The Shroud of Turin

When I was teaching world history at a Christian school for homeschoolers, each spring I used a particular video about the Shroud of Turin for discussion of archaeological and historical relics. The Shroud of Turin is great for discussion in many other aspects as well. It offers–

  • Interesting rabbit trails down paths related to the Reformation (Martin Luther enjoyed debunking many relics of the Church of that era (we also watched the movie Luther),
  • Opportunity to look at the scientific challenges for authenticating ancient objects and some of the newest technologies available to today’s historians
  • A chance to encourage theological debate concerning the possible repercussions if the Shroud could be somehow proven to be authentic beyond any doubt. Would it cause atheists to believe? How would it affect your faith?
  • The Shroud also offered me a chance to delve into the centrality of the crucifixion and resurrection in building an apologetic for our Christian faith. We discussed what are the most substantial evidences for the truth of Christianity.

The video above is the one we used for our class– Jesus and the Shroud of Turin, available on DVD and I was happy to find that it is now on YouTube. I highly recommend it.  This documentary gives the history and educated conjectures on what happened to the Shroud from the time of Christ (if the shroud is authentic) and when it turns up in Turin during the Middle Ages. There are other YouTube videos that are more recent and give more information on what happened after 1988 when the Catholic Church finally allowed the Shroud to be carbon dated and it was “proven” to be a fake. As you can imagine, this did not end the controversy. There have been interesting protests over both the dating method and the specific sample of cloth that was used. The matter is far from settled.

If you have never studied anything about the Shroud of Turin, you won’t be disappointed at the number of interesting facets to its history and modern-day story!  It is just after Easter and before Pentecost–a perfect time to have another look at this extremely unique and ancient Christian relic.

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