British historian Charles Freeman claims that he has compiled all of the information he can about the Shroud of Turin and has come to the conclusion that it was just intended to be a prop for people in medieval times who celebrated Christ’s resurrection on Easter, the pagan holiday.
Freeman noted that the very first mention of the Shroud appeared in the 1300s, around the time emphasis was placed on how bloodied Christ was at his trial and crucifixion. Prior to that, Freeman claims, all depictions of Christ were free of the blood and gore that is popular today. His views line up with the questionable method of radiocarbon dating done of the Shroud in 1988 that gives it a 14th century date. Freeman argues the Shroud only became a relic in the 15th century, when “it was acquired by the House of Savoy in 1453 … to shore up the power base of the insecure Alpine dukedom.”
Examining the various engravings of the Shroud, Freeman points out, “few researchers appear to have grasped that the shroud looked very different in the 16th and 17th centuries from the object we see today.” In other words, he believes it was tampered with at various times to match the bloodied Christ depiction so common today.
As I have noted before, the Bible states clearly that Jesus’ burial cloths were in two pieces or more–one for his head, the other(s) for the rest of his body, as was Jewish custom (John 11:43-44; John 20:6-7). The Shroud is one piece of cloth that supposedly covered Christ’s whole body. When details like this conflict, I would rather stick to what the Bible says. Despite this, many who claim Christianity are caught up in venerating (worshiping) this thing as a religious relic when, in fact, true Christianity is not in the business of promoting the veneration of any relics.
For more info on Freeman’s research, read the original article that appeared on October 23 in The Guardian.