Evidence for Christianity: The Shroud of Turin

By Luke Lancaster

*Information taken from official Shroud photographer Barrie Schwortz and Shroud researcher Ian Wilson’s book, “The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence,” Dr. Gilbert R. Lavoie’s book, “Resurrected: Tangible Evidence that Jesus Rose from the Dead,” and Paris surgeon Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, “A Doctor at Calvary.”

The Shroud of Turin purports to the be burial cloth of Jesus Christ, for the cloth has a crucified man mysteriously imprinted on it. The image on the cloth, according to Christians, miraculously appeared when Christ came back to life on Easter Sunday. This powerful event produced massive amounts of light, heat, and radiation to come out of Christ's body which scorched an image of himself onto the cloth. The cloth has not been ignored by science, but in fact is one of the most studied scientific objects in the world. This is because it has properties that are unexplainable by modern science. The Shroud has three-dimensional properties, photographic negative properties, and x-ray qualities. Such qualities are impossible to recreate, even with the incredible advancements of modern science. The Shroud matches the story of the death and burial of Jesus with the discoveries of real blood and Jerusalem flowers on the image as well. All of the evidence suggests that the Shroud of Turin is authentic.

The image of the man on the cloth does not penetrate the cloth, but just barely covers the top linen fibers. Dr. Pierre Barbet says that there is no paint on the Shroud. Dr. Alan Adler, chemistry professor from Western Connecticut State University, is in agreement with Dr. Barbet, saying that there is no paint, stain, or dye on the Shroud. Rather, Dr. Adler says, the image is from a dehydrative oxidation process to the cellulose of the cloth, and this process chemically changed the top linen fibers at a width of half that of a human hair. Dr. Eric Jumper from the University of Notre Dame goes further than Dr. Adler and says that if the colored top fiber twists underneath another fiber, then the previously colored fiber becomes white. Only the exposed top fiber is colored. How could an artist create the ancient Shroud of Turin image down to the microscopic, fibral level, when even modern technology cannot do such a thing? The evidence points more in favor of authenticity than forgery.

The image on the Shroud is uniquely three-dimensional. When it was put under the VP-8 Image Analyzer, which had only recently been created for NASA, it created a full, three-dimensional image. According to the inventor of the technology, Peter Schumacher, “Only the Shroud of Turin has produced these results from a VP-8 Image Analyzer” (Wilson and Schwortz, p. 37). No other cloth does what the Shroud does. Schumacher says, “One must consider how and why an artist would embed three-dimensional information in the ‘grey’ shading of an image [when] no means of viewing this property of the image would be available for at least 650 years after it was done? One would have to ask[,] why is this result not obtained in the analysis of other works?” (Wilson and Schwortz, p. 37). The Shroud seems to be miraculous.

The Shroud image displays unbelievable photographic qualities. On May 28th of 1898, photographer Secundo Pia snapped the first images of the Shroud and went to develop them as negatives. He did not expect to see much of anything, for the normal image is not very clear to the naked eye. But when he looked at the photographic negatives, the image was incredibly clear for the first time ever. It basically appeared to be a photographic positive! Negative plates just give negative images, but not the Shroud photograph. This photograph showed up positive instead of negative. The flip-flop indicates that the Shroud was designed to be a photographic negative. Not only that, but according to Dr. Pierre Barbet, the wounds appear to be opposite the rest of the image: “the images of the wounds are positive while all of the rest is negative” (A Doctor at Calvary, p. 17). Some people believe the Shroud to be a forgery, but it must be asked, how could a forger create a photographic negative image 500 years before the invention of a camera? Yet again the miraculous nature of the Shroud is present.

The image of the man on the Shroud has x-ray qualities. Even though the mouth is closed, the teeth are seen. The cheek bones protrude as if they are exposed like an x-ray, and the fingers are so abnormally long that it would suggest the that the hand bones are visible as well. According to Eastern Michigan University chemist Dr. Giles Carter and Duke University’s Dr. Alan Whanger, the Shroud truly has x-ray qualities. If the image was created by an artist, as some claim, then how did he get the technology to create such a quality? Those who favor the Shroud's authenticity have a good point.

