Ray Schneider responds very well to Charles Freeman as discussed in Scientific Study of the Shroud of Turin hampered by STURP? (But, of course, and expectedly, Yannick takes issue and Colin Berry has a point of view, all of which you should read at the above link.)
Ray writes what I mostly agree with:
Whatever the defects in Ian Wilson’s speculative account of the pre-history of the Shroud of Turin, it seems to me that
ChristopherCharles Freeman’s account is simply a tissue of debunking repeating many poorly substantiated claims about relics and then lampooning Wilson’s treatment.
He fails to mention explicitly the Gregory sermon or the chronicler Robert de Clari’s observation of an object that is described and sounds very like the shroud in 1204. He does note the location and claims that the identification of the Image of Edessa with this other relic which certainly sounds like the shroud can’t be. He doesn’t address Wilson’s speculation that on arrival in the city in 944 if was found to be a shroud and not just an image of the head of Jesus. Also it seems to me that the cloth of Oviedo (regardless of its Carbon date) has stains on it that have the same blood type as the blood on the shroud and have configurations that can be matched to the shroud which tends to corroborate Wilson’s conjecture that the shroud is authentic.
It is difficult to be certain of anything from all the fragmentary evidence, but simply pointing out in every case that perhaps there are other interpretations or that Freeman doesn’t see Wilson’s point is not really an argument but a preconceived conviction. If Wilson can be convicted of being prejudiced in favor of shroud authenticity it seems to me that Freeman can be convicted of the opposite prejudice. One agenda driven account is not more convincing than another. Wilson never claims to prove the shroud authentic. He is making a fragmentary case with what evidence there is.
The shroud is a very mysterious object with remarkable and wholly unique properties and unless we can convincingly explain it then the possibility of authenticity cannot be simply ruled out. There are many small things that point to authenticity and there are some that point in the opposite direction.
I do think that Freeman has a point about the handling of shroud research. STURP did what it could but it was a quickly thrown together association of scientists with relatively few resources. If they were not as professional as they might have been it should be remembered that they were the first and only investigation that has taken place and their research was compressed into 120 continuous hours. These are hardly ideal circumstances. Freeman’s criticisms are Monday morning quarterbacking from the armchair position.
Also read Yannick Clement’s and Colin Berry’s comments.
Monica Clark writes in the National Catholic Reporter that the Legionaries of Christ have withdrawn from a California parish:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Citing its need to restructure in the United States after a series of sex abuse scandals involving its founder and several prominent members, the Legionaries of Christ are withdrawing from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . in the state capital. . . . ‘
Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said he was "extremely grateful" for the Legionaries’ service in the diocese, noting in a statement on the diocesan website that they had established a permanent exhibit of the Shroud of Turin at the parish, "strengthened faith formation and education, inspired family events and pro-life efforts, and solidified dozens of parish ministries."
Let’s hope it is permanent. Other permanent Shroud exhibits have not always been so permanent.
OUTSTANDING: The Shroud-Enigma Dawkins Challenge is simply the best, most professional and accurate short video available on the Shroud of Turin. The focus is the carbon dating issue and the enigma of the image.
The interview with Prof. Christopher Ramsey (pictured) is vitally important.
HOT OF THE PRESS: The new documentary directed by Francesca Saracino, “The Night of the Shroud” documentary was declared the Los Angeles Movie Awards Winner for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director and Best Visual Effect.
- June 4th: the documentary will be screening in New York City, at Hudson Cinema in Jersey City at 6 pm.
- June,11th: the documentary will be screening in New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, (Universal Studios)
Jefferson Williams writes:
I am the primary author of the research article discussed in this article. We DID NOT determine the date of the crucifixion. This article grossly mischaracterizes our research. We dated an earthquake in Judea to have occurred between 26 and 36 AD based purely on what we saw in the sediments. I created a site to explain this research to the general public. It is http://www.crucifixionquake.info.
The article Williams refers to is not my posting but the article that appeared in MSNBC, HuffPo and other outlets. The title of my posting Quake Reveals Day of Jesus’ Crucifixion (or something like that) echoed the news article. Writing “or something like that” wasn’t clear enough on my part to make it an accurate headline. I apologize for that.
Williams’ site provides a wealth of information with links like:
- 01 Was there really an Earthquake on the Day of the Crucifixion ?
