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Second Image on the Shroud of Turin

QUESTION: Is there a second image on the Shroud of Turin?


The Shroud of Turin is under much scrutiny and scientific experimentation in Turin, Italy, where scientists are examining this most prestigious relic to question its authenticity as the original shroud for which Christ was taken from the cross and wrapped to be placed in the tomb.

It is now discovered by two Italian scientists this same cloth now depicts the face of a man that can be seen on the reverse side of the Shroud, and it matches the front, although much fainter. It also shows in faint detail that of a nose, eyes, hair, beard, and moustache. The hands of the man in the second image on the Shroud were also noticeable, but very weak. The shoulders or back could not be produced. In 1978, when the Shroud was examined, the backside of the cloth was not accessible because at that time, it was sewn to a backing cloth.

In 1989, scientists came to the conclusion the Shroud was not authentic because of carbon-dating techniques, and that it actually dated back to the medieval ages. However, it is believed those carbon dating techniques were not accurate. It is now concluded both images have no colorant of any kind between the two image layers on the extreme outer faces of the cloth so all previous explanations the Shroud was painted or had undergone medieval protophotography is now very unlikely.

Upon further experiments of the second image on the Shroud of Turin, the two scientists claim the possibility that gaseous amines, which are organic compounds containing nitrogen, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, were released. Nitrogen constitutes 78% of the earth's atmosphere and forms ammonia or nitric acid. These same gases would have penetrated through the weave of the cloth. The fibers that make up the threads of the Shroud's cloth are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch and various sugars. And, in some places, the layers have undergone a chemical change that appears straw-yellow. This change is similar to the change that takes place when sugar is heated to make caramel. This makes up the image that we see on the Shroud.

At normal temperatures and humidity, a dead body will produce relative amines, and a primitive piece of linen, such as made during Roman era that is contaminated with crude starch, will react with the amines, and some color will be produced.

It is disproved that the original or second image on the Shroud of Turin were formed by some natural process because that process would be very complex. There is no single, or simple molecular scattering or radiation that could produce the image. It is possible there was a combination of systems such as a high power heat flow by radiation from the body to the cloth, reduced or weakened heat flow in the cloth, gaseous scattering, heat transfer in a gaseous liquid by circulation of currents from one region to another, surface properties of the cloth and the dependence of chemical rates on temperature.

However the images were formed, the process was rather short as the body and cloth were separated quickly. After approximately three days, decomposition from the body would have stained and damaged the cloth. The cloth would have then rotted away. There were no visible signs of decomposition, and the early separation of the body and cloth opens up all kinds of possibilities of the resurrection theory. This would be totally miraculous, and also verifies biblical scripture which speaks of the body returning from death.

The resurrection of the body is an essential Christian doctrine, as the apostle Paul declares: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost" (1 Corinthians 15:13-18).

This article is also available in Spanish.

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