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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shroud of Turin Authenticated by Researchers

Timothy Birdnow

I never thought I'd see this in the Huffing and Puffing, but here it is; the Shroud of Turin is likely authentic, according to Italian researchers!

For those who do not know, the Shroud is a relic from antiquity that has a photographic negative on it of a man with wounds very similar to those of Jesus described in the Bible. When viewed with the naked eye the Shroud is hard to make out, but when a photo is taken the undeveloped film shows striking detail of a man with wounds on his hands and feet, a major wound in his side, and wounds on his head consistent with the "crown of thorns". There are all manner of wounds on the back and shoulders indicating scourging. The attention to detail (if it is a forgery) is staggering. For example, the wounds on the hands are actually on the wrists, where nails would have been driven through the gap in the bone to support the weight of the condemned; the hands would simply have torn under a hundred and twenty pounds or more. Not many Medieval people would be aware of that little detail.

Carbon dating of the Shroud determined it's origin between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries, but the Shroud was damaged in a fire about that time and was repaired, so the cloth taken for the dating is suspect. Pollen tests indicate that the Shroud had been in the Holy Land, and the image of a flower on the Shroud itself has been identified as a flower that blossums in march or April near Jerusalem. Blood stains on the Shroud have been confirmed, but the DNA is too degenerated to identify and it is impossible to tell the blood type. Imbedded rock particles were shown to be limestone identical to limestone near Jerusalem.

Faint writing appears on the Shroud, and researchers have determined this inscription:

"In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year"
(According to Albin Michel in Nouvelles découvertes sur le suaire de Turin, Paris,) Coins on the eyes match coins issued in that period.

If this was a forgery, it was the most masterful one in history.

Now, one need not believe the Shroud is anything but a forgery, or even a case of mistaken identity, and the Catholic Church does not require the veneration of relics, although that is an old custom. In the end, if the Shroud is shown to be completely false it does not matter to Christian faith. There really is no way to prove it's authenticity, just that it's consistent with what could have been the burial shroud of Jesus. In the end it is something that can inspire Faith. We walk not by sight, but by Faith, as the Bible says, and so we will not find any "proof" to justify that faith, or it wouldn't be faith.

In the end, this is something to justify what one already believes. To those who know the truth it is but another brick in the wall off their beliefs; to the nonbeliever it is just more foolishness and superstition. No one can or will change their minds because of the Shroud.

But at worst it makes a fascinating historical puzzle, and makes it clear to us that we really do not know as much as we like to think we do. If 21st. Century Man cannot explain how Medieval forgers made this amazing thing, how can we claim to "know" there really is no God?

As Shakespeare observed in Hamlet "there are more things in Heaven and on Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" - philosophy meaning science, not psycho-babble. The more we learn, the more we realize we know so very, very little.

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