is real. Their atheistic worldview excludes a priori any kind of miracle. Thus, they inadvertently bias themselves when trying to refute the evidence allegedly supporting the authenticity of the Shroud. They fall victim to automatically explaining away evidence which in fact might be real.

Protestants are the least inclined to be biased as to whether the Shroud is real or not. Based on the principle of sola Scriptura, Protestants hold God’s Word to be the sole highest authority, and not any physical evidence. Catholic doctrine does not hold to sola Scriptura but also allows for tradition to help form their doctrine.6 Therefore, if the Shroud is real, it is one more proof that Jesus rose from the dead. But if the Shroud is fake, Protestants lose nothing, and Catholics should lose nothing, as long as they have not gone too far out on a limb in accepting it as real. The fact of the Resurrection of Jesus is what is at stake, not the Shroud. We do not need to look for any kind of physical evidence to verify our faith, rather we trust the testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture.

The biblical evidence

Since the Bible is our sole highest authority, and since it is the inerrant, holy Word of God, it would be fitting to start out with the description of Jesus’ burial in the New Testament. There are four mentions of Jesus’ burial cloth, two in the Gospel of Luke and two in the Gospel of John.

Luke 23:52–53 describes the way Jesus’ body was wrapped before he was entombed:

“This man [Joseph of Arimathea] went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.”

Luke 24:12 describes how Peter found the Shroud after Jesus had risen from the dead:

“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (emphasis added)

John 19:40 says:

“So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (emphasis added)

John 20:5–7 describes the burial cloth of Jesus in a little bit more detail:

“And stooping to look in, he [the ‘disciple Jesus loved’] saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.” (emphasis added)

This means that, at least according to Luke and John, there were multiple pieces of cloth, contrary to the single-piece Shroud of Turin. The only other possibility is that Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth that were smeared with sticky myrrh and aloes, a cloth was placed over his face, then the wrapped body was laid on a separate linen sheet that the Bible does not mention. This sheet would then have to be folded over the top of the body, starting at the head. But not only would this be an argument from silence, the sheet should have become stuck to the spice-wrapped strips of linen and the inner cloth layers would have absorbed and otherwise obscured the blood and blood patterns on the body.

The Shroud depicts the face of a man on it, but John 20:5–7 states that Jesus’ face cloth was a separate piece of linen, set aside in a place beside the burial “cloths”. John 20:5 calls these cloths “τὰ ὀθόνια” (ta othonia), which is in the plural in Greek. A better understanding, from the Greek text itself, is that the body was wrapped in multiple strips of cloth and the face was covered by a separate cloth.

We see this in another New Testament passage that deals with then-current burial customs, and this occurred only a few miles from Jesus’ burial site. John 11:11–45 describes the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus. Verse 44 describes in detail what Lazarus looked like when he came forth from his grave:

“The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’”

Even if it only specifically mentions his hands and feet, here Lazarus is bound with multiple clothes, just like Jesus was in John 20:7, with a separate napkin around his head.

What did Shroud researchers actually find?

A team of scientists from the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) examined almost every single thread on the Shroud. They were searching for evidence to support their view that it is truly the burial Shroud of Jesus Christ. They reported several physical characteristics which they claim have been “coded” into the fabric of the Shroud by some unusual process.

The image of the man in the Shroud

The most notable feature is the face and body of the image on the Shroud, which shows quite a bit of detail. The man’s eyes appear to be closed, and he has hair down to his shoulders. STURP scientists counted 130 ‘blood stains’ coming from the man’s body. His arms are crossed over his groin area. STURP scientists also claim that the man was scourged by a whip with a dumbbell-like tip, which they claim was commonly used by Roman executioners during the first century. Furthermore, based on the nature of the man’s wounds, it appears that he had been carrying a heavy object (possibly the crossbar) to his execution. The man also showed evidence that his feet and wrists (not his hands) were pierced, that he had been stabbed in the side, and that he had worn a crown of spiky objects (possibly the crown of thorns). Streams of blood are visible going down the back of the man’s hands.

However, several lines of evidence contradict the idea that the image in the Shroud was that of Jesus Christ. First, the shoulder-length hair should have fallen backwards, since Jesus was lying down in the tomb. Alternatively, his hair would not be free-flowing if his head was wrapped in a separate cloth. Instead, the man’s hair seems to be falling to his shoulders due to gravity. STURP scientists claim that they can detect signs of trauma that the man in the Shroud underwent. The man in the Shroud has a full beard, without any hair torn out. Thus, there is no sign of the trauma that would have happened when Roman soldiers tore out wads of Jesus’ beard when He was being tortured (Isaiah 50:6). This Old Testament passage is referenced by Matthew 26:67 and 27:30, during which the Roman soldiers strike Jesus in the face and also spit on Him. Even though the two passages from Matthew do not specifically mention that Jesus’ beard was torn out, we can still identify Jesus speaking in Isaiah 50:6 where this is specifically mentioned. Also, the famous ‘He was pierced for our transgressions’ passage in Isaiah 52 and 53 says:

As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. (Isaiah 52:14–15a)

Based on this passage, we wonder how the face in the Shroud can be so free of the trauma we would expect both from the relevant biblical passages and the way Roman soldiers were famous for treating condemned criminals.

The figure of the man in the Shroud also has unusually long fingers and long arms. Normally, a man’s arms below the wrist would not cover his groin when lying flat on his back – the wrists would only cover the groin when a person’s head and legs are raised when lying down. This would be an unusual posture for someone lying inside a tomb.

De Wesselow thus makes the surprising claim that the man’s head dropped about forty degrees on the cross and stayed that way due to rigor mortis. The rigor mortis in the arms, which were outstretched on the cross beam, must have been broken so that they would have fit under the Shroud, so why not the neck? But rigor mortis only begins to set in several hours after death, before which Jesus would have been laid in the tomb, so his argument is invalid.

Strangely, the width of the right leg is twice that of the left leg above the knee on the frontal image, but not on the dorsal image, however this might be due to distortion of the Shroud image based on the way it was (presumably) draped across the body. The man in the Shroud seems to lack a navel. It might be that the image might be too blurred for it to be noticeable. Although, if STURP scientists were capable of discerning small coins (see below), they should also be able to make out images of a navel as well.

The height of the man in the Shroud is 5 ft 10 in, according to Antonacci, although de Wesselow says it is a full 6 ft, but this doesn’t matter much. We must remember that people were shorter in times past, and even today the mean height of Jewish males in different parts of the world is at most 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in).7 While it is not inconceivable that Jesus was tall for his time, the height of the man in the Shroud makes it less likely that this really was Jesus Christ.

Antonacci writes on pp. 81–82 of Test the Shroud that the man in the Shroud was of a physical type found in modern times among Sephardic Jews. This is puzzling, because Sephardic Jews first appeared in the area around Spain only in the second millennium, possibly around as late as the 11th century.8 If the man in the Shroud resembled a Sephardic Jew, this would exclude the possibility that the Shroud is truly Jesus’ burial cloth. The fact that the man in the Shroud resembles a Sephardic Jew means that such a person could possibly have served as the model for a medieval forger to base the Shroud on. Worse, one wonders what, exactly, he is talking about, for there are essentially no physical characteristics that separate Jewish people from non-Jewish people, nor would any be expected. Even general differences would be incredibly difficult to make out in the Shroud image.

The Sudarium of Oviedo

Shroud.comSudarium-of-Oviedo
Figure 2: The Sudarium of Oviedo is a blood-stained cloth purported to be the face-cloth from Jesus’ burial. Thus, it is holds a contradicting claim to the Shroud. Yet, both it and the Shroud are medieval, according to carbon dating.

The Sudarium of Oviedo (figure 2) is a 34- by 21-inch (0.86 x 0.53 m) cloth kept in a silver chest in the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, Spain. It has been studied extensively by the Investigative Team of the Spanish Center of Sindonology (EDICES). The term sudarium in Latin means a sweat-cloth and they are generally about the size of a napkin or a hand-towel. The Sudarium of Oviedo is large enough to completely wrap around the head of a person.

According to the results of the EDICES research team, the Sudarium originally covered the head of a crucifixion victim and became stained from the blood and pulmonary edema fluid flowing from the victim’s nose and mouth. The Sudarium was allegedly fastened to the back of the victim’s head by pointy objects. The team suggests this was perhaps the crown of thorns (Sacred Blood, p. 75). Whoever took the body down from the cross would have had to wrap his head in this cloth first. They also claim the Sudarium was re-wrapped around the head after the body of the victim was placed in a horizontal position, remained in place while the victim was transported to a nearby location, then removed and set aside. They claim it did not receive its stains from the Shroud and would not be expected to have the same stain pattern (Sacred Blood, p. 15). In the Bible, it would be the separate napkin that the disciples saw neatly folded beside the other linen garments in the empty tomb (John 20:7).

Strangely, they claim to have found traces of aloe, myrrh, residues of beeswax, vegetal wax, and conifer resin on the bloody parts of the Sudarium (Sacred Blood, p. 69). We have already mentioned the absence of these substances on the Shroud. But this raises a giant question: what explains the presence of aloe and myrrh on the Sudarium, if it was removed from the head when the victim was laid into the tomb, and prior to the body being covered in these sticky substances?

This story is even more questionable when you consider John 11:44, which states that when Lazarus arose from the grave, his face was still wrapped with a cloth. Why did they remove the Sudarium from Jesus’ face and not from Lazarus’ face? Or, if the Sudarium was just a sweat cloth that was used to cover and/or clean Jesus’ head, why was Lazarus’ burial different?

Other sources besides EDICES claim that the Sudarium was applied to the face of Jesus after He was covered by the Shroud, others say that it was used to support Jesus’ jaw as a sort of chin-band. Furthermore, four churches in France and three in Italy also claim additional or competing portions of the grave cloths of Jesus (Sacred Blood, p. 14). There is no consistent story.

EDICES also claims that there are seventy points of coincidence between the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo (Sacred Blood, p. 84). However, de Wesselow claims in the Sign (p. 230) that this is far from straightforward. For example, the Sudarium has a taffeta weave and was coarser in texture. This fits with its suggested use for wiping sweat from the face or as a turban. Its weave is different from the herringbone weave of the Shroud.

Like the Shroud, the Sudarium has been carbon dated, this time by two independent laboratories. A lab in Tucson, Arizona obtained a date range from 642 to 869 AD. A lab in Toronto, Canada obtained a date range between 653 and 786 AD (Sacred Blood, p. 78). Yet again, the science does not support the age claims.

Also Like the Shroud, the early years of the Sudarium are surrounded by mystery. In 614 AD (curiously close to the carbon dates) it was allegedly transported from Jerusalem to Alexandria, Egypt and then to Spain, after Jerusalem was invaded by the Persians. Even Bennett admits that this journey is poorly documented and mixed with fantastic legends.

In conclusion, there is no reason to believe the Sudarium is authentic, that it had anything to do with the burial of Christ, or that it has any relationship to the Shroud.

Blood stains on the Shroud

Hand-forearm
Figure 3: Hand and forearm area of the man in the shroud.

Antonacci says in Test the Shroud, that because the Sabbath was coming, the Jews had little time to wash Jesus’ body before wrapping it in cloths and placing it in the tomb (p. 94). If the body was not washed, the Shroud should be smeared with blood, yet the wounds are clear and there is little evidence of ‘smearing’. Even more peculiar is the fact that the supposed blood marks on the Shroud are still visibly reddish in color, when it is a well-known fact that blood turns dark brown fairly rapidly after oxidizing in air. Some shroud proponents claim that the still reddish coloration of these blood marks is due to bilirubin, which is a chemically decomposed component of blood that is often pumped out of a person’s liver when in shock. Yet bilirubin is yellowish in color and is the chemical responsible for the condition called jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin.

Interestingly, de Wesselow contradicts Antonacci by claiming that the body of Jesus had been washed, in accordance to burial traditions in the Jewish Mishnah (The Sign, p. 124, referring to Mishnah Shabbat 23:5). But he also claims that a body would be wrapped only loosely in a single sheet called a sobeb/sovev. However, this provision came to us from sixteenth-century Jewish Law. Let us also not forget that Jewish tradition does not supersede biblical authority, which mentions that Jesus was wrapped in multiple cloths (John 20:7).

simulating-blood-flowing
Figure 4: Volunteer simulating blood flowing down his arm in a blood pattern analysis test, taken from figure 4b from Borrini and Garlaschelli, 2019 (see references).

Results from blood pattern analysis by Dr. Matteo Borrini and Luigi Garlaschelli suggest that the trickle pattern of the blood on the man in the Shroud do not correspond to the way blood would have flowed from a wounded man, nailed to a cross with his arms at an angle of approximately 45 degrees (figure 3). Rivulets of blood on the back of the left hand are consistent with a person whose hands are stretched out at 35–45 degrees above horizontal. However, blood stains on the forearm on the Shroud could only come from someone holding their hands nearly vertically, in which case blood would flow all the way down the forearm, instead of at an angle (figure 4).9

Coins on the Shroud?

STURP scientists claim that inscriptions from small coins called leptons made imprints on the Shroud of Turin. This was supposedly part of Jewish burial customs in the first century, but this is not mentioned in any of the four Gospels. The scientists even claim that part of the inscription is visible on the Shroud’s material.10 This indeed might sound like convincing evidence, however, looking at the evidence in closer detail raises doubts about whether this is true.

