New Controversy Surrounding the Shroud of Turin

The famous “Shroud of Turin” is back in the news again today as a Colorado couple researching the shroud has disputed the radiocarbon dating of the alleged burial cloth of Jesus. Now, news comes that Oxford has agreed to help them reexamine the findings.

Ellen Jaskol, Los Angeles Times

Credit: Ellen Jaskol, Los Angeles Times

From the Los Angeles Times:

The tie that binds John and Rebecca Jackson is about 4 feet by 14 feet, woven of herringbone twill linen. It once led to their romance; years later, it still dominates their thoughts and fills their conversations.

It brought Rebecca, an Orthodox Jew, to the Catholic Church; it led John to suspend himself from an 8-foot-tall cross to study how blood might have stained the cloth. Together, the two have committed to memory every crease, scorch mark and unexplained stain in their years-long pursuit of the mystery:

Is the Shroud of Turin, which allegedly bears the image of a crucifixion victim, the burial cloth of Jesus?

In 1988, science seemed to put that question to rest.

Radiocarbon dating by three separate laboratories showed that the shroud originated in the Middle Ages, leaving the “shroud crowd” reeling. Shroud skeptics responded, “We told you so.” The Catholic Church admitted that it could not be authentic. Many scientists backed away.

But John Jackson, one of the shroud’s most prominent researchers, was among those who insisted that the reuslts made no sense. Too much else about the shroud, they said, including characteristics of the cloth and details of the image, suggested that it was much older.

Twenty years later, Jackson, 62, is getting his chance to challenge the radiocarbon dating. Oxford University, which participated in the original radiocarbon testing, has agreed to work with him in reconsidering the age of the shroud.

If the challenge is successful, Jackson hopes to be allowed to reexamine the shroud, which is owned by the Vatican and stored in a protective chamber in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

This should be interesting to see if the original findings are overturned. I do not foresee this happening but then again, stranger things have happened. Many believers believe that Jesus imprinted his image on his burial cloth during his resurrection, while others believe that the shroud is the authentic burial cloth but that the image was formed by natural processes.

Skeptics are convinced that the shroud is a forgery created by a medieval artist seeking to display it to relic-hungry pilgrims. Only time will tell. Thoughts?

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One Comment on “New Controversy Surrounding the Shroud of Turin”

  1. worldwar1letters Says:

    I seem to recall that there were several questions about the findings of the original radiocarbon testing including the following:
    1) Sample may have been taken from an area patched in Medieval times to repair burned section from when it was in a fire. Patching material would have produced a later dating result if tested instead of the underlying fabric.
    2) Fact that the Shroud was exposed to high temperatures from a structure fire could also alter the reliability of radiocarbon testing.
    3) Still no satisfactory explanation has been offered as to how the image was produced including its 3-dimensional qualities if it was supposedly manually “painted”


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