- The Turin Shroud Chapter Seven
- The Believers Chapter Eight
- Where to Next? Appendix
- An Exclusive interview with Barrie Schwortz Chapter Six - The Turin Shroud
The Gospels tell us that after Joseph of Arimathea claimed Jesus’ body from the Romans, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and placed it in his own new tomb nearby.
For centuries legends have persisted about this cloth in which Jesus’ was buried. A 10th century painting of a man named Abgar of Edessa, ruler of the kingdom of Osroene (in what is now Turkey), holding a white cloth with the image of Jesus Christ on it. At the turn of the 13th century a crusader knight by the name of Robert de Clari claims to have seen Christ’s burial shroud, bearing his image, in Constantinople, where it was said to be raised every friday.
The cloth that we know today as the Shroud of Turin originates with the descendent of another Templar Knight, Geoffroi de Charny, who displayed it in a Paris museum. Controversy surrounded the artifact back then just as it does today, and it was removed from display by the authorities, changing hands several times before falling into the ownership of a Louis of Savoy, an Italian duke who allowed it to travel from city to city, kept in a lavish case lined with red silk, decorated with silver and locked with a golden key.
In the 16th century there was a fire in the chapel in which the shroud was being stored, which caused a drop of molten silver to burn through the folded cloth. Attempts were made to repair the damage, which can still be seen clearly.
The Shroud of Turin shows the image of a man, front and back as would be expected if it were wrapped around a body for burial purposes. The outline of the man is clearly visible, though very subtle with no definite lines or angles, but you can see the man’s face, crossed hands, shoulders, legs and feet distinctly. The shroud is marked by blood stains which match precisely the wounds that a man crucified by the Romans would have suffered - scourge wounds from the flagram or whip, puncture marks around the head where Jesus was said to have worn a crown of thorns, and the darkest blood stain of all near where the man’s heart, which would have been caused by the spear that pierced him while he hung. There are blood stains also on the wrists of the man of the shroud, which would have been where the Romans drove nails through when they crucified him, not through the hands where many contemporary paintings show these wounds to be. The images of the man’s cheek bones appear swollen, as if he had been beaten, which we know Jesus was. All in all, the wounds of the man of the shroud correspond exactly to the biblical description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
How the image on the Shroud of Turin was formed remains a mystery even to today’s scientists. In 1978 a team of American scientists and researchers, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, were allowed to conduct a series of scientific experiments in order to try to determine the origins of the shroud. Their conclusions are regarded today as the most comprehensive set of scientific data about the shroud anywhere in the world, and some of the team continue to seek answers to questions regarding its authenticity. STURP issued its final report in 1981, which states as follows:
“No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography. The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific concensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.
Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.
We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.” - STURP report, published 1981
Various attempts have been made over the years to undermine the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin, probably the most notorious of which being radiocarbon dating carried out by three leading research laboratories in 1988. The radiocarbon dating appears to place the date of the shroud around the mid 14th century, and the media immediately picked up on this to dismiss the shroud as a fake. Members of the Sturp team, however, had serious doubts about these tests and the way in which they were carried out, and in 2005 one of the original team members, Ray Rogers, published a chemical analysis paper in a leading scientific journal, proving that the sample of cloth tested by the radiocarbon dating was in fact taken from part of the shroud which had been repaired in, you guessed it, mid 14th century France.
Another controversial challenge to the Shroud of Turin came in the form of a South African art history professor named Nicholas Allen, who created a copy of the shroud using a specially prepared emulsion and his own body, in an attempt to show that the whole thing could easily have been an elaborate medieval hoax. Again the media took his side, without apparently actually looking at Allen’s image alongside the real Shroud of Turin. The two cloths are completely different. For one, the Shroud of Turin has a three-dimensional property, with parts of the man’s image which would have been further from the cloth appearing fainter. Allen’s image has no such subtlety. In fact, Allen’s ‘shroud’ more closely resembled a photographic image, unlike the Shroud of Turin which, while it shares some qualities with those of a photographic negative, is far removed from an actual photograph-like image.
Some skeptics claim that the Shroud of Turin is a painting, due to microscopic particles of paint being found on the cloth. This conclusion is quite patently absurd, since the particles in question at, as we said, microscopic, and do not make up the actual image itself. Furthermore, it’s entirely logical that one would expect to find such particles on the cloth anyway, given that it was freely displayed in a great number of places where there would have been paintings hanging nearby, and probably stored with them as well at some point. Other people have even had the audacity to suggest that the shroud was made by the genius artist Leonardo Da Vinci, and while I agree that if any human being could pull off such a hoax it would have to have been Da Vinci, the Shroud of Turin dates back to at least a hundred years before he was even born.
So why is the Shroud of Turin important to us? Well, after our visit to the Garden Tomb, having seen the hurriedly extended loculus which indicates that the tomb had to be quickly adapted to fit a taller man than that for whom it was originally intended, I sent a bunch of emails on a whim to various experts asking them to estimate the height of Jesus Christ, if such a thing were possible. The Garden Tomb’s original owner (we assume Joseph of Arimathea) would have been around 5’7-8 according to the original length of the loculus, but with the extension it now comfortably fits a person around 5’11 in height.
I was blown away when I received an email back immediately from Barrie Schwortz, one of the original members of the Shroud of Turin Research Project, who indicated that his work on the shroud would suggest that the man of the shroud, very possibly Jesus, was around 5’11 tall. Mr. Schwortz qualifies this by explaining that the dimensions of the shroud can of course change within certain limits, being made of cloth and having suffered a certain amount of wear and tear over the centuries, but that 5’11 was his firm feeling on the matter, given all the evidence he had seen.
In the last chapter, we examined ancient maps of Jerusalem that marked the tomb of Jesus, and which originated in France. We postulated that this actually made perfect sense, since many of Jesus’ disciples, including Mary Magdelene and Joseph of Arimethea, were reported to have traveled across Europe to France and then England following Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. Is it a coincidence that the Turin Shroud also turned up in France around the same time? I do not believe so.
For me, this is the final piece of the puzzle, and confirmation that the Garden Tomb is indeed the real site of Jesus’ resurrection.Chapter Seven - The Believers
I wrote earlier in this book that the Garden Tomb seemed to demand a measure of faith from those believing in its legitimacy. Primarily this is because the much-vaunted (though in my opinion far less credible) Church of the Holy Sepulchre enjoys unquestioned status with many of the different Christian denominations, some of whom have a personal stake in regard of its ownership and continued dominance. Neither science nor history can prove definitely one way or the other, and perhaps they never will. This being so, faith will be the deciding factor when evidence is weighed up.
I was not the first person, nor will I be the last, to walk in the garden and experience the love and certainty that fills the very air. In fact there is a long history of pilgrims undergoing a similar experience to mine, where in the face of a dismissive status quo, they decided that in their best judgement, the Garden Tomb was most likely the place where Jesus rose from the grave. These people had no financial, political or any other kind of stake in declaring such, only the desire for truth, and to spread the word.
In 1872 Captain Claude Conder was appointed to The Survey of Western Palestine, a project to map accurately for the first time the whole southern Levant west of the Jordan River. A fluent Arabic speaker and student of geography, history and archaeology, Conder and his team turned out pioneering reports about the ancient remains in the Holy Land, which was possibly even more dangerous back then that it is today.
In 1878 Captain Conder, writing a report about his current explorations of Palestine, made clear his feeling that the real Calvary was the rocky outlook just outside the northern wall of Jerusalem, near the cave known as Jeremiah’s Grotto. He wrote, "It would be bold to hazard the suggestion that the single Jewish sepulchre thus found is indeed the tomb in the garden, nigh unto the place called Golgotha; yet its appearance so near the old place of execution and so far from other tombs in the old cemeteries of the city is extremely remarkable."
Conder, as thorough an expert as there was at the time on the archaeology of Jerusalem, noted as Gordon later did that the hill atop the skull rock would have been the ideal place for public executions in Jesus’ time, visible as it was from miles around. He pointed to the proximity of the Garden Tomb to this and other notable historical features, referencing the uniqueness of the tomb itself and positing that despite accepted wisdom regarding the Holy Sepulchre, this garden tomb, in his opinion, was a very likely candidate indeed to be the tomb of Jesus.
William Denison McCrackan, a Christian Journalist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and author of many authoritative travel journals, describes the support for the Garden Tomb in his, “The New Palestine”, published in 1922:
"Among those who hold the validity of the site of Gordon's Calvary may be mentioned Mr. Rider Haggard, who has written at some length on the subject in his, "A Winter Pilgrimage in Palestine, Italy and Cyprus"; Dr. Selah Merrill, at one time U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, Sir Charles WIlson, Major Conder, Dr. C. Schick, Lawrence Oliphant, and even Renan in his "Vie de Jesus".
The evidence for the tomb may be less conclusive to some explorers, but it was nevertheless very convincing to me."
The Renan he mentions is Ernest Renan, a hugely respected French philosopher and theologian whose strictly scientific approach to re-tracing the steps of Jesus Christ earned him the wrath of the Catholic Church. Mr. Rider Haggard, a renowned author with an eye for Biblical archaeology whose fictional protagonist Allan Quatermain would later influence the character Indiana Jones, put forth the case thus:
"Standing in that quiet garden with the rock-hewn sepulchre before me, it was easy to imagine that here and not elsewhere these dread mysteries were enacted." "How strange if here, neglected in this old garden, unvisited by the mass of pilgrims, undecked by any pompous shrine or monument, should be the true scene of the Resurrection, and not yonder beneath the dome on the gorgeous battle-ground of the warring sects"
Ron West, an RAF pilot during the Second World War and later posted to Iraq, recounts visiting Jerusalem during official leave. Mr. West, by his own admission not a convinced Christian by any means, was first directed to the Holy Sepulchre:
“I was put off by the fact that they frequently said “If you would like to pay a dollar, you can put your hand in this hole in the wall and feel the shackle to which Christ was chained”. Things like that all the time, money making things.
So I wandered up here to this other tomb, where to my surprise there was an English Chaplin and he said “this is the place called Calvary, where Christ was crucified”. I said “Well that’s peculiar, I’ve just been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and they told me that was the place”. He said “well they would, but if you read the Bible it will tell you that Jesus was taken outside the city walls and crucified at a place called Golgotha” which is Hebrew for skull, and he said “and if you look up to this rock formation you see, it looks just like a skull”, there were holes for the eyes and the mouth, etc.
