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Rageh Omar and the Shroud of Turin

A couple of years ago Rageh Omar made some TV programmes about the miracles of Jesus which I wrote about here (21 August 2006). I continue to be puzzled about his agenda, having seen this Easter his new programme (BBC2) about the Shroud of Turin.

Although he did not say outright that the Shroud is authentic, that was the implication of the way the programme was made. There was much more that was positive than negative. The thrust of the discussion was to cast doubt on the earlier radiocarbon dating which appeared to show that the Shroud had been made in the fourteenth century. Believers in the Shroud in the USA have advanced a theory to explain why this date is erroneous. though I found the description a little hard to follow.

Samples of new cloth were prepared as a test for the new theory and were submitted to the lab in Cambridge where the original radiocarbon dating was done. The results were negative - the theory was not confirmed, this far at least. I thought the professor in Cambridge (not the one who was there when the original tests were done) sounded politely incredulous.

There are certainly some odd features about the Shroud, notably the fact that the nails in the figure were inserted in the wrists and heels, which is what would have happened in reality but was not known to be the case in the Middle Ages. And there is no agreement about how the image could have been created.

What I found most intriguing about the programme was the claim that the blood group on both the Shroud and a Sudarium (face cloth) held in Spain have been identified as AB, the rarest group. If this is true, has any attempt been made to establish a DNA profile for the blood? If so, what were the results, and if not, why not? The results might be very interesting for claims of a Virgin Birth and in other ways as well. This was just one of the important questions that were left hanging.

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