People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity.
“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”
That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.
Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.
“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”
Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.
He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.
“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.
Reasoned judgment is fine. It’s the way it should be. But there is a real problem with the most updated scientific evidence. Much of it is controversial. It is often not updated. And frequently not really so scientific as we make it out to be. How good is that botanical evidence? Is bilirubin really why the blood is still red? Was that corner repaired? Are those three other dating methods even valid?
The most amazing parts of the Shroud is how much we don’t know. I can’t make a reasoned judgment on the scientific evidence.