The Shroud of Turin
The mysterious Shroud of Turin has now become world famous. Is it really the burial cloth of Jesus Christ as so many hope and believe?
The shroud has been kept in the cathedral in Turin, Italy since 1578. Its history cannot be traced with certainty farther back than 1357, when it was discovered in Lirey, France.
The single sheet of cloth measures 14 feet, 3 inches (4.3 meters) long, and 3 feet, 7 inches (1.0 meter) wide. It shows the full-length front and back images of a man (see photo below), apparently dead, with crucifixion wounds - a common method of execution by the Romans (see How Did Jesus Christ Die?). Many have claimed that the man on the cloth, whose face is shown in the close-up photo at left, is actually Jesus Christ.
Could the Shroud of Turin really be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? Should the cloth be held as a sacred object, as so many millions of people do?
A few points to consider:
- All 4 gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John state that the burial of Jesus Christ was done by Joseph Of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53 describe Jesus' body being wrapped "in linen cloth," not "in a linen cloth." John 19:40 is much more specific, describing strips of linen cloth (not a single sheet, as is the Shroud of Turin), "in accordance with Jewish burial customs."
- After His Resurrection, when Peter and John looked into The Garden Tomb, they 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." (John 20:6-7)
These verses state clearly that there were strips of linen used, along with a burial cloth that had only been around Jesus' head - not the full length of His body as would be the case in the Shroud of Turin.
- The apostle Paul (see Saul Of Tarsus) actually saw Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1). Paul, a trustworthy man who wrote a very large portion of the New Testament, knew exactly what The Lord (see They Never Called Him "Jesus") looked like. In 1 Corinthians 11:14, Paul wrote, "if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him." Would Paul have made such a statement if the long-haired man in the shroud were Jesus Christ?
- Some believe that the reason that Jesus Christ permitted none of His personal belongings to survive is because they would be idolized - a direct violation of the Second Commandment (see The Ten Commandments - Your Keys To Life). Therefore, the 2 angels were in the tomb (John 20:12) not just to announce the resurrection, but to remove the burial wrappings, so that no human could take possession of them. This point is quite speculative, but very possible.
- Using samples provided, scientists, using carbon dating techniques, have dated the shroud to between 1260 and 1390. Their test results say that the Shroud of Turin is only about 600 years old, not the nearly 2,000 years old that it would have to be if it were the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The first carbon-dating tests were emotionally attacked by those who had placed their faith in it, but further testing has had the same results - the shroud originated only about 6 centuries ago. Those results caused the Cardinal of Turin, Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero,
to declare that the shroud was not the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the cloth continues to be displayed, while millions of people steadfastly believe that it is Christ's image on the cloth.
There is much that remains unexplained about the Shroud of Turin, including the question of how the image was made on the cloth. It certainly is a valuable old artifact, however there is now very little evidence to support the belief that it originated at the time of Jesus Christ, or that it was His burial shroud.
Fact Finder: Who was the very first person to speak with Jesus Christ after His resurrection?
See also Mary of Magdala
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