However, more important indicators of the age of the shroud have also emerged. Some researchers have asserted that sophisticated methods such as photographic enhancement and computer analysis are able to identify one of the coins placed over the eyes of the man in the shroud as a lepton of Pontius Pilate, minted between AD 29–32. Such an identification would be a crucial determination of age.^19
Biblical questions concerning the type of burial depicted on the shroud have failed to discover any discrepancies with the New Testament texts. Wrapping a body lengthwise and positioning it as shown on the shroud is corroborated by both recently discovered Qumran burial practices and by the Code of Jewish Law(“Laws of Mourning”). Further studies have revealed that the head napkin was first rolled up and then wrapped around the head, as reported by the Gospel of John (11:44; 20:5– 7), the Jewish Mishnah (Shabbath23:5) and the “Laws of Mourning.”
17 See Bruce, Christian Origins, p. 196; Maier, First Easter, pp. 119–120; Boyd, Tells, p. 185.
18 See Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin(New York: Doubleday, 1978).
19 For these details, see Kenneth E. Stevenson and Gary R. Habermas, Verdict on the Shroud(Ann Arbor: Servant, 1981), especially chapter 2.
While some believe that the body of the man wrapped in the shroud was not washed, the “Laws of Mourning” point out that there are conditions when washing is not appropriate, such as when a person suffered capital punishment or a violent death. The use of several strips of linen in John is also confirmed on the shroud, since pieces of linen were apparently used there, as well.
One additional point concerns Jesus’ burial, as it is recorded in the Gospels. Since it is related that Jesus underwent a hasty burial with the women planning to return later to finish the process (Luke 23:54–24:4; Mark 15:42; 16:1–3), we have another explanation of possible “oddities” in his burial procedure.^20
One characteristic of the Shroud of Turin that separates it from other such religious remains is that it was the subject of an intense (and ongoing) scientific investigation. In October, 1978, a team of well-qualified scientists applied a large battery of non-destructive tests to the shroud.^21 The three most important issues to be answered concerned the nature of the apparent bloodstains, the composition of the image, and its cause. In particular, it was determined that the bloodstains were real blood and that the shroud was probably not a fake. The image was not caused by paint, dye, powder, or any other foreign substance being added to the cloth. The image on the shroud is composed of oxidized, dehydrated, and conjugated fibrils of cloth, similar to the effects of a scorch, but an exact cause of the image was not proven. Additional characteristics of the image, such as its three-dimensional, superficial and non-directional nature, have become quite an enigma to the scientists.^22
The description of the man who was apparently buried in the shroud has also been enlightening. The scientific team pathologist and other medical doctors determined that the man was crucified and was dead, with his body in a state of rigor mortis. The man’s injuries were the same as the Gospel reports of Jesus’ crucifixion. The most interesting facet of this study is that many unnatural things were done to Jesus and these same types of things appeared on the shroud.