More Carbon Dating and Other Studies of Christian Relics

The unit concluded that shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.

clip_image001Ruth Gledhill reports in Christian Today, in an article titled, Results on investigations into fragments of the True Cross coming soon:

Oxford University has launched a centre to study ancient Christian relics such as bones claimed to be those of St John the Evangelist, John the Baptist and fragments purported to be from the true Cross.

The new centre will be based at Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre.

Researchers will use radiocarbon dating, genetics and theology to draw together research and findings from around the world to try and establish the authenticity or otherwise of some of the world’s most famous relics.

Some archaeologists already believe they have found pieces of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified

The centre follows advances in science which now allow higher precision radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis that establishes common ancestries and likely geographic origin of individuals.

Oxford has led the field in this area. Researchers used the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit to date the Shroud of Turin, believed by some to be the burial cloth of Christ. The unit concluded that shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.

Professor Thomas Higham of Oxford also led a team dating six small bone fragments found on an island in Bulgaria named Sveti Ivan, translated as St John, which turned out to be the bones were of a man who lived in the Middle East at the same time as Jesus.

In 2014, the team also analysed remains of a small finger bone attributed to John the Baptist that was associated with the famous Guelph Treasure. The sample from the finger bone was dated to 660-770 AD, which meant it was too young for St John the Baptist.

More recent work has included analysis of remains thought to be of St Luke, St David, and the True Cross, on which Jesus was crucified. The results of these investigations have yet to be published.

And there is more to the article.

Ponderable for Today

imageHugh Farey in a comment wrote:

Also, I don’t think anyone disputes that the Shroud is unique . . .  However, the fact that there are no other comparable 13th century images can be contrasted with the fact that there are no other comparable 1st century images either. Uniqueness by itself is no proof of anything.

True.  But if it is not unique; then what? 

I think it is significant that the shroud is unique, which, of course, cannot be proven.

For Christianity, apart from whatever we may think about the shroud, the claim of something being unique plays an important role in belief.  The Nicene Creed is an example.  Try to imagine it as a set of not-so-unique proclamations.

St. Louis Theology Presentation by Russ Breault

imageI have not decided on the best way to view Russ Breault’s excellent talk, Theology of the Shroud (7 Secrets of the Sacred Shroud).

You can click on the PowerPoint chart to the right or you can watch the YouTube version below (starting at about a minute in).

You can do both, together, with windows.

A Different Perspective on the Shroud

Tom Devins writes:

image. . .  I have just released a web site that contains a very different perspective on the Shroud.  Thought you might be interested.

Visit it at

The tablet version has some formatting issues but all the information is there.

Hope to meet you at the conference.

From the first page:

[. . . ] In Christian doctrine, Jesus’ resurrection is the exemplary event that led to the belief in resurrection of everyone’s body on the so called last day. It is an exemplary event that never imagehappened. The Catholic Encyclopedia says it all;  “It would destroy the very idea of resurrection, if the dead were to rise in bodies not their own.” What if they don’t rise, “egerthe”,  at all?   Suddenly, the reality of reincarnation, a notion popular in Jesus’ day, accepted by Him and by some early Church fathers, comes into focus. 

We at Jesuddha are dedicated to bringing the message of the Shroud to the forefront so that it can be addressed in Church teaching.  The Christian institution is arguably the most influential of all times and the world would be far worse off without it.   Far from tearing it down, it is our objective to ensure its survival by promoting timely and systematic change in teaching in line with what we now know. The Church is heavily invested in its infrastructure, facilities and following and is far too important be allowed to remain static where change is indicated.

Anticipating the Conference: Russ Breault’s Theological Concepts

Russ Breault  |  11-Oct-2014  | 8:00-8:30 am


As a lifelong researcher and lecturer on the Shroud of Turin, I have given much thought to the meaning and message of this most famous of all religious artifacts.  I have identified SEVEN theological/apologetic ideas that attest to the Shroud’s almost certain authenticity.

The SEVEN theological concepts are as follows:

  1. Maybe the Mystery IS the Message . . .
  2. When is a Scorch NOT a Scorch?  . . .
  3. The Witness  . . .
  4. Words Matter. . . 
  5. The Significance of Linen . . . 
  6. The Mystery of Transformation . . .  
  7. The Face . . .

Click on the title to read the expanded list of concepts. Click here for the conference home page.

Everyone Goes to Heaven?

And every manner of thing will be well

imagePeter Berger has an interesting opinion piece in The American Interest: Heaven for Everyone?

