"Mean": Adj. - 'humble, obscure, or lowly'

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

Spiritual thoughts by
Daniel J. Clausen, author of HOW GODS ARE MADE

A division of Codex Spiritualis

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Case for the Legitimacy of the Shroud

The Shroud of Turin is an enigma to many. Some dismiss it as a medieval forgery, others worship it as a holy relic. Perhaps it should be regarded as neither, but rather as physical evidence of Christianity's central claim: the resurrection of Jesus.
If it is someday proven false, it bears no weight on the history of Christ. However, if it is proven authentic, it stands as both a call and an indictment on humanity. It would be proof of the Resurrection. Rather than be very technical, I will simply lay out some old known facts, along  with some very recent research. Lastly, I will close with some compelling circumstantial evidence.

Previously Known Facts
  • The Shroud bears an historically accurate image of a crucified man, complete with distortions from wrapping a three-dimensional person. It is no painting or piece of art. One can see his fingernails, as well as his teeth behind his lips. 
  • The wounds are consistent not only with crucifixion, but one particularly famous crucified man.
  • The most common view of the Shroud is actually a negative image, making it much like a photograph - a process and technology unknown until the late 1800's. This could only be created by the burst of energy previously hypothesized.
  • The image contains 3-D information, allowing the image to be rendered fully in three-dimensions. NASA has used planetary imagery software to create the rendered face of the man on the Shroud. 
  • The blood on the Shroud has been authenticated as actual human blood.
  • The Shroud contains fibers of plants and pollen native only to the Holy Land.

New Facts and Research

Two Classic Retorts to the Shroud's Authenticity

The two strongest critiques of the Shrouds legitimacy have been:
  1. It was carbon dated to the middle ages, and.
  2. There is no mention of it in the historical record of it until the early middle ages.

These would seem enough to settle the issue on the surface, despite any other evidence. It is tantamount to a plain suggestion of forgery. However, given the new research, and a little historical understanding, both of these are easily resolved.
Regarding #1, it has been widely known that the original carbon dating for the Shroud was faulty, for two reasons:
  • The Shroud was burned in a church fire in the medieval era, burning both the Shroud and the chest containing it. Being infused with carbon from the soot, the Shroud would naturally carbon-date to the time of the fire.  
  • After the fire, the Shroud was repaired, stitched and restored in the areas it had been burned. Out of a holy sense of protection, the Vatican only allowed samples to the S.T.U.R.P. scientists from the repaired areas, not the original, again resulting in an inevitable dating to the middle ages.

Regarding the second retort, one simply needs to understand that before the middle ages, without the systematic copying and recording of Christian monks in monasteries, the historical record on ANY event, object, person, or even kingdom is exceedingly scarce. This is why that time period is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages. Such a silence is not unique to the Shroud, but to nearly anything in reference to this time period. Therefore, even if one would still find the silence suspect, it still falls within the rational scope of reason to accept it as natural for this period.

A Little Known Piece of Circumstantial Evidence

This writer happens to be acquainted with some of the children of the Head Scientist on the only officially sanctioned study on the Shroud, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, (S.T.U.R.P). As they tell it, their father entered the project as a full skeptic, expecting to have it disproven and wrapped up in about two weeks. They ended up studying it for years, and although the official findings were "Inconclusive" in relation to its authenticity, a few of the men, including the team head, became Christians, and raised their families as such. The testimony to the news and the papers was cautious, yet the testimony to the hearts of the men who studied it was strong enough to base their lives upon it. In its final report, S.T.U.R.P. wrote:

[1] "We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved."
In summation, what we have is a burial cloth consistent with ancient burial practice that has been dated to the first century, whose origin is in the Holy Land, bearing a radiated image of a crucified man, with a death certificate identifying the person as Jesus of Nazareth in the common languages of the time.

Although at the conclusion of the study in 1981, the Shroud could not meet the threshold to be proven by a scientific standard, it seems that in the present day, some 33 years later, we may now have the evidence to conclude as such.