- 02 After Shock
- 03 Dating the Crucifixion
- 04 Seismite Formation
- 05 Dating the Seismites
- 06 Varves
- 07 Temporal Patterns
- 08 Darkness
He also wants us to know where he’s coming from, something I appreciate:
Finally, I think I should explain who I am and what I am about. I am first and foremost a scientist. I am also agnostic. I assume the New Testament is a human document that contains errors. I am not trying to prove or disprove the Bible. I am treating the statement by Matthew that there was an earthquake on the day of the crucifixion as a hypothesis that needs to be tested. I will publish whatever I can coax out of the sediments; whether this supports or contradicts biblical accounts. I have much respect for people of faith but I personally do not rely on faith. I am naturally curious and don’t know what the end result will be of the research I am undertaking.
Charles Freeman writes The pseudo-history of the Shroud of Turin in Yale Books Blog: Yale University Press London to promote a longer critique of Ian Wilson in Steven Schafersman’s Free Inquiry: The Humanist and Skeptic Website (May 24, 2012):
When I was researching my book on medieval relics, Holy Bones, Holy Dust, I decided to leave out the Shroud of Turin. It is essentially a cult of modern times, not a medieval one.
First mentioned in the 1350s, it was even then denounced as a fake and it was only the haunting image revealed by photography in 1898 that transformed it into an icon. When one looked at modern debates over its authenticity they were, and continue to be, acrimonious. The scientific study of the Shroud was hampered in the 1970s by a number of individuals, many of whom had no expertise in ancient textiles, being allowed to examine the Shroud (then still in the ownership of the Royal Family of Savoy) and even remove samples from it. These samples are still travelling around and in doing so have surely lost any integrity as materials on which scientific conclusions can be based; hence, the continued and inclusive debates. It was better to leave well alone.
Then, two months ago, I was sent for review Thomas de Wesselow’s The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection of Christ (Viking 2012). . . .
[ . . . ]
For those interested in the Shroud of Turin I have now written a longer critique of Wilson’s work to be found on here, entitled The Shroud of Turin and the Image of Edessa: A Misguided Journey
These are my comments on the current (1 May 2011) Wikipedia article on the Pray Codex (or Pray Manuscript). Like the curate’s egg, this Wikipedia article is "good in parts." That is, it contains both true and false information about the Pray Manuscript, as I will show.
See in particular points 11. and 12. below, which to my knowledge are two hitherto unrecognised features shared in common between the Pray Manuscript and the Shroud of Turin. The article’s words are bold to distinguish them from mine.
Authors James D. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici of The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity and Thomas de Wesselow of The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection claim in their books to offer evidence that may oppose the historical Christian teaching that Christ rose bodily when He was resurrected.
The books seem to suggest that Christ may not have physically resurrected, that His physical body could well have decomposed and decayed, that His resurrection could have really been spiritual and that He could have gained a new spiritual body distinct from His physical one.
In view of the apparent theological challenge, The Christian Post invited [Methodist] Bishop Dr. Robert M. Solomon [(pictured here with his wife)] to explore the evangelical view and response to such a viewpoint of the Resurrection. The Bishop responded with his thoughts on the two books and the issue that was raised.
"Christians must rest assured that such spurious and sensational claims by people like Jacobovici and de Wesselow are extremely weak and readily dismissed by the professional experts," said the Bishop. "They may make good money from their sensational books, but they fail to make any dent in the strong historical Christian teaching (and the evidence for it in the Bible and in history) that Jesus rose bodily from the dead."
It occurs to me that Nathan Wilson’s famous “Shadow” satisfies all but one of the image characteristics of the The Valencia Shroud Enigma Challenge. That one shortcoming is easy to remedy.
The “Shadow” is certainly a molecular change confined to the outermost few hundred nanometers of the fiber, well within the primary cell wall. The “Shadow” is not visible when viewed with transmitted light. Image intensity does correlate to imagined cloth-to-body distances. There is no side-of-body imaging. Image resolution matches that of the Turin cloth. And as with the Turin cloth there are no outlines. Nor is there any notion of directionality. Of course, the “Shadow” is very much a photographic-like negative.
There is only the matter of there being no proof of no image below a bloodstain to make the “shadow” fully compliant with the challenge. It is a problem only because no blood was used on the original “Shadow”. That can be corrected and a new image can be prepared in a week’s time.
Please provide the UPS mailing address of the judging panel. To whom should I send wire transfer instructions.
