Authenticity Of The Shroud Essay, Research Paper
The Shroud of Turin has caused much controversy in the latter part of this century, most of it dealing with its authenticity. It is held by many that this is indeed the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, and the image found on the shroud was burned in-for lack of a better word-during the resurrection. This subject has appeared throughout numerous forms of media, ranging from television specials on networks such as Discovery and The Learning Channel, to magazines, newspapers, books and even the Internet. One should not be surprised that a host of web pages have dedicated themselves to one side of the argument or another. Despite the few arguments used to disprove its authenticity (which under light hold no real value), there is by far too much evidence to arrive at any other conclusion except that it is indeed the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.Disregarding the very extreme, doubting researchers in the field, the Shroud’s history can be traced back undisputedly to the Middle Ages where a French knight named Geoffrey de Charny was in possession of the Shroud, whom many say acquired it from Constantinople (Wilson). After the knight’s death, the Shroud stayed in his family as it was passed down to his son. By the early 1400s, the Shroud was moved to the castle of Montfort as to protect it from hostile invaders (Markwardt).Over the next hundred years, the Shroud changed hands and places only to wind up at the Royal Chapel of Chamb?ry Castle, as much fear that the constant moving might cause damage or destroy it caused it to reside there some time. Until the late 1800s, the Shroud saw nothing more than the rare showings to the public and changed hands when necessary to protect it from the chaotic, war like state Europe seemed to be constantly in. It was not until 1898 when an Italian attorney, named Secundo Pia, took the first actual photograph of the Shroud (D’Muhala). Although the actual taking of the picture was of little historical importance, what happened when Secundo Pia developed the film, was. The negative of the image seen, while the film was being produced, was startling. The negative of the Shroud upon the film, actually looked as if it were a positive (Appendix A fig. 3). This unforeseen event marked the Shroud of Turin’s launch into the scientific age.In 1978, a public exhibition commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Shroud was held. During this five-week period, the Shroud was publicly displayed to more than 3.5 million visitors. Later that year, a large group of scientists from the United States were brought to spend five days of continuo study of the Shroud (D’Muhala).Although the Shroud’s history can only be undisputedly traced back to the 1300s, there was an item known as the Mandillion, which roughly means “the little towel that heals.” (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”) It is recorded that this towel had the face of Jesus Christ on it and had certain healing powers. Its records began shortly after the crucifixion and writings of the New Testament and it traveled around much of the area. Eventually it found its way to Constantinople and spent its last recorded years there. According to the Mandillion’s records, a French knight came through the city and reported seeing a cloth with the face of Christ Jesus upon it. One year later, the Crusades came and sacked the city, taking back the spoils of war to Western Europe. It is at this point in time where the records of the Mandillion end, and the records of the Shroud of Turin begin.As a final point in regards to general history, one should also note that researchers have found that if the Shroud was folded along the major crease lines that are prominent in the linen, the Shroud of Turin becomes a small rectangle, with the face of Jesus in the center. (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).Before discussing what the Shroud of Turin is, which after all is subjective, it is important to discuss what the Shroud clearly is not. The chief argument against the authenticity of the Shroud is saying that it is a painting from the Medieval Ages. This argument is maintained by the fact that tiny particles of iron oxide were found on the linen (iron oxide can be found in particular paints) and that carbon dating has placed the Shroud of Turin at about the Middle Ages (which will be addressed later). This statement, at least from those who believe it, is just another clear example of someone speaking about what they do not know. After running tests for iron oxide, scientists found absolutely no correlation between the levels of iron oxide and the image. That is to say, iron oxide was spread uniformly throughout the cloth and thus it was not the remains of paint particles (D’Muhala).A paper done by Isabel Piczek, who is an accomplished painter (she has numerous contracts for painting cathedral ceilings and large murals on walls) and a respected authority when it comes to art history, states for a variety of reasons why the Shroud cannot be a painting. In her more recent paper on the Shroud, she states that the support, which is the linen cloth in this case, is untreated and that in itself causes a variety of problems for the paint to adhere to its surface for even a brief period of time-let alone stay in place for hundreds of years. If the Shroud were indeed a painting, or at least started out as one, the paint particles would have fallen off long ago. Secondly, if there were anything left of the image, as most likely all particles would have left the surface, it would have been blurred beyond recognition and found to be smeared across the entire linen. A good analogy would be trying to paint on a sheet of aluminum with food coloring. The food coloring simply would not stick to the metal and would run off very easily, as there is no bond between the dye and the aluminum.She also states that the ground that medieval paints used is not found in the cloth at all. On Medieval art, one can do numerous tests that reveal what types of ground were used (assuming one did not simply look at the art, and refer back to when it was painted) and in all the tests done on the Shroud, none pointed to any ground whatsoever. Furthermore, there was no damage to the cloth found that one would expect to find after rolling and unrolling the cloth numerous times if indeed such medieval grounds had been used. Such damage can easily been seen and replicated in other works of art (see Appendix A, fig. 4). Coming directly from her paper, she writes:”For a continuous image to exist on a painting, while the paint medium has returned to dust or just tiny glomerates, leaving the milimicron pigment particles without tight adhesion to the ground or to the support would be totally against the laws of nature, scientifically unacceptable and a technically impossibility regarding the practice of art. This would be harder to explain than the Turin Shroud itself.” (Piczek)Jack Reilly, who is a professor of Art at the University of California, has been studying the Shroud for sometime. More importantly however, he has been studying the appearance of Jesus Christ in artwork as a whole and has also made observations that point to its authenticity (or at least, point away from its fraudulence).Jesus Christ is the most illustrated person in history, but yet the Bible never said anything about what he looked like. Keeping this notion in mind, when one looks at the majority of paintings of Jesus, there are certain bounds, easily seen, that are universally kept within-despite the natural use of artistic license by the painters. For example: Why is Jesus always depicted with long hair, parted in the middle? Why does he always have a beard? Why does he have an elongated nose? These and other such questions allow Jack Reilly to maintain that there was a common origin for those paintings, and this origin dates back much farther than the Medieval Era (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).The paintings of Christ in the Middle Ages are very strikingly similar. Just by looking at the works of various arts and times, one can see that it is almost as if they were painting the same portrait, and not coming up with their subject from their imagination. There are a number of markings that all the paintings possessed, and are well known by art historians. The most obvious two of these markings are the large, owl-like eyes and the elongated nose. On all depictions the forehead is marked with a long, deep continuous line, while just below that line, center and above the bridge of the nose, one can make out a three-sided square. The hair is also parted in the middle, with two strands down the forehead. These, among others, lend serious weight to the fact that the artists of all the paintings had some sort of common model on which to reference (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).Whatever the paintings were modeled after, it can also be found on a coin that dates back to 695 AD. On the coin is a crude, but easily recognizable, figure of what looks like the same representation as that of the medieval paintings. Along the edge of the coin, in Latin, is the English translation “Jesus Christ, King of Kings.” It is quite obvious that whoever made the forge, thought that Jesus Christ looked like that of what was on the coin (”In pursuit of the Shroud”).If one looks at the coin, the medieval paintings, and the Shroud of Turin, one would find that they all look almost exactly alike with regards to the most prominent features. The simple fact is that two of the three were modeled after the third as all three being modeled after a fourth is highly improbable and there is no evidence that points to the idea. Clearly it is impossible that the coin was forged while looking at the paintings, as the coin was made six centuries before the paintings, and it is almost as impossible that a forger-if the Shroud is indeed a forgery-looked at the coin while creating the Shroud. The only option that remains is that both the coins and the medieval paintings, were either produced while looking at the Shroud or a copy of the Shroud.The image itself can be broken down into three parts (see Appendix A fig. 1 and 2 ). The first, and most noticeable, are the long burn marks on the either side of the Shroud of Turin which came about in a fire that nearly destroyed it. Secondly, one can see the image itself along the center of the Shroud. Thirdly, there are visible bloodstains in many parts along the image of the body.There are some very unique properties that the image upon the Shroud of Turin possesses, which are not found anywhere else. For example, one fiber of the linen will have a color change (part of the image) while the fiber next to it will not. Furthermore, there are some areas of the Shroud where the image is only 1/500th of an inch thick. To date, there is no known way to replicate this (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”). In addition, the level of detail in this image is so good, that any medical examiner can treat the Shroud as an x-ray and do a complete autopsy.A full autopsy report from Robert Bucklin, M.D., J.D. , who has been an active Forensic Pathologist and personally examined over 25,000 bodies, can be found in the link in the works cited list . However, what holds a great deal of weight, if nothing else he says, is the near the last section of his paper