If we don’t accept the Gospel of Thomas, why accept the Shroud of Turin

If we don’t accept the Gospel of Thomas, why accept the Shroud of Turin November 14, 2014

A reader writes:

I enjoyed your talk today about what was in the bible and why i.e. Churches were using some documents like Luke but not Thomas etc. Those “new” documents found in the second century that were “secretly” taught were rejected.

I was wondering your thought on the shroud of Turin since it is 1000 years later than Thomas, Judas and Infant 1 and 2. Shouldn’t it also be discarded as a fake since it has no biblical reference and showed up so late?

Merely because there is no biblical reference to something does not make it a fake. The Bible is not intended to be the Big Book of Everything. John himself attests that there are plenty of things Jesus said and did that don’t make it into the biblical record (Jn 21:25). So lack of mention in Scripture does not necessarily make something a fake.

Likewise, the Shroud’s emergence into the documentary record in the 14th century doesn’t necessarily mean it was created at that time. Indeed, one of the problems of the Shroud is that nobody, even today, can make another one, which argues for its genuineness.

As it happens, the ever-fascinating Michael Flynn took a look at the Shroud and argues, not only for its authenticity, but does a reasonable job of showing how the evidence we have suggests a path through history from the Holy Land to 14th Century France where it really becomes well-documented.

If genuine, it is part of a species of what the Church calls “private revelation“, not part of the public deposit of faith. Christians can venerate it if they like, but there is no obligation to do so. It’s a reminder that God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, can do whatever he likes–and of the terrible price Jesus paid for our sins.

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  • I believe that private revelation is a grouping much larger than most think. God speaks to us in our hour of need.

  • Mary E.

    I have always been skeptical, even suspicious about private revelation, but that is because I’m skeptical by nature and have a hard time believing that people haven’t gotten their wishes, feelings and imagination mixed up along the way. For instance, despite my deep love for St. John Paul II, I’m totally unmoved by the Divine Mercy revelation. Perhaps this is due to a lack in me: St. Thomas (the Doubter) is my favorite Apostle, by far. (Maybe I should have been born in Missouri.) But I’m much more comfortable with investigating artifacts such as the Shroud of Turin or documents such as the Gospel of Thomas because those are objects that can be evaluated and tested for authenticity. Not that authentication answers all of the questions, because much depends on our current state of knowledge.

    Just as I’ve always been comforted by the presence of St. Thomas among the Apostles, I’m glad to be reminded that the world of private revelation has room for skeptical, inquisitive types such as myself.