Sunday, October 7, 2007

Shroud of Turin- The Fact or Just a hoax?

The Shroud of Turin first came to the attention of the public in 1355 when it was exhibited at the Church of St. Mary in Lirey, France. It had been given to the church by a French knight, Geoffroy de Charny, who probably acquired it in Constantinople.

The shroud soon became the subject of controversy. A report to Pope Clement argued that the shroud was merely a painting, and that it was being falsely displayed as a true relic in order to solicit donations to the church. As a consequence, Pope Clement declared the relic a fraud.

In 1453 the shroud was acquired by de Charny’s granddaughter who eventually sold it to the Duke of Savoy. The Savoys exhibited it for many decades, claiming that it was the holy shroud that had covered Christ as he lay in the tomb. In 1532 it was almost destroyed in a fire. The shroud still displays burn marks from this incident.

Throughout the twentieth century researchers dueled back and forth over the shroud’s authenticity. In 1982 a group calling itself the Shroud of Turin Research Project declared it to be genuine after studying samples lifted from the cloth using tape. However, radiocarbon tests performed later during the 1980s dated the shroud to approximately the fourteenth century, indicating that the relic was a fake. Nevertheless, shroud supporters found many reasons to dispute the radiocarbon testing, and so the debate raged on and likely will for the foreseeable future.

Every two or three years shroud researchers from around the world gather to share new
information and discuss the many enigmatic questions that surround this artifact. The most recent such gathering took place in the grand ballroom of the elegant Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, Texas in September of 2005. About 100 scientists, archaeologists and historians representing a broad spectrum of Catholics, Anglicans (Episcopalians), Protestants, Evangelical Christians and non-Christians attended the conference. Most are academics. Many are retired and have time to devote to many hours to the study of the shroud. Almost all believe at some level that the shroud is genuine, even if they cannot prove it. Many share Ball’s view expressed in Nature that if it could be shown to be first century, it would nonetheless be impossible to prove, at least scientifically, that it was Jesus’ burial shroud.

The 2005 Dallas Conference on the Shroud of Turin was unlike previous conferences. It would redefine controversy about this cloth as not so much between skeptics and believers but between researchers and the Papal Custodians on matters of science and preservation. The conferees were upbeat. Most, for many years, had believed that the 1988 carbon 14 dating was flawed. But they could only suspect why before Rogers completed his peer-reviewed studies. And there had been other recent exciting developments. In April 2004, the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Optics, published by the Institute of Physics in London, carried a paper by two scientists, Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, from the University of Padua in Italy. Using modern image enhancement techniques, the team had discovered a faint image of a face on the backside of the cloth. The press dubbed it the “second face.” It wasn’t clear what it meant, but it was new information for consideration. And there was new analysis of the burn marks and water stains on the cloth. Some of the stains suggested that the cloth had been folded and stored in a jar similar to jars found at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were stored. A key document had been prepared over the course of two years. It was a list of about one hundred and fifty scientific facts and confirmed observation, including very recent findings, compiled from over a hundred scientific papers, many of them published in secular peer-reviewed journals. Twenty-eight researchers were listed as authors. The list was entitled “Evidence for Testing Hypotheses about the Body Image Formation of the Turin Shroud.” But most researchers simply called it “The List.” It was to be presented at the conference. The better understanding of image chemistry was leading to new ideas on how the images formed on the cloth. One hypothesis, getting serious consideration, is a Maillard reaction.

Based on the photomicrograph, it's later showed where two fibers were pulled from an adhesive sampling tape leaving their colored coating behind. The coating is too thin to measure accurately with a standard microscope; however, it appears to be 180-600 nanometers, thinner than most

