THE SHROUD OF TURIN
by Fred Coulter
Written the summer of 1982
The Shroud of Turin, with its mysterious image, is hailed by
some as the image of the crucified Christ. It is claimed that the
shroud is in fact the burial cloths of Jesus Christ. This article
reveals the Biblical teachings, step by step showing why the
Shroud of Turin cannot be the burial cloths of Jesus Christ.
Jeane Dixon, a Catholic and famous forecaster, said of the
Shroud of Turin, "The evidence of the shroud is so extraordinary
- and scholars have shown already that it is neither a hoax note
painting - feel that it will have an impact on religious life
like the Dead Sea scrolls or the finding of the true cross.
"I believe the shroud is destined to become a rallying point for
all religions. I see it bringing people of all faiths and creeds
into a deeper faith. It will heal all our souls - and will be the
biggest thing in religion since the Crusades" (The National
Enquirer, June30, 1974).
Even popes have been leading exponents in promoting the
shroud as a holy relic, having its own mass and worthy of
veneration. Paul VI was not the first pope to praise the shroud.
Between 1472 and 1480 Sixtus the IV issued four (papal) bulls
indicating that he believed the shroud to be worthy of the
highest veneration. In 1506, Julius 11 proclaimed the 'feast of
the Holy Shroud,' with its own mass and office, for the town of
Chambery, France, where the shroud was located at the time. In
1582, after the shroud had gone to Turin, Gregory XIII extended
the feast to the entire realm of the house of Savoy. Since Savoia
extended at that time into France and the diocese of Troyes, mass
was being celebrated in the very diocese where, two hundred years
before, the shroud was denounced as a fake. Between Gregory X111
and Paul V1, nineteen other popes expressed confidence in the
authenticity of the shroud.
"Most recently, Pius XII, in a message to the First International
Shroud Congress held in Rome in 1950, 'Wished that the
participants at the congress to contribute ever more zealously to
spreading the knowldege and veneration of so great and sacred
relic.' John XXIII, on seeing the shroud, was overheard saying,
'This can only be the Lord's own doing.' and Paul VI, in the
course of a homily given during a mass in St.Peters Basilica,
June 1967, said, 'Perhaps only the image from the holy shroud
reveals to us something of the human and divine personality of
Christ.'" (Shroud, p.44, by Robert Wilcox).
He went on to explain in his book, "Shroud," another very
interesting comment by Msgr.Jose Cottine, spokesman for Michele
Cardinal Pellegring - Cardinal for Turin, Italy, where the shroud
"He explained that the idea behind the upcoming exposition (of
the shroud) was to increase devotion to the shroud by showing it
to as many people possible. By putting it on Italian television,
the exposition would reach millions of Italians, and the
authorities would be able to guage their devotional as well as
political reactions" ibid, p.18-19).
There are many books on the shroud. Two books which make
interesting reading are: "Shroud," by Robert Wilcox, Bantam
Books; and "The Shroud of Turin," by Ian Wilson, Image Books.
BUT THE REAL QUESTION IS THIS: Is the Shroud of Turin the
authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ? And even if it were,
should it be worshipped and venerated?
What does the Bible reveal about the burial of Jesus Christ?
Was He buried in the manner as the person whose image is on the
This article will give you the Biblical Truth about the
CONDITIONS OF THE CRUCIFIXION
Before we delve into the Biblical facts of Jesus'
crucifixion, it is important to understand that crucifixion was a
common means of execution. It was used not only in the Roman
Empire, but by the Persians, Pheonicians, Chinese and Japanese.
And in the course of the history of the Middle East and Asia
Minor, literally hundreds of thousands of people were executed in
this manner. It was a routine practice to spear the victims to
death, or to break their legs to hasten death, while they were
still on the crosses.
Jesus was arrested at approximately midnight of the Passover
day, in 30 AD after partaking of His last Passover with the
disciples. First, He was brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish
religious judicial authorities. They condemned Him to death and
delivered Him to Pilate, after they had beaten Him severly.
