Please Support the Bible Translation Work of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
During the display of the Shroud of Turin a couple of decades ago, visitors were only allowed to view it for two minutes, and emotions varied from curiosity to tearful meditation. With over 2.5 million visitors, many used the occasion to discuss and examine religious beliefs more closely, including rereading the pages of the Bible relating to Jesus’ burial.
The shroud is a large linen cloth that measures 14 feet 3 inches long and 3 feet 7 inches wide, with a superficial imprint of a man who suffered a violent death. However, the question of whether this shroud is the same one used to wrap the body of Jesus over 1900 years ago remains unanswered.
Do you believe that the face on the Shroud of Turin is the face of Jesus Christ? Millions of people around the world do. The Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth that is considered to be the most important relic in the history of Christianity. It is a large cloth, measuring 14 by 3.5 feet, and it is claimed to be the same “fine linen” mentioned in Mark 15:46, which was used to wrap the body of Jesus after his death. On this cloth, there is a faint image of a blood-stained body with wounds that are said to correspond to those inflicted on Jesus. The cloth is believed to have been laid lengthwise over and under the body so that one sees the front and back of a man, and this is centered between two dark streaks resulting from fire damage.
In October 1978, a team of 45 scientists was granted permission to examine the shroud carefully, after a long-awaited public display that drew millions of observers. For five days and nights, these scientists used sophisticated space-age instruments to study the relic. Even before their findings were published, newspapers and books hailed the shroud as a proof of the existence of God, the fifth gospel written in blood, a literal “snapshot” of the resurrection, and the photograph of Christ.
The idea that there may be tangible proof of the resurrection creates excitement for many Christians, but what if the shroud proved to be a fraud? How misleading would that be? It’s important to consider all the facts and not be sidetracked by the excitement surrounding the shroud.
Many scientists are excited about the shroud because of the possibility of learning more about the physical appearance of Jesus. However, as Christians, we must ask ourselves how we should be affected by this relic. We need to examine the facts and not let ourselves be distracted from weightier matters.
History of the Shroud of Turin
The history of the Shroud of Turin can be traced back to the time of Jesus’ death and burial. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus was wrapped in “clean fine linen” and his body was anointed with oils and spices before being laid in a tomb. (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:39-42) However, there is no mention of an image on the burial cloth in the Bible.
The first reliable historical record of a shroud bearing an image of a crucified man dates back to the 14th century, when Geoffroy de Charny possessed one in Lirey, France. (John 20:6-7) Although there are reports of Jesus’ burial shroud being venerated in various locations prior to this time, there is no conclusive evidence that these refer to the shroud currently in Turin.
The shroud passed through the hands of various owners until it was deeded to the House of Savoy in 1453. It was damaged by a fire in 1532 and was repaired by Poor Clare nuns and later by Sebastian Valfrè and Clotilde of Savoy. In 1578, the House of Savoy took the shroud to Turin, where it has remained since. It was displayed publicly in 1898 and has undergone restoration and preservation efforts over the years.
Despite the shroud’s rich history and the vivid detail and coloring described by some viewers, there is no biblical or historical evidence to conclusively prove that it is the burial cloth of Jesus.
Fringe Speculations about Early Artworks and Relics
The Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth bearing the image of a man believed by some to be Jesus Christ. The authenticity of the shroud has been a topic of debate for many years, and while conclusive scientific evidence suggests that it is of medieval origin, several alternative theories about its origins have been proposed.
Although three radiocarbon dating tests performed in 1988 provided conclusive evidence of a date of 1260 to 1390 for the shroud, some researchers have challenged the dating based on various theories. These theories include the provenance of the samples used for testing, biological or chemical contamination, and incorrect assessment of carbon dating data. However, all of these alternative theories have been disproved by scientists who have used actual shroud material to test them, and as a result, they are considered to be fringe theories.
The Holy See received custody of the shroud in 1983 and makes no claims about its authenticity. Despite the conclusive radiocarbon dating tests, some proponents of the shroud’s authenticity argue that empirical analysis and scientific methods are insufficient for understanding the methods used for image formation on the shroud, believing that the image was miraculously produced at the moment of Resurrection. However, these theories remain unproven.
