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It is assumed that the Turin Shroud was forged and is about appearing to be the cloth Jesus was actually buried in. What if the artist intended to create a miracle picture? There were paintings going about at the time supposedly done by Jesus or Mary. This artist did not mind if there were oddities. For example, the blood is very picturelike and is clearly not real blood. The face image is clearest as you would expect. And the hair is hanging down when the man was supposedly lying down. The oddities are okay if it is just artwork but not if it is to pass for the real Shroud. It is very consistent with an attempt to make it appear that Jesus himself made the image. Also the artist never knew that photography would come and that the errors would then be obvious. A vague image covers a load of mistakes.


By the way, the argument that it is a photographic negative makes us ask if God was trying to make one and got it wrong? The image is not a photographic negative.


Is the Shroud a forgery of a miracle picture rather than an attempted forgery of Jesus' winding sheet?


Let us look at the problems with saying it could be the real burial cloth.


Here is a source on the subject. It is from


Question: Why do you believe the Shroud is not the burial cloth of Jesus Christ?


First I will briefly list the evidence against the shroud's authenticity, then I will provide the popular arguments that shroud proponents use, with a brief reason why I believe they fail.


Strong evidence against the authenticity of the shroud:

• Respected, trusted and very reliable scientific carbon dating has placed the shroud's origin around the 14th century, specifically between 1260 and 1390 CE.

• The provenance or history of the shroud can only be traced back to the 14th century. The earliest written record of the shroud is a Catholic bishop's report to Pope Clement VII, dated 1389, stating that it originated as part of a faith-healing scheme, and that a predecessor had "discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it". In 1390, Pope Clement VII declared that it was not the true shroud.

• The Bible gives clear details of Jesus' burial cloth — linen strips and a separate cloth for the head — that clearly conflicts with the shroud, which is one large rectangular piece. [Jn 19:40, Jn ~7, Lk 24:12]

• The Bible described 75 to 100 pounds of spices being wrapped in the burial cloth. No traces of spices have been found on the shroud. [Jn 19:40]

• The Bible quotes Jesus as saying there are nail holes in his hands from the crucifixion. By contrast the shroud image has no wounds in his hands but one in his wrist. [Jn 20:24-27]

• No examples of the shroud linen's complex herringbone twill weave date from the first century. However the weave was used in Europe in the Middle Ages, coincidentally when the shroud first appeared.

• The clear implication of all three synoptic gospels is that the material was bound tightly round the body, yet the Shroud of Turin shows an image made by simply lying a linen shroud on top of the front of the body, over the head and down the back. There is a lack of wrap-around distortions that would be expected if the cloth had enclosed an actual three-dimensional object like a human body. Thus the cloth was never used to wrap a body as described in the Bible. If the image had been formed when the cloth was around Jesus' corpse it would have been distorted when the cloth was flattened out.

• There are serious anatomical problems with the image, such as the height of the body, length of limbs, ears missing, front and back images not matching, hair hanging the wrong way etc. (More details further in the article.)

• There is no blood on the shroud: all the forensic tests specific for blood, and only blood, have failed. There is no trace of sodium, chlorine or potassium, which blood contains in high amounts and which would have been present if the stains were truly blood. The alleged bloodstains are unnaturally picture-like. Real blood spreads in cloth and mats on hair, and does not form perfect rivulets and spiral flows. Also, dried "blood" (as on the arms) has been implausibly transferred to the cloth. The alleged blood remains bright red, unlike genuine blood that blackens with age. All the wounds, made at different times according to the Gospel accounts, appear as if still bleeding, even though blood does not flow after death. A corpse does not bleed.

• The Bible [John 19:40] indicates that Jesus' burial followed Jewish customs. Thus, Joseph of Arimethea would have washed the body. Since he had time to wrap in the spices, he would have had time to wash it. The body shown in the shroud was not washed.

• Microscopic analysis shows significant traces of what could be paint pigment on image areas.


Circumstantial evidence against the authenticity of the shroud:

• The shroud surfaced in France exactly at the height of the 'holy relic' craze. Not one such relic has ever been proved to be genuine, and the faking of relics was rife at this time. There were at least between 26 and 40 'authentic' burial shrouds scattered throughout the abbeys of Europe, of which the Shroud of Turin was just one. One source writes that 'In medieval Europe alone, there were "at least forty-three 'True Shrouds"' (Humber 1978, 78)'.