The researchers claim that the letters UCAI from the word “TIBERIOY KAICAROC” (Tiberius Caesar) are visible alongside a curved staff, or lituus, on what seems to be a coin imprinted on the Shroud (figure 5). The letter U in UCAI forms the upper two bars of the letter Y in TIBERIOY (Test the Shroud, fig. 67). There is an obvious misspelling in the inscription, namely that there is a C instead of a K in the word KAICAROC. This could be due to the minters leaving off the vertical line from the K, creating a letter C instead. STURP scientists claim, however, that they have found four lepton coins with this self-same misspelling, meaning that this is not so uncommon (Test the Shroud, pp. 69–72).

While such coins might exist, one study concluded that some religious people are significantly predisposed in detecting what they think are actual words on relics of religious significance, such as the Shroud of Turin. In other words, their ‘eyes of faith’ may see something that others not only don’t see but which might not actually be there.11 The letters UCAI are short enough to be just a random pattern seen in the cloth.

Ohio Shroud conferencelepton-coin
Figure 5: The alleged imprint of an inscription from a lepton coin above the right eye of the man in the Shroud. The letters CAI are circled in red (left). Actual lepton coin (right).

Pollen

The scientific analysis of pollen is called palynology, and while it cannot put a specific date on an object, it can still provide evidence of where the object had been located. What makes this possible is the fact that pollen is very durable and different plant species produce recognizably different pollen grains. Palynologists (scientists who study pollen) can usually narrow down the pollen to the genus of a given plant species and by comparing plant distribution patterns, especially of rare or geographically restricted species, can thus tell the location from which the pollen originated.

Sticky tape was applied to the Shroud in 1973 by palynologist Max Frei. Interestingly, pollen from twenty plant species was discovered. Initial results claimed these plants are abundant in Turkey, one of the places where the Shroud was supposedly located at on its long way to France, then Italy. But not all pollen researchers agree with Frei’s methodology or conclusions. Although there is general agreement about the genera of the pollen found on the Shroud, the species identification is suspect. Silvano Scannerini, a botany professor in Turin says that a more thorough analysis is necessary. An American pro-Shroud group called ASSIST has not been able to do this, despite the fact that they have had Frei’s original sticky tapes for over twenty years (The Sign, pp. 113–114). In the end, we cannot conclude anything about the palynology of the Shroud.

Spices

Also missing from the Shroud are any traces of spices. Besides wrapping the body in linen cloths, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (the Pharisee of John chapter 3 fame) wrapped the body “with the spices”:

“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (John 19:38–40) (emphasis added)

Nicodemus had spent a fortune buying 75 pounds of sticky resin from the myrrh and aloe trees. We are not exactly certain what the “aloe” of the Bible is (it is not the same thing as the common house plant), but myrrh resin is a sticky, gummy substance that would have definitely left traces behind. Not only would it have bound the linen strips together, but it would not have been possible to keep the spice mixture only on the inside of the linen strips. Anyone who has worked with flour, water, and newspaper to make papier-mâché objects knows how messy this process is. Working with the aloe-myrrh concoction would have been much worse. The fact that the Shroud lacks any detectable traces of myrrh, the fact that it is in a nice, flat configuration (not ‘stuck together’ in any way), and the fact that it is a single sheet all point to it not being the burial cloth of Christ.

Antonacci acknowledges the lack of myrrh or aloe in the Shroud (p. 87), claiming that only the inside of the Shroud was examined. But this is specious. Seventy-five pounds were used. There should be abundant evidence for these spices.

The Shroud’s whereabouts before the Middle Ages

The whereabouts of the Shroud (its ‘provenance’) was unknown prior to its public display in Lirey, France in 1355. According to some Shroud researchers, it was stolen from Constantinople, probably during the Fourth Crusade (1203–4). The object purported to be the same as the Shroud was known as the Mandylion in Constantinople prior to the Fourth Crusade, when many relics were transferred from the East to the West by crusaders.

But it is not at all clear that the Mandylion is the same as the Shroud of today. Not only is there a 150+ year gap between the Fourth Crusade and the Shroud’s appearance in Lirey, but the Mandylion was also supposedly displayed in France in the court of King Louis IX in Paris until it disappeared during the French Revolution (1789–1799).12 During its stay in Constantinople, the Mandylion was supposedly displayed for guests of honor in the Eastern emperor’s court. It was stored in a container in such a way that only the top fourth was visible (showing Jesus’ face), folded over itself and draped on a wooden beam. Thus, it was also known as the tetradiplon, Greek for ‘folded in four’.

From around the year 550 to 944, the Mandylion was purportedly in Edessa,13 then part of the Byzantine Empire, now in modern Turkey. Assuming the Image of Edessa is the same as both the Mandylion and the Shroud, this means that for a whole third of its existence (33 to 550 and 944 to 1355 AD), the whereabouts of the Shroud are unknown. The only historical attestation to the Shroud/Mandylion/Image of Edessa, either purported or real, comes from a supposed exchange of letters between King Agbar V of Edessa, who is supposed to have ruled there between AD 13–50, and Jesus Christ Himself. However, even historians and some Roman Catholic authorities reject the authenticity of these letters.14

The Shroud of today is almost certainly the same as the one first seen in France in 1355. It is possibly the same as the Mandylion from Constantinople (although the carbon dates contradict this, see below). And it is unlikely to be the Image of Odessa. But that is as far as we can trace it. Considering the biblical descriptions above, we would have to reject the authenticity of the Shroud even if it could be traced back to 33 AD Jerusalem. Yet we cannot get close to that in either time or geography, so all we can say is that the Shroud is ancient, but it is not the burial shroud of Jesus.

The Pray Codex

wikipedia.org/entombment
Figure 6: Image of the entombment of Christ from the Pray manuscript. The red square denotes the four circles that some claim are similar to the holes in the Shroud. The holes in the Shroud are on the dorsal side and form a knight’s step pattern. The hole-like marks in the manuscript form a similar pattern, but they are 90-degrees off. The red circle denotes a set of hole-like spots on what appears to be a separate linen sheet in the image. A: Hole-like pattern on the angel’s wing. B: Hole-like pattern on the angel’s belt.

The Pray Codex is a collection of medieval documents written in Hungarian sometime during the late twelfth to early thirteenth century. It was named after György Pray who discovered it in 1770. According to some Shroud supporters, there is an interesting correspondence between the Pray Codex and the Shroud that, they believe, tells us that there may have been some cross-pollination of ideas. During the twelfth to thirteenth centuries the kingdom of Hungary had strong relations with the Byzantine Empire under King Béla III (1148–1196 AD), who as a young man spent eight years in the imperial court at Constantinople. Béla III predates the Fourth Crusade. If the Mandylion and the Shroud are one and the same, it is at this time that a drawing of the Mandylion could have been made, for later use in the Pray manuscript, which originated from this time period. At least, the presence of the Mandylion could have influenced the burial scene in the Pray Codex, or at least that is what some Shroud supporters hope.

One of the documents in the Pray Codex contains a depiction of the entombment of Christ (figure 6). On the dorsal side of the Shroud (the part that shows the back of the man, not the more familiar front image), two sets of four “poker holes” are visible next to the man’s upper legs. They form a pattern similar to a knight’s step pattern in chess (red circles, figure 7). Some people claim this pattern of poker holes is also depicted on the entombment scene on the Pray manuscript.

Fig_7
Figure 7: Close-up of figure 1 of the ‘poker holes’ that make a knight’s step pattern on the dorsal side of the Shroud, along a fold line and, as we will see, along the one edge that was scorched during a fire.

There are multiple problems with this, not the least of which is the that the holes are rotated 90 degrees with respect to the pattern on the Shroud (red square, figure 6). A similar series of holes can also be seen on the cloth covered with red crosses (red circle, figure 6). This might indicate that these circles are merely ornaments and no real correlation exists between the two. Such circles can also be seen on the angel’s wing and his belt (letters A and B, figure 6). These holes are unrepaired burn marks (figure 7), which would have been made in the 1532 fire, when the Shroud was already in France. This means that the entombment scene in the Pray Codex could not have been based on these features seen in the Shroud. The fact that the holes follow the scorched fold line is obvious.

The Shroud and the Pray Codex are approximately contemporaneous in time, although the maximum age of the Shroud (860 years before present, or approximately 1128 AD, table 1) would predate the Pray Codex. But we simply do not know which came first or what ideas were circulating among other artifacts that are now lost to us. The case for the corresponding holes was already weak, but it completely fails when considering the fire damage.

Table 1. C-14 age measurements in years from three of the samples of the Shroud of Turin, as reported in Nature in 1989 with averaged values for Arizona.

 

Individual measurements

Weighted means

St. dev.

Arizona 1

591±30

690±35

606±41

701±33

-

646±31

17

Oxford

795±65

730±45

745±55

-

-

750±30

32

Zurich

733±61

722±56

635±57

639±45

679±51

676±24

24

Dating the Shroud

One of the most common ways of dating a sample of organic material is by carbon dating. Radiometric dating in general may be controversial, but carbon dating can be quite accurate, especially for material in this age range. On April 21, 1988 four samples (figure 8) were removed from the Shroud to be analyzed. Each sample was about 50 mg in weight and 10x70 mm2 in size. It is important to note that the samples were taken from the main body of the Shroud, away from patches, but not necessarily far from the charred areas or the obvious water stains.

Shroud.comFragments
Figure 8: Fragments from the Shroud of Turin which were sent to the three radiocarbon laboratories.

This area would have been inside the folded-up image when on display (figures 9 & 10). It would have been located on the top-most edge, above and to the left of the face. Even though the very edge would have been exposed, it would also have been protected by several layers of cloth. Thus, it may have been handled less frequently than some other sections, perhaps minimizing contamination from modern carbon.

The four samples were sent to three accelerator-mass-spectrometry (AMS) labs in Tucson (Arizona), Oxford (England), and Zurich (Switzerland) for independent testing. Three control samples were also included: 1) a piece of linen from a Nubian tomb dating to the eleventh to twelfth centuries, 2) a linen cloth from a mummy of Cleopatra of Thebes from the early second century, and 3) threads removed from the cope (a type of coat) of St. Louis d’Anjou from the Basilica of Saint-Maximin, France from the turn of the thirteenth century. Table 1 summarizes the age of the results as reported by the journal Nature. After applying strict calibration methods, the radiocarbon date of the Shroud ranged from 1260–1390 AD. Importantly, the dates for the other objects were appropriate to their expected timeframe.15

Objections to the radiocarbon dates

The fact that three labs independently dated the Shroud to the Middle Ages and not to the first century (closer to the date of the linen cloth from the mummy of Cleopatra) is a strong indication that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval relic. Proponents of a first century age of the Shroud know very well that dating the Shroud to the 13th–14th century is a major obstacle for them. Therefore, they have come up with several arguments to refute the radiocarbon dates.

Antonacci reveals to us on p. 310–314 of Test the Shroud that the radiocarbon dates from the Arizona lab are actually averaged values. In reality, the Arizona lab had performed eight measurements (two per day for four dates from May to June of 1988). These values are shown in Table 2. The lowest age value measured by the three radiocarbon labs was 540 years, which just so happens to come from the Arizona lab. The highest age is 795 years, coming from the Oxford lab. This would mean an age difference of 255 years. This large of a difference between Shroud samples which are only centimeters away from one another indicates that the radiocarbon dates are imperfect. That is why the Arizona lab averaged its age values. But even with a 225-year range, this puts the dates squarely in the late medieval period (1203–1458 AD).

Table 2. Unaveraged C-14 age measurements in years of the Shroud of Turin by the radiocarbon lab in Arizona (Test the Shroud, p. 311).

 

May 6

May 12

May 24

June 2

First measurement

574±41

753±51

676±59

701±47

Second measurement

606±43

632±49

540±57

701±47


Shroud proponents also claim that a large amount of external 14C contaminated the Shroud, making it look much younger than it really is. Outside contamination could come from oils from human skin and soot from candles, among other things. Riani et al.16 analyzed the dates measured by the three radiocarbon labs and concluded that the original sampling was based on poor experimental design. Based on the 12 samples measured by the three radiocarbon labs, they found a decrease of radiocarbon age the farther one gets from the main body of the Shroud. In other words, samples taken closer to the part of the Shroud where the body lay were dated older (less residual 14C, less modern contamination). Samples taken farther away from the center part of the Shroud were dated younger (more residual 14C, more contamination) The sample farthest away from the main body of the Shroud (measured by the Oxford lab) placed the material 750 years before present. This is a little younger than some of the other measurements, but even the oldest measurement is nothing close to 33 AD! According to Dr. Harry Gove, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, who developed AMS technology and witnessed the dating of the Shroud in the Arizona lab, if the Shroud really was from the first century, and contamination skewed the results to produce a younger age, then the shroud samples that they tested would have had to contain as much as up to one-third contamination, which is clearly implausible (Relic, pp. 291–292).

Even though the radiocarbon dates might be somewhat questionable, they are in line with the status quo. When we ‘carbon date’ objects of known historical age, we can often get to within decades, centuries at worst. The Shroud 14C results are what we would expect from such an object, in the condition in which it exists, from the time period in which it first appears.

