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Skunks at the Garden Party

July 12, 2014 3 comments

whole sections on the Shroud of Turin and the Vinland Map

imageJoe Marino sent along some details about a book he discovered, "The Forensic Historian: Using Science to Reexamine the Past" by Robert C. Williams (Armonk, NY:  M.E. Sharpe, 2013). It is interesting that this book was published in February of last year and has not surfaced, that I know of, in online shroud discussions.

The book is available at Amazon.com in Kindle format and as an ebook from the publisher, in each case for $12.95.  A hardcover will set you back about $50.00 and a paperback $18.95; Barnes and Noble seems to have the best prices.

Here is a brief description from the publisher:

This engaging book examines 20 significant cases where investigators have applied new forensic techniques to confirm, dispute, or revise accepted historical accounts. Examples include the murder of King Tut, the validity of the Vinland Map, the authenticity of the Hitler diaries, Joan of Arc’s ashes, the bones of Anastasia, arsenic and the death of Napoleon, and the dating of the Shroud of Turin.

Chapter 2, according to the publisher’s 2013 catalog, consists of the following:

2. Faking It: Chemistry and Forgery
2.1 Paul Coremans: The Girl with the Bakelite Earring
2.2 Walter McCrone: Ink Testing the Vinland Map
2.3 Julius Grant: Ultraviolet Light on the Hitler Diaries
2.4 Walter McCrone Again: Carbon-14 Dating the Shroud of Turin
2.5 Philippe Charlier: The Bogus Remains of Joan of Arc
References

I must buy the book if for nothing else than the piece about Paul Coreman. In fact, I just punched in an order. I’ll look at it in the context of the shroud, next week, time permitting.

Here is a brief quotation about shroud studies from the shroud from the book:

The case of the Shroud of Turin showed how modern forensics techniques, again using analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry, could date fairly precisely any material object of which there was a sample available.  For centuries, the shroud had been a venerated relic of the church.  Critics had their suspicions, but no hard science to back them up.  In the end, Walter McCrone was able to show that the reddish stains on the linen were red ochre paint, not blood, and that the linen itself dated from the fourteenth century.  Case closed.

Except that in December 2011, Italian scientists claimed that the shroud could not have been a medieval forgery and that the marks on it were made by electromagnetic energy.  Lasers were not around in the first century, so something miraculous must have happened.  Forensic history had produced convincing evidence regarding the Shroud of Turin.  And yet the debate goes on.  Forensic history, like history, remains an argument without end.

imageThere is an even more interesting quotation about the Vinland Map (knowing that McCrone had already declared it a fake):

In 1985 scientist Thomas Cahill of the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, used PIXE Particle-Induced X-Ray Emission) to examine the Vinland Map.  He found that titanium oxide was not a major part of the ink, but only trace amounts.  (Cahill’s samples were much larger than McCrone’s.)  Since Cahill’s results appeared to contradict McCrone, Yale promptly sought Cahill’s second opinion.  McCrone responded in 1988 with a complete, published account of his 1974 results, arguing that the Cahill tests did not invalidate them.  In fact, PIXE could identify titanium but not titanium dioxide.

In 1995 Kirsten Seaver–a historian of medieval Norse culture and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society–argued that the Vinland Map was indeed a modern forgery and that she had identified the probable forger, an Austrian Jesuit priest name Father Josef Fischer, who had died in 1944.  Neither Seaver nor McCrone were invited to contribute to a lavish second edition of The Vinland Map and the Tatar Relation published that year by Yale University Press.  (The more favorably inclined Thomas Cahill was invited instead.)  Nor were McCrone and Seaver invited to attend the February 10, 1996, conference in New Haven where the map was displayed under armed guard and insured for an inflated value of $25 million.  McCrone showed up uninvited anyway and handed out to participants his own unpublished paper titled "The Yale contingent was not amused to have a skunk at its garden party.

