THE HOLY SHROUD OF TURIN:
CHRIST OR ANTICHRIST
Mysteries of the Shroud Unveiled:
An ancient image, in light of modern technology
December 7, 1990
Revised and published, March 3, 2003
C. 1990, 2003, by Norbert H. Kox
The Shroud of Turin has been revered for centuries, by many people, as a genuine relic of Christ. Carbon dating tests have challenged the time of its origin, and appear to have proven it a fraud. Due to a number of variables, many scientists dispute the accuracy of the dating procedures which were followed, and new tests are being called for as the mystery continues to unfold.
The Shroud of Turin is an ancient burial cloth, which displays a detailed image of the corpse of a crucified man. It records the gruesome details of the suffering imposed upon the victim. A striking parallelism exists between the image on the shroud and Biblical descriptions of the scourging and crucifixion of Yesu Christ. For six and one-half centuries many Catholics and Christians have revered the shroud as the genuine burial cloth of Christ, although the Roman Catholic Church has never taken an official stance on the subject.
In 1978, the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), a team of forty professionals of various scientific back grounds, were allowed to examine the Shroud of Turin. They brought with them over $2.5 million in sophisticated space-age equipment, and the hopes of unraveling a long-held mystery.
Three years and many thousands of tests later, the STURP team could say the image was formed by "dehydrative acid oxidation of the linen with the formation of a yellow carbonyl chromophore." (Heller 1983:217). But no one knew how it was transferred to the cloth. Every conceivable method had been tried and tested by the group, yet the image process could not be duplicated (ibid.2l8).
At that time, Dr. Alan Adler stated, by the rules of science the team had "not been able to disauthenticate this image." (Wilson 1986:101). Following is a description of the physical condition of the man in the shroud as ascertained by the STURP team:
The stigmata on the body did not follow art or legend... They were medically accurate evidence of a man who had been scourged with a flagrum-type device, both front and back...who had carried something rough and heavy across his shoulders, which had been bruised; who had something placed on his head that had caused punctate bleeding wounds over the scalp and forehead; who had lesions on nose and knee commensurate with a fall; who had been beaten about the face; who had been crucified in the anatomically correct loci, the wrists; whose blood running down the arms had drips responding to gravity at the correct angles for the position of the arms in a crucifixion; whose legs appeared unbroken; who had an ellipsoid lesion in the side, whence cells and serum had come, and lying on the cloth, had post-mortem blood dribbling out of the wound and puddling along the small of the back; whose lacerating scourge marks were deep enough to be bloody, with serum albumin oozing at the margins; whose feet had been transfixed with a spike and bled; and on the soles of whose feet there was dirt. (Heller 1983:217).
This description correlated perfectly with the Gospels. The only thing missing was a date.
The Catholic Church, at the time of the STURP investigations, could not grant permission for radiocarbon dating (which would have required the destruction of handkerchief sized patches of material) because she was merely custodian and not owner of the burial cloth. The cloth was owned by the House of Savoy, which had received it from the de Charny family in 1453. Upon the death of Umberto II of Savoy, in 1983, the Shroud was bequeathed to the Roman Catholic Church, with the provision it remains in Turin, Italy (Wilson 1986:125). In 1988, Pope John Paul II finally consented to the dating of the shroud, by means of a technique which would require only postage-stamp-sized swatches of material.
Using the accelerator mass spectrometer technique, three independent laboratories in Tucson, Arizona; Zurich, Switzerland; and Oxford, England; came up with dates between1260 A.D. and 1390 A.D. (Waldrop l988: 378). The Shroud was immediately proclaimed a fake.
Dr. Richard Stevens, Associate Professor of Human Biology at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, brought to light some interesting facts. Stevens is an alumnus of the University of Rochester, New York, where accelerator mass spectrometry was developed. He says, it is bewildering that of five laboratories originally considered for the dating procedures, the one which developed the process was not selected. After a test run on a control sample the three labs, Oxford, Tucson and Zurich were picked. "Zurich was way-off on the test sample," said Stevens, "and yet they were chosen to do the shroud." (Results of the pre testing produced errors by as much as 1,549 years; Walters 1990:74). He also said, "The statement that 'The shroud is a fake,' leaked out to the media before the three labs presented their findings." According to Stevens, only a summary was published and the original findings have not been revealed. He has not suggested that anyone has faked the carbon-l4 tests, but some interpretation could be skewed according to their interests.
