Feature

Thomas de Wesselow har skrevet en bok om Torino-likkledet: The Sign, og Newsweek brakt et kapittel. Det er fascinerende lesning. Karbondateringen til 1260 eller deromkring har blitt hengende i luften. Det er ingenting ved likkledet som skulle tilsi at det er laget i denne perioden. Skyldes æresfrykten for kledet at det implisitt sier noe om oppstandelsen?

Most people have at least heard of the Shroud and are vaguely aware that it bears what appears to be an imprint of a man’s face, an image reproduced around the world as the true face of Christ. Fewer realize the full extent of the image. The cloth is nearly 4.5 meters long and is marked not just with a face but with two complete impressions, front and back, of a man’s flogged and crucified body. Of the two figures, it is the frontal one, inevitably, that grabs the attention. Here we see the well-known face, a bearded mask housing a pair of glowing, owlish eyes, the hair and forehead flecked with blood. The body appears physically robust. A major wound is visible below the chest on the right-hand side, which seems to match the report that, as Jesus hung on the cross, a soldier pierced his side with a spear (John 19.34). Lower down, rivulets of blood traverse the forearms, stemming apparently from nail-wounds in the wrists, only one of which can be seen. The arms are crossed. The rather spindly hands are placed decorously over the groin. The whole figure is clearly legible, except for the feet, which disappear into blood-stained nothingness.

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Still cherished by many Catholics as one of the holiest relics of Christianity, the Shroud is regarded by nearly everyone else as a medieval fake, largely on the basis of a carbon-dating test carried out in 1988. Sacred and contentious in equal measure, the relic is exhibited very rarely and is generally kept locked away in a shrine in the Royal Chapel of Turin Cathedral, where it has been housed since the 17th century.
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Indeed, the Shroud is as difficult to understand, in its way, as the Resurrection. This should give us pause for thought, for it points to a remarkable coincidence. However we are inclined to view it, the Shroud can surely claim to be one of the most puzzling artifacts in the world, and it is linked, via the burial of Jesus, which it represents, to the most puzzling episode in human history, the Resurrection. Two supremely inscrutable subjects, both associated, either directly or indirectly, with the same historical incident: there is something uncanny about this, something that hints at an unrealized connection. Conventional wisdom, mindful of the need to separate science and religion, demands that the Shroud and the Resurrection be treated as separate issues. But deciding, on principle, to deny any relation between them is hardly rational. As twin mysteries, they could well have a bearing on each other. It may be that the Shroud and the Resurrection remain mysterious precisely because they have been kept apart.
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It is as if a spell has been cast over the Shroud, a spell consisting of the words: «If the Shroud is real, then so is the Resurrection.” This is the unspoken thought that prevents most people from taking the cloth seriously. The way to break the spell is not to find out ever more about the Shroud scientifically and historically; it is to rethink the Resurrection.

The Shroud of Turin and Thomas de Wesselow’s ‘The Sign.’