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The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection Hardcover – April 3, 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Some people will dismiss [THE SIGN]. Some people will be intrigued by it. And some people may change their attitudes on one thing or another by it."
-Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School, as told to CBS “Sunday Morning”


"A fresh insight into the Easter story." --Financial Times

"Thorough, well-researched and fair-minded... Persuasive... much more than just an addition to the canon of Shroud literature."
-Irish Times

About the Author

Thomas de Wesselow is an art historian experienced at tackling “unsolvable” problems. He studied art history at Edinburgh University and at the Courtauld in London, where he worked successfully on the Guidoriccio Problem, one of the great mysteries of Italian art. Later, he became a Scholar at the British School in Rome, researching an even more complex puzzle, the so-called Assisi Problem. In 2002, he was appointed a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at King’s College, Cambridge University. Since 2007 he has been researching the Shroud full-time. He lives in Cambridge.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; First Edition edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525953655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953654
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Preordered and delivered to my Kindle Fire the day of its release (4/3), I couldn't put it down any free moment I have had this past week until I finished it today. It is an elegant, learned, fascinating read which succeeds, I think, in establishing that, from an art historian's point of view, the Shroud of Turin cannot be a medievally produced piece of art. His cataloguing of the shroud's unusual characteristics and review of the history of its evaluation by scientists and art historians is also engaging and convincing. His treatment of the carbon dating of the shroud is less thorough, in my estimation, but his evaluation of the technique itself as malleable and imprecise is valid, it seems.

He has obviously immersed himself in current New Testament scholarship, and points to and quite deftly handles many fascinating issues scholars raise and address, eg. the inconsistency of the Easter morning reports, the accounts' clearly illustrating the political debates in the early Church of who saw what first, and where, and when. His total failure, however, lies in his attempt to address NT scholar and English bishop N. T Wright's initially quoted challenge to explain the resurrection in a way that explains all its historical results (betrayers turning into defiant martyrs, the meteoric rise of Christianity around the Mediterranean basin in such a short time, and the continued existence of Christianity) without resorting to the two basic foundations of Christianity's twin claim on what its belief in Jesus' resurrection is based: discovery of an empty (corpseless) tomb and convincing appearances.

Here is where learned and engaging and convincing gives way to preposterous and untenable.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Having already read far too many religious-relic, "truth revealed" books, I approached this one with caution. In the end though, I was pleasantly surprised. This one is well written, comprehensive, logical, and thought provoking.
Does it prove without doubt that the shroud is authentic? Not really. I'm not sure this will ever be possible. But what it does do is a good job of discrediting the debunkers, as well as making an equally credible albeit largely circumstantial case for that there are too many coincidences for the shroud to be fake.
Perhaps what I enjoyed the most though was de Wesselow's non-judgmentally scientific professional attitude. Indeed, this book is worth reading even if all you're interested in is an overview of the kind of infighting, bad science, and biased claims these investigations provoke.
Steven Paglierani
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Format: Hardcover
My full (now i have finished reading it) review first: the positives. A well written, imaginative, well-argued book from a fresh perspective tackling a "hobby" interest of mine: the turin shroud. A very entertaining book - not as wow! wierd! sensationalist as some of the papers suggest. I'm a history channel addict, what can i say! Thomas de-wesslow's rumination - that what sparked christianity was the resurrection as seen in a cloth - is an oddball claim, BUT he pieces together evidence from an artist's point of view. I wanted to not believe it - it sounds plainly daft. But reader, he makes a cogent, convincing argument and having now researched "animism" in Graham Harvey's excellent book on the topic, i'm impelled to believe him. It isnt one of "those" fantastical books on the turin shroud...although his belief that it was the cloth of Jesus and not a fake is still bothering me. And this perhaps is the book's biggest problem - his positivistic arguments sway me but do not convince me. this is after all an unprovable claim - unless more tests are allowed.

As a side note, can i say how disappointed i am to see the author charles freeman leaving his "review" of the book on this site as well as the uk site? i say review - it does read like a plug for his books/soapbox for his own theory! What i find very odd is that he is leaving comments all over the place on different sites, and has even taken to task anyone who leaves a vaguely positive review (i am of course expecting it..). Write a negative review of course, but do not bully others please who disagree with you. This is a book review site not a place for internet trolls. It ill-behoves an author like you. I wonder if he has a personal dislike of the author? Having said that - and if indeed it is the real charles freeman - i will take mr freeman's comments on the book on board. They do not however change my mind on this book: if you have an open mind, i highly recommend this book
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Format: Hardcover
The first half of this book does a fantastic job of framing the investigation into the mysterious Shroud of Turin and making a compelling case based on converging research across academic disciplines that the shroud is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus. De Wesselow summarizes in chapter 15 that "I couldn't avoid the conclusion: from a purely historical point of view, the death and burial of Jesus seemed to be the best explanation for the shroud."

However, the book takes a tragic turn hinging on his next sentence: "For a skeptical agnostic, this was a suffocating thought ... an idea that challenged my deepest convictions."

Tragic because he then goes on to cling to his deepest convictions with some astonishing logical contortions and historical re-interpretations that fly in the face of far more probable scenarios, not to mention Occam's Razor, to such a degree that it left me wondering about the seeming veracity of the first half of the book. I'd thought that agnostic meant open-minded, but perhaps de Wesselow at present better falls under the category of militant agnostic, beautifully acknowledging the facts, yet refusing to relinquish his own skepticism at any cost, almost like a philosopher who lays out perfectly true premises yet follows with faulty conclusions.

Still, I do appreciate the clarity with which he lays out the historical and scientific study of the cloth to date. If the book had ended there it would have been terrific. The second half may have been better served as a ghost-script for Dan Brown.
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