Despite all that’s been reported about the Shroud (including debate over carbon dating conducted in 1988 to determine its age), it’s pretty clear that the program is less concerned with ascertaining whether the artifact is fake than it is with simply keeping an audience that hasn’t read much about it in suspense for as long as possible. Along the way, viewers are treated to what amounts to a Sunday-school recap, courtesy of the various talking heads, regarding what the Bible doesn’t tell us about Jesus and the horrors of crucifixion.
But maybe the producers, writers, talking heads and CNN, itself, realized they couldn’t ascertain whether the artifact is fake. Maybe a news agency is better at understanding this than a so-called history channel or a geographic society.
… and several other questions, too.
To keep up with all the Tweets to Mark click on @goodacre
To follow the continuing dialog on Facebook, visit facebook.com/FindingJesusCNN
Here are his answers to two carbon dating questions:
Vance Lipsey: Is there a better way to check the shroud than carbon dating? I’ve been told carbon dating is very inaccurate.
Goodacre: Actually, carbon dating is an excellent way to ascertain the date of an artifact. Many are disappointed, not surprisingly, that the shroud dated to between AD 1260 and 1390. I recall my own disappointment (but not surprise) on hearing the results back in 1988. But the scientists doing the carbon dating were not amateurs, and the samples were tested in three separate labs. Moreover, the carbon date cohered with other evidence that the shroud was a medieval forgery, like the fact that there is no evidence of its existence until the 14th century.
Cynthia Restivo: So I know the carbon dating was off, but wasn’t it later shown that the piece of cloth used for the testing was a section that had been repaired after some fire damage or something? Which would explain why it dated different?
Goodacre: No, that’s not been established. Those who defend the authenticity of the shroud often say the sample might have been taken from a part of the shroud that was repaired after it was damaged by fire in the 16th century. But this is special pleading. The scientists who took the sample knew what they were doing. Professor Christopher Ramsey noted that the unusual weave on the sample matched the weave on the rest of the shroud perfectly.
On February 4th, I blogged about A Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2015: About the Shroud of Turin. Publishers Weekly had picked a fiction book about the Shroud of Turin as one of The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2015. The book was The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell.
At the time, I said the book would not be available until the middle of March. Well, I was wrong. You can buy it, starting today, in Hardcover, Kindle and Audible.
Ian Caldwell, whose previous book, "The Rule of Four," was on the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks and translated into 35 languages, has a fascinating article in Salon, Inside the pope’s bedroom, Vatican secrecy and the lives of married priests: My 11-year quest to write “The Fifth Gospel”
The novel’s genesis traces to 2003, when I came upon the surprising fact that our modern notion of Jesus’ physical appearance – the bearded, long-haired man of Christian art – goes back to about 400 AD, before which no one seems to have agreed what Jesus looked like. The Bible offers no description, so where had this image come from? Around the same time in history, mysterious relics appeared in the Christian East, purporting to be divine portraits of Jesus not made by human hands. In 1978 a British scholar proposed that the cloth we know today as the Shroud of Turin might in fact be the most famous of these early relics: an image widely known and revered in early Christendom. Even though carbon-dating tests declared the Shroud a medieval fake almost 20 years ago, millions of faithful continue to travel to Turin during the Shroud’s periodic expositions, making this single cloth more popular than any museum on earth. Increasingly, they share a conviction that today’s Turin Shroud is indeed that celebrated relic of times past. Is it possible, then, that the Shroud is the most influential image in Christian history? That, when it first emerged, it was considered so authoritative that all subsequent images of Jesus can be traced to it?
There is this:
In the years that followed, I would buy 600 research books on the Vatican, all of them aimed at solving one question or another in this way. The books would arrive at my door from almost every country in Europe, including the Vatican itself. My private obsession to know the history and appearance of every building within the pope’s walls, and as much as possible about the important rooms within them, provided a welcome distraction from the harder work at hand: understanding what Catholics believe about Jesus. For, in order to do that, I could no longer rely just on books.