• There is no mention of a miraculously imaged Shroud in the New Testament or any early Christian writings. Surely, given the desire for miraculous proof of the divine nature of Jesus, such a relic would have rated a mention? The image on the cloth would presumably have been at its brightest and most obvious. So why don't the gospels, who mentioned the linen used to wrap the body, bother to mention this miraculous image? The most obvious answer is that you can't write about an image that isn't there.

• The image on the shroud has his hands neatly folded across his genitals. A real body lying limp could not have this posture. Your arms are not long enough to cross your hands over your pelvis while keeping your shoulders on the floor. To achieve this the body can not lie flat, yet Jewish burial tradition did not dictate that a body must be hunched up so as to cover the genitals before wrapping in the shroud. The most obvious answer is that the artist knew the image would be displayed and didn't want to offend his audience or have to guess what the genitals of Jesus would look like. A dead body wrapped from head to toe in an opaque cloth wouldn't be concerned with modesty since he wasn't actually naked. He was well covered.

• The Vatican, the one organisation with a vested interest in its authenticity, refuses to say the shroud is authentic. The Vatican has performed more tests on it than any other group, it has more documentary evidence on its history than any other group and it also has the Pope, God's representative here on earth. Surely he could ask God if it's a fake? Perhaps he has. Perhaps the Vatican's silence on this matter is telling? Actually Pope John Paul II is on record as saying, "The Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate". Say what now? "No specific competence" to have an opinion on the origin of a dirty piece of cloth, but you can't shut them up regarding the origin of the universe and life. The conservative Catholic Encyclopedia actually argues that the shroud is probably not authentic.


Now to the popular arguments that shroud proponents use, with a brief reason why I believe they fail.

Weak evidence put forward for the authenticity of the shroud:

• 'The shroud's image appears to show a crucified man'. This is true, but then magicians appear to cut people in half too. Appearances can be deceptive. Even if this was truly a crucified man, there is no way you could prove it was Jesus.

• 'There is the exact number of lashes from a whipping on the back as stated in the Bible'. Nowhere in the Bible is the number of lashes that Jesus received mentioned. Thus it is impossible to say that the shroud wounds match that of Jesus. This is pure invention.

• 'The image on the shroud matches the Biblical account of Jesus' crucifixion'. As detailed above, the Bible completely conflicts with the shroud image, so use of this argument is dishonest.

• 'We can also see a large blood stain and elliptical wound on the person's right side (remember, in a negative imprint left and right are reversed)'. No, they're not. Left and right are reversed in a mirror image, but not in a negative image. This confusion aside, the Bible says that Jesus was pierced with a spear, but it does not say which side. Thus arguments that attempt to say it does and that this matches the shroud are false.

• 'The shroud shows one wound in the wrist, not the hand. Research has show that this is correct since nails through the hands would not have been able to support a body on the cross. Medieval artisans would not have known this'. It is pure arrogance to assume that medieval artisans wouldn't have known this. They were a lot closer to crucifixion times than we are. Even though artists generally painted Jesus with nails through the hands, they were probably just depicting what was described in the Bible. If the shroud is correct about the wrist, then the Bible is wrong. An authentic shroud means a false Bible. Remember also that artists always depicted Jesus with his genitals covered (and Adam and Eve with fig leaves) when everyone agrees that they were naked.

• 'The shroud image is naked, as Jesus would have been, whereas medieval artisans never depicted Jesus naked'. This is true, but as discussed above, the image hides his nudity by adopting an unnatural posture. He is effectively clothed, whereas a dead body wrapped from head to toe in an opaque cloth wouldn't be concerned with modesty.

• 'The image of the shroud obviously portrays Jesus'. Rubbish. No one has any idea what Jesus actually looked like. The Bible contains no hints — short, tall, fat, skinny, long hair, bald etc. No details at all, so how can anyone say that an image resembles him? A dishonest argument.

• 'The apparent bloodstains contain real human blood'. This is contradicted by other scientists who insist that all the forensic tests specific for blood, and only blood, have failed. While there are traces of iron, proteins and porphyrins which are found in blood, these are also found in artists' pigments. However, as already stated, there is no trace of sodium, chlorine or potassium, which blood contains in high amounts and which would have been present if the stains were truly blood. It's also important to realise that even if there was blood on the shroud, whose blood was it? How old is it? Medieval perhaps? The existence of blood proves nothing as we don't know Jesus' blood group nor do we have a sample of his DNA to compare it with.

