Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Jesus’ Long Hair Again and Again and Again

May 14, 2014 87 comments

imageI was searching in the blog for postings that mentioned Jesus’ long hair and encountered this amusing posting from one year ago (below the  line). I just had to share it. Anyway it will lead you to:

Categories: History

Vignon Was Wrong But We’ll Carry On

May 13, 2014 57 comments

imageSr. Ann writes:

David Mo, Hugh Farey and others have convinced me by their many thoughtful comments that the Vignon Markings, as presently understood, are invalid. This is particularly true, in my opinion, for the double wavy line on the neck and the topless square or flat-bottomed U as it is sometimes called. If we want to preserve the concept of identifying facial portraits of Jesus derived from the Holy Shroud we need to revise Vignon’s pioneering work. This time we have the benefit of many more examples because of the Internet. The Internet also makes it easier to undertake this work as a multidisciplinary project. 

It would be wonderful if an interim report could be prepared in time for the St. Louis Conference. The message being, "Vignon was wrong but we’ll carry on."

This is probably a wrap on the Vignon markings, that is unless Ann’s proposal is implemented.  Good idea? Volunteers? The best recent comments seem to be in these three threads:

Categories: History

The Slanted Footrest of the Orthodox Cross

May 12, 2014 34 comments

variously known as the Orthodox, Byzantine or Russian Cross

imageStephen once again discusses the Russian Orthodox cross with its angled footrest.  His theory is that this symbolism developed (presumably) because on the Shroud of Turin it might appear to some that one of Jesus’ legs is shorter than the other. It is an interesting but highly problematic theory.

We discussed this in a posting earlier this year, Touching on the Byzantine legend that Jesus had a shorter leg and therefore was lame. Because of many useful comments, I came to realize how tentative this is. Interesting as this is, it is impossible for me to consider this theory historical evidence that the shroud is not medieval c. 1260-1390.

Wikipedia is informative on this:

The Orthodox, Byzantine or Russian (Orthodox) Cross, also known as the Suppedaneum cross, is a variation of the Christian cross, commonly found in Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite and the Society for Eastern Rite Anglicanism. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams—the top represents the plate inscribed with INRI, and the bottom, a footrest. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the lower beam is slanted: the side to Christ’s right is usually higher. This is because the footrest slants upward toward penitent thief St. Dismas, who was crucified on Jesus’ right, and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas. The earliest version of a slanted footstool can be found in Jerusalem, but throughout the Eastern Christian world until the 17th century, the footstool is slanted the other way, pointing upwards rather than downwards, making the downward footstool a Russian innovation. In the Greek and most other Orthodox Churches, the footrest remains straight, as in earlier representations. Common variations include the ‘Cross over Crescent’ and ‘Calvary Cross’.

Back when we discussed this in February, Kelly Kearse commented then:

For what it’s worth, I found this on two websites discussing Orthodox icons:

# 1: “Various reasons have been given for slanting the bottom bar. There is one tradition which states that, at the moment of His death, Our Lord’s foot slipped and the footrest tilted. A highly symbolic interpretation states that the slanted bar refers to the thief crucified on Our Lord’s right side—the “Wise Thief” who repented—who went to heaven and to the unrepentant thief crucified on Christ’s left side who did not. Another explanation is that the slant is an attempt to depict that the footrest slanted downward, toward the viewer, albeit in a two, rather than three, dimensional form.”

#2: “The foot-rest of Christ’s Cross is slanted because it is believed that in the final moments before Jesus gave up His spirit, His flesh spasmed and the foot-rest was kicked out of place. But in this true event there is also symbolism. The foot-rest points up, toward Heaven, on Christ’s right hand-side, and downward, to Hades, on Christ’s left. One of the Orthodox Church’s Friday prayers clearly explains the meaning: In the midst, between two thieves, was Your Cross found as the balance-beam of righteousness; For while one was led down to hell by the burden of his blaspheming,
The other was lightened of his sins unto the knowledge of things divine.
O Christ God glory to You”

O.K. commented:

Those are, of course, later interpreatations.

The truth is no one knows why the bar is slanted.

Louis did too:

Once again we see stale material about the shorter leg being posted as though it has been noticed only now. The Talmud should be used with care and circumspection.

Many other did too. Christopher Kelley was particularly informative.

The great Russian iconographer, Leonid Ouspensky, was convinced the Shroud of Turin was NOT the burial cloth of Christ BECAUSE the left leg appeared shorter, making Christ lame. I have this directly from one of his students in Paris, under whom I studied. I took her, very much a doubter, to a film on the Shroud in London; at the end of the film, she declared, “Ouspensky must have been wrong!”

