November 22, 2007 by David Cloud (first published in O Timothy magazine, volume 10, issue 2, 1993)
In recent years there has been an increase of interest in the Turin shroud--a piece of cloth about 14 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. It is alleged to be Christ's burial cloth. Kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, since the 14th century, it appears to bear the impression of a naked, wounded, long-haired man. The shroud has been the object of much veneration, speculation, and research.
The history of the shroud only goes back to the 14th century, and it was condemned by Catholic authorities as a hoax. The following is from the Wikipedia article on the Turin shroud:
"In 1389, the image was denounced as a fraud by Bishop Pierre D'Arcis in a letter to the Avignon Antipope Clement VII, mentioning that the image had previously been denounced by his predecessor Henri de Poitiers, who had been concerned that no such image was mentioned in scripture. Bishop D'Arcis continued, 'Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed.' The artist is not named in the letter. ... The letter provides an accurate description of the cloth: 'upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and the front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Saviour Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb, and upon which the whole likeness of the Saviour had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore.'"
In spite of its shady history many Catholics and Protestants consider it authentic.
The May 1980 issue of The North India Churchman, the official publication of the Protestant Church of North India, contained a positive evaluation of the Turin shroud.
It is not only liberal Protestants who are giving credibility to the Turin shroud. In 1983 Gary Habermas, a professor at Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University), co-authored a book which, according to an advertisement in Charisma magazine, reached this conclusion: "The Shroud is almost certainly authentic. Through its revelation about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it helps build faith in an unbelieving age."
Habermas would have us believe that a bogus Catholic relic can actually build faith in an unbelieving generation. This is an amazing conclusion for a supposed fundamentalist to reach. In a second book and in interviews Habermas showed less certainty, but he still leaves room for the possibility that the shroud is authentic.
Radiocarbon tests by three separate laboratories in 1988 dated it to the 13th or 14th century, but this has stopped neither the adulation nor the speculation.
Another twist is the theory that the samples tested in 1988 were from a portion of the cloth that was repaired during the Middle Ages and thus not properly representative of the rest of original cloth. This theory appeared in National Geographic in April 2004.
The Roman Catholic Church has always shown interest in relics such as this shroud, and multitudes of Catholics have made pagan-like pilgrimages to offer devotion to some dead relic.
This apostate and carnal interest in religious relics is increasing rapidly among non-Catholic Christian groups as well, as can be witnessed in the fresh popularity of images, pictures of Jesus and Mary, crucifixes, and other religious paraphernalia.
Consistent with our desire to help Christians evaluate such things in light of the Word of God, we offer the following article.
THE SHROUD OF TURIN MYSTERY SOLVED FROM THE BIBLE
Could the Turin shroud be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ? Does it provide concrete proof that Christ rose from the dead? Does the Bible shed any light on the mystery surrounding the controversial shroud? Just what are the facts?
Webster defines a shroud as a "burial garment, or something that covers." The word appears only once in the King James 1611 Bible (Ezek. 31:3). In this verse it is not referring to a burial garment, but rather to the shade created by the branches of a tree.
For centuries the Shroud of Turin has been the subject of much debate and no little controversy. In recent months it has received immense, worldwide publicity. The publicity stems from permission granted by the Roman Catholic Church allowing prominent scientists to experiment with the Shroud in an attempt to determine if it is a cunningly devised forgery or an actual burial garment with a human likeness appearing on it.
The Shroud itself is a piece of cloth 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches.
It is known to have been in the Royal Chapel of the Roman Catholic Turin (Italy) Cathedral since the 14th century. The Shroud has been kept rolled up in a silver canister stored above an altar and has been removed for public view only two or three times every century.
The Shroud shows an image of a bearded, long-haired male, who shows evidence of having been crucified. It should be noted that the image is extremely difficult to detect with the naked eye, but becomes surprisingly more visible in a photograph.
ARGUMENTS FOR THE SHROUD'S AUTHENTICITY
Many convincing arguments have been given in favor of the Shroud's authenticity. Let's briefly consider several of the strongest, most convincing arguments which seem to indicate the Shroud did cover the body of Christ.
Like a negative
The light and dark areas on the burial garment are reversed, like a photographic negative. If the human likeness on the Shroud had been forged, then the question must be asked, "How did the forger, living centuries ago, know how to reverse the shades, since he never could have seen a photographic negative?"
Dust from the Dead Sea area
Swiss criminologist Dr. Max Frei, in his 1974 study of the cloth, found dust on its fibers. His analysis concluded that the dust could very well have come from the Dead Sea area, providing evidence that the Shroud could have been near Jerusalem where Christ was crucified.
The image on the Shroud shows heavy blood flow around the top of the head. This has led some to point out the cruel treatment received by Christ when they placed a crown of thorns on His head. (Since Jesus had been politically accused of being the King of the Jews, the Romans mockingly placed a crown of thorns on His head. Matt. 27:29.)
The man's image shows an injury to the right eye. This, too, parallels an injury received by Christ. We read in Luke 22:64 that "when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face..."
The image also shows heavy bleeding from the back, possibly from a scourging, and heavy blood flow from the area of the wrists and feet. (These wounds correspond to similar wounds inflicted on Christ. Consider Matt. 27:26, 35.)
The Shroud had been supposed by many for centuries to be a fraud altogether. Incidentally, centuries ago the first to speak out against the Shroud was a Roman Catholic priest. Many believed the image to have been cunningly and skillfully painted.