MSNBC, under Science and Technology, and the Huffington Post, under Religion, carried a syndicated story from Discovery News: Quake Reveals Day of Jesus’ Crucifixion by Jennifer Viegas. Most news outlets, including Religious News Service (NIH?) simply ignored it. Many blogs repeated it, however, and Rational Skepticism mocked it and wondered if the MSNBC’s rewritten title should have been “Quake reveals day of Jesus’ crucifixion, believers research” rather than “Quake reveals day of Jesus’ crucifixion, researchers believe.” Some blogs commented on how likely it was that they got the day right. Others commented on how the earthquake, mentioned in Matthew, might have been merely allegorical.
Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
Now with David Rolfe’s Challenge to Richard Dawkins it probably makes sense to keep up with everything Dawkins. The Huffington Post tells us that Richard Dawkins, Famed Atheist, Supports Free Bibles In Schools:
In fact, he said he would have even donated to the cause insisting that: "A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian."
However, Dawkins has an additional motive for supporting Secretary Grove’s plan.
"People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality," Dawkins writes. "The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself."
John Klotz writes:
I purchased the "Real Face of Jesus" and my suspicion was confirmed. The Lawrence Krauss [pictured here from his Facebook picture] who took part as the Physicist from ASU is the Lawrence Krauss of a Universe from Nothing. Essentially that is an atheistic tract! He appears twice in the DVD, once to discuss the theory of the Universe as hologram. That’s quantum stuff pure and simple. (Sue Benford would understand). An afterward in a Universe from Nothing was written by the Atheist Pope, Richard Dawkins.
How is it possible that those sacred historians, who carefully related all the miracles that took place at Christ’s death, should have omitted to mention one so remarkable as the likeness of the body of our Lord remaining on its wrapping sheet? This fact undoubtedly deserved to be recorded. St John, in his Gospel, relates even how St Peter, having entered the sepulchre, saw the linen clothes lying on one side, and the napkin that was about his head on the other; but he does not say that there was a miraculous impression of our Lord’s figure upon these clothes, and it is not to be imagined that he would have omitted to mention such a work of God if there had been any thing of this kind.
Now comes along a fan of the 17th century Calvinist Francis Turretin (he calls himself TurretinFan and the drawing of him is from his Facebook page) to take us a bit farther down this way of thinking in Thoughts of Francis Turretin and Reformed Apologetics.
Unfortunately for shroud advocates, these [= early historical] claims are not very reliable. I happened to be reading the Venerable Bede’s, "On Holy Places," in "Bede: A Biblical Miscellany," trans. Foley and Holder. In that work, chapter IV is titled: "Concerning the Lord’s head-cloth and Another Great Shroud made by St. Mary." [ . . . ]
Adamnan’s and Bede’s silence regarding the Shroud of Turin [I guess it would have been the Shroud of Edessa or somewhere in the 7th and 8th centuries] at this point is fully expected by those of us who recognize that the Shroud of Turin is a later creation. Had such a shroud been known to exist in Bede’s time, he could hardly be expected not to discuss it at this point in his work. So, while silence cannot prove the non-existence of the shroud, it certainly suggests that the most prominent historian of the age was not aware of it.
Barrie Schwortz, world famous photographer and documentarian of the 1978 Scientific Expedition of STURP - Shroud of Turin Research Project, and Dr. Petrus Soons, world famous 3D Shroud researcher and sculptor, will be presented live on the Internet from Alamogordo, New Mexico’s "Shroud Exhibit and Museum". The event is one of a series celebrating New Mexico’s connection to the Shroud of Turin during the NM Centennial year of statehood. This event will air on the Internet live at 2PM MST, Saturday, May 26, 2012. For more information and registration for the webinar go to http://www.ShroudNM.com
In Killing the Buddha magazine, Becky Garrison*, a panelist for The Washington Post‘s On Faith column and a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Revealer, American Atheist magazine, and Religion Dispatches rambles about in Virgin Apparitions, Holy Blood, and Me . . .
from . . .
During a panel discussion for The Virgin, the Copts and Me, held as part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, Namir Abdel Messeh, a French filmmaker of Egyptian origin, admitted he had embarked on a seemingly impossible quest. How can one make a movie that proves if an apparition exists or not?
to . . .
