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Seemingly Uninformed About the History of the Shroud of Turin

clip_image001Catherine Beyer, writes in About.com:

As a historian, one might presume I’d love the History Channel. I don’t. I tend to want to scream at it, because the History Channel needs viewers to make money and apparently spectacle and scandal draws more viewers than solid history.

So far, okay. I mean, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars. But they do some good history too.

The Shroud of Turin is going on display in Turin Cathedral, and the History Channel has cashed in on the event with a special about "the real face of Jesus," which is about showing what Jesus actually looked like through examination of the shroud.

But the History Channel production, which is now years old, was not shown to cash in on the “display” of the Shroud on March 29. It was a repeat, repeated so many times now, that I failed to even blog about its Eastertide showing this year. 

Beyer went on to write:

Forget the fact that the authenticity of the Shroud has long been questioned. There’s no historical record of its existence before the 14th century. Oops. And multiple carbon-datings of the shroud dates its creation to the 13th or 14th century. Oops.

But the History Channel has an answer for that, something that might mollify casual viewers but makes no sense within the context of studying history:

Since then, however, further studies have cast doubt on those results, suggesting that the shroud may indeed date back to the time of Jesus Christ’s life and death.

No, that does not suggest the Shroud dates back to the time of Jesus. If the carbon-dating is wrong, that means we have less evidence pointing to a Medieval dating. It does not miraculously produce evidence of a Biblical dating.

Oops. History Channel show didn’t say so. Watch the video again.

Beyer went on to quote Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Archbishop of Turin. That was a good idea.

There is no mathematical certainty that the Shroud is indeed the cloth in which Our Lord was wrapped. It is quite clear to all that our Christian faith is not based on the Shroud but on the Gospel and the teaching of the Apostles.

From her bio we learn that, “Catherine Noble Beyer is an educator, illustrator and web author, as well as a practicing Wiccan.” I have no issue with any on this – any of it. My issue is with her non-objective, seemingly uninformed, approach to the shroud’s history. As an historian, has she read any books on the Shroud’s history? Has she read any papers by Scavone or Markwart? Has she ever heard of the Pray Manuscript?

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