that he writes:”It is the ultimate responsibility of the medical examiner to confirm by whatever means are available to him the identity of the deceased, as well as to determine the manner of this death. In the case of the Man on the Shroud, the forensic pathologist will have information relative to the circumstances of death by crucifixion which he can support his anatomic findings. He will be aware that the individual whose image is depicted on the cloth has undergone puncture injuries to his wrists and feet, puncture injuries to his head, multiple traumatic whip-like injuries to his back and postmortem puncture injury to his chest area which has released both blood and a water type fluid. From this data, it is not an unreasonable conclusion for the forensic pathologist to determine that only one person historically has undergone this sequence of events. That person is Jesus Christ.” (Bucklin).When the Shroud was allowed by the Church to be researched by a team of scientists in 1978, most team members were skeptical about its authenticity. Many of them believed that they would be able to walk in, take a close look at the Shroud, see the brush strokes, and go home. They were quite wrong. One of the first things noticed, after they failed to see any brush strokes, was that the blood had actually soaked into the cloth itself-just as one would expect if it was placed over a badly beaten and torn body. A later sampling taken by sticky-back tape and sent to a lab confirmed that it was indeed real human blood (D’Muhala).Moving to the specifics of the blood, there is a large bloodstain, easily visible, on the side of the torso near the fifth rib. Upon closer inspection, the wound is oval in shape, and exactly matches the tip of a 1st century Roman lance (D’Muhala). Secondly, large puncture wounds can be noted through the feet and the wrists of the man on the Shroud. This is very important as depictions of Christ in the medieval days show the nails being placed through the hands, not the wrists. It was not until much later that it was found that nails through the hands of the victim simply would not support the weight of the body, and thus, they had to be placed through the wrists to support the body (Zugibe). Lastly, there are numerous dumbbell shape bloodstains that literally cover the back and shoulders of the image. These shapes for a long time were the targets of much speculation until it was discovered that they perfectly matched the ends of the Roman torchillia. The torchillia was a whip used in the 1st century that had two balls of metal at the end of each tail that would bite in and tear flesh (D’Muhala).The team also did numerous tests upon the image itself. They placed a light on the Shroud from behind, so that the light shined through the linen, and could still see the blood stains and scorch marks, but the image would no longer be visible. This clearly showed that it was not a painting as if it were, the paint used (any paint medium would have sufficed) would have blocked the light rays, thus showing the image. A second test was done to see if it was a burn, because many had noticed it resembled the burns on ironing boards. By shining ultra-violet light on the Shroud, the body on the Shroud was once again not visible, yet the burn marks from the fire damage were easily seen-thus proving that the image was not a burn by any means (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”). Scientists were, and still are, baffled at the creation of the image.To date however, scientists have concluded that the color change in the linen fibers, which caused the image, was caused by dehydrated oxidation. This dehydrated oxidation took place when a large amount of radiation came from the body, as the VP8 Image Analyzer showed when put in use with the Shroud (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).The VP8 Image Analyzer is a device used by NASA in conjunction with images taken by satellites. When an image is placed, if the object has what is known as 3D coding, the VP8 will be able to turn the data into a three dimensional model. When an ordinary picture is placed under the VP8, the image on the screen becomes distorted, and is barely recognizable. When the image from the Shroud of Turin is placed under however, a three dimensional replica of a man’s head (and body should it also be placed under) can be seen clearly (D’Muhala). What does this mean? Simply that the Shroud is not a picture, in the sense as we think of pictures, and that the image was formed while the Shroud was draped over a three dimensional object-namely a body.The body is not the only image on the Shroud of Turin however. Just recently it was noticed that there are what appear to be images of various types of flowers surrounding the body. In accordance with traditional Jewish burial customs, this is not at all surprising as bodies were often adorned with flowers as part of the burial.Alan Whanger of Duke University found all together twenty-eight, life sized images of various flowers. These flowers all had a flowering time of March and April, which was the time of the crucifixion. Furthermore, many of these flowers are native to the Jerusalem area. Avioum Danin, Jerusalem’s leading botanist, confirmed this and states that the Shroud of Turin had to have been made in the Jerusalem area. But if there were really flowers, one would expect pollen to be deposited on the linen, for pollen can survive large vast amounts of time, and indeed, pollen was found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).In 1973 Max Fry took samples pollen to study under microscope. Although he died before he could finish determining all the types of pollen found and publish those findings, many have taken