Biblical Archaeology Review 10:4, July/August 1984

Queries & Comments

The Shroud of Turin

To the Editor:

Though I found the article by Robert A. Wild, S.J., (“The Shroud of Turin—Probably the Work of a 14th Century Forger,” BAR 10:02) interesting, his argument against the Shroud’s authenticity was unconvincing.

Wild believes the Shroud to be the handicraft of an artist or forger of the 14th century and proceeds to discuss what he considers anomalies in the Shroud and its story. I believe Father Wild misses much in addressing the whats instead of the whys.

Why, for instance, would a forger/artist bother to use human blood (as confirmed by Dr. John H. Heller, Report on the Shroud of Turin [Houghton Mifflin, 1983])? Surely medieval witnesses of the Shroud would be unable to discern human from animal blood.

Why make the wounds in the wrists, instead of the hands as traditionally depicted?

And why, if the intent behind the Shroud was for display, would the forger make the image so difficult to see? Was any art form of the Middle Ages subtle?

Why would he make it a photographic negative capable of a three-dimensional image?

Wild considers the positioning of the hands over the genitals an awkward attempt at preserving modesty, but if the Shroud is manmade, why not simply adorn the man with a loin cloth or similar apparel? And if the arms appear elongated, might not this be caused by dislocation due to several hours of crucifixion? If the Shroud depicts anatomical abnormalities (i.e. the long fingers of the right hand), why would the forger attend more subtle details such as omission of the thumbs? (Driving a nail through the wrist severs a nerve which causes the thumb to bend toward the palm.)

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