The Shroud of Turin: relic, historical artifact, icon or pious fraud?

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The Shroud of Turin

Developments from 1988 to the present time.

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Recent developments:

  • 1988: Age of the shroud: Samples from the shroud were subjected to carbon dating analysis by laboratories in Switzerland, the UK and U.S. They concluded that the flax plant from which the linen of the shroud was made, was growing in the ground sometime between 1260 and 1390 CE. This was shortly before the the first mention of the shroud's existence in the historical record. This range of dates was later disputed by other investigators who concluded that the samples taken for analysis were not from the origial fabric of the shroud, but from a patch sewn onto the shroud after it was damaged. If this is true, then it would be an act of phenomenal duplicity or carelessness by those removing the sample. The controversy could be cleared up if the Catholic Church would allow the removal of additional small samples from the edge of the cloth. However, there were no indications over the next three decade that this would be allowed.

  • 2000: Display of the shroud: The shroud was on display from 2000-AUG to OCT during the Jubilee year in Turin, Italy.

  • 2000-MAR: Conferences on the shroud: According to, a congress of scientists of various disciplines met from MAR-2 to 5 in Turin. 1 It was coordinated by the diocesan Commission for the Exhibition of the Holy Shroud. Although the attendees had individually reached widely varying conclusions about the nature and origin of the shroud, they all agreed that a carefully coordinated study of the shroud is needed. A series of 11 conferences were scheduled in Rome, under the auspices of the Roman Center for Shroud Research of Caravita. These were followed by an exhibition of the shroud in Turin, from AUG- 12 to OCT-22.

  • 2000-OCT-14: Proposal to clone DNA: A secretive group of 13 or 14 Christians called the Second Coming Project proposed to obtain a small sample of DNA from the shroud or from a relic that people believe can be traced to Yeshua of Nazareth's (Jesus Christ's) body. They propose to clone Yeshua by taking the ovum from a woman, removing her DNA and replacing it with the DNA obtained from the relic. If the fertilized ovum successfully divides, it would be implanted in the womb of a woman and hopefully result in a birth nine months in the future. They targeted 2001-DEC-25 as the date of birth, even though there is a consensus among Christian theologians that Yeshua was born circa 4 to 7 BCE, probably in the fall. There are several obstacles to this project:
    • There is no consensus among the scientific and religious communities that Yeshua's DNA is present on any relic or artifact.

    • There is no assurance that DNA that has been in existence for two millennia can be made to replicate.

    • Humans have never been cloned successfully in this way.

    • Those mammals that have been cloned are frequently born defective.

Bill Merrell, vice president of convention relations for the Southern Baptist Convention, said that this effort is:

"... the height of foolhardiness ... the highest silliness in the category of neither science nor religion ... perfectly reprehensible."

The project appears to have been founded on the belief that Yeshua is the son of God and that this condition was pre-determined by his DNA. Thus, a cloned version of Yeshua would also have divine status. In essence, they would be creating a deity -- a fourth member of the Trinity. 2 The project apparently did not proceed, because we could not find subsequent information in the media.

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  • 2001-MAY-3: Shroud image may have belonged to Jacques de Molay:  Dr Robert Lomas is leading a study of the shroud at Bradford University. He suggests that the image and shroud may have been from Jacques de Molay, a medieval priest who traveled to Scotland seeking a safe refuge from persecution by the Christian Church for his Knights Temlar followers. Dr Lomas believes that high temperature and sweat from de Molay's body during his torture by the Church may have produced metabolic acids. These could have left an imprint on a shroud wrapped around him. He survived the torture and was held in prison for seven years before being burned alive with another Templar, Geoffrey de Charney. It was de Charney's nephew's widow who first placed the shroud on public exhibition. 3

  • 2008-JUN-02: Pope Benedict XVI announced that the shroud would be placed on display for the public during 2010. It as been shown only four times since the year 1900.

  • 2011: The National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development in Italy attempted to recreate the shroud. They were not successful, and concluded that the shroud could not have been created between 1260 and 1390 CE when carbon dating by multiple analysis in multiple laboratories of the shroud indicates that the shroud was made. It would have been beyond the technology available at that time. They said:

    "The double image (front and back) of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin, has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining ... is impossible to obtain in a laboratory." 4

  • Early 2013: Further studies at Padua University using infrared light and spectroscopy found that the linen in the cloth was made sometime between 280 BCE and 220 CE. Yeshua of Nazareth, a.k.a. Jesus Christ was said to have been executed circa 30 CE. Thus, it could have existed at the time of Yeshua's execution. 5

  • 2013-OCT: At the Southern Evangelical Seminary's 20th annual Christian Apologetics Conference \in Charlotte, NC, Professor Gary Habermas, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, discussed the Shroud. Referring to an enhanced photograph of the shroud that shows the victim's teeth visible through his lips, he said:

    "His skin is intact, his beard is intact, but you are able to see what's inside coming out, just like if you are able to see what's on the back of a hand. This is one of the best indications that the man in the Shroud, who was dead and was crucified, (has) radiation coming out. And if that's what this is, you've got something from the inside (coming out). ... [The teeth] are on the inside, but on the photo they are showing outside. Whichever way (the radiation) is coming, it dragged the image from the inside to the outside. 4

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Webmaster's comment: I posted the following comment to the article in the Christian Post:

    "Why is it that nobody seems to comment on the one obvious piece of evidence that show the shroud's image(s) to not be of an actual crucified victim? At first glance, the shroud appears to have been placed from the man's toes, up his body, over his face, around the top of his head, and down his back to his toes. But the distance between the image of the top of his forehead and the top of the back of his head is only about a centimeter -- perhaps a half inch. If the shroud had been actually wrapped around his head, there would have been perhaps a 15 cm. (6") gap, perhaps showing the top of his head.

    The shroud image was clearly made up of two images somehow drawn on or otherwise added to a linen cloth." 4

  • 2015-APR: The Shroud is again on display, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, who worked with poor youth of Turin.

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  1. is "an International News Agency based in Rome. Our mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media." Their web site is at: 
  2. "Second coming group wants to clone Jesus," Maranatha Christian Journal, at: 
  3. John Innes, "Imprint on shroud could be priest," The Scotsman, at:
  4. Stoyan Zaimov, "Radiation From the Shroud of Turin a Clue to Jesus' Resurrection?" Christian Post, 2013-OCT-12, at:
  5. Marc Lallanilla, "Shroud of Turin Real? Debate Resurrected," Live Science, 2013-MAR-28, at:

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Copyright 1999 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-NOV-18
Latest update: 2015-APR-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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