Sunday, November 29, 2009

Scientist says to be 'very careful' when interpreting writing on Shroud of Turin

A researcher in the Vatican secret archives claims to have interpreted a death certificate supposedly imprinted on the Shroud of Turin. However, a leading scientist and researcher on the Shroud cautions against reading too much into the images.

Dr. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archive, claims that she has reconstructed the death certificate of a man named “Jesus the Nazarene or Jesus of Nazareth” from fragments of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin words she sees imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, reports the U.K. Times Online. The letters Frale claims to be interpreting were first found in a 1978 examination of the Shroud. Other letters have allegedly been found since then.

Dr. Frale told “La Repubblica” that Jewish burial practices at the time of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem mandated that a body buried after execution of a death sentence had be in a common grave and could only be returned to the family after a year had passed. Therefore, a death certificate was glued to the burial shroud, usually on the cloth near the face, so that the body could be easily identified.

Frale's reconstruction of the death certificate reads, “In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year." Dr. Frale noted that many of the letters were missing from the Shroud, and that Jesus, for example, was referred to as "(I)esou(s) Nnazarennos."

Dr. John P. Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, told CNA, “you have to be very careful when interpreting these things.” He cited the example of an image on the Shroud thought to have been the rope which led Jesus to Calvary which, under scientific investigation, turned out to be nothing more than a watermark.

“I'm not trying to demean someone else's work that I'm not familiar with,” Jackson said. He did, however, point out that “there is a long history of people finding things on the Shroud which are tied into subjectivity.”

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth used as a burial shroud which bears the distinct image of a crucified man bearing wounds matching the Gospel accounts of the Passion of Christ. Scholars concur that the Shroud cannot be a work of art, and traces of blood, as well as the pollen of plants found only in the Middle East, have been found nestled within the fibers of the cloth.

The object of much scientific study, the authenticity of the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Church.