London, Mar 25 (ANI): A British researcher has revealed a new theory that links the Turin Shroud to Resurrection.
For centuries the Turin Shroud, believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus, by others as the most elaborate hoax in history, has inspired extraordinary and conflicting passions.
Scientists have devoted their whole working lives in trying to explain rationally how the ghostly image on the cloth, even more striking when seen as a photographic negative, and matching in every last detail the crucifixion narrative, could have been created.
But still a concluding, commonly agreed answer remains elusive, despite carbon-dating in 1988 having declared it a forgery.
"That's what first attracted me," the Telegraph quoted Thomas de Wesselow, 40-year-old Cambridge academic, as saying in his book.
"I've always loved a mystery ever since I was a boy."
"In academia, the subject of the Shroud is seen as toxic," he reports, "and no one wants to open the can of worms, but try as I might I just couldn't resist it as an intellectual puzzle."
It provides that elusive but faith-validating evidence that Jesus died exactly as the gospels say he did.
However, it again gets complicated, for the Vatican, since 1983 the owner of this hotly disputed icon, disappoints "shroudies" by limiting itself to pronouncing that the burial cloth is a representation of Jesus's crucified body, not his actual linen wrap.
And it has accepted the carbon-dating tests as decisive.
In his new book 'The Sign', Wesselow dismisses those tests as "fatally flawed".
His historical detective work has convinced him, he insists, that it is precisely what it purports to be - the sheet that was wrapped round Jesus's battered body when it was cut down from the cross on Calvary.
His new book makes an even more surprising claim in its 450 pages (including over 100 of footnotes).
It was, suggests de Wesselow, seeing the Shroud in the days just after the crucifixion, rather than any encounter with a flesh and blood, risen Christ, that convinced the apostles that Jesus had come back from the dead.
If true, he could be overturning 2,000 years of Christian history.
The first hurdle he faces is how to place the Shroud in first-century Jerusalem. The standard historical record of the Shroud - broadly endorsed by carbon-dating - traces its first appearance back to the 1350s in rural France, when a knight called Geoffrey de Charny put it on display in his local church.
"But where did he get it from?" de Wesselow asks, perfectly reasonably.
He indicates a connection between the French knight and the Crusaders who sacked Constantinople in 1204.
"And we have a description of a cloth, that sounds very like the Shroud, that had been seen before that in Constantinople, described as the burial cloth of Jesus, that then goes missing and is never heard of again."
Thus, de Wesselow's theory is that it was taken to France by the Crusaders as looted bounty.
He also shed light on the origins of the cloth in Constantinople. This brings us to the oddly named "Holy Mandylion" (man-dill-e-on), a long lost relic in Eastern Christianity, said to be the imprint of Jesus's face.
"The Mandylion was brought to Constantinople in 944," says de Wesselow.
"That is recorded. It was an object of fascination, said not to be made of paint but of blood, and described as a landscape shape, rather than a portrait."
The legend of the Mandylion is also given a reworking by de Wesselow. That cloth looted in 1204 was, he proposes, also the Mandylion. Its landscape format, he implies with the aid of diagrams, was the consequent of it being the top fold of a bigger cloth - what we know as the Turin Shroud.
In making his claims, de Wesselow has done very little first-hand research himself.
His contribution has to be to collate the work of others, re-examine past investigations (he draws heavily on the digging done by British author, Ian Wilson, a key figure before the carbon-dating tests, now living in retirement in Australia), and then come up with new conclusions.
He is, basically, taking existing pieces of a jigsaw and assembling them in a new and astonishing pattern. (ANI)
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