Other examples of failures in the mass spectrometer system were noted in the Tucson laboratory several years prior to the shroud testing. A cow horn brought to America by Leif Erikson's Vikings returned dates of 1919 A.D. and 2006 A.D. (Wilson 1986:134), on two separate tests. "Serious discrepancies are common with the mass-accelerator method" (Walters 1990:74).
The small-proportional-counter method of dating C-14 has been in use for more than 30 years and is more reliable than the new technique, in testing cloth. Yet none of the selected labs used this method. A dozen scientists (C-14 experts) from around the world were ignored when they objected (ibid. 75)
Each of the three labs agreed to do a "blind study," yet they were all present when the samples were cut from the Shroud. They were also familiar with the rare weave of the fabric, and could have detected it from the control samples. And they were "told the dates of the control samples." (ibid.). Stevens called this "a breach of science".
Two important variable factors, which may have affected the dating of the Shroud are, (1) It was partially burned in a fire in 1532. Carbon molecules from its case, or its frame, may have mixed with the linen's carbon molecules, a process which occurs at temperatures above 300°F; the 1532 fire was at least 960°F (ibid. p.73). This could render a false reading, producing a more recent date. (2) Certain areas of the cloth had been rewoven. The samples were cut from such an area. At a 1989 Paris symposium (a gathering of 300 Shroud specialists), Dr. Alan Whanger, of Duke University, presented slides of the samples which included threads of a distinctive, full-length seam that he claims was woven into the shroud in the 16th or 17th century. "As much as one-third of the sample material appears to be new," he said (ibid.). There can be no doubt that such contamination would greatly affect the results of a C-14 test, regardless which method was used.
If the dates returned from the 1988 tests (1260-1390 A.D.) could be trusted as accurate they would seem to substantiate the claims of the Troyes bishops, Pierre d'Arcis and Henry of Poitiers, who called the shroud a fake in 1356 A.D. when it first appeared in Lirey, France. D'Arcis called the image a clever painting (Wilson 1986:71,77) but the STURP researchers found no sign of paint within the image (Weaver 1980:751; Heller 1983:213; Wilson 1986:89-91,96).
The question arises, if the Shroud were older than the 14th century, where was it before Geoffrey II de Charny displayed it in the church he built for it in Lirey. The face of the man on the shroud was seen as early as the 6th century, in artists' depictions of Christ, especially Byzantine (Wilson 1986:105-109). Each of these portrayals display many (up to 170) points of congruity between the Shroud face and icon (ibid. color plate 25). Such evidence suggests a high probability that the artists of these paintings (and sculptures) were using the Shroud image as their model. Among these icons are artists' copies of the Edessa (present- day Ufra, Turkey) cloth or Mandylion, known as the Image of Edessa. The original "head' of Edessa is sufficiently proven to be the folded Shroud, displayed beneath a golden trellis mat, with only the face showing. It has been traced back to 400 A.D. (ibid.110-119). This description coincides with the original meaning of the Holy Grail (a latticed-casket, later, erroneously confused with a chalice) which was a receptacle for the burial cloth of Christ (Currer-Briggs 1987:27-29).
The burial cloth may have been unfolded and viewed secretly on occasions during the 12th century. Records of the private showing of the Shroud appear in Constantinople from 1171 to 1203 A.D. (O'Connell and Carty 1974:7; cf. Weaver 1980:734).
In 1204 the Image of Edessa disappeared. About that same time a rumor arose that the Knights Templars were worshipping an image fitting the description of the Edessa head, in their secret Order (a copy of it painted on wood was discovered in 1945, at an ancient Templar site in England).