Rogers and Arnoldi had proposed it in their paper published in Melanoidins. The hypothesis suggests that volatile body vapors, such as cadaverine and putrescine, reacted with the starch and saccharides film that coats the outermost fibers of the cloth. The images are chemically
consistent with this type of reaction. And it is well understood that such vapors from a corpse, given the right conditions, will cause browning on a cloth that has the right sort of residues on its fibers. But if this is how the images formed, it is only hypothetical. There are unresolved problems. And there are possibly other ways to create this caramel-like condition. “Hypothesis,” researchers say, is the right word to use, for no proposal yet meets the scientific
criteria needed to be called a theory. But despite the positive feelings about progress, most attendees were frustrated and angry with the Papal Custodians of the Shroud of Turin. They were angry about the restoration. They were dismayed that Turin officials were ignoring scientific evidence. Many felt that the shroud’s custodians were ignoring advice by the late Pope John Paul II when in 1998 he said, “the Church does not have specific competence to pronounce on these questions. It entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate to find suitable answers to questions regarding the Shroud.” Ghiberti and textile conservator Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, who had managed the restoration work, were in Dallas to defend the restoration and to reiterate their claim that they had not seen evidence of discreet mending. Scientists and archeologists wanted to ask them questions and express their own views. But conference organizers decided to prohibit questions and comments from the floor. And at the last minute they cancelled a PowerPoint presentation of “The List” which did contain scientific facts that disagreed what Turin officials were saying. When Fanti, who had served as the primary editor of the document, asked why, he was told that the document was “too political.”
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, perhaps having sensed what was to happen in Dallas, had written a letter to the conferees saying, “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI] trusts that the Dallas Conference will advance cooperation and dialogs among various groups engaged in scientific research on the Shroud . . .” But cooperation did not happen. The conferees were undaunted. In a presentation that had been billed as a tribute to the late Raymond Rogers, researcher Barrie Schwortz instead showed an interview with Rogers videotaped shortly before his death on March 8, 2005. In the interview, Rogers explained the discreet mending and why that invalidated the 1988 carbon 14 dating. And he offered a blistering criticism of the secretive restoration. He explained why the cloth and the still-unexplained images of a crucified man may have been damaged during the restoration. While the conferees applauded the interview Ghiberti walked out of the room, a gesture that perhaps signaled future non-cooperation. It was peculiar because it would be fair to say that probably every researcher in the grand ballroom of the hotel thought the shroud might be the real thing even if they could not prove it.

Controversy between skeptics and believers seemed to be a thing of the past. While skepticism is valid and indeed welcomed, the reasons propounded in the past now seemed moot to the conferees. The argument that the shroud’s images were painted, advanced by microscopist Walter McCrone in 1989, had been refuted. There is no paint. And the medieval carbon 14 dating was now well understood to be meaningless. Controversy was now between the scientists and the Papal Custodians. The conferees do not want it and they offered suggestions. Why not, for instance, test carbonized fabric dust scraped from the shroud during the restoration, as Rogers proposed in his Thermochimica Acta article? Why not allow high resolution, spectrally sensitive scans of both the front and the backside?

Kim Dreisbach, an Episcopal priest who presented a paper at the conference, had an interesting suggestion: get advice and oversight from the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Involved, as they are, in world health, global warning and cosmology studies, they have access to some of the best scientific minds who could provide advice to Turin on future studies and preservation of the shroud.


It is often reported that microscopist Walter McCrone proved that the images were painted. This is incorrect. McCrone, who examined 32 slides containing fibers from the cloth, found traces of iron oxide which he determined was “jewelers rouge.” He concluded that the images were painted with this. McCrone also claimed to have found a concentration of mercury that he
says was used to make vermilion paint used to paint the bloodstains. But chemical investigation shows that small quantities of iron oxide particles are evenly distributed in both image and non image areas and that the quantities are too small to form a visible image. The bloodstains are from real blood. Different scientists, working independently, conducted immunological, fluorescence and spectrographic tests, as well as Rh and ABO typing of blood antigens that clearly show this. And several experts in forensic medicine and blood chemistry conclude that the stains were formed by real human bleeding from real wounds to a real human body that came into direct contact with the cloth. See the peer reviewed Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal, Volume 14 (1981), pp.81-103. In 1389, Pierre d’Arcis, the Bishop of Troyes, France, drafted a memorandum to Pope Clement VII of Avignon stating that the
shroud was a painted forgery. However, there is no historical evidence that draft memorandum was ever finalized or sent. The account of a confession by a painter is second hand. Pierre claimed that his predecessor, Bishop Henri de Poitiers, conducted an inquest in which a painter had confessed to painting the shroud. The inquest is not in the historical records. The painter is
not identified. Several other documents of the period challenge the veracity of the d'Arcis Memorandum. The historical conspectus suggests that the memorandum was part of a squabble about revenues from pilgrims visiting the nearby town of Lirey, where the shroud was kept, rather than Troyes. It is all moot. Visible and ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, pyrolysis-massspectrometry, laser-microprobe Raman analyses, and microchemical testing show no evidence of such material in sufficient
quantity to form any visible image. Moreover, it is well understood now, that the images are formed by a caramel-like substance within the otherwise clear coating of starch and polysaccharides on outer fibers. McCrone continued to defend his position that the shroud was painted until his death in 2002. The McCrone Institute continues to carry material written by him on the organization’s website, but it out of date. The McCrone Institute in Chicago can be
contacted at 312-842-7100.

