Even beyond all of this, it is also crucial to realize that virtually all of the other shroud data stand in opposition to the medieval dating. Contrary results come from studies such as the pollen research, the possibility of the Pontius Pilate coins over the eyes, textile evaluations, and the historical trail the shroud may have taken across Europe. So here we have one body of scientific results clashing with another. Which should be favored over the other? More than one opinion has been expressed, to be sure. Further testing and peer review will hopefully follow and may be helpful. We can only conclude that a medieval date has not, at present, been proven.^28
28 For many of these objections to the 1988 carbon dating, see, for example, Paul C. Maloney, “Is the Shroud of Turin Really Medieval?” and “The Carbon Date for the Shroud of Turin: The Position Statement of the Association of Scientists and Scholars International for the Shroud of Turin, Ltd.,” in The Assist Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 1 (1989), pp. 1, 5–8. Cf. Kenneth E. Stevenson and Gary R. Habermas, The Shroud and the Controversy: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for Authenticity(Nashville: Nelson, 1990), chapters 3–4, Appendix A.
In spite of the questions we have lodged, it must be admitted that the 1988 carbon dating is still a serious objection to the shroud being the burial garment of Jesus. Yet, the testing problems, plus other considerations like those above, tend to offset the force of the results. Still, we must be clear that, even if the shroud did not belong to Jesus, nothing in Christianity is affected. Even though it reports the discovery of Jesus’ graveclothes, the New Testament never claims that the shroud is genuine.
If the Shroud of Turin is Jesus’ garment, we have highly evidential data for the death and probably even the resurrection of Jesus. Since there is strong evidence against the shroud being a fake, even if it wrapped the body of another victim of crucifixion, it can still provide important and reliable details concerning Jesus’ demise. As such, several facts can be learned, most of which, it should be carefully noted, do not depend on the identification of the man buried in the shroud.
(1) Once again we learn of the normal wounds associated with crucifixion such as the pre-cross beating, the pierced wrists and feet, as well as lesser details like the knee contusions (presumably from falling) and the shoulder abrasions (perhaps from carrying part of the cross). (2) We also learn of several abnormal points of crucifixion procedure that the man in the shroud had in common with Jesus. Such include: the scalp wounds caused by sharp objects, the absence of broken ankles, the post-mortem chest wound, and the flow of blood plus watery fluid. (3) Afterward, an individual but hasty burial in fine linen for one convicted as a “criminal” is also rather odd. (4) There is strong evidence that the man in the shroud had to move up and down in order to breathe. The blood from each wrist proceeded down each arm and formed a V-shaped blood flow, which is one evidence that suggests that two major bodily positions were taken on the cross.