One of the Templar's highest dignitaries, the Master of Normandy, Geoffrey I de Charny was burned at the stake in 1314, along with the Grand Master of Paris, Jacques de Molay (Wilson 1986:117-118; cf. Grosschmid 1967:994). They, and many other Templars, were tortured and put to death by the Inquisition (Holy Office) on charges of heresy, which included the worship of a "head". There were supposedly several of these heads kept by the Templars at different locations. "One was described as being made of metal and having a face like a human face..." (Cavendish 1983:229). Could this have been the Shroud with its metal trellis overlay, allowing only the face on the folded cloth to show through?
The Shroud came into possession of Geoffrey II de Charny, Lord of Lirey (possibly through inheritance), and was finally brought forth to the public at Lirey. It eventually made its way to Turin.
In light of the available historical evidence it may be unfair to say, as many have, that there is no record of the existence of the Shroud prior to 1356. It may have been kept folded in its Grail, as a "sacred" relic, until the time of its unveiling by de Charny in 1356, but in any case there are certainly many references which could be taken to indicate its secret existence.
If the Shroud were the authentic burial cloth of Christ, that would explain its total secrecy during the first four centuries (times of Christian persecution and uncertainty), and its obscured presence from then until 1356. To support this scenario, a first century radiocarbon date would be needed (Wilson 1986:117-119). In 1982, a dating of the Shroud was conducted on the University of California nuclear accelerator, using a single thread. Two dates were returned (from either end of the thread), 200 A.D. and 1,000 A.D. (Walters 1990:75). As we have seen, the accelerator technique is not without error. If the 200 A.D. date were correct, the "plus-or- minus" factor for C-14 would place it within the first century (ibid.76). This is the closest anyone had come to placing the Shroud at its alleged origin. But this is of little value considering the 1988 test results which date the cloth to the time of de Charny.
The 1988 dating seemed to validate the cries of the fourteenth-century bishops of Troyes, who called the Shroud a fake and a clever painting. Walter C. McCrone, an art authenticator from Chicago, had come to the same conclusions in 1978, after examining several tape samples containing fibrils from the Shroud (Wilson 1986:61). Although McCrone has never worked directly with the actual Shroud (ibid.61, 86) he has determined that it is a "very thin watercolor painting..." (Vaughan 1988:229). McCrone says he found signs of iron oxide, a common paint pigment in red ocher (Weaver 1980:751).
If there were traces of paint on the Shroud it should be no surprise. It is a historical fact that 60 artists painted duplicates of the Shroud, from life (Heller 1983:212). At least nine of these copies were touched directly to the Shroud, face to face, for "sanctification" purposes (Wilson 1986:101). Adding to that, specks of paint were falling onto the Shroud, from the frescoes on the ceiling, even as the STURP team worked (ibid.).
Using an X-radiograph it was determined that neither the body nor blood areas of the image were produced by iron oxide. There are traces of iron oxide over the entire Shroud, but concentrated most heavily in the water-stains from the 1532 fire. The iron oxide was of a form that was chemically pure to a level of 99 + percent, not the iron oxide found in artists' pigment. Microscopic balls of iron oxide were even found inside the linen fibrils, where no artist could reach. Other grave cloths (without images), C optic and Egyptian, and a piece of Spanish linen were examined. They all contained the same chemically pure iron. The iron oxide forms during a fermentation process which prepares the flax plant to become linen (ibid.89-91).
McCrone's theory of iron oxide pigment and gelatin medium was invalidated by STURP scientists' X-ray fluorescence tests and microchemical studies (Stevenson 1981:83). Ultraviolet spectrophotometry, visible reflectance spectroscopy, and infrared spectroscopy were used (Wilson 1986:85-86). STURP determined that McCrone has misinterpreted his data and come to a false conclusion (Wilson 1986:86,95), and that by his own admission he has estimated figures, which he concedes may be off by 30%. His estimates were based on the visual interpretation of the color of the fibrils. This is "unacceptably unscientific" (ibid.88).
McCrone accused the STURP scientists of bias, because, according to him, most of them wore "big crosses" around their necks (Scientific American N1988: 18). To the contrary, of the 40-man team there were only four Catholics. There were three Jews, six agnostics, two Mormons, and Protestants representing eight different denominations (Wilson 1986:85; cf. Tribbe 1983:30). The group was diverse enough to avoid conflicts of interest.
