The Shroud of Turin has proven to be the one Christian relic that refuses to be dismissed out of hand. Personally, I would have been happy to do so in light of the dubious history of religious relics, but this piece of cloth has withstood every attempt to put the question of its origin to rest on the basis of scientific and historic examination. It is a type of image that is completely unique in all of history. The more it is tested and studied, the more it defies any material category, and leaves the honestly objective person with but one conclusion: the Shroud of Turin is truly a miraculous artifact, and almost certainly is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Shroud of Turin Facts
The First Negative Image in History
1. The image is a true negative. No negative image existed until the invention of photography in the 19th century, yet it is proven to not be a photograph as there were no silver halide crystals or any other photographic chemicals found on it.
Not a Photograph
2. To suggest that photography was invented by someone in the 14th century, just for this image, and then never mentioned in any document or ever used again is beyond absurd. Photography is a complex chemical and optical technology which took scientifically sophisticated inventors in the 19th century decades to prefect in a form that could have created an image similar to this.
Not a Painting
3. It has been absolutely proven to not be a painting or any other kind of manual art form. There is no paint medium, no seepage into the fibers, or pattern of application which would all have to be there if it were created by an artist. Only the outer most fibres, some two microns thick, have the discoloration that makes up the image. The cloth has been soaked with water and subjected to intense heat during several fires without any denigration of the image. The image is barely discernable close up, which would make it virtually impossible for any artist to paint such a lifelike depiction in such great detail and in negative no less, especially since no one in the 14th century had ever seen a negative image.
4. Scientists and historical experts have never been able to explain exactly how the image was made nor have ever been able to reproduce all the unique properties of the image.
3D Information Encoded
5. A NASA scientist using planetary terrain imaging equipment, discovered that there is 3D information encoded into the image, which no ordinary photograph has, making it possible to reproduce a true three dimensional picture from it; evidence that the light or radiation that produced the image must have emanated from the subject himself.
Only an Ultraviolet Laser Beam
6. Italian scientists experimenting with various types of intense light found that only the burst of a UV laser beam could produce a similar discoloration of linen fibers such as makes up the image on the Shroud. The hair recorded as white is consistent with a high energy radiation image, but inconsistent with the dynamic range of a photograph, which would have rendered it black. Except for the blood stains on the cloth, the subject is color and tone neutral. Only shapes are reproduced and only the body is imaged, nothing else. The limited shades of gray reflect only the body’s spatial relationship to the cloth, not the natural tints of a human body that a photograph or painting would reproduce.
Forensically Impeccable as a Crucifixion
7. The Shroud is impeccable in capturing the complete image of a man, both front and back, obviously beaten and crucified exactly as Jesus was, down to the shape of the metal ends of the Roman whip. The many forensic details in the image agree precisely with the Biblical account, modern medical knowledge, and what is known about Roman crucifixions, details too numerous to include here that no Medieval con man could not have possibly known about without modern archeological, historical and medical knowledge.
Genuine Human Blood
8. The edges around the blood areas glow under ultraviolet light. Hemoglobin, a component of human blood, fluoresces under ultraviolet light. The blood stains seep into the fibres, unlike the areas that make up the image; and has proven to be AB blood, a type that is rare except in Jewish men.
Pollen and Soil Evidence
9. Pollens and dirt on the Shroud prove a Middle Eastern origin in general and to a Jerusalem origin specifically. Unusually high concentrations of certain pollens provide evidence that large amounts of funerary plants and flowers must have come into contact with it at some point.
An Accurate Carbon 14 Test May be Almost Impossible
10. For an artifact that has been continuously handled by thousands of people over the centuries, has been repaired numerous times, severely burned in a fire, absorbed hundreds of years of candle soot, stored in all kinds of locations, traveled over a thousands miles, in the possession of perhaps a dozen different people, in contact with all kinds of unknown materials, hosted all kinds of bacteria over the centuries, and who knows what other kinds of contamination, it may be almost impossible to get an accurate Carbon 14 date for the Shroud. The scientific establishment has taken the Carbon 14 dating at simple face value, against all the other massive and compelling evidence and has decided it is a 14th century fake, yet it is common knowledge that Carbon 14 results can be skewed by hundreds or even thousands of years as a result of contamination or faulty testing techniques.
11. The companion face cloth to the Shroud, the Sudarium, can be historically traced back to at least 7th century Palestine; the Shroud to 14th century France. But there is some evidence that the Shroud might have been folded up and known as the Edessa Cloth, who’s documented history goes back to 6th century Edessa, Turkey. The Edessa Cloth, which was said to have a miraculous image of Christ's face on it, disappeared in 1204 when Constantinople was sacked by the Crusaders. Some evidence suggests that the Shroud may have come into the possession of the Knights Templar before it was first explicitly documented as the Holy Shroud in 1349. Today it resides in protective case in a church in Turin, Italy under the care of the Roman Catholic Church.
Rigorous Scientific Testing
12. The fact remains that the more the Shroud is studied using the latest scientific technology, the more miraculous it appears to be. If this were a forgery the opposite would be true. The more a fake is studied and subjected to more advanced techniques, the easier it is to prove as a fake. Every time the Shroud is subjected to more rigorous tests and more cutting-edge technology, it proves to be more and more miraculous, and more and more impossible to have been humanly crafted in the 14th century or in any other century.
A Rational Conclusion
13. There are many respected scientists, scholars, and technical experts who have studied and tested the Shroud and have come to the conclusion that there is no known artistic or technological process that could have produced it. The belief that the Shroud could actually be the burial cloth of Jesus is not an extreme or naive position, but a conclusion based on rational, scholarly, and scientific thinking.
If the Shroud of Turin is authentic, how was it made?
