The Shroud Of Turin And Its Significance For Biblical Studies -- By: Gary R. Habermas

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 24:1 (Mar 1981)
Article: The Shroud Of Turin And Its Significance For Biblical Studies
Author: Gary R. Habermas

The Shroud Of Turin
And Its Significance For Biblical Studies

Gary R. Habermas*

There is little question that the shroud of Turin has occasioned much recent interest in evangelical and nonevangelical circles alike. My own interest in this subject was aroused years ago by my studies on the apologetic value of Jesus’ resurrection. Because of these studies it has been my privilege both to do research with some of the scientists who investigated the shroud in October 1978 and to have recently co-authored a manuscript along with the official spokesman for these scientists. My chief area of research has been the philosophical questions surrounding the shroud and any possible evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in particular.

These opportunities have given me a different perspective from which to view the shroud. Most reports concerning the scientific investigation have been based on news releases and on other incomplete (and often incorrect) data. As a result many articles have appeared, both pro and con, but based on these or other more superficial sources. Especially distressing are some evangelical critiques based on partial information. The major reason why such reports are based on largely incomplete data is simply stated: The final report of the scientists and much of the other material has not been released yet. One cannot refute what one does not know. But the most crucial data concerning the research has not been made public and therefore such critiques are quite incomplete.

One uncanny facet becomes immediately obvious in a study of the shroud. What looks at first report to be rather problematical has repeatedly turned out to fit very closely with the known facts. This essay will attempt to address the four areas most commonly questioned in a study of the shroud of Turin: its history, its relationship with the NT descriptions of Jewish burial techniques, correlations with the person of Jesus, and any possible evidence for his resurrection. Evangelical critics usually concentrate on the NT data related to Jesus’ burial, and we will therefore give special attention to this area. However, a tremendous amount of data has already been compiled on these and other topics both from the scientific investigation and from other research. Therefore my only regret is the briefness of this essay and its inability to go into much detail. Yet I believe that it is better to cover much ground briefly than to leave some crucial questions unanswered. Thus any conclusions will have to be conditioned both by this limitation and also by the restriction against revealing certain data from the recent scientific experiments.

I. History Of The Shroud

Some evangelicals have charged that there is no historical data on the shroud before the thirteenth cen...

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