McCrone judged the body image and blood image the same, stating that the darker areas simply had a higher concentration of iron oxide. Yet his samples showed a higher percent in the fibrils from the non-blood area (ibid.88). STURP found the body image different than the blood areas. The body is a delicate yellow, like a scorch. In a series of tests by archeological chemist Professor Max Saltzman of the University of California, Los Angeles, the body image could not be dissolved (ibid.97). If it were paint, or watercolor like McCrone believes, it would certainly have dissolved. Also, in the body image the color has not soaked in, or run, or built up deposits between the threads like a pigment would (Weaver 1980:751). The image yellow is formed by oxidation of the fibers creating a type of halftone image (like a newspaper picture). The apparent shades occur in relation to greater or lesser numbers of the colored fibrils, rather than tonal variations. This means if it were painted, the brush would have to be less than the thickness of a human hair (Wilson 1986:97,99).
It is interesting that the image should appear like a halftone: a photoengraving produced by photographing an object behind a fine screen. The cloth itself is a fine screen. Could a flash of energy (radiation) at the moment of resurrection be responsible for the dehydration and oxidation of the fibrils forming the mysterious halftone? All other theories fell apart under close scrutiny and thorough testing.
A scorch seems to be the only suitable explanation for the properties appearing in the body image (Weaver 1980:751). The radiation scorch theory calls for a violent burst of energy creating a "flash photolysis" in the linen fibrils (Nickell 1983:86-87). No other burial cloths exist with images imprinted on them (Wilson 1986:99). Thus it might demand such an unnatural phenomenon to create the scorch-like yellow image, which appears distinct from the fire scorches when observed with ultraviolet fluorescence photography (ibid.l26).
Perhaps the cloth acted as a photographic film in creating the image. In conventional photography the light exposed to the film creates a negative. When Secondo Pia first photographed the Shroud in 1898, his film responded by creating a positive image. The Shroud itself is a negative (Wilcox 1977:4).
Unlike the yellow body image, the red blood was found to dissolve. Ebullient chemistry professor Dr. Alan Adler of Western Connecticut State University, in his final test for blood protein, applied proteases which gave a positive result, the protein dissolved. There was no yellow image on the fibril beneath it, proving that the blood was applied before the image, the opposite of how an artist would work (Wilson 1986:95). The blood would have blocked the light leaving the cloth beneath unexposed, just as in photography. The following is a list of STURP tests confirming the presence of whole blood on the Shroud:
1. High iron in blood areas by X-ray fluorescence
2. Indicative reflection spectra
3. Indicative microspectrophotometric transmission spectra
4. Chemical generation of characteristic porphyrin fluorescence
5. Positive hemochromogen tests
6. Positive cyanomethemoglobin tests
7. Positive detection of bile pigments
8. Positive demonstration of protein
9. Positive indication of albumin
10. Protease tests, leaving no residue
11. Positive immunological test for human albumin
12. Microscopic appearance as compared with appropriate controls
13. Forensic judgment of the appearance of the various wound and blood marks
The blood on the Shroud is real. The "photographically" recorded halftone cloth image is color tinted with the man's own blood. His entire body is one massive contusion riddled with lacerations from the head to the foot, so that in accordance with prophecy, there is not one sound spot of flesh to be found (Isaiah 1:6; 50:6; 53:14; & 53:2-8).
The brutalized figure in the Shroud image is consistent with both historical and Biblical accounts of scourging and crucifixion. Following is a description of a Roman scourging from The Life of Christ (Ricciotti 1947:621):
"The blows were administered not with rods, used on Roman citizens condemned to death, but with a special instrument, the flagellum, a stout leather whip with several tails weighted with little metal balls or even armed with sharp points (scorpiones). Among the Jews the legal scourging was limited a certain number of stripes [thirty-nine], but among the Romans its extent was left to the caprice of the floggers or the prisoner's endurance. Especially if he was going to be executed, he was regarded as something less than human, an empty image with which the law was no longer concerned, a body which could be beaten with merciless freedom. And usually whoever underwent the Roman scourging was reduced to a sickening and terrifying monstrosity. At the first blows the neck, back, hips, arms, and legs grew livid, and then became streaked with bluish welts and swollen bruises; then the skin and muscles were gradually lacerated, the blood vessels burst and blood spurted everywhere, till finally the prisoner, every one of his features disfigured, was nothing but a bleeding mass of flesh. Very often he fainted under the blows, and sometimes he died."
n. "These details are neither fantastic nor exaggerated but have been gathered here and there from various hints and references in the Roman authors. It is enough here to quote Cicero's description, not of the flagellatio, but of the verberatio (which was not so vicious), to which Verres had subjected the Roman citizen Servilius in Lilibeum in Sicily. While Servilius is speaking in the tribunal in his own defense 'he is surrounded by six very muscular lictors with a great deal of experience in beating and striking men. They beat him most cruelly with rods; finally the first lictor Sextius, whom I have had occasion to mention so often, turned his rod around and began to bash in the poor wretch's eyes with the utmost violence. The latter fell to the ground, his face and eyes streaming with blood; but despite all that, they continued to beat in his sides even after he collapsed until he said he would promise once and for all. Then, reduced to that state, he was carried out of there as if he were dead, and he actually did die shortly afterwards'." (In Verrum, II, 5,54).
This horrifying description portrays a picture unknown to medieval artists before the public display of the Shroud at Lirey. Another new revelation was that the nails were pounded through the heel of the hand (near the wrist), not the palm as previously depicted in all art (O'Connell and Carty 1974:38)
The corpse on the Shroud had coins laid over his eyes. Using the polarized-image-overlay technique they had developed, Dr. Alan Whanger and wife Mary Whanger were able to identify the two very rare and unique coins. A Pontius Pilate lepton, 29-32 A.D., and a Julia lepton, 29 A.D. (Walters 1990:78). Drs. Jackson and Jumper had previously discovered the coins in their study of VP-8 three-dimensional images. They too had identified the coin on the right eye, rendering the same conclusion (Tribbe 1983:221; Wilson 1986:133).
The Interpretation System's VP-8 Image Analyzer was developed as a spin-off of NASA. It was used in space research to interpret the topography of the moon and planets by projecting a 3-D image (Wilson 1986:47). The VP-8 produces a 3-D image of the man on the Shroud. But strangely, it will not convert other 2-D surfaces into 3-D. Paintings of the Shroud do not translate, neither do photographs of it (Heller 1983:207; Nickell 1983:87). This adds to the mystery of the Shroud. Why does this flat surface react like a contoured image by translating to 3-D relief, while other pictures simply distort and will not produce the same effect?
The VP-8 of the man's back on the Shroud created a curious effect. There were several flat spots. The STURP researchers selected a male model about the same size as the man in the image and had him lay on a glass table with his back down. When they looked up from beneath, the points at which his body contacted the glass produced flat spots of identical size and position as those on the Shroud (Heller 1983:208).
There is a gap between the front and back images where the top of the head should be. This is explained by the custom of wrapping a napkin or cloth beneath the chin and tying it on top of the head (O'Connell and Carty 1974:5; cf. John 20:7). Also there is no image of the front of the feet because the body was placed with its head at the center of the fourteen-foot Shroud. The cloth was then doubled to cover both front and back of the corpse, and the excess cloth at the feet was turned up half way to the knees in front (ibid. 4).
Another possible problem is the wrap-around effect. If a cloth were wrapped halfway around a freshly painted pipe, the impression would show the front and sides of the pipe simultaneously. It would appear much wider than it really is. If the body in the Shroud were wrapped it would seem logical that at least the legs would seem a little wider, for the cloth would bend around the outside of the legs. The face might also appear somewhat wider where the cloth draped down over the cheeks. Examination of the photographically contrast-enhanced image of the Shroud does not display the facial distortion expected. The shoulders, upper arms, and sides of the torso are flanked by scorches from the fire, making it impossible to determine if any wrap-around occurred there. The legs and forearms are the only areas left. The upper forearms appear to be much thicker than body proportion would allow, suggesting possible wrap-around where the cloth hung over the sides. The right upper thigh and calf appear quite thick on both frontal and rear images, while the left thigh also seems to be possibly enlarged on the rear image only. These observations were of photographs reproduced in a book, and not the actual photos. Since printed imagery can sometimes be deceptive due to quality of reproduction, these deductions will have to be verified on the original photos or the actual Shroud. If these assertions are correct, this can be considered evidence for a wrap-around effect and it might be assumed that a body was therefore wrapped in the cloth.
