Originally published on Rocking God's House.
Have you ever wondered about the Shroud of Turin–whether it’s authentic? Is it really the burial cloth of Christ?
Well, one of the world’s leading experts on the Shroud, Mark Antonacci, wondered the same thing too once, and it changed his life. Antonacci, a lawyer by trader, has not only discerned evidence that the cloth is authentic and is the burial shroud of Christ, but he has recently released an astonishing hypothesis: the Shroud also bears evidence that the body wrapped in it was resurrected.
So when I had the chance to interview him about the Shroud, I jumped at the chance. Besides hearing about the remarkable facts about the Shroud that led to his hypothesis, we hear how God used the Shroud to bring him to Christ.
But before we jump into the interview, here is the latest press release about him and his new book TEST THE SHROUD:
Author and one of the leading experts on the Shroud of Turin, Mark Antonacci, continues his pursuit for the authenticity of Christ’s burial cloth with his new book, Test The Shroud. Following over 34 years of studying the garment, Antonacci is convinced that additional testing at the atomic and molecular levels could easily prove that the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ were actual events in history. Antonacci maintains that the marks on the cloth are those of a dead human body and were made with particle or neutron radiation that wasn’t discovered until the 20th century. The radiation accounts for more than 30 unique and remarkable features on the body image that includes still-red blood stains and the pre-mortem and post-mortem wounds that were inflicted upon Jesus. Test The Shroud presents illustrations to help explain the proposed testing, while the writing style is easy to understand and can be enjoyed by everyone.
Test The Shroud describes advanced scientific testing techniques that have become available and can demonstrate if a miraculous event occurred, when it happened, where it happened, the actual age of the garment and the identity of the corpse. Antonacci is petitioning the Vatican to allow this new scientific examination to take place, and his theory is being supported from other scientists around the world.
• “…convincing line of reasoning that the Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ.” – Art Lind, Physicist
• “Test The Shroud is a gold mine of information on the controversial Shroud of Turin.” – Joe Marino, Theologian, Sindonologist
• “A fascinating read – highly recommended.” – Robert A. Rucker, PE, Nuclear Engineer
• “…many interesting details of the most important relic of Christianity, both from the scientific and historical points of view.” – Giulio Fanti, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Thermal Measurement, University of Padua, Italy.
For my first question, I want to hear more about your story before we get into the Shroud. How did you get interested in the Shroud? And how did it lead to your faith in Christ?
I stumbled on the subject by accident as a result of an argument with an old girlfriend almost 35 years ago. The argument was over the fact that she was a Christian and I was an agnostic and it was kind of a threat to the relationship, which was just beginning. I didn’t want to sit around all weekend and let it bother me so I decided to go in and do some work on a Saturday, when there’s no deadlines hanging over your head or nothing like that–there’s no court on Saturday morning.
As a result of the argument I go into work and I can’t get anything done there either so I decided, “Well, I’ll just take some lunch.” It was a Saturday and the paper that I stopped to get didn’t even stay in business much longer after that and it had been in business for decades, but I never read that particular paper, but on Saturday the weekend sports edition came out in that paper so that was one of the few times in my life I grabbed that paper. It had a review of an article about a new book that came out on the Shroud of Turin summarizing the findings from the first initial examination of the cloth. In fact, it’s still the only examination of the cloth. If it wasn’t for the argument I never would have came across the article or the paper and if I had come across the article I wouldn’t have paid any attention to it. But this actually irritated and bugged me because it reminded me of the argument and this is what I was trying to forget.
You couldn’t get away from it!
I literally sat there eating lunch and there was a byline at the top of the paper on the weekend edition and they had a picture of the man on the shroud. You know how a picture looks like it’s looking at you? The thing kept looking at me out of the corner of my eye when I’m trying to read the sports page, and I pushed it away a couple times. Finally I picked it up and said, “All right, I’ll read the blankity-blank article.” Then I find myself back at the apartment where I started out and I’m pacing back and forth and this is the key. I feel threatened and a lot of people feel threatened by new, objective and independent evidence on a subject that is almost as personal as you can get–your religion. But I was very attracted to it because I’m an attorney and it’s very unique evidence, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Finally, I’m pacing a couple hours and finally in mid-step it hits me, I go, “Wait a minute, what are you worked up about? If this, if there is evidence of the Passion, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, what’s bad about this? This could be good news, idiot.” So I thought, “Well, okay, I’ll look at it all … ” Boy was it interesting, it was just astounding. But a lot of people can’t get over that first hurdle and I admit, having a long-legged brunette was a real incentive to reach an accommodation here. [laughs] But after we more or less put that issue behind us we found other things we could argue about. Everybody thinks, “Oh, it has a happy ending and you marry her and you live a wonderful Christian life together.” I do live a Christian life, but I didn’t marry her. I married somebody else 10-12 years later.
