Turin's shrouded history

Turin, Italy's most recent fame may be due to the 2006 winter games, but its long-standing notoriety has derived, in part, from being home to one of the most scrutinized pieces of archaeology—the Shroud of Turin. Since the 16th century academics have been travelling to this northern Italian town to examine what some suggest to be the burial cloth of Jesus. On Tuesday, March 21, the public is invited to hear one of the foremost Canadian experts on the Shroud, Phillip Wiebe, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Western University as he gives the lecture “Shroud of Turin: Authenticity and Significance for Christian Faith” on campus.

“The Shroud has a mysterious image on it,” says Wiebe, professor and chair of philosophy for 27 years at TWU. Stored in Turin's St. John the Baptist Cathedral, this 14 foot long 4 foot wide cloth is impressed with the silhouette of a man who has been visibly scourged and crucified. “But clergy are divided on its authenticity as the burial shroud of Christ. The academic world is also at odds with over 24 disciplines involved its study.”

The cloth was first exhibited in Europe over 750 years ago. “Based on botanical material found on the cloth, scholars can trace it back to Israel,” says Wiebe. “But forensic pathologists who've examined it have also found traces of human blood. They've identified the image as that of a young man—about 30 years of age—who's been crucified, scourged, stabbed through the heart and had some implement of torture applied to his head.”

As the potential burial shroud of Jesus, the cloth is a pivotal theological and historical find. “If the man on the Shroud can be identified as Jesus, it tells us more about him, how he looked and died and, perhaps most importantly, it corroborates the New Testament accounts of how he died,” says Wiebe.

While original Carbon 14 dating done in 1988 dated the shroud to between 1260 and 1390, further study has revealed a flaw in those tests, making the initial results inconclusive. Scientists have since discovered that the sample used in the dating was taken from an apparent repair to the Shroud done in the medieval era.

As part of the lecture, Wiebe will have a replica of the Shroud on display. The Shroud itself is expected to be exhibited in North America in 2025.

Event: Shroud of Turin: Authenticity and Significance for Christian Faith Presented by Phillip Wiebe, Ph.D.
Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Block Hall, Neufeld Science Centre at Trinity Western University 7600 Glover Rd, Langley, BC
Cost: No charge
Contact: For more information contact Phillip Wiebe, (604) 888-7511 ext. 3334, or pwiebe@twu.ca

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,300 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 14 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum