A famed art historian told CBS News “Sunday Morning” on Easter Sunday, April 8, that the reputed burial cloth of Jesus – known as the “Shroud of Turin” – is real; while the report also offers a new take on the “Resurrection” which challenges Christian orthodoxy. At the same time, yet another challenge to the Shroud of Turin comes from the legions of Internet hoax-busters who find some sort of satisfaction in decrying anything they can’t see, touch or experience in a personal way. “To decry something is to speak disparagingly about someone or something; while also denouncing it as faulty or worthless,” explained retired Coos Bay teacher George Holborn during a recent Huliq interview about his personal interest in the Shroud of Turin. “What gets me about these hoax-busters is nothing is sacred to them because, in my view, they are a joyless bunch who get their jollies at bursting any bubble they can find,” adds Holborn when also comparing today’s crop of eager-beaver hoax-busters as “those kids who got expelled when I taught high school because they didn’t believe in their teachers, their parents, America or anything they couldn’t make a buck on.”
In turn, the Shroud of Turin has intrigued believers and non-believers alike for centuries; with this recent Sunday Morning Easter report about the Shroud “being real” exciting both believers and those in our society eager to call it a hoax.
What is the Shroud of Turin?
For those not familiar with the famed “Shroud of Turin,” it’s a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with the crucifixion of Jesus. Today, the Shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, a city in northern Italy.
For more than a thousand years, the origins of the Shroud and its image have been the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers. While the Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the Shroud, its image has become part of the Catholic culture since Pope Pius XII approved of the image back in 1958 when the Shroud is part of a Catholic devotion to the “Holy Face of Jesus.”
In turn, the image of the Shroud that accompanies this report is from a photo negative after it was discovered in 1898 that what seems to be “Jesus” was discovered on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia when the Shroud was on exhibit in the Turin Cathedral.
Thus, CBS News Sunday Morning asked on Easter Sunday, “What if the Shroud of Turin really is the burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in; and the faint imprint on it, the image of a man who has been tortured and crucified, really is Christ himself?”
The report also explained when the last time “the Shroud was on view, for six weeks in 2010, more than two million people saw it, even though in 1988, after a carbon dating test, it was declared a medieval fake - dating from between 1260 and 1390. The story was supposed to be over. But tell that to the throngs who waited hours for the chance to spend seconds before it in reverent silence. And tell that to scholars who think the carbon dating results were just plain wrong, among them art historian Thomas de Wesselow.”
Art expert says Shroud is real
While art historian Thomas de Wesselow said he’s “an agnostic,” and “originally a skeptic about the Shroud,” he’s just published a provocative new book about in which he concludes it's genuine.
For instance, de Wesselow told Sunday Morning on April 8 that “he compared it to artwork depicting the Crucifixion created since the Middle Ages, referring to the Station of the Cross at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.”
"If you look at the hands on the cross, the nails go through the center of the palms," explained de Wesselow, “that part of the hand is not strong enough to bear the weight of the body."
Meanwhile, the image on the Shroud shows the nail wounds going through the wrists. "That's how they would have done it in Roman times," said de Wesselow, supporting the idea that the Shroud is much older than the middle ages.
In turn, de Wesselow told Sunday Morning how the Shroud illustrates signs of the events of Good Friday through Easter Sunday. "You start off with the flagellation, and that's very clearly presented on the Shroud, with these very, very distinct marks of the flagrum," he said.
Also, this art expert explained: "You can then see the crown of thorns. He then is beaten and you can see on his face underneath his eyes there's a swelling. His nose looks as if it's been broken." There is also the mark of a puncture of a spear, with "dribbles of blood coming down."
Is this just coincidence?
“No way,” says a new crop of hoax-busters who’ve already crucified De Wesselow and anyone who believes in the Shroud on what’s become hoax-busters “personal attack websites” that non-believers and those who get their kicks out of decrying anything they can’t touch, feel, taste, see or understand.
Hoax-busters live to destroy reputations
A recent episode of the popular TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” featured one of the shows characters, Sheldon Cooper, confronting his arch-enemy Wil Wheaton, and informing Wheaton (playing himself) that he’s not only developed a hoax-busting site trashing Wheaton, but now has three such sites devoted to decrying anything and everything Wheaton has ever said or done.
In turn, Wheaton brushed off Sheldon’s personal attack websites stating: "Because of your crazy website calling me a hoax, I'm now living rent free right up there in your head, Sheldon.”
Also, those who get delight from bursting bubbles and, in turn, feel they’re exposing a so-called “hoax” are the same types of people “who see the glass have empty,” explains a Bray’s Point, Oregon, local named Errol whose been accused of a hoax when it comes to his UFO and recent “metal boxes” sighting.
Errol also notes how so-called “hoax-buster” sites “are purely negative.” The retiree and grandfather also noted how “hoax-busters have now moved to Facebook where they spew more of their anger and ill-will while, sadly, there’s a dozen hoax-buster websites for every site that offers inspirational or motivational stories that lift people up, and respecting their opinions.”
Also, the Bible – in Hebrews 11:1 – clearly explains how faith is that confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the “evidence of things we cannot yet see.”