Off topic? Not really. It is not off topic because we have discussed Heaven is for Real, the Akiane Prince of Peace, the ISA Mosaic and the Shroud of Turin and Near Death Experiences and the Shroud of Turin?  The main thing is it is interesting. That’s enough.

On April 18, 2014, Religion News Service published an interesting story by Cathy Grossman (a senior correspondent with RNS). The story is about an immensely successful PG-rated film,Heaven is for Real. It was released just before Holy Week 2014, but had already earned $ 21.5 million by the end of that week. Not bad for a PG-rated movie in allegedly pornography-addicted America! The film is based on a book with the same title, by Todd Burpo, an Evangelical pastor in Kansas. Both book and film are about visions of heaven recounted by Colton, the (then) four-year old son of Burpo after emergency surgery. The boy reported conversations in heaven with Jesus in person and with various long-dead relatives he could never have known, including a girl miscarried during pregnancy by his mother. This newly discovered sister had now grown into a lively teenager clearly enjoying her heavenly existence. Upon release of the film, Colton, now a teenager himself, reaffirmed the truth of his visions and said that he now talks about his knowledge of heaven to sick children to take away their fear of death.

The film was co-produced by Bishop Thomas Jakes, pastor of a mega-church in Dallas which claims 30,000 members. Grossman points out in her story that there are significant differences between the book and the film. The book places the accounts of heaven in a firm Biblical context, with frequent references to scriptural passages. The film does not follow this practice. In addition to quite fanciful descriptions of heaven, there is the suggestion that everyone is going to end up there. There is no mention anywhere of hell or the last judgment.

There is now a considerable controversy about the film in the Evangelical world.

By-the-way, it is not off topic because another blogger on another blog recently wrote:

So those who become aware of the evidence for the Shroud’s authenticity, yet refuse to believe in Jesus and His death for them, will, like Chorazin and Bethsaida receive a more severe judgment than if they had never heard of the Shroud.

Back to Berger’s article. 

imageMore than any other mystic, the English nun Julian of Norwich (1342-1462) kept repeating over and over again that God is love, that he created the world out of love, and that this love keeps the world in being every moment. Julian was preoccupied with the question of how even the devil could be kept in hell forever in a world fully restored to God. She knows that this is what the Church teaches, and she is an obedient daughter of the Church. But she asks God how this can be. He replies that what she cannot understand, he can do. In her little book “Showings”, where she tells of all the things that God showed her in her visions, there follows the passage for which she is best known. I am not quite clear, whether these are supposed to be words spoken by God himself, or Julian’s own words responding to him. They are in the literary form of a lullaby, such as a mother might sing to soothe a frightened child; I guess one might call it a cosmic lullaby: “And all will be well. And all will be well. And every manner of thing will be well.”

And then there is Rob Bell and his book Love Wins which discusses the kind of universalism with regards to heaven being promoted in the movie. To quote from Wikipedia:

The book was criticized by numerous conservative evangelical figures (in particular, some reformed church leaders), such as Albert Mohler, John Piper, and David Platt, with Mohler saying that the book was "theologically disastrous" for not rejecting universalism.[29][30] Other evangelicals, such as Brian McLaren, Greg Boyd and Eugene Peterson, defended Bell’s views. Bell denies that he is a universalist and says that he does not embrace any particular view but argues that Christians should leave room for uncertainty on the matter. As Jon Meacham stated, Love Wins presents [Bell’s] "case for living with mystery rather than demanding certitude."[31][32] Some evangelicals argued that this "uncertainty" is incompatible with Scripture,[33] while others say that the book is simply promoting overdue conversation about some traditional interpretations of Scripture

Uncertainty. Well yes. But when I consider that image on the shroud, I’m inclined to think, “And all will be well. And all will be well. And every manner of thing will be well.”

I know what the Catholic Church teaches, and the Anglican Communion, and most Protestant Churches. I’m not a universalist on most days. I think, it is a good conversation to have in the context of the shroud.

Good Friday


Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí

A friend of mine, a Jesuit priest, told me that this painting was, “the Father’s view from above.” As such, he said, it does not have any nails or blood. Theologically, that may be interesting, but Dali tells us that he was inspired by a dream to paint it this way.

According to Wikipedia:

imageThe painting is known as the "Christ of Saint John of the Cross", because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought. The circle represents Unity: all things do exist in the "three" but in the four, merry they be.

There is more at Wikipedia.

imageThe image shown above is intentionally low resolution and is not suitable for commercial printing. As with the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, the use in this blog qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

At left is a photograph showing how the painting is exhibited at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland. Having been attacked and damaged once, it now must be protected behind a glass shield.