There have been several theories proposed about the origins of the shroud, including the belief that it was the Image of Edessa, which was reported to contain the image of the face of Jesus. However, the description of the Image of Edessa differs significantly from the shroud. There are also theories that the shroud was captured by the Knights Templar, who were believed to have been in possession of a relic showing a red, monochromatic image of a bearded man on linen or cotton. However, the association with the Templars seems to be based on a coincidence of family names, and there is no conclusive evidence to support this theory.
There have been allegations that the sample of the Shroud of Turin chosen for radiocarbon dating was not representative of the original shroud. Specifically, there are concerns that the sample may have come from a medieval repair or restoration rather than the image-bearing cloth. This argument is based on the questionable provenance of the samples and the possibility that they were contaminated.
Chemical analysis conducted by American chemist Raymond Rogers on undocumented threads received from Luigi Gonella showed that they did not match the main body of the shroud and contained gum/dye/mordant coating and cotton fibers, which were likely added during medieval repairs. This led Rogers to conclude that the worst possible sample for carbon dating was taken.
Giulio Fanti, a professor at the University of Padua, conducted experiments on threads he believes were cut from the shroud during the 1988 carbon-14 dating and concluded that they dated from 300 BC to 400 AD, potentially placing the shroud within the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth. However, many are skeptical of his findings due to the questionable manner in which he obtained the shroud fibers.
Other theories question the results of carbon-14 dating based on contamination by bacteria, reactive carbon, or carbon monoxide. However, there is no evidence to support these claims, and some experiments have even been conducted to disprove them. For example, Rodger Sparks, a radiocarbon expert from New Zealand, examined fibers from the shroud and found no evidence of bioplastic polymer, which would indicate bacterial contamination. Additionally, Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, tested linen samples to determine if recent enrichment by carbon monoxide was possible, but found no significant reaction.
Claims of restoration of the Shroud of Turin have been refuted by various experts and scientists. The sample used for the radiocarbon dating was taken from a single site on the main body of the shroud, away from any patches or charred areas. Additionally, foreign material removed from the sample before testing was identified as cotton, likely used for repairs in the past.
Some critics have identified statistical errors in the conclusions published in Nature regarding the radiocarbon dating. Various statistical analyses have been conducted on the data, suggesting a lack of homogeneity, possibly due to unidentified abnormalities in the fabric tested or differences in the pre-testing cleaning processes used by the different laboratories. The most recent analysis (2020) concludes that the stated date range needs to be adjusted by up to 88 years to meet the requirement of “95% confidence properly.”
The vanillin loss theory, which suggests that the shroud is between 1300 and 3000 years old based on the presence of vanillin in the unprovenanced threads and its absence in the body of the shroud, is not widely accepted due to limitations in the methodology and conflicting interpretations of the evidence. Ultimately, the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin remains a topic of debate and interpretation.
The Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth believed by many to have been used to wrap the body of Jesus Christ, has been the subject of much scientific study and debate. Some researchers have claimed to find evidence of writing, images of coins and flowers, and even energy sources used to create the image on the cloth. However, many of these claims have been met with skepticism and criticism.
In 1979, Greek and Latin letters were reported to be written near the face on the Shroud. Further analysis by André Marion and his student Anne Laure Courage in 1997 revealed additional inscriptions, including “INNECEM” (a shortened form of Latin “in necem ibis”—”you will go to death”), “NNAZAPE(N)NUS” (Nazarene), “IHSOY” (Jesus) and “IC” (Iesus Chrestus). Linguist Mark Guscin disputed the reports of Marion and Courage, stating that the inscriptions made little grammatical or historical sense and did not appear on the slides that Marion and Courage indicated.
In 2009, Barbara Frale, a paleographer in the Vatican Secret Archives, reported further analysis of the text on the Shroud. She claimed to have found the burial certificate of Jesus imprinted in fragments of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin writing. Frale stated that the text reads: “In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year.” Frale’s methodology has been criticized, and Dr. Antonio Lombatti rejected the idea that authorities would have bothered to tag the body of a crucified man.
Researchers have also claimed to find images of coins and flowers on the Shroud. In 1978, Jackson, Jumper, and Stephenson claimed to have detected the impressions of coins placed on both eyes after a digital study, but most scientists reject the existence of these images. Similarly, Avinoam Danin, a botanist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported in 1997 that he had identified several species of flowers on the Shroud, but skeptics argue that the images are too faint and that the pollen strands may have been deliberately contaminated. A study by Lorusso et al. in 2011 did not find any images of coins or flowers on the Shroud.
