A common charge against the shroud, particularly by Christians, is why is there no explicit mention of a shroud with the image of Jesus on it in the Bible?
Earlier I mentioned there’s 4 possible reasons:
– burial shrouds were considered unclean by the Jews
– the shroud was kept secret so it could not be destroyed as evidence by the Romans or Jews
– it clashed with the mindset of the Jews since the shroud represented suffering
– it clashed with Jewish sensitivities
But even with these, I do believe there are indirect references in the Bible regarding the post resurrection shroud.
I’ve argued the early Christians communicated in code and also the Bible is full of indirect references. It is therefore reasonable, and perhaps also expected, no direct references will be made to the post resurrection shroud. If any references would be made, it would be indirect.
Larry Stalley has written an extensive introductory article on possible verses that indirectly reference the shroud:
Skeptics and critics make a strong argument against the authenticity of the Shroud of
Turin with this simple observation: The Biblical writers failed to mention such a
marvelous treasure! 3 However, due to the threat of confiscation and destruction of the
Shroud by enemies, a plausible inference can be made that early Church leaders would
want to keep the Shroud’s existence a secret from outsiders. This paper provides brief
analyses of statements from within the New Testament that might be “veiled” or
“cryptic” references to what we know today as the Shroud of Turin. No fewer than
twelve texts are strong candidates in that regard. Another dozen statements are
considered secondary candidates. Elsewhere the author has written an extensive
exegesis on seven of these passages. 4 This paper is intended to serve as an introduction
to these Biblical texts.
The first reference is Galatians 3:1.
O YOU poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom–right before your very eyes–Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified?
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
You foolish Galatians! Who put you under a spell? Was not Jesus the Messiah clearly portrayed before your very eyes as having been crucified?
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
O FOOLISH Galatians, who has be witched you from your faith after Jesus Christ, crucified, has been pictured before your eyes?
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified!
Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.
The question is what did the Galatians see?
Without the TS, the explanations are weak. First off, they could not have actually seen Jesus on the cross and there is no commentator that holds to this view. The most common interpretation is Paul so graphically preached about the crucifixion that the Galatians saw it vividly in their minds.
But, Paul emphasized the point “before your very eyes”, which indicates they visually saw something. He did not say “before your very ears you heard”.
The Galatians have seen something. Remember that Paul is engaged in a debate in
the form of a letter. If he attempts to make a point in a way that is weak or illogical, he
loses. He cannot appeal to the Galatians by saying in effect: “You saw it with your own
eyes,” if both he and the Galatians know no one saw anything. Paul certainly means the
Galatians saw something extraordinary, something which in the wrong hands had the
power to “bewitch.” We would have expected him to say: “It was in your hearing that
Jesus Christ was publicly proclaimed as crucified.” But that is not what he says.
“Vividly portrayed” in the Greek is “prographō”. Stalley notes this word was used by Greek writers for the posting of public notices.
Also, the verb translated “vividly depicted (or posted up)” is in the past, aorist tense
from προγράφω. In this context, the verb carries the idea “to show forth” or “to portray
publicly.” Προγράφω was used by Greek writers for posting an “official notice,” an
“edict,” or a “warrant,” such as in the public square.- “This was the common word for the posting of public notices.”
– F.F. Bruce comments: “‘…display before (one’s audience),’ as on a public
placard—a thoroughly classical usage.”
If Gal 3:1 is a reference to the shroud, it would make sense. Paul had shown the Galatians the shroud as part of his preaching. The Galatians saw with their own eyes Jesus portrayed as crucified.