Monday, October 15, 2012

The Shroud of Turin: 1.1 Overview

Here is part 3, "1.1 Overview of the Shroud of Turin", being my first topic page in my series, "The Shroud of Turin" The previous part 2 was "The Shroud of Turin: 1. Introduction". See part 1, the "Contents" page for more details.

[Right (click to enlarge): The full-length Shroud of Turin after its 2002 restoration: ShroudScope: Durante 2002 Vertical]

© Stephen E. Jones

Linen sheet. The Shroud of Turin[1] is a rectangular linen sheet[2], yellowed with age[3], about 4.4 long by 1.1 metres wide[4](~14.3 x 3.6 feet).

History. The Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record at Lirey, France, about 1355[5]. Since 1578, except for short periods during expositions and in times of war, the Shroud has been held in St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Turin, Italy[6].

Image. The cloth bears the faint image of a naked man[7], front and back[8], head to head[9], who has wounds and bloodstains[10] which match the Gospels' description of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus Christ[11].

Major characteristics of the Shroud's image include: photographic negativity[12], three dimensionality[13], extreme superficiality[14], non-directionality[15], no pigments, paint or dye comprise it[16], and nontraditionality[17]. There is no image under the bloodstains, which means the blood was on the cloth before the image[18]. Any viable explanation of the formation of the Shroud's image, and any claimed reproduction of it, must include all of these[19].

Science unable to explain. Yet, despite the Shroud being the most intensively studied artifact in history, with the best analytical tools available[20], science is still unable to explain naturalistically how the Shroud's image was formed[21].

Radiocarbon dating. In 1988 a tiny postage stamp sized sample was taken from the Shroud, divided among three laboratories: Tucson, Oxford and Zurich[22] and radiocarbon-dated to between AD 1260-1390[23]. But there is no adequate explanation of how an unknown medieval artist could have created the image on the Shroud[24] and modern artists have been unable to reproduce it[25]. The Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, Dr. Christopher Ramsey, who was himself involved in that 1988 radiocarbon dating[26], has admitted that:
"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed." (my emphasis)[27]

1. Also known in Italy as Santa Sindone, "the Holy Shroud" (Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.13). [return]
2. Drews, R., 1984, "In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins," Rowman & Allanheld: Totowa NJ, p.11. [return]
3. Antonacci, M., 2000, "The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.212. [return]
4. More precisely the cloth is "437 cm long by 111 cm wide" (Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.18). [return]
5. Wilson, 1979, p.91. [return]
6. Danin, A., Whanger, A.D., Baruch, U. & Whanger, M., 1999, "Flora of the Shroud of Turin," Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis MO, p.3. [return]
7. Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, pp.7-8. [return]
8. Whanger, M. & Whanger, A.D., 1998, "The Shroud of Turin: An Adventure of Discovery," Providence House Publishers: Franklin TN, p.4. [return]
9. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.12. [return]
10. Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, pp.1,3-5. [return]
11. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, pp.122-124. [return]
12. Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," Macmillan: New York NY, p.131. [return]
13. Wilson, 1979, p.229. [return]
14. Danin, et al., 1999, p.8. [return]
15. Habermas, G.R., in Habermas, G.R., Flew, A.G.N. & Miethe, T.L., ed., 1987, "Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?: The Resurrection Debate," Harper & Row: San Francisco CA, p.119. [return]
16. Habermas, 1987, p.119. [return]
17. Wilcox, 1977, p.171. [return]
18. Hoare, R., 1995, "The Turin Shroud Is Genuine: The Irrefutable Evidence," Souvenir Press: London, p.51. [return]
19. Antonacci, 2000, p.60. [return]
20. Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.219. [return]
21. Philip Ball, an editor for physical sciences at Nature, one of the world's leading science journals, admitted in 2005:

"And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made. It does not seem to have been painted, at least with any known historical pigments." (Ball, P., "To know a veil," Nature news, 28 January 2005. [PDF]);
and again in 2008:
"It's fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling." (Ball, P., "Material witness: Shrouded in mystery," Nature Materials, Vol. 7, No. 5, May 2008, p.349). [return]
22. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.189. [return]
23. Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, 1989, pp.611-615. [return]
24. De Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.167. [return]
25. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.29. [return]
26. He is "C.R. Bronk," i.e. Christopher Ramsey Bronk, listed as one of the contributors to the 1989 Nature paper (Damon, 1989, p.611). [return]
27. Ramsey, C.B., "Shroud of Turin Version 77," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March, 2008. [return]

Continued in part 4, "1.2 The Shroud and me."

Last updated: 27 February, 2013.

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