The Shroud of Turin is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
I had wondered about the history of the Shroud of Turin prior to it entering recorded West European history in the 14th century (shortly after the time of the “Black Death” or pandemic of bubonic plague).
Prior to doing my online research, I had surmised that the Shroud may have come to Europe from Palestine with returning Crusaders. Relics and important artifacts were highly revered and valued in the Middle Ages. It is known that the Knights Templar had done extensive excavations during the Crusades at the ruins of the (Jewish) Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, I thought perhaps others had searched for the Shroud elsewhere in Crusader controlled Palestine. However, we found out that the Shroud had been in Constantinople (since the 10th century) and was acquired by those Crusaders who – diverted from their original destination – sacked and occupied Constantinople in 1204 (The Fourth Crusade).
The Shroud had been taken from the city of Edessa in upper Mesopotamia (near the border of modern day Syria and Turkey) by the Byzantine Emporer in 944. He obviously knew of it as a holy relic. That is how the Shroud came to the Byzantine capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul).
For more of the history of the Shroud, see the links below.
Genuine, bona-fide relic or a medieval forgery?
Carbon 14 dating of a small sample of the Shroud gave a range of dates in the 13th and 14th centuries. However, it appears that this small sample cut from a border, an edge of the cloth, had been repaired during the Middle Ages due to damage sustained in a fire. No sample from the central part of the Shroud was provided for dating. Thus, we cannot rely on the (inconclusive) dating until more samples are made available by Church authorities (which may not happen).
The examinations and analyses done in the late 1970s found no traces of paint, dyes or inks on the Shroud.
Even today, with our current technology, it would be very difficult and perhaps not possible to make the image that appears on the Shroud (without any use of paints, dyes or inks). Is it reasonable to think that forgers in the 14th century (or earlier) could have done so?!
Yet, there are skeptics and cynics that when the evidence points more strongly to authenticity will dig in and grasp for straws (like some supposed secretive invisible ink methodology known in the Middle Ages) to discredit this relic.
What difference would the authenticity – or lack thereof – make to people?
Believers, non-believers and those sitting on the fence.
Believing Christians do not base their faith on relics (authentic or forged).
Those unwilling to work at their faith, or who demand tangible, dissectable proof as a requirement for their belief are very rarely, if ever, satisfied and will remain comfortable and complacent in their non-belief.
But, for those persons sitting on the fence so to speak, the authenticity of the Shroud could be enough to nudge them to a belief in Christ and an eventual conversion of heart to Christianity. Consider that if the Shroud is the burial cloth of Christ, it then gives evidence to His having been scourged, and to having been crucified from the wounds visible on the cloth. And, how could the image in all its detail be impressed on to the cloth nearly 2,000 years ago? An authentic Shroud could not have been produced by the work of man. Thus, one is led to a supernatural explanation.
Another lesson that can be gleaned from the Shroud in this age of skepticism and nihilism is one of humility. We as mere mortals, mere humans in a fallen world must not take it upon ourselves to judge the Creator; we must not demand that He prove himself to us. We need to become more humble and cast off both our pompous, ego-centric infatuation with the human intellect and the limitations of our complete reliance upon materialistic explanations for all phenomena. If this world is indeed a proving ground, then it is we who need to prove ourselves to God and not the other way around.
Links to relevant articles
For interested readers, we recommend these linked online articles that appear to be rigorously researched, and are somewhat lengthy. One can, of course, use an internet search engine to find more articles on this subject.
continuing this series of articles:
continuing this series of articles:
And, now the final installment of the series:
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