Look earlier than the conversion of Russ, in 988. Sts Cyril & Methodios, the Apostles to the Slavs, carried this Cross with them. They grew up, secretly Orthodox, in Thessaloniki during the reign of the Iconoclasts. Thereafter, having lived among Slavs in their native city, and conversant in Slavic, they set out for the Slavs’ homelands, bearing a zeal for Orthodoxy, and the Triumph of Orthodoxy over the Iconoclast heresy. That heresy carried a profound misunderstanding or disregard for the Incarnation. 815 began a second stage of Iconoclasm, mild and “liberal” at first, but increasingly severe and tyrannical, in Cyril & Methodios’ youth. Yet, by a sudden turn of events, the Triumph of Orthodoxy was achieved in 843.

This design of the Cross is PRIOR TO the arrival of the Mandylion /Image of Edessa (Shroud of Turin) in Constantinople. The Image of Edessa was “the Prize” to be brought to the Imperial City for the Centennial of the Triumph; the Emperor desired to have it by 943. But it took longer to secure from Edessa (Urfa), so it came a year late, 944, and was first displayed to the public on August 16, when it is still annually commemorated.

However, at its arrival, the Cloth was still pinned to a board, folded in such a way that only the Face was visible, as had been characteristic of the Mandylion in Edessa. It may have been as late as 1025 that the Cloth was first unpinned, and the full length of the Shroud seen in Constantinople — well after 988. (We do see ikons changed as a result of this disclosure; eg., “Weep not for Me, Mother” – illustrating the Ode for Holy Saturday morning.)
IF it was Christ’s LEFT leg that was shorter, or lame, then the angle of the bar would have been in the opposite direction. That idea of lameness is not the answer.

Rather, whenever there is any change in iconography, it is with Purpose, not mere idle whim.

9th Century Byzantium faced a new heresy, not only Iconoclasm within, but its inspiration, beyond the borders. The new design of the Cross was a visual Answer to that heresy, which denied that Christ actually suffered in the flesh; it was a novel form of old Gnosticism. It was said, by Orthodox Christians in answer to that heresy, that Christ suffered SO MUCH that He wrenched the footrest loose. His suffering was not figmentary; it was Real!
The footrest then, like a scale, was “up” to the Good Thief on His right, and “down” to the other thief on His left. You will often see the “Russian Cross” standing upon a lunar crescent. The new form of the Cross, I suppose, did not “catch on” in quite the same way where the traditions were already fixed; but in Russia, it was the standard from the first.

Who was the new heretic, the originator of Iconoclasm? It was Muhammad. The Qu’ran denies the Crucifixion. This derives from Gnostic thought still lingering in Arabia.

[We see today certain strains of a desire to minimize focus on Christ's Sacrifice, dubbed "a slaughterhouse religion" by some. It is another instance of the old Gnostic heretical twist.}

The Shroud makes clear that, after the Left foot was placed over the Right, and both nailed with a single spike, another spike was hammered through the Right Heel. A fourth nail. This was the last wound Christ received before dying. It achieved no necessary 'structure' for the hanging of a body; its only purpose was to dramatically increase Pains and Suffering to the Victim. The Roman soldier pounding it in could hardly have known that he was thus fulfilling the Oldest Prophecy of Redemption: The LORD spoke to the Serpent saying, "He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel."

[PS. In truth, as Muhammad's earliest Arabic biographies clearly attest, when, by brigandage, terrorism, and breaking of pacts, he seized Mecca in 630, he entered the Ka'aba to destroy all its 360 idols; he personally placed his hands over an ikon of the Virgin Mother of God holding her Child, Jesus, to protect it, while even a mural of Abraham there on the inner wall he ordered destroyed. This same ikon of the Theotokos was known to exist even 50 years later.

But Islam still denies the reality of the Cross. Scientists raised in Islam are stunned by the verifiable facts arising from the Shroud. They see the errors of the Qu'ran.]

Categories: History

The Three Byzantine Burial Cloths of Jesus

May 11, 2014 12 comments

imageMUST READ:  O.K. sent along this PDF, Evidence for the presence of THREE distinct Christ burial linens in Constantinople.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

We have several documents indicating the presence of the relics of burial linens in Constantinople. Partial list of them is available in Daniel Scavone’s article.

The problem is that those descriptions are usually very brief and vague, so the confusion appears. The burial cloth are described in various documents as sindon (syndon), sudarium (plural sudaria), linteum, spargana, fasciae, othonia, entaphia, just to name a few. The Mandylion, considered by some as identical to the Shroud of Turin, Has also some own specific terms, like mantile, himation or tetradiplon.

So with very mention of a burial cloth in a  letter or document, we must stop and wonder: Is this the cloth that is now in Turin? What have we maybe assumed wrongly in trying to prove the shroud’s authenticity with history?

A man I used to work for kept a piece of paper, a pair of scissors and a rock on his desk. A wooden sign read, “Go back and study the problem some more. I want a different conclusion next time.”