While any of today’s lively hoax-busters will surely crucify this reporter again for explaining why faith is simply a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, or even a conviction of someone that they believe in such and such, it still doesn’t wash with hoax-busters who enjoy breaking people down over building them up.
Clues that the Shroud is real
Then, there’s De Wesselow's somewhat provocative take on the resurrection that’s now on almost every hoax-buster Internet site as rubbish. In turn, de Wesselow’s belief in the Shroud come from the story he told CBS News Sunday Morning that “what happened on Easter Day when Mary Magdalene and two other women went to Jesus' tomb: "They go to the body, they lift off the cloth, and they notice this strange shadowy form on the cloth itself," he said. "Immediately, they would have had this perception of it as a living presence in the tomb with Jesus."
"They didn't see Jesus come alive again?"
"No, I think what they saw was the Shroud," de Wesselow said. "Once they saw the Shroud they understood that he'd not been resurrected in the flesh, he'd been resurrected in the spirit."
According to de Wesselow, each supposed sighting of the risen Christ was actually a sighting of the Shroud. Also, CBS News stated how: “He's convinced it was what sparked the rapid spread of Christianity, as it was taken from Jerusalem to Galilee, then to Damascus, where he believes Paul saw it and became a Christian.”
Clues about the Shroud come from “Next, to a town called Edessa, in Turkey, and in the year 944, to Constantinople. There's a drawing from the 1190s of what some scholars believe was the Shroud. A French knight wrote about seeing such a cloth in Constantinople before the city was sacked by crusaders in 1204.”
"We can show perfectly rationally where the Shroud was all the way back to the first century," de Wesselow said; while pointing to a period of more than a thousand years before it turned up in Lirey, France, where Geoffrey de Charny - descended from one of the crusaders who led the sacking of Constantinople - put it on display in 1355, right about when the carbon dating results said it was faked.
He said it's been in Turin, Italy since 1578.
"It could well be the burial cloth of Jesus - I wouldn't discount that possibility," said Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School and an eminent New Testament scholar, said of de Wesselow's book: "That's part of the case that he makes; the other part is trying to see how the discovery of this cloth might have functioned in generating belief about the resurrection, and that's much more, in my mind, conjectural.
"However this image was formed, it was formed in a way that's compatible with the ancient practice of Crucifixion," said Attridge.
"So that is at least plausible?"
"That's at least plausible, yeah, yeah, and the blood stains, for instance, are clearly not paint," Attridge told Sunday Morning during an Easter Sunday program.
Why this image of Jesus on the Shroud?
"There were plenty of other images of Christ which are meant to be imprints of his face, dating from the Middle Ages," said de Wesselow during the April 8 Sunday Morning Interview; while adding: "And none of them look remotely like the Shroud."
Because Thomas de Wesselow's specialty is medieval art he knows the many myths about the Shroud.
For instance, he said: "People did not know about negative images in those days. No one could have seen the realistic image that's hidden behind the negative image on the cloth."
At the same time, in 1978, a group of respected American scientists and scholars calling themselves the Shroud of Turin Research Project (or STURP) were given 120 hours to subject the Shroud to a "CS"-like forensic study. Working 24 hours a day, they set out to discover how the image was made, and if it was a fake. They couldn't, stated the CBS News report.
"What seems to have happened is that there was a chemical reaction between the decomposition products on the body and the carbohydrate deposits on the cloth," said de Wesselow. The conclusion of one of the STURP scientists was that a chemical process known as a Maillard reaction had occurred. (It's the same reaction that causes the crust of bread to go brown in the oven.)
Also, CBS News Sunday Morning explained how “high definition photography has brought new detail to the case made by the cloth itself. Its size, roughly 3 1/2 feet by 14 feet; its distinct herringbone weave; even the way a seam was sewn is consistent with ancient burial cloths found near Jerusalem. Pollen samples taken from it show that, at some time, it was near Jerusalem and in Turkey.”
What if the Shroud theory is correct?
For just a moment, suppose Thomas de Wesselow's theory is right, asked CBS News. “The implication that the image on the Shroud is authentic, but can be explained by scientific evidence - and what it means to a cornerstone of Christianity - is stunning.”
"I'm obviously not the first person to deny that the Resurrection happened," said de Wesselow. "Some people will dismiss [the book]. Some people will be intrigued by it. And some people may change their attitudes on one thing or another by it."
Yale Divinity School Dean Attridge said, "For many, many mainstream Protestants and Catholics, certainly evangelical Protestants, you have a notion that you need the resurrected body in the way that it's described in Luke and John. That was not Paul's belief. Paul did not have a belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus. And I tend to agree with Paul. But it remains something of a mystery."
Overall, belief in the Shroud of Turin comes down to faith.
“And, there is, after all, the carbon dating evidence, confirmed by three different labs. The Catholic Church, owner of the Shroud, accepted those findings. But when it was on display in 2010, Pope Benedict called it ‘a burial cloth, which wrapped the body of a man crucified in total conformity with what the evangelists tell us of Jesus.’ So, what is the truth?”
Image source of an image of Jesus that photographer Secondo Pia first saw in his darkroom back in 1898. The Shroud of Turin, it turns out, is like a photo negative, say experts today who believe the Shroud is real – it’s an image of Jesus at his burial. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_of_Turin