In 1976, researchers analyzed a photograph of the Shroud image using a VP8 Image Analyzer and found that the Shroud image had the property of decoding into a 3-dimensional image. However, optical physicist John Dee German noted that it is not difficult to create a photograph with 3D qualities.
Various theories have been proposed about the energy source used to create the image on the Shroud. Since 1930, several researchers have endorsed the flash-like irradiation hypothesis, suggesting that the energy source was protonic and acted from inside. Other researchers have suggested X-radiation or a burst of directional ultraviolet radiation may have played a role. In 2002, Giulio Fanti proposed electrostatic corona discharge as the probable mechanism to produce the images of the body in the Shroud. However, Raymond Rogers criticized this theory, saying that corona discharges and plasmas made no contribution to image formation.
In December 2011, scientists at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development deduced from the STURP results that the color of the Shroud image is the result of an accelerated aging process of the linen caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. They demonstrated that the photochemical reactions caused by exposing linen to ultraviolet light could reproduce the main characteristics of the Shroud image, such as the shallowness of the coloration and the gradient of the color, which are not reproducible by other means. This hypothesis suggests that the image on the Shroud was created by the application of burial ointments to the body before burial, which contained specific ingredients that were affected by the ultraviolet radiation emitted during the natural decomposition process of the body.
However, this theory has been met with skepticism by some researchers. They argue that burial ointments are unlikely to create such a detailed and lifelike image and that the proposed process would require a very specific set of circumstances that are unlikely to have occurred naturally. Moreover, other researchers have pointed out that this theory does not explain all the features of the Shroud image, such as the three-dimensional quality and the lack of pigments or dyes.
Overall, the origins and nature of the image on the Shroud of Turin continue to be a subject of debate and investigation among scientists and scholars. While some theories have been proposed to explain the image, none of them has been able to account for all the features of the Shroud fully, and the question of its authenticity remains unanswered.
14th and 15th Centuries
The Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth bearing the image of a man, has a long and storied history dating back to its first appearance in 1355. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the shroud was displayed in a church in Lirey, France in 1353 by the widow of French knight Geoffroi de Charny. The bishop of Troyes initially opposed its veneration, declaring it to be a mere painting. However, in 1390, Pope Clement VI approved its exhibition as lawful. The shroud was eventually entrusted to Humbert, Count de La Roche, Lord of Lirey, but was sold by his widow to the Duke of Savoy in 1453.
Throughout its history, the authenticity of the shroud has been debated. In 1389, Bishop Pierre D’Arcis denounced it as a fraud, alleging that it had been painted by a skilled artist. Antipope Clement VII did not revoke permission for its display, but instructed that it should not be presented as the actual shroud of Christ. John Calvin, in his Treatise on Relics, expressed skepticism about the shroud’s authenticity, citing discrepancies with the biblical account of Jesus’s burial. Despite these controversies, the shroud has remained a popular object of veneration for many Christians. Its intricate history and mysterious image continue to fascinate scholars and believers alike.
16th Century to Present
The history of the Shroud from the 16th century to present times is well-documented. The shroud we see today in Turin Cathedral is the same one as in the middle of the 16th century, as confirmed by a miniature painting by Giulio Clovio. In 1578, the shroud was taken to Turin by the House of Savoy, and it has remained there ever since.
In 1532, a fire in the chapel where the shroud was stored caused damage to it. The drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. There is some evidence that the watermarks were made by condensation in the bottom of a burial jar in which the folded shroud may have been kept at some point. In 1988, the Holy See agreed to a radiocarbon dating of the relic, and the tests established that the shroud was from the Middle Ages, between the years 1260 and 1390.
Another fire threatened the shroud on April 11, 1997, possibly caused by arson, but it was saved by a fireman who removed it from its heavily protected display case. In 2002, the Holy See had the shroud restored, and the cloth backing and thirty patches were removed, making it possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth. Using sophisticated mathematical and optical techniques, a ghostly part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004.
In 2003, the principal restorer, Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, a textile expert from Switzerland, published a book describing the operation and the reasons it was believed necessary. However, in 2005, William Meacham, an archaeologist who has studied the Shroud since 1981, published a book that was fiercely critical of the operation, rejecting the reasons provided by Flury-Lemberg and describing in detail what he calls “a disaster for the scientific study of the relic.”
