The sign of Jonah and the Shroud of Turin

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham


As an artist I’ve studied this relic here to some extent, and spoken to the Israeli botanist on the examination commission, who found also the images of plants from the area of Jerusalem in the spring (Passover). I asked him what he thought, and he replied, “I think it is the burial shroud of Jesus.” The details  are remarkably accurate to the Biblical description, and there is no known technique of forgery, and the radio-carbon  tests from the ‘80s proved erroneous, taken from later repair material on the shroud. The only similar existent images I know of are those produced by the atomic blast on Hiroshima.


The Israeli botanist, Avinoam Danin, who wrote a book in the subject, definitely identified the local spring flowers that appeared by whatever method that the body appeared (and were not visible to the untrained eye before his examination), along with local pollen in the fabric, all found in the spring in the area of Jerusalem at Passover. I invited him to speak at Netivyah, which he kindly obliged (he is not a religious believer). Also, the shroud depicts a man crucified with nails through the wrists,  between the radius and ulna to suspend a man for hours (not thru the hands, as virtually all Christian paintings show), which is an accuracy that would unlikely to have come to mind to a medieval forger. In Hebrew hand is yad, which includes the forearm.

The image appears only on the top fibers of the shroud, with no presence of any pigment. Having done experiments in Paris of painted naked bodies pressed on canvas, the image was always distorted, whereas on the shroud it is not, but appears in three-dimensions, like a photograph.

Of course I am not a one to state “what I wish to believe” about the shroud, and I really do not know. But when I measure what I do know from my own artistic experience and a somewhat trained eye observing the shroud here over several years, and the detailed imagery produced by no known process fitting the very specifics of the recorded crucifixion of Yeshua, and the actual finding of a shroud in the tomb recorded in the 1st century Gospel text (which I assume with some certainty they would have taken and kept), and the findings of the shroud’s botanist*, plus my own rather odd encounter with that Personage, I am leaning toward the real possibility of its authenticity.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.