The Shroud of Turin: Toward a Mystery Solved

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To come right to the point, I believe that my son, Nathan Wilson, has figured out how the Shroud of Turin was originally made, and he has duplicated the feat on the roof of the New St. Andrews building (although, we confess, the building is not currently zoned for Shroud duplications).

He figured it out a number of years ago, put his theory to the test in the fall of 2003, wrote up an article on the proceedings, and that article, to mix a metaphor, is about to hit the fan. The article is published in Books and Culture, a publication which can be found here. I don’t know when the article itself will be available on their website, but information on how to contact them for a hard copy is there. A brief review of the experiment, additional images and information are available at another web site, here. For those who want to link it, the web site is found at, and it is one of those sites noted off on the left side of this blog. This web site includes photos, some really weird 3-D imagery, along with an explanation of what occurreth therein. For those not up to speed on the happenings of the Shroud World (and yes, there is a Shroud World), this is actually a very big deal.

As long as people have been puzzling over the Shroud, the question has been one of how such an image could have gotten on the linen. There is no evidence of the image being made with paint, dye, etc. Further, the image is a photo negative, discovered when it was first photographed, and computer analysis can translate the image to 3-D, which was a feature discovered in the 1970s.

The solution, long in coming, turned out to be both elegant and simple. It was something like the joke about how you sculpt a horse–you take a block of marble and chip away everything that doesn’t look like a horse. The image was not put on the cloth. Rather, everything that is not the image was taken off. How that could have been done by folks in the medieval era has now been amply demonstrated, and more importantly, duplicated. Moreover, it has been done in a way that replicates the central spooky features of the original Shroud of Turin.

Even if you are not a big follower of doings in the Shroud world (as I was not), this whole thing is a classic example of the power of paradigms to shape what we see. Coming out right before Easter, there will no doubt be some atheists who hail this discovery, as though it somehow “disproves” the resurrection. But this discovery was made by a Christian and is being published by a Christian magazine. We affirm that Jesus rose from the dead. And because He rose from the dead, Christians are called to reject every lie — including lies that purport to “help out” the Faith.

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