Folding-patterns-of-the-Shroud
Figure 9: Folding patterns of the Shroud while on display or while in storage. By paying attention to the repeating patterns on the cloth, it is possible to reconstruct the way it was folded when it was damaged by fire in 1532. We can know that the Shroud was first folded in half lengthwise twice (1 and 2). The lower third (3) then the sides (4) were folded back. This created an almost square section that contained the facial image only. Two more folds were then made, one vertical (5), and one horizontal (6). By placing a red dot in the only visible burn mark, a blue dot on the only visible water stain, and a rectangle around the only visible scorched edge, all the relevant patterns can then be explained. Importantly, the “knight’s step pattern” some claim links the Shroud to the Pray Codex, is found along the burned edge of the folded Shroud, so it could not have been in existence prior to the fire. To see how this affects the Shroud, see Figure 10.

Neutron radiation?

What kind of process or event would be capable of creating surplus 14C? Antonacci claims in Test the Shroud that when Jesus rose from the dead, His body would have emitted neutrons into the cloth of the Shroud, thereby converting 12C into radioactive 14C. This is a huge assumption and forms one of the main thrusts of the supposed evidence for an old Shroud. Worse, in the earth’s atmosphere, 14C is created when a 14N is struck by a cosmic ray. Upon decay, it turns back into a 14N. 14C is not created from 12C.

Proponents of an older Shroud also advocate testing for the presence of radioactive 36Cl (chlorine, which comes from red blood cells), and radioactive 41Ca (calcium, which commonly occurs in cells). The half-lives of 36Cl and 41Ca are 301,000 years and 102,000 years, respectively. The age of the Shroud is negligible compared to these much larger half-lives. Theoretically, 36Cl or 41Ca on the Shroud would have also been created by this supposed neutron radiation, and they would not have had time to decompose significantly. However, if the Shroud is medieval and was not subject to neutron bombardment, it should have quite a bit of 14C and no 36Cl or 41Ca (since without neutron radiation these atoms would not arise).

If this isn’t unusual enough, Antonacci’s theory involves Jesus’ body disappearing during the Resurrection, along with the 130 blood marks reappearing in the Shroud afterwards. According to his theory, when Jesus’ body disappeared, this created a vacuum, which would have sucked the front and back part of the Shroud into a space filled with neutrons, which were responsible for encoding Jesus’ physical characteristics into the fabric of the Shroud. De Wesselow thinks the body was revivified instead of disappearing.1 Other pro-Shroud researchers are skeptical of Antonacci’s radiation hypothesis.17

How can we know for sure that neutron radiation caused the imprints of Jesus’ physical characteristics into the Shroud when He rose from the dead? The Resurrection is a supernatural event, and therefore it is off-limits to scientific examination. Why neutrons and not some other type of particle, if Jesus’ body emitted radiation? Matthew 17:2 says that Jesus’ face “shown like the sun”, and His clothes became “white as light” at the transfiguration. In Acts 9, Paul describes seeing Jesus after a flash of light. If Jesus emitted any kind of particle, it would have been particles of light rather than neutrons, which are invisible to the human eye. Worse, Peter, James, and John would have been instantly killed by the neutron radiation blast were they standing close enough to Jesus to see anything emanating from his body at the Transfiguration.

Lignin breakdown

folded-Shroud
Figure 10: Starting with the folded Shroud and paying attention to the location of the burn mark (red dot), water mark (blue dot), and scorched edge (rectangle) allows us to explain multiple patterns across the Shroud when unfolded. For example, the twelve smaller holes (on the ends and across the center) and the eight larger holes were created from a single burn. The small holes are stacked immediately on top of one another when folded. The larger holes were stacked under the smaller holes in this image, but we do not know which side was ‘up’ when the molten silver that supposedly made the burn marks dripped onto the Shroud. The section removed for carbon dating is in the lower left corner.

De Wesselow brings up another way to date the Shroud (The Sign, pp. 111–112). This method depends on the lignin and vanillin content of the Shroud fibers. One of the breakdown products of lignin is vanillin, and both are molecular components of the cell walls of the plants used to make the Shroud. After formation, vanillin is slowly lost from fibrous material, with a loss of 95% vanillin after 1,319 years at 25˚C. De Wesselow concludes that since vanillin was not detected on the Shroud, it cannot be dated to after the year 700 AD. While this evidence speaks against the Shroud originating from the 13th to 14th centuries, it still does not decisively prove that the Shroud was from the first century.

However, even de Wesselow admits that measuring the breakdown of lignin is a relatively imprecise dating method. For example, a lignin sample loses 95% of its vanillin content at 20˚C after 3,095 years. A fluctuation of only 5˚C results in an age difference of 1,776 years. We know that the Shroud suffered fire damage, which, we assume, could have caused the vanillin to boil off, meaning that the Shroud might be medieval after all. We also wonder why there is no evidence for the continuous breakdown of lignin. It is not like the cloth has been stored in a hermetically sealed vault free of oxygen and water for the past several centuries. Where is the vanillin?

Other considerations

There are multiple additional arguments that will not be covered in this review. One deals with the herringbone weave pattern in the fabric. This weave involves a horizontal thread passing under three vertical threads, then passing over another vertical thread. Another one deals with the presence of limestone particles on the Shroud, possibly identifying the burial site. Some other issues include a prior carbon dating result from 1982 and a letter from bishop d’Arcis of Troyes, France, which was written in 1389 to pope Clement VII alleging that the Shroud was a forgery. Suffice it to say that there is much controversy surrounding the Shroud, even among conservative Bible believers.

Medieval relic?

The Shroud of Turin is not the only potentially false relic from the Middle Ages. We know of many others, including:18

  • The blood of St. Januarius in a vial in Naples, Italy
  • A picture of Mary painted by St. Luke in an Augustinian church in Bologna
  • A piece of Moses’ brazen serpent (Numbers 21:5 – 9; 2 Kings 18:4) in the church of St. Ambrose in Milan
  • The table on which Jesus partook of the Last Supper in the church of St. John, Lateran in Rome
  • The holy stairs which Jesus walked up to judgment before Pilate
  • Water from the prison where the apostles Peter and Paul were kept
  • The house in which Mary was born (the so-called Santa Casa), transported from Nazareth to Loretto
  • Parts of the veil of Mary
  • The ‘holy porringer’ in which food was made for the baby Jesus

Since fake relics were so common in the Middle Ages, we must take this into account when trying to decide if the Shroud of Turin is authentic. This is not a time in history where we are seeing real historical artifacts with solid provenance and detailed titles of ownership. Instead, this is a time where many, many people were lying about historical events and objects for multiple reasons, including increased prestige and financial gain.

How was it made?

Since a number of forged relics exist, it is quite possible that the Shroud of Turin is also a forgery.

Shroud protagonists may still ask that, if the Shroud of Turin is a fake, how was it then made? This is a good question, and multiple possibilities that we will not discuss here have been proposed. Some of these are interesting, and some much more speculative. Let us remember that the scientific method is used to disprove theories, not prove them. At this point, we can definitely say what the Shroud is not: the biblical burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Shroud.comVolckringer-patterns
Figure 11: Negative and positive Volckringer imprints of a plant on paper.

However, de Wesselow himself suggests a possible solution to this thorny question. In 1942, the French pharmacist Jean Volckringer drew attention to faint imprints made by plants on the paper that they were pressed onto (figure 11). Figures 38 and 39 of de Wesselow’s book depicts imprints of a partial human hand and lower abdomen and also a plant, both made by natural means. The figure of the human hand and abdomen was made when the abnormal chemistry of patient’s urine at the Jospice International hospice in Liverpool, England reacted with the underlying mattress to create a partial outline of his body.

De Wesselow suggests that the imprint is the result of what is known as a Maillard reaction, which occurs between carbohydrates (sugar molecules) and amines (such as amino acids, the building blocks of proteins). Maillard reactions can happen rapidly at low temperatures. These kinds of reactions happen in food chemistry, for example when a bread crust is browned, and within the cloths enveloping Egyptian mummies.

Ammonia and amines such as putrescine and cadaverine from a decomposing corpse may have reacted with the linen cloth of the Shroud to produce the outline of the body. This would contradict the idea that it was Jesus, the Son of God Who was wrapped in the Shroud because of Acts 2:27:

“For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption”. (emphasis added)

Also, let us not try to discredit the ingenuity of people from the Middle Ages/Renaissance time period. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist, but also a scientist and engineer. He made detailed studies of the human body, and also devised pre-modern flying machines.19 It is possible that a little ingenuity combined with a basic understanding of natural processes could have allowed a medieval artist to create something like the Shroud of Turin. There are many possible ways it could have been created, included many not mentioned here. The point is that we don’t know how, but neither does the explanation that it formed in Jesus’ tomb seem to be valid.

Conclusions

Shroud supporters should not be dismayed if the Shroud is not authentic. Even the archbishop of Turin, Antonio Ballestrero, accepted the radiocarbon dates when they were announced in 1988.20 In any case, the Christian faith remains 100% intact. After weighing the relevant information, we must draw the conclusion that the Shroud of Turin is probably not the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. We have no good reason to accept it as authentic. Based on the evidence:

  • Jesus was wrapped up in multiple burial clothes, not just one.
  • A separate head cloth was used, which the Lord took off after He arose from the dead.
  • Lazarus was buried in a similar manner to Jesus, with strips of linen for the body and a separate cloth for the head.
  • The hair on the man in the Shroud hangs downward and his beard is also intact, both of which contradict Scripture.
  • There is no trace of the large quantity of sticky spices with which Jesus is known to have been buried.
  • The height of the man in the Shroud does not match that of a first century Jewish man. The arms seem to be distorted and disproportional. And the argument that the head is leaning forward is hard to believe.
  • While the 14C dates of the Shroud may be contestable, there is still no positive evidence that the Shroud dates to the first century. Palynology has not helped to clarify anything.
  • The historical record is incomplete. At best, there is a 500-year gap between the Crucifixion and the first attestation to the Image of Edessa.

This illustrates the necessity of applying the principle of sola Scriptura (Acts 17:10–11, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:16–17). Even if the man in the Shroud displays several characteristics of a man who was beaten and whipped, similar to how Jesus was treated during His trial and execution, if there is any other evidence which contradicts the Bible, the claim must be rejected.

As a final note, we must keep in mind Romans 10:17:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

We must also remember 2 Corinthians 5:7:

“for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Antonacci claims, “…if this evidence confirms that the passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ were actual events in history, then its implications are mind boggling” (Test the Shroud, p. 329).

But if the Shroud is not authentic, we lose nothing. Worse, if the Shroud is false and we cling to it, we risk losing all credibility. Let us not look towards material proof of the Resurrection of Christ. The Apostles certainly did not do so, and there is nothing in the New Testament to indicate they were focused on physical evidence. Instead, every time one of the New Testament writers wanted to substantiate a point, they appealed to eyewitness testimony. They collated that testimony and recorded it in the final 27 books of the Bible. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3–8:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

This does not mean we have no evidence for biblical claims. Far from it, as any reader of creation.com should know. What it does mean, however, is that we do not require physical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It was the centerpiece of redemptive history and was universally attested to by every New Testament writer. But the eyewitness testimony should be sufficient. Consider what Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:29:

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (emphasis added)

A list of arguments used to support the authenticity of the Shroud, and their refutation

1. If you claim that the Shroud is a fake, you must show us how it was made in the Middle Ages. So far nobody has been able to do that.

shroud.com/78strp10.htm.head-shroud-turin
VP-8 Analyzer image of the head of the man in the Shroud of Turin.

This is incorrect. This is not how science works. Even if ten possible ways of manufacturing the Shroud have been refuted, we may still find an eleventh way. We could also say that since the pro-Shroud side cannot explain how the Shroud was made in the first century, then it must be medieval.

2. The Shroud is the only known object which encodes 3D information, as demonstrated by NASA’s VP-8 Image Analyzer.

The VP-8 Image Analyzer is an analog computer designed in the 1970s that translates shades of black and white on an image into levels of vertical relief that can be visualized on a computer screen.21 This is perceived to convey 3D information by the human brain.

But almost all photographs encode 3D information. This is because almost all were made of 3D objects in the real world. For example, photos can show objects behind one another, and shading often allows us to easily perceive the 3D shape of an object. Even the reader can do a simple experiment by opening any digitalized photograph in ImageJ22 and running a 3D Interactive Surface Plot from the Plugins menu. Using this program, one of the authors made a 3D image from a picture of one of his hands.

3. A long strand of cloth from the Shroud was secretly radiocarbon dated in 1982. One end of the strand dated to AD200 and the other end dated to AD1000.

image-of-hand
A. Image of hand of one of the authors. B. 3D transformation of same image in ImageJ.

Reports of the 1982 dating are vague. The secret carbon dating results were never published, and not much else is known about this measurement. We don’t know who made the measurement, at what lab, and under what kind of circumstances it was carried out. Hence, this cannot be submitted as scientific evidence.

