Remaking the Shroud: Antonio Lombatti on the Shroud of Turin

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In the last 20 years I have seen many documentaries on the Shroud of Turin. Each of them promised to finally solve the “mystery” of the most controversial Christian relic of all times. I have to say that “Remaking the Shroud,” recently aired by NatGeo TV, is the best one I’ve ever watched so far. It doesn’t want us to be convinced that this medieval relic is the real burial cloth of Jesus. It doesn’t want to convey the message that this artifact is miraculous or mysterious. It simply tries to distinguish if the Shroud of Turin has to be considered an icon made to evoke and inspire the faithful or a hoax forged to fool the gullible and help medieval monasteries to make lots of money.

This is the best Shroud film ever produced probably because most of the people who have been involved in it are professional scholars and not “shroudologists”: the medievalist Richard Kaeuper (University of Rochester), who speaks on the first owner of the Turin Shroud — the French knight Geoffroy de Charny; — the archaeologist Shimon Gibson (Texas A&M University), who refers on Second Temple burial cloths and rites, the art historian William Dale (University of Western Ontario), who deals with byzantine icons; and the chemist Luigi Garlaschelli (University of Pavia), the first scientist to remake a full-size shroud.

The documentary is divided into three main parts. In the general introduction, we are told what the Shroud is: a linen bearing a double image of a (presumed) man who should show the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, there are many inaccuracies and the image is anatomically incorrect. When the relics first appeared in France around 1355, the bishop ordered an inquiry and found out that such burial cloth with a double imprint did not find any confirmation in the Gospels. Moreover, the Pope who had to face the first controversy on the public display of the Shroud wrote in the bull that he be granted permission to show it, but it had to be said with a clear and loud voice that it was a mere representation of the burial cloth of Jesus and not the real one. Finally, even the owners – the French family de Charny – when asked for permission to place the relic in their church have always referred to the Shroud as a representation.

via The Bible and Interpretation.

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