Within these communal responses we find the power of relics. In Religion Dispatches, Peter Manseau, KtB co-founder and author of Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead, lays out the history of the Shroud of Turin, which clearly indicates that this item cannot be “real.” But he reminds us that “so much focus on explanation misses the point. Belief—any belief, whether in God, the Resurrection, even the Force—requires a partial abandonment of the rational.”
and if you follow up with the article in Religion Dispatches, well, you may not be as convinced as Garrison.
* Picture Corrected
More than a year ago (February 23, 2011) I wrote what turned out to be the most popular posting on this blog: 160,000 page views this year alone, 522 comments with little subject drift, numerous emails, etc.
Well, this morning a reader writes:
Last year, I wrote to you after reading the book “Heaven is for Real.” You said my letter threw you for a loop. But you published it and I have since had the most wonderful opportunity to read and think about the hundreds of comments that followed. Thank you. Did you happen to notice “Heaven is for Real” is still on the New York Times list of non-fiction bestsellers.
No, I hadn’t noticed. But now I see that it is #3. It has been near the top for over a year, which must be some sort of record. Here is what I wrote a year ago. Read More below or click over to Akiane’s Jesus, Heaven is for Real and the Man in the Turin Shroud to see it as I posted it.
As part of the PR campaign for The Inquisitor’s Key, Jefferson (of the Jefferson-Bass team) writes:
Disappointed devotees – who’d counted on the C-14 tests to prove that the Shroud was 2,000 years old – suddenly scrambled to attack the testing. The fabric samples, they charged (and still insist), were cut from an “invisible” repair made in the 1500s.
Even more credulity-straining is one scientist’s assertion that the image was created, at the moment of Jesus’s resurrection, by an intense flash of radiation (a hypothesis later dismissed as impossible even by other scientists who believe in the Shroud’s authenticity).
Skeptics can sound equally absurd. Shortly after Dan Brown’s bestselling novel "The Da Vinci Code," a sensationalist book claimed that the man on the Shroud is actually Leonardo Da Vinci, posing for the world’s first primitive photograph (this despite the fact that Leonardo wasn’t yet born in 1357, when the Shroud debuted.)
But the Shroud’s mysterious image has a simple explanation, according to two credible investigators: professional skeptic Joe Nickell, and Dr. Emily Craig, a forensic anthropologist with years of experience as a medical illustrator.
[ . . . ]
By applying a faint dusting of red ochre (a pigment made from ferrous oxide – an artist’s version of rust) to the linen.
[ . . . ]
I don’t expect "The Inquisitor’s Key" to settle the centuries-old debate about the Shroud’s authenticity. And maybe that’s just as well. Maybe, by provoking thought and discussion about faith and science – about the miraculous and the mundane – the Shroud is doing exactly what its creator intended.
Francesca Saracino, the director of "The Night of the Shroud," writes:
I’m very happy to announce that the documentary will be premiered in USA on June, 2102.
These are the details:
- June 4th: the documentary will be screening in New York City, at Hudson Cinema in Jersey City at 6 pm.
- June,11th: the documentary will be screening in New York Film Academy in Los Angeles,( Universal Studios) maybe in the afternoon, but must update me for the right time.
I want to ask you, please, to post this news on your blog, so that all the American people who are interested in this event, in New York or Los Angeles, (but also in other cities) can come to the premiere of the documentary in the USA .
Thanks so much
Irrespective, wearing my referee’s hat, the one I was called upon to wear a few score times, and all done absolutely free of charge (referees are not paid for their services), here’s the kind of report I might have filed on that paper which appeared in "Melanoidins" that began with quoting Pliny and 2000 year old linen techniques:
1. So Pliny described how linen was manufactured, using starch and Saponaria as processing aids. What good evidence is there that the Shroud has starch and Saponaria? For starch, all I see in this paper is a red colour with iodine/azide used to test for something completely different (sulphur proteins). Why did you not use the standard iodine reagent without the azide? And why is there no evidence that the cloth has been treated with Saponaria? What is the evidence that it dates back to the Pliny era – scientific evidence that is?
2. Why the need for starch anyway in this Maillard reaction. Starch is not a reducing sugar unless broken down to glucose, maltose etc? Ah, I see you have switched from using starch in your model study to “dextrins” i.e. partly broken down starch”? Is that a way to get reducing sugar into the Shroud under the cloak of starch? If so, that is not terribly scientific, is it, or even transparent? scientific. And why the need for “Saponaria” in your model. Is it because the Saponaria has pentosan sugars, some of which might just tbe able to break free from the rest of the polymer, and may then provide more of that "reducing sugar" that is needed in your model. Or iare you saying that the combination of starch and a natural soap helps to release those reducing sugars? Sorry, but since your model depends crucially on having some reducing sugars you must be chemically precise if you want it to have any relevance to the Shroud.
