|Pope Francis with the Shroud of Turin in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Turin on June 21, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.|
Evidence like the pollen point to a Middle East origin of the cloth. Other evidence like the Roman coins over the eyes suggest a first century origin. So let's say for argument sake that the Shroud is an authentic 1st century burial shroud. Many people ask how it could ever be determined to be the Shroud of Christ? Why could it not also be the shroud of someone else who was crucified? It's a fair question.
Aside from the obvious parallels with what happened to Jesus which are all featured on the Shroud, such as the Crown of Thorns, severe scourging, wound in the side, wrists and feet pierced, and legs that were not broken. The very fact that a burial shroud of someone executed by crucifixion exists at all is a complete anomaly.
Those who were crucified in Roman times were done so because they were criminals. Crucifixion was a public way of creating fear and keeping order in an occupied country. Similar to public hangings in more recent centuries. It was considered a shame and disgrace that any one in the family be found guilty of a crime worthy of execution. They were usually renounced from family affiliation…excommunicated from all family contact. This is a particular Middle East custom. You can almost hear the Jewish father saying,"You're not my son!" And then forbidding all contact. See Fiddler on the Roof and you'll understand this cultural aspect. When the last of the three daughters decided to marry a gentile. Tevia, her father, ousted her from the family forever. Such was the case with those sentenced for a crime worthy of death.
So what happened? Those crucified were almost always given a common burial. They were simply thrown together into a burial trench and covered with dirt. The dirt was often mixed with lime to hasten decay so that the "bones" might be given a proper burial at a later time. Common graves like this are found today in war-torn Bosnia and in Nazi Germany following the Holocaust. You've probably seen the gruesome pictures.
Jesus was executed as a criminal yet he was given a rich man's burial! The Gospel of Mark recounts how Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy merchant, purchased a fine linen cloth for Jesus' burial (Mk 15:46). And he also offered his own tomb in which Jesus would be laid to rest. This is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of the coming Jewish Messiah as written in chapter 53:9 "And they made his grave with the wicked (crucifixion) and his tomb with the rich (Joseph's tomb)."
The very fact that an expensive shroud was used in the burial of someone executed by crucifixion, combined with all the other unique aspects as mentioned above, leaves little doubt as to the identity of the man whose image appears on the Shroud. If it's not an artwork done by some unknown medieval genius, then there really is no other reasonable choice.
Original article - shroud2000.com