Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Shroud of Turin, Hoax or Real?

The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth that supposedly bears the image of Christ. It bears the image of what appears to be a crucified man, but that is all one can say for sure. Modern science has for years been examining it to see if it is a medieval hoax or something older. Carbon dating places it between the years 1260 and 1390. What seems to be the puzzle is how this image was imprinted upon the cloth. To date nobody seems to know.

First let us take a look at the shroud and see what it tells us. Then we will look at the Bible and see what it tells us.

The following is information gained from Wickipedia on the physical cloth.
The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 × 1.1 m (14.3 × 3.7 ft). The cloth is composed of flax fibrils. It has a faint, yellowish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.
Reddish brown stains that have been said to include whole blood are found on the cloth, showing various wounds. Markings on the lines include:
  • one wrist bears a large, round wound, claimed to be from piercing (the second wrist is hidden by the folding of the hands)
  • upward gouge in the side penetrating into the thoracic cavity.
  • small punctures around the forehead and scalp
  • scores of linear wounds on the torso and legs.
  • swelling of the face from severe beatings
  • streams of blood down both arms. Proponents claim that the blood drippings from the main flow occurred in response to gravity at an angle that would occur during crucifixion
  • no evidence of either leg being fractured
  • large puncture wounds in the feet as if pierced by a single spike
The image of the "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, mustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 m, or roughly 5ft 7 in. to 1.88 m. or 6 ft 2 in.)
So this is the description of the man. As for the imprint on the cloth, it appears that the cloth was not wrapped in mummy fashion, or the imprint would not have come out quite as it appears from pictures of the shroud. There is only one cloth that covered the entire body, and from the pictures and description it looks as though it was laid down, the body was laid upon it, and it was pulled over the body from the head down. In other words, a long cloth that went lengthwise vertically on the body rather than wrapping around horizontally. And in fact it does not really look as though it was wrapped as much as just laid under and over the body, if pictures are accurate.
Now let's take a look at the Scriptures and see what they tell us about Yeshua. First, is there any physical description? Yes, there are a few things we can know. Isaiah 53:2 “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” So first of all, he was not good looking. 1 Corinthians 11:14 “Doeth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” According to the Scriptures, it is a shame for a man to have long hair. The only ones allowed to have long hair for a limited period of time were the ones who took a Nazarite vow. Jesus was not a Nazarite, even though He was called a Nazarene. He was called a Nazarene because He was from Nazareth. Had He been a Nazarite, He would not have been allowed to drink wine, and clearly He drank wine. So, the only thing we can conclude is that Yeshua had short hair, as He was not disobedient. So now we have two physical descriptions of Him. He was not good looking in body or face, and He had short hair.
Next we need to look at what the Scriptures about the crucifixion tell us. Matthew 27:26, 29-30 “Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.....And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.” So from Matthew we know that he was scourged, spat upon, and that they put a crown of thorns on His head which would have left a bunch of marks, and they beat him on his head, which would have left bruises, swelling, and probably open wounds. Mark tells us virtually the same exact thing. Luke only tells us that He was crucified. John also just tells us that He was scourged, a crown of thorns put on his head, and they beat him.

So in the gospels we have very little description of what happened except that He was scourged, spat upon, had thorns put on his head, and had his face/head beaten.

The other Scriptures that tell us something are the Old Testament prophecies. Isaiah 1:6 “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Isaiah 50:6 “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Also in 1 Kings 12:11 there might be an obscure reference to the scourging “And now whereas my father did laden you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”

To understand a little more about the scourging, we have to go to historical sources outside the Bible. According to historians, the Roman scourge had three leather ropes attached to a wooden handle. Each length of rope would measure about three feet and on each length there would be a number of bone pieces attached at intervals of every three inches. The bone was reputedly cut from lamb pelvis. Shaped as cubes, they had a hole drilled through it for the leather lash to run through. The pieces of bone were secured in position with knots and they would chip and crack as someone was whipped. This gave them sharp edges and they would cut deeply. In place of bone, metal could also be used, sometimes small iron balls. Occasionally though more rarely, staves (sharp pieces of wood) were also used. This would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Then as flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and ribbons of bleeding flesh would be torn out of the body.

It is also recorded that metal hooks were sometimes added to the ends of each leather lash. These hooks were designed to dig into and gouge-out flesh. This kind of scourge was called the "scorpion". While we have no specific reference regarding the type of scourge used on Jesus, we may be able to ascertain that they did use the scorpion based upon the reference in 1 Kings. Given the hatred for Yeshua, and the fact that God was punishing Him for the entire sins of mankind, one can reasonably conclude that this was what happened. While Jewish law forbade more than forty lashes, (the Pharisees, to stay within the law, made it 39, see 2 Corinthians 11:24), the Romans had no such restraint.