Historical Support

The problem of the shroud’s authenticity is usually thought of in scientific terms. And indeed that is where much of the research is focused. But there is much, as well, that can be learned from history. Historians and biblical scholars are constantly probing for new material. Even, today, libraries of ancient documents are being translated that shed new light on the possible provenance of the cloth. It is often reported that there is no historical record of the shroud before 1356 CE. That is incorrect. However, it is correct to say that there are no known records about the shroud in western medieval Europe before that time. Several historians believe that the shroud was taken by French knights of the Fourth Crusade during the sacking of Constantinople in 1204. In 1205, Theodore Ducas Anglelos, writing about the looted treasures in a letter to Pope Innocent III wrote, “The Venetians partitioned the treasure of gold, silver and ivory, while the French did the same with the relics of saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after His death and before the resurrection.” Moreover, there is certain knowledge that on August 15, 944 CE, an image bearing cloth known as the Cloth of Edessa, was forcibly transferred from Edessa to Constantinople. It had been in Edessa since at least the middle of the 6th century when it was found concealed behind some stones above one of the city gates. It was, when found, to the people of Edessa, the lost cloth of a great legend. According to legend the cloth, with a miraculous picture of Jesus, was brought to Abgar V Ouchama, the King of Edessa from 13 –50 CE, by a disciples known as Thaddeus Jude. According to the legend he was sent by the apostle Thomas. Whether or not the legend is true is immaterial. In the late 6th century, Evagrius Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History mentions that Edessa was protected by a “divinely wrought portrait,” an acheiropoietos sent by Jesus to Abgar. In 730 CE, St. John Damascene describes the cloth as a himation, which is translated as an oblong cloth or grave cloth. Thus, if the Edessa Cloth is the Shroud of Turin, the written record goes back to the sixth century. By the sixth century, a traditional understanding that Jesus’ image was left on his burial shroud had developed. In Visigothic Spain, there was a formula for worship known as the Mozarabic Rite. One element of the rite was the illatio (Præfatio). There were numerous illationes (proper prefaces) for special days. One used at Eastertide read, “Peter ran with John to the tomb and saw the recent imprints of the dead and risen man on the linens.” The word imprints is a translation of vestigia which can also mean traces or marks. It canalso mean footsteps or footprints, but these do not make contextual sense.

In the eighth century Pope Stephen III (reigned 752 to 757 CE) stated that Christ had “spread out his entire body on a linen cloth that was white as snow. On this cloth, marvelous as it is to see . . . the glorious image of the Lord's face, and the length of his entire and most noble body, has been divinely transferred.”

Christ Pantocrator, an icon at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai(550 C.E.)

In the sixth century a new common appearance for Jesus emerged in icons, paintings, mosaics and Byzantine coins. And they had an uncanny resemblance to the face of the man of the shroud. Indeed, some scholars think that the shroud was the source for new ideas of what Jesus looked like. Prior to this time, pictures of Jesus were mostly of a young, beardless man, often with short hair, and often in story-like settings in which he was depicted as a shepherd. Suddenly, Jesus had a forked beard. He looked out at us, in full frontal images, from large owlish eyes. His face was gaunt and his nose was long and thin. Numerous other characteristics appeared in these pictures, and some of them were seemingly strange and of no particular artistic merit. Many portraits had two wisps of hair that dropped at an angle from a central parting of the hair.