Categories: History

Drop the Alexios I Komnenos Letter

May 11, 2014 10 comments

imageA reader from the “show me” state of Missouri writes:

I see your point. The oft-cited letter of Alexios I Komnenos as evidence the Shroud was in Constantinople is a glaring warning sign about ancient documents that mention a burial cloth of Jesus. I think back to books, presentations and now blog postings that have mentioned this letter and feel all these authors were pulling a fast one over on me. Of course that was not so. It meant they had not bothered to read the letter. How foolish they were to claim the letter is evidence.

That wasn’t my point. It should have been. (See The Letter from Alexius Comnenus). I agree with the reader. I’m not saying that the shroud that is now in Turin wasn’t in Constantinople at that time in history. It probably was. But this document, the Komnenos/Comnenos Letter, is worthless. It is counter-productive to use it.

Stephen Jones still defends it. (See his May 8th posting). If I read him correctly he argues that because there is other evidence that the shroud existed in Constantinople, a reference to it in the fraudulent letter is legitimate and hence the fraudulent letter is itself legitimate evidence. Is this not like believing that there is mustard on your ham sandwich because there is a bottle of mustard on the table – or something like that.

Here is the list of items in the letter just in case you missed it before. Of the one item, the shroud, Stephen writes, “Yes. Among the worthless dross, this nugget of precious gold.” (emphasis his):

the pillar to which he was bound; the lash with which he was scourged; the scarlet robe in which he was arrayed; the crown of thorns with which he was crowned; the reed he held in his hands, in place of a scepter; the garments of which he was despoiled before the cross; the larger part of the wood of the cross on which he was crucified; the nails with which he was affixed; the linen cloths found in the sepulcher after his resurrection; the twelve  of remnants from the five loaves and the two fishes; the entire head of St. John the Baptist with the hair and the beard; the relics or bodies of many of the Innocents, of certain prophets and apostles, of martyrs and, especially, of the protomartyr St. Stephen, and of confessors and virgins, these latter being of such great number that we have omitted writing about each of them individually. (emphasis mine)

Precious golden mustard maybe. Stephen also writes:

Porter here commits the atheist’s fallacy: That because `all religions contradict each other, therefore all are false.’ But one (Christianity) could be true, and all the others be false. Which in fact is what Christianity claims (Acts 4:12, 10:43; Lk 24:47, Jn 20:31; 1Tim 2:5). That all the other relics in Constantinople were fakes, has no bearing at all, on whether only one among them, the Shroud, was authentic.

Huh?  The point of the so-called Atheist fallacy is ‘contradiction.’  The relics don’t do that. Stephen is right in saying that one among many in a list could be true, that being the Appeal to Association Fallacy. But he is wrong to invoke this really stupid Appeal to Contradiction fallacy. It makes no sense.

Categories: History, Other Blogs

More on the Letter from Alexius Comnenus: Never have preconvictions about relics

May 8, 2014 12 comments

imageO.K. writes:

In discussion about alleged letter of Alexius Commenus, attention turned to some dubious relics, like for example milk of the Virgin Mary. Calvin wrote about it in his Treatise on Relics in following way:

With regard to the milk, there is not perhaps a town, a convent, or nunnery, where it is not shown in large or small quantities. Indeed, had the Virgin been a wet-nurse herwhole life, or a dairy, she could not have produced more than is shown as hers in various parts. How they obtained all this milk they do not say, and it is superfluous here to remark that there is no foundation in the Gospels for these foolish and blasphemous extravagances.

Here is an answer to the Calvin’s question where this milk comes from. A beautiful local legend trying to explain quite natural phenomena (similar Greek myth claims that the Milky Way was caused by milk spilt by Hera when suckling Heracles):

The moral is, never have preconvictions about relics, no matter how absurd they sound to your eyes. They may surprise you.

Might the A&V Ivory have been the inspiration for the Pray Manuscript

May 8, 2014 78 comments

Might the A&V Ivory have been the inspiration for the Pray Manuscript Illustration instead of the Shroud of Turin, my friend John asked in an email?

imageThe ivory is interesting. Stephen Jones brings it to our attention in his blog at Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #3:

Click on the image for a larger view

Stephen tells us that this lamentation scene can be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.  He tells us that “Jesus’ hands are crossed awkwardly at the wrists, with the right arm over the left, exactly as on the Shroud” and that Jesus is “lying on a double-length cloth which has a repeating pattern of Xs similar to those that accompany reproductions of the image of Edessa. They hint, he tells us, of the Shroud’s herringbone weave.”

Stephen offers this caption for a photograph of the ivory:

[ . . . Scenes from the Passion of Christ ...The Lamentation"[13]: Part of larger carved ivory panel in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Note that Jesus’ arms cross awkwardly at the wrists, right over left, exactly as they are on the Shroud, in this 11th/12th century Byzantine icon. This alone is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud existed at least a century before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud.]

Proof beyond reasonable doubt? Anyone think so?

