The Shroud of Turin as the Burial Cloth of Jesus: Answers for Critics – Dr. John Johnson

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Seminar by Dr. John Johnson
Apologetics Symposium
Cedar Park Church, Bothell WA
September 7th 2016

The Shroud of Turin has been claimed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ since at least the 14th Century. I have studied it as an archaeological item for over 30 years. Few people took it seriously until the intensive scientific investigations in the 20th century showed it was like a photographic negative not created by painting or scorching, linen that could be first Century mid-east weave, had pollen traced to the Mideast, remarkably similar to paintings of Jesus back to the 5th Century, but not before. Moreover, the image and blood stains closely correspond to Jewish First Century burial practices, as well as Roman flagellation and crucifixion techniques probably not known to a 14th Century forger.

However, in 1988, all this compelling evidence for its being genuine was seemingly trumped by Radiocarbon tests that allegedly “proved” that it was made of cloth woven between AD 1260 and 1390. For the next 17 years I abandoned my studies, in spite of my hunch that it was likely genuine. But in 2005, it was finally definitively shown that the three samples were all taken from the same repaired area of the shroud that had cotton thread, with a dye applied. Later more independent dating tests have been made that compellingly show it is probably far older than the 14th Century.

Besides the dating controversy, we will discuss seeming discrepancies with the Bible, which have caused most protestant Bible scholars (from John Calvin to Josh McDowell) ignore it: It is a graven image; it is just another dubious Catholic relic; the gospels state that Jesus was tied (wrapped?) with linen strips; the man of the shroud has long hair which was forbidden; the man of the shroud has a beard, but prophecies say it was plucked. We will also summarize the other new evidence for its correlation with the Mandylion, the cloth with the faint image of Jesus known from History from Edessa in the 5th Century, then moved to Constantinople in the 10th Century, where it was looted by the Crusader Knights in 1204. It seems likely that the Knights templar preserved it for a century until it was rediscovered in his estate by a lowly widow of one of the Knights after he was executed.

About the Speaker:
John Johnson has a PhD in Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley. He retired from Boeing after 31 years, mostly in Aerospace. He has studied and taught Bible archaeology since he was a Biblical Christian in 1980. He has argued for Creation in five college debates, and did a radio debate defending Bible accuracy against prominent skeptic J Ferrell Till. He has long been the President of the Creation Association of Puget Sound ( He has taught a University of Washington Osher course on math applications in the arts, part of which analyzed historical objects of dubious provenance to establish probability of either a fake or authentic. But sometimes the expert decision has flipped with more careful analysis.


This seminar was recorded during our Apologetics Symposium at Cedar Park Church in Bothell Washington ( The NW Creation Network organizes numerous educational programs each year, which feature presentations by speakers, scientists, and authors who are dedicated to defending the Bible and the Christian worldview. These events are open to the public and free to attend.

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