Assuming this was actually a piece of the Shroud, and assuming the dates were reported correctly, if we average the dates from both ends of the strand, we still get a date of AD 600, which is still much too young. Even the AD 200 date is too young. These dates vary much too highly to be acceptable in a scientific publication. As opposed to this, the 1988 radiocarbon dates give a range of only 130 years (1260–1390).

4. The Shroud was contaminated, thereby skewing the radiocarbon dates.

You need to show quantitatively that the amount of contamination (purportedly from the oils on the hands of the priests who handled it, or carbon from the 1532 fire) skewed the radiocarbon dates by 1,300 years. According to Harry Gove, professor of physics at Rochester University, a full one-third of the Shroud samples had to have been contamination for such a large skew in the radiocarbon dates1. There would have been so much modern dirt and oils present that the Shroud would have been obscured by the contamination. A picture in his book, Relic, Icon, or Hoax? Shows that the samples were clean (p. 265).

5. The radiocarbon samples came from a part of the Shroud which was “invisibly rewoven” with patches from the Middle Ages, yielding a radiocarbon age from that time period.

This idea is disputed among Shroud researchers and rejected outright by both Wilson and Antonacci. Even if it were true, it implies medieval artists may by capable of things that we would have great difficulty doing today. The Shroud has been patched several times over its lifetime, and these patches are always visible. There is no evidence that the corner used to perform the 14C testing was not original. To turn the argument around, if they could perform this amazing feat of ‘invisible reweaving’, why could they not perform the amazing feat of making a ghostly negative image on a piece of linen?

6. The image on the Shroud was made by ‘coronal discharge’.

In our article, we specifically dealt with the neutron radiation hypothesis put forth by Jackson and Antonacci2. This theory is rejected by Ray Rogers. It seems that there are multiple competing hypotheses as to how the image was made in the Shroud, such as coronal discharge, X-rays, biophotonics, and holograms. Shroud supporters cannot give a clear explanation as to how the image was formed. Some authorities even claim that the image on the Shroud was formed very slowly over a long period of time, finally appearing years after the Resurrection.

But does a dead body, which is miraculously resurrected really give off any kind of radiation? According to the Bible, no. Following are several examples of people who were miraculously resurrected by Jesus and the Apostles, yet none are described as emitting any kind of radiation:

  • the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7)
  • Jairus' daughter (Luke 8)
  • Lazarus (John 11)
  • the young girl, Tabitha (Acts 9)
  • Eutychus, who fell asleep and fell out of a building (Acts 20)
  • The son of the widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17)

Coronal discharge is as speculative as any other theory. Point is, nobody knows how the image formed, but no other biblical resurrections are associated with any such thing.

7. All medieval paintings show Jesus with nails in his palms, yet the Shroud shows Jesus with holes in His wrists. How could a medieval forger know about that? Therefore, the Shroud must be authentic.

The man in the Shroud has his palms pointing inwards, towards himself. Therefore, we cannot say dogmatically that the man had his wrists pierced and not his palms. Yet, either way, this is a non-argument.

8. According to blood expert Alan Adler, the presence of bilirubin in the blood stains on the Shroud was able to keep the blood stains red for 2,000 years.

Bilirubin is orange-yellow in color. Adler claimed that bilirubin mixed with methemoglobin gave the blood stains their pinkish color. But methemoglobin is normally found in only trace amounts in the body, so it is an open question where it came from. Yet, the presence of blood on the Shroud is debatable. For example, there are alleged blood stains where they cannot be. There is a stain on the hair on the dorsal image, but if present, blood would have been matted into the hair and would not be visible as a ‘stain’. Chemical analysis of the ‘blood’ shows that the Soret absorption band at 420 nm is missing. Normally, an absorption at this wavelength indicates the presence of porphyrins, including molecules like hemoglobin and chlorophyll. Iron oxide has been found on the Shroud, but in far larger concentrations (40 μg/cm3) than human blood (1 μg/cm3). Traces of vermilion have also been found on the Shroud. This is a mercury-containing pigment commonly used in medieval artwork.

9. The stitching pattern of the clothe of some Jewish warriors has been discovered in Masada resembles those found in the first century, whereas it has never been shown in clothes from the Middle Ages.

This claim comes from the textile expert Mechtilde Flury-Lemberg, who claimed that the stitching holding the Shroud together was both unusual and only found in some textiles found at Masada. Gabriel Vial, another textile expert claims that the material from the Shroud is different from textiles found in many first century Roman excavations:

"So far every example studied – and these have come from Pompeii, Antinoe, Palmyra, Cologne, Dura-Europos – has been radically different from the shroud, both from the point of view of the structure (2/2 twill as opposed to 3/1) and the materials used (wool and silk rather than linen). We have to look to the 16th century to find the first example of linen chevron weaving with a 3/1 twill structure, found in the canvas of a painting in Herentals (Belgium). Taking into account the constituent elements of any textile (material, structure, warp and weft density, the textile of which the shroud is composed is unlike anything presently known to date prior to the 16th century."23

This is more evidence that the Shroud is not from the first century, but rather is medieval.

Others claim the seam that runs the length of the Shroud is unique to Masada. However, this type of seam is quite common, e.g. it is found along the sides of any pair of jeans.

10. Professor Giulio Fanti from the university of Padua has dated the Shroud with several other dating methods,24 resulting in the following dates:

  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) on the fabric of the Shroud: 650 BCAD 150
  • Raman spectroscopy on the fabric of the Shroud: 370 BCAD 430
  • Multi-parametric mechanical test on Shroud fibers: 14–AD 534

While these dates center around the time of Christ, their ranges do seem to be a bit wide, each one covering 500 years or more, with a combined range of 1184 years. Also, these tests are non-standard ways of dating material. In contrast, the range of the radiocarbon dates from 1988 had a much smaller range of only 130 years, which is both more precise and within the expected range for measurements for materials of this age and type.

11. There is so much anatomical detail revealed in the Shroud that it cannot be a forgery.

There are a number of anatomical details visible on the Shroud, but there are some details that are anatomically implausible:

  • Blood stains are not matted into the hair.
  • The man in the Shroud seemingly has no neck.
  • The body should not have produced trickling blood stains after it was supposedly washed.
  • The fingers of the man in the Shroud are too long.
  • On the dorsal image, the man’s right foot is above his left foot, whereas on the ventral image, the two feet seem to point straight.
  • The simple consideration that the dorsal image should be stronger than the ventral image, simply because the full weight of the body would have caused a much stronger image, depending, of course, on how the image was formed.

12. Jesus was wearing a chin band to keep His mouth closed. This is the separate facial cloth that is mentioned in John 20:7.

Such a chin band is not visible on the Shroud, and this stands in opposition to the idea that the Sudarium of Oviedo was the cloth that covered Jesus’s face. In John 20:7, the facial cloth (σουδάριον) is upon (ἐπὶ) the face of Jesus. The Greek word epi (ἐπὶ) can mean any one of ten things: across, against, at, before, by, of position, on, over, to, or upon.25 The pro-Shroud group has to demonstrate why epi can only mean ‘around the circumference of the face’, especially when the Greek word peri (as in perimeter) would normally be used in such a case. Also, the word ‘face’ in Greek is opsis (ὄψις) and not kefale (κεφαλή), which means ‘head’.

13. The Greek τὰ ὀθόνια (ta othonia) includes the Shroud as well as the facial cloth (the soudarion), hence the ‘multiple’ pieces of linen.

This is incorrect. The soudarion is mentioned separately from the linen clothes “οὐ μετὰ τῶν ὀθονίων” (John 20:7), which are still in the plural (-ων)3. So, the burial clothes covering His body were in multiple pieces, and not a single piece like the Shroud. Also, in John 11:44 we read about how Lazarus’s hands and feet were both covered with linen strips. In Greek, “τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰς χεῖρας κειρίαις”, where the word keiriais is in the plural. This eliminates the Shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. The only other option is that the Shroud was an unmentioned extra cloth in the tomb, but then the underlying linen would have absorbed the blood, etc. Or, the hands and feet of Jesus were bound, his head was covered with a sudarium, and then the body was wrapped in the Shroud. But then the facial image would have been obscured and there is no evidence for hand or foot binding in the Shroud image.

14. According to the Antioch Hypothesis of Jack Markwardt, the apostle Peter took the Shroud with him to Antioch in AD44 during the persecutions, and not to Edessa.

This proves that pro-Shroud theorists contradict one another. The so-called Antioch Hypothesis is based on a paragraph found in the now lost apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews. As cited by Jerome: “When the Lord had given the linen cloth to the servant of the priest, he went to James and appeared to him”.26 First, the Gospel of the Hebrews is a non-canonical book. For example, Origen quotes one of the fragments, where Jesus allegedly says that His mother is the Holy Spirit.27 Second, it is not certain what this linen cloth is, and who the servant of the priest is. One would think that the Jewish priests would destroy the Shroud, as it would be a sign of Jesus’s resurrection, something which the Jewish priests would have taken great care to deny (Matthew 28:11–15).

Markwardt’s hypothesis is based mainly on the opinions of scholars and hearsay. Its main pitfall is this: the author claims that the Shroud was hidden from the Romans due to the fear of it being destroyed. However, after Constantine came to power, the Shroud continued to remain in anonymity for hundreds of years.

15. The blood stains on the head of the man in the Shroud fit the pattern of a ‘cap’ of thorns, as shown by many puncture wounds on the scalp area.

According to Matthew 27:29 Jesus was not wearing a cap of thorns, rather it was shaped like a wreath. In the Greek, the word stephanon (στέφανον) is derived from the verb meaning “to twine” or “to wreath”. Many Jewish, Syrian and Roman kings and rulers wore circlets or wreaths as opposed to caps. Either way, it would be very hard to say what kind of wounds the thorns would have made. Also, as stated earlier, blood stains would have been matted on the man’s head and so should not be visible on the Shroud.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Lita Cosner for many useful discussions on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. We would also like to acknowledge the gracious help of Hugh Farey, former editor of the Newsletter of the British Society for the Turin Shroud. See also his articles:

Farey, H., The Medieval Shroud—The beginning of an exploration into its Purpose, Process and Provenance, 2018, at academia.edu/35960624/The_Medieval_Shroud.

Farey, H., The Medieval Shroud 2—No Case for Authenticity, 2019, at academia.edu/38192476/The_Medieval_Shroud_2.

References and notes

  1. Antonacci, M., Test the Shroud at the Atomic and Molecular Levels, LE Press, LLC, Chesterfield, 2015. Return to text.
  2. De Wesselow, T., The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, 2012. Return to text.
  3. Bennett, J. Sacred Blood, Sacred Image, The Sudarium of Oviedo, Libri de Hispania, Publications about Spain, Littleton, CO, 2001 Return to text.
  4. Gove, H. E., Relic, Icon or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud, Institute of Physics Publishing, Techno House, Bristol, United Kingdom, 1996 Return to text.
  5. Wilcox, R. K., The Truth about the Shroud of Turin, Regnery Publishing, Washington DC, 2010 Return to text.
  6. Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 82), 2nd ed. Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997 Return to text.
  7. jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13993-stature Return to text.
  8. Santachiara Benerecetti, A.S. et al. The common, Near-Eastern origin of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews supported by Y-chromosome similarity, Annals of Human Genetics 57(1):55–64, 1993. Return to text.
  9. Borrini, M. and Garlaschelli, L., A BPA approach to the Shroud of Turin, Journal of Forensic Sci ence 64(1):137–143, 2019. Return to text.
  10. Oommen, T.V., Shroud coins dating by image extraction. Shroud Science Group International Conference, Aug 14–17, 2008; ohioshroudconference.com/papers/p20.pdf. Return to text.
  11. Jordan, T.R. et al. Seeing inscriptions on the Shroud of Turin: The role of psychological influences in the perception of writing, PLoS One 10(10):e0136860, 2015 | doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136860. Return to text.
  12. Runciman, S., Some remarks on the Image of Edessa, The Cambridge Historical Journal 3(3):238–252, 1931. Return to text.
  13. Edessa is a town in SE Turkey very close to the biblical site of Haran (Genesis 11:32 and 12:4) and the ancient archeological site called Göbekli Tepe. Return to text.
  14. Leclercq, H. (1907). The Legend of Abgar, In: The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 15, 2019 from New Advent:newadvent.org/cathen/01042c.htm Return to text.
  15. Damon, P.E. et al., Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, Nature 337:611–615, 1989. Return to text.
  16. Riani, M., et al. Regression analysis with partially labelled regressors: carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, Statistics and Computing 23:551–561, 2013. Return to text.
  17. Rogers, R., A Chemist’s Perspective on the Shroud of Turin, Florissant, CO, 2008. Return to text.
  18. Rev. John Dowling, A.M., History of Romanism: From the earliest corruptions of Christianity to the present time, Edward Walker, 114 Fulton Street, New York, 1845. Return to text.
  19. Kalb, C., Leonardo’s enduring brilliance, National Geographic, May 2019, pp. 56–93. Return to text.
  20. Waldrop, M.M., Shroud of Turin is medieval, Science 242:378, 1988. Return to text.
  21. Wilson, I., The Shroud—The 2000-year-old Mystery Solved, Bantam Press, London, 2010, pp. 21–22. Return to text.
  22. This program can be obtained from imagej.nih.gov/ij. Return to text.
  23. Vial, G., Shrouded in Mystery, HALI (The International Magazine of Fine Carpets and Textiles) 49, 1990; Sourced from medievalshroud.com/the-medieval-weave. Return to text.
  24. Fanti, G., Malfi, P. and Crosilla, F., Mechanical and opto-chemical dating of the Turin Shroud, MATEC Web of Conferences 36:01001, 2015. Return to text.
  25. biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/epi.html. Return to text.
  26. Jerome, Of illustrious men, 2; see also newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm. Return to text.
  27. Origen, commenting on John 2:12. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $35.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00

Readers’ comments

Kevan Q.
Something not mentioned is the shroud's disagreement with Isaiah 50:6, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." The shroud image shows the face of a man with a full beard.
Grahame G.
Thank you for this. It really clears things up for me as people often believe in the Shroud and use it as proof of Jesus. I have always had my doubts about it but was not sure.