We might well think that it is based on the shroud. But we might want to consider alternatives. Are those really Xs? And why do we think they hint of the a herringbone weave? Maybe instead of what John thinks, it is the other way around.  What about other lamentation scenes?  What else? What is missing that we might expect?

The Victoria & Albert Museum dates it to the 12th century. Where did the c. 1090 date come from on Stephen’s blog?

Associates for Biblical Research mentions this ivory briefly in an article, The Shroud of Turin’s Earlier History: Part Three: The Shroud of Constantinople.

I mean it would be great if this thing was the proof. Could we call it the missing link?

Categories: History, Other Blogs

The Letter from Alexius Comnenus

May 7, 2014 14 comments

clip_image001In, Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #3, Stephen Jones lists this item as part of his evolving historical proof which is part of his proof that computer hackers altered the carbon dating results back in 1988.

1092 A letter dated 1092 purporting to be from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus (1056-1118) to Robert II of Flanders(c.1065-1111)[9], appealed for help to prevent Constantinople falling into the hands of the pagans[10]. The letter listed the relics in Constantinople including, "the linen cloths [linteamina] found in the sepulchre after his Resurrection"[11]. Although the letter is probably a forgery, concocted at the time for propaganda purposes, this need not invalidate its description of the relics then in the imperial collection[12].

Forgery need not invalidate its description of the relics? That’s true but . . . well anyway, we should look at this list. Does incredulity matter? What is in the list?

For it is better that you should have Constantinople than the pagans because in that [city] precious relics of the Lord, to wit:

  1. the pillar to which he was bound
  2. the lash with which he was scourged
  3. the scarlet robe in which he was arrayed
  4. the crown of thorns with which he was crowned
  5. the reed he held in his hands, in place of a scepter
  6. the garments of which he was despoiled before the cross
  7. the larger part of the wood of the cross on which he was crucified
  8. the nails with which he was affixed
  9. the linen cloths found in the sepulcher after his resurrection
  10. the twelve baskets of remnants from the five loaves and the two fishes
  11. the entire head of St. John the Baptist with the hair and the beard
  12. the relics or bodies of many of the Innocents, of certain prophets and apostles, of martyrs and, especially, of the protomartyr St. Stephen, and of confessors and virgins, these latter being of such great number that we have omitted writing about each of them individually.

How do I convince a skeptic?  Let’s see: I have a document that tells us that twelve baskets of remnants from the five loaves and two fishes were in Constantinople’s imperial collection sometime in the last half of the 11th century. The document is probably a forgery, developed for propaganda purposes, but that doesn’t matter. And the head of John the Baptist, that was there too. And the shroud. 

Categories: History, Other Blogs

Vignon Markings: A Gospel of Serendipity?

May 7, 2014 Leave a comment

imageA reader writes:

The honest way to use the Vignon marks is not to dwell on works of art that seem to prove a desired POV, but on many works that question that POV. Create a comprehensive inventory of pantokrator portraits, death portraits including epitáphios, resurrection portraits including man of sorrows depictions and lamentation scenes. This should be done without regard to the Vignon marks and other features. For each work of art try to assess geography, period and artistic style.  Then inventory the features on each work and characterize them by stylization. The results might astound us.

It is time to stop proclaiming the gospel of serendipity on your blog and do the real work.  In the end the Vignon marks may prove significant. I am hopeful.

Whereas I think some of the Vignon markings may be significant, I am also someone who is asking questions. This is a call for a systemized study. It sounds like a good idea but will anyone who is qualified really do it? That takes objectivity.

Categories: Art, History, Other Blogs

The Latest News on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

May 7, 2014 20 comments

imageThree days ago, Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science:

A growing number of scholars have denounced the business card-sized papyrus as a fake, with recent op-eds appearing in The Wall Street Journal and on CNN. Meanwhile, Harvard University, which announced the papyrus’ discovery, has fallen silent on the artifact, not responding to requests for comment on new developments suggesting the find is a forgery.

Or should I say the latest silence?

Categories: History, News & Views

Ten Reasons to Believe

May 6, 2014 14 comments

Adrian Asis has an interesting multipart posting in The Richest: 10 Reasons Why the Shroud of Turin Is So Difficult to Dismiss.


10. Several Man of Sorrows Images Seem to Portray the Shroud

This item, along with the next two, is said to serve as evidence that the result from the radiocarbon dating test conducted in 1988 seem to be improbable. The Man of Sorrows is an iconic devotional image that shows Christ usually naked above the waist and with the wounds suffered from his crucifixion. Many of these images became popular in Constantinople at the time that some believe the Shroud disappeared for 160 years after it was lost during the Crusades. Strikingly, many of the images contain distinctive features of the image on the Shroud of Turin such as the crossed arms and the hidden thumbs. Furthermore, several of the images portray Christ as rising out from a box, which some historians believe are commemorations of how the Shroud of Turin used to be displayed to the public — raised from some sort of box — before it was lost. In fact, folds that appear on the Shroud are consistent with folds that would appear on a piece of cloth displayed from a box-like device. If all this is true, then the Shroud must be from before 1260 – 1390 AD, raising doubts on the 1988 radiocarbon dating test result.

imageThe next one is 9. The de Clari Memoir Seems to Describe the Shroud and the one after that is 8. The Pray Codex Seems to Portray the Shroud

Overall, the article is entertaining and informative.

