Millions of Christians around the world believe the Shroud of Turin to be the actual linen burial cloth that wrapped the broken and battered body of the historical Jesus of Nazareth after His crucifixion, a hypothesis that has been extensively investigated by both scientific and religious experts.
Does the Shroud of Turin, on display in Turin, Italy’s cathedral right now, offer scientific evidence of the Resurrection? Can an interpretation of the Resurrection through cutting edge physics research correspond with a traditional Christian understanding? Is the Shroud, therefore, somehow a portal to another dimension, heaven perhaps?
The Shroud Codex, by Jerome Corsi, Ph. D., suggests so. Corsi, inspired and informed by his lifelong interest in the Shroud of Turin, draws scientific speculation on advances in quantum physics and intrigues in religious mysticism – namely stigmata, relics, and near-death experiences – together, until they meet in the Shroud of Turin in a literary Venn approach.
A brilliant quantum physicist leaves science on a religious quest and enters the Catholic priesthood. After a near death experience leaves him with the belief he has a cosmic role to play in history for both science and religion, he begins displaying stigmata that mimic exactly the bloody image left on the herringbone linen weave of the Shroud of Turin.
Atheists and believers in both the scientific and religious communities investigate the reality of the physicist-turned-priest’s claims. Is he traveling through time by way of multiple dimensions to literally experience aspects of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, as he claims his stigmata, cutting edge physics, and the Shroud reveal? Or do his stigmata testify, rather, to severe psychiatric disturbance?
As a sharer in Corsi’s interest in both the Shroud of Turin and quantum mechanics, I was particularly interested in how he would bring his scientific and religious themes together through them, and what new information I might discover about the Shroud and particle physics through the story. The images of the Shroud, information on the scientific investigations done on it in the 70’s and since, and the arguments for and against authenticity were significantly explored in the book, at least they were to my satisfaction as a reader.
I was disappointed in the treatment offered on quantum mechanics as a scientific explanation for the soul’s survival into an afterlife and the Resurrection of Christ, the protagonist’s stigmata and related experiences, and the probabilities of our living in a multi-dimensional universe.
The scant discussion left me wondering if Corsi really understood what he and quantum physics seem to suggest about them, or if he was worried his audience would not understand such seemingly convoluted “realities” if he delved too far into them. Either way, I was left wanting more information from that angle, but the author provided extra resources in the back of the book that I will happily explore.
I was also somewhat disappointed in the author’s fiction writing style, but as his professional brilliance, background, and success lie more in political nonfiction, that does not really surprise me. Non-fiction writers often have difficulty writing fiction, and this story suffered from some of the typical pitfalls. I found the whole situation with Anne Cassidy, the contemporary Mary figure, forced and improbable, as well as other, less significant aspects of the story somewhat flat and unbelievable.
However, the book’s pace was brisk, the themes were thought-provoking, I learned quite a bit about the Shroud of Turin through reading The Shroud Codex, and the author’s knowledge, interest and love for the Shroud were evident in the story. Together, these were enough to make me pleased I read it.
If his intention was to explore how faith and science can be mutually supportive, I believe Corsi succeeded. Although the author demonstrates that science and reason can get us to the threshold of understanding great religious events and realities like Creation, Resurrection, afterlife, stigmata and the like, he preserves the mystery and necessity of faith by showing that they can never take us all the way to God, who is immaterial and waits to encounter us in extraordinary ways that will always require a leap of faith.