He was brought before Pilate, the Roman civil governor, who
knew that Jesus was innocent of the alleged charges. But he
released Barabbas, who was a known murderer, and gave the order
to have Jesus scourged and crucified.
The Bible reveals the severity of this scourging. Jesus was
literally beaten within an inch of His life. Scourging was done
with a whip that had nine lashes tipped with sharp metal barbs
and bones, which were designed to tear and rip the flesh of the
victim. It has been known that people have died with just three
violent scourges from this horrible whip.
Jesus was literally beaten within an inch of his life.
Jesus was so beaten with this scourging that He was hardly
recognizable! In a prophecy of this event Isaiah recorded this
for us. "As many were astonied [astonished] at you: HIS VISAGE
(the appearance of his physical body) WAS SO MARRED, MORE THAN
ANY MAN, AND HIS FORM MORE THAN THE SONS OF MEN" (Isa.52:14).
This means that His body had great gaping wounds and lacerations,
from which blood undoubtedly bled profusely.
In fact, He was so weak from this experience that He was not
able to carry His cross, but just a few feet, so they compelled
Slmon of Cyrene to carry HIS Cross to Golgotha. (Mat.27:33).
He was crucified at approximately 9 a.m. The nails were
driven into His wrists and feet. Next, the cross, with Jesus
impaled to it, was heaved up in place, and with an aweful thud
settled into its place.
Psalm 22 contains the thoughts and agony Jesus went through
during the ordeal on the cross.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ... But I am a worm,
and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All
they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they
shake the head, saying, 'He trusted on the Lord that He would
deliver him, seeing He delighted in him' (Psa 22:1,6-8).
"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:
my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels My
strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my
jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death" (verses
This exclamation of agony and weakness was the result of the
combined beatings and scourging causing a loss of a great deal of
blood. This is indicated by the expression, "poured out like
water," and my heart is like melting wax.
"For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have
inclosed me: THEY PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET.
"I may tell [count] all my bones: they look and stare at me. They
part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture"
This prophecy shows that Jesus was so terribly beaten that
His ribs were exposed. The indication from these verses is that
He looked down and was able to see them.
Such was not the case with the man whose image is on the
shroud. There is no evidence of gaping wounds and lacerations.
Then after being on the cross for six torturous hours, one of the
soldiers thrust a spear into Jesus' side. His body gushed out the
last of Jesus' blood.
"And about the ninth hour (3 PM] Jesus cried with a loud voice,
saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My
God, why have you forsaken me? Some of them that stood there,
when they heard that said, This man calls for Elijah.
"And straightway one of them ran, and took vinegar, and put it on
a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see
whether Elijah will come and save him" (Mat.27:46-49).
There is a missing part of verse 49, which is found properly
included in the Moffett and Fenton translations. It reads: "And
another took a spear and pireced his side, and out came water and
blood" (the missing part of verse 49).
This is verified by John in his account. They did not break
Jesus' legs, "But one of the soldiers with a spear had) pierced
his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John
Christians are saved from sin by the shed blood of Jesus
Christ. He had to shed His blood, otherwise there is no
redemption from sin.
"without the shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin]"
Since Jesus was still alive when He received the spear
wound, and because He must have had an extremely strong heart,
the rest of Jesus' blood was poured out at the cross. He died at
approximately 3 PM. (actually sometime between 2-3 pm; see my
study "The hour Jesus died" - Keith Hunt)
Next we find that Joseph of Arimathaea, went to Pilate and
requested Jesus' body. Pilate dispatched a soldier to verify that
Jesus, in fact, was dead. When the soldier returned
authenticating that Jesus was dead. Pilate gave permission for
Joseph to take the body.......
A Corpse does not bleed!
This is important since a corpse doesn't bleed, except as
any remaining blood would flow out as a result of the pull of
gravity. The reason a corpse doesn't bleed is because the heart
has stopped beating and bleeding is a result of blood pressure
from the action of the heart. Since the heart of a corpse is not
pumping, it can not bleed.