up his work. Uri Baruch, one of Israel’s pollen experts, has been studying which plants surrounded the body by the traces of pollen found. Twenty-eight of the fifty-six plants he found grow solely in the Middle East and around Jerusalem found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).But what were most astonishing, if not utterly exciting, were the extremely high counts of Gundelia Tournefortii found around the head of the image. Gundelia Tournefortii is a flower indigenous to Jerusalem and while it is known for the flower itself, it is much more recognizable by the spiny thistle (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”). Mark 15:17 “They put a purple robe on [Jesus], then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.”Some of the pollen found however, could not be identified, for it was coated with an unknown substance. Under closer examination, this substance was found to be limestone-and not just any limestone. The limestone coating that was found was a very rare form, which was indigenous to the outside of Jerusalem and found in the many burial caves that surround the area found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”). Should a body be placed in such a cave, the cloth that wrapped the body would undoubtedly have at least some coating of the limestone upon it.According to Scripture, Jesus Christ was placed in a cave during burial. However, also according to Scripture, there was more that just the Shroud to be found in His burial site. John 20:6-7 “Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.”The cloth of Oviedo, also known as the sudarium, which is currently in Spain, is held to be that burial cloth which was once around Jesus’ head and later found separate from the linen (Appendix A, fig. 5). The history of the sudarium is very well documented and has an undisputed history that dates before the 600s A.D. Although the image is not set in the cloth, there is a tremendous amount of blood that has soaked into the cloth, and the marks that the blood has made match the bloodstains that are found on the Shroud of Turin. Further more, scientists have determined that the blood types are identical on both the cloth of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).In 1988, despite all of this overwhelming evidence, carbon-dating tests set the Shroud around the twelfth century. Three different labs, one in Arizona, Oxford and in Zurich, ran their own tests on the Shroud to come up with the date. Even just after these reports surfaced in Nature, there was some question as to whether or not the variance in all three tests was significant (Van Haelst). However to the layman, all that was seen were the headlines that ran “Shroud of Turin a fake, and science had proved it”.Almost all skeptics of the Shroud point to this as indisputable proof that the Shroud of Turin is in fact, a fake. (Meacham par 8) It was not until just recently, that those claims have come under serious question and many now believe that those tests have been skewed radically. The reason? Microbiologists ran tests on fibers from the Shroud in 1996 and found more than enough coating from bacteria to shift the tests to a younger date found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).Harry Gove, the inventor of the Accelerated Mass Spectrometer, which was used to date the Shroud of Turin, confirms this claim. He stated that the up until the point were these new findings were released, those who ran the test did not know of the bacteria and even if they had, the cleaning technique used was not sufficient to remove the bacterial coating found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”). Currently they are working on a way to clean the fibers and remove the coating so that an accurate test may be run and have also offered to run another set of tests once the technique is perfected (Barret 3)Bacteria however, are not the only things that have, or potentially could have, skewed results. As the image was formed by some sort of radiation phenomena, the radiation waves could have thrown off any attempt to date the Shroud by using radiocarbon dating. As it is often put, it looks as if the image is an x-ray since one can easily identify the metacarpals, even being able to name all of the individual wrist bones. Secondly, looking closely at the head, one can see a faint image of the skull with all of its major parts visible-even the teeth with their roots can be seen found (”In Pursuit of the Shroud”).The Shroud of Turin is indeed the burial shroud of Christ and there are several things that have shown this to be true. The first, and quite obvious, is that all evidence cannot contradict what is written down in the Gospel, which is does not. All the evidence agrees completely with the Bible, from manner of death, to means and place of burial. Secondly, there is evidence that points that the Shroud was in fact created in Jerusalem-or at least was in the area during the March and April months and placed inside of a burial cave-exactly the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Thirdly, records of the Mandillion, along with art works from the early centuries, point to the fact that the Shroud of Turin was in existence during the time. Lastly, science has concluded that the image was formed while the linen was draped over a body, and an intense burst of radiation (which may have been accompanied by light) was emitted from the body.In any court, this is clearly enough evidence for a conviction, where as it has easily surpassed reasonable doubt, for the simple truth is that the more it is studied, the more the last of the lingering doubts are removed to its authenticity. All that remains for skeptics to use is unfounded denial.