To Kevan Q, it is the fourth point in the list in the conclusion.
Matthew Cserhati
Dear Grahame,
Thanks for your kind comments. I am glad the article was helpful for you.
Melvyne C.
I agree with the major conclusion of a well written article, that we should not need the Turin Shroud Image when scripture plainly tells us Jesus rose from the dead, and as witnessed by many.
The Turin Shroud does not necessarily disagree with Isa 50:6. That is, it depends on whether the meaning is, all the head hair of Jesus plucked off or a handful. The same for the beard of Jesus.
The study concludes the Shroud is not authentic, many may disagree. There are other studies which differ, and one in relation to the amount of energy needed to produce the image and which appears to override known laws of physics. See also, Why is the Turin Shroud Authentic? – Giulio Fanti, Glob J Arch & Anthropol 2018: 7(2) 555707. Giulio quotes St. John Paul II: “The Shroud is a provocation to intelligence... The Church entrusts scientists with the task of continuing to investigate”, but for the moment scientists have not been able to provide definitive answers. We must recognize, however, that man who is limited produces Science, so Science is also limited as a result. Will Science be able to explain the phenomenon of the Shroud in the future? However, many benefit from secondary means to help build a stronger faith: God created in six days, Is that not a main part of the excellent work of CMI does.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyne,
Thanks for your comment. Let us take a look at Isaiah 50:6: "I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting." We know that Jesus was brutally beaten by the Roman soldiers, so we can be sure that they would have disfigured Jesus' face. Let's look at another verse, which corroborates this, Isaiah 52:14: "As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind".
I read through the paper that you referred to. Some of the points in that paper have been covered in our article on the Shroud. Some comments:
-As to the relationship between faith and science, we must stress that since we do not know everything, we all must make basic assumptions about the world. The Christian worldview is presented in the Bible. Therefore, anything that contradicts the Bible must be rejected. This is the principle of Sola Scriptura, i.e. the Bible is the sole highest authority. This means that “science” does not stand by itself. The rational human mind is not autonomous. We must start and end with something, and Christians start with Scripture.
-We referred to Antonacci’s neutron radiation hypothesis, but we find it lacking. The article you linked to states that “The latent image ‘develops’ with time and a source of heating at about 200 °C is necessary to produce a visible image in few minutes.” And also that “the body image imprinted on the Shroud, not yet scientifically explainable, was probably formed by a brief and intense burst of energy, maybe even of electric type, which could be related to a lightning.” The Shroud would have been incinerated if the Shroud made contact with lightning.
-About the term othonia in Greek: “The term ‘linen cloths’ (from the Greek ‘othonia’), in the plural, was preferred by the apostle John to the term ‘sindon’ used by the other Evangelists probably because in reference to the set of linens like Shroud, sudarion and various bandages used for burial.” In John 11:44 we read that when Lazarus rose from the dead, the burial napkin was still wound around his head. Why do you suppose it was different for Jesus? In a Lazarus-like scenario, the Sudarium would have captured the facial image of Christ, but that is not what we observe.
Duane C.
This is a thorough write up, but unless I missed it, I don't think you covered one of the most convincing evidences for authenticity for the Shroud produced by supporters. That being the alleged 3D information embedded in the Shroud. Documentaries such as "Behold the Man: The Shroud of Turin", (TBN Documentary, 1985) claim there is 3D info embedded in the shroud which produces a real 3D image of the face (and I believe the entire body) when analyzed by NASA's VP-8 image analyzer. 3D information is not contained in 2D images when analyzed by the VP-8. Thus the claim is that the resurrection somehow embedded the information in the Shroud. It's also claimed we have no idea how a medieval forgery could have embedded such 3D info. Can you comment?
Matthew Cserhati
Thanks for your question. Think about how a Mercator projection is created by placing a globe inside a cylinder of paper and then projecting the three-dimensional globe onto the paper. This creates a two-dimensional map when the cylinder is unrolled and flattened out. We see every single continent on such a projection, but the northern-most and southern-most areas are stretched and distorted. If a cloth was draped over a face, which is more or less cylindrical in shape, there would be a similar stretching, but instead of north and south, the distortion would be left-to-right when the sheet was flattened. If any kind of "three-dimensional information" was embedded into the Shroud, we'd have to see the sides of Jesus' head. Where are His ears? Instead, the image of the man in the Shroud looks like a two-dimensional painting of a face-on view of a man. Thus, the image could not have been produced by any draping or wrapping of the cloth around a face. The body-portion of the image has similar problems for the "3D" hypothesis, but the face is most obvious.
Charles H.
Well written article and thank you. I have always been skeptical of all these relics. In all the reading of God's its understanding I have always had the feeling that God didn't leave these things because they have the potential to me to become the item of worship as opposed to us worshiping him. I really don't think we will find the Cross or Noah's ark or say Moses's tomb. We find all kinds of archeological things and that is interesting and fascinating but the things that can turn into worshiping the created instead of the Creator I think he doesn't let hang around. I know this isn't scientific but it just the feelings and impressions I have gotten over the years of praying on God's Word.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Charles,
Thanks for the comment, very well said.
Ian B.
Years ago, when I first ran across a TV documentary on the shroud, I watched with intense interest. After some time of watching, I sensed the Holy Spirit within me repeatedly say "it's a fake". I am only a fallable man and I've been wrong many times, but from that time on, I have had no interest in the shroud.
Matthew Cserhati
Thanks for your story, Ian.
It is commendable to admit fallibility. At CMI we think that the Shroud is not authentic, but we should do so for the right reasons. Our single highest authority is the Scripture (Sola Scriptura). I also think that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the inauthenticity of the Shroud. But we must listen to the words of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. That is why we headed our article with arguments from Scripture to show why the Shroud is not authentic (i.e. John 11:44, John 20:5-7).
Richard U.
Although a Protestant and untroubled if the Shroud is a fake, your selection of evidence and speed at drawing conclusions is troubling. If I said Jesus never rose from the dead because dead men don’t do that, you would point to eye witnesses (‘credulous and grieving men’ I reply), and at some point to the fact that there is no better explanation. However if someone asks you for a better explanation for the shroud, you simply mention Leonardo da Vinci who was born 250 years after the Shroud’s C14 date. For now Bible­: I am amazed that you omit gospel accounts that the women took spices to the tomb on Sunday, presumably to finish what time prohibited on Friday. Perhaps to apply the face cloth and aloes properly. Morphology: Tombs were often carved like a mould into which the dead body might fit snugly. If the grave clothes were temporarily placed outside the mould, there would be no side images. That also might explain the hair positioning. Perhaps on Friday the women at least removed the blood stains and straightened his head if rigor mortis had set in. Why expect ‘wads’ of Jesus’ beard to have been removed!? You believe in giants ‘in the land’ yet you reject a Jew taller than average?! Radiochronometry: You fail to mention that the C14-tested strands were from the Shroud’s edges where it was held up to public view and likely contaminated by human oils. Yet you advance the presence of C14 in diamonds as more significant. Other: You brazenly impugn STURP’s motives; you fail to mention the extraordinary aspect of the ‘negative’ imagery’; the anatomical detail of the nail location; NASA’s findings about 3D encoding; the Knights Templar; how the shroud altered the depiction of Jesus etc. Your word limit prohibits more. I do hope your other science is more robust.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Richard,
Thanks for your reply. We are not attacking STURP for any reason whatsoever.
Besides Leonardo da Vinci we suggest that certain chemical reactions such as Maillard reactions or Volckringer imprints may be responsible for the image on the Shroud. Look at the detail preserved in Figure 11.
You also mention the spices that the women took to the tomb on Sunday. We also mention Joseph of Arimathea who wrapped the body of Jesus with spices (John 19:38-40). However, the fact is that no signs of spices were found on the Shroud.
Can you prove to us that Jesus’ tomb was really carved like a mold? To me it seems that some Shroud supporters have to invoke special circumstances to prove that the Shroud is indeed real.
The ‘giants in the land’ that you are referring to are mentioned in Numbers 13:32; “…and all the people that we saw in it are of great height”. However, this verse is part of a bad, or lying report that ten of the twelve spies told Moses. They did so because they wanted to discourage the Israelites from entering the Promised Land. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the land were not Jewish people.
The edges of the Shroud could indeed have been contaminated by oils coming from human hands, but in order for the contamination to skew the C14 results, those samples would have had to be one-third contamination, according to Gove. Clearly that is impossible.
Ricardo M.
The shroud is just another romish forgery from the Middle Ages.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Ricardo,
This article came to the conclusion that the Shroud is a medieval forgery. It's important though that we do so with respect and by showing evidence.
Thanks, Matthew
Mark Z.
I went straight to the conclusion and read the point about height, and I would like to share why no one can speak about his height. Do we know how tall Jesus is? Did a first century Jewish man pass on his information for the birth of Jesus? I do not understand having a side on matters that have not been witnessed. I do not understand this work.
Matthew Cserhati
Thanks for your comment, Mark.
Jesus could have been taller than the average Jew. But if He is, then that makes it less likely that the man in the Shroud really is Jesus. As we wrote in the article, the man in the shroud is in the upper height range of Jewish men. Even more so since humans were shorter in the past. Height is not the decisive evidence we provide in our article showing why the Shroud is inauthentic, rather it corroborates with that idea.
Melvyne C.
Thanks Mattew for your reply.
If I remember correctly, some Jews at the time after the cruxifiction did not believe Jesus was the Messiah because he did not fully match with Isa 50:6.

The other problem in using Isa 50:6 is the fact that is a prophetic scripture. As this is the case, a broad meaning may be envisaged. That is, a true representation of what a true beating sin gave Him.
All the best, M
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyn,
Well, I wonder what reason those Jews gave as to why Isaiah 50:6 does not match Jesus. It states that the man who this verse is about gave his back to beating, and his face was beaten and spit on. Even if a broad metaphoric meaning can be attributed to Isaiah 50:6, it must necessarily include a physical meaning, simply because we know that Jesus was physically beaten. For example, Psalm 22:6 says: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet”. Other verses include Psalm 31:5, Psalm 69:21, Psalm 118:17-18.
Sean A.
You say, “We do not need to look for any kind of physical evidence to verify our faith, rather we trust the testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture”. Oh really? The whole premise of Creation organization is to build physical and analytical scientific evidence for Creation as opposed to the Theory of Evolution, and with great success I might add. You imply; “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” No, Creation Ministries walks by faith and by sight, and I’m the more edified for it. But the shroud researchers, working on a different lead, are also trying to support scripture with evidence. Why Sola Scripture for them and not for thee? I would guess that half your staff would never have become Christian, or effective Christians, had they not first rejected the believability of Naturalism.

My second comment is about due diligence. You could not have described the history of the shroud as you did if you had familiarized yourself with the findings of Historian Jack Markwardt, or the way you characterized the 1988 Carbon dating Report if you were familiar with Rucker’s assessment of their Statistical Analysis, or what you said about the red color of blood if you had read Dr. Goldoni’s findings coagulated blood irradiated with Neutrons. And why nothing about the pixel-like image formation at the fibril level, the exposure of the metacarpal bones below the flesh, the numerous significant findings from the Italian labs on dating and image formation?

