By Joe Slater
Was Jesus’ body wrapped in a linen shroud before being placed in the tomb? If so, is the “Shroud of Turin,” housed in a Cathedral in Turin, Italy, that shroud? And if it is, should this shroud be venerated as a “holy relic”? The short answers are no, no, and no!
John 19:40 informs us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea “took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” Jews didn’t use shrouds. They wound the body with strips up to the shoulders, then tied a handkerchief around the face.
Even if Jesus’ body had been wrapped in a shroud, it wouldn’t be the one atTurin. That cloth was first revealed in 1354 and denounced as a fake 35 years later by the local Catholic bishop. Carbon 14 testing says it dates to the Middle Ages (1260-1390), over 1200 years too late to have been used on Jesus’ body.
But again, even if the “Shroud of Turin” could be shown to have been used to wrap Jesus’ body for burial, that would not mean we should venerate it as a “holy relic.” Sincere but misguided souls have long sought for some tangible object to help them connect with God. In the movie, Indiana Jones found the “holy grail,” the cup Jesus used at the last supper. Splinters from the cross, vials of blood from Jesus’ pierced side, and countless other “relics” are also viewed as having miraculous powers. None are genuine. Most border on idolatry.
At God’s direction, Moses constructed a bronze serpent in the wilderness. Its legitimate use brought healing to sinful Israelites bitten by serpents. Centuries later their descendants began worshiping it. Good king Hezekiah destroyed it, calling it “Nehushtan” (a piece of bronze, 2 Kings 18:4). If ever there was a genuine “relic,” surely this was it. But, in reality, it was just a piece of bronze. Just so, the “Shroud of Turin” is a piece of linen, nothing more and nothing less.