Among all of the ancient artifacts that have been uncovered throughout the ages, the Shroud of Turin is probably one of the most studied pieces. It depicts the image of a crucified man, beaten and bloody, and matches the description of how a man would have looked after the death. Could this actually be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ?
Catholic scientist Dr. Gerard Verschuuren seeks out to answer this question in his book, A Catholic Scientist Champions the Shroud of Turin. Using both scientific, historical, and religious approaches, Dr. Verschuuren analyses all the aspects studied to prove or disprove the authenticity of the Shroud as either a religious relic of Christ, or an artists icon.
First, we must establish that faith and science cannot contradict each other. If one says it is true, but the other says it is false, it must be false. “Faith has the right to claim that the Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus, even when science cannot confirm it, as long as science does not contradict it on undisputable grounds” (Verschuuren).
So, what proof is there?
We must first establish that there was a man named Jesus who was alive and crucified. Jesus was a real man who was written about in Scripture and by non-Christians. Without this fact, then the Shroud would most definitely be false. Therefore, looking at both Biblical texts and historical documents during the same period of time, we can confirm that Jesus was a man who existed and was crucified. Also, the reason why we look at this image as the burial cloth of Jesus is because the image matches what is clearly described in all four Biblical accounts, which wasn’t the normal way a crucified man would have looked or even be cared for being put to death as a criminal.
The cloth is definitely old
There is no scientific analysis that ‘proves’ that the cloth was created exactly during the period of time Jesus was alive, but it also has been disproven by several methods that this cloth is ‘new’ or newer than the period of time after Jesus’ death. It is considered an expensive linen by the material its made from and the way it was woven. It has striking similarities to the linen wrappings of the Dead Sea scrolls, which has been dated between 300 BC and 300 AD. Other chemical and dating tests also place the shroud cloth as dated around 400 AD, plus or minus 400 years (1 AD – 800 AD, with 95% confidence).
12 proofs it’s not a painting
Here we go…
- No outline of the image like in paintings
- Image only a few fibers deep, rather than covering the entire surface of the thread
- Fibers are not stuck together like paint does
- The image of the man can be read by 3D imaging, whereas paintings 2 dimensional
- It is more detailed than painters would normally have painted of a man in his condition
- The fire would have caused the paint to crack, there is none
- Under ultraviolet light, the wounds show clots that are only found in real blood, impossible for an artist of the time to know these blood qualities
- If the painter used blood to ‘paint’, it would have clotted in different patterns rather than all at once
- The various cuts and patches on the cloth creates an ‘imperfect’ canvas, opposite of what the artist would have wanted if they were creating a perfect relic of Jesus’ burial cloth
- Raw, unprepared linen repels water which would make it difficult to paint
- The image is a photographic negative
- The image is real blood. “Blood went on before the image, so there is no image beneath the blood.”
Thanks to modern science, we now can study the actual blood that is on the shroud. Although, there is some problems with the blood being so old, with analysis, it is determined the blood type of the person is AB. After deep DNA analysis, it shows only the maternal (mother) DNA of the blood of the man on the cloth – there is no male (father) DNA. What does this mean? While science doesn’t prove this is Jesus, faith does because Jesus only would have Mary’s DNA since he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although not covered in this book, there also has been analysis on Eucharistic miracles of the blood on the consecrated Eucharist, and the blood type of the human blood on the Eucharist is always AB and only shows maternal DNA (source).
Computer analysis reveals deeper image
The computer age has brought forth so many new technologies and ways to view the world. One of these is what has been revealed by computers of the Shroud. While the image appears flat on the cloth, computers bring the image to life by showing us a 3D image of the man, in perfect proportion. While he looks distorted on the cloth, when the negative image is made positive and rendered in three dimensions, we see a perfect image of a man who went through extreme agony but is in serene rest.
As new technologies come around, there may be more and more proof of the authenticity of Shroud of Turin, but from what we have discovered so far further proves through science and faith that this very well may be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Dr. Gerard Verschuuren lays out how the Shroud has been studied throughout the years and clearly describes all of the ways it has been studied and never clearly disproved to not be Jesus’ burial cloth. Science is a way to proof God and the love he has for us, and A Catholic Scientist Champions the Shroud of Turin is another way that shows us through faith and science, we can visually and clearly see this love that was poured out for us through the crucifixion of our Lord.
Featured image: Wikimedia commons.