A shoddy, superficial and highly slanted piece of work from an organization I’ve come to appreciate for credibility and integrity. You’re treating the shroud researchers with the same offhandedness as mainstream science treats you; with innuendos and slurs, avoiding the details, and not providing a viable alternative.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Sean,
Thanks for your comment. We are not insulting or slighting anyone. The verse that you quite is 2 Corinthians 5:7: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” We will stick to what the Bible says exactly. Creation Ministries International takes the presuppositional approach, meaning that we start with what the Bible says, and interpret the evidence in light of it. This is because the Bible is the sole highest authority. Of course, this does not mean that we do not accept physical evidence, because our unwavering belief is that all evidence, interpreted in its entirety, supports the Bible. We oppose the evidentialist approach which starts with evidence and tries to prove something (i.e., the existence of God). This approach has an inherent weakness in that if our faith is defined by the evidence, then tomorrow new evidence might sway us from the faith.
About the 1988 carbon dating report, I described how the Arizona lab averaged its values. However, as Harry Gove writes in “Relic, Icon, or Hoax?” that the Shroud samples received by the Arizona lab lacked contamination. If the Shroud really was from the first century and still produced dates from the 13th–14th century, then the sample would have had to contain 33% contamination. So, contamination is definitely not the issue. And, even if the dating was off, we still don’t get anywhere near a first century date for the Shroud. This means that based on the radiocarbon dates, the Shroud is not Jesus’s burial clothes.
As to the neutron radiation hypothesis, there are Shroud proponents who disagree with this theory. How do we know that Jesus’s body emitted neutron radiation at the Resurrection? This is a big argument from silence.
St Ferdinand I.
Sorry but a lot of this is just wrong. Creation.com has a lot of anti-Catholic bias and that bias needs to be stated at the beginning of this article. You reject the Shroud not due to science - many of the points you raised are simply wrong - but because it is a Catholic relic and (Protestants) hate relics. The comment about the 3D image is an example - your dismissal is quite wrong. There is indeed a 3D image. To wit; ~In 2002 restoration work removed patches dated from 1534 and replaced the backing cloth and found a stitching pattern similar to the hem of a cloth found in the tombs of the Jewish fortress of Masada whose cloths date between 40 BC and 73 AD. This kind of stitch has never been found in Medieval Europe. ~Jan 20, 2005 paper in the professional journal ThermoChimica Acta by Dr. Ray Rogers, retired Fellow with the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and lead chemist with the original science team STURP showed conclusively that the sample cut from The Shroud of Turin in 1988 was taken from an area of the cloth that was re-woven during the middle ages. Hence your dating is wrong. ~Univ of Padua recent tests on fibres produced the following dates: FTIR = 300 BC + 400 years; Raman spectroscopy = 200 BC + 500 years; and multi-parametric mechanical = 400 AD + 400 years. All dates have a 95% certainty. ~The Shroud is not a painting; no evidence of pigments or media is found. Blood was on the Cloth before the image. There is no outline, nothing to hold paint, no evidence paint, dye, ink, or chalk created the images. The images show perfect photo-negativity and 3-dimensionality - impossible for a medieval artist to create, probably impossible to create today on a shroud. Etc. This article is unbalanced and a screed against a Catholic relic. Sad really.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Ferdinand,
Thank you for your response.
I beg to differ about anti-Catholic bias. Before I started researching the Shroud in-depth, I saw evidence for the Shroud but also against it. Let me just state that some Protestants support the authenticity of the Shroud, such as in some Lutheran circles. On the other hand, I must state that the Roman Catholic church does hold a very high stake in the authenticity of the Shroud. It has been publicized for decades. Suddenly the carbon dating results call this into question. There have been some emotional responses to the carbon dating results.
As to the dates that you cite, you might notice that these three measurements give quite a spread of dates, from 300 BC to 400 AD. That’s an interval of 700 years. If we take the standard deviation into account, the spread becomes even larger, from 700 BC to 800 AD. Also, the standard deviation of these dates are also very large, in comparison the standard deviation of the C14 dating was maximum 65 years, with the mean dates spreading over 130 years (1260-1390). Let me also point out what Gove pointed out decades ago that the carbon dates from 1988 correspond to the time period that the Shroud was put on public display in Lirey, France.
Were the 1988 samples taken from an area of the Shroud which had been rewoven during the Middle Ages? Antonacci disagrees (Test the Shroud, pp. 168–186). He says that scores of scientists examined the Shroud before and after Rogers claimed that it was rewoven but found no evidence for a reweave. A typical reweave of the Shroud can be seen on page 170 of Antonacci’s book in Figure 120. This is just one of eight patches that were applied to the Shroud before and after 1543, but these are all clear to the naked eye.
Even Roman Catholic sources call the Shroud into doubt, as we stated in our article. If we look at its provenance, its first stop after Jerusalem was the city of Edessa in Turkey. According to New Advent’s entry on the legend of Abgar, a Roman Catholic source, Jesus’ disciple, Thaddeus, or Addai, describes how Hannan, the archivist at the court of Edessa and also the painter of King Abgar. The king instructed him to paint a picture of Jesus, which he carried out and brought back to Edessa. Over time, popular piety claimed that this image was painted by Jesus Himself.
Mitch C.
I am curious about the +/- ranges on the dates. Multiple date samples from the same laboratory appear to give non-overlapping results. What is the statistical significance (or validity) of the deviation numbers if various measurements don't fall within the range given by other measurements? Just how reliable is C-14 dating, or statistical variance analysis in general?
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Mitch,
The 1988 Nature paper which describes the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud also includes three control samples, one of which is the cope of St. Louis d’Anjou, held in the Basilica of Saint Maximin, Var, France. Historically, they dated this cloth to AD 1290-1310. Obviously, they used this as a control sample based on the assumption that the Shroud was possibly from this time period. If so, then the cope of St. Louis d’Anjou would give similar results to that of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon dates for the cope range from 646 to 825. Some of these date measurements do not overlap. We have no reason to believe that the cope was either faked or contaminated. Therefore, I would have no reason to think that dates on the Shroud are invalid.
Dreme O.
Great ministry! Thank you for all you do. One thing that seemed to stick out to me was an omission of any reference to the Sudarium of Oviedo. Allegedly, it has a history tracking back to 500 AD or so and the bloodstain pattern corresponds amazingly well with the staining pattern on the face of the shroud. Perhaps the trick is that Sudarium was carefully studied/copied by the Shroud forger to ensure agreement. Either way, it would be helpful if this article was reposted with an update, discussing the Sudarium and striking any language that expresses astonishment at the lack of other burial cloths associated with the Shroud. Likewise, the Lord DID INDEED leave burial cloths in His empty tomb. What if these cloths were retained due to sentimental value by one of the earliest unnamed Christians? That seems highly likely. It also seems best to keep an open mind on the Shroud. Maybe the image on the Shroud didn't even appear immediately, and it was put in a box for safe keeping only for an image to be noticed many hundreds of years later. I was surprised to hear the argument that people (or just Jews?) were shorter back then; and, therefore, we shouldn't expect a tall Jesus. I thought we are devolving smaller and weaker with nutritional and isolated genetic exceptions.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Dreme,
Thanks for your kind comments. Also, please read the article carefully, since we have a whole section on the Sudarium. In fact. The Bible doesn't ever mention any of the disciples retaining the Shroud or any other burial clothes. I feel that it is a part of the argument of pro-Shroud Roman Catholic apologists that the disciples would have done so, in order to support their theology. Why bother with retaining Jesus's burial clothes? They are only a symbol of His death, yet we know that Jesus has risen, because of the eyewitness account of over 500 people.
As a species we seem to be getting taller and taller. This could be due to better nutrition and more abundant food sources. But either way, merely physical size does not transform humans into another species.
Richard U.
Matthew
Thank you for your courteous reply
1. STURP’s conclusions rule out paint. Maillard and Volckringer are contact theories and suffer fatally from Mercator stretching. Vignon vapography is inadequate and speculative
2. I mentioned the women taking spices to show that we cannot equate Jesus’ partial burial with Lazarus’ full burial.
3. In an alternative, yes speculative, hypothesis, Joseph rushed to wrap Jesus in the Shroud, also applying spices to some strips placed loosely on top to reduce the smell of decay, leaving the women to do the full job on Sunday. Maybe the disciples later found that the image did not dissolve in water so any spice traces in the Shroud might well have been washed out later. Maybe the other strips were also in the tomb but, with no discernible blood or image or blood, did not seem significant
4. A judgment on the Shroud must, as with the Resurrection, weigh opposing evidence and hypotheses. For me the strangeness of the non-contact 3D imaging alone more than outweighs the fact that the text might lead us to expect spice residues, even when coupled with the C14 results (on which there is increasing doubt). You clearly think not.
5. My ‘giants in the land’ really as much meant King Saul or Samson (or Goliath, although a Gentile). Lack of mention of Jesus’ height is an argument from silence.
6. It is unfair to posit a clever human fabricator of the Shroud so carelessly rendering the body heights on the front and rear of the Shroud so unequally. They are in fact consistent with a tall person laid slightly hunched forward to fit into Joseph’s personal ‘coffin’. The hands then easily cover the groin.
7. Decay starts within minutes of death so ‘My Holy One shall not see decay’ cannot be used too literally (other than in the swoon theory)
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Richard,
Thanks for your comments. I think that in order to bolster your arguments, you use special pleading in reference to several things that are not recorded in Scripture. For example, you say that the disciples washed the Shroud, and that Jesus was hunched over in the grave, when the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that. Just because Saul was extremely tall doesn’t mean Jesus was. Or, why would Jesus’s burial have been any different from Lazarus’s? Because of the use of special pleading in these arguments, I will have to wrap up this discussion. Thank you.
Dustin B.
Thank you for this message. I am a chemist and I am continually trying to teach my boys not to always believe everything they are taught as scientific fact that counters what the Bible says. When they say that fossils were found that were made“? years ago based and carbon dating”, there is no way that we can know that the ratio of C14 to C12 or that the rate of decay has been the same for all time. So this time period is entirely unknown and and should not be taught to our children.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Dustin,
I am not sure how dating fossils is relevant to the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, but in response I can say that many times radio carbon dates are over-estimates of the real date. I don't think radiocarbon dates would be that skewed if we are talking about something like the Shroud of Turin.
Ron J.
Jesus didn't have long hair. 1 Corinthians 11:14
Melvyne C.
Why did Samson have long hair if the Bible says it is shameful for a man to have long hair? The Bible does not teach against long hair. Numbers 6:1-22, tells of vows that can be made, such as a Nazirite. Luke 1:13-17, tells of John the Baptist being such. He lived in the dessert rough and ready. The main point, Paul was talking about head covering: so other points of view conclude.
Charles R.
For years I was a skeptic regarding the shroud. After years of study I changed my mind and now believe there is a strong probability that it is authentic. Most of these objections have been answered. There are several gook websites on line which do just that. Check them out before reaching a conclusion.
Matthew Cserhati

Hello Charles,
Well, I wonder what you find wrong about our article on the Shroud. Please be more specific. On the contrary, I think that many pro-Shroud arguments are cases of special pleading, emotional attachment, and heavily rely on extra-Biblical arguments. Furthermore, pro-Shroud authors also contradict one another. I also wonder, why is it that the Shroud really got so much fanfare only after the 14th century, and not before.
George J.
Hi. Judging by the number of comments - this is indeed a controversial subject. And I’m afraid I have to agree with those who feel that there’s a definite bias in this report where critical explanations - like how was this image created / forged or the remarkable detail of the image have been ignored and while many frivolous arguments introduced to add weight to prop the case of a fake artifact. Quite sad really.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello George,
The fact of the matter is that I was selected to write this article because before I started researching it I had heard both pro and contra arguments. I didn't have any biases when approaching this subject. We need to look to Scripture for faith and not anything physical. Even if someone starts off studying a subject without biases, their inquiry will lead them down a path which might end up in a type of bias, but which is founded on facts. As Christians we can agree to disagree on this subject.
The fact of the matter is that images similar to the Shroud have been generated using simple technologies such as paint on glass, left in the sun to cure for several days. You can read about it here.
Jean P.
Surely all that sticky resin would have set into a stiff paste in the tomb. So when John looked in the tomb and saw the empty cocoon with the head cloth lying some way away, ' he saw, and believed.' It would be like finding an empty chrysalis and realising that a butterfly had emerge. Also, when a leg is in plaster, they have to cut it off, as the leg won't come out any other way, but Jesus seems to have come through the shroud not up out of the top. Either way is impossible without a miracle! Jean
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Jean,
John 20:5 says: "And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in". Jesus' burial clothes were lying down, they weren't stiff like a cocoon or anything.
Norm P.
Hi, I am not familiar with Mat so I address this to: Rob, I was disappointed to see your name on this since this is not your field of expertise. I hope it does not discredit the great work in your own field. I would recommend you talk to the experts in this field of study, maybe try Dr. John Jackson who was on STURP team. And also bring in red herrings of fake items and Leonardo da Vinci who was born over one hundred years after the showing of the Shroud in Lirey is not good form.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Norm,
Thanks for your comment. I disagree. The reason we reference Leonardo da Vinci is not because we think that he actually faked the Shroud, but maybe a contemporary of his. Rather, Leonardo da Vinci was capable of quite some scientific feats in his time. We may think that “the latest is always the greatest”, but that is not necessarily true. For example, let me cite from an article from National Geoghraphic on Leonardo da Vinci's capabilities: “His research on heart valves, Wells’s specialty, was just as prescient. To understand how they work, Leonardo designed a glass model of the aortic valve filled with water and grass seeds, allowing him to conceptualize patterns of blood flow and how the valves open and close, details of which were finally confirmed in the 1960s.” (National Geographic, May 2019, pp. 56–93)

