By Donald P. Ames
The subject of the Shroud of Turin has a habit of popping back up every so often, and usually with strong statements that the issue has been “proven”and “settled.” There have been little bits leaked to the press every so often, each alleging conclusive proof. And, others pick up on such news articles and feel there really must be something there, or it would not be in the news.
However there are some facts we need to carefully examine before we jump to any hasty conclusions lest we find ourselves out on a limb with no where to go. One important fact, mentioned in the Reader’s Digest (Jan. 1984), is that there is no way to prove conclusively that this actually is the burial cloth of Jesus. It was examined for proof, and while I some interesting things were discovered about whatever is or, the cloth, the author (one of those actually studying the cloth) had to admit there was no way they could prove it to be the actual cloth used on Jesus. This factual statement is made in spite of some strong statements to the contrary in other press releases.
Actually, this is not the only shroud that alleges to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Rodney Miller in his bulletin (Feb. 1981) noted that there have been “No fewer than forty-three similar ‘true shrouds’ circulated in medieval Europe at the time the Turin cloth appeared.” Some of these are still on public display! The Turin shroud, which first appeared in 1356 A.D., is but another in the long line of Catholic relics (like the cup used in the last supper, the bones of Peter, the hairs of Jesus, the robe at the cross, etc.) which is being promoted for publicity and profit by the Catholic church – often in spite of the evidence, and not because of it. The fact the shroud was exposed and renounced by the Catholic Church at the time it was originally revealed as a fraud is quietly buried in the past. The fact that Popular Photography showed how similar shrouds could be made using materials available even in the 14th century is ignored (Nov. 1979). The fact the Catholic Church will not even allow a Carbon 14 test (using a piece of material no larger than a postage stamp) to establish a valid date is also brushed aside. The fact there is even a difference of 2-3 inches in height between the image front and back view is quietly brushed aside as well. And the fact the feet are clearly visible (ever try making a clear footprint lying on your back with both legs straight out?) on the cloth is also ignored. Instead one hears, “But it has been proven now conclusively to be the burial cloth of Jesus.” Hardly! “Is it the shroud of Christ Himself? That, say both scientists and theologians, will remain forever outside the bound of proof” (National Geographic, July 1980).
Actually that one would even seriously consider it to be such is a bit amazing, especially in view of John 20:5-7. John here makes it abundantly clear that the body of Jesus was not wrapped in a shroud (or sheet), but rather was wrapped in small strips around the body. While it is true Mark 15:46 uses the term “sheet” in the NASB, it is not in the original or in the KJV! John again made it clear that the facial cloth was also separate from the other wrappings. Lenski, in commenting on Luke 23:53, says, “Like Matthew and Mark, Luke says only that the body was wrapped in sindown, cloth of fine linen which was torn into long strips for the purpose of wrapping it around the limbs and1the body. John speaks of these othonia or bands, between which the aromatic spices were sprinkled as they were being wrapped. Only the head was left free to be covered with a special cloth after the body had been deposited in the tomb” (Commentary on Luke, p. 1162). Thus the Shroud of Turin can not be the burial cloth of Christ! The language of the Bible does not support the Shroud!
“But,” comes the reply, “how do you explain the coin, the date and misspelled word ‘Caesar’ using a ‘C’ rather than the ‘K’. Does this not clearly establish the cloth as valid?” Such reasoning would be humorous, if some were not so serious about it. First of all, as we have just shown from the Bible, the cloth does not fit the wrappings used to wrap around the body of Jesus (nor account for the separate facial cloth). But, just how conclusively is the “proof” of the coin?
To properly understand the reasoning, one needs to understand the philosophy behind the alleged “photograph” on the shroud. It is alleged that when Christ was in the tomb, still -in the “burial cloth” (not “wrappings”), that the brilliant light that illuminated from His body in Matthew 28:3 “must have” burned an image into the cloth like a flash bulb on film – hence the reason it is a reverse image and must be viewed as a negative. Now, think with me for a moment: If the brilliant light came from the body of Christ, and the coins were lying on his eyes, would they not be black spots? How could one read dates, etc., off an object on the back side of a flash image? A third grader ought to be able to reason better than that! A hand stuck in front of a camera will not show if it has freckles or warts on the back side you can’t see the back side!
But, let us examine this “proof” a bit more closely. Who contends the coin is “conclusive proof”? Do all the scholars? Nol Every reference comes back to one person: “The Rev. Francis L. Filas, a professor of theology at Loyola University” (Aurora Beacon News, 11 – 17-8 1). And what is Loyola University? A Catholic school! And who is Mr. Filas? “A Jesuit priest” (Carbondale Southern 11linoisan, 9-2-81)! No wonder he is speaking so boldly in defense of the cloth!
And how conclusive is the “proof” he has produced? Not worth the time it took for the press to set the print for the story! Note that according to the article in the Reader’s Digest the image was so faint and hard to visualize that one had to stand back three foot to even see it at a (Jan. 1984). Further note that the letters, which appear on the side of the coin away from the light source, are but “one-thirty second of an inch high” (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81). Further note that these tiny letters, on the wrong side of the coin, which must be viewed from 3 foot away, are so clear that he has even determined the word “Caesar” was misspelled with a “C” rather than a “K,11 and that this proves conclusively it was a coin issued in the time of Christ (per Mr. Filas, who has a relic to preserve). But, “critics contend experts have no historical record of a coin containing the rare misspelling in Greek of the name Caesar, using a ‘C’ instead of a ‘K,’ and that the markings found on the shroud could have been distorted by age and the texture of the cloth” (Beacon News, 11-17-81). “Some researchers doubt whether a coin really exists in the photographs of the shroud. ‘I think the problem is whether there is any indication of a coin (emp. mine – DPA), said Dr. Walter C. McCrone, a Chicago microscopist who has done research on the shroud. ‘Not very many people except Father Filas (emp. mine – DPA) are able to see it… (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81).
Although Mr. Filas affirms, “As far as I’m concerned, I see no way of objecting to this (conclusion) anymore” (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81), we simply remind him and other Catholic relics collectors that we have heard many such strong statements before – in the face of conclusive evidence to the contrary. In this case, we find no exception. The Shroud of Turin was exposed as a fake when it was first revealed in 1356 A.D., and though it has undergone a variety of tests, Catholicism will not allow any test that will expose it for the fraud it actually is; but rather, they will continue to boldly proclaim their “great find” to those gullible enough to follow their many (and false) relics of the past, the facts notwithstanding!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 8, pp. 240-241
April 19, 1984