Jesus would have been horribly disfigured after He received His scourging. (ref. Is. 1:6 above) His face would have been unrecognizable, and not even look human anymore. Apparently even His beard was torn out. By the time He carried the cross, His body would have been so badly cut that even bone would have been exposed through His lacerated flesh.
As for burial, how did they wrap the bodies? We need to go to the first description on that. When Lazarus died, Yeshua called for him to come out of the tomb. John 11:44 "And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jusus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." First we must note, that he walked out, but that he was bound hand and foot and people had to unbind him. This indicates some sort of wrapping around multiple times that has to be unwound, not just a cloth laid over the body. The fact that he could walk probably meant that they wrapped individual limbs rather than binding the body in one mass. Egyptians bound even the fingers separately, so the practice was probably quite similar, as the Israelites did come out of Egypt. Wrapped in one large mummy, he would not have been able to walk, so the implication is that they did wrap bodies in the manner of the Egyptians. And it is mentioned that his hands are bound, apparently apart from his body, so again that would confirm this speculation. Also of very important note is the fact that his face was wrapped with a separate cloth called a napkin. This was again the practice used in mummy wrapping by the Egyptians. Now, do we have any indication that this was how Yeshua was wrapped?

In Matthew 27:59 it says that "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth." We read in Mark 15:46 "And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre..." In Luke 23:53 it says "And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen..." If we were to stop with these verses, and knowing that in the Scriptures we are told that the women went home to prepare the spices for burial after he was laid in the grave, and that is why Mary went to the tomb early on Sunday morning, we might suppose that He had only had the linen sheet laid over him, and thus the Shroud of Turin would be a viable relic in that it would seem that the markings might possibly be correct. But we should examine all the Scriptures, and in John we get a more detailed account. Verse 39-40 "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 the the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." Apparently the women had left before Nicodemus arrived and were not aware that Joseph and Nicodemus had already buried the body appropriately by using spices and wrapping it correctly, as was the burial custom. This verse tells us that He had been wrapped the same way Lazarus was, and the indication is that every limb was wrapped separately. At the very least, His face would have had a separate cloth about it. Is there any Scriptural verification of this one fact alone, which by itself is enough to disprove the claim that the shroud is of Yeshua? John 20:4-7 "So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes,  (notice that even the wrappings that are separate from the face cloth are listed as being plural - clothes - not cloth. It would seem to indicate that wrapping the body limb by limb with multiple strips of cloth was how this was done.) but wrapped together in a place by itself." Bam! This one verse, which is completely ignored by the Shroud of Turin believers proves that the shroud is not the shroud of Yeshua the Lord.

Now let's consider some other things. This video takes the shroud and using the new forensic computer generation imaging, depicts what the man in the shroud looked like. What do we see wrong here? Well, first, he has long hair, and Yeshua did not have long hair as that would have been against the Scriptures. Next, while it appears there are lacerations over the body, they look like simple cuts, not the type of flesh torn away, bone showing type of wound that Yeshua endured. Third, the face is not beaten beyond recognition, which it probably was, as He was beaten from head to foot according to Scripture. It would have been a bloody distorted mess. His beard had been plucked out, so there should have been gaps in the beard where hair was missing. Then there is the shroud itself. There is the already mentioned flaw of the linen being one piece, when Scripture clearly teaches that there was a separate linen for the head and face. That the body was most likely wrapped by limbs is another problem, although that one cannot be proven. Then I find it odd that the hands are placed to cover the groin. One would not wrap a mummy with the hands in that position. Either they would put the arms alongside the body or do as we do with bodies in coffins and cross the hands at abdomen level. As this shroud is carbon-dated to the medieval days when relics were a huge thing for the Catholic church, and fake relics abounded, if one wanted to have a relic that was "modest" for people to view, the artist would have the model cover their private parts. While it took special photography to bring out the imprint in modern day, that does not mean it did not show up back in the day it was created. It may have faded over time. But all of this is irrelevant in the face of the one verse in the Bible that completely verifies it is a fraud. I know I could have presented that first, and actually it should have ended the debate right there, but it wouldn't have been much of an article then would it?


  1. I'm unable to find your email address, so I'm going to have to write this in the comments. I hope you aren't offended, but when referencing Isaiah 50:2 for the verse that reads “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” I discovered it said something totally off subject. I then googled the verse and found that it is actually Isaiah 53:2.

    1. Thank you for catching my typo. I appreciate your correcting that so I can go back and correct it. I try to proofread my articles numerous times before posting, but I still miss things. I'm glad you caught that.