If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone


The Turin Shroud, reputed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, was carbon dated in 1988 to having been made between 1260 and 1390 AD. So its too young to be the burial cloth of Jesus. This has not stopped religious cranks from trying to prove the cloth is older than that. One method they use to prove this is from the existence of the Shroud in historical records before that time. The other is seeing if the way the Shroud was made matches what we know about how things were made in first century Palestine. But sadly for them, we can prove that they are just fantasists.
The gospels say that Jewish burials had the face left bare with a cloth put over the face as the body was wrapped up in stripes and that Jesus was buried according to the Jewish custom (John 19:40). There have been attempts to deny that Jesus was strictly buried in this method or that there were a variety of Jewish methods. But when the John gospel describes the burial of Lazarus buried with a bare face that a cloth was put on and then says Jesus was buried the Jewish way then clearly John means Jesus was buried that way too. We know that from the fact that his gospel was meant for non-Jews. He wanted to inform non-Jews.

The existence of the Shroud is not even mentioned in early Christian writings and what is mentioned in the gospel is certainly not what is now the Turin Shroud. For centuries after the Christian faith inflicted itself on the world nobody said that the Shroud still existed.
In The Holy Shroud and Four Visions it is “explained” that to mention the Shroud would have led to antichrists tracking it down and burning it. That is no excuse. It would be if somebody said they would burn the cloth if they could get it. But nobody did. The believers could have spoken of the cloth but they didn’t have to say where it was.
The silliest excuse has to be the one that since the Church forbade images of the suffering or dead Christ the Shroud could not even be spoken about. If people kept the Shroud and did not burn it then they could and would have mentioned the Shroud because they were rebels anyway. The ban means that there was no Shroud for to forbid its veneration would have been to blatantly insult God who had preserved the miraculous image. The Church would not have dared disparage or hide away such a precious relic whose existence by the power of God would show that Jesus did not want all the images to be nice. And a Church that went to a lot of trouble to track down the alleged true cross would have been delighted to have the Shroud. The Church loathed Islam when it appeared so it would have used the Shroud to the best of its ability to close up the Muslims who were saying that Jesus never died on the cross.

In 436 AD, in the Basilica of Blachernes, the Shroud of Constantinople was displayed and remained so for a long time. It is thought that this was what is now known as the Turin Shroud. This is because it is thought that the eastern tradition that Jesus was lame arose from the man on the Shroud having one leg shorter than the other. This is only a conjecture. The man on the cloth was pulled everywhere so a dislocated limb would not have been taken as an indication that Jesus had a limp. If Jesus had had a limp we would be reading in the scriptures that his enemies were mocking it because he claimed to be a healer but could do nothing about his limp. If they had the Shroud they would have realised that they could not go by this when the back image is two inches taller than the front one. The back image has legs that look bent so the Shroud could not have made people think Jesus was crippled.

That Shroud would have been a picture of a glorious and rising Jesus for the Eastern Church avoided images of a suffering Jesus because it overstressed the resurrection. Only in the tenth century, did the Roman Church decide to have images of the dead Lord during his crucifixion (page 8, The Holy Shroud and Four Visions).

A cloth with Jesus’ face on it seems to have been put on show above a gate in Edessa after 177 AD. Ian Wilson admits that it is only the later versions of the story that say it was a Shroud-like image of the whole body (page 308, The Blood and the Shroud). The image was accompanied by a forged letter from Jesus so that does not say much for the image being real. Wilson believes that this was what is now the Turin Shroud but which was folded so that only the face was seen which was why the early versions of its story do not mention it holding a complete image. Ian Wilson’s claim that the Mandylion was the Shroud folded up displaying only the face is challenged by the fact that the Mandylion was often washed and that area of the Shroud shows no signs of that treatment. Surely enough care would have been taken of the real blood-stained Shroud to prevent the need for washing? Who would dare wash the cloth of Christ when it could be damaged? The poker holes in the cloth proved that it was not invulnerable. The sun and the elements would have destroyed and faded the face but the face is the best and clearest part of the image. Wilson only says the things he says because he wants to prove the Shroud existed as the Mandylion in the first millennium.