[ . . . ]

In 1999 McCrone returned to the fray by publishing in his own journal Microscope the results of his more recent study of the map.  He had examined samples of the yellow ink liner from the map using a polarized light microscope to confirm the presence of synthetic anatase.  He also found that the reddish fringe was not rust but a collagen tempera.  Three years later, another scientist complicated the situation with radiocarbon dating:  D.J. Donahue found that the parchment of the Vinland Map indeed could be dated from the years 1423-1445, but that it had been coated with some substance in the 1950s.  In 2004 the analytic chemist Robin Clark supported McCrone’s 1974 results using Raman microscopy:  the particle size and distribution of the ink was characteristic of synthetic anatase, not iron-gall ink.

[ . . . ]

Forensics thus played a crucial role in demolishing historical and cartographic claims that the Vinland map was authentic.  In particular, analytical chemistry showed that the ink used on the map was a twentieth-century product, even if the parchment and wormholes might have dated from the fifteenth century.

New Novel: The Blood of the Shroud

July 11, 2014 3 comments

imageAccording to the Redland Daily Facts, the local newspaper for the Redlands, California,

Timothy Floyd Miller, a 55-year resident of the Redlands area, has recently published his first novel, “The Blood of the Shroud,” through Las Vegas-based publisher, ADJ Publishing LLC.

The book tells the story of the theft of the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, from its home in St. John the Baptist’s Church in Italy, by an unknown group of people. The U.S. government’s “Procurement” division is then enlisted to help get it back and protagonists and ex-Navy SEALs Levi Ben Levine and Aaron Graftt (a biblical archaeologist) are pulled out of retirement to assist. They eventually join forces with micro biologist Laurel Coventry, and the three begin a grand adventure of biblical proportions.

It is available as a Kindle book at Amazon.com

Categories: Books Tags:

Is Francis Right?

July 7, 2014 16 comments

imageJohn Klotz has posted to his blog a section of the seventeenth chapter of his forthcoming book about the Shroud of Turin. It is called, The Apocalyptic Prophecy of Pope Francis.  Also read an earlier posting, The Apocalypse of Selfishness: The Great “So What?” They hang together nicely.

From his latest posting:

Despite some criticisms from conservative elements in the Church, Francis has not retreated from his elevation of the environment to a religious issue. On May 21, 2014, Pope Francis told an audience; “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us.”

Is Francis right? Was his statement hyperbole or prophecy? Creation destroying us! Is he prophesying an Apocalypse?

You can catch Dan Shea in Austin in July

imageThe Mystery People blog headlines, Crime Fiction Friday: THE SHROUD OF TURIN by Dan O’Shea:

Due to flight canceling weather, Dan O’Shea had to miss our January Noir At The Bar. Luckily, you can’t keep a good hard boiled author down, and he’ll be at our July 7th Noir At The Bar, reading along with Jonathan Woods, Tim O’Mara, and Jesse Sublett.

Where is that?  If you follow the link you will see:

The only thing most crime fiction fans love as much as books is drinking, so it only makes sense that someone would combine both. Started in Philadelphia a few years, Noir At The Bar has made its way across the country from Philadelphia to LA. MysteryPeople is giving it an Austin spin on July 7th at Opal Divine’s on South Congress.

We’ll have a great line up of hard-boiled authors on the scene reading from and discussing their works, featuring Tim O’Mara, Dan O’Shea, and Jonathan Wood.

So come out to Opal’s (3601 South Congress) at 7PM and help us celebrate a new tradition – Austin’s Noir at the Bar.

Besides, he follows this blog.

Bradley Bowen: Craig knows better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence

May 30, 2014 5 comments

in the Atheist Channel of Patheos . . . 

imageToday in his blog, The Secular Outpost, Bradley Bowen dissects a book by William Lane Craig, a leading Evangelical apologist and theologian (pictured) on the historical evidence for the Resurrection:

Although Christian apologists bear the burden of proof to show that ‘Jesus actually died on the cross’, William Craig usually ignores this issue in his books, articles, and debates defending the resurrection of Jesus. In my previous post, I pointed out that there is at least one book in which Craig does make a case for the claim that ‘Jesus actually died on the cross.’ Craig makes a very brief attempt at this in The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (hereafter: TSR).

His case is made in just five paragraphs, in a little more than two pages of text. The first paragraph is the longest. We saw previously that Craig makes about 30 different historical claims in the first paragraph, but provides zero historical evidence in support of those claims.

