By Stephen Wagner
A casual observation and a simple experiment can show that the shroud is quite probably a painting.
I have my own theory for why the much-revered and highly controversial Shroud of Turin is not the burial cloth of Jesus - or anyone else for that matter. The most casual observation of the full shroud shows, in my opinion, that it is almost certainly the work of an artist.
Now I am not an expert in forensics, medieval art, or even the New Testaments, but I don't need to be for this particular theory. I just need to be a guy with an ordinary body, just as Jesus is thought to have been in life.
I made this observation many years ago, the first time I saw a photo of the shroud that shows the full length of the body. One of my first reactions was along the lines of, "Wow... Good thing his hands are covering his private area." It would certainly embarrass many people if the shroud revealed the full nakedness of the man they think is Jesus - privates and all. He was fully human during his lifetime, but we needn't see his genitals.
And I think that was exactly the artist's intention when he made this clever painting. Out of respect for person who many believe to be the Son of God and the Savior of all Mankind, the artist discreetly covered the genital area. Otherwise, the shroud - which might have been created as an intentional hoax - might not get the sought-after attention. An image showing the privates of Jesus probably would have been locked away in the Vatican a long time ago. (Pope Julius II grudgingly allowed Michelangelo to paint a naked Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.)
AN EXPERIMENT TO TRY
I know what you're thinking: "That's just the way his body and arms were positioned when he was laid in his tomb."
I think not. And you can perform your own little experiment to demonstrate why not.
Lie on your back on a hard surface (such as the floor) as the figure is in the image, and just try to cover your privates with your hands. I am a person of average proportions and I had to stretch my arms with some effort to be able to barely cover them. Yet the figure in the shroud image seems to be accomplishing this with relaxed ease. The arms don't appear to be stretched out at all.
Now just relax your arms to the floor, like a corpse, and see where your relaxed hands cross on your body. For me, they don't cross at all. My fingertips barely cross around my navel - well above the private area. To be able to cross them at all in this position, I have to lift my arms somewhat off the floor, and they still to not reach the private area with any degree of relaxation. And no one is more relaxed than a corpse.
A tall man with very long arms might have a better chance of duplicating this image (hey, really tall guys out there, give it a try), but the figure on the shroud has been measured at 5 ft. 7 in. tall - about the height of an average man today.
Now unless the person in this image had disproportionately long arms, what we see is impossible. But not for the artist who painted the image with the proper respect for this revered man.
Could it be that the people who laid the body in the tomb purposely stretched out the body's arms to cover the genitals and somehow fastened them there before coving it with the shroud? Why would they do that? What would be the purpose? Answer: they wouldn't. And again, the arms do not look stretched out.
The legs also do not look relaxed like those of a dead body would be. Again, try it for yourself. In this highly relaxed state, the legs do not stay tightly together like those in the image; they naturally spread apart somewhat as the feet fall to either side. They would stay together if they were bound, but there seems to be no evidence of that in the image.
So just through observation and simple experimentation, I have to surmise that the Shroud of Turin is not an image miraculously created by the body of a crucified man, but an image painted by an artist who wanted to protect the modesty of his subject.
For an alternative view: Is the Shroud of Turin a Painting?
For more info: The Shroud of Turin: The Great Gothic Art Fraud — Because If It's Real the Brain of Jesus Was the Size of a Protohuman's!
The Shroud Controversy