The Shroud of Turin is an artifact that plainly exists. It is secured in a vault in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. It is of interest because after careful study many believe the Shroud to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This is a remarkable claim! Can it be true? Either it is one of the most incredible relics or it is one of the most ingenious hoaxes ever invented. Which is it? I give 7 reasons why I believe the Shroud of Turin to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The Shroud of Turin is a 14’5″ by 3’7″ wide linen cloth woven with a herringbone pattern which holds the faint image of a crucified man. The cloth was draped head to foot over the body covering both front and back with the head in the center of the cloth. The hands of the man are crossed and the knees slightly bent. Blood covers the Shroud and is especially noted at the nail marks on the hands and feet and there is a small pool of blood at his side.
As we investigate the Shroud, we understand of course that the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not rest on the Shroud’s authenticity. Many people have believed in Christ’s resurrection, not knowing of the Shroud. But if the Shroud is authentic, it adds further weight to the Christian’s claim.
It is not surprising that the same Jesus who allowed skeptical Thomas to place his finger on the nail wounds would have left behind a relic that can demonstrate to billions of people that “‘Indeed, he has risen.”
Number 1. In spite of many attempts to discredit the Shroud, the Shroud remains a true witness, with more proofs of its authenticity coming continually. The 1988 carbon testing was flawed. When the dating done in 1988 showed the cloth to be of medieval age, many people viewed the Shroud to be a medieval hoax. The Shroud had been damaged by a fire in 1200. A group of nuns repaired the damaged parts. The fibers tested in 1988, many believe, came from the nun’s repair work.
Since then, other tests conducted on the Shroud, including infrared light and spectroscopy, have placed the cloth from the time ranging from 300 BC to 400 AD, well within the date of crucifixion. Other features of the cloth also place it much earlier than medieval times.
Number 2 of my reasons regards the blood on the Shroud. It is authentic human blood. Interestingly, the blood is positioned on the shroud first, then the image. It makes sense as one thinks of how wrapping the body in the Shroud would have moved a lot of blood onto the cloth.
When Jesus was resurrected, many believe a supernatural radiation event caused the image to appear on the Shroud. The image is a very faint discoloration of the top microfiber layers of the linen strands.
Looking at the Shroud we see lots of blood marks covering the head, back, and legs. We can count over 100 stripes made by a thong with a metal tip (likely due to the Roman “flagrum”).
We often see pictures of Christ crucified with nails through his palms, but the true crucifixion way was to put the nails through the wrist, which gives more support for the weight of the body.. Putting a nail through the wrist would damage a nerve which would cause the thumbs to turn inward. There are no thumbs visible on the Shroud.
Number 3 involves the many reasons we have proved that the image is not a painting. There are no paints or pigments on the cloth. The image is a photographic negative and is 3-dimentional. With magnification faint images of a Pilate coin can be seen over the eyes, as was a custom at the time. Also with magnification, teeth and finger bones can be seen as in an x-ray. Whatever caused the image had enough power to actually x-ray the teeth and finger bones. There was no medieval capability for anything like this. We can’t even duplicate the image today.
Number 4 is my favorite. One of the amazing things that happened as researchers studied the Shroud was the discovery of a number of ancient paintings of Christ, made in the sixth and seventh centuries, which appear to match certain elements of the Shroud. Someone noticed that one of the seventh century icons of Christ had on the forehead between the eyebrows a topless square which did not make much artistic sense. In looking at the Shroud of Turin, they found the same feature, probably just a flaw in the weave. They wondered if the seventh century artists were looking at the Shroud while painting their pictures of Christ.
French scholar Paul Vignon found an additional 14 or more similarities occurring on numerous Byzantine Christ portraits which seemed to derive from features visible on the face of the man in the Shroud, such as two strands of hair on the forehead, a transverse streak across the forehead, a raised right eyebrow, heavily accentuated “owlish” eyes, enlarged left nostril, and a hairless area between the lower lip and beard.
Eventually, more similarities were found than are required to identify a picture with a person in modern day court. This also shows the age of the Shroud to be much earlier than medieval.
Number 5 concerns pollen samples which were taken from the Shroud and 28 matched plants which grow in the vicinity of Jerusalem. With great magnification faint imprints of flowers can be seen on the Shroud. This would rule out medieval hoax also.
Number 6 looks at the similarities between the Shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo. The Sudarium is a small cloth said to have been placed over the face of Jesus when he was lowered from the cross. John notes the cloths in John 20:7, “The wrapping that had been on his head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself.”
The Sudarium does not contain an image as does the Shroud, but it does have a large amount of blood around what would be the nose and forehead area. The blood markings on the Sudarium match the blood marking on the Shroud. The blood has been tested and is the same Type AB hemoglobin as found on the Shroud of Turin.
As mentioned earlier, the image actually made an x-ray of the man’s teeth and fingers. This image is a slight discoloration of the linen as happens when a cloth is exposed to radiation. The discoloration is only on the topmost fibers of the strands. It has been estimated that the power of VUV radiation required to instantly color the surface of linen corresponding to a man of average height would be 34,000 million watts, much more than we are capable of producing today.
As Christian apologist Dr. Gary Habermas tells us, “True, we do not have absolute proof for the identity of the man in the shroud…But it appears to provide strong empirical corroboration to Jesus’ resurrection, and when combined with the historical evidence for this event I would submit that we have a twofold apologetic from both science and history.”
We find that the internet seems to have plenty of anti-Christian sentiment. And some information on the internet for the Shroud can be very skeptical. But for anyone willing to give it some study and thought, I believe they will find the Shroud to be a real blessing to them, especially as they anticipate the possibility of their own resurrection some day.
For further research check out these sites. The first short video (pinterest) is amazing.
Purchase Sacred Strands, The Story of a Redeemer Woven Through History here.