Interesting site. This one story seems to have had about 9,500 page views since April 29. Not bad, but not as good as Ten Shocking Coca-Cola Facts You Probably Don’t Know which has about 65,000 views or Ten Songs With Lyrics You Didn’t Realize Were Naughty with 80,000 views.

Happy Feast of the Holy Shroud Day

May 4, 2014 2 comments

or is it on Shrove Tuesday? serves to remind us: The Religion and Philosophy page at links to an article, Feast of the Holy Shroud Solemnly Celebrated in Fátima, Portugal by Dr. Paulo Falcão Tavares:

The official Feast of the Holy Shroud occurs on May 4th every year. Although not celebrated widely in the U.S., it is a very important date in parts of Europe. This article  provides a detailed description of the events that took place in Fátima, Portugal on May 4, 2013. Dr. Tavares is the Delegate and President of the Dynastic Orders of the Royal House of Savoy and Spokesperson for the Oureana Foundation. Carlos Evaristo was kind enough to send us several photographs of the event, which I have included in the article itself.

Not much mention of it, elsewhere. However, the National Catholic Register did mention it yesterday in a Q&A article about the third annual March for Life in Rome, which takes place today:

The march this year is notable for taking place on the feast of the holy Shroud of Turin — could you explain more about this and why it is significant?

Indeed, this year’s March for Life will take place on a very special day. On May 4, it is the feast of the holy Shroud, which is the sacred cloth that bears witness to both the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. The liturgical feast was approved in 1506 by Pope Julius II, who decided to set the day after the feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross [also known as the Invention of the True Cross].

Historical and scientific studies have now shown that the sheet in which the dead body of Jesus was wrapped is authentic. The shroud is, therefore, one of the most important relics of Christianity and is a testimony to the life that triumphs over death, the love that wins over evil and sin. In the holy shroud, symbol of pain and of eternal life, the March for Life this year will have its seal of protection.

Okay, something of a stretch on the connection, but okay.

But wait, Wikipedia tells us that

This feast was celebrated on 4 May, the day after the Invention of the Cross, and was approved in 1506 by Pope Julius II; it was kept in Savoy, Piedmont, and Sardinia as the patronal feast of the royal House of Savoy (4 May, double of the first class, with octave).

and that . . .

In 1958 Pope Pius XII declared that the Feast of the Holy Winding Sheet of Christ (now usually known as the Turin Shroud) was to be kept on the day before Ash Wednesday.

which, of course, is Shrove Tuesday. And isn’t the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross now celebrated on September 14 in Catholic, Anglican, Greek, Russian and Armenian traditions (it once upon a time was celebrated on May 3, at least in the Catholic church).

So, happy Shroud of Turin day again, maybe.

Categories: Event, History

Newly Discovered Very Early Image of Jesus?

April 30, 2014 7 comments

imageThe Huffington Post is reporting, Earliest Jesus Depiction May Have Been Discovered In Ancient Egyptian Tomb:

A team of Catalan archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be one of the earliest depictions of Jesus in an ancient tomb in Egypt.

The researchers uncovered an underground structure in a series of buried tombs that date to the 6th and 7th centuries. Among the Coptic, or early Christian, images painted on the walls was what lead researcher Josep Padró described as "the figure of a young man, with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing."

"We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ," Padró told La Vanguardia.

Archaeologists believe the tomb belonged to a well-known writer and a family of priests in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, according to The Local.

The researchers removed 45 tons of rock to access the tombs, which are situated among several sites Padró has been excavating for the last 20 years.

The drawing is under lockdown while researchers begin to translate the inscriptions surrounding it.

In 2011, archaeologists working near the Sea of Galilee discovered a 2,000-year-old booklet with what was then thought to be one of the earliest depictions of Jesus. The booklet reportedly bore the inscription ‘Saviour of Israel’ and was found in a cave in Jordan among other ancient artifacts.

There is more at Spanish team finds hidden ‘tomb of Jesus

Categories: Archaeology, History

More on How Valid are the Vignon Markings?

April 27, 2014 31 comments



O.K. writes:

Hello Dan. May I ask you to post this gallery of Pantocrators & mandylion compared to the face of the Shroud + Vignon marks? Maybe this would be convincing presentation that (in my opinion) assuming that all those faces are not derived from the Shroud is absurd. Having some time, maybe I will try to put the Vignon marks on all those portraits, but let the public play with them first.