A Georgian manuscript dating from the third century says that Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood off Jesus’ head with a headband and caught the blood from the side in a big sheet (page 311, The Blood and the Shroud). Wilson says it seems to indicate knowledge of a Shroud plastered with blood. This is wrong and desperation. There would have been no blood left to print on the Shroud from the side or the head. It refutes the Shroud. This manuscript denies the Turin Shroud’s existence. There is no evidence of this wiping on the Turin Shroud.
Wilson says that the cloth of Edessa which he thinks is the Turin Shroud came out of the closet about 544 AD. It did not look like the work of an artist (page 312, The Blood and the Shroud). A 569 AD hymn in honour of the image on the cloth said that it was not made by an artist. Does that confirm that this cloth wasn’t painted? No it only confirms that it could have been thought that the image was not the work of a human artist. It could have been painted by a supernatural agent such as maybe God.

The Acts of Thaddeus were written before 600 AD. They speak of a cloth that Jesus wiped his face on and which was doubled in four (page 312, The Blood and the Shroud) making Wilson think this is the Turin Shroud which was folded so that only the face was visible in the picture and which was initially known as the Cloth of Edessa. But Jesus did not wipe his face on the Shroud for he was dead or unconscious. And if the cloth were doubled in four it would show more than the face but the side wound and the arms and the stomach. Nobody would hide the rest of the image when they showed so much. The face print must have been made near the top edge of a towel leaving three quarters of it blank. They folded the cloth to hide the blank.

Wilson stupidly argues on page 313 of The Blood and the Shroud that the Edessa cloth was not destroyed in 723 AD when the Iconoclasts burned sacred images to avert idolatry, as all scholars thought, for it was not a painting. But it was still an image and the Iconoclasts would have thought that it was a satanic hoax for it implied that Iconoclasm was wrong. The image would have inspired icons to be made based on it which was another reason why they had to destroy it and would have got more worship than any of the icons. In 730, John of Damascus stated that Jesus printed his living and glorious face on the cloth of Edessa (page 313, The Blood and the Shroud) so the image was not a bloody one and only showed the face. In 944 AD, the cloth came to Constantinople and it was seen that it had sweat marks from the ordeal of Jesus on the Garden of Gethsemane which were as big as drops of blood and blood and water from Jesus’ side (pages 314-5, The Blood and the Shroud). But this simply say that Jesus wiped himself and was wiped with it. He must have put his face on it later. The sweat of the garden would have been gone by the time Jesus got the side wound. Also, you can’t see watermarks in reference to the side on the Turin Shroud. The cloth was not it.

An ivory image from 1100 AD is supposed to have been inspired by the Shroud. (See it in photo 34 b of The Blood and the Shroud). But in the ivory image, Jesus has his head up high and is wearing a loincloth and his side wound is hidden under the arm and the cloth has embroidery on it and is not long enough to detect the Turin Shroud. An 1192 AD picture that shows Jesus lying naked on the Shroud in the position of the Turin man with no thumbs showing does not have him with a long enough beard and there are no wounds only blood on the head. There is no sense in Wilson speculating that these pictures verify the Shroud for there were so many pictures that some of them had to have elements that coincide with it. They are simply not close enough.

Wilson says that nobody knows where the Turin Shroud went in 1204 AD when it vanished (page 322, The Blood and the Shroud). The Church claimed that there was a burial cloth of Jesus in existence because Innocent III got a letter about it in 1205.

Gervase of Tilbury wrote in 1211 that the Edessa cloth bore a print that Jesus deliberately made in it and that it was beautiful. So, the image on the cloth was that of a living Jesus (page 212, Holy Faces, Secret Places). The Turin cloth depicts what would have looked like a dead Jesus to those people who did not have our modern knowledge. And it is far from pretty. There is no deliberate mark on it. The Turin Shroud is not the cloth of Edessa.

Tradition suggested that the Shroud was printed. In fact, this may have given the forger the idea to print the image on.

In Romanus Pontifex in 1506, Pope Julius II authorised the Mass of the Holy Shroud apparently meaning the one later known as the Turin Shroud.

It came to Turin in 1578.

There is no evidence at all for the Edessa cloth and the Turin Shroud being identical.
The documentary evidence is that people who talked about the Shroud were not always talking about the same one. There were countless opportunities to get rid of a Shroud and pass off a better one as it. 

