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Shroud of Turin

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Face of Jesus?

The shroud of Turin is a woven cloth about 14 feet long and 3.5 feet wide with an image of a man on it. Actually, it has two images, one frontal and one rear, with the heads meeting in the middle. It has been noted that if the shroud were really wrapped over a body there should be a space where the two heads meet. And the head is 5% too large for its body, the nose is disproportionate, and the arms are too long. Nevertheless, the image is believed by many to be a negative image of the crucified Christ and the shroud is believed to be his burial shroud. Most skeptics think the image is a painting and a pious hoax. The shroud is kept in the cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Apparently, the first historical mention of the shroud as the "shroud of Turin" is in the late 16th century when the shroud was brought to the cathedral in that city, though it allegedly was discovered in Turkey during one of the so-called "Holy" Crusades in the so-called "Middle" Ages. In 1988, the Vatican allowed the shroud to be dated by three independent sources--Oxford University, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology--and each of them dated the cloth as originating in medieval times, around 1350. The shroud allegedly was in a fire during the early part of the 16th century and, according to believers in the shroud's authenticity, that is what accounts for the carbon dating of the shroud as being no more than 650 years old. To non-believers, this sounds like an ad hoc hypothesis. According to microchemist Dr. Walter McCrone,

The suggestion that the 1532 Chambery fire changed the date of the cloth is ludicrous. Samples for C-dating are routinely and completely burned to CO2 as part of a well-tested purification procedure. The suggestions that modern biological contaminants were sufficient to modernize the date are also ridiculous. A weight of 20th century carbon equaling nearly two times the weight of the Shroud carbon itself would be required to change a 1st century date to the 14th century (see Carbon 14 graph). Besides this, the linen cloth samples were very carefully cleaned before analysis at each of the C-dating laboratories.*

Even if the shroud was authentically proven to come from 1st century Judea, so what? Christians cant actually think there was only one man crucified at that time, because

  • 1) we do not know the exact year when Jesus allegedly died
  • 2) the gospels even speak of two other men who were crucified alongside him.

It is not as if we have DNA or fingerprints to match with Jesus either, even if they could be extracted from the shroud somehow. There is no record of where the shroud came from before the 13th century. Only faith can compel a person to think the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Details: http://skepdic.com/shroud.html

See Also

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