Okay, here it is: Gallery of Pantocrators & Mandylions+2002 Durante positive photograph of the Shroud face (taken from Shroud Scope)+ Vignon marks (taken from

By my count (and opinion), there are 19 20 works of art, a diagram and the the face on the shroud in one very helpful PDF file.

Categories: Art, History

How Valid are the Vignon Markings?

April 26, 2014 21 comments

clip_image001[10]A reader writes:

I suggest that you only focus on the Shroud of Turin content on Stephen Jones’ site. Ignore what he says about you or your blog. 

Others, in comments and emails, have offered similar good advice.

Okay, here goes. On April 14, Stephen wrote:

Vignon paid particular attention to a topless square (Vignon marking 2 above) on the 8th-century Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome[11] Artistically it made no sense, yet it appears on other Byzantine Christ portraits, including the 11th century Daphni Pantocrator, the 10th century Sant’Angelo in Formis fresco, the 10th century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and the 11th century "Christ the Merciful" mosaic in Berlin[12]. And at the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there is exactly the same feature where it is merely a flaw in the weave[13].

I disagree. Artistically, a topless square, or at least the right and left vertical lines of one, are quite common. It makes perfect artistic sense as some of the pictures, below, show. Maybe the artist copied the lines from the faint lines on the shroud or from a statue of Aristotle. Maybe he simply introduced it artistically.
In fairness to Stephen, he is only saying what many before him have said. I had believed it was important. It was something that helped me believe that the shroud was real. Then, one day I was shaving. (I still believe it is real but I’ve discounted this at least.)
Thoughts? Should other Vignon markings be questioned as well? Should the whole concept be reconsidered? Or, am I mistaken?
Categories: Art, History

Paper Chase: Pam Moon Suggests Lucas Cranach the Elder Painted the Lier Copy

April 25, 2014 3 comments

clip_image001Pam Moon has published another interesting paper, The Lier Shroud and Lucas Cranach the Elder (pictured in his self portrait) The synopsis Pam offers reads:

This paper argues that the artist who created the Shroud of Turin copy known as the Lier (or Lierre) Shroud may be Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553). It examines the signature on the Shroud and compares it with the different ways Cranach signed his name. It looks at Cranach’s relationship with Maximilian 1 the Holy Roman Emperor (1459 -1519) who was thought to have commissioned copies of the Shroud. It examines the similarity of the Lier copy to the Shroud of Turin. And finally it examines other examples of Cranach’s work particularly his Christ as the Man of Sorrows dated 1515.

The conclusion reads:

Without a more detailed examination of the signature by an art expert it is not possible to confirm that Lucas Cranach painted the Lier Shroud in 1516. However it is a possibility that could be researched further. Certainly his accurate paintings of Christ as the Man of Sorrows deserve more attention from Shroud researchers. In favour of Cranach being the painter of the Lier Shroud: what are the chances of there being two world class artists who worked for Maximilian 1 and Margaret of Austria, who spoke the Old Nuremberger dialect and had a surname beginning with a C viewing the Shroud of Turin in 1515 – 1516? The probability tips towards Cranach being the creator of the Lier Shroud.

If Cranach does prove to be the painter then we can learn more about the Shroud from his association: Cranach was a Renaissance master and capable of very accurate drawings. For example we can learn about the nature of the whip marks on the arms; possibly how the dislocation appeared before the fire; the length and condition of the cloth before the fire. It would confirm that in 1516 the corners were not missing and that there was probably more
cloth beyond the feet than we can currently see.

Finally, if Cranach is the artist it raises problems for the medieval Radiocarbon date. If a painter as accomplished as Lucas Cranach the Elder cannot come close to replicating the complexity of the Shroud in his copy, how can we possibly believe an unknown medieval artist could create it from scratch?


The paper is rich with examples. I found it fascinating.

I do have a problem with the last paragraph. It doesn’t make sense unless you are thinking of a painting of a painting. The notion that if Cranach is the artist of the Lier copy, it is a problem for the medieval results for carbon dating of the shroud seems to be an afterthought. The subject of carbon dating isn’t even mentioned before the next to last sentence of the paper.

Categories: Art, History, News & Views

The Carbon Dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo Plus the Caves of the Sudarium

April 24, 2014 5 comments

the 2007 carbon dating
and a bit of fascinating history

imageO.K. writes:

I would like you to post some of the following issues on the blog:

1. The 2007 carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo. Mark Guscin has written in the article ‘The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo’

Just weeks before the congress took place, new samples from the Sudarium were subject to carbon dating. Five samples were dated from five different cloths –three of them came up with the expected date, while the cloth from an Egyptian mummy returned a date of any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. The laboratory immediately concluded that the cloth (and the mummy) were fakes. The sample from the Sudarium was dated to around 700 AD. Scientist César Barta spoke about the carbon dating process, emphasising the fact that if carbon dating is always absolutely accurate, then we could just as well finish the congress there and then. However, there were several points to bear in mind– in specialist carbon dating magazines, about half the samples dated come up with the expected date, around 30% with an “acceptable” date, and the other 20% is not what one would expect from archaeology. The laboratory used (via the National Museum in Madrid) said they were surprised by the result and asked if the cloth was contaminated with any oil based product, as oil is not cleaned by the laboratory processes used before carbon dating and if oil is present on a sample, the date produced by carbon dating is in fact the date of contamination. Finally, the history of the Sudarium is very well established and there are definite references to its presence in Jerusalem in AD 570 and at the beginning of the fifth century.

