The Shroud of Turin, purported by some to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ, has been the subject of great debate among scholars for many years. In fact, the more that the Shroud has been studied, the greater the number of questions asked about it. The Catholic Church, meanwhile, has neither formally defended nor denied the authenticity of the Shroud.
In 1978, a group of scientists called the "Shroud of Turin Research Project" (STURP) was assembled to study various aspects of the cloth. In the end, STURP came up with no conclusive explanation for how the image on the Shroud was produced. That raised the hopes of Shroud faithful. However, in 1988, a radiocarbon dating test concluded that the Shroud was from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390, making it impossible for the cloth to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ. That seemed to end the debate.
However, later research has raised doubts on the accuracy of the result of the 1988 radiocarbon dating test, and today, debate on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is as lively as ever. Here are ten of the most compelling reasons why the Shroud of Turin is so difficult to dismiss as the work of a medieval artist:
10 Several Man of Sorrows Images Seem to Portray the Shroud
9 The de Clari Memoir Seems to Describe the Shroud
Robert de Clari was a knight from Picardy who participated in the Fourth Crusade and wrote a chronicle of its events. Sometime between 1203 and 1204, he reported that a significant piece of cloth was in the church of Blachernae in Constantinople. The following is what de Clari wrote, translated to English from Old French:
Where there was the Shroud in which our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday raised itself upright so one could see the figure of our Lord on it.
8 The Pray Codex Seems to Portray the Shroud
7 The Shroud's Photographic Negative Is Clearer
6 Blood Has Been Identified on the Shroud
5 Blood on the Shroud Matches Blood on the Sudarium
4 The Image on the Shroud Cannot Be Fully Explained
3 The Image on the Shroud Has 3D Qualities
In 1976, Eric Jumper, John Jackson, and Pete Schumacher studied a photograph of the Shroud with a VP8 Image Analyzer, a gadget developed for NASA to allow them to create 3D images of the moon. These researchers found that unlike all other photographs they had analyzed, the image on the Shroud had the characteristic of being decoded into a 3-dimensional image when the darker parts of the image were considered closest to the Shroud and the lighter parts, farthest. In fact, 3D technology was used to recreate the following face of the man depicted on the Shroud:
2 The Crucifixion Wounds Are Historically Accurate
1 The Image Cannot Be Reproduced Using Medieval Methods
Skeptics often point out that one of the claims made about the Shroud of Turin is untrue: that it cannot be reproduced using means available to a medieval forger. In fact, several reproductions of the Shroud using medieval means have been made. However, what most skeptics fail to take into consideration is that there is yet to be a reproduction of the Shroud that contains all of the important features of the original. These include some of the features already mentioned: its negative image, its presence only on the outermost layer of the cloth without the use of pigments, and its 3D qualities. And if someone, using only medieval means, ever gets to make one reproduction containing all these qualities , it's still difficult to imagine how a medieval artist could've thought up and incorporated all of the intricate details into the Shroud.
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