Despite these controversies, the shroud has been publicly exhibited several times, including in 2000 for the Great Jubilee, in 2010 with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, in 2015 with the approval of Pope Francis, and another exhibition is scheduled for 2025. The shroud continues to be a topic of debate and research, as its authenticity and the significance of the image continue to be explored.
The shroud’s importance can be seen in the Bible, where it is mentioned in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, verses 5-8: “And he [Peter] stooping down, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple [John], which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.” This passage suggests that the cloth used to wrap Jesus’s body was left in the tomb after the Resurrection, and it also mentions the presence of a separate cloth used to cover his head.
Why Are Some Excited?
During the time of Christ, the herringbone weave of the Shroud of Turin was popular in Palestine. Pollen taken from the cloth was found to be from plants that once grew in that land. While linen cloths from Jesus’ time still exist, the uniqueness of this cloth lies in the image on it.
In 1898, when the shroud was photographed for the first time, scientists were surprised to find that the image was a negative. The markings on the shroud appeared to come to life in the negatives, showing the full figure of a man in exceptional detail. Marks resembling pierced wrists and feet were observed, as well as a large bloodstain on the right chest area and numerous dumbbell-shaped wound marks that resemble the lead balls used on Roman scourges during the time of Christ. Bloodstains on the top of the head suggest the use of a crown of thorns.
The greatest puzzle about the shroud is how the image was formed. Recent tests failed to find any traces of pigment known to have been used during the Middle Ages, when the shroud made its first documented appearance. Through the use of powerful microscopes, the image was found to be made up of tiny “yellow-red to orange granules” that sat on top of the weave. Whatever caused the image did not penetrate the cloth. According to authority Ian Wilson, it would seem to have been a “dry” process as from some physical force reacting with the surface fibers of the Shroud threads, the granules thereby being formed, as it were, from the fibers themselves.
According to physical chemist and shroud authority Ray Rogers, one theory is that the image “was formed by a burst of radiant energy.” Some believe this occurred when Jesus was resurrected, but not everyone is convinced.
Why Some Have Serious Doubts
Some Bible scholars doubt the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, as the scriptural record suggests that conditions during Jesus’ burial were contrary to what is seen on the shroud. For the shroud to be authentic, two conditions must have existed when the image was formed: (1) the body could not have been washed, as bloodstains are clearly visible, and (2) the linen cloth would have to have been laid loosely over the body, not pressed against it.
The accounts of Jesus’ burial by Matthew (27:59-60), Mark (15:46), and Luke (23:53) are brief, but they all mention that the body was “wrapped” in “fine linen.” However, was the body so quickly prepared that it was not first washed? According to the apostle John, who was an eyewitness, “much care” was taken with Jesus’ body before it was buried. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus prepared the body with myrrh, aloes, and bandages, just as the Jews have the custom of preparing for burial. The Jewish custom was to wash the body and use spices, not to preserve or embalm it (Acts 9:37; Matt. 26:12).
That the two men took steps to prepare the body for burial is also indicated by what was found in the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter viewed the bandages lying, as well as the cloth that had been upon his head, which was separately rolled up in one place (John 20:6-7). Some try to contend that this headcloth is actually the shroud, but the fact that a separate piece of cloth is mentioned as being “upon his head” shows that a different piece covered his head, whereas the shroud clearly shows the image of the head on the same cloth that covered the body.
The scriptural account suggests that the body was washed and bound with myrrh and aloes according to the Jewish custom. All was completed except the anointing with oil and spices, which the women intended to do the following Sunday morning (Luke 23:55-56; Mark 16:1). The act of anointing with oils and spices would not have required the removal of the burial clothes, as the oils could have been poured over the body while it was still wrapped in the cloths. This is supported by the account in Mark 14:3-8, which describes how a woman anointed Jesus for his burial by pouring oil on his head while he was still alive. Such preparations would have made the present image on the shroud impossible. Therefore, some serious Bible scholars doubt its authenticity based on the scriptural record.
An Unusual Silence of Early Christian Writers
If the graveclothes of Jesus had an image upon them, wouldn’t it have been noticed and become a subject of discussion? Despite what is mentioned in the Gospels, there is complete silence in the New Testament about the graveclothes. Even the professed Christian writers of the third and fourth centuries, many of whom wrote about a host of so-called miracles in connection with numerous relics, do not mention the existence of a shroud containing the image of Jesus.