Micheal Hesemann in a recent book (“Chusta Chrystusa, Naukowcy na tropie zmartwychwstania” pg. 230-232, that is polish edition of “Das Bluttuch Christi”) gives some more details. The dating was performed by Beta Analytic Inc. from Miami, and the result was 660-890 AD.

It is curious, because so far we know, the Sudarium had been carbon-dated in the 80s, by two laboratories: Tuscon and Toronto, based on samples taken from it by Max Frei and Pierluigi Baima-Bollone. Various accounts about the results exist. So far I have met: 653-786 AD Toronto, and 642-769 AD (in other version 642-869 AD) Tuscon. Micheal Hesemann, on the other hand, reprots 540-869 AD. Also "between 1st and 9th century" claim was made at one point.

Does anyone has any more details about 2007 dating? So far I know, on the Barrie’s site, on the Valencia conference page, there is listed a paper called ‘Dating the Cloths by the C14 Method – The Oviedo Sudarium’  by Felipe Montero Ortego, but it seems to be inaccessible either via Barrie’s site, or the Google.

2. The second issue is that I have found interesting site of Micheal Hesemann. Mainly German, but there are a few articles in English.

The second referenced item, Discovered: The Cave Monastery which housed the Sudarium of Christ  concludes fascinatingly:

Many question remain unanswered: Did St. Gerasimus discover a hiding place of the early Christians, did he find the long-forgotten “Sudario Domini” in these very caves, maybe preserved in a wooden chest or a large jar, like the Dead Sea scrolls? Or was the precious relic entrusted to him by his teacher, St. Euthymius, the “founder and patron of the Judaean wilderness”, who established several laurae of hermits in the Judaean desert? We can only speculate about the details. But we can say for sure that Antoninus gave an accurate description of the cave monastery which existed in the cliffs of the Wadi en-Nukheil, at least since the 5thcentury. And that in this cliff laura, according to the pilgrim’s report, the Sudario was once venerated, before it was brought first to Africa, then to Spain.

More on the ISA Tile and the “Prince of Peace”

April 22, 2014 4 comments

Throw away the so called progressive overlay. I trust my eyes more.
I think the man in the Akiane painting, in the ISA mosaic and on the Turin Shroud
are possibly the same person.

clip_image001A reader writes:

Why not have the three images submitted to facial recognition programs, using a random set of head-on male facial images, then a subset with facial hair?

A lot of facial recognition, explicitly or not, is based on certain ratios/portions between centers of eyes, mouth (upper lip), nose tip, and widths for these, because they are invariants under "facial expressions" reflecting deformations by facial muscular movements. Then there are various other characteristics, which are variable, adjusting for relative point of view.

Another reader writes:

Phil Dayvault may be a ‘Shroud scholar and a former FBI Special Agent — in the field of forensic analysis’ but this video mishmash would never last five minutes under scrutiny from a defense attorney in a courtroom. Show me the original photos without any size adjustments. Now resize them for convergence, which is permissible, but without changing any proportions whatsoever. In other words no stretching, no skewing, no tilting, no rotating, no concaving, no convexing, etc.  More over no doing this with features like eyes, noses, etc. No smiling. No frowning. Do a paper that shows that there is no fiddling. Then I will be impressed. Show me source photographs and documentation. How were these photographed? The distortion from a 28mm lens is extraordinary. And images off the internet are often swizzled to fit a page or something. 

The only way to go is use facial recognition software.

(or human recognition, I say).

Here is an interesting article: Facebook’s facial recognition software is now as accurate as the human brain, but what now?

Facebook’s facial recognition research project, DeepFace (yes really), is now very nearly as accurate as the human brain. DeepFace can look at two photos, and irrespective of lighting or angle, can say with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face. Humans can perform the same task with 97.53% accuracy.


Throw away the so called progressive overlay. I trust my eyes more. I think the man in the Akiane painting, in the ISA mosaic and on the Turin Shroud Man are possibly the same person.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! – He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

April 20, 2014 21 comments


Mosaic depicting the risen Christ leaving the tomb.  The Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Albanian (Tosk) – Krishti u ngjall! Vërtet u ngjall!

Armenian – Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց՜ Օրհնեալ է Յարութիւնն Քրիստոսի՜ (Christos haryav i merelotz! Orhnial e Haroutiunn Christosi! – Christ is risen! Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!)