Contrary to this, the Shroud of Turin has little droplets of
running blood running from the wounds that were stained on the
shroud, showing that whoever it was that was in the shroud was
still alive and bleeding at the time it was placed under and over
his body. The shroud also shows a glob of oozing blood where a
knife or spear had been stabbed in his side. In order for the
blood to be oozing out and upon the shroud is further evidence
that he was not quite dead at the time the shroud image was made.
Whereas, the Biblical account shows that Jesus bled profusely,
"Out came water and blood," when the spear was thrust in His
side. He bled to death on the cross. This shows that there would
have been little if any blood remaing in or on Jesus, except for
the coagulated blood on His skin. Coagulated blood does not run.
METHOD OF BURIAL
The traditional method of burial by the Jews involved three
separate cloths, not just one, as is the shroud. This is plainly
shown in the Biblical Account.
There were three cloths used in the Jewish method of burial
during Jesus' day. They are:
1. Sindon. A cloth which covered the torso.
2. Othonia. A roll of linen cloth, approximately 4-6 incles wide,
was used to wrap the body.
3. Sudarion. A cloth used to wrap the head and face, much like a
turbin. The method of burial was not to use one cloth carefully
out stretched, front and back on the body, as was the method used
in the case of the shroud. Rather, the burial cloths were used to
wrap or wind the body, much like what we find with ancient
The resurrection of Lazarus reveals much about the
contemporary methods of burial used in Jesus' time.
After Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, "...he that was
dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his
face was bound [wrapped] with a napkin [soudarion]. Jesus said
unto them, Loose [unwrap] him, and let him go" (John 11:44).
From this we can deduce the following from the account
given. 1). Had Lazarus been buried in the same way as the person
in the shroud, he would have come out naked, because he would
just have to have removed himself from the shroud. 2). This
reveals that the limbs were wrapped separetely, because he could
walk. Whereas the body in the shroud had the hands and feet tied
together with a cord, making it impossible to walk. 3). Lazarus
could not loose, or unwrap himself, though he could walk. This
shows that his hands were wrapped as one would wrap a wound with
the fingers bound together.
Msgr.Ian Wilson's scriptural investigation of the Biblical
account of Jesus' burial is distinctly deficent. While he shows
that the Jews actually used three different burial cloths, in
their traditional burial, he completely avoids any investigation
of the verbs.
The verb usage proves Jesus was not buried in a shroud!
But the usage of the verbs is, in fact, the most important,
because they tell us how the cloths were used. The absence of any
exegetical study of the Greek verbs used in the scriptural
account, by one who is reputed to be a scholar, is a deliberate
avoidance of the facts. This is especially critical when the TRUE
FACTS COMPLETELY DISPROVE THE ALLEGATION THAT THE
SHROUD IMAGE IS THAT OF JESUS CHRIST!
For example: If it were reported that you were holding a
piece of paper in your hand, and this were true, but it was
deliberately not reported that you had crumpled and burned the
paper, then the account of the paper and its use would not be
accurate or true. This is how facts, which are true, can be made
to lie, because only part of the facts are given. This is the
most clever and subtle way to deceive, because some of the true
facts are given to stack the deck in favor of the desired
conclusion, rather than seeking all the facts and seeking the
truth, regardless of the outcome.
This is exactly the case with the account of the use of the
burial cloths used in Jesus' burial. What was done with the
cloths and how they were used is the most important part in
understanding that the Shroud of Turin is not the burial cloth of
Jesus and that it was impossible to have an image on a shroud
which could have possibily been the image of Jesus Christ.
In the Biblical account of Jesus' burial the use of the
verbs, and participial verb forms of the Greek is most revealing.
In Matthew 27:59; Mark 14:46; and Luke 24:53 the Greek verb
"entulissoo" is used. It means to enwrap, roll, wind, wrap in,
and fold together. This clearly shows, that whatever cloths were
used on Jesus, they were not carefully layed upon Him to secure
an image, as would be necessary to make a shroud image, but the
cloths were wrapped around Him.