Paul Vignon, a French scholar who first categorized these facial attributes in 1930, also described a square cornered U shape between the eyebrows, a downward pointing triangle on the bridge of the nose, a raised right eyebrow, accents on both cheeks with the accent on the right cheek being somewhat lower, an enlarged left nostril, an accent line below the nose, a gap in the beard below the lower lip, and hair on one side of the head that was shorter than on the other side. The most famous and the earliest of these full frontal pictures of Jesus is Christ Pantocrator, an icon at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai. This icon has been reliably dated to the middle of the sixth century, at just about the time that the Edessa Cloth was found behinds stones above the city’s gate. When one image is overlaid on the other, facial feature locations and shapes are almost perfectly aligned.

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 . Besides this, the linen cloth samples were very carefully cleaned before analysis at each of the C-dating laboratories.

It may interest skeptics to know that many people of faith believe that there is scientific evidence which supports their belief in the shroud's authenticity. Of course, the evidence is limited almost exclusively to pointing out facts that would be true if the shroud were authentic. For example, it is claimed to be the negative image of a crucifixion victim. It is claimed to be the image of a man brutally beaten in a way which corresponds to the way Jesus is thought to have been treated. It is also claimed that the image is not a painting but a miraculously transposed image. Skeptics disagree and argue that the shroud is a painting and a forgery.

The relic trade

Skeptics believe that the shroud of Turin is just another religious relic invented to beef up the pilgrimage business or impress infidels. (Another equally famous painting, also claimed to have miraculously appeared on a cloth, cropped up in Mexico in the 16th century, "Our Lady Of Guadalupe") The case for the forged shroud is made most forcefully by Joe Nickell in his Inquest On The Shroud Of Turin, which was written in collaboration with a panel of scientific and technical experts. The author claims that historical, iconography, pathological, physical, and chemical evidence points to inauthenticity. The shroud is a 14th century painting, not a two-thousand year-old cloth with Christ's image.

One theory is that "a male model was daubed with paint and wrapped in the sheet to create the shadowy figure of Christ." The model was covered in red ocher, "a pigment found in earth and widely used in Italy during the Middle Ages, and pressed his forehead, cheekbones and other parts of his head and body on to the linen to create the image that exists today. Vermilion paint, made from mercuric sulphide, was then splashed onto the image's wrists, feet and body to represent blood."

Walter McCrone analyzed the shroud and found traces of chemicals that were used in "two common artist's pigments of the 14th century, red ochre and vermilion, with a collagen (gelatin) tempera binder" ( Wlater McCrone 1998. He makes his complete case that the shroud is a medieval painting in JudgmentDay of the Shroud of Turin (March 1999). For his work, McCrone was awarded the American Chemical Society's Award in Analyctical Chemistry in 2000.

The evidence for authenticity

The shroud, however, has many defenders who believe they have demonstrated that the cloth is not a forgery, dates from the time of Christ, is of miraculous origin, etc. It is claimed that there is type AB blood on the shroud. Skeptics deny it. Blood has not been identified on the shroud directly, but it has been identified on sticky tape that was used to lift fibrils from the shroud. Dried, aged blood is black. The stains on the shroud are red. Forensic tests on the red stuff have identified it as red ocher and vermilion tempera paint. Other tests by Adler and Heller have identified it as blood.* If it is blood, it could be the blood of some 14th century person. It could be the blood of someone wrapped in the shroud, or the blood of the creator of the shroud, or of anyone who has ever handled the shroud, or of anyone who handled the sticky tape. But even if there were blood on the shroud, that would have no bearing on the age of the shroud or on its authenticity.

