Controversial new theories on the Shroud of Turin
"What seems to have happened is that there was a chemical reaction between the decomposition products on the body and the carbohydrate deposits on the cloth," said de Wesselow. The conclusion of one of the STURP scientists was that a chemical process known as a Maillard reaction had occurred. (It's the same reaction that causes the crust of bread to go brown in the oven.)
High definition photography has brought new detail to the case made by the cloth itself. Its size, roughly 3 1/2 feet by 14 feet; its distinct herringbone weave; even the way a seam was sewn is consistent with ancient burial cloths found near Jerusalem. Pollen samples taken from it show that, at some time, it was near Jerusalem and in Turkey.
For just a moment, suppose Thomas de Wesselow's theory is right. The implication that the image on the Shroud is authentic, but can be explained by scientific evidence - and what it means to a cornerstone of Christianity - is stunning.
"I'm obviously not the first person to deny that the Resurrection happened," said de Wesselow. "Some people will dismiss [the book]. Some people will be intrigued by it. And some people may change their attitudes on one thing or another by it."
Yale Divinity School Dean Attridge said, "For many, many mainstream Protestants and Catholics, certainly evangelical Protestants, you have a notion that you need the resurrected body in the way that it's described in Luke and John. That was not Paul's belief. Paul did not have a belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus. And I tend to agree with Paul. But it remains something of a mystery."
. . . as does the history and meaning of the Shroud of Turin. There is, after all, the carbon dating evidence, confirmed by three different labs. The Catholic Church, owner of the Shroud, accepted those findings. But when it was on display in 2010, Pope Benedict called it "a burial cloth, which wrapped the body of a man crucified in total conformity with what the evangelists tell us of Jesus..."
So, what is the truth?
For more info:
- "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection" by Thomas de Wesselow (Dutton)
- The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York, N.Y.
- Yale Divinity School
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