3. Now about the other component you need for your Maillard reaction – organic amines. What evidence is there that the image areas of the Shroud have more nitrogen than non-image areas? None? I see. And I see you use ammonia as the source of amine in your model studies. Ammonia is much lighter and more rapidly diffusible than a much bigger molecule like cadaverine, putrescine etc.
So we have some model studies based on ingredients that we cannot be sure are on the Shroud, except perhaps some “starch” (which is not a reducing sugar) and we are asked to believe that the coming together of putrefaction amines – with no evidence they would ever be released in quantity from a recently deceased individual – with starch/hypothetical Saponaria (now conveniently transformed to reducing sugar) can produce all the image characteristics of the Shroud, right down to hair, moustache, beard etc, despite those being stable keratinaceous protein that would never release putrefaction amines.
4. Sorry, but this journal is Melanoidins. Your paper makes no contribution to melanoidin chemistry. You have simply hypothesised that the Shroud image is the product of a Maillard reaction which then polymerises to a melanoidin, without providing any direct evidence, and your model studies use ingredients that are largely hypothetical as far as a particular piece of fabric in Turin is concerned.
5. If you can provide evidence that there is a melanoidin on the Shroud, with extra nitrogen in the image areas, with evidence for diamines as the precursors, with information of which specific reducing sugar(s) is involved, whether hexose or pentose etc, and better still some evidence for unreacted precursor molecules in the non-image areas then it may be possible for me to to recommend your paper for publication.
The subject of Mark Shea’s most recent article in the National Catholic Register is not the Shroud. It is the reports of many visions of the Virgin Mary at Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mark is responding to a reader:
I believe Medj to be a fraud. If you want to know my reasons for doing so, Te Deum Laudamus has amassed some good evidence for why I think it’s bunk. At the same time, I also believe that the people with a devotion to it are honest and good people who are being deceived by the “visionaries” and sundry other shady frauds and hucksters in their orbit, but who themselves have real and frequently beautiful faith in Jesus and our Lady that is honored by God. I am morally certain Rome will simply ratify the rejection voiced by the local ordinaries that there is nothing superatural happening there. If some of the more fanatical adherents of Medj.make enough trouble, they might, for all I know, condemn the whole shooting works and forbid pilgrimages, but I doubt that. Benedict, despite his false reputation as God’s Rottweiler, generally takes the gentle and conciliatory route.
Mark’s article elicited this comment:
I take Mark’s attitude on Medj. in studying the “Shroud of Turin”. The Vatican has said it is an object that can be venerated. It is mysterious, and the final tests are not in. I hope it is the linen in the tomb of Christ, but what is the headcover set aside for the shroud? Would it have been imaged as well? Would it have interfered with the image on the shroud? Also (see book “Life at the time of Jesus”) men of Palestine were about 5’0” in height, but of strong build and powerful bodies. The body in the shroud is about 5’9” tall. Also, having read of the Roman scourging (as opposed to a much less gruesome Jewish scouring, which St. Paul experienced) I would expect a much more disfigured body (see Is 56- 57). Also the nails in the wrists: doesn’t agree with stigmatists’ wounds which show wounds in the pit of the hand, not in the wrist. St. Gemma Galgani, who, as I remember experienced the fullness of the wounds of Christ, after her Thursday – Friday “Passion” wounds closed, there were white scars. But when they studied the pit of her hands, there was a depression about the size of several quarters where the nail wounds had closed in her hands. Could the Romans simply have embedded Christ’s hands to the Cross (no bones broken, just a nail to bone to wood) using nailheads in the fullnest of the finger bones, so that the shroud is wrong and the stigmatists are right? Note: the stigmatists can be neither right nor wrong; this is forensic evidence – not mysticism.
BUT: this is actually what Mark Shea wrote earlier this year in Catholic and Enjoying It!
. . . There’s nothing like it in the world and the fact that nobody has been able to reproduce it at this late date, plus the fact that it reveals a knowledge of crucifixion utterly unavailable in the 14th Century, plus the fact that the pollen is traceable and dateable to 1st century Palestine screams “authentic”. Only an a priori commitment to materialism fuels the mulish insistence that it’s a fraud. If it’s a fraud, make another one.