*Includes pictures. *Explains the history of the Shroud. *Includes the arguments made for and against the Shroud's authenticity. *Includes a bibliography for further reading. For centuries, professional historians have labored through the painstaking task of documenting history as accurately as possible, but even with modern technology, archaeology, and records, some questions have eluded attempts to answer them. From the origins of Atlantis to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the mysteries behind some of history's most famous people and events have fascinated countless generations. In Charles River Editors' History's Greatest Mysteries series, readers can discover the known, the unknown, and the possible answers to history's most enduring questions in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known. Critics call it one of the greatest pieces of fraud in religious history. Believers call it one of the most important artifacts in Christianity. Everyone agrees that it's mysterious, interesting and controversial. The Shroud of Turin has been a controversial relic from the time it was first publicly displayed in northern France in the 14th century until the much-awaited Carbon 14 tests were performed on the cloth in 1988. One group consisting of religious believers and agnostic scientists has argued vehemently that this Shroud represents the actual burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, while another group of religious believers and critical scientists and scholars has argued that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval forgery created by an artist for Geoffrey de Charny or one of his ancestors in 14th century France. Indeed, the position one takes on the Shroud seems to cut across the usual divisions of creedal affirmation or general education level; some church leaders have decried it as a forgery, while a few have marveled at its authentic character. In some cases, the data that each side presents is different. For example, different experts have analyzed the cloth with the same scientific question and come up with a different result. In most cases, however, the data itself is identical, with the only difference being the interpretation given to the data. Writer John Walsh may have put it best when he stated, The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence...or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground. (Walsh, 1963, 8) As Walsh's comment notes, perhaps the most amazing thing about the Shroud is that while the radioactive carbon dating on the cloth suggests it dates back to medieval times, there's no consensus on just how the image got onto the cloth. Even back in the late 14th century, religious authorities considered it a fraud, yet modern science hasn't been able to explain how the artist responsible for the image rendered it. To this day, the Catholic Church has taken no definitive stance on its authenticity, with Pope Francis stopping short of that by stating the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. Given the arguments regarding the Shroud of Turin, and the questions that remain unanswered, it's only fair for a work on the Shroud to present the varied and contradictory evidence within the narrative of each respective side. History's Greatest Mysteries: The Shroud of Turin provides a brief physical description of the Shroud and then looks at the arguments that assert the Shroud is authentic, as well as the arguments that it is a brilliant medieval forgery.
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