Robin Lane Fox observed that there is evidence that the Eddesa cloth was not older than 560 AD. It was probably discovered thanks to a battle around that time (page 250, The Unauthorized Version). He says the tests that showed pollen from plants in Jerusalem and Edessa on the Turin Shroud were unsatisfactory and failed to show that the Turin Shroud was the same as the Edessa Cloth. The Jesus Conspiracy page 28 for a book determined to show that the Shroud was authentic is admirable for admitting that there was no pollen from the Olive Trees and grasses which were and are common around Jerusalem. It also confesses that no proper answer has been found to this problem. The answer of course is that the Shroud was never in Jerusalem.
We must remember too that Walter McCrone reexamined the work of Frei which claimed that pollen from the Holy Land was on the cloth. Frei took tape samples from the cloth to identify pollen.
Frei found nothing from Palestinian olive trees. What is not found is more important than what was found. If there is one thing that would have been on the real shroud it is that.
Frei's tape samples showed little pollen barring one which held too much pollen for comfort - it was as if it were introduced after being used on the Shroud. McCrone mentioned how it was proven that Frei was a crook and a liar. This does not prove his work with the Shroud was a fraud in itself. But the work itself indicates that he was up to his old tricks.
Please read the book, Relics of the Christ by Joe Nickell, University of Kentucky Press for the lowdown on Frei's work.
Even if the tests had been valid there are questions. How do we know that the pollen from Palestine wasn’t added when interest grew in the Shroud or when the microscope was invented which made many believe it would soon be possible to see pollen and identify the country of its origin? It’s a matter of shaking flowers from Palestine over the cloth. If the Shroud washed in the past, is the same as the Turin Shroud it is proof that Frei's work was suspect. He was going to try and authenticate the cloth by examining the pollen - some feat when he knew from its history there could be no pollen from Jesus' time on it!
The arguments in favour of the Shroud from the pollen are still being published and circulated. The dishonesty of those who want to believe and who want others to believe is worrying. They prove that faith enables fundamentalism and opposition to facts.

1355, is as far back as we may be able to go in tracing the history of the Turin cloth.

In 1988, scientists used carbon dating on the Shroud with the result indicating that it was made between 1260 and 1390 AD and was not the winding sheet of Jesus Christ. Many who say that it was his Shroud hold that it proves that Jesus did not die on the cross and that his resurrection was a hoax. The dispute over the reliability of the tests still continues.
Nobody is able to say once and for all why the dating may be wrong. The range of "explanations" include the notion that linen can give you a more recent carbon date than it should, that the cloth is dirty and full of bacteria which threw the dating off, that the samples were taken from a mended part that was indeed medieval and that the shroud's turbulent history changed it chemically. The explanations often contradict each other and are outright lies. Nobody tests for example the dirt and bacteria theory with anything similar to the shroud. The explanations are not evidence based and are speculative.

In 1983 it is claimed by Dr Garza-Valdes that an invisible coating could have been layered on the cloth that could have distorted the results of the tests. The bacteria that does this was indeed found on the cloth. He was backed up by Dr Stephen Mattingly who was a microbiologist but the pair earned mistrust by publishing no detailed reports on their findings. Experienced carbon-daters say that if the cloth had a lacquer great enough to throw the test out by several centuries it would be visible on the cloth.

It is a fact that the argument that the carbon dating which came up with a medieval age for the cloth is wrong for the cloth was contaminated is junk. There would need to be a hugely much more substantial pile of debris on the cloth for it to throw it off so far that it comes up as thirteen hundred years younger than what it is (page 49, Free Inquiry, Joe Nickell, Vol 18, No 2). The pieces tested were thoroughly cleaned (page 28, Looking for a Miracle). The cloth was nearly burned centuries before which some say could lead to misleading carbon dating. Some go as far as to say it gives another reason as to why why the carbon dating cannot be accurate. But experiments with cloth exposed to similar heat and smoke as the Shroud endured show that this claim is futile. Two independent labs using different pieces and using controls which were dated accurately came up with nearly the same dates. Some things cannot be dated accurately by carbon dating but cloth is different.

The fire that nearly destroyed the cloth in 1532 has been ruled out as the culprit that some think was making the test mislead. The portions of the cloth used in the carbon test were cleaned of soot and other contaminants (page 193, The Second Messiah). The test worked out in three labs that the flax used to make the Shroud had died between 1260 and 1390 AD. The other samples used were dated by the process according to the date they were known to have been made in.

The view that the Carbon 14 test was thrown off by the exposure of the cloth to steam when water was thrown on it to put out the flames that had caught and were threatening to engulf the cloth is pure fantasy. No tests of this kind would be any use if they were that easily upset.