So I went back to the Holy Sepulchre Church, I said “I’ve just been to another place and they told me that is the place where Jesus was buried, outside the city walls”, “oh well, you must remember the city has grown since then” and so on and so on. So I go back to the church of the English man, the Garden Tomb place, told him that and he said “well, you may not be an archaeologist, but if you’d like to go back to the Damascus Gate you’ll find they are excavating there and you will see that the present walls of the city are built on the foundations of the old walls. This was in Herod’s time, and Herod’s masonry is easily recognized because the edges of the stone are all fluted, and if you go down there and you’ll have a look you’ll see that this is the same”.
So I went down, got down into the hole they’d been excavating and saw quite clearly that the present walls of the city of Jerusalem are built on the old walls, and the fluted masonry of Herod’s time is quite evident.
So in my mind I’m quite clear and sure that this garden tomb is the place, it’s Calvary.”
Mr. West’s view particularly of the distasteful commercial undertones of the Holy Sepulchre are echoed by Roy E. Skinner, a United Nations worker in Jerusalem, writing to his friend Max Robertson, an Australian Army officer, in 1967:
“It seems to me the atmosphere of some holy places is spoiled by the presence of many monks of different orders offering candles and assistance (and of course hoping for substantial donations).
I write this in the ground of the Garden Tomb in East Jerusalem. Sometimes referred to as Gordon's Tomb (because General Gordon, later of Khartoum, claimed he had identified the true place of Golgotha, the place of Christ's tomb). Whether it is or not, I have found it to be a very quiet, private place. I come here when I can (on warm days), to sit among the trees and flowers."
And similar sentiments written by A. R. Millard in his, “Discoveries from Bible Times”:
"Going into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can feel uncomfortable. The lamps and candles, the gaudy colours, and the black-robed priests are alien to our ways of worship. In it's simplicity, this tomb (the Garden Tomb), with its well-tended garden, has an immediate appeal; the visitor can imagine the events of the first Easter Sunday morning without difficulty."
While New Testament Scholar and author Chris Hutson describes an experience startlingly like my own upon his visit to the Garden Tomb:
"I am well aware that one cannot build a case on intuition. And yet it is the testimony of scores and scores of Bible students that as they have come into the knowledge of this garden tomb and as they themselves have visited the place, their own hearts have been strangely moved by what could be an affirmation of the Holy Spirit regarding the authenticity of this site. Actually, why could not this be? It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to take of the things of Christ and make them real to us. He has come for the express purpose of exalting the dear Son of God, particularly with reference to his death, burial and resurrection.
Did the tomb fit our heart picture? Were there any serious objections to the acceptability of this spot? We looked around. We prayed, and we meditated further. And God seemed to confirm with an assurance that has never worn off. "Truly, this is the place," is our profound belief.”
You may well be wondering, even after all of the evidence that I have presented here, why there is any dispute at all as to the location of Christ’s tomb. Surely in this age of technological wizardry we ought to be able to simply do a few tests, find the truth and that will be that. It is a fact that some factions have a vested view in obscuring the truth in order to make money, but this is really only a small part of the reason why the legitimacy of the Garden Tomb is not common knowledge.
Do not ask me the whys and wherefores, for I cannot begin to explain them, but Jesus’ words, “seek and ye shall find” ring truer to me every day. We cannot sit back and expect the truth to come to us, that is not the way that God wants it to be. We have to actively look, enquire, explore. We have to see with our own eyes and feel in our own hearts the truth of Jesus Christ, not merely be told about it. The other people in this chapter did just that, and they were rewarded with a gift that I now understand because I have felt it for myself.
I call them The Believers.Chapter Eight - Where to Next?
There is no doubt in my mind that the Golgotha spoken about in the gospels is the highest point of Mount Moriah, the 777 meter high cliff with the skull image sunk into its weathered rock face. I also believe that the Garden Tomb in the shadow of this Golgotha is the legitimate site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The details of the tomb exactly match those described in the gospels: It is nearby the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, a large, wealthy man’s tomb hurriedly extended to accommodate a taller body. The large rolling stone, secure with iron pegs, the graffiti on the walls referencing the Alpha and Omega, and Jesus being the anchor of our souls. The chemical analysis of the soil proving that no body decayed there. The archaeological evidence of a chapel having stood there, the various maps that we found pinpointing this as the location of Jesus’ tomb, maps that originated from the place where we know Jesus’ closest followers journeyed to following his ascension. All of the evidence stacks up.
When I asked Barrie Schwortz, the original Shroud of Turin photographer, about whether or not he truly believed the artifact to be authentic, he answered philosophically that maybe it did not really matter. Perhaps the memory of the event that it relates to is more important than the object itself, and in the end, we would find the answers not by looking around ourselves for more proof, but by looking within ourselves for the answers in our own hearts.
When I visited the Garden Tomb, I felt in my heart that I was standing in the presence of God, in a place where something miraculous had happened. Even if we had uncovered no evidence at all that it is the real tomb of Jesus, I think I would still have believed that it was. I have presented to you here everything that we found out about the tomb of Jesus, honestly, and in full, and I leave it up to you to look into your heart and decide what you truly believe. In the end, maybe it doesn’t matter. But as thousands of pilgrims have found through the ages, sometimes finding an authentic piece of God’s kingdom here on earth is meaningful, and worthwhile, and life-changing.
Myself and the Real Discoveries team will continue to make our pilgrimages to the places where we believe God’s hand has touched our world, and we hope you will continue to journey with us. Who knows where our next adventure will end? Personally I would love to take a closer look at the Shroud of Turin with my own eyes, but there are many other stories in the Bible. Stories that I believe played out here on this earth thousands of years ago. And I intend to prove it.
