An attempt to demonstrate the scientific authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus.
Drawing on the research performed by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) in 1978, attorney and former law professor Antonacci assembles a superficially impressive body of evidence to discredit the 1988 carbon-dating of the Shroud, challenge the theory that the images on the Shroud were the creation of a medieval artist, and prove that the Shroud must have been imprinted during the Crucifixion. His refutation of the possibility that the Shroud was painted in the Middle Ages is engagingly presented and argued: the STURP scientists' examination of the Shroud's fibers found no trace of medieval paint pigments, and no attempts to replicate the Shroud using techniques available to medieval artists have succeeded so far. Antonacci also makes a strong case against the results of the 1988 carbon-dating, which assigned the Shroud's origin to the 14th century. Although the section is confusingly organized, he convincingly argues that the procedure violated existing protocols for carbon-dating, using a poorly chosen sample that compromised the results because it had sustained fire and water damage in 1532. He also provides some evidence that the carbon-dating methods available in the 1980s offered limited accuracy at best, especially when applied to textiles. There is a big difference, however, between calling for more research to explain the Shroud's anomalous features, and proving that those features resulted from miraculous forces. Antonacci attempts to fill this gap with hypotheses that he treats as facts, and with violent leaps of logic. The discussion of archaeological and historical evidence intended to establish the Shroud's compatibility with first-century practices and biblical accounts is riddled with inaccuracies, decontextualized information, circular reasoning, and unfounded assumptions.
Antonacci's research will reinforce the faith of those who already believe in the Shroud, but is unlikely to win any converts among empirical-minded skeptics.