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

alleged Jesus.

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

Shroud."

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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