SHROUD OF TURIN IS PHONEY, SAYS MICROCHEMIST
Male Model Was Daubed With Paint, Rolled In Sheet To Produce "Miracle"
Many scholars question the historicity of Jesus Christ, the reputed
god-man upon whom the Christian religion is based. And many more are
skeptical of claims by some religious believers that the Shroud of
Turin, a 14-foot cloth with the negative image of a man with nail
wounds in his hands and feet, is really the burial garment of the
Now, a report in the Sunday Times of London announces that
microchemist Walter McCrone may have solved the riddle of the Shroud.
McCrone, following twenty years of research on the cloth including an
evaluation of radiocarbon dating, says that the image is not the
result of some miracle, but merely the effect made by a male model
being daubed with paint, then wrapped in the sheet to create the
shadowy image some insist is that of JC. His findings will be included
in a book due out next month titled "Judgment Day for the Turin
McCrone bases his new findings on examination of 32 separate
samples of fiber taken from the shroud. Those samples were, in part,
the basis for scientific evidence presented in the late 1980's that
dated the cloth to the 14th century, a period known for the popularity
of fraudulent relics. Other questionable antiquities included breast
milk said to have come from the Virgin Mary, pieces of the crucifixion
cross, even portions of a stairway JC is said to have climbed while
being presented to Pontius.
One claim being made by McCrone that is sure to cause a stir is his
assertion that the image is not unique. He maintains that a similar
image using the same painting technique exists in the form of a red
Christ-like image painted in 1341 on the walls of the papal palace at
Avignon in France.
Despite the provocative nature of McCrone's work -- he has made a
reputation in challenging artistic pieces and other antiquities
including the famous Vinland Map -- the Shroud itself has a checkered
past. It first appeared in the 1350's as the property of a French
knight, Geoffrey de Charny, who purportedly knew the cloth's
provenance, but was killed in the battle of Poitiers before sharing
the information with others. As the popularity of questionable relics
grew during the Middle Ages, the alleged burial rag then came into
possession of Umberto II and the House of Savoy, who willed it to
Catholic authorities in Turin, Italy.
Since then, the Catholic Church has not taken any official position
on the claim that it is indeed the burial cloth of the alleged Jesus
Christ. Last summer, two scientists at Turin University ignited media
interest and scholarly debate when they claimed to have found faint
evidence of a Roman coin dating from the reign of Tiberius, about 29
C.E. The Catholic press immediately jumped on that story; "La Stampa"
insisted that this was "new proof that the shroud is authentic.
Critics, including American Atheist editor and science advisor Frank
Zindler, said that the evidence was highly inconclusive. Zindler
noted in a press release: "If the image of a coin over the eye were to
prove authentic, it would be conclusive proof that the person wrapped
in the shroud was NOT a Jew, and thus could not have been the Jesus
featured in New Testament legend. In ancient times, only pagans
placed coins over the eyes and in the mouths of their dead -- payment
for carriage across the river Styx or its equivalents. A devout Jew
would never do that. Moreover, most coins had human images on them,
and such images were shunned by every good Jew of the time."
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