Shroud of Turin Brought Back His Faith
Published on Saturday, 21 March 2009 18:11
"What's a Jewish guy like me doing talking about the Shroud of Turin?" asked Barrie Schwortz at the start of his lecture Saturday as part of Ave Maria University's Lifelong Education series. "Well," he said at the lecture's conclusion, "God has a sense of humor. Isn't it funny how Got picks a Jew to be the messenger."
"There's no doubt in my mind it's real," he said about the linen cloth that many believe was wrapped around Jesus after he was crucified and still bears his image.
Mr. Schwortz was the official documenting photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project, which performed the first in-depth scientific examination of the Shroud in 1978. He told the audience of about 100 people, the largest yet for AMU's Saturday lecture series, that the study concluded that the image on the cloth is definitely that of a crucified man, probably from the time of Jesus.
In the lecture, Mr. Schwortz showed a photographic record of the painstaking work done in October, 1978, by a multi-national group of scientists using what at the time were state-of-the-art techniques for scientific examination of the Shroud. It was the first time such work was permitted by the Catholic Church, and such a project "may never be done again," Mr. Schwortz said.
The authenticity of the Shroud as been the subject of debate since the striking image of the man believed to be Jesus was first seen clearly in a negative of a photograph taken in 1898. A scientific team that conducted radiocarbon dating of the Shroud said in 1988 that they thought it was a medieval fake, but Mr. Schwortz showed scientific evidence published in 2005 indicating that the section of cloth analyzed in that study had been rewoven. This and other aspects of Mr. Schwortz's involvement with the Shroud are on his website shroud.com.
His work with the Shroud brought about a religious change for Mr. Schwortz. Raised an Orthodox Jew, he "walked away from the faith" after his Bar Mitzvah at age 13.
But all the evidence "forced me to think about my faith," he said.
"The Shroud reconnected me and brought me back to my faith in God."
Barrie Schwortz (right) speaking with Naples resident Bill Boyan after his lecture.