• 'Pollen from Palestine is found on the shroud'. This claim has been discredited as "fraud" and "junk science". The person who originally claimed to have found the pollen on the Shroud was Max Frei, a Swiss criminologist. However the pollens were very suspicious, as pollen experts quickly pointed out. First of all, they were missing the most obvious pollen you would expect, which would be from olive trees. 32 of the 57 pollens allegedly found by Frei are from insect-pollinated plants and could not have been wind-blown onto the exposed shroud in Palestine. Similar samples taken by STURP in 1978 had comparatively few pollens. Also cloth was often brought to medieval Europe from Palestine, so there is no strong support even if pollen was found.

• 'Coins dated to the early 1st century are seen over the eyes of the shroud image'. This claim was originally made by Father Francis Filas after examining a 1931 photograph, yet the coins can't be seen in better quality 1978 photos. We are expected to believe that poor quality photos showed not just coins, but enough detail to determine when they were minted. Another problem with the coins is explaining why they were placed on the eyes. There was no such Jewish custom in 1st century Palestine. The claim of some believers to see coins must be weighed against the claim of others to also see nails, a spear, a sponge on a reed, a crown of thorns, a hammer, scourges, tongs, dice, flowers etc on the shroud. Even most shroud researchers reject these claims as simply an example of an overactive imagination, as do I.

• 'STURP scientists authenticated the shroud'. Unfortunately almost all of those that made up this group were deeply religious, and many were not specialised in the field they investigated. The group consisted of 40 US scientists, made up of 39 devout believers and 1 agnostic. The makeup of this group is stacked and very biased towards authenticating the shroud, and therefore their claims must be taken with an extremely large grain of salt. In fact the STURP scientists made some of their "authenticity" statements that people quote from the media before they had even examined the shroud. However they were unable to date the shroud. Even if their conclusions, given the scientific tools they had available at the time (1978), were beyond reproach, science has advanced greatly since then. Carbon dating in 1988, a more invasive and accurate test, dated the shroud to between 1260 and 1390 CE. STURP's results have been superseded. That is the nature of science.

• 'The shroud contains a negative of the image, and medieval artisans knew nothing of photography'. The shroud image is NOT a true photographic negative but only an apparent one — a faux-photographic negative. The "positive" image shows a figure with white hair and beard, the opposite of what would be expected for a Palestinian Jew in his thirties. Medieval artisans need know nothing of photography since it's not photographic.

• 'It's impossible to reproduce an image with shroud-like qualities'. False. Joe Nickell constructed one using a rubbing technique on a bas-relief model, using the pigments, tools and techniques available in the Middle Ages. The statement that we cannot make such an image is simply false propaganda. Faux-negative images are automatically produced by an artistic rubbing technique. Also as noted in the following section of this article, scientist Luigi Garlaschelli made a very convincing reproduction of the shroud in 2009.

• 'The image contains 3D information'. The quality of this information is often exaggerated or misinterpreted. Also if the image was produced using a bas-relief method, 3D information would be expected.

• There are no brush strokes on the image'. Probably true, but if the image was produced by rubbing as for a bas-relief, then there wouldn't be.

• 'The blood flows and anatomical details are accurate and beyond the knowledge of medieval artisans'. On the contrary, as described above, there are serious anatomical problems with the image. Also as detailed above, the blood flows are completely unrealistic. Blood does not flow from a corpse and real blood spreads in cloth and mats in hair. Also medieval artisans would have been intimately familiar with blood and dead bodies compared to the sheltered life that we in the 21st century lead. The Black Death occurred during the 14th century so blood and death would have surrounded those living during this time.

• References to the shroud can be found prior to the Middle Ages'. This claim usually refers to the 'Image of Edessa', a holy relic allegedly found in 554 CE in Edessa. It was a square or rectangle of cloth on which it was alleged the face of Jesus was imprinted. Some try to claim that the shroud and the 'Image of Edessa' are one and the same. Yet it did not contain a full body image, only the face, and this legend actually began when Jesus was still alive, so it can't be referring to the shroud. Another image in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript is equally problematic. There are no reputable shroud references that don't conflict with what we know about the shroud, prior to 1355 CE.

I have summarised the evidence both for and against the shroud's authenticity. I conclude that the weight and strength of evidence against the shroud's authenticity is overwhelming, whereas the evidence supporting the shroud is almost non-existence, and circumstantial at best.


by John L Ateo and Rachel C

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