The Turin Shroud is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with being crucified. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Catherdral Saint John Baptist Church inTurin, Italy. It is believed to be the cloth placed on Jesus Christ at the time of his burial.
Image Unlike Any Other
The image on the shroud is much clearer in black and white negative than in its natural sepia color. The striking negative image was first observed on the evening of May 8, 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographerSecondo Pia who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. He almost dropped and broke the photographic plate from the shock of seeing an image of a person on it.
No Shortage Of Controversy
The shroud is the subject of intense debate among some scientists, people of faith, historians, and writers regarding where, when and how the shroud and its images were created. In 1958 a pope approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face Of Jesus Christ, celebrated every year. Some believe the shroud is the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb and that his image was recorded on its fibers at or near the time of his alleged resurrection. Skeptics contend the shroud is a medieval forgery. Still others attribute the forming of the image to chemical reactions or other natural processes.
Testing Fails To Settle Debate
Various tests have been performed on the shroud, yet the debates about its origin continue. Dating in 1988 by three independent teams of scientists yielded published results indicating that the shroud was made during the Middle Ages approximately 1300 years after Jesus lived. Claims of bias and error in the testing were raised almost immediately and were answered by others. Yet the dating controversy has continued.
Questions About Testing Methods Surface
Published followup analysis claimed that the sample dated by the teams was taken from an area of the shroud that was not a part of the original cloth. The shroud was also damaged by a fire in the Late Middle Ages which could have added carbon material to the cloth resulting in a higher radiocarbon content and a later calculated age. This analysis itself is questioned by skeptics who reason that the conclusions result from starting with the desired conclusion and working backward to the evidence.
Turin Shroud Confounds All Scientific Methods
The 2008 research at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit may revise the 1260-1390 dating toward which it originally contributed, leading its director to call the scientific community to probe anew the authenticity of the Shroud. With the radiocarbon measurements and with all of the other evidence which we have about the Shroud there does seem to be a conflict in the interpretation of the different evidence after the new research emerged. The director had stressed that he would be surprised if the 1988 tests were shown to be far off, let alone a thousand years wrong and insisted that he would be keeping an open mind on the subject.