Some claim that the shroud had been hidden during all these years, yet even after the supposed burial shroud of Jesus had been “discovered” according to seventh-century writers, there is no mention of an image on it. This is hard to understand since viewers of the shroud between the seventh and thirteenth centuries did not mention the image, even though it was described as vividly detailed and colored by 15th- and 16th-century viewers.
It was not until 1205 that a French soldier, Robert de Clari, reported seeing “the sindon [shroud] in which our Lord was enveloped . . . stretched upright, so that one could easily see the figure of our Savior.” The long period of silence raises questions about the authenticity of the shroud. Shroud advocate Ian Wilson asks, “Could it have been hidden away all the time due to Jewish and Roman persecution of Christians, followed by the danger to all image-bearing objects during the period of the iconoclastic controversy (725-842)? This was most unlikely.” There was ample opportunity for such an important and unmistakable relic as the Turin Shroud to come to light, yet there is no record of any such event.
One cannot help but wonder why it took almost 1,200 years before mention was made of the image on the shroud, given the significance of this relic. The silence of early Christian writers about the shroud containing the image of Jesus raises questions about its authenticity.
Here are the relevant scriptures to support the points made:
- The Gospel writers say that the body of Jesus was “wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.” (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56)
- The apostle John adds that Nicodemus brought a roll of myrrh and aloes and that the body of Jesus was bound with bandages with the spices, according to the Jewish custom of preparing for burial. (John 19:39-42)
- The Jews customarily washed the dead and then used oils and spices to anoint the body. (Matthew 26:12; Acts 9:37)
- On the morning following the Sabbath, women friends of Jesus intended to complete the preparation of his body with spices but found that the body of Jesus was not in the tomb. (Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-3)
- When Peter entered the tomb, he saw the bandages lying and the cloth that had been upon Jesus’ head separately rolled up in one place, but there is no mention of the fine linen or shroud. (John 20:6-7)
Scientific and Historical Problems
The scientific community has debated the formation of the image on the shroud, but many believe it was caused by some type of scorching process. However, this presents a problem because 16th-century viewers described the image as multicolored. Some speculate that the shroud displayed today may not be the same one from the 14th century and that it could have been a fraud created using modern technology and medical knowledge. Others suggest that a bas-relief with myrrh and aloes could have been used to create the image. Despite various theories, it remains a mystery how the image was formed and it is unlikely that science will ever be able to prove how it was done.
The historical trail of the shroud is not clear-cut. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, there is no evidence of its existence during the early years of Christianity. In 544 C.E., a purportedly miraculous image of Jesus appeared in Edessa, modern-day Turkey. However, historians are skeptical that this image is the same as the Shroud of Turin. In the 14th century, a shroud was in possession of Geoffroi de Charny in France, and in 1453, it came into the possession of Louis, Duke of Savoy, who then transferred it to a church in Chambéry, the Savoyard capital. It was later brought to Turin in 1578 by Emmanuel Philibert.
The study of the Shroud of Turin is called Sindonology, named after the Greek word for burial cloth used in the Gospel of Mark. Since its discovery, many scientific theories have been proposed, including material analysis, biology and medical forensics, and image analysis.
The first direct examination of the shroud by a scientific team occurred between 1969 and 1973, leading to the appointment of an 11-member Turin Commission to advise on preservation and specific testing. In 1976, John P. Jackson, Eric Jumper, and William Mottern used aerospace technologies for image analysis, and over thirty other experts formed the Shroud of Turin Research Project. In 1978, this group, often called STURP, was given direct access to the shroud.
In 1988, radiocarbon dating was performed on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud, which determined that the shroud material dated to 1260-1390 AD, too recent for the shroud to have been associated with Jesus. Skeptics who challenge the dating results by claiming that the sample may represent a medieval “invisible” repair fragment have been scientifically refuted.
The biological and medical forensics of the Shroud includes blood stains, flowers and pollen, and anatomical forensics. Skeptics have argued that the image on the Shroud is anatomically flawed and unrealistic, and that the proportions of the image are impossible. They have concluded that the Shroud is a work of a Gothic artist. As Raymond E. Brown pointed out, it is impossible for a corpse lying prostrate to cover his own genitals.