If it is authentic, it could only be the result of a supernatural event. Trying to match such an event with our current understanding of physical science may prove to be futile. It has proven to be scientifically inexplicable. There is no known phenomena, natural or man-made that can produce this type of image with all the unique properties present in the Shroud. The body would have to have been levitated, for one thing, and even then, any natural light that may have been reflected would produce only a blurry image. Only an intense laser or coherent or unknown of light emanating from the body itself could produce the sharp image, the great amount of detail and the encoded 3D information found in the image on the Shroud.
Biblical accounts of the linen cloth, and the body of Jesus emitting light
The image on the Shroud is not explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures, but all of the necessary elements are certainly there and it is not hard to put two and two together.
1. The linen burial cloth of Jesus is clearly described before and after the resurrection: And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. Matthew 27:59. ...and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. John 20:6-7.
2. The body of Jesus is clearly described as capable of emitting intense light: He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. Matthew 17:2.
3. The Apostle Paul encountered Jesus in an intense light on the road to Damascus, which left him temporarily blinded. Ultraviolet light is well known to cause blindness.
The Body had to be the Radiation Source
The 3D information encoded in the image on the Shroud could have only been produced if the body itself emitted light or radiation. This type of image cannot be created by light falling upon the subject from the outside. The body as it is seen in a photographic negative, doesn’t appear to be lit from any external, directional light source, but appears as if it were glowing, the parts closest to the cloth are the brightest and the parts farthest away are the dimmest. This would also cause the the beard and hair to appear white instead of black since the hair would be emitting radiation as well.
A Shekinah Glory produced image
There is a special kind of light that is unique to God Himself called the Shekinah. When Moses came down from Mt Sinai, his face glowed for a time from his encounter with God. The Shekinah Glory inhabited the Tabernacle and Temple and radiated from between the cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant. Ezekiel witnessed the Shekinah Glory as a rainbow-colored radiance that surrounded God on His throne. It is this unique, miraculous kind of light that must have burst forth from the body of Jesus to produce the image on the Shroud of Turin
The Shroud actually shows Jesus very much alive
Since the radiation or light that produced the image on the Shroud could only have come from the body itself, we are witnessing not only the crucified body of the Lord, but also the instant when the energy that produced this miraculous portrait emanated from Him. So we are not really seeing a dead man in the Shroud of Turin, but we are actually seeing Jesus very much alive, in the first moments of His resurrection.
The Shroud of Christ would have surely been preserved
According to strict Jewish tradition, any blood soaked clothing must be carefully preserved and buried with the body, but since there was no body, and hence no grave for a body to reside in, the linen burial cloth found in the tomb probably would have been claimed by the family of Jesus, most likely by His mother, Mary. In light of this, it would be surprising if the Shroud would not have been kept as a sacred relic and handed down through the centuries. If there were a discernable image of the Lord on the Shroud from the day it was found in the empty tomb, His family as well as His Disciples most certainly would have gone to great lengths to preserve it.
The Shroud of Turin as the Sign of Jonah
According to Scripture, evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus has been given to the world as a sign to lead to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“An evil and adulterous generation craves after a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:39-40
Many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31-32
What the Shroud of Turin means to the world
1. It provides more physical, scientific and historical evidence that Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead exactly as written in the Bible
2. It identifies New Testament Christianity as the only valid religion or belief system
3. It identifies the Death and Resurrection of Jesus as the central event of history
4. It marks a permanent paradigm shift in the argument between secular naturalism and the Bible
5. It provides more evidence that the Holy Scriptures are true, accurate, and reliable
7. It provides more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is everything He claimed to be
8. It provides more evidence that God does miracles and the miracles of the Bible are true
9. It allows all believers to see with their own eyes, an image of their Savior and Lord
10. It is a graphic witness of the suffering that Jesus endured for sinners
11. No other religion has any such kind of genuine artifact that is such a powerful witness to its central supernatural tenant, who’s authenticity has been borne out by so much forensic evidence, by so many modern scientific experts
12. The Shroud of Turin contains a type of image that is absolutely unique in all of history, a fact which must be honestly confronted by anyone claiming to base their personal beliefs on reason and scientific evidence
13. It provides more evidence that Jesus Christ is the only true Messiah of Israel and the only legitimate heir to the Throne of David
14. The fact that the Shroud has been scientifically scrutinized for over a century and has passed test after rigorous test for its authenticity may mean that the Lord may be giving the world one last chance to come to faith in Christ before He returns shortly.
What the Shroud of Turin cannot do
1. By itself may not lead a person to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, which only the Gospel of Grace, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit can accomplish
2. It will not convince most people that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the World
3. It will never convince the most determined skeptics, no matter how overwhelming the scientific evidence
4. It will not automatically lead someone who believes it is authentic into a genuine faith. Many who believe in the Shroud will still choose false religion over the true Gospel
5. It can never take the place of or be equal to the Word of God, but only provide additional physical evidence for the historical veracity of the Scriptures
A careful, objective study of all the scientific and historical evidence leads to one conclusion: The Shroud of Turin is almost certainly the burial cloth of Jesus Christ which reveals a detailed, photo-realistic image (in negative and 3D no less!) of the Lord exactly as He appeared shortly after His crucifixion. There is no artistic, manual or technological process known today (not to mention from the 14th century) that could have possibly produced all the unique characteristics of the image on the Shroud and so a truly rational, open minded person can justifiably conclude that it could only have been produced by miraculous means.
Since its inception, the world knew the Shroud only as it appears on the left, a faint picture of a body with dark and light tones reversed. Then in 1898 Secondo Pia photographed it for the first time. The image that developed on the glass negative revealed the true positive image that lie hidden there for centuries: a shockingly detailed, photo-realistic portrait of a crucified man.