Daily Beast Review of CNN’s Shroud of Turin Episode

imagePoet and scholar Jay Parini, author of Jesus: The Human Face of God, writing in The Daily Beast, reviews the CNN series and particularly last night’s episode on the Shroud of Turin:

The television version is typical, well, television. The music is overly dramatic. There are trite dramatized scenes of Jesus being arrested and tried, nailed to the cross, his body being wrapped in a shroud, and so forth. These scenes are not, in fact, so much dramatic as illustrative: we get visual representations of what people are talking about. The better moments are those where we get the actual history of the Shroud: its sudden appearance in the middle of the 14th century, its even more stunning acquisition of huge importance to the faithful when, in 1898, an amateur photographer took a picture of the Shroud and a positive image of a man appeared. Was this the actual face of Jesus?

Decades of scientific investigation of the Shroud ensued, with the conclusion by art historian Nicholas Allen in 1988 that the Shroud is a fake but an interesting one that pushes the history of photography back five hundred years. A further series of radiocarbon tests on the Shroud in 1988 suggested that it dated to the 13th or 14th century, although even this has come into question, as scientists go deeper, looking at pollen samples and so forth.

The mystery was really never solved. It was complicated by the Sudarium. A sudarium is simply a piece of cloth (like a handkerchief) put over the face of a recently deceased person, and one of these corresponding to the Shroud itself was found to have ancient origins dating to about 700 CE by radiocarbon testing. But there are many complications, and—to fully understand them—one really needs the companion book. The television version glosses over the details, as it must; yet the details are riveting. By way of conclusion, Fr. Martin says, “When we look at the authenticity of the Shroud, my gut tells me that it’s real.”

Real or fake, to me, seem the wrong categories. Useful or not as aids to faith and spiritual reflection might be better categories.

8 thoughts on “Daily Beast Review of CNN’s Shroud of Turin Episode”

  1. Absolutely incredible that the CNN program did not mention the follow:
    -Raymond Rogers, an atheist, and his independent research – now deceased, Rogers was one of the scientists involved in the carbon-dating tests of which the results were published in 1988 saying the Shroud dates back tom the 14th century. At the behest of someone who contacted Rogers and asked him to take another look: Here’s what he found:
    -The sample provided for the carbon-dating test was taken from a patch sewn into the cloth in the 14th century following a fire which damaged it.
    -A cloth purported to be the Shroud was kept in Jerusalem, Edessa and finally in Constantinople from the time of the death of Christ until it was taken from Constantinople by Crusaders.
    -Christos Pantokratur – a Byzantine painting that goes back to the 5th century. Rogers overlaid the head on the Shroud onto this painting and clearly demonstrates that it’s the same person – exact forehead, nose, chin, hair-line, size, etc. Rogers concludes that the early Christians were familiar wit the Shroud, although not many had access to it due to the fear that enemies of Christianity would destroy it, and that the face on the Shroud was used as a model for early Christian artists. Just take a look at some of the ancient art depicting Christ. It’s the same face as on the Shroud. I saw it for myself in a church in Greece that goes back 1,500 years.
    Rogers concluded that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Christ.
    Another item missed – an Israel scientist found pollen on the Shroud from plants growing only in Jerusalem which pollinate only in the Spring. Christ was crucified in the Spring. There is also pollen from plants found only in Edessa and Constantinople. How, in God’s name, would a forger from 14th century Europe even think about getting pollen from Jerusalem? It’s invisible to the naked eye!
    There is also residue on the Shroud where the knees made contact containing dust and particles from dirt and stone found only in Jerusalem.
    On a final note, getting back to Rogers, he does not know how the image got on the Shroud (and neither does anyone else), but he did add that it would have had to appear within the first 4 or 5 days of death, because at the time liquids would begin to ooze from the body creating an unrecognizable mess, not a clear, concise, detailed image that we have.

    1. Leon, some of the points you mention are assumptions and not established facts (such as the pollen). If you spend some time reviewing this blog you’ll find that much that we have assumed to be true about the Shroud are in fact theories and not facts substantiated by clear evidence.

      1. “some of the points you mention are assumptions and not established facts (such as the pollen)”

        The skeptics are now saying that the piece of cloth does not have any pollen? How is that so?

  2. Sadly this was just another media event to sensationalize a story, by omitting the scientific peer reviewed facts, in order to have a perpetual money making show.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: