Rudi De Beer

Whose Shroud is it Anyway?

Rudi De Beer | 6 April 2020 | 8 min read

Who is this guy from Turin and what is significant about his Shroud? Those who know have pondered about this mysterious cloth for centuries. Could this ancient piece of linen be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ?  The minimalists have rested their case upon the controversial Carbon-14 dating results which has, according to them, conclusively shown it to be a medieval forgery. Proponents, however, have simply dismissed this significant piece of the puzzle as somehow mistaken and are lobbying for the tests to be redone. Cloaked in mystery and controversy, the authenticity of this ancient cloth still hangs on the proverbial cross of its own. It is therefore no surprise that the Shroud of Turin is the most studied artefact of all times!

A Detailed Copy of the Shroud of Turin, Italy

What Is It?

The Shroud of Turin is a 4.41m x 1.13m linen sheet with a distinct herringbone pattern. It was publicly displayed in Europe for the first time in 1355 A.D and key historical markers arguably connect the Shroud of Turin back to the actual burial event of Jesus Christ. It contains a full-length frontal and back body image of an adult male who was scourged and crucified in a typical roman style.[1]

What Do We Know About the Cloth’s Origin?

The weave and stitching indicates that the cloth was probably extremely rare, very expensive and originated in the middle east around the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. No evidence exist to indicate the use of such a cloth during the middle ages in Europe.[2]

What About the Wounds and Blood Marks?

The blood marks from these injuries are identical to the unique injuries sustained by Jesus prior to and during his crucifixion. The weapon that was used to whip the man in the image, match in size and shape the Roman flagrum, which had dumbbell shaped pellets of lead at the end of leather thongs. The scourging, done by two men of different lengths from the back, was extremely severe and unrestricted but was stopped before the victim died of the beating.[3]

The direction of the blood flows on the cloth show that the man was suspended on a cross and that his shoulders were likely dislocated. The traumatic puncture wounds of the nails through the wrists of a crucifixion victim would have damaged the median nerves, causing the thumbs to rotate in toward the palm, resulting in the hidden thumbs as seen in the image on the cloth. The blood flows on the Shroud appear to be the consistent result of the nailing of feet as corresponds with archaeological finds of a crucifixion victim in Jerusalem.

The facial area, especially the cheekbone is full of bruises as a consequence of severe trauma probably inflicted by a fist or stick or injuries due to a fall.[4] The nose has a slight deviation that indicates that the cartilage may be separated from the bone. However, no leg fractures are visible.[5] Scratches, abrasions, swelling and dirt on the nose, cheek and front of the knees seems to indicate blunt force trauma due to unprotected falls to the ground.

On the right side of the ribs there is evidence of post-mortem blood coming from a cut wound made between the fifth and sixth rib. The size and shape of this wound match excavated examples of the Roman leaf-shaped lance – an instrument used by foot soldiers of the Roman militia. The side wound’s blood is darker and more copious than that of the other wounds and is interrupted by patches of a clear watery fluid.

The entire skull area is encircled by multiple puncture wounds which is consistent with a “crown of thorns” – again, not uncommon for a 1st century crucifixion victim.[6]

Abrasion wounds with smeared blood are visible on the left and right shoulders as well as across the neck. This is consistent with injuries that would have been inflicted by the carrying of a heavy object on the shoulders (e.g. a heavy wooden beam). All the blood from all the wounds on the victim is real human blood (group AB) and no blood stains can be found beneath the image. This indicates that the blood was already present before the image was formed.[7]

There is no sign of decomposition which serves as evidence that the body remained in the cloth for a very brief period.[8]

Why Is the Image so Intriguing?

The image is extremely superficial as only the outer layer of the fibers are coloured – the inside of the fiber remained white. The colouring is found through 360 degrees around each encoded fiber, which are 20 times thinner than a human hair. The image was not produced by any form of painting or dyeing, rather it is the fibers of the material itself which has been discoloured themselves. The most plausible cause of the fiber discolouration appears to be some form of radiation in the same way as a newspaper would turn yellow after prolonged exposure to rays from the sun. An intriguing fact about the radiation is that it originated from the body itself while it was still wrapped in the cloth.

The front side of the man is visible on both the inside as well as the outside of the cloth when folded in a single layer over the man, without any signs of the image in the thin middle layer between the inside and outside of the cloth. However, the back side of the man is visible only on the inside of the cloth. The image was encoded in a vertical straight-line direction from the body to the cloth – in-line with gravity. All of this would have resulted result if the cloth collapsed with gravity through the space where the radiant body vanished.