So it’s almost as if God set up these little things that prodded you in the right direction.
Yes, we were to meet and to know each well for a short while. I still talk to the gal once in a while, we went to school together but we were three years apart so you didn’t have any contact with each other in those days. That’s how I got started and I really do think it was very important because it’s hard to get yourself to look at it, to overcome your preconceived notions, whatever they are. I was agnostic but you could have been an atheist, you could have been a Hindu, a Buddhist, you could have been anything. It’s hard for people to think, jimminy, there might actually be scientific, medical, and archaeological evidence that corroborates the accounts of the greatest historical sources in the world, the Gospels and the New Testament.
It has been pretty astounding just to read through your material. One of the things that jumped out to me about the Shroud was where it says that there are approximately 130 blood marks, and there are many unique features have never been duplicated in any age. Can you maybe talk a little about that?
These blood marks appear in cloth in the same shape and form as they would have on the body. They formed and flowed, they coagulated and first of all it’s hard to get coagulated blood off of your skin and onto cloth, it’s just hard to get it off your skin in the same shape that it was in on your skin. They’re not only on the cloth, they’re embedded in the cloth with serum around the edges and you can see them on both sides of the cloth.
The outer side of the cloth has always had a backing cloth on it for support but when you take the backing cloth off and you look at it, they’re in almost the same shape and form on the outer side of the cloth as they are on the inside of the cloth that wrapped the body, the dead body. The blood still has a reddish color to it, tint is a better word for it. If the blood is from the Middle Ages it wouldn’t have been red after a few days. I don’t know if you read that part in the book but if you irradiate blood with neutrons and then subsequently expose it to sunlight or ultra violet light, it will maintain a reddish color and it will even look more red than it does in natural light, in sunlight. It will look even more red than in a room or something. It’s something about the combination of neutron radiation initially and then ultraviolet light subsequently, but no forger could have irradiated it with neutrons in the middle ages, of course, neutrons aren’t discovered until the twentieth century.
That touches on one of the things that really stuck out to me the most, your discussion about how it’s been irradiated with particle radiation and the more I read about that it seemed to create this amazing image of basically Christ’s body–evidence of the resurrection. Is that what you’re pointing to? Is this particle radiation showing that something really supernatural happened here?
Oh, yes. This could only have been a miracle. It appears, and of course we’ll want to test this, but it appears that particle radiation emanates from the length and width and depth of the dead body that’s in rigor mortis, and it’s after he suffered all the wounds. This is a miraculous event. Scientists can’t do that in the 21st century, although they discovered particle radiation, protons and neutrons, they can’t make it come from your little finger let alone the length and width and depth of your body–a dead body on top of it.
It captures all the indicators of a prior event. This guy has been crucified, he’s got all the signs of it, he’s had a bundle of sharp pointed objects, or thorns, put over his entire head, which is consistent with the types of crowns that were used in the east in the first century. He’s been scourged with a Roman instrument, he’s had a rough, heavy object across the back of his shoulders. He’s fallen down, he’s got a postmortem wound in his right side in the perfect location that they would have never known of back then, from which blood and a watery fluid flows, just as the Gospel of John describes, on Jesus. His legs aren’t broken, unlike the thieves–they’re legs and all other crucifixion victims were broken–but this guy was already dead, as indicated by the postmortem side wound and the lack of broken legs.