The author of this paper had gone from belief to disbelief in the Shroud's authenticity, long before the 1988 C-14 tests, due to certain Biblical factors. The Scriptures state that it is a shame for a man to have long hair (I Corinthians 11:14), and Isaiah prophesied that Yesu would have his beard torn out (Isaiah 50:6). To an Israelite or a Judahite (Jew) it was a shame to have his beard "plucked." The beard was part of his worship and glory to Yahweh (Leviticus 19:27; 21:15). When his enemies would pluck or shave his beard, the embarrassed victim would hide until it grew back (II Samuel 10:5). Christ was brought to humiliation, like a lamb before his "shearers" (Acts 8:32-33; Isaiah 50:7-8). His face ("visage") was disfigured (Isaiah 52:14) from the beating, and from having his beard ripped off.
Both of these points seemed to be in opposition with the Shroud image, with its apparent long hair and supposed beard. A recent article (at the time this paper was written) brought new light in this area. It referred to the Semitic hairstyle of ancient Palestine with its distinctive "sidelocks" visible on the Shroud (Walters 1990:76). A mention elsewhere of the strange looking hair that hung like two "braids", one on each side of the Shroud face (Wilcox 1977:3) seemed like another vivid reference to sidelocks. Perhaps the hair on the Shroud image is not long. It does hang oddly at the sides of the face in distinct patches, and on the back of the head hair length is vague because of anomalies in the image. So it is possible that Wilcox and Walters are correct and the man in the image has a normal first-century Semitic hairstyle. In that case, the artists who painted from the image (possibly since the 4th or 5th century) misinterpreted what they saw and depicted a longhaired Christ, when in reality he whould have had short hair and long sidelocks.
The one issue left, which has been quite baffling (if the description is to fit Christ), is the apparent or alleged presence of a beard on the face of a man who had been humbled by his enemies.
Does the face in the image actually have a beard, or do we "see" a beard because we have been biased by the supposition that the image is Christ, and by the traditional concept of what he should look like, along with the fact that the Shroud experts speak of the longhaired, bearded man.
Actually a close scrutiny of the blood areas of the image reveal that the entire mustache and large areas of the beard may have been torn completely from the man's face. These areas appear to be totally blood soaked, by displaying the same tonal qualities as other areas of profuse bleeding. On the clearest photographically contrast-enhanced images of the face on the Shroud, the mustache and beard areas are very patchy (ripped up?). No facial hair can be detected within the image (see Wilson 1986:8-9, plates). The assumed or alleged beard and mustache may be a construction of the viewer's mind relevant to previously stored knowledge (you see what you "want" to see). On the reverse-image, the hair of the head appears dark with light blood droplets. All blood areas appear lighter than the body image (ibid.6). The densest accumulations of blood appear lightest. The entire mustache and large areas of the beard appear in the same tonal values as the massive blood areas, in direct and total contrast to the dark hair of the head. If the face were covered with hair, one would expect it to appear at least somewhat similar to the hair on the head. There is no approximation between the two.
Further corroboration of this concept may be seen in the examination of a "digested computer photo." This is an image developed through a digital process (used to interpret planetary and stellar photographs with a microdensitometer that converts the differences in image intensity to digital numbers) which highlights details of interest in specific colors. The color-coding helps to identify particular areas which display corresponding characteristics. This image places emphasis on the blood on the Shroud (see Stevenson l98l: color plate 18). The mustache area and large portions of the beard area seem to coincide with the enhanced color in the saturated blood areas. This suggests the idea of severe damage in those areas. (Again, the photos being studied for this report are printed book reproductions. The ideal thing would be to view the original photos, or the actual shroud).
Any problems with the technical and visual appearance of the Shroud image, and any discrepancies with historical or Biblical data, seem to have been rectified to a certain degree of feasibility.