When examined under a microscope, it becomes clear that the image is made up of literally millions of small dots – exactly like an image produced by an old Dot-Matrix printer! And even though the Shroud appears to have lighter and darker areas which make up the image, it basically consists of just two colours: the colour of the cloth and the single colour of the dots. The thing that gives the appearance of darker and lighter areas are the result of a shading effect by moving the dots closer and further apart from each other (i.e. pixel density). This pixel density is a function of the body-to-cloth distance, which means darker areas are where body parts are closer to the linen (e.g. nose, forehead, cheeks, hands, etc.) and lighter areas are body parts further from the linen (e.g. eyes, neck, etc.). This results in true three-dimensional distance information encoded into a two-dimensional image. No other existing photograph of a face or a human body exists that contains this type of information and it is hardly something which could be forged even in the 21st century![9] This problem is compounded when realising the image on the cloth is a negative – almost as if someone took a “picture” of a crucified man with an old film camera and the cloth is the negative image. The colours are thus inverted, meaning the darkest shades should actually be the lightest shades and vice versa for the image to make any sense.

Can Some Form of Radiation Explain the Data?

Proton radiation is able to account for all of the extraordinary body image features, while neutron radiation is able to account for all the non-body image features of the cloth. Protons emitted from the body would break the bonds of the molecular structure of the fibers, but only in the topmost layers, thereby causing the uniform straw-yellow colour of the image. Neutrons emitted from the body would cause a significant number of N-14 atoms to convert to new C-14 atoms, which would alter the C-12:C-14 ratio used in the Carbon-14 dating process. This event would therefore necessarily jeopardize any C-14 dating process and would erroneously make the Shroud appear much younger than it actually is.[10]

What About Other External Evidences?

There are also multiple significant and unique similarities between the image of the Shroud and illustrations of Christ depicted in ancient artwork. This would include the crossed hands, hidden thumbs, herringbone pattern, “L-shaped” holes, etc. One reasonable conclusion is that the creators of these ancient artworks and illustrations (some of which predate the Carbon-14 date by centuries) must have seen the Shroud of Turin.[11]

In 1988 radiometric dating methods dated the Shroud to the fourteenth century A.D.[12] However, a radiation “fall-through” theory where the cloth literally falls through a radiation field when the body of a crucified and scourged victim miraculously disappears from the cloth, is able to account for all the evidence and facts of the cloth, including Carbon 14 dating results. This makes the resurrection of Christ the leading theory to explain the Shroud and all of its features.

Concluding Remark

The Shroud of Turin is a topic that challenges your skepticism, and gets you to subscribe to a new order of men who are very shrouded about their beliefs in the Shroud. It is only the brave who dare to enter as the Shroud of Turin is able to remove the shroud from the eyes of those shrouded in their ignorance about the real Shroud of Christ.

Suggested Readings

Antonacci, Mark. Test the Shroud: At the Atomic and Molecular Levels. Forefront Publishing Company, 2016.

Siefker, Bob et al. The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses. Turin Shroud Center of Colorado: www.shroudofturin.com, 2013.

Wilson, Ian. The Shroud: Fresh Light on the 2000-year-old Mystery. London: Bantam Books, 2010.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the employees and members of Ratio Christi South Africa.


[1] Vassilios Tzaferis, “Crucifixion—The Archaeological Evidence,” Biblical Archaeology Review (11/1, Feb. 1985): 44-53.

[2] John Jackson, Keith Propp, Rebecca Jackson, Ares Koumis, Jim Bertrand & Bob Siefker, The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses (Colorado: www.shroudofturin.com, version 4.0), 55.

[3] Ibid., p. 47.

[4] Ibid., p. 49.

[5] Ibid., p. 53.

[6] Ibid., p. 48.

[7] David Rolfe, The Shroud of Turin: Scientific Evidence of the Passion (Ignatius Press), 2010 [Motion Picture, DVD].

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jackson et al., The Shroud, p. 72.

[10] Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra & Antonino Santoni, “Deep Ultraviolet Radiation Simulates the Turin Shroud Image,” Journal of Imaging Science and Technology (54/4, Jul. 2010): 040302–0403026, available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236841026_Deep_Ultraviolet_Radiation_Simulates_the_Turin_Shroud_Image accessed April 6, 2020.

Mark Antonacci, Test the Shroud: At the Atomic and Molecular Levels (Forefront Publishing Company), 111-127.

[11] Ibid., p. 215-216.

[12] P.E. Damon, D.J. Donahue, B.H. Gore & AL Hatheway, “Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin,” Nature (337/6208, Jan. 1989): 611-615, available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234357096_AMS_Radiocarbon_dating_of_the_Shroud_of_Turin accessed April 6, 2020.

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!