“My first impression was that the program’s content was more superficial
than the image on the Shroud!” — Barrie Schwortz
I personally hate to write reviews of television programs and usually leave them for others to do, but after weeks of media hype and the controversy created after this program aired, I felt compelled to write a brief review of CNN’s latest “docudrama” on the Shroud of Turin, which premiered Sunday, March 1, 2015, as the first episode in their six part “Finding Jesus” series….
On the experts:
It was also interesting to see who the producers considered to be Shroud “experts.” It was good to see a few familiar faces, like Dr. John Jackson and Mark Guscin, who both appear in the program and who are well known as credible Shroud scholars. (Although Russ Breault was originally interviewed for the program, his comments were not included in the final edited version). However, most of the other “experts” were unfamiliar to me and I could find no evidence that any of them ever actually studied the Shroud themselves. Unfortunately, that happens frequently in Shroud documentaries.
On the carbon dating of the shrouud:
Even more frustrating, when discussing the radiocarbon dating, absolutely no mention was made by anyone of the credible scientific data that exists indicating the single sample chosen for dating was anomalous and not necessarily representative of the entire Shroud. Although that theory is controversial and not accepted by everyone, it was in fact the first research to challenge the radiocarbon dating in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Simply ignoring it does a great disservice to those who dedicated themselves to doing credible scientific research on the Shroud and it certainly makes it more difficult for those who are not as well versed to understand what we truly know. Based on all the e-mails and calls I received, its absence was certainly obvious to most of the viewers of this website, since that was the question they asked me the most.
On the medieval photograph hypothesis:
But the most frustrating part of the program for me was the considerable time spent resurrecting the long ago discarded proto-photography theory presented by South African art historian Nicholas Allen, who claims the Shroud is a medieval photograph. In 2000, I presented a paper at the Sindone 2000 Shroud Conference in Orvieto, Italy, titled, “Is The Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph? A Critical Examination of the Theory” that addressed Allen’s conclusions directly and presented a side-by-side comparison of his results to the image on the Shroud (something Allen never did). I then pointed out the dramatic differences between the two images and you can see them for yourself at the above link.
In addition, Barrie has added a section to the Late Breaking News page for 2015. It reads:
Now that several days have passed and many people have had the opportunity to view the CNN documentary, it is time to look at some reviews of the program. In fact, I received so many letters and phone calls that rather than try and answer them all, I decided to write my own review of the documentary, which you will find linked below. In addition, I am providing a link to a relevant article that addresses certain issues raised in the program and links to other online sources with reviews you might find interesting. So let’s get started:
- Link to CNN website where you can watch the full episode online: Finding Jesus: The Shroud of Turin
- A Brief Review of the Recent CNN Documentary and Further Comments on the Medieval Photograph Theory by Barrie Schwortz
- Is The Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph? A Critical Examination of the Theory by Barrie Schwortz – From the Sindone 2000 Shroud Conference, Orvieto, Italy
- CNN Jesus Series Premiers with the Shroud – A review by Robert K. Wilcox, author of "Shroud" (1977) and "The Truth About the Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery" (2010)
- Revisiting the Shroud of Turin – After CNN – Link to the blog of biblical scholar Dr. Simon J. Joseph, a recent contributor to Shroud.com who also posted the link on the STERA, Inc. Facebook page
- Shroud of Turin Blog – Dan Porter’s excellent blog that includes viewer’s comments and links to many other online reviews of the documentary
- Finding Jesus – CNN on Facebook – CNN’s Facebook page with comments from viewers and participants in the program
This is just a small sampling of the many comments posted on various blogs and websites. If you do a little searching, I’m sure you will find a lot more.