SIGHTINGS


 
Shroud Of Turin Said To
Yield DNA From 'Blood Of Jesus'
By Jonathan Petre
The Sunday Telegraph [London]
From Gerry Lovell <ed@farshore.force9.co.uk>
11-16-98
 
 
 
The Shroud of Turin, believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, is the focus of new controversy as a scientist claims to have isolated DNA from the "blood of Jesus."
 
The Shroud of Turin will be at the centre of fresh controversy next month when a scientist details his claims to have isolated DNA from the "blood of Jesus."
 
Dr. Leoncio Garza-Valdes, a former professor of microbiology, is the latest to question the scientific consensus that the shroud many believe was used to wrap the body of Jesus after the crucifixion is a medieval forgery.
 
In his book, The DNA of God?, Dr. Garza-Valdes describes cloning tests carried out by colleagues at the University of Texas which show that the "red'' areas on the cloth, far from being paint, are ancient blood stains of a group consistent with a Jewish male.
 
In addition, fragments of wood were found with the blood which, he believes, could have come from the cross. The fragments were from the oak tree, common in Jerusalem.
 
But his claims have been greeted with caution by skeptics, who say that he has yet to provide convincing evidence that the shroud is not a fake.
 
Dr. Garza-Valdes, who first studied segments of the shroud in Turin in 1993, is already known for challenging carbon dating tests carried out in 1988, which put the date of the cloth between 1260 and 1390.
 
A number of experts subsequently concluded the ghostly image of a man on the cloth must be that of a crucified crusader, a painting or even an early form of photography, devised by Leonardo da Vinci.
 
But Dr. Garza-Valdes and Professor Stephen Mattingly, a microbiologist at Texas University, have excited believers in the shroud by finding that the cloth is covered with a barely visible living "bioplastic'' coating of bacteria and fungi.
 
This, the scientists believe, developed over the centuries "like a coral reef'' and could have skewed the 1988 carbon dating tests.
 
The book details the experiments that show the "blood'' on the shroud is ancient and contains XY chromosomes, which establishes it as human and male.
 
The tests were conducted by a team headed by Dr. Victor Tryon, director of the Centre for Advanced DNA Technology at the University of Texas Health Science Centre.
 
Gene segments from the stains were cloned and the analysis showed that the blood came from a male with an AB blood type, common among Jewish people.
 
Dr. Garza-Valdes, a practising Catholic, said the placing of the blood traces strongly indicated that the body was that of Jesus.
 
"Not many people in the first century suffered all those lesions, the crucifixion wounds, the crown of thorns, the spear wound in the right side of the chest, the flagellations,'' he said.
 
He disagreed with suggestions the DNA could be used to clone Jesus in the style of Dolly the sheep, saying that the samples were too degraded.
 
Professor Michael Tite of Oxford University, one of the scientists who carried out the 1988 carbon dating tests, was skeptical of the new book's claims. "Nobody has yet provided me with convincing evidence that our carbon dating is incorrect,'' he said.
 
"The amount of coating needed to skew the dating that much would be large, though the possibility cannot be ruled out. But I still believe the shroud is medieval.''
 
_____________
 
Shroud of Turin Sparks New Controversy
 
Discovery Online Discovery News Brief www.discovery.com 11-16-98
 
A University of Texas scientist claims he's isolated DNA from the blood of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin, thrusting the remnant into another round of controversy.
 
Leoncio Garza-Valdes, a former professor of microbiology, is the latest to question the scientific consensus that the shroud, which many believe was used to wrap the body of Jesus after the crucifixion, is a medieval forgery, according to Sunday's Electro nic Telegraph.
 
In his book, "The DNA of God?," to be released next month, Garza-Valdes claims tests carried out by colleagues at the University of Texas show that the "red" areas on the cloth are ancient blood stains of a group consistent with a Jewish male -- not pait , as some experts have claimed.
 
In addition, fragments of oak, a common tree in Jerusalem, were found, which, he believes, could have come from the cross.
 
But skeptics say he has yet to provide convincing evidence that the shroud is not a fake, the Telegraph says.
 
Garza-Valdes is already known for challenging 1988 carbon dating tests that put the date of the cloth between 1260 and 1390.
 
Garza-Valdes and Prof. Stephen Mattingly, another microbiologist at the university, say a barely visible living coating of bacteria and fungi coat the cloth. This, the scientists believe, could have skewed the carbon dating.
 
Prof. Michael Tite of Oxford University, one of the scientists who carried out the 1988 carbon dating tests, tells the Telegraph, "The amount of coating needed to skew the dating that much would be large, though the possibility cannot be ruled out. But I still believe the shroud is medieval."
 
Garza-Valdes' book details the experiments that show the reddish stains on the shroud are of ancient blood containing XY chromosomes, placing it as human and male. The tests were headed by Victor Tryon, director of the Center for Advanced DNA Technology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
 
Further analysis of the stains revealed an AB blood type, common among Jewish people. Garza-Valdes also says the placing of the blood traces strongly indicated that the body was that of Jesus.
 
"Not many people in the first century suffered all those lesions, the crucifixion wounds, the crown of thorns, the spear wound in the right side of the chest, the flagellations," he says.






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