There is a category of topics–the JFK assassination, the Roswell aliens, and the Lindbergh baby, to name three exemplars–about which one wishes to read a single definitive account, thus putting to rest one’s curiosity once and for all.
The Shroud of Turin is one such fraught topic crying out for treatment by an author who is neither (i) a rabidly anti-clerical atheist à la Richard Dawkins or (ii) a Roman Catholic apologist. Alas, title notwithstanding, today’s book is not such a definitive account.
Title: The Truth About the Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery, by Robert K. Wilcox
Completed: January 7, 2012 (#4)
Recommendation: Moderate, but perhaps mainly for the choir to whom the book preaches
First, for the Reader who wishes to refresh his memory as to the centuries-long debate about the most famous relic in Christendom, please refer to the relevant Wikipedia page, which to this reviewer’s mind is approximately as authoritative as any other source on the topic.
Mr. Wilcox brings to the study of the Shroud a long and first-hand experience of the various scientific tests that have been performed on the cloth, which has been photographed, poked, prodded, burned, clipped, and carbon-dated on numerous occasions over the past century. To sum up the mountain of evidence that has been collected: No one is one whit closer to understanding what the Shroud is (or what it represents) than the day that Secondo Pia first analyzed the photographic negative of the image contained within the Shroud’s fibers.
Whilst making a laudable attempt to preserve his objectivity, Mr. Wilcox still betrays too much of a pro-Shroud bias to convince naysayers. (Incidentally, this reviewer places himself in the, shall we say, “Protestant” camp of sindology–perhaps not as impervious to persuasion as an ardent rationalist but certainly not as credulous as one Dr. Paul Vignon, whose modestly titled The Holy Shroud of Turin Versus Science, Archeology, History, Iconography, and Logic (1939) is typical of the pro-Shroud genre.)
Worth a quick scan for those unfamiliar with the Shroud’s history, particularly the chapters that speculate as to the Shroud’s whereabouts prior to its appearance in historical records in the 14th century, but seek no great revelations here.