Shroud of Turin Debate
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The shroud of Turin is a woven cloth about 14 feet long and 3.5 feet wide which has an image of a man on it. The image is believed by many to be the image of Jesus of Nazareth and the shroud is believed to be his burial shroud. The image is believed not to be a painting, but a negative image of a crucified Christ. The shroud is kept in the cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.
Historically, the Shroud of Turin is one of some forty reputed burial cloths of Jesus, although it is the only one to bear the apparent imprints and bloodstains of a crucified man. Religious critics have long noted that the Turin shroud is incompatible with the bible, which describes multiple burial wrappings, including a separate “napkin” that covered Jesus’ face (John 20:5-7). The Turin cloth first appeared in north-central France in the mid-fourteenth century. At that time the local bishop uncovered an artist who confessed he had “cunningly painted” the image. Subsequently, in 1389, Pope Clement VII officially declared the shroud to be only a painted “representation.” Years later, this finding was conveniently forgotten by the granddaughter of the original owner. She sold it to the House of Savoy, which later became the Italian monarchy. Eventually the cloth was transferred to Turin. In 1983 Italy’s exiled king died, bequeathing the shroud to the Vatican.
The Shroud of Turin is much older than some scientists believe, according to researchers who used pollen and plant images to conclude it dates from Jerusalem before the eighth century. The study contradicts a 1988 examination by scientists who said the shroud was made between 1260 and 1390. ``We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem,'' botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said during the International Botanical Congress. Analysis of the floral images, and a separate analysis of the pollen grains by botanist Uri Baruch identified a combination of plant species that could be found only in March and April in the region of Jerusalem, Danin said.
In 1988 the cloth was radiocarbon dated by three independent labs using accelerator mass spectrometry. The resulting age span of circa 1260–1390 was given added credibility by correct dates obtained from a variety of control swatches, including Cleopatra’s mummy wrapping. These findings are mutually supportive. The tempera paint indicates the image is the work of an artist, which in turn is supported by the bishop’s claim that an artist confessed, as well as by the prior lack of historical record. The radiocarbon date is consistent with the time of the reported artist’s confession.
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 acounts for the carbon dating of the shroud as being no more than 650 years old.
Two pollen grains of the species were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus. Danin, who has done extensive study on plants in Jerusalem, said the pollen grains are native to the Gaza Strip. Since the Sudarium of Oviedo has resided in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the eighth century, Danin said that the matchup of pollen grains pushes the shroud's date to a similar age. Both cloths also carry type AB blood stains in similar patterns, Danin said.
Forensic tests of the “blood” — which has remained suspiciously bright red — were consistently negative, and in 1980 renowned microanalyst Walter C. McCrone determined that the image was composed of red ocher and vermilion tempera paint.