English – “Christ is risen!” / “Truly He is risen!” or “Christ is risen!” / “Indeed, He is risen!” or “He [or 'The LORD'] is risen!” / “He [or 'The LORD'] is risen indeed!” or “Christ has risen!” / “Indeed He has!” or “Christ is risen!” / “He is risen, Indeed!” ; Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!;

Old English – Crist aras! Crist soþlice aras! (Lit: Christ arose! Christ surely arose!)

Middle English – Crist is arisen! Arisen he sothe!

Danish – Kristus er opstanden! Sandelig Han er Opstanden!

Frisian – Kristus is opstien! Wis is er opstien!

German – Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!

Icelandic – Kristur er upprisinn! Hann er sannarlega upprisinn!

Dutch – Christus is opgestaan! Hij is waarlijk opgestaan! (Netherlands) or Christus is verrezen! Hij is waarlijk verrezen! (Belgium)

Afrikaans – Christus het opgestaan! Hy het waarlik opgestaan!

Norwegian – Kristus er oppstanden! Han er sannelig oppstanden!

Swedish – Kristus är uppstånden! Han är sannerligen uppstånden!

Latin – Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!

Catalan – Crist ha ressuscitat! Veritablement ha ressuscitat!

French – Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!

Italian – Cristo è risorto! È veramente risorto!

Portuguese – Cristo ressuscitou! Em verdade ressuscitou!

Provençal – Lo Crist es ressuscitat! En veritat es ressuscitat!

Romanian – Hristos a înviat! Cu adevărat a înviat!

Romansh – Cristo es rinaschieu! In varded, el es rinaschieu!

Sardinian – Cristu est resuscitadu! Aberu est resuscitadu!

Sicilian – Cristu arrivisciutu esti! Pibbiru arrivisciutu esti!

Spanish – ¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!

Walloon – Li Crist a raviké! Il a raviké podbon!

Greek – Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! (Khristós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!)

Church Slavonic – Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе! (Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)

Belarusian – Хрыстос уваскрос! Сапраўды ўваскрос! (Chrystos uvaskros! Sapraŭdy ŭvaskros!)

Bulgarian – Христос възкресе! Наистина възкресе! (Hristos vyzkrese! Naistina vyzkrese!), or (Church Slavonic): Христос воскресе! Воистину воскресе! (Hristos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)

Croatian – Krist uskrsnu! Uistinu uskrsnu!

Czech – Kristus vstal z mrtvých! Vpravdě vstal z mrtvých!

Macedonian (Traditional (as per Church Slavonic) – Христос воскресе! Навистина воскресе! (Hristos voskrese! Navistina voskrese!;  Vernacular – Христос воскресна! Навистина воскресна! (Hristos voskresna! Navistina voskresna!)

Polish – Chrystus zmartwychwstał! Prawdziwie zmartwychwstał!

Russian – Христос воскрес! Воистину воскрес! (Christos voskres! Voistinu voskres!)

Rusyn – Хрістос воскрес! Воістину воскрес! (Hristos voskres! Voistynu voskres!)

Serbian – Христос васкрсе! Ваистину васкрсе! (Hristos vaskrse! Vaistinu vaskrse!)

Slovak – Kristus z mŕtvych vstal! Skutočne z mŕtvych vstal! (also not used; the Slovak of eastern religions use Church Slavonic version: Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)

Ukrainian – Христос воскрес! Воістину воскрес! (Hrystos voskres! Voistynu voskres!)

Latvian Kristus (ir) augšāmcēlies! Patiesi viņš ir augšāmcēlies!

Lithuanian – Kristus prisikėlė! Tikrai prisikėlė!

Old Irish – Asréracht Críst! Asréracht Hé-som co dearb!

Irish – Tá Críost éirithe! Go deimhin, tá sé éirithe!

Manx – Taw Creest Ereen! Taw Shay Ereen Guhdyne!

Scottish – Tha Crìosd air èiridh! Gu dearbh, tha e air èiridh!

Breton – Dassoret eo Krist! E wirionez dassoret eo!

Cornish – Thew Creest dassorez! En weer thewa dassorez!

Welsh – Atgyfododd Crist! Yn wir atgyfododd!

Persian مسیح برخاسته است! به راستی برخاسته است!‎ (Masih barkhaste ast! Be rasti barkhaste ast!)

Hindustani – येसु मसीह ज़िन्दा हो गया है! हाँ यक़ीनन, वोह ज़िन्दा हो गया है! – یسوع مسیح زندہ ہو گیا ہے! ہاں یقیناً، وہ زندہ ہو گیا ہے!‎ – Yesu Masih zinda ho gaya hai! Haan yaqeenan, woh zinda ho gaya hai!

Marathi – (Yeshu Khrist uthla ahe! Kharokhar uthla ahe!)

Turkish – Mesih dirildi! Hakikaten