After reading about a newly published scientific book titled The Mystery of the Shroud, which attempts to prove that the Shroud of Turin actually dates back to the time of Jesus, I planned on writing what you are about to read.
Then, an hour before my scheduled writing time, I “just happened” to notice a Facebook post that read:
Christmas was the promise — Easter is the proof.
That phrase truly resonated with me because of the word “proof.”
But do believers really have proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?
After twenty years of reading about and studying the Shroud of Turin (and even viewing it in 2010), I have all the “proof” I need. Although let me state emphatically that my faith — and the faith of most people who are celebrating “Resurrection Sunday” today — does not depend on any physical proof whatsoever.
For we know that Jesus is alive and His Spirit lives in us; that is all the proof we need.
Still, physical proof of Christ’s resurrection would be useful, especially when one tries to convince loved ones to believe in what more than a billion people around the world believe today.
So what if this new Shroud of Turin scientific study really does prove conclusively that the Shroud cloth dates back to the time of Jesus? Does that mean mankind finally has the proof it needs to believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead after dying on the cross?
We are certainly getting close to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” and here are some reasons why this is happening now.
The latest headlines heralding this new study across all media platforms will read and sound something like:
Perhaps you have even heard them repeatedly by this time. These headlines will all be similar because the new experiments have debunked the faulty 1988 Carbon-14 dating tests concluding that the Shroud cloth only dated back to the Middle Ages. But for decades scientists who study the Shroud have disregarded these tests because many concluded the Shroud sample used for the Carbon-14 testing was later weaved into the original cloth after a fire in the 1553. That same fire left the burn marks seen today running the entire length of the Shroud.
However, the dating of the Shroud cloth to the Middle Ages is the one “fact” that skeptics and the secular press have continuously repeated and relied upon since 1988 to “prove” the Shroud is a clever forgery. Thus the reason for the wording of the headlines you are currently seeing and hearing.
The real truth is that since the 1970s much important scientific evidence has been acquired proving that this mysterious cloth has a high probability of being the burial cloth of Jesus. Of course, since the DNA of Jesus is unavailable, we will never be 100% sure. But in lieu of his DNA, there is enough evidence leading one to conclude that a young man who was first tortured and then crucified with an imprint somehow left on his burial cloth (and his dead body never found) is in fact that Jewish preacher known as Jesus of Nazareth.
Here are only a few examples of widely accepted scientific evidence:
- From a 2012 study: the force that caused the man’s image to be imprinted on the cloth was radiation released in the form of an electrical discharge.
- It is well-documented that the marks on the man in the Shroud are totally consistent with the biblical account of the wounds suffered by Jesus Christ.
- The mysterious substance used to form the imprint of the battered man does not penetrate the cloth. In fact, the image sits on top of the cloth and can be scraped away with a razor blade. Scientists also agree that no paints, pigments, dyes, or stains currently known to man could have made such an imprint.
- Blood found on the Shroud is human blood. Furthermore, that blood penetrates the cloth. More remarkable is that the blood on the cloth was there first, before the imprinted image was formed, and is separate from the imprinted image of the man. That makes perfect sense when you consider Jesus was covered in blood after he was taken down from the cross and then wrapped in a cloth consistent with the Jewish burial customs of the time.
- The weave pattern of the cloth and the pollen found on the Shroud are consistent with the type of cloth weaving and pollen dating back to the time of Jesus in the area around Jerusalem.
There is much more evidence pointing to the unique properties of the Shroud, and this new body of knowledge was first explored during a very popular 2010 History Channel documentary called The Real Face of Jesus?
Since 2010, this highly rated film has aired very often. It employs state of-the-art 3D computer modeling, developed by NASA, to construct a life mask of the bruised face of the man in the Shroud.
Serving as a consultant to The Real Face of Jesus? was Russ Breault, a world-renowned shroud expert and president of the Shroud of Turin Education Project. Mr. Breault also appeared in the film.
Fortunately, a Shroud of Turin piece I wrote last July here on PJ Lifestyle prompted Russ Breault to contact me, and since then we have remained in touch. So when Russ first tipped me off on March 27 about this breaking study, I immediately decided to write this piece, and called upon him to offer expertise. (Russ Breault also appeared on Good Morning America on Good Friday to discuss the new study.)
Below is a fascinating analysis excerpted from the email Russ Breault sent me on Thursday, March 28:
We know that the carbon dating of the cloth has come under great scrutiny because they violated the sampling protocol agreed to in 1985. They were supposed to cut three different samples from three different locations on the cloth. Instead they cut only one sample from an area they were warned to avoid–the outside corner edge–where it had been held and handled hundreds of times and an area most susceptible to contamination and possible repair. Chemist Ray Rogers determined in a peer reviewed scientific journal article in 2005 that it was indeed subjected to some kind of medieval reweave. The sample has become highly questionable and many feel the 1988 carbon date is therefore inconclusive.
The new dating research published today by Giulio Fanti will be presented to peer review. If others validate his process and procedures and can validate his work, this may become a critical moment for the Shroud striking a final death blow to the 1988 carbon dating described as a “shoddy affair” by Harry Gove, inventor of the AMS method of carbon dating.
That Pope Francis introduced the Shroud during a special one-hour televised exhibition yesterday on Holy Saturday is also highly significant. The exhibition was originally called for by former Pope Benedict XVI as his “last act of love to the world.” Francis, who has a masters degree in chemistry, may decide to open the Shroud up to a new round of testing, something all Shroud researchers have been hoping for decades.
A fine line has always existed between the Shroud as a holy object of veneration and an artifact subjected to scientific scrutiny.
As science continues to affirm the possible authenticity of the Shroud, perhaps science and faith can finally be on the same page again as they were with great thinkers like Saint Thomas Aquinas who saw science and theology as two sides of the same coin—one explored the physical world and the other the realm of spirit. Did they come together on an ancient piece of linen? Maybe so. Perhaps the message of the Shroud is what Jesus said to Doubting Thomas after the resurrection, “Stop doubting and believe!” Perhaps through the Shroud we too are given the same opportunity Jesus gave to Thomas.
On behalf of PJ Lifestyle, I would like to thank Russ Breault for his expert analysis and opinion regarding the latest developments regarding this ongoing mystery we call the Shroud of Turin. Mr. Breault also gives Shroud Encounter multi-media presentations around the nation at colleges and churches utilizing his intriguing “CSI style” investigative approach. In fact, my husband and I are helping to sponsor Russ Breault’s “Shroud Encounter” as a fundraiser for Cross International on April 7 in South Florida.
Happy Easter, everyone.