Until next time, peace be with you.Appendix - An Exclusive interview with Barrie Schwortz
Barrie Schwortz was the official documenting photographer for the original team who investigated the Shroud of Turin in 1978. He gives lectures around the world and has appeared on the History Channel and National Geographic channel as a shroud expert, as well as in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Life Magazine and National Geographic, and many national and international news programs. Barrie also maintains the most authoritative site on the internet about the Shroud of Turin, www.shroud.com
, which has been going for over twelve years now.
Mr. Schwortz gave an exclusive interview to me in 2007, in which he talks about the history of the Shroud of Turin, as well as its possible link to the Garden Tomb. This interview is transcribed in full here.Simon: How did you get involved with the Shroud of Turin?
Barrie Schwortz: That's the question people always ask me, "How did you get involved with the shroud, after all, you're Jewish!" And of course I always say pretty much the same thing, that's exactly what I said when they asked me! I had finished a scientific project for Los Alamos scientific laboratories through a company in Santa Barbara where my studio was. At the end of that project the gentleman called me and he said, "Barrie, what do you know about the Shroud of Turin?" And I said, "But Don, I'm Jewish!" And he said, "So am I, remember?" Because of course he too was one of the Jewish team members. At any rate, I didn't feel very comfortable at the beginning with this, and I continued to be a member of the team for about two months and I was still feeling very uncomfortable about my involvement, and I came to the conclusion that perhaps I shouldn't be a member of the team. And what I said to Don Lynn from the jet propulsion laboratories, who was one of the real imaging experts on our team, was, "Gee Don, what's a nice Jewish boy like me doing involved in such a Christian project?" And he looked at me, and he said, "Apparently Barrie you've forgotten that then man in question is a Jew." And of course I said, "No I know that."
And he said, "so you don't think God would want one of his chosen people on our team?" And I laughed and I said, "Well no, of course I didn't think that." And he said, "Well look Barrie, lemme give you some advice. Go over to Turin, do the best job you can and one day you'll know why. Because God doesn't tell you in advance what the plan is." Well that seemed like pretty good advice to me, and I stayed on the team, and I've now been involved directly in the examination, the study and the research on the Shroud of Turin for thirty years. In addition to that of course I founded shroud.com twelve years ago in 1996, and that website has grown to become the largest, and the oldest, and probably the most relevant website on the Shroud of Turin on the whole internet. And the reason for that simply is that I have no bias from a Christian of non-Christian point of view. I can stick to the science, I can stick to the facts, and so I guess I serve a bigger role in the world of the shroud today as someone who brings this information to a broader audience. And interestingly, the photographs I made in 1978 are probably far less important than the contribution I've now made over the past ten years.Simon: So what exactly can we see on the Shroud of Turin?
BS: Obviously the most important thing on the Shroud of Turin is the image of a man, front and back, ventral and dorsal, that appears along the full length of the cloth with the ventral and dorsal images head to head with an appropriate space between them for the cloth to have been wrapped the way it was. Of course the most important thing that we see if we look at the ventral image, the front image, is the man himself, and as he stands there you can see his arms crossed before him, you can see his shoulders, although they were damaged in the fire of 1532 and there are holes and patches there now. You can then look down the body, see the crossed hands, you can then see the legs, the knees, the thighs, the calves and even the feet on the ventral image. Now when you look at the shroud a little closer you'll also see a number of stains, the most important of which if you look directly near his heart, is the darkest blood stain which we call the 'spear wound' blood stain, that appears on the shroud. And interestingly enough, although you can't see it with the naked eye, when you photograph this area with UV florescent photography you can see a large serum stain invisible to normal lighting, but visible there on the shroud with UV florescence photography. Now as you come down the shroud and look again at the hands you'll see blood stains near the wrists of the man of the shroud. Now this would be the crucifixion wound from where the hands were nailed to the cross. And unlike all medieval and renaissance art, which always depicts the nailing of the hands through the palms themselves, this shows an exit wound further up the wrist, and would have been the correct exit wound for the nailing through the wrists, because the Romans did this all the time and they knew very well where to nail the hands so they wouldn't come loose, and in the middle of the palm is not the place to do that. Closer to the wrist. So unlike all all medieval and renaissance art, the shroud shows it forensically accurate in the wrist. Now if you come down and look at the feet you'll also see at the feet, blood stains. Now there's some argument as to whether both feet were individually nailed, or whether one foot was nailed over the other. We cannot tell this from the blood stains on the shroud, so it is impossible for us to draw that conclusion from the Shroud of Turin.
Now when you look at the back side of the man, the dorsal side of the man, there you see something really amazing. There are a lot of markings along the back, and if you look closely you'll find these extend all way down past the buttocks to the back of the legs, and even on the front or ventral view you'll find many of thee because these are dumb-bell shaped markings, scourge wounds from a Roman flagram. And a Roman flagram had three 'thongs', leather usually, and at the end of each a dumb-bell shaped lead or bone weight. And these are the marks that we see on the Shroud of Turin, we see dumb-bell shaped bruises, many of which drew blood, actually broke the skin. And these cover the man's body, not just the back where they're predominant, but also many came around the front, because as the scourger moved a little closer, his whip would then wrap around the front of the body and leave markings on the front of the body as well.
