CHICAGO -- A misspelling on a rare Pontius Pilate coin helped convince researchers that human imprints on the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, are genuine and date back to the first century.
Magnifications of the rare coin -- believed widely used around Palestine until 70 A.D. to cover the eyes of the dead -- showed the same misspelling found in the shroud imprint, a Loyola University theologian said Tuesday.
The Rev. Francis L. Filas said the matching misspellings prove the shroud originated around the same time and place Christ was crucified during Pilate's reign.
The shroud believed to be Christ's burial cloth has been preserved since 1578 in the cathedral of Turin, Italy.
Photograhic plates made in 1898 indicated a human body of a crucified man was imprinted on the shroud. The shroud's authenticity, however, has been a matter of controversy because researchers had been unable to trace its history further than the mid-14th century.
Filas said his discovery is the strongest evidence yet the shroud is authentic.
'Imprints of a misspelled Pontius Pilate coin now in existence are the same as imprints of an apparent coin on the right eye of the crucified man's figure on the Shroud of Turin,' said Filas, a professor of theology at Loyola.
'This discovery proves the authenticity, the place of origin, and the approximate dating of the Shroud of Turin beyond reasonable doubt.'
Initially it had been believed the imprints on the shroud had been painted.
'Now the coin provides concrete proof that the misspelling did exist in the past as it exists today,' Filas said.
'What makes the discovery so definitive is the fact that a maverick and extremely rare misspelling from the Greek words for 'Tiberius Caesar' occurs on both the Shroud pattern and on the coin. Up to now, the 'u cai' could only be theorized as a misspelling of a 'c' for a 'k' in 'Tiberiou Kaisaros.'
The coin, Filas said, also provided the earliest and most accurate dating of the shroud.
'Pontius Pilate issued coins of this type no earlier than 29 A.D. and perhaps through 32 A.D. at the latest,' Filas said.
'It completely excludes the possibility of any forgery of the shroud imprints ... No one can reasonably deny that this coin originated in Palestine. This confirms more than ever that the man of the shroud was a crucified Jew.'