The case for the Shroud is stronger than ever. Possibly the only real problem standing in the way of its achieving authenticity is the uncertainty connected with the C-l4 issue.
Dr. Steven Dutch, Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, does not understand why there is such a fuss over it. He says if it is proven genuine "...it would only mean that Christ existed -- and would prove nothing miraculous and no serious scholar would try to deny that anyhow." He said, "No one denies the existence of Mohammed, or Constantine, and they don't need anything miraculous for that."
According to Dr. Richard Stevens, the overwhelming evidence --the weave of the cloth, the pollen (from Jerusalem), Jewish hair-do, coins on the eyes, nails in the wrists, etc. all point to the first century. The only thing contrary is the C-14. "If it had been Alexander the Great," said Stevens, "they would be crying for another test."
The contamination theories suggest that an inaccurate date may have resulted due to foreign materials which had entered the cloth since its origin. Another possibility to consider is that the molecules in the original material have themselves changed. This could be scientifically accomplished today, according to both Stevens and Dutch. Stevens feels it would be possible in a nuclear power plant to bombard a piece of material with radiation changing some of its isotopes. This energy could convert some C-l2 into C-14, causing a younger date than is actual. According to Dutch, if this happened there should be other detectable isotope anomalies. He says that until tests are done to determine the presence or absence of such anomalies it is useless to speculate.
Thomas J. Phillips, of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University, suggests that if there were some type of radiated light or heat present in the resurrection, it may have irradiated neutrons in the Shroud altering isotopes which might prove this hypothesis. It was considered and dismissed by the three testing labs involved with the Shroud dating. According to R. E. M. Hedges, of the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford, the likelihood of the date having been influenced by the suggested process is remote. "If we accept a scientific result," he said, "we must exercise a critical notion of the probabilities involved" (Hedges 1989:594).
The "scientific result" is the C-14 date, which has flaws as previously pointed out. It is the C-14 content that determines age. The C-14 disintegrates into C-l2. If additional C-14 were added through one of the means mentioned-- 1. smoke and carbon molecules from other sources, fused by heat into the Shroud's carbon molecules; 2. younger threads, thus with higher C-14 content, woven into the Shroud at a later date than its origin; 3. an energy burst of radiation creating C-14 from C-l2 --an inaccurate date would result, rendering a date younger than the actual age. The C-14 date is the only piece of the puzzle that does not fit. All other tests seem to point toward first-century Palestine.
The image on the Shroud cannot be explained by natural occurrence. Modern science, with all the available knowledge and every conceivable test, using the most highly sophisticated equipment available, has been unable in a period of thirteen years to decipher the process of the formation of the image on the Shroud. Science cannot duplicate the image. Man is incapable of creating an image with the qualities and properties of the Shroud image. It has hundreds of brilliant scientists baffled. If modern science can not solve the mystery by any natural explanation, might it be time to consider a supernatural resolve?
If there is sufficient evidence that man is incapable of creating such an image, logic suggests that it was created by someone or something other than man.
If we consider the radiation flash theory, we find that there was a great disturbance at the time of the resurrection (Matthew 28:2-3) possibly due to some type of nuclear reaction. This would correlate with the atomic power of God (cf. Revelation 10:1; 21:23). He is the greatest' source of nuclear energy (I Timothy 6:16) If God used a sudden jolt of radiation to restore life to the body of Christ, it could conceivably account for the scorch image on the Shroud. It could also be responsible for creating enough C-14 to explain the young date.
On the other hand, the flash may have created the image but it does not prove a resurrection. A supernatural flash would not even have to come from God. Satan is the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and can control the elements (Job 1:12, 19). Could the adversary have created a supernatural image as a means of deception? Could it be an image of a false-Christ, an antichrist, and a supernatural fraud?
Why would the opposing power create such an image? Lucifer (Satan) said that he would be like God (Yahweh) and be worshipped as God by the congregation in the temple of God (Isaiah 12:12; cf. II Thessalonians 2:4). He does not want to be worshipped as Satan, but rather as God. He wants to take God's place and steal his glory. The religion of the Antichrist will not be Satanism, or devil worship, or witchcraft, but a form of modern Christianity.
