Whether the Shroud of Turin served as Jesus' actual burial cloth has long been debated—and a new study, while not weighing in one way or the other, is likely to keep that debate raging. Researchers reanalyzed data compiled in 1988, when experts at the University of Arizona, Oxford University, and Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology conducted radiocarbon testing on pieces of the cloth. Those experts ultimately dated the linen pieces to between 1260 and 1390, well after Jesus' crucifixion. But the researchers who accessed the data in 2017 through a freedom of information request now claim those findings are invalid, per the Christian Post. In a March study published in the journal Archaeometry, they say only edge pieces of the shroud were analyzed, not the cloth as a whole, though nuns are rumored to have repaired its perimeter in the Middle Ages.
As another study in 1981 determined "the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man ... not the product of an artist," the study authors say an accurate date can only be ascertained with a fresh review, which they request of the Vatican, per the Catholic Herald. The problem, according to a release, is that the Vatican is reluctant to grant access to the shroud, which has been kept in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, since 1578—except for a short period during World War II. Indeed, the Herald reports requests to review the shroud have been repeatedly denied, including as recently as 2007. Nonetheless, the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, hopes to break new ground. Per the Christian Post, the museum aims to raise $2.5 million for a "groundbreaking, high-tech, innovative exhibition about the Shroud" in 2021. (This study takes issue with the shroud's stains.)