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Turin Shroud and its narratives

Is it fake or real?  Does it say something about the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Face of Jesus painted after the Shroud of Turin – with kind permission from Chinchilla Prints

There is no clear answer to the question of what the Shroud of Turin “is”.

The experts’ opinions are wildly divergent. Little is what counts as objective facts.

  • The cloth measures 436 cm by 110 cm.
  • The weave is a 3:1 herringbone pattern
  • On it, one can observe an image that appears to be that of a man who has been crucified, estimated to be between the ages of 30 and 40.­­­
  • It’s got burn marks and stains that could be human blood on it.­­­
  • The undisputed history of the fabric begins in 1357, when the widow of a ­knight publicly exhibited the cloth in Lirey (France).

That’s it already. Other than that, there are only stories.

Which story you choose depends on your current worldview.

Someone who considers Jesus to be an insignificant itinerant preacher about whom miracle stories were later invented will likely consider the cloth to be a forgery. The primary evidence supporting the authenticity of this narrative comes from the radiocarbon dating, which dates the cloth to the medieval period. Therefore, the shroud cannot be genuine.

A religious person who believes in a supernatural resurrection will likely consider the cloth to be a mystery and believe that the image was formed miraculously during the resurrection. Evidence supports this notion as well.

You might have to swallow the biggest toad if you do not want to ignore the many research results that speak for authenticity, but do not believe in miracles. But more about that later.


The human brain constantly strives to ensure that everything within us is in harmony.

If our senses don’t match what, we thought, was real before, it can cause confusion in our thinking.­­­­­ A protective mechanism within the brain ensures that this unsuitable reality is not initially accepted: “That cannot be true!” ­­­It is easier to ignore or reinterpret inappropriate information than it is to adapt your own world view. Conversions rarely occur in Shroud research.

All stories should have a voice on these websites. Therefore, some statements conflict with each other.

Individuals who conduct a more thorough study of this material will eventually begin to categorize the information and formulate a particular view, including myself.

A striking resemblance exists between the Turin Shroud and that of Jesus.

Some consider him to be a fictional character onto whom ancient stories were projected, while others consider him to be a gifted spiritual teacher and mystic. Christians believe that Jesus is God’s son. He was born to a virgin, miraculously came back to life, and then went up to heaven.
The Shroud of Turin may provide an opportunity to reassess one’s own perspective on Jesus. Look at the different stories and decide which one you think is the most likely.

If you want to go deeper, I recommend my book: “No Death for Jesus – the Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection of Christ”. It is richly illustrated and contains detailed explanations with sources and references.

1. Story: The shroud is a fake

Triumph for science. Again, a relic has been proven to be fake.

We know that the cloth dates back to the Middle Ages thanks to the 1988 radiocarbon dating.
The results were published in the renowned journal “Nature”. The article has been rigorously peer-reviewed, thereby ensuring that it adheres to the most stringent scientific standards.

However, it is imperative to note that the outcomes should not have been published.

The reason: The three institutions’ results were too far apart. The “significance level” only had a value of 4.176%. The estimations of the measurement are deemed unreliable if the percentage falls below 5%. Ethical guidelines suggest not releasing such a project, but rather re-launching it due to inconsistent elements. Some measurements were even ignored and only revealed after a court order. This suggests that the actual significance level was lower.

Indeed, there were numerous inconsistencies that were never resolved, yet these factors would not alter the medieval values. It’s absurd to think that the samples were so dirty with newer carbon that a measurement error of over 1,000 years was possible. This would require almost twice as much newer material.

The assumption that new patches were inserted in the Middle Ages at exactly the location where the sample was cut out is also unfounded. The world-renowned expert in ancient textiles, Dr. Flury-Lemberg, was familiar with the cloth and pointed out that there were no patches in this area. “We should have known. It is impossible to repair a cloth without an expert noticing it.”

Even technical errors in the C14 project are incapable of distorting a measurement result by more than a thousand years.

The cloth is from the Middle Ages. End of story! The outcome of the examination was unambiguous and cannot be retracted with reasonable arguments. Therefore, the cloth can solely be regarded as a masterpiece of art or a counterfeit, similar to numerous other relics of the Middle Ages. Relics and the pilgrims they attracted were important economic factors in the Middle Ages.