The name Lucifer means the "Holder of the Light." Christ is titled the light of the world. So even with his name, the enemy is attempting to usurp the position of Christ. Most Christians believe Christ to be God manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16). Scripture says Christ is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). The Greek word here is eikon, which translates "icon". If Lucifer could create his own image, or icon, the face of Antichrist, and cause people to revere it as Christ, he would receive worship as the saviour of mankind. In the eyes of man, he would become the image of God. Persons worshipping the image or icon would essentially be paying homage to Lucifer as God.
Yahweh has forbidden the creation of images for worship (Exodus 20:4-5). The Shroud image has been worshipped and venerated since its earliest record. Would God create an image for worship?
In scripture, the 'image of the beast" (Revelation 13:14-18) is the icon, from the same Greek word previously mentioned. If the living Christ was referred to as the icon of God, the beast icon could also be a living person. Lucifer may have created the face on the Shroud as an introduction to the Antichrist, so that when he appears on the world scene people will believe that he is the returning Christ. If Satan has power to bring the icon to life (ibid.l3: l5) perhaps he can genetically engineer a human being to look exactly like the man on the Shroud (or simply use plastic surgery), and thus deceive the world. This creation would be an imitation Christ, the symbolic lamb (cf. ibid.13: 11). Perhaps the reference to the people of the earth making the image (ibid. 13:14) is mankind "proving" that the image "is" Christ.
The Shroud of Turin is an ancient burial cloth, which came into existence some time between the 1st and the 14th centuries. It displays the image of a corpse of a scourged and crucified man, transferred to the cloth by some process unknown to advanced science. The image may, or may not, be Christ Yesu. The shroud image may have been caused by some kind of a nuclear flash (The atomic flash at Hiroshima formed shadow images of objects on scorched walls). According to Stevens, a burst of energy, possibly gamma or alpha particles, could change C-14, which would produce a spurious date.
The person on the Shroud may, or may not, have resurrected to life.
The Shroud may be a genuine 1st century cloth. There is no natural explanation for the creation of the image, and no reason to suspect human intervention. Scientific tests can not disprove the authenticity of the image. It may be paranormal. It may be a true image of Christ, or it may be a supernatural fraud.
A second set of radiocarbon tests, using the older "proven" method, and deriving samples from an original section of the cloth, should be run. If a date between 13th-14th century is returned, tests for isotope anomalies should be performed.
If the tests prove the Shroud to be of first-century origin, many people will believe without a doubt that it is a portrait of Christ. It may be. But if it is a supernatural or mystical counterfeit many people will be deceived.
If the new date comes back the same as the 1988 tests, showing that the material is of an age correlating to the approximate time of the de Charny presentation (1356), it will still not disprove the authenticity of the Shroud, because there are so many variables. If it is a fraud, there may be no way to positively expose it. As long as there are questions, the "believers" will believe.
The overwhelming factuality and accuracy of the depiction of the scourging and crucifixion wounds attributed to Christ, including spear wound and evidence of having worn a crown or cap of thorns, gives reason for speculating that the image may portray the Son of God. Still there is possibility of spiritual fraud.
Whether the Shroud date is 33 A.D. or 1356 A.D., and whether the image is made by human hands or miraculously formed, it has served a good purpose by revealing obscure facts about ancient crucifixion, which was banned, in the early 4th century (Wilson 1986:136). This has called people to the realization of the sufferings of Christ. Whether or not the image is Christ, it should not be worshipped. Yahweh (God) forbids it (Exodus 20:4-5). Study the Shroud face and be aware of it. If a religious or political leader fitting this description appears on the world scene the majority will accept him. What if he calls himself "Jesus"? Remember the face and be cautious.
Regardless of date or means of origin, many people are now worshipping the image. It may be the image of the beast, Satan, or it may be the image of Christ, Yahweh manifest in the flesh. If it is a genuine portrait of Christ, it may be a good thing gone bad. For those worshipping or venerating it, it has become a "brass serpent" (viz. II Kings.18: 14; cf. Numbers 21:9).
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