They’re all captured by this, what we think is a miraculous event that happened and if it’s particle radiation it will leave unique proof that this event occurred, but it will even tell you when it occurred and where it occurred and, at that point, the identity would be pretty simple. But the clincher of who it was would be the miraculous event. No other such miraculous event under all these same circumstances [has happened]–that only exists for the historical Jesus. It doesn’t exist for somebody else. What gets me is the evidence is simply unfaceable. Collectively, it’s unfakeable. You can fake a few aspects of the images, though I’ve never come across anyone who’s duplicated one of the blood marks let alone 130 of them. The blood marks are not broken on the edges and they simply don’t know how any of this happened, and my book hypothesizes that after the radiating event occurs, the body also disappears. If you hypothesize that the disappearance occurs at the time of this radiating event you can account for all the primary and secondary body image features, as well as its off-image features such as this radiocarbon dating or the excellent condition of the cloth, and if there are things like coins and flowers on there you can explain those as well by this event.
The evidence is definitely overwhelming and, like you said, it’s a thread to an amazing path to joy if people are willing to accept it. I know your desire is to have the shroud tested, do you see any progress in having that happen, is there resistance to that? Have you been trying to petition for that to happen?
There is resistance to that, a lot of people don’t know the first thing about the subject and when they hear it, when you talk about that they just think it’s preposterous and they have no idea what the evidence indicates. All they know is it’s carbon dated to the Middle Ages and that’s that. Even a lot of Christians will think, or even people who study the Shroud will think, “You can’t risk doing these tests because what happens if they fail?” Well, you’re just in the same situation you already are in. It wouldn’t mean anything except that my hypothesis is wrong. You’d still have to explain all the features on the body images and the blood marks.
Is it the Catholic Church that has the authority to have it tested? Is that really the main one that you have to petition or is it more complicated than that?
Certainly you would have to convince them but you’d have to convince the people who have influence with them–say in Italy, various scientists and that probably have more influence.
It’s just so fascinating. Thanks for writing this book and sharing all of that. I’m praying that it actually does come to fruition, that it does get tested. I really think that could lead to many, many more people like you who found Christ through the Shroud.
Listen, your prayers are very valuable, don’t think they’re not. They help more than anything. I find myself all the time praying about this. If the public’s aware of it you can get a response from the Vatican even if the present conduits to the Vatican never do believe in it themselves. I’m not limiting myself just to those conduits. They’re good people, it’s just I don’t think they have a good grasp of [it], and they’re afraid of what other scientists might think.
But this is very detailed out in peer-reviewed, scientific literature–the hypothesis is out there, as well as in the book. The hypothesis is testable and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be tested. The technology should be developed more and perfected before it’s ever applied to the Shroud itself. The technology exists now for limestone but it needs to be developed and perfected for linen and blood, which are the most important things to test. We don’t know for sure whether Jesus’s burial tomb, the reputed locations, we don’t know if one of them really is the tomb. The most likely one is the Holy Sepulcher, by far, in my opinion, but we don’t know for sure if that’s the case or not. I think even they questioned this very strongly back 1600 years ago.
It’s just amazing that we have the Shroud. I think that’s definitely a sign, I think God intended that as another way to advance the Gospel during these difficult times of humanity. It’s amazing to see all this come to fruition. I’m excited to see how it develops.
Think of all the wars and conflicts that are going on now where religion is at the heart of these disputes or certainly an underlying element or a long-established basis for such centuries-long conflict. Why can’t we decide this question based on logic and evidence instead of who can outgun the other one, who can conquer the other one? It doesn’t work on these kind of issues. You can’t. Any victories you have are temporary and it just makes the bitterness and the combativeness. It just ingrains it and gives people a more recent reason to fight even harder and to start another war. It’s time these things were answered on the basis of evidence, like we try to do on every other issue. You try to get the evidence, the objective evidence to guide your opinions. It’s too bad we can’t do this on politics as well.
For more information on Test The Shroud visit online at www.testtheshroudonline.com.
About Mark Antonacci
Mark Antonacci is the founder and president of the Test the Shroud Foundation, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Shroud of Turin. He gave the keynote address at the international conference held in Italy in conjunction with the Shroud’s exhibition in 2010. As an attorney, he has spent over 30 years studying all aspects of the evidence relating to the Shroud of Turin and released his first book on the topic,The Resurrection of the Shroud, in 2000. The project received coverage from such high-profile outlets as the Chicago Sun Times, Dallas Morning News, Tulsa World News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the nationally syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM. Antonacci practices law and lives with his wife outside of St. Louis.