It is claimed that the cloth has some pollen grains and images on it that are of plants found only in the Dead Sea region of Israel. Avinoam Danin, a botanist from Hebrew University of Jerusalem claims he has identified pollen from the tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii and a bean caper on the shroud. He claims this combination is found only around Jerusalem. Some believers think the crown of thorns was made of this type of tumbleweed. However, Danin did not examine the shroud itself. His sample of pollen grains originated with Max Frei who tape-lifted pollen grain samples from the shroud. Frei's pollen grains have been controversial from the beginning. Frei, who once pronounced the forged "Hitler Diaries" to be genuine, probably introduced the pollen grains himself or was duped and innocently picked up pollen grains another pious fraud had introduced (Nickell).

Danin and his colleague Uri Baruch also claim that they found impressions of flowers on the shroud and that those flowers could only come from Israel. However, the floral images they see are hidden in mottled stains much the way the image of Jesus hidden is in a tortilla or the image of Mary is hidden in the bark of a tree. The first to see flowers in the stains was a psychiatrist, who was probably an expert at seeing personality traits in inkblots (Nickell, 1994)

Danin notes that another relic believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus (the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain) contains the same two types of pollen grains as the Shroud and also is stained with type AB blood. Since the Sudarium is believed to have existed before the 8th century, according to Danin, there is "clear evidence that the shroud originated before the eighth century." The cloth is believed to have been in a chest of relics from at least the time of the Moorish invasion of Spain. It is said to have been in the chest when it was opened in 1075. But, since there is no blood on the shroud of Turin and there is no good reason to accept Danin's assumption that the pollen grains were on the Shroud from its origin, this argument is spurious.

In any case, the fact that pollen grains found near the Dead Sea or Jerusalem were on the shroud means little. Even if the pollen grains weren't introduced by some pious fraud, they could have been carried to the shroud by anyone who handled it. In short, the pollen grains could have originated in Jerusalem at any time before or after the appearance of the shroud in Italy. This is not a very strong piece of evidence.

Moreover, that there are two cloths believed to have been wrapped around the dead body of Jesus does not strengthen the claim that the shroud is authentic, but weakens it. How many more cloths are there that we don't know about? Were they mass produced like pieces of the true cross, straw from Christ's manger, chunks of Noah's ark? That cloths in Spain and Italy have identical pollen grains and blood stains is a bit less than "clear evidence" that they originated at the same time, especially since there is clear evidence that the claim that they have identical pollen grains and blood stains is not true. But, even if it were true, it would be of little value in establishing that either of these cloths touched the body of Jesus.

Unraveling the weave

The weave of the cloth is said to be typical of the weave wealthy Jews would have had in the time of Jesus. The weave of the wealthy Jew doesn't seem consistent with the kind of people Jesus supposedly hung out with. However, as one reader, Hal Nelson, pointed out, "The linen cloth was supplied by Joseph of Arimathea, described in Matthew 27 as a "rich man" as well as a disciple. (The weave of Turin is herring bone; the weave of Oviedo is taffeta, proving, I suppose, that Jesus had disciples of all types, even AB.)

The image is of a man about six feet tall. The size and weave of the cloth have convinced one researcher/believer that the cloth may have been used as a tablecloth for the Last Supper. It could have been used for a lot of other things as well, I suppose.

To the believer, however, it is not the scientific proof of the shroud's authenticity that gives the shroud its special significance. It is the faith in the miraculous origin of the image that defines their belief. The miracle is taken as a sign that the resurrection really happened and that Jesus was divine.

Just another Relic?