Ian Wilson, top proponent of belief in the Shroud, himself has decisively refuted the suggestions that the carbon dating samples were taken from a part of the shroud that was rewoven in the Middle Ages as is the notion that the samples used did not come from the Shroud at all (page 90, The Shroud, The 2000 Year Old Mystery Solved). Pages 215 and 216 of The Blood and the Shroud demonstrate that the samples of the Shroud used in the tests do fit the Shroud despite the assertion of some to the contrary. There was a piece cut off and three bits of it were from the middle leaving the rest (Turin Shroud, page 11). If there was a switch it happened just seconds before the pieces were put in the machine. If anybody wanted to hope that this indeed happened it would be Wilson.
The Holger Kersten and Elmar Gruber theory that the pieces of the Shroud that were tested were not really from the Shroud has been thoroughly discredited not only by Wilson but also by other authors (page 195, The Second Messiah). They alleged that the Vatican wanted this hoax to take place because the Shroud proved that Jesus was still alive. The Vatican could not simply burn the Shroud for that would not stop people believing it was real.
The Vatican still treats the Shroud as a special relic and puts it on display. It would get the Shroud and make some alterations like sweat painted on to leave brush marks and put some paint on the blood if it wanted to discredit it and it was certainly able. These are the things the sceptics hope to find on the cloth. Even sceptics would have no wish to fake the carbon dating for the Shroud is strange but not paranormal and religiously speaking the man is not Jesus.
The best of the pro-Shroud believers teach that the samples were taken from a part of the cloth that was exposed to a lot of handling over the years. They also say the incense burned before the Shroud and the candle smoke would have had an effect. It is agreed that there had to have been 60% contamination to make the cloth seem more than a thousand years younger than what it was and it is agreed that such contamination would not be very obvious when the micro-organisms are transparent (page 96, The Shroud, The 2000 Year Old Mystery Solved). 




A professor from Loyola University in Chicago, Francis L. Filas, said that coins can be seen on the Shroud’s eyes. This nonsense which has forced sceptics to spend time on refuting it is refuted in the pro-authenticity site http://www.skepticalspectacle.com/

The coins are called leptons and were minted by Pilate in 31 and 32 AD another reason why leptons would not have been used for Pilate killed Jesus. The right eye is supposed to show a staff like a bishops crook with letters around it and the roughly roundish shape of the coin on the eye. No coin is going to sit perfectly flat on the eye so you have to laugh at the suggestion that the shape is on the eye if the coins were taken off when the man was laid out. If the mark fits the coin then it is not a coin but just plain prints that some people think they can see a coin shape in.

Also, how could the image of the coins transfer to the cloth when the image was caused by the body and by the blood? We would expect to see clean roundish patches on the eyes. Yet the book, Verdict on the Shroud, says that the man may have been buried with coins on the eyelids.


The head of Pilate, can according to some, can be allegedly be seen from a coin on the right eyelid of the Shroud man. But this image would not be is perfectly clear so it could be anything. Actually, it is far from even half distinct. It is easy to see faces and patterns in blots and blobs that are not really there or there by design - we all do that and the cloth has a roughish surface too which causes too much distortion to justify the claim about the coins. But it is probable that burying people with coins on their eyes was not done in the first century (Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine, page 151). It is hard to believe that coins with Roman emblems on them would have been placed on Jesus when Rome through Pilate killed him. Also, would they put pagan emblems on the eyes of God’s Son? Some Jews made things like coins to put on the eyelids.

Some try to make out they can see the following coin on the shroud but it should be too detailed and small  to leave any clear print. 

Filas studied 3-D images of the eyelids and though he could read UCAI from Tiberius Caisaros which was inscribed on coins in those days (page 19). But when you look at the pictures you see you can imagine other letters that were not on these coins just as clearly. They are all in the head. Good researchers and even the pro-Shroud STURP insist that the coins are imagined (page 19, Turin Shroud).

Jesus would have died with his eyes closed because the blood would have been running into them from the crown of thorns so there was no need for anything on the lids to keep them shut. He would have closed his eyes on passing gradually into a coma before death.

It has been claimed that the Shroud bears images of Jerusalem flowers and nails and scores of other things (page 20, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 25, No 5). People think they can read Jesus’ name on it. These things are dismissed by the best pro-Shroud scholars. You can see anything you want on the Shroud just like you can think the moon has a man’s face. We are programmed to see pictures where there are none. But if the Shroud really shows the image of a nail, the sign that was over Jesus’ head, and the dice used by the soldiers then it is a fake. What would all these items be doing in the tomb? They belonged to the Romans. Some argue that because the sign has not produced inverted lettering on the Shroud which it should do it must be fake (page 242, The Divine Deception). Believers argue that the sign was done in Hebrew, Latin and Greek in mirror writing and that is the explanation! Are they mad?

