$1 Million Dollar Challenge to Replicate the Shroud of Turin

By Jerry Newcombe Published on April 6, 2024

Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is the cornerstone of historic Christianity. But is there scientific evidence it really happened? Some scholars believe that yes, there is — and that proof is housed in a cathedral in Turin, Italy.

The Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth 14 feet long by three feet wide, contains the image of a man who was badly scourged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, and was stabbed in the side with a Roman lance. Of course, all of these wounds fit what the Bible says happened to Jesus. Is the Shroud of Turin the actual “clean linen shroud” Joseph of Arimathea donated to wrap Jesus’s body?

The Greek word for “shroud” is sindon. Many scientists specialize in sindonology, which means the study of the Shroud of Turin, including physicist John Jackson, Ph.D., of Colorado Springs and the late biophysicist Dr. John Heller, author of the seminal book Report on the Shroud of Turin.

The late Alan Whanger, M.D., of Duke Medical Center once told me: “The Shroud is the most intensely studied single object in existence. There are probably 67 different fields of scientific and academic interests that have looked into the Shroud in one way in another.” He also said that “it provides scientific proof that something so extraordinary happened that there doesn’t seem to be anything else in human history that would fit” the marks on the Shroud except the supernatural resurrection of Jesus.

Some have dismissed the Shroud as a fake because carbon-dating of a single specimen (divided into three tiny parts) conducted in 1988 concluded the specimens dated to around 1260-1390. But critics of that particular test say the sample came from a rewoven (and dyed) part of the Shroud which was often displayed during the Middle Ages, which would have thrown the carbon dating off to that period.

Can the Shroud be Replicated?

Meanwhile, this February British filmmaker David Rolfe issued a million-dollar challenge: Make an accurate replica of the Shroud with the means available to a supposed Medieval forger, and you can win a million dollars. (The deadline for submissions is May 31).

Consider these facts: As mentioned, the Shroud is the most scientifically studied artifact in the world. That includes the 40 scientists who were given round-the-clock access to the Shroud for five days in 1978, known as “STURP” (the Shroud of Turin Research Project). Some of them thought they would prove it to be a fake within 10 minutes. But they soon learned how wrong that assumption was.

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A few years later, the scientists involved in STURP sent out an official summary of their conclusions: “We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist,” they wrote [emphasis added].

We know where the Shroud has been since 1357, when it showed up in the household of a French Crusader. Consider these facts:

  • The human anatomy represented on the Shroud is 100% accurate — far ahead of what people understood about it in 1357.
  • The Shroud’s image is a photographic negative. But photography wasn’t even invented until 500 years later.
  • The faint image on the Shroud was not painted on. It was somehow lightly burned on. Rolfe told me that the image was produced by “an unbelievable amount of energy in an infinitesimally small amount of time” (40 billionths of one second).
  • The blood on the Shroud is real human blood — and its location is found in all the places corresponding to the wounds of Jesus recounted in the New Testament gospels. The blood type was relatively rare — AB+. The blood did not see decay — meaning, the person from whom it came was sandwiched inside that cloth for about 36 hours. Yet the blood was undisturbed, which means the cloth was not removed or yanked off the body.
  • The image of the Shroud is three-dimensional. Paintings and pictures don’t have that property.

And on and on it goes.

“He is Risen Indeed”

Author Marc Antonacci noted in his 2001 book The Resurrection of the Shroud that if a Medieval artist had put the Shroud together, he “would have had to have a knowledge of light negativity, light spectrometry, microscopy, radiology, human physiology, pathology, hematology, endocrinology, forensics, and archaeology” (pp. 8-9).

In my view, the more you study the Shroud, the more you realize that it is a scientific reminder of the fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

For this piece, special thanks go to columnist Myra Kahn Adams.


Jerry Newcombe is the executive director of Providence Forum, a division of Coral Ridge Ministries, where he also serves as senior producer and on-air contributor. He has written or written 33 books, including (with D. James Kennedy), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Dr. Peter Lillback) George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

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