The Argument From The Shroud – Introduction

I have decided to upload to this blog the series I did on the Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection of  Jesus Christ on my old blog. I have a few reasons for doing this. Firstly, this is my most prized work with almost 500 views on Scribd (who knows how many are my own), a mentioning by Dan Porter , and has a lot of person meaning to me. Secondly, I still think that the Shroud of Turin must come into the current God debate in our culture as it is the very “extraordinary evidence” that atheists have been asking for. Thirdly, I want to  significantly revise the last section and touch up on some of the others.

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Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hop in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

 

The Shroud of Turin is an enigma that cannot seemed to be solved. Its popularity seems to resurface with every new discovery, and has done so especially of late. The 14.5 by 3.5 ft linen cloth is famous for bearing the faint images of what seems to be a man who was tortured in the exact same way as Jesus Christ. It is hard to stress how faint the image truly is; the closer one moves to it the more it seems to disappear into the rest of the cloth, while the further away one is the clearer it appears to be.

However, the infamy of the Shroud exploaded when amateur photographer Secondo Pia was asked by the king of Italy to take photographs while it was on exhibition. After developing the negatives Pia was shocked to see that image of the man was a positive instead of a negative, which meant that the image on the Shroud itself was a photographic negative. Undoubtedly, and quite understandably, many began calling the image a miracle, one that defied explanation and was proof of the Resurrection itself.

Such claims continued when in the 1970’s the findings of the group known as STURP, having utilized the best technology of their day, seemed to add to the mysteriousness of the Shroud. The image was superficial, meaning it was only on the very top layer of the linen instead of seeping throughout. The image itself wasn’t made of paint pigment as confirmed by X-Ray examinations in which both the body and the blood failed to appear, which is at odds with any medieval painting hypothesis since lead-based pigments show up quite powerfully in such tests. Even more eerily, the image, when analyzed by a VP-8 image analyzer, came out as a “’true’ 3D effect” as opposed to paintings which came out “almost invariably collapsed and distorted.” All of this seemed to baffle the scientists. The idea of a medieval painting being a photographic negative alone was logically absurd, but bearing these other qualities as well? To top it off, there was no evidence for any directionality on the Shroud – in others words, there was no evidence of brushstrokes.

But none of this seemed to matter when the Shroud was carbon dated between 1260 and 1380 AD in the 1980s by the University of Arizona, Oxford University, and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. It was all a hoax, another medieval forgery amongst a plethora of others. Of course, none of this dealt with any of the anomalies found by STURP, nor did it produce a single method that could adequately explain how the Shroud of Turin was ‘crafted’. But now, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My purpose in this paper is to argue two separate points, the latter one being contingent on the former. First, I’m going to argue that we can infer that the Shroud of Turin is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This, as astounding at it may seem, is the easier of the two goals; there has been a wealth of new information on the Shroud as well as a historical reconstruction of its passage throughout time. In such cases I’ll be drawing my sources from either scientific research or the historical work of Ian Wilson.

Second, I’m going to argue that the Shroud of Turin provides evidence for belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I must stress right from the start that I am not arguing that it can prove the Resurrection. Rather after establishing the veracity of the Shroud as that of Christ’s, working with the thought of Anglican scholar N.T. Wright as well as other apologists, I’m going to posit that the best possible explanation for both what we see on the Shroud of Turin and the early Christian belief in the Resurrection is better explained by Christ’s Resurrection than any naturalistic hypothesis. By no means will I cover all the possible data as this paper only aims to be an essay, but I believe it will be enough to establish the two conclusions I have put forward.

 

A New Home

There’s no real good justification for this relocation other than that most of the blogs I follow are on WordPress, and I got frustrated with changing themes in blogger. This blog of mine will be a continuation of my last (which obviously will now go inactive), and will touch on a variety of subjects all being centered on Orthodox Christianity. Which there will be many theological quibbles (and they certainly will be pretentious), I won’t be setting any other restrictions than that. In other words, you can expect not only more things on the Shroud of Turin, but also anime reviews done through an Orthodox lens. Oh yes, so pretentious.

As of what is to come: I will be re-posting my series on the Shroud of Turin as well as linking videos to the YouTube account they’re posted on (I’m planning on starting a new one for this blog). I’m currently reading more on the Sudarium of Oviedo and plan to write something on that as well. In the long term, I have been asked by a member at my parish to give a lecture in a few months on a subject of my choice. As such, I’ve begun to do some research on the issue of Female Ordination, so if anyone knows any good work on it please send it my way (I have already the articles from Thinking Through Faith and Orthodox Women Speak, as well as Fr. Thomas Hopko’s book and The Mystery of Human Gender and Sexuality from Synaxis Press). I don’t mind material from either side of the debate, though I should mention now that I firmly stand with the teaching of the Church (male only priesthood).

Furthermore, I haven’t given up on writing on atheism. I’m currently reading through Dan Barker’s Godless and have The Christian Delusion on my shelf as well. I’m still convinced that a physicalist world view cannot produce an objective system of morality (and Barker does agree with this conclusion, though he doesn’t think it means much), and that such a worldview is inherently deterministic and thus epistemologically nihilistic. For a final note, my grandmother of 83 years passed away a few weeks ago. If anyone who happens to read this does believe in prayers for the departed, I ask that you remember my yia-yia Alexandra. She was one of the starting points of my journey to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Expect themes to change within the coming week; I’m not totally satisfied with the current one.