Created by Immense Energy?
If the Shroud of Turin is to be accepted as genuine, then how did the image appear on the cloth? It has been theorized that "immense energy generated at the resurrection of Christ could have produced the markings."
PROOF THAT THE SHROUD WAS NOT THE LORD'S
Regardless of how convincing the arguments might be in favor of the Shroud belonging to Christ, there are some important facts which have been overlooked by most. There is clear PROOF that the Shroud could not be that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, let's look carefully into the pages of God's Word and prove that the Shroud of Turin--although possibly a genuine burial garment--could not be that of Jesus Christ.
The image on the Shroud shows clearly the image of a man who had been slightly marred. However, the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ was "marred more than any man" (Isaiah 52:14). The image seen on the Shroud certainly doesn't look like a man who had been "marred more than any man."
In Psalm 22 we find a prophecy about Christ which teaches that the Messiah would have ALL of His "bones ... out of joint" (Psa. 22:14). The image found on the Shroud is certainly not that of a man with every bone out of joint.
The Shroud of Turin required that the one piece garment was draped over the naked body of a man; covering the front of the body, curving around the top of the head and then draping down the back. But is this the manner in which the body of Christ was wrapped? According to the biblical accounts, NO!
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all record the wrapping of Jesus' body after His horrible death. They all mention that Joseph, who was of Arimathaea, begged that Pilate might give him the dead body of the Lord Jesus Christ to bury in his own tomb. The permission was granted; the body was wrapped in a clean linen cloth and placed in a tomb. BUT WAIT! John's record provides some vital truth that the others were not led to include in = their accounts. Carefully read the entire passage as written by the Apostle John.
"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand" (John 19:38-42).
Did you notice that Jesus' body was wrapped like a mummy, and packed with about a hundred pounds of spices BEFORE HE WAS PLACED IN THE TOMB?
A careful reading of John 20:1-7 will reveal that Jesus' head was wrapped separately with a cloth called "the napkin" in verse 7.
These clear passages alone provide sufficient proof that the Shroud of Turin could not possibly be that of Christ. We saw that the theory of how the image was made on the garment required that the image was not made until His resurrection from the dead. That would have been three days and three nights after His body was wound up. (John 19:40 and Matt. 12:40)
A carefully wrapped body, packed with pounds of spices and then draped with a shroud could not have made the type of impression seen on the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud shows the image of a naked man rather than the image of a man wound up in spice-packed cloths.
The Shroud shows the image of a man with long, shoulder-length hair. Regardless of the famous painting of an artist's conception of Jesus Christ, the Bible indicates that He did NOT have long hair.
The Apostle Paul, who saw Jesus Christ, wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "If a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him" (1 Cor. 11:14). See also see Ezekiel 44:20.
Some may argue that Jesus was a Nazarite and Nazarites were not permitted to cut their hair (Judges 13:5-7 and Numbers 6); therefore, Christ had long hair. It should be quickly noted here that Jesus was OF Nazareth, and was therefore a Nazarene. The Scriptures nowhere speak of Jesus taking the Nazarite vow. If Jesus had taken such a vow, He certainly would have violated it when He touched the dead body of the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:54). This was strictly forbidden for Nazarites in Numbers 6:6.
The individual pictured on the Shroud shows a man with long hair, proving it could not be the image of the Jesus Christ of the Bible.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Regardless of the Bible facts presented, there will be multitudes who will still believe it is an image of Jesus Christ. Many will believe it holds strange powers. Some will even superstitiously worship and adore it as an icon or image. The Catholic Digest has run several ads for the purchase of a $9.95 "faithfully rendered ... reproduced, ready for framing, 11 X 14 inch" drawing of the Shroud. A religious "club" showed a "documentary special unveiling the 'secrets' of the 'mysterious' Shroud of Turin." Numerous articles in the newspapers and magazines have appeared regularly about the Shroud, putting more fuel to the fire of those who insist it belonged to Jesus.
Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and know the truth of the Scriptures will not be turned aside by the claims of the superstitious.
Jeane Dixon, the well known Roman Catholic psychic, believed Jesus wanted this image of Himself preserved "as a message to our times," and "as a guidance during the grave period of dangers which mankind will face near the year 2000, including the danger of nuclear holocaust." (Note that Deuteronomy 18:10-13 forbids psychic practices such as those of Jeane Dixon.)
Without hesitation we can state that the Lord Jesus Christ DID NOT preserve the Shroud of Turin for a message to our times or to guide mankind from future dangers (Matt. 12:38-40). Those who would follow this line of thinking are weak in their faith in God's written Word and rob God of adoration which belongs to Him alone. Those today who believe in the bodily resurrection of the Son of God do not need any external "proof" of His rising from the dead. Jesus told Thomas, "Blessed are they that have NOT SEEN, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
The believer's guide for the future must be the Word of God and not some decaying cloth used to fill the coffers of a religious organization. Psalm 119:105 says the Word of God is the believer's lamp and light, while 2 Peter 2:3 warns of those who "through covetousness shall ... with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
The Shroud of Turin is a modern day "serpent of brass" which deserves the same fate as the one which the Israelites worshiped.
"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan [made of brass]" (2 Kings 18:4).
Friend, do not allow yourself to be taken in by the strange, superstitious fables devised by Satan. Put your faith and trust only in the unchanging Word of God and in the Saviour Jesus Christ.
"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man" (Psa. 118:8).
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).