The account in John verifies this. Also, it shows that
Nicodemus came with about a hundred pounds of spices and helped
Joseph prepare the body. The spices were undoubtedly applied to
the open wounds, perhaps worked into the wounds and then as the
body was being wrapped the spices were being applied.
"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus,
but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might
take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came
therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also
Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought
a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
"Then they took the body of Jesus, and WOUND IT IN LINEN CLOTHES
with spices, as is the manner (custom] of the Jews is to bury."
Notice, the Biblical account clearly shows that Jesus'body
was wrapped, WOUND in the burial cloths. The Greek word
translated wound in the KJV is: "deoo," which means to bind,
confine, to tie. In other words to wind or wrap or bind tightly.
Since this was the case with Jesus' burial cloths, that of being
wrapped or wound, a clear image on a shroud would have been
impossible under any circumstances!
Here is the reason: If a shroud had been placed on Him
before the wrapping of the lined othoma, the image would have
been severly distorted, it it would have left an image at all.
Such is not the case with the Shroud of Turin. The image is
nearly perfect as a reproduction.
The burial choths were wound around Jesus' body
When scientists attempted to duplicate an image on a shroud,
or large piece of linen cloth, they found that they had to be
ever so careful in applying pressure to get the image, otherwise
it became distorted. This was under controlled circumstances in
an attempt to duplicate the technique of making an image on cloth
from a person or bust of a person's head.
However, it is evident that Joseph and Nicodemus did not use
this method at all.
THE BURIAL CLOTHS AS EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION
When we come to the time of the resurrection, it must be
remembered that the disciples did not fully comprehend that He
was going to be resurrected, although He had told them on
It was, also, known to the priests and Pharisees that Jesus
had said that He would rise after three days. So they asked
Pilate to post guards to protect against the possibility of the
disciples stealing the body. (Mat.27:62-65).
Therefore, it would not have been a proof to anyone, the
disciples or the authorities, if the body of Jesus, complete with
the grave cloths had disappeared. It could have been alledged
that the body was stolen. The authorities, as they did claim,
could have said that the disciples had taken the body. Or the
disciples could have claimed that the authorities took the body,
The same would apply, if the body were gone and the grave
cloths were fou nd unravelled and stacked in a heap in the corner
of the tomb. It, then, could have been claimed that someone could
have unwrapped His body and taken it away, thereby claiming a
So the condition of the burial cloths after the resurrection
becomes a very important factor to the resurrection and that it
When the disciples, Peter and John, entered into the
seplchre and they saw how the burial cloths were lying, they
believed that Jesus Christ did, indeed, rise from the dead. But,
Why did they believe? We shall see.
"The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it
was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and saw the stone taken away
from the sepulchre. Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and
to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They
have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not
where they have laid Him" (John 20:1-2).
However she did not go into the tomb and see if there was
any thing there or not. Upon seeing the stone removed from the
tomb, she just assumed that someone had taken the body of Jesus
and she surely did not comprehend that Jesus had been
resurrected. So when she saw that the tomb was open she just ran
directly to Peter and John and was worried that the body was
"Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to
the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple
did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
"And he stooping down and looking in, saw the linen clothes
lying; yet went he not in.
"Then came Simon Peter followinghim,and went into the sepulchre,
and sees the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about
His head, not lying with the lined clothes, but wrapped together
in a place by itself.
"Then went in also that other disciple, which first came to the
sepluchre, and he saw and believed" (John 20:3-8).
In the American Standard Bible and The New English Bible the
linen clothes is translated "linen wrappings."
The most convincing evidence the cloths could have given of
the resurrection would have been that the cloths were lying in
the same position that Jesus' body had been placed. This is what
they found, with the exception of the head wrapping. The cloths
were found lying in the same position as when His body was placed
there by Joseph and Nicodemus, only the body was missing.