Now if we look at the face of the man of the shroud, we see blood stains on the forehead. And if we go further we see blood stains in the hair. And if you look at the dorsal or back view of the head that shows the back of the head you see many blood stains there as well. We have stains on the shroud, on the head, as if from a cap, or 'crown' of thorns. So once again, everything about the Shroud of Turin, all the blood stains, all of these markings, are accurate to the gospel account of what was done to Jesus when he was scourged, beaten, and if you look at the man's face (once again I should mention), if you look at the face, look at the bruised cheek bones, one more swollen than the other but both rather swollen. So this man had been beaten in the face, he had been scourged, he had been then crucified, and then he was speared in the side. And what we have here is an accurate description, forensically accurate, of a crucified man, exactly as the gospel accounts of Jesus.Question: Have you ever compared the dimensions of the Shroud of Turin to those of the Tomb in the Garden?
BS: Well, the question about the garden tomb is an interesting one. The first thing I have to honestly admit is that I have not ever really done a study of the Garden Tomb myself, only the shroud, but understanding that the height of the man in the carved garden tomb is 5'11 is certainly coincidental with what I have always believed to be the average height of the man in the shroud, which I've always put at about 5'11. Now let me amplify that a little by saying that, remember first of all, the Shroud of
Turin is not a stable substrate. In other words, it can be stretched, it can be moved, and as a matter of fact, through the centuries the Shroud of Turin has actually been displayed, hung from balconies at one end with weights on the other end to keep it from flapping in the wind! So obviously a certain amount of stretching is inevitable with the Shroud of Turin, particularly on the long dimension because that's the way it was often displayed. Now, the other thing one has to consider is that this is a linen, finely-woven linen cloth, and it can change its length by as much as a centimeter or more based solely on the humidity in which the shroud itself is kept. So there many variables and there's great debate about exactly how tall the man on the shroud is.
Some people have said 6', some people have said 6'1, but again remembering the stretching capability and of course the recent 2002 restoration where they smoothed out all the wrinkles and re-sewed the cloth onto a different backing cloth, the shroud grew by another eight centimeters, so that too would have impacted the dimensions of the man on the shroud if they were to be measured. So the best studies, and the average of all the arguments if you will as to how tall the man on the shroud is sort of averages out to about 5'11, which is what I then typically use as my answer to the question, "How tall is the man on the shroud?" Remember I came to that conclusion long before I knew about the Garden Tomb. So is this a coincidence? Well, if the Garden Tomb is the authentic tomb in which Jesus was buried, and if the Shroud of Turin is the authentic cloth that wrapped his body, then one could easily conclude then that it makes sense that they would both be the same height. As I said, I've never made a study of the Garden Tomb, although I might not want to put it aside, I might want to go and do a little more research now myself just because I find that this is a fascinating coincidence! But whether or not this is amazing or not I would really assume be in the eye of the beholder. Remember again that the man on the shroud is on a piece of cloth, so we can never be absolutely certain as to his height, or for that matter his skin colour, there are some things we'll never learn from the shroud: colour of hair, colour of eyes, skin colour and the height will pretty much always be debated. But there are some good papers, including one that I have published on my website, that does deal with the anthropometric measurements of the shroud, comparing the arms, the legs, the torso of the man of the shroud to other known human body types, and to determine (in this particular paper) where this man might have come from.
Interestingly that one paper did determine that the body type and size was mid-eastern Jewish, which would certainly coincide to what we believe to be the Shroud of Turin, the man on the shroud.Question: Tell us about some of the scientific tests that have been carried out to prove the Shroud of Turin's legitimacy?
BS: Probably the most important scientific test that was performed on the Shroud of Turin after our examination of the cloth in 1978 was the carbon14 or radiocarbon dating that was performed on the shroud in 1988, ten years later. Interestingly enough, a protocol meeting had been put together by the seven laboratories that were initially to be involved in the dating of the shroud. Interestingly enough during this protocol meeting they determined that only a single sample would be taken, which seemed to be a very questionable procedure considering that the known information about radiocarbon dating indicated that multiple samples would be required due to the chance of anomalous samples, repairs, contamination etc. found in linen cloth. Unfortunately the seven laboratories, when it actually came time for taking the sample for carbon dating, had already been reduced to three laboratories, and part of the original protocol had been that each lab would receive a sample, they would then perform a chemical analysis on that sample, and then they would burn it, which was necessary and the sample becomes destroyed in the radiocarbon dating process. So interestingly enough, there was a two hour debate as they stood over the shroud as to where to take this single sample from. And ultimately it was decided to take it from a corner of the shroud, far away from the image and the other other blood stains and things on the shroud, but not far from a water stain and a scorch, but down in this corner right next to an existing seam so it would appear that this was authentic Shroud of Turin. Although in our photographs of 1978, even the regular white light photographs, there was a different colour in that area. But we weren't really that concerned about that part of the shroud, since we weren't thinking about radiocarbon dating in 1978, so we didn't pay that much attention to that corner. In 1988, that's the corner they sampled from, they took a piece and cut it into thirds, and each was distributed to the three laboratories that remained involved in the testing. They went away, none of them performed the chemical analysis that was called for by their own protocol, and when they were asked why the response was, "well we know which sample the shroud was, so we didn't need to do the chemical analysis."