As for Carter’s contributions, he says, “I am doing my best. Sometimes one writes outside one’s specific field, but I’ve also written much on the LXX-MT debate, geocentrism, flat earth, and ancient archeology, so taking a detour to study one of the most fascinating historical objects in the world is not unusual for me. Yet, I stand by my work. None of the Shroud supporters have, to date, moved me from my conclusion that the Shroud is not likely to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Dave N.
"Antonacci...spent 30 years studying it." "Wesselow… researched the Shroud for 12 years." This is kind of sad... especially in light of: 1 Corinthians 3:13-15a "each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss...
Ian M.
Just as there are no remains of the nails that pierced Jesus' hands and feet, nor any remains of his garments which the Roman soldiers vied for, nor remnants of the cross He was nailed to, nor remains of the thorns that pierced His brow, NEITHER do we have any grave clothes in which our Lord's dead body was wrapped. >Such things were used and they have perished with time. They served their purpose and have come and gone. Our faith is NOT in such things but in the power of God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. 1Co.2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. >God does not need props, nor do we. If we add to Scripture, or take away from it, we will find ourselves very ashamed at the Last Day. May the Lord who gives us breath have mercy on us.
Jeff W.
One unique aspect of the Shroud is that the image on the shroud is in photo-negative 3D form. Has anyone been able to duplicate, exactly, the type of image visible on the cloth? If no one can with today’s technology, then one has to ask how the image got on the cloth in the first place. One point that needs further examination is your summary finding that “it is also questionable why the bloodstains have remained red so long after death,” I recommend your readers google the late Dr. Alan D. Adler, a pre-eminent blood expert, and read his statement that the bilirubin in Jesus’ blood most definitely could have kept the bloodstains on the Shroud red – indefinitely. What would have been the motive for a fabricator to spend the time to create such an intricate but false relic? The other potentially fabricated items that you cite serve as unsophisticated pieces of evidence for relatively minor Biblical events. On the contrary, the Shroud of Turin is potential circumstantial evidence for the singular event that is at the very heart of the Gospel – the defining moment for the salvation of humanity. The Shroud, with all of its perceived evidentiary shortcomings – if authentic – is the very piece that a brilliant and loving God would give us to serve as a receipt – a receipt for a supernatural transaction that our Triune God took upon himself to complete out of love for his creation. Maybe it’s a sign to reassure mankind that God did send his Son to take our sins away and prepare us for eternity with Him. That’s something to make even the most hardened atheist to think twice about.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Jeff,
Thanks for your comment. There are several things to consider. As a previous commenter noted, dead bodies don’t bleed. This questions why there are so many blood marks on the Shroud. Furthermore, as Shroud researcher Ian Wilson says in his 2010 book “The Shroud”, that the imprints of the body were found only on the very surface of the Shroud. Even if there is real blood on the Shroud, then why did the blood not bleed through the Shroud? In fact, we have to ask the question, why do we even see an image on the shroud at all? Jesus Christ was a man, just like us. He got tired, he got angry. He wept, he went to the bathroom, just like us. Why would His physical body have been any different from ours? How do you know that the Shroud of Turin is the real shroud among 100 or so clothes that are claimed to be Jesus’ burial clothes? If given equal chance, there’s only a 1% chance that the Shroud of Turin is the real shroud, and even that is assuming a lot. I have to differ on the Shroud being the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ. The Shroud has received great fanfare only starting from the Middle Ages, from around 1350. For 1350 years (and beyond) Christians have believed in Jesus Christ without even knowing about the Shroud, but rather believing the Word of God.
David J.
It's fake. People don't bleed after death. He would have been cleaned and wrapper in a sheet and it would not have any blood stains. If he had been wrapped before cleaning, it would have been drenched in blood. Catholic fakery.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello David,
That's a very good point, which many pro-Shroud people may not have considered. We should remember to point out these errors respectfully. Thanks.
Melvyne C.
No, its a very bad point. After he died on the cross, blood and water came out of his dead body/heart! (Jn 19:31-34). What this signifies, to me at least, is the even after being put to death, divine mercy still issued forth from him!
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyne,
True, blood and edema fluid would have issued forth from Jesus' chest area, but there was blood all over the figure of the man in the Shroud.
Melvyne C.
Plus, humans do not normally sweat blood, as Jesus did (hematohidrosis) Luke 22:14. If God wanted a supernatural sign of his resurection, why not. True, I agree with the main thrust of the aguments, we should not need such, the word of scripture should be sufficient. We know however, in these times, it is not, hence CMI. Besides, God knows our weaknesses. Would he scoff at people believing in the Shroud? What if it may encourage them to deaper faith?
Matthew Cserhati
Jesus was sweating blood, or his sweat was like drops of blood, on the Mount of Olives. This is because He was in such agony, because He knew very well that He was soon to go to His death. In verse 43, however, Jesus is comforted by an angel. In the following days Jesus is capable of facing Pilate and the Sanhedrin in a composed manner. If the Shroud is real, great. But if it is false, why would God use a lie to promote the faith? We don’t know for certain. We have God’s Word—that we know is certain.
Hugh F.
Hi Matthew,

An interesting discussion. I think I can claim to be a leading proponent of the medieval origin of the Shroud (see The Medieval Shroud papers at academia.edu), but also a committed Catholic. Still, I think almost everything in your OP is correct, and there is a considerable amount of misinformation among the comments. Here are a few remarks of my own. 1) Almost nothing is known of 1st century Jewish burial customs. There is vanishingly little archaeology and practically nothing in the Bible or Talmud. To claim that we know the Shroud conforms or doesn't conform is unjustified. However, in the absence of any remains or literary mentions, we can probably be sure that no coffins or 'moulded' tombs of any kind were used. 2) Your diagram of how the Shroud was folded in order to receive its various burn and water stain marks is wholly incompatible with the patterns of any of them. They are all different sizes, and the cloth must have been folded in order to accommodate that. You can't have a small burnhole on top of a big burnhole, for example. Various ways in which the Shroud could have been folded can be found in Aldo Guerreschi's papers at shroud.com. 3) With respect to Sean, St Ferdinand and Richard, I am very familiar with everything Jack Markwardt and others have speculated about the history of the Shroud, everything Bob Rucker has to say about nuclear radiation, and everything claimed about the radiocarbon dating, which Mark Antonacci has rather misunderstood. None of their opinions prove anything, of course, and I do not find them sufficiently persuasive to demonstrate authenticity. There's lots more, but character-count prevents my going on. I'll be happy to elucidate any point in further detail if required.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Hugh,

Thanks for your comments. I would disagree on what you say about the archaeology found in the Bible, since the Bible itself is a history book, therefore archaeology supports the Bible. Although scarce little is mentioned about the Shroud itself.