The Greek verifies this. The English word "lying" was
translated from the Greek word "keimai," which means: to lie, to
be laid; to recline, to be lying, to have been laid down. This
verb used in its participial form, as in John 20:7, shows that a
person or a thing to be in a lying position.
Also, in another account clearly demonstrating this is found
in Luke 2:12 "And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find a
babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, LYING, [keimai], in the
We find further verification of this in Luke's account of
the grave cloths. "Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre;
and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid (keimai) by
themselves..." (Luke 24:12).
John's account, in John 20:7, adds more evidence. The cloths
were, lying there, "enfolded," from the Greek verb, "entulissoo,"
which means: to enwrap, roll, wind, wrap-up and fold together.
This is actually telling us that they saw the burial clothes
still in position, the head cloth separate, but still in
position, and the cloths were still in their rolled or wound
position. However. Jesus' body was gone, and the cloths were
simply collapsed, or "enfolded."
They were not unwrapped or unwound. As a resurrected spirit
being, Jesus simply went through them from the dead. A spirit
being can go through matter without affecting it. (John 20:19,
If the actual burial cloths of Jesus were in existence
today, they would be in their folded or wrapped form as they had
been wound around His body. It would not be a solid piece of
linen cloth that had been carefully laid over and under a body,
as in the case of the Shroud of Turin.
OTHER BIBLICAL TRUTHS
SHOWING THE SHROUD IMAGE NOT THAT OF JESUS
The image on the shroud reveals the man had long hair. Most
people assume that Jesus Christ had long hair, because the
traditional pictures of one purported to be Jesus, show a man
with long hair.
However, this directly contradicts God's Word, which shows
that it is a shame for a man to have long hair and is a dishonor
to God! Do you think that Jesus would do anything that would
dishonor God the Father? Of course not!
"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ;
and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is
God Ithe Father). Every man praying or prophesying, having his
head covered (the covering spoken of is not a hat, but long hair
- verse 15, dishonors his head [who is God]" (I Cor.11:3-4).
In concluding this section on hair as a covering, Paul
writes, "Does not even nature [which means rational intelligence]
itself teach you, that IF A MAN HAVE LONG HAIR, IT IS A
SHAMEUNTOHIM" (verse 14).
The sum of these scriptures clearly shows that if a man have
long hair covering his head, it is a shame to him (verse 14) and
a dishonor to God (verse 3).
It is obvious from the rest of the accounts of Jesus life
that He always did the things which honored God the Father and
did those things which' pleased Him (John 8:29). Therefore, Jesus
did not have long hair. This is another Biblical proof that the
man's image on the Shroud of Turin cannot be the image of Jesus.
CHRISTIANS ARE TO WORSHIP GOD INSPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
Let's carry this to its proper Biblical conclusion. God
commands us not to make, bow down to, nor to serve images. (Ex.
20:4-6). The shroud was carefully made and it certainly is
venerated and people bow down to it. So, even if it were the
burial clothes of Jesus Christ, which it definately is not, those
who venerate it are committing idolarty!
Nowhere in the Gospel accounts do we find that the disciples
took the burial clothes and started worshippingthem. Neither do
we find that they took the cross and began selling pieces of it.
What we find is that they actually worshipped the resurrected
Jesus Christ, during the forty days before His ascension. Then
after Pentecost, Acts 2, they had the impregnation of God's Holy
Spirit, giving them direct access to God the Father in heaven
It is through God's Holy Spirit that we are able to worship
God in spirit and truth. "But the hour comes, and now is, when
the the worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth:
for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and
THEY THAT WORSHIP HIM MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH" (John
God is not honored in spirit and truth with such a
mysterious fraud as is the Shroud of Turin. Such an idol,
and the accompanying veneration to a gruesome relic is an
abomination to God the Father.
Though millions will believe and accept the Shroud of Turin
as authentic and will adore it in worshipful devotion, IT 1S NOT
THE SHROUD IS NOT OF CHRIST!
Entered on this Website October 2007