Today, looking back on it, the terror of reaching out to my first priest seems overwrought. In the time since that first interview, I have traded phone calls and emails with Holy See diplomats, Vatican priests, Church lawyers, the wives of Eastern Catholic clergy, the Jesuit former editor of America magazine, and the papal caretaker of the Shroud of Turin. That first time, though, unnerved me.
Of this new novel, world renowned novelist David Baldacci writes, “Masterful…The Fifth Gospel is that rare story: erudite and a page-turner, literary but compulsively readable. It will change the way you look at organized religion, humanity, and perhaps yourself.”
According to Michael O’Connell in The Hollywood Reporter, CNN’s Jesus Series Tops Cable News on Sunday
Christianity remains a hot topic on TV, even for cable news. As other networks (NBC, Nat Geo) ready scripted outings about Jesus Christ timed to the upcoming Easter holiday, CNN got a jump on the religious rush this Sunday night with the premiere of its new doc series, Finding Jesus.
The one-hour debut of the program topped all of cable news last night, per early Nielsen ratings, averaging 1.14 million viewers. That topped Fox News Channel (634,000) and MSNBC (275,000) combined and now ranks as CNN’s second-biggest original series opening behind 2014’s The Sixties….
Finding Jesus also made a solid showing among adults 25-54, averaging 371,000 over FNC and MSNBC’s shared 111,000 viewers.
And so pending any new scientific breakthroughs, the mystery remains.
MUST READ: Revisiting the Shroud of Turin – After CNN by Simon J. Joseph:
To my knowledge, that is where things stand with most Jesus researchers. They don’t know what to do with the Shroud. And so they do nothing. After all, the Shroud is not a "text" and does not enter the historical record until the fourteenth century. Moreover, Shroud-science, or "Sindonology," requires professional expertise in numerous scientific disciplines, none of which biblical scholars are qualified to adjudicate. This is a topic on which opinions divide and emotions run high. Some claim that the Shroud is evidence that God raised Jesus from the dead while others claims the Shroud is a forgery, a hoax, or an invented relic for the gullible medieval faithful. Furthermore, because the Shroud is seen as a Catholic relic and biblical scholarship is predominantly Protestant, Catholic/Protestant conflicts only exacerbate the controversy. In any case, biblical scholarship has done quite well for itself without appealing to or depending on the authenticity of the Shroud. But now that CNN has re-opened the debate with its new series "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery" and the Vatican will be exhibiting the Shroud again this spring in Turin (April 19 – June 24), it’s time to take another look at the Shroud.
Read the entire article on Dr. Joseph’s Blog. Dr. Simon J. Joseph is a biblical scholar, author, and documentary filmmaker. An Adjunct Professor of Religion at California Lutheran University, Dr. Joseph holds a Master’s degree in Religious Studies from New York University and a Ph.D. in Religion/New Testament from Claremont Graduate University. His . . .
unscheduled decision to select 9 the above contributions for revision
and publication in the SHS Web of Conferences
A special open access collection of nine selected and revised papers from the 2014 Workshop on Advances in the Turin Shroud Investigation (ATSI 2014) in Bari, Italy, September 4–5, 2014
Why nine? Read the following from the preface to the collection:
… Of the 30 contributions submitted to peer review, only 19 was accepted for presentation and discussion during the workshop. The Official Program for this two-day forum is reported in http://dee.poliba.it/ATSI2014/index.htm. Later, the Major Chairpersons made the unscheduled decision to select 9 of the above contributions in order for them to be re-examined with a view to a possible publication on SHS Web of Conferences. The reference Authors of each of the 9 selected papers were asked to revise their papers taking into account comments and questions raised both after presentations and during informal discussions through the workshop. Finally, the revised papers were submitted to a second round of peer-review and modified according to Reviewers’ remarks.
This restricted collection of papers essentially cover a number of topics distinctive of the Turin Shroud (TS) studies, notably in-situ and laboratory investigation on TS-like electrostatic imaging; micro-scale optical observation and macro-scale reproduction; TS coloration, conservation and pattern perception; commonalities and coincidences with the Oviedo Sudarium; archaeological survey on funerary textiles in ancient Israel with a comparison with the TS; historiographical contribution to the debated question of the burial cloths reported in the Gospel account for the benefit of related applications, e.g. Liturgy and Iconography