The Shroud of Turin is a piece of cloth that many believe was used to wrap the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. The image on the Shroud has been subject to much analysis and debate regarding its origin. The image is a faint and superficial image caused by a translucent and discontinuous yellow discoloration of the fibers. In the points where the image is present, the discoloration affects only 2 or 3 fibers on the topmost part of the threads of the cloth. The discoloration seems caused by a kind of dehydrative oxidation process, which has discolored and chemically altered the surfaces of certain surface fibrils.
Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of the image. Some have suggested that the image was created through painting, acid pigmentation, or even medieval photography. However, these explanations have been met with criticism due to various technical difficulties and inconsistencies.
One hypothesis is that the image was created using a bas-relief technique. This involves creating a raised image and then pressing cloth against it to transfer the image onto the cloth. Researchers have replicated this process and produced an image similar to that on the Shroud. Another hypothesis involves the Maillard reaction, which is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a reducing sugar. However, this hypothesis has been questioned due to the lack of signs of decomposition on the Shroud.
Despite the various hypotheses, the origin of the image on the Shroud of Turin remains a mystery. It is important to remember that the significance of the Shroud lies not in the image itself, but in its symbolism and meaning to those who believe in its authenticity. As the Bible says in John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Shroud and the Gospel Accounts
According to the Gospel writers, Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus from the cross and wrapped “in clean fine linen cloth.” (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56) The apostle John adds that Nicodemus also brought a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, and they bound the body with spices as per Jewish custom. (John 19:39-42)
It was customary for Jews to wash the dead and anoint the body with oils and spices. (Matthew 26:12; Acts 9:37) Women friends of Jesus planned to complete the preparation of his body on the morning following the Sabbath, but they found that his body was not in the tomb when they arrived with their spices. (Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-3)
When Peter arrived at the tomb shortly afterward and entered, he saw the bandages lying there along with the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, which was separately rolled up in one place. (John 20:6, 7) It is interesting to note that John only mentions bandages and the headcloth and does not mention the fine linen or shroud. If the shroud had been present, would it not seem likely that John would have mentioned it?
Furthermore, there is no mention in the Bible about the graveclothes having Jesus’ image on them. If the graveclothes had his image on them, it would have been noticed and become a topic of discussion. (See also 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 5:21)
Even in the writings of professed Christian writers from the third and fourth centuries, who wrote about a host of so-called miracles in connection with numerous relics, there is no mention of a shroud containing the image of Jesus. This is hard to understand, given that 15th- and 16th-century viewers describe the impressions on the shroud as vivid in detail and coloring, so much so that they could have been freshly made.
The Shroud of Turin has been the subject of many opinions and investigations over the years. In 1988, the then-archbishop of Turin had the shroud examined by radiocarbon dating, which revealed that it was medieval, dating long after the time of Christ. Although the present archbishop acknowledges that the shroud cannot be confirmed as Christ’s burial cloth, he suggests that the faithful can see in it the image of the man described in the Gospels. Pope John Paul II has referred to the image as “the imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One.” However, the evidence largely weighs against the shroud being authentic.
Even if the shroud were genuine, it is questionable whether Christians should venerate it according to the teachings of the Bible. The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits the creation and worship of graven images or idols. True Christians understand the importance of walking by faith, not by sight, and do not need physical objects to bolster their faith.
Does It Affect Your Faith?
The authenticity of the Shroud of Turin remains a subject of debate among scholars. However, whether or not the shroud is authentic, it is important to consider the significance of the evidence that was available to those in the first century. The resurrection of Jesus was confirmed by over 500 living eyewitnesses, rather than relying on a piece of cloth that once covered a dead man. Therefore, the graveclothes themselves pale in comparison to the evidence of the risen Christ.
It is possible that interest in the shroud could overshadow the real evidence of the resurrection, and it could potentially become a form of idolatry. It is important to consider whether one’s faith needs the shroud as a brace, or if it could become a weak crutch. These questions are meaningful for every Christian to consider.
Instead of focusing on relics and displays, it is essential to focus on the preaching of the Word. This is what builds genuine faith and creates a sure hope that does not disappoint. This hope assures us that the same One who resurrected Jesus will bring an end to a corrupt world and deliver those with genuine faith into a new order of righteousness. Therefore, while the debate about the shroud may continue, it is important to keep our faith rooted in the true evidence of the resurrection.