Shroudies make a lot of noise about the coins. But as usual with every supernatural claim there is a whole supermarket of rival claims. For example, on the website Apollonius of Tyana and the Shroud of Turin there is a series of photos of a bust of Apollonius with each photo of the bust carrying a heavier superimposition of the face of the Shroud man. The result is that the face of the bust looks exactly like the man on the Shroud. This would mean that the pagan god Apollonius was the same person as Jesus or perhaps that Apollonius had a twin brother who masqueraded as Jesus. This bust is preserved in Naples and it is likely that Apollonius got his brother a sculptor to make the bust. Both bust and Shroud man have a scar above the left eye…(www.appollonius.net/bust-shroud.html). If Jesus was Apollonius then he survived the crucifixion for Apollonius died in 97 AD.



The believer says the Hungarian codex from 1192-5 AD before the time the carbon dating says the shroud cloth was made depicts a cloth with the same weave as the shroud. From this its said that the dating must be wrong for the Shroud must have been seen by the artist who made the picture in the codex.
To get to that conclusion, believers presume that the item in the second picture is the Shroud though it cannot be. The shroud is lying on top of it messed up. The item is a lid and is rigid. It has holes but holes are depicted on the sarcophagus too. The stepped pattern is just a pattern and yet they say it is the herringbone pattern of the Shroud. It only superficially looks like the Shroud pattern. There is no image of Jesus imprinted. The picture is not meant to be taken too seriously as there would have been no crosses on Jesus's tomb. Jesus in the picture above it lies in a tiny shroud and has no blood. There is more reason to deny that there is any link to the Shroud than to say there is.
Despite recent attempts to prove that the herringbone pattern of the Shroud was used in first century Palestine the fact remains that the pattern was common in the middle ages. The Jesus Conspiracy, in a futile attempt to prove that the carbon dating of pieces of the Shroud was a hoax claiming that pieces of another cloth with herringbone pattern were used instead at least showed that the pattern wasn’t unique to the Shroud (page 78, The Jesus Conspiracy).


It is held by shroud believers that there is no concrete evidence that the Shroud existed before the mid-1350s when it was seemingly fully exposed in the Church at Lirey.  But they assume there were indications that it may have done. Sceptics say the Shroud was forged about that time.
The Lirey Shroud was exposed as a cunningly painted fake by the bishops, Henry and D'Arcis. We have their letters.
The letters say the artist was identified and as the image was not a normal painting he had to demonstrate how he did it. This sounds like the Turin Shroud which does not look like it was painted except perhaps for the blood.
The letters corroborate the carbon dating.

The Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem is a very likely candidate for being the location of Jesus’ tomb. In 2002, a Shroud was found there in a first century cemetery. The shroud enclosed the remains of a man who died in his thirties who was definitely a member of the High Priestly aristocratic caste. Yet this man was buried in a plain weave woollen shroud. The Turin Shroud is linen and has a more complex weave. Even the way the man was laid out in the Shroud is totally different from the Turin Shroud layout. The wealthy Sanhedrin member and Jewish priest, Joseph of Arimathea is believed to have bought the shroud that Jesus was put in. He would therefore have bought a shroud like the Hinnom one because it would be the fashion and easy to get. And if he expected Jesus to rise – the gospels hint that he did for they say he was a follower of Jesus - it would be madness going for an especially expensive shroud and he would have got into trouble with his friends for using a better shroud than what they and their dead relatives would be put in when Jesus was considered an enemy of Israel and Judaism. The Hinnom Shroud has been dated to the first century by carbon dating. Now this shroud has been through a lot more environmental abuse – from extremes of temperature, being in a cave with scorpions and what-not for company and having a body rot in it – than the Turin Shroud. This tells us that if the carbon dating was right for it then it is even more right for the Turin Shroud which is shown to have had originated in medieval times.
There is no evidence from history that the carbon dating is incorrect. The evidence provided by those who disagree is deception and imagination. The Turin Shroud is most probably a forgery from 1260 to 1390. Would the Jesus of the gospels who said that if your neighbour takes from you what you need give him more than that and go the extra mile if a Roman soldier who is your enemy urges you to carry his pack leave behind a relic that has cost the world millions of dollars in tests and debates and time to work out if the cloth is real or not? I don’t think so.
Even if the cloth is strange and inexplicable and even if there is real blood on it, it still does not give us any reason to think these effects came from a body. The image does not carry the huge distortions that would be seen if a body had lain in it and imprinted the images. The image has nothing to do with proving the existence or resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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