I found myself wondering about the famous quote by writer John Walsh, which appeared in his 1963 book, “Shroud.”

“Only this much is certain: The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence-showing us in its dark simplicity how He appeared to men-or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground.”[1]

So which is it? By stripping the adjectival Walsh to mere either-or alternatives, we can simply ask ourselves, is it a relic or an objet d’art?

Is there nothing else?

Is there really no middle ground. These days, I am quite unconvinced by evidence that the Shroud is genuine. And I am equally unconvinced by the evidence that it is not so. I’m walking around in a daze. I’m in the middle ground.

Dr. Michael Tite, who in 1988 led the British Museum’s oversight role in the carbon dating process and later was Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, implied during a BBC Radio interview in 2016:

I don’t believe it’s the [authentic] Shroud but I think it is highly probable there was a body in there. It was the time of the Crusades. A very appropriate way of humiliating a Christian would be to crucify him, like Christ. I think that is a very real possibility. And then the cloth is put over the body and sort of bodily fluids resulting from the stress of a crucifixion react and cause this discolouration and ultimately a certain degree of decay in the Shroud.

John Dominic Crossan, a Jesus Seminar Biblical scholar most noted for his assertion that Jesus was not buried, proclaimed on Belief Net.

My best understanding is that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval relic forgery. I wonder whether it was done from a crucified dead body or from a crucified living body. That is the rather horrible question once you accept it as a forgery.

Unless Crossan’s and Tite’s suggestions are ingenious and most unbelievably clever, are they not positioned in the middle ground?