Interestingly enough, had they done the chemical analysis, they may have found something that was extraordinarily different about this corner. Yet that didn't happen for another 20 years. So they took their sample, they did their testing, they came out with their results which was a medieval date, 1260-1390 I believe, and they with much fanfare went up on the television, and the media, and the world headlines were, "Shroud is a fake!" Now remember that there were hundreds of tests taken in 1978 that indicated the shroud was not a painting, was not a photograph, it was not the kind of thing that one would expect to be a manufactured relic. And yet that was the public outcry, "Shroud is a fake!" The headlines around the world. And so those of us who were directly involved, who were aware of all this other data that indicated the shroud was not a fake, were left out in the cold. It brought all shroud research basically to a screeching halt for almost twenty years. So the carbon dating was the primary scientific evidence that disputed the authenticity of the shroud, and a wealth of other evidence gathered by our team and others indicated that shroud was not a fake, that it was not a medieval painting, forgery, hoax, photograph, rubbing, etching, dust painting... these are all things that had been basically used to describe the shroud and what it might have been. So at the end of this period of 1999 when the results were announced, those of us who were involved with the study of the shroud from a truly scientific point of view were left scratching our heads and wondering, "how could this be?"
So the radiocarbon dating of the shroud in 1988 was a major setback for those of us who had studied the shroud all these years, and for those of us who had come to believe that the shroud could possibly be authentic. In fact, it wasn't until 2004 when Ray Rogers, who is a chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratories, who was a member of our team (as a matter of fact he headed the chemistry), and the man who had initially believed that the image on the shroud was dehydrated cellulose, that was his initial conclusion, Ray Rogers re-addressed the shroud. He was ill, and his time was coming to pass away, and he knew that he hadn't really completed what he had begun, and so Ray decided that he would revisit this issue of the shroud. And one of the first things that prompted him to do so was a paper that was published in 2000 by Joe Marino and Sue Benford, that claimed that the corner from which the radiocarbon sample had been taken was in fact a re-woven, patched, or repaired corner.
Well when Ray Rogers heard this, being a good friend, we discussed it because I published the paper on my website (shroud.com), Rogers saw their paper and called me up and said, "Look, I'm gonna prove these people wrong and it's only gonna take me five minutes." And I said, "Fine Ray, you do what you have to do." I mean he was a scientist and wasn't asking my permission anyway. Ray told me afterwards that he spent one hour examining samples he had from that corner where the radiocarbon dating sample had been removed, and he said after one hour he found that Benford and Marino were correct, and that he was wrong, and there was evidence that this corner was anomalous. Now remembering that Ray Rogers is a chemist, Ray took his sample and he performed a chemical analysis and a microscopic analysis. What the microscopic analysis revealed was a gummy substance on the surface of the fibers on this corner. The other thing that he found that was very unique was cotton interwoven with the linen itself, and there was no cotton found anywhere else interwoven with the fibers of the shroud linen, so this made it unique. Now when he did the chemical analysis of the 'gummy' substance he found that it was gum arabic, and when he looked at the gum arabic under the microscope he found little particles of a dye that came from from the Madder Root plant. And so this dye had apparently been put in a gum arabic base and applied to the surface of the re-woven area of the shroud to match it to the rest of the shroud in colour. Now remember I said earlier that what we see in my white light photographs of the shroud is different discolouration in this corner, so the dye they used may have matched it perfectly to the shroud when the work was done, probably in medieval times, but after five or six hundred years even that was now no longer matching the actual colour of the rest of the shroud. Well the chemical analysis found this Madder root dye, it was obviously applied from the surface because when we separated the fibers of the sample he examined, behind it there was no dye or gum arabic, so it had been literally re-woven first and this had been applied to the surface, dobbed on if you will, to match the colour of the rest of the shroud. Well this changed everything, and consequently Ray found a splice in one of his samples, he actually found an end-to-end splice, and this is not found in the rest of the shroud, one can look at the transmitted light photographs I made (light passing through the shroud) and in many places you could see where at the end of a piece of yarn, a hank of yarn, when they had to attach a new hank of yarn, they just laid them literally one on top of the other and slammed down the loom device, and kept on weaving. There were no splices found elsewhere on the shroud, though there is a splice in this corner. Now to be certain that he was correct, because Ray was a really empirical scientist, Ray Rogers obtained a reserve piece of the actual sample cut for radiocarbon dating back in 1988 from the Turin authorities. So he obtained this sample and he performed the same chemical analysis on this and found exactly the same thing. So we now know that this sample, this corner of the shroud is anomalous and is not the same as the rest of the shroud. Now this is extremely important obviously from a radiocarbon dating point of view because if there was a re-woven section done sometime in medieval times, then by all means that would yield a different radiocarbon date than some of the shroud that was not manipulated elsewhere on the cloth. So had more than one sample been taken perhaps we would have had some indication right away that there was a discrepancy between this corner and the rest of the cloth. But because that was the only sample taken everybody drew their conclusions virtually from a single sample. And although three different labs tested it they all tested the same sample, so it was really only one test done three times, not three different tests, because they all use the same AM/FM radio radiocarbon dating technique.