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the shroud of Turin controversy is the way true believers keep bringing up red herrings and the way skeptics keep taking the bait. Danin made his plant image/pollen grain argument in 1998, a follow-up on another plant image argument he made in 1997. He said in the 1998 article that his evidence showed that "the Shroud could have come only from the Near East." An AP article by Traci Angel (8/3/99) quotes Danin as saying that the evidence "clearly point to a floral grouping from the area surrounding Jerusalem." No doubt, a raging debate will follow (once again!) as to the origin of the plants and pollen gains. As if it matters. Even if it is established beyond any reasonable doubt that the shroud originated in Jerusalem and was used to wrap up the body of Jesus, so what? Would that prove Jesus rose from the dead? I don't think so. To believe anyone rose from the dead can't be based on physical evidence, because resurrection is a physical impossibility. Only religious faith can sustain such a belief. To believe that someone floated up to the sky and disappeared (i.e., rose into heaven) is also not going to be proved one way or the other by these shroud arguments. Finally, no amount of physical evidence could ever demonstrate that a man was God, was also his own Father and conceived without his mother ever having had sex. Thus, no matter how many brilliant scientists marshal forth their brilliant papers with evidence for images of Biblical ropes, sponges, thorns, spears, flowers, tumbleweeds, blood, etc., none of it has the slightest relevance for proving these matters of faith.

Some people believe the Shroud of Turin is the cloth that covered Jesus Christ at His burial. There are serious problems with this view, even if we ignore carbon dating tests in 1988 that showed the cloth may be only 600 or 700 years old.

Scientist, experts and researchers admit that carbon dating can give crazy results, so this is not proof of the shroud's age. Even so, there are serious problems with the view that this shroud shows a picture of Christ.

  • It is clear from the Bible and from Jewish burial customs that several pieces of cloth bound Christ at His burial — not one large sheet like the shroud.
  • In John 20:5-7 we find there was a separate piece wrapped around Christ's head. Yet the Shroud of Turin depicts a face on the sheet.
  • The Bible says linen strips bound Jesus, not a large cloth (see John 19:40).
  • The Bible is the authoritative record of Christ's death, burial, and ressurection, and the Bible mentions nothing of a shroud.
  • Walter C. McCrone, head of a Chicago research institute and a specialist in authenticating art objects, examined the shroud. He found a pale, gelatin-based substance speckled with particles of red ochre on fibers from the part of the cloth that supposedly showed the figure of Christ. He also found that fibers from the “wounds” had stains, not of blood, but of particles of a synthetic vermilion developed in the Middle Ages. He said the practice of painting linen with gelatin-based temperas began in the late thirteenth century and was common in the fourteenth. He concluded that a fourteenth century artist had forged the shroud.
  • In the 1980s, Jesuit priest Robert A. Wild expressed surprise that the bloodstains, if they were blood, showed no trace of smearing after all the movement and transport the body would have endured. Wild also noted that the hands of the body masked the genitals. He said this couldn't be right. No matter how you arrange a body after rigor mortis, he said, the hands cannot cover the genitals unless you prop up the elbows on the body and bind the hands tightly in place. Yet this is not what the shroud's image shows.
  • The first record of the shroud's appearance was in 1353, when Geoffrey de Charny presented it to the small local church in the French town of Lirey. Three years later, in 1356, the bishop of the region wrote to the pope, in Latin, telling of his annoyance that certain people wanted this “painted” cloth displayed as the burial cloth of Christ. The bishop added that his predecessor, Henry of Poitiers, “after diligent inquiry and examination,” had found the artist who painted it. The artist testified that “it was the work of human skill and not miraculously wrought.”
  • Interestingly, this date accords with the carbon-14 tests, which dated the shroud to about the first quarter of the 1300s. It also agrees with art expert Walter McCrone's estimate of the age based on known painting styles (see point 4 above).
  • The verses that tell of Joseph of Arimathea's wrapping Jesus in linen cloth are Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, and John 19:40. Look in Vine's Expository Dictionary, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, and the Ryrie Study Bible. They all tell us the Greek words used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (entulisso and eneileo) mean “to roll in, wind in”, “to twist, to entwine”, “to enwrap”, “to wrap by winding tightly”. Winding, twisting and entwining imply wrappings, or strips of bandage, rather than a single shroud. But if they did mean a single sheet, then Matthew, Mark, and Luke would conflict with John 19:40, which is clearer by using the Greek word othonion, meaning “linen bandage” (Strong's concordance). If the Bible writers had meant a single linen sheet like the shroud, the word used should have been othone (a single linen cloth, a sail, or a sheet). From this, it seems that all four Gospel writers were telling followers that normal long strips of linen covered Jesus

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