As to the folding patterns, could it not be possible that as the molten silver in the fire of 1532 burned its way through the Shroud, it lost more and more of its material, causing smaller and smaller burn holes? Alternatively, it may have burned a smaller hole through the top layers and a larger one on the bottom layers because it sat there longer. It would be a very strange phenomenon for the silver to drop on several different places on the fabric so that, when folded according to the water stains, they line up perfectly.
Melvyne C.
Blood on dead Jesus: - “The act of washing would then cause an oozing from each of the wounds thereby accounting for the imprints at their locations consistent with those on the Shroud. The blood that oozed from these wounds could not be subsequently washed because this is considered unclean blood. This would therefore conform to the requirements of Jewish Law, account for the well defined wounds depicted on the Shroud of Turin, ....” “The Man Of The Shroud Was Washed” by Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D., (1989). Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, N.Y. Chief Medical Examiner, Rockland County, N.Y.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyne,
Thanks for your comment. Even if some blood oozed out of Jesus's wounds after He died, why do they appear in areas of His body covered by His hair? The blood would have caused the hair to mat together. For example, we shouldn't seeing blood droplets on the back of Jesus' head on the dorsal image. Therefore the image on the Shroud cannot be of a real person.
Bob Norman R.
absolutely impossible. Look at Isaiah 54 verse 14-15. "They shall see my Servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there." Well the shroud shows a perfect person ?? Where is the disfigured person (Jesus) on the shroud???
Kees N.
First of all, this article seemed to be biased. I hope that this article is not representative for all the articles in Creation.com. Concerning the poker holes, you wrote that “these holes are unrepaired burn marks (figure 7), which would have been made in the 1532 fire, when the Shroud was already in France. This means that the entombment scene in the Pray Codex could not have been based on these features seen in the Shroud.” Please read the available literature. In 1516 a painted copy of the shroud had been made, it is kept in the Church of St Gommaire, Lierre, Belgium. It shows clearly the poker holes and proves that these holes existed before the 1532 fire. This is strong evidence that the 4 holes in the Pray Manuscript of 1192 direct to the poker holes and that disproves the carbon dating. Please read: The Lier Shroud and Lucas Cranach the Elder © Pam Moon, Little Aston, Easter 2014
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Kees,
Thanks for your comments, we will update our article. We examined your source. We observed that the 1516 painting does indeed have four sets of complete or almost complete "poker holes" in a knight's step fashion (one set of holes does not). However, these poker holes are present all along the two main longitudinal fold lines from the top to the bottom of the Shroud. In other words, there are not just four sets of holes, but more, because the Shroud was folded over several times. Why are these extra holes missing?
Jim B.
For the good of the order - we should never be afraid of the truth. I have been teaching science for 39 years and spoken across several states about the Shroud of Turin. In my humble opinion, there is a wealth of misinformation presented in this article. Without making this too long, I will simply respond briefly and then let each reader come to their own well-reasoned judgment.
As a preface, the Shroud is not a Catholic thing. It is for everyone, because the Resurrection is for everyone. We cannot prove the Resurrection - but that is a shortcoming of science, and not the Resurrection.
3 facts here: 1) The STURP team of 1978 (the most extensive scientific study of the Shroud ever done) concluded - this image was not made by a natural process (it is the only one in existence)
- it is not the work of an artist. There are 17 traits on the Shroud , many of them microscopic in nature. Every artist theory published in a scientific journal fails to account for the majority of these traits. - there are no pigments or dyes on the image-bearing fibers.
2) In the past 120 years there have been over 1400 scientists weigh in on this relic by publishing in professional scientific journals. By an 8 to 1 margin - they weigh in supporting authenticity.
3) The subjective statement is made by the article's author that "Protestants are the least inclined to be biased as to whether the Shroud is real or not." According to the Shroud photographer, Barrie Schwortz, Protestants/Evangelicals are the most skeptical about Shroud authenticity. Even Barrie's Jewish friends accept that it is the burial cloth of Jesus.
I could say much more, but we're out of the max. space allowed. So let's simply say, "if its not a natural process, or an artist painting, what's left?" JimB
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Jim,
Thanks for your comment. Now, I understand that some Protestant groups also are pro-Shroud. But you mus admit that it is the Roman Catholic church who is promoting the Shroud the most -- the Shroud is housed in the cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, the archbishop of Turin owns the Shroud, millions of Roman Catholics venerate the Shroud, which fits very well into Roman Catholic theology. As to the 8 to 1 margin of scientists who support the Shroud over those who don't, that is merely an argument from authority. As to your third statement, when someone makes a scientific statement, at first you must approach it with some healthy skepticism, you shouldn't believe anything that people lay right in front of you. Even the Roman Catholic New Advent states that the letters that King Abgar supposedly received from Jesus about receiving an image from Him are mere legend. Such a "hostile witness", so to speak is strong evidence against the authenticity of the Shroud.
Mark C.
I've never had much of an opinion on the authenticity of the Shroud (although I basically doubted it), and am more than happy to take your word for it. Thank you. But as far as Jesus' height, I think that is answered in Matthew 26:48,49, Mark 14:44,45 and Luke 22:4,47,48. If Jesus were substantially taller than the average Jew at the time, Judas wouldn't have had to betray Jesus with a kiss. He could have just told the chief priests and elders that Jesus was the tall one.
Denise E.
I think your Biblical issues with the Shroud of Turin do not rule it out. The book Verdict on the Shroud by Kenneth Stevenson and Gary Habermas has at least 7 pages discussing the use of grave cloths in Jewish burials and verses in the New Testament. Binding of wrists and ankles, and around the head (under the chin to hold the mouth shut) would be the other cloths. ...”bands in these same locations can be discerned on the Shroud of Turin.” “Lazarus’s napkin was wrapped ‘around ‘ his face (Greek, perideo), a position that is more consistent with the jaw being tied shut…Jesus’s napkin was found ‘rolled up’ (Greek entulisso)”..which better describes how a chin wrap would be used. He also discusses injuries, spices and body washing issues. The spices could have still been in their containers . ”a close study of the texts reveals no incompatibility with the New Testament description of his burial.” If the bones were expected to be placed in an ossuary, I doubt the body would be wrapped in strips like an Egyptian mummy. An Egyptian was wrapped for eternity. In contrast, Romans were often cremated. The shroud image looks like it shows a forked beard. Couldn’t the hair be ripped off the chin? The face has "bruises and swellings. The right eye is nearly swollen shut, and his nose is twisted." In regards to the Isiah 52:14-15 passage, what torture wounds could satisfy a literal “beyond human semblance”? Jesus could see, hear, talk, and swallow while crucified, and presumably did the movements required to keep from suffocating for 6 hours. The people at the crucifixion scene did not act like they were horrified at this crucified man’s appearance.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Denise,
Thanks for your comment. Let me ask, if there was a chin-band around Jesus' head (not visible on the Shroud), then why does the Biblical text describe it as a napkin? That is, something that would cover the face. You can roll up a napkin, but how do you roll up a chin band? Lazarus was covered in linen strips. But just because the Egyptians also used strips to cover their dead doesn't mean anything, it's just a mere coincidence. While some characteristics of the man in the Shroud are compatible with being beaten and tortured, yet other anatomical discrepancies listed in previous comments show that the man cannot be a real human being.
Melvyne C.
Bob Norman R, writes “absolutely impossible. Look at Isaiah 54 verse 14-15.” A minor point: the wrong scriptural ref is given, though the right quotation. However, my point: - The Paschal lamb, “you shall not break any of its bones” (Exod 12:46). “The Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29) - not one of his bones were broken (Jn 19:36) and (Ps 34:20). Thus, we can’t expect Jesus to have received contorted limbs in his torture. Therefore, just what do we expect from a prophecy that wasn’t in real-time: “so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there”. A prophetic message should be read with caution, as such may cover a multitude of broad meanings. When a man is nailed to a cross dripping in blood having been cut to pieces through scourging with the Roman flagellum, and as indicated on the Turin Shroud; his faced punched, his head dripping down with blood from a mock crown of thorns; blood dripping down him from his wrist and hand; a shoulder dislocated it seems; his knees bruised from three falls; his life ebbing away; surely, should that should suffice? “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.” Is that disfigurement also not enough for our sins! (Isa 53:10). Disfigurement caused by being crushed with pain. Can any tell me exactly how Jesus looked after being tortured in many ways? How bad do you want Jesus to have looked? Sorry, Lord, your crucifixion does not paint as bad as scripture says; we do not believe!
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyne,
Thanks again for your comment. As noted here previously to other commenters, why do we even see blood marks on the head of the man in the Shroud on the dorsal image? The blood would have matted into the hair, and would therefore not be visible on the Shroud. Different pro-Shroud authorities differ as to whether Jesus was washed or not. As to the whip marks, according to author Hugh Farey (former editor of the Newsletter of the British Society for the Turin Shroud), no Roman era whips or flagrums have been found which fit the description of having a dumb-bell shape. Instead, various classical authors depict these whips as having sharp edges. See: "The Medieval Shroud 2 - No case for authenticity", by Hugh Farey, 2019, pages 30-31, available on academia.edu.
Melvyne C.
Scripture does not say Jesus was "substantially taller than the average Jew at the time." Besides, Judaus could have stood on his toes to kiss Jesus, or from an incline! It all depends what view you take. But, there had to be no mistakes, with money involved.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Melvyne,
What you is only speculation, and reading between the lines. We can't really know that for sure.
Patrick L.
I have been a student of the Shroud and of the creation debate for over 40 years. I am a retired pastor, I have a MDiv from Tyndale and a Postgraduate Diploma in Shroud Studies. The source material you used was not the best. Antonacci is a well-known Shroud researcher but not a scientist. His hypothesis as to the image formation is not shared by other researchers. De Wesselow is highly controversial. I recommend instead Dr Jackson’s book "The SoT - A Critical Summary...". He is an original STURP member. There are a number of issues in the article. You wrote "STURP members .... were searching for evidence to support their view that it is truly the burial Shroud of Christ." Not true. I have had the pleasure to have lunch with an original STURP member - Barry Schwortz. The STURP mandate was to find out how the image was formed, not to find evidence for its authenticity. You stated that the morphology of the man of the Shroud appears distorted. Drs Barbet and Zugibe, forensic experts, stated that the image of the man is in fact anatomically correct. If it is argued that the Shroud cannot be the real thing because John speaks of cloths in the plural, then in all fairness you need to indicate that John's gospel is in direct contradiction with the Synoptic gospels. Creation Ministries should refrain from commenting on the Shroud. I would propose this statement on your site: "We regularly receive inquiries about the Shroud of Turin. The aim of Creation Ministries International is to supply biblical and scientific evidence of a recent creation and of the fallacy of the theory of evolution. The Shroud of Turin falls outside this mandate. We suggest that readers evaluate the evidence for the Shroud from the multitude of books and online articles to draw their own conclusion.”
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Patrick,
Thanks for your comment, but I respectfully disagree. There are actually several issues with the anatomy of the man in the Shroud: 1. the image is of the same intensity on both the dorsal and ventral images. One would assume that the dorsal image would be stronger, if Jesus was lying with His full weight pressing down on the Shroud. 2. The fingers and hands are unusually long on the man in the Shroud. 3. Why are there blood marks on the man's hair? The blood would have matted the hair together and would not show up on the Shroud. 4. The man in the Shroud seemingly has no neck.
Also, I would like to point out that different Shroud researchers contradict one another. For example, they cannot agree on whether one or two nails were used to hammer Jesus's feet to the cross, or whether the left or the right foot was in front of the other. On the dorsal image, it seems that right foot is behind the left foot, whereas on the ventral image it seems that they are next to each other.
These are obvious things that anyone can make note of, it doesn't take years of research to come to these conclusions.
Hugh F.
Hi Matthew, It's a minor point, but the folding of the Shroud during the 1532 fire is easy enough to reconstruct. The 16 biggest burn holes can be numbered 1-16 in order of size. By folding the Shroud lengthways twice (making it very long and thin) and then crossways twice, the holes end up superimposed, from 1 to 16, largest to smallest, much as expected from a large hot intrusion from above, losing heat as it sears through the layers. As fold two in your diagram actually splits a series of triangular holes across the middle, we end up with a superimposed stack of Top halves (small triangles) and Bottom halves (trapeziums) interleaved, in the following order: 8T-4T-16T-12T-12B-16B-4B-8B-5B-1B-13B-9B-9T-13T-1T-5T... and so on. You will understand that this is wholly incredible. I think you may have mistook the alleged folding required to turn the Shroud into the Image of Edessa with the folding which suffered the 1532 fire. And, although the Shroud is currently housed in the Catholic cathedral, its own chapel, recently restored, is part of the Royal Palace and belongs to the state. Although it was left to the Pope (not the Archbishop of Turin) by the last King of Italy, it is debatable whether it actually belonged to him in the first place, as almost all the royal possessions, including relics, were acquired by the state on his father's abdication. The Shroud actually does not fit as neatly into current Catholic thinking as you suppose, and the Church makes no pronouncement as to its authenticity. Mind you, some of Jim B's comments are even less accurate. 1400 scientists published in professional journals? I think not. 8-1 margin? That makes 150 or so published medieval scientists. This is a mad guess.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Hugh,
Thanks again for your comments. We looked at images of the Shroud again. This is what we can say: we were not trying to reproduce the folding pattern of the Image of Edessa, we were trying to find the natural folding lines seen on the Shroud. We wanted to line up the water marks and the smaller burn marks (not the big triangles). The water marks and the burn marks may not have been made at he same time.
We acknowledge that your folding pattern works. Now, you mention the larger, triangular burn marks. If you look at fold #1 on figure 9, you can see there are four sets of triangles, four pointing up, four down. We drew the fold mark in the middle of the top four triangles, thereby creating smaller triangles superimposed on trapeziums. This indeed may be a problem, but let us remember that the Shroud is made of linen, and is not a rigid material, there might have been some stretching on the fold line, so the water mark and the triangles may not align 100% perfectly. But if you look at the bottom four triangles, their base aligns pretty well with the mid-line of the oval/rhombus shaped water marks. We also examined the Shroud using the ShroudScope tool, and we found that the image on our website was made prior to the 1988 carbon dating. The ShroudScope shows whip stitching on the larger triangular burn holes, meaning that some patches were removed after 1988.
Jim B.
Regarding Edessa: That is a hypothesis by Ian Wilson of England. I do not believe it because it is based on a legend that Jesus wrote a letter to King Abgar. That does not disqualify the Shroud as being authentic. Unbeknownst to you is the Antioch Hypothesis proposed by Dr Jack Markwardt. It shows compelling evidence that the Shroud went with St Peter from Jerusalem to Antioch in 44 AD during the persecution. St Jerome held a document in his own hands attesting to this. I think you’re in over your head when you shoot from the hip without a firm understanding of the Shroud’s history. It takes years of study and constant reading to keep up with Shroud research. Forgive me saying this, but do you really devote this type of commitment to the Shroud? Could it be that others, with more expertise may know more than you? That’s not pride speaking - God had to knock Saul off his high horse before he could get his attention. In a spirit of brotherly love I choose to correct your errors, rather than let you persist in them. True love desires the greatest good for the other person.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Jim,
Why is your story so different from that of Ian Wilson and Antonacci? To me this seems that the pro-Shroud group cannot get its history straight. One of the biggest holes in pro-Shroud theories is that the Shroud was left in obscurity for at least 1350 years, when all of a sudden it makes a debut in Lirey, France. If the Shroud was so important, then why did it lie in obscurity for most of its supposed 2000-year existence?
Wendy C.
Mark C I love your evidently sensible argument that Judas need only say that Jesus was 'the tall one'. That's what I would do But if Jesus was tall, but not so evidently tall amid the crowd, then Judas would have to kiss him Maybe that is why Jesus' height is a red herring
Wendy C.
Thank you for publishing my comment. May I comment again on your reply to Jim? I think there is no single pro-Shroud group out there any more than there is just one church denomination. The (supposed) Shroud's history, or lack of, is interesting but then again, we had no evidence for the pool of Bethsaida colonnades until recently and often we find a famous painting without its full history and provenance. Apparently its history is that it was hidden in a city wall for centuries but, when taken to Byzantium by the muslims, it was folded to show only the face because it was unclean to look on a dead body. It was only recognised as the (supposed) Shroud when the crusaders inspected it. The Knights Templar were so secretive that they could keep it and tell nobody! If I was to have any great interest in this, it would be in the science and it is a bit disappointing that your main sources are an art historian and a literature specialist (and yes a physicist but no chemist). I would have more interest if the Carbon 14 dating was overturned. Have you commented on the idea that the testing samples were taken from an area with invisible mending?
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Wendy,
Thanks again for your comment. I think that if there was such a wealth of evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud, then pro-Shroud researchers shouldn't be contradicting one another. The difference between the Bethsaida colonnades and the Shroud is that the colonnades are sessile, that is they stay in place, which makes their identification much, much easier. On the other hand, the Shroud has supposedly moved around a lot, and allegedly appeared in France during a time period when thousands of false religious relics were being manufactured. We know for example that there are 100 candidates for the burial clothes of Christ. The idea that the Mandylion of Constantinople was folded up so just the head part showed is only a hypothesis, with no real proof. In Constantinople the Mandylion actually only counted as a minor relic, outclassed by other relics which were thought to be more closely associated with Christ. You'd think that the Shroud would have received the same fanfare in Constantinople during the Middle Ages as it did in Lirey and also today. Antonacci does not believe in the invisible weaving theory (neither does Wilson). If the weave was truly invisible, nobody would have noticed it. The Shroud has been examined many times by many people, surely they would have noted such a thing.
Melvyne C.
Thanks Matthew for publishing my comments. “According to the 12 December 2011 Vatican Insider, the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, has published a report on five years of experiments conducted in the ENEA center of Frascati on the shroud-like coloring of linen fabrics by far ultraviolet radiation.” “The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.” A reasonable point the article makes: “This inability to repeat (and therefore falsify) the image on the Shroud makes it impossible to formulate a reliable hypothesis on how the impression was made.”
Matthew Cserhati
Thank you Melvyne,
I would want to point out that now ENEA and Antonacci contradict one another. Now VAV stands for vacuum ultraviolet radiation. I am assuming that this theory holds to the idea that Jesus simply disappeared when He rose from the dead, leaving a vacuum behind, into which all this radiation was emitted. First, this is special pleading, how do we know Jesus disappeared? Why did He not get up from His position in the grave? Second, 34 thousands billion watts is a lot of energy. Would it not have incinerated the Shroud?
Denise E.
Dr. Cserhati, thank you for your reply to my earlier comments. In answer to your questions, the chin band would be hidden by hair. See your article”...shoulder length hair should have fallen backwards.” A square or rectangle cloth can be rolled up and used like a strip, as an athlete might roll up a bandana and tie it as a headband. In English at least, “around the face” could be just that, a cloth strip or band from the top of the head, over the ears, and under the chin, kind of like a tight oval frame of a face portrait. I do not think the Bible says Lazarus was “covered” in linen strips. I think he could have been buried nearly naked. (Perhaps they referred to Job 1:21.) One reason I mentioned Egyptians is because that is the image many now have of people buried with strips. It does not seem practical to unwarp or sort though many feet of rotting strips wound around a decayed body to get at the remaining bones to put in an ossuary. But, on further reflection, perhaps everything was placed in the ossuary. The anatomical discrepancies are not fatal to the image being of a real human being since it is not known how or under what conditions the image was formed. One comment on the height issue- fishermen families (such as Peter, James and John) probably got a good amount of protein and were probably taller than average. In that case a tall Jesus would still need to be singled out.
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Denise,
Well, a chin band would be unusual. Wouldn't rigor mortis keep the mouth shut? Several pro-Shroud theories claim Jesus was in rigor mortis. Would not the knot of this supposed chin-band be visible at the top of Jesus's head? Why do you think that Lazarus was buried nearly naked, when John 11:44 says that he was bound hand and foot. It would have been proper to clothe dead people, everybody does it today. If the flesh decays then it is not a hard thing to get the bones to put in the ossuary, because the clothes would be loosened due to the decreased volume of the body. It may be that Peter, James and John had a lot of protein due to their profession, but Jesus on the other hand was not, He was a carpenter.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.