CNN on the Shroud of Turin

CNN’s Finding Jesus, 1st part on the Shroud of Turin.

Most of the initial reporting about the Shroud as it relates to the crucifixion was pretty straightforward. Just watching the Lord’s torment was hard to take, as always, and they didn’t spare the blood and gruesomeness of it all. They built up the various points of concurrence of Shroud image and Gospel records.

They mentioned how the Shroud has real blood, and exhibits genuine indications of flogging, the crown of thorns, and the torturous consequences of crucifixion. I was glad to see this included the fact that, to support the weight of the body, the Roman pounded the spikes, not through the palms and feet, but through the wrists and ankles (or maybe I should say calves). Which makes one wonder what ol’ doubting Thomas reputedly poked, but anyway…

CNN veered toward the “medieval fake” conclusion at one point, briefly citing carbon dating that was done, and going into the techniques that someone of that period might use to create the image. Then they seemed to back off. (Possibly so they could end on a note of “oo, mysterious, huh, kids!” instead of “It’s a FAAAKE! You gullible believers!”) They did not explain that the medieval dating may have involved fabric added to the Shroud by nuns after the fire that scorched it. Or so I read somewhere. Aside from that one test, I’ve always read the weave and material were easily 1st Century.

The show looked at how the Shroud might be created, and faked, but even if one could paint with such exquisite, excruciating detail, there is some three-dimensionality to the Shroud image — not mentioned in the show. The image wasn’t flat-on like a photograph, because the cloth was draped around the head, right? So, to see it as the face would really be, one must un-3D it, slightly squeeze the image back to photographic flatness, something only possible in the modern computer age. So I’ve seen; bet that’s on YouTube. As ingenious as humans artists can be, it’s hard to imagine figuring out how anyone could paint that, five or twenty centuries ago. Oh, yeah. In b/w reversal (photo-negative).

More likely, therefore, than hand-painting, and as the CNN show mentioned, such an image can be created by laying a shroud over an actual face shape (thus getting the 3D-ish image). Decades ago, I read about that being done. Everything chemically was duplicated just right, it worked, except, and this was not mentioned in the CNN report, the final lifting of a shroud off of a form inevitably, always blurred the image significantly more than the crisp, amazing Turin image. The only way to really duplicate the image would be… to have the form instantaneously vanish from under the shroud. So I read.