This is "3.1. Introduction" of "3. The Bible and the Shroud," being part 19 of my series, "The Shroud of Turin." The previous post in this series was part 18, "3. The Bible and the Shroud." See part 1, the main Contents page, for more information about this series.
3. THE BIBLE AND THE SHROUD
© Stephen E. Jones
The Shroud must be consistent with the Bible If the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, then it must be consistent with what the Bible says about Him, and particularly about His suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection:
"If the Shroud is the actual burial garment of Jesus, then it should be consistent with the New Testament texts. This condition must be satisfied before anyone can identify the cloth as Jesus' burial garment.".
[Above: Depiction of the most likely position in which Jesus died, and then was fixed by rigor mortis, based on the blood stains on the Shroud of Turin. Note the injuries on the Shroud which are consistent with the injuries that the New Testament records of Jesus.]
Because, as Stevenson and Habermas' second sentence above implies, if the image on the Shroud was not consistent with the Bible says about Jesus, and particularly about His suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection, then there would be no reason to believe the Shroud was "Jesus' burial garment". For example, if the Gospels said nothing about Jesus having been scourged with a Roman flagrum, crowned with thorns and speared in the side, that would be sufficient reason to believe that the Shroud imprint is that of another crucifixion victim, as proposed by the theory that the man on the Shroud is that of "a Crusader crucified by the Saracens," or that he is "Jacques de Molay the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar".
The Shroud is consistent with the Bible There is no injury sustained by the man on the Shroud that does not correspond to the injuries to Christ described or implied in the Gospels. Some of the parallels between the Gospel evidence and the Shroud evidence are summarised below in table form:
|Gospel evidence||Verses||Shroud evidence|
|Jesus was scourged.||Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15; Jn 19:1||The body is covered with the wounds of a severe scourging.|
|Jesus was struck blows to the face.||Mt 27:30; Mk 15:19; Lk 22:63; Jn 19:3||There is a severe swelling below the right eye and other face wounds.|
|Jesus was crowned with thorns.||Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2||Bleeding from the scalp indicates that a `cap' of thorns was thrust upon the head.|
|Jesus was made to carry a heavy crossbeam.||Jn 19:17||Scourge wounds on the shoulders are blurred, as if by the chafing of a heavy burden.|
|Jesus' cross had to be carried for him, suggesting he fell under its weight.||Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26||The knees are severely damaged, as if from repeated falls.|
|Jesus was crucified by nails in His hands and feet.||Jn 20:25-27; Col 2:14||There are blood flows as from nail wounds in the wrists and at the feet.|
|Jesus' legs were not broken, but a spear was thrust into his side as a check that he was dead.||Jn 19:31-37||The legs are not broken, and there is a large wound in the right side.|
The Bible does not exclude the man on the Shroud being Jesus Nothing in the Bible rules out the man on the Shroud being Jesus. There is no detail in the Gospels' account of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus that contradicts the witness of the Shroud.
Shroud sceptics concede the image on the Shroud matches the Gospels' description of Jesus As we saw in part 5, "1.3 The central dilemma of the Shroud," even leading Shroud sceptics concede that the image of the man on the Shroud matches the Gospels' description of Jesus' suffering, crucifixion and death. For example, the late Fr. Herbert Thurston (1856-1939), a leading early 20th century Roman Catholic Shroud sceptic, admitted that:
"As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head ... If this is not the impression of the Body of Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified."
Conclusion "The comparison of the New Testament and the Shroud image lines up at every point". As can be seen above in this introductory overview, the Shroud of Turin is fully consistent with the Bible's description of the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. In succeeding posts in this section, "3. The Bible and the Shroud," we will see the above in more detail, as well as that the Shroud is fully consistent with the burial and resurrection of Jesus.
1. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.43. [return]
2. "World Mysteries - Strange Artifacts - Shroud of Turin." [return]
3. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.43. [return]
4. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1998, p.10. [return]
5. Ruffin, C.B., 1999, "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.49. [return]
6. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, pp.51-52. [return]
7. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.53. [return]
8. Ruffin, 1999, p.49. [return]
9. Thurston, H., 1903, "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," The Month, CI, p.19, in Wilson, 1979, p.53 (my emphasis). [return]
10. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.45. [return]
To be continued in part 20, "3.2. The man on the Shroud."
Last updated: 18 June, 2013.