Apr 15

It's kinda like that thing where you try to see the sail boat..

except it is the face of Christ.

Ah, the Shroud of Turin. Fake? Hoax? Or is it the real deal? And if it is real, what is it? Whose is it?

You can read the article for the details, I will just react to them here.

First, carbon-14 dating on an object that has been handled for at least 600 years is not particularly accurate. You can never be sure you aren't getting a contaminated sample unless you get a really big one, and that is not going to happen with an object of veneration. It is far to easy to dismiss any claim of age based on that alone, so we discount it.

Second, claims that it was created for Medieval Easter plays beg the question. How was it made? You have to treat historical archaeological research like a murder case. Means. Motive. Opportunity. Motive is easy to establish, means and opportunity are harder.

Third, Benedict XVI called the shroud an icon that has a “full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus.” Except John 20 makes it pretty clear that there were strips of linen and a separate wrapping for the head. So that claim cannot be true.

Fourth, images of Jesus with a beard do not appear until the 3rd century in Byzantine art. The figure in shroud is bearded.

Finally, I think we can agree that the image on the shroud is meant to be Jesus. Those who say it IS Jesus have to reconcile the historical and archaeological problems associated with it. Those who say it is NOT Jesus but some sort of artistic creation have to prove a means by which it was made.

I do not think it is the actual shroud of Jesus, but given the number of people who do it may not matter. Objects of faith that point to the truth have their own value. As a good Protestant I object to the veneration of an object, but I cannot object to it as a means to tell a story.

Now for my favorite theory. Favorite not because I believe it to hold merit, just because I like it.

Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to replace an earlier version of the Shroud of Turin that was exposed as a poor fake, which had been bought by the Savoy family in 1453 only to disappear for 50 years. Da Vinci created a "new" Shroud of Turin using a camera obscura technique involving a mirror and lens, on cloth impregnated with silver sulfate in a darkened room. The techniques required to create primitive photographs had been available since the 11th century in the book of optics; by Ibn al-Haytham, or Alhazen as he was known in the west. The silver sulfate acted as a negative which propagated an image onto the cloth when exposed by light through the lens. Silver sulphate and the camera obscura technique were known in the 15th century. In January 2009, visual arts consultant Lillian Schwartz at the School of Visual Arts in New York, compared the face on the Shroud of Turin with that of a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, and found they matched.

Subsequently there has been some debunking of the da Vinci theory, but it lieu of actual evidence I like that one.

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