The second paragraph is much shorter than the first, just two sentences:

The Shroud of Turin, whether it is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus or not, illustrates graphically the extent of Jesus’ physical suffering. The image of the man on the cloth is covered front and back with wounds from head to foot, where the flagrum, a multi-thonged Roman whip with metal or bone, had torn apart his flesh, furnishing us a grisly picture of what Jesus must have looked like when He was laid on the cross. (TSR, p.37-38)

Craig knows better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence for the death of Jesus, so he does not do so. Instead, he states that it “illustrates graphically” the wounds that Jesus had “when He was laid on the cross.” So, once again, Craig puts forward some historical claims, with no historical evidence to support those claims. By my count he makes five historical claims (about Jesus) in [that paragraph].

What are the five claims:

1. The front of Jesus’ body was covered with wounds from head to foot, just before he was crucified.
2. The back of Jesus’ body was covered with wounds from head to foot, just before he was crucified.
3. A flagrum is a multi-thonged Roman whip with metal or bone.
4. Some of the wounds on Jesus’ body that resulted from being whipped were deep and serious wounds (“had torn apart his flesh”).
5. The wounds on the front and back of Jesus’ body just prior to his crucifixion, were caused by being whipped with a flagrum.

Talk about overlap and redundancy! Bowen is nit-picking.

Anyways. You might want to read the entire article in three posts:

Why does Craig know better than to put the Shroud of Turin forward as historical evidence for the death of Jesus?

Categories: Books, Flagrum, Other Blogs

Available for Pre-Order

May 29, 2014 1 comment

imageAt Amazon: From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin: The Metamorphosis and Manipulation of a Legend (Art and Material Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe), Hardcover, by Andrea Nicolotti. The list price is $142.00 USD but you can pre-order it now for only $134.90 and Amazon will guarantee the price through September when the book will ship.

I imagine this is the English version of Dal Mandylion di Edessa alla Sindone di Torino. Metamorfosi di una leggenda (pictured) that has been available since January of 2011.

Categories: Books

Can doubts about the shroud strengthen Christian faith?

May 27, 2014 9 comments

imageA reader sent me 1) a question, 2) a link to a Huffington Post article and 3) a Kindle book as a gift.

First the gift. It is Frank Schaeffer’s newest book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Yes, the gift will get your question published in the blog. I’d have published it anyway. Thanks. I may even read the book. It sounds interesting.

Who is Frank Schaeffer?  According to the New York Times:

To millions of evangelical Christians, the Schaeffer name is royal, and Frank is the reluctant, wayward, traitorous prince. His crime is not financial profligacy, like some pastors’ sons, but turning his back on Christian conservatives.

The generous reader pointed out these paragraphs in the HuffPo article written by Schaeffer:

. . .  I’ve never met an unequivocal atheist or religious believer. I’ve only met people of two, three or four or more minds–people just like me. Atheists sometimes pray and eloquent preachers secretly harbor doubts. The evangelist Billy Graham preached certain salvation and heaven guaranteed yet privately told my dad, a friend and fellow evangelist, that he feared death and had many doubts.

[. . . ]

Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Christian, you are that because of where and when you were born. If you are an atheist, you are that because of a book or two you read, or who your parents were and the century in which you were born. Don’t delude yourself: there are no good reasons for anything, just circumstances.

Don’t delude yourself: you may describe yourself to others by claiming a label of atheist, Jew, evangelical, gay or straight but you know that you are really lots more complicated than that, a gene-driven primate and something more. Want to be sure you have THE TRUTH about yourself and want to be consistent to that truth? Then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, be that religious or secular.

The question was simple and it was at least on the same continuum:

How much is study of the Shroud of Turin about dealing with our own uncertainties? I know you say your faith came first. You tell us that if the shroud were disproven, it wouldn’t change your faith. Are you sure?

I am a cradle Episcopalian. That much of Schaeffer’s thesis I must agree with. I’ve always had faith and I’ve always had my share of doubts. I like the integration of my fascination in the shroud with my faith. But one does not depend on the other, at least not too much so. But doubt can be a good thing with Christian faith and in the study of the shroud. It seems at times that doubts about this or that having to do with the shroud strengthens my Christian faith. And maybe it’s the other way around as well.

Thanks for the book and making me think about this question.

Categories: Books, News & Views
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