There is real blood on the Shroud. According to Dr. John Heller, a chemist from Yale University, and blood expert Dr. Alan Adler, there is true blood on the Shroud. The blood stains are from “genuine clotted wounds, and they pass eleven different diagnostic tests, enabling them to be pronounced to be true blood in any court of law” (Wilson and Schwortz, p. 75). Italian pathologist, Dr. Pier Luigi Baima-Bollone, also says that what appears to be blood on the Shroud is in fact blood, and is of the blood-type AB. University of Texas Center for Advanced DNA Technologies director, Dr. Victor Tryon, confirmed it to be blood of the group AB as well. Not only is there blood, but Dr. Adler notes an interesting fact: the image of the man on the Shroud is absent where the blood stains are present. This indicates that the “blood was on the cloth before the body image-making process began” (Wilson and Schwortz, p. 75). How could such a profound reality occur? It would make sense to suggest that the cloth was wrapped around the body of Jesus on Good Friday, causing the blood to sink into the cloth first, and the image to form on Easter Sunday from the Resurrection. The evidence points in the direction of the Shroud being authentic.

The Shroud of Turin is connected to Jerusalem. The Shroud has faint flowers in various places, of which floral expert Dr. Avinoam Danin from Hebrew University is convinced to be from Jerusalem. Dr. Darnin is an internationally recognized expert on the flowers of Israel, and he says that 70 % of those on the Shroud are within a 10 x 10 square kilometer area within Israel, the center of which lies between Jerusalem and Jericho. This startling hypothesis was first propounded by Shroud researcher Dr. Alan Whanger from Duke University, and Dr. Danin confirmed it. Besides the floral imagery, a biologist and criminology professor named Dr. Max Frei from the University of Zurich identified 57 different pollen plants on the Shroud, of which many are from Israel. He says, “Plants on the Shroud from Palestine and Anatolia are so numerous, compared to the species from Eucope, that a casual contamination…cannot be responsible for their presence…” (Resurrected, p. 47). The city where Jesus died and was buried is connected to the Shroud.

The man on the Shroud has signs that he was crucified. Dr. Pierre Barbet says that the blood flowing from the wrist onto the forearm is at a 65-degree angle, which would correspond to a man that had his arms outstretched in the crucified position. Another interesting point is that the thumbs are not seen on the Shroud. This makes sense if the man was crucified according to Dr. Gilbert Lavoie, for when a nail is sent through the wrist, then the median nerve is effected and the thumb is pulled inwards. The man on the Shroud has a serious wound on his wrist based on the blood-stains, so this makes sense. Dr. Gilbert Lavoie also argues for crucifixion from the fact that the blood from the wrist flows to the forearm and onto an off-body spot. The off-body blotch makes sense if the blood from the wrist ran down the forearm and pooled underneath the elbow of the right side of the Shroud (the man’s left elbow). The off-body spot of blood on the Shroud came about because the man's arms were outstretched and his wrists were nailed to a cross in the crucifixion position. This is the way Jesus died according to Scripture (example: Matthew 27:35). To suggest that this was a coincidence is hardly a tenable solution, and points towards the Shroud's authenticity.

The various wounds on the body of the crucified man on the Shroud corroborate with Scripture. There is a chest wound over the heart which has strong bloodstains on the Shroud. This heart-wound suggests that it was made with a Roman lancea or spear, as Scripture says (John 19:34). There are over a hundred small, dumb-bell shaped markings all over the man on the cloth. This suggests that the man had been whipped with two cords, the ends of which had some small ball-shaped objects. This is the description of a Roman flagrum, and Scripture says that Jesus was scourged by the Romans before getting crucified (John 19:1). Finally, there are drops of blood near the head region, indicating something spikey causing head-trauma. This fits in with what Scripture says about the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head (Matthew 27:29). Yet again, the Shroud appears to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

The man on the Shroud died according to doctors. Dr. Fred Zugibe says that if the man had been alive, then the Shroud would have been totally saturated with blood. The blood coming from the heart wound from the spear, the blood on the head from the thorns, and the blood from the severe flogging by a Roman flagrum, all would have caused incredible blood-loss. It makes the most amount of sense to say that the man's wounds had stopped bleeding because the heart was no longer pumping blood out. The heart had stopped and death occurred. There are also signs of rigor mortis (a post-death contracting of the muscles) according to Dr. James Cameron of London Hospital. For various muscle groups, such as the calves, hamstrings, and glutes, are bulging like a corpse in rigor mortis. Scripture says that Jesus died and was wrapped in a burial cloth by Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-41), and that story seems to be correct based on the Shroud. The cloth from Turin is legitimate.

The Shroud of Turin is one of the most studied scientific objects in the world for a reason. Although people such as Dr. John Jackson have attempted numerous complex ways to recreate the Shroud, no one has been able to do it. The cloth has an image of a flogged, thorn-crowned, heart-pierced crucified man on it, just as Scripture says occurred to Jesus. The blood is real blood according to doctors, and there are flower images and pollen from the city of Jerusalem. The Shroud has photographic negative, x-ray, and three-dimensional qualities to it. What else needs to be said about the cloth for humanity to believe that it truly is the burial cloth of Christ?