Perhaps the greatest irony of this whole process is that had the three laboratories performed the chemical analysis that was part of their original protocol back in 1988, had they performed that chemical analysis, had they looked at these samples under a microscope and then chemically as Ray Rogers did, perhaps they too would have found this anomaly in this area and then gone back and said look, we do have to get some samples from elsewhere on the shroud. But that's not what happened. What happened was, they were satisfied with the single sample. They didn't perform the chemical analysis. And considering that this was claimed to be a 'blind study', meaning they weren't supposed to know which samples were which, yet by their own admission they didn't do the chemical analysis because they knew which samples were the shroud. So somehow there's a discrepancy that I won't do into. Now when when we think about it, all that Rogers really did was finish what they had started by getting a reserve portion of the same sample that had been cut, by performing both the microscopic and chemical analysis, Rogers was able to determine that this area of the Shroud of Turin was different from the rest of the cloth. Now that's significant because in essence what was tested was an area that had been repaired, re-woven, patched, whatever word you want to use. But that brings me to the subject of the visible detection of this, because some of the authorities in Turin continued to insist that Ray Rogers was wrong and this was impossible because they don't see a repair.
Well, that is a very valid point because usually when something's re-woven, if you look on the back side you'll see threads sticking out. In other words, we only in modern day re-weaving repair the side that is to be viewed, the outside of your trousers when you burn a hole in them and you get them re-woven, the outside looks perfect and you can't find it but on the inside you can see where the repair was made. Well interestingly enough, in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds the French had perfected something that they called 'invisible re-weaving'. Now when this first was mentioned by Benford and Marino most people just sort of waved their hands and said, "Please, if this was there we would have seen it by now!" Well Benford and Marino quoted from a reference, one of their references was a book written by one of the curators of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a textile expert in his own right, and he devoted two entire chapters to French invisible re-weaving. And it was perfected in the French court at the same time the shroud was documented to be in France. And secondly, according to the expert, this type of re-weaving was so perfect, and they had perfected it on both sides of the re-woven cloth, that the only way anyone could detect this would be with a microscope and to know exactly what to look for and where to look for it, otherwise it would remain invisible. It's that good.
Well, it's very hard for skeptics to believe that such a technique could be even in existence, particularly in medieval times. And yet, there is absolute scientific evidence to the fact that this technique was performed and that the shroud was in fact in France at this very same time. So there seems to be a correlation that obviously if there is a repair, and the shroud was in France, what better object than the Shroud of Turin would the King of France or the French court choose to use this spectacular technique on than this cloth, reported to be a relic of Jesus?
So what conclusion can we draw from all of this? Well there is no doubt that the work of Ray Rogers, which by the way isn't just published in a TV documentary or a website or a magazine or some commercial book, Ray Rogers submitted his research on this anomalous sample to one of the finest chemistry journals in all of the world, a journal named 'Thermochemica Acta', and they spent seven months reviewing his work, making him make changes, going back and making him re-do certain parts of his experimentation, furthering his documentation of what he'd found, and after seven months his paper was published in January of 2005. So we now have the first piece of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that's appeared in a refereed scientific journal, proving that the sample used in 1988 for the radiocarbon dating of the shroud was in fact anomalous, did not represent the main body of the shroud cloth, and consequently the Shroud of Turin itself was not dated but only this repaired corner was dated, which was obviously a synthesis of both old and new threads yielding the medieval date that was concluded by the 1988 radiocarbon dating. So that test, if we just look purely at the science, forget about all the other commercial aspects and the bloggers and the pundits, looking solely at the science this is the first conclusive evidence that indicates that the Shroud of Turin itself was not dated, but a repair was. Now there are many people who disagree with this, and they'll continue to disagree, and my answer to that is simply this: That is somebody finds something wrong in what Ray did, Ray Rogers himself would have been the first to say publish it, get it into the literature, and I will change my mind, as he had done on more than one occasion in the world of the shroud. As new evidence came in Rogers was flexible, and was willing to accept that his original opinions and conclusions might have been wrong, and was willing to change as the evidence showed otherwise. That's what I call real science. I've been privileged to be a part of that, and that's why I firmly believe that the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin in 1988 did not in fact date the actual shroud, but dated this repaired corner.
Well one of the things that the skeptics continue to harp on about the Shroud of Turin is one of its image properties. The shroud has its lights and darks reversed, as though it were a photographic negative. And so we're used to seeing light highlights and dark shadows, but on a photographic negative you have just the inverse of that, the opposite of that. Well there have been some people who have actually come to the conclusion that the Shroud of Turin was actually a photograph, and was actually a photograph made by a camera obscura in medieval times, made by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Well, the first time I heard that I laughed my head off because the shroud is documented in the historical record a full one-hundred years before Da Vinci was even born, so he was a good artist but he wasn't that good. So I've always laughed at that, but then a gentleman in South Africa, and art history professor, actually took a statue, used a camera obscura, and created a light-sensitive emulsion using amongst other things silver salts and his own urine, and created an image on this linen cloth using a camera obscura. Well he bantered this about and the world immediately jumped on this and said, "Oh look! The shroud after all is really just a photograph!" Well first of all, silver, which is considered a heavy metal by scientists, the salts in the silver that would have embedded themselves into this cloth as it would have been a liquid emulsion and soaked in, those silver salts would have been detected by some of the spectral analysis performed by our team in 1978. I mean we could detect a few particles in a billion of the plastic bag in which the cloth had been stored, so to detect a heavy metal like silver would have been very simple. There was none on the shroud. So immediately the scientific evidence does not bear out this theory that the shroud was made by a photographic emulsion onto linen cloth. That's just not born out by the facts. But Nicholas Allen was very convincing in his presentation. One thing that I noted that Nicholas Allen never did, was that he never took a shroud photograph, even one of mine, put it side by side with his result, and compared them side by side. So a few years back, because I had been asked questions about Allen's work so many different times, I decided I would do a study, write a paper and present it at one of the shroud conferences, which I did back in the year 2000 in italy. The paper is called, "Is the Shroud of Turin a Medieval photograph: A critical look at the subject." And that is available on the website at shroud.com. Now one of the things that the side by side comparison immediately demonstrates is there's a dramatic difference between the photographic image made by Nicholas Allen and the image on the shroud which was not made by photographic means. And one of the the things that we all know about taking a photo, that if you’re at the correct distance and your camera is set correctly, the image will be in focus. Well, the image on the Shroud of Turin has a unique property, since its light or darkness was directly proportionate to how close it was to the body at the time the image was formed. As the distance increased, the image on the shroud becomes more faint. Well, what does that mean? What it means is that in essence, what's encoded in the shroud is a topographical map based on the distance the shroud was from the body. As the distance increased around the edges of the body, for example around the side of the head, as that distance between the cloth and the body increased the image just fades away. There are no distinct sharp edges anywhere on the shroud's image. Yet Nicholas Allen's photograph was beautiful, sharp around the edges, as we would expect a photographic image to be. The shroud image was not made that way, and consequently we can say that the image on the Shroud of Turin, though it has properties like a photographic negative, is not by itself a photograph.
Now that we know that the radiocarbon dating is certainly in question, then we need to think about what should be done in the future to continue our knowledge of the shroud and perhaps put aside this one radiocarbon date in favour of doing a more proper, professional radiocarbon date where chemical analysis is performed, multiple samples are taken, and I think that this is critical for the future of research on the Shroud of Turin, because as long as the age of the shroud remains in doubt, and it will remain in doubt even though there's now evidence showing that the radiocarbon dating was not in fact definitive and definitely had questions that were left unanswered, we still have to consider what else could be done with the shroud. Now thinking back to what our team did in 1978, remember that the technology we brought with us was the best that was available circa 1978. Well this is practically thirty years later as I speak these words, and we now have so much of an advance in technology, the spectral capabilities are so much more sensitive, the infra-red imaging that we did on the shroud was not that successful in 1978 because the infra-red sensors themselves were not very sensitive compared to what we would need for something as subtle as the image on the shroud, because as you've seen the shroud's image is not a really bright, distinct image that pops out at you, it's certainly nothing like any painting or photograph.
And an interesting little story - When my son saw it with me in 1998, he was eighteen at the time, we stood before the actual shroud in the Turin cathedral. And being a tall kid he leaned down and whispered in my ear, "That's not a painting." Well I didn't want to disrespect those who were there in the cathedral, so I waited until we exited the cathedral and I turned to him and I said, "David, what prompted you to say that? How do you reach that conclusion that it's not a painting just from looking at it?" And he says, "Look, artists spend their whole lives trying to perfect their art, their craft, so that when they paint something it's clear, it's understandable, it's obvious. The shroud is so subtle that at the distance that we were standing we could see the image distinctly. But as you get closer, for example within arms' length of the Shroud of Turin, you have to keep stepping away from it again and asking well what exactly am I looking at? Because it's so subtle, and the closer you get the harder it is to see." So I think that when you look at the shroud itself, and you realize the subtlety of what's there, why would an artist even conceive of doing something like this when we have literally scores of replicas made of the Shroud of Turin by artists, professional artists, who are allowed to view the shroud itself and then paint their replica, and no-one has even come close. They're cartoon-like in comparison to the subtleties and the detail in the image of the man on the shroud. And yanno it's funny how sometimes the skeptics will say, "Well yanno the shroud is too perfect, therefore it must be a fake!" Well what's interesting about that is, if the shroud were less perfect, meaning the science of the shroud were less perfect, they would say well it's not perfect so it must be a fake. So there's absolutely no way apparently to please the skeptics who will forever look at the Shroud of Turin and say it's a fake, it's a medieval hoax. And yet it's a painting made without any paint, there is no paint or pigment on the shroud other than a few microscopic particles that were found and lifted off the surface of the cloth during our work, and one of these samples was given to a man named Walter McCrone, and he found a particle of paint on the shroud. And so he claimed well that's it, the shroud's a painting because I found a particle of paint on one stickytape sample removed from the shroud's surface. Well the analogy I like to use for how significant that is is that I know if I were to take a stickytape sample from the carpeting around my desk we would probably find some Oreo cookie crumbs on that tape sample. But that doesn't mean my carpet is made of Oreo cookies. So because we find a few microscopic particles of paint on the shroud, we didn't find any more of them where the image is than in the non-image areas. So is the Shroud of Turin a painting? No. There isn't enough paint or pigment on the shroud to create the image we see.
And so in the end, I think maybe the most important thing about the shroud is, it's an enigma that continues to baffle us in certain areas. You get the chemistry right and the physics isn't right, you get the physics right and the chemistry seems wrong. It seems as if it defies us. And perhaps it's meant to do so. Perhaps the real value of the shroud is in making us think about it. Is it real? And if it is, what does it mean? And so in the end, I think each one of us has to search in our own hearts, to look at the shroud, and study it, and study its image, and then we have to decide in our own hearts: What does this really mean?
I don't think it's something that can be done externally, I think it's something that each of us must do in our own hearts. And I think that may be the only place we'll ever find the answer to the Shroud of Turin.
Thank you for reading this book by Simon Brown and his ghost writer. Please be kind and leave your comments email me at email@example.com And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. matthew 24:14