From the beginning, people thought the cloth was fake.

In 1389 the Bishop of Troyes sent a complaint to the Pope : Lirey had “falsely and fraudulently … acquired a cunningly painted cloth.”

There is no scientific explanation for the forming of the image. So it must have been made by human hands, by a brilliant artist.

The Catholic Church rightly downgraded the cloth soon after the C14 test: from a relic (something real) to an icon (a work of art).

The Shroud of Turin is a playground for believers in miracles and conspiracy theorists who practice pseudoscience. It’s not worth giving this cloth another thought!

2. Story: The C14 test is a fake

The radiocarbon dating results are based on fraudulent practices. The project will be seen as the biggest failure in science history.

There will be hell to pay when the truth comes out.

Dr. Raymond Rogers, one of the most prominent Shroud scholars

There were doubts from the start. The Jesuit Prof. Bulst spoke openly about fraud as early as 1990 in his book (in German) “Fraud on the Shroud of Turin – The Manipulated Carbon Test”.

Additional books detailing the investigation into uncovering the fraud were released in the 1990s. The idea is that the samples were replaced with medieval pieces soon after they were cut out. Despite the substantial allegations, the accused did not initiate any lawsuits for defamation. Consequently, there was never an official investigation. Therefore, many things remained unclear and inconsistencies were not clarified by the protagonists. Questions sank into the sand of “Vatican authorities.”

The cutting out of the samples in Turin was first kept secret. The media was not there because they were only told two days after the event.

The individuals present at the event didn’t understand why Cardinal Ballestrero (the client) and Dr. Tite (the contractor) went into a back room alone after cutting out the pieces to pack up the samples. This occurred without any objective cause, in contravention of protocol. Not even a notary was present.

During the project, people broke the rules many times.

Everyone knew how controversial the subject was. Therefore, an effort was made to guarantee the highest degree of trustworthiness by employing a procedure that had been meticulously negotiated over time. For instance, it was decided that the laboratories involved should not talk to each other until the result was announced. The reality is that the laboratory heads convened in secret to coordinate. The list of protocol violations is extensive and of grave concern.

If the chain of evidence is broken, the results will be invalid.

The samples were packed in metal capsules without witnesses. These were then sealed and handed over to the laboratory representatives. All that can be said, therefore, is that the samples received by the institutes date back to the Middle Ages. But are they from the Shroud? There are several indications that contradict this assumption.

A new carbon dating could immediately provide clarity.

During a secret “restoration” of the fabric in 2002, so much material was taken out that probably dozens of C14 tests could have been done. The Catholic Church, as the holder of the cloth, has vehemently opposed any direct investigation into the fabric for the past 35 years. After the announcement of the results, all previously cut pieces of the cloth were confiscated and any further radiocarbon dating was prohibited. The pope is said to have declared that no C-14 investigation will take place during his pontificate.

3. Story: The cloth is real

The Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ, as it is mentioned in the New Testament. It is one of the most important relics of Christianity.

“Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock.

(Mark 15,46)

On Easter morning, Peter and John “saw the linen cloths lying there.”

(John 20,6-7)

All evidence, except the controversial carbon dating, suggests that this cloth was preserved as the “Shroud of Turin.”

The result of the STURP investigation was that the cloth is not the work of an artist.

In the early 1980s, the Shroud of Turin was examined by many doctors, scientists, forensic pathologists and other experts over a period of three years, spending 150,000 hours of work. Result: “The image on the shroud is that of a real person who was scourged and crucified. It is not the work of an artist.” But there was no natural explanation for how the image was made.

The image didn’t have any anatomic details about the body that were different from what we know now. If there had been clear errors found, the matter would have already been settled. But that is not the case. One can therefore exclude the work of an artist. Such a medieval genius cannot have existed. There was also no tradition of such “works”. The Shroud of Turin is unique. Many other evidence points to the authenticity of the cloth.

The cloth had a history before the 14th century.

Many research results, including ancient texts, support this assertion. The cloth was brought to Edessa, which is now called Sanli-Urfu in southeast Turkey, in the first century. Later on, it became known as the Mandylion in the Eastern Roman Empire.
It was transported to Constantinople in 944, and seized by the Crusaders in 1204 during the siege of the city. It was not seen again until around 1357 in Lirey (France).
The presence of pollen on the fabric identical to pollen from plant species found in all of these regions indicates that the fabric has followed this path.

The image also contains fragments of plants, primarily flowers, which are exclusively found in the Jerusalem region within this constellation.

4. Story: Jesus was lying underneath

The individual depicted on the cloth cannot be any other than the historical Jesus.
There are characteristics that only apply to Jesus:
  • This person was ridiculed as a king. The blood stains from the thorny hood on the back of the head show this.
  • The legs are not broken, the wound from the lance stab is clearly visible
  • The man was buried with honor in a cloth.
  • This individual was not held in high esteem by “normal” Jewish people. From the beginning, the cloth was kept by Christians as an honorable inheritance
  • It was venerated as an image of the Savior “not made by hands”. From the 6th century onward, it influenced all depictions of Jesus.
The very fact that this cloth exists suggests that something extraordinary must have happened. Crucified people were usually buried in mass graves. For Jews, anything that touched a dead person was considered unclean and had to be buried with the body.

5. Story: Proof of the resurrection of Christ

The image is a sign of Christ’s resurrection.

The yellowish discoloration (image) weakens with increasing distance between the cloth and the body, creating a three-dimensional effect. The contours are blurred. At a distance of 5 cm, the image vanishes.

Energy must have come from the body; otherwise the high resolution cannot be explained. The chemist Raymond Rogers tried to explain the decreasing discoloration by different gas concentrations. His idea: The concentration of the gases that escape from the corpse’s skin decreases with distance from the human body. This implies that the greater the body-cloth distance, the less image substance was formed. However, the volume between the cloth and the body is small, and a uniform concentration would quickly be achieved. At most, a large yellow stain would be expected on the cloth, which Rogers also admitted in a private email exchange.

The problem is: The forming of the image requires energy coming out of the body. But energy no longer comes out of a corpse, except in the phase, when the corpse cools down, but then the image characteristics should be different. That might be the reason why the STURP investigation failed to uncover a plausible explanation for the formation of the image. Some researchers therefore assume that the image must have been created by an extremely short flash of energy in the moment of the resurrection.

The Shroud of Turin is a mysterious object that shows Jesus was raised from the dead. This means that science can prove that what Christians believe is true.

6. Story: The Man of the Cloth was still alive

The cloth indicates that Christ’s resurrection took place within the laws of nature.

The image can be explained by body heat. This story is also part of the shroud narratives.

There is a plausible explanation for the creation of the image, but only if one assumes that the man beneath the shroud was still alive. Then, of course, there was energy leaving the body, due to the heat in the body.

When a living being is wrapped in a cloth for a certain period of time, which is then immediately photographed with a thermal imaging camera, an image appears that resembles the one on the Shroud of Turin. The closer the cloth was to the person’s body, the warmer it got at that spot. If the image was created through a chemical process, it is evident that the speed of this process was influenced by temperature. This implies that the closer the cloth was to the body, the more image substance was formed. This reflects the visual traits of the image.

It would have a major impact on the Christian religion if there were a narrative about the surviving Jesus. Rethinking it across wide areas would be necessary. Jesus’ original message of pure love won’t change, but the religion that was made in the first four centuries would. Their main idea is that Jesus died on a cross and rose again so that we could be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life.

Therefore, even in antiquity, any notion in this direction was deemed heretical and completely ruled out as a possibility.

It is challenging to imagine that Jesus survived the crucifixion.

Today, most people who study the Shroud of Turin believe that Jesus did die on the cross. The cause of death is deemed to be cardiac and respiratory arrest resulting from hypovolemic and traumatic shock resulting from flagellation and crucifixion, as per Dr. Frederick Zugibe, Coroner.
The arguments:

  •  It is unimaginable that anyone could endure such a peril: flagellation, crucifixion, and lance stab.
  • On the cloth, rigor mortis can be seen
  • Back then, there were no medicines or treatments like they are now, which made it impossible to survive.
  • A Roman execution squad makes no mistake.
  • Furthermore, Jesus’ injuries rendered him incapable of performing the actions he was reported to have performed following his execution.
Key message: Any idea that the man under the cloth was still alive is nonsense. The evidence on the cloth also clearly indicates that the individual concealed beneath it had passed away. The medical findings are conclusive and leave no doubt.

The ‘resurrection of Christ’ as an Issue for medical investigation.

In the grave, blood came out of 28 wounds, some of which were massive. Corpses do not bleed unless due to gravity or when excess pressure is created when a corpse is being moved.

The president of the World Association of Forensic Physicians, Prof. Bonte, was given photographs of the cloth with blood spots to examine. He concluded: “In my opinion, everything suggests that the circulatory activity had not yet ceased… I cannot imagine that this type of bedding could result in a passive leakage of large amounts of blood.”

He was not the only forensic pathologist to come to such a conclusion.

Conclusion: The meaning of the cloth lies entirely in the individual’s perception.
Everyone is free to choose what they want to see.

The cloth could be…
… From the Middle Ages (dating) and therefore a perfect forgery (work of art), but:
The image contains no errors in anatomical details
There is no image behind the bloodstains
The image contains 3D information
The image is not singed, no brush strokes… The cloth is unique (not an art style)
… In addition to the Gospels, it gives a clear and honest look at Jesus
It shows the cruelty and inhumanity of flagellation and crucifixion
It confirms exactly the passion story of Jesus in the Gospels

… A reflection of a miracle and affirmation of the Christian faith
The process of forming the image is beyond the scope of a scientific explanation
The image could have been created by a (supernatural) energy discharge
The cloth is a “mystery”

… A hint of something very dramatic
It reflects the survival of a crucifixion and saving a seriously injured person at risk of life
It demonstrates the determination to live of an extremely abused person
Parts of the Christian faith (Paul) need to be re-thought
The message of Jesus himself (the message of love and forgiveness) would remain unchanged

Book reference
No Death for Jesus
The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection of Christ

A book that explains all the essential aspects in a compact manner. The text is well-illustrated, and the arguments are explained in detail so you can decide for yourself.
It is a book on the market in which all essential aspects of Shroud research are presented in a current, precise and holistic manner.

The memoirs of
Judas Iscariot

A novel

Peter stops Judas from killing himself by giving him a message from Yeshua: “Heaven is always open, even for you, Judas.” Judas becomes part of an incredible drama and gets to know his friend Yeshua in a new way. This is how he gets answers to all his questions. An engaging story with a deep spiritual dimension.

Readers’ opinions (translated from German)

Franz Alt (German journalist and best-selling author of Jesus books): I know the story of the Shroud well from my friend Karl Herbst and therefore your version is also credible. I read your Judas novel with joy and excitement. Mainly, the last 40 pages captivated me… It is very valuable, and I thank you for that.

Eugen Drewermann (German theologian, psychoanalyst and writer): I read and read your book, for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friedrich Laker, Lutheran pastor, Dortmund: You write excitingly and can take the reader on the journey of the book. I was amazed at how professionally you did this. Part of the necessary change in church teaching is that it partly revises previous assumptions and partly expands them with further insights. In this respect, church teaching must be subject to a scientific discourse just as much as other scientific assumptions. This is the only way it will remain convincing and “alive” at the same time in the long term. Even if in the end you don’t personally dispute Jesus’ death on the cross, it is refreshing and enriching to accept the disagreement and fully embrace a change of perspective.

More reader opinions

“I believe this novel is excellent. Looking at the man Yeshua opens up a new approach to the teaching for me.”

“As with good sweets, you have to stop reading occasionally so that you can enjoy it for longer.”

“I really think the book is great. I had a lot of fun reading about the history and mission of Yeshua. The world needs someone like him. I’ve never dabbled in the study of history, but the book provides a solid foundation for contemplating it. I greatly appreciate your great novel. What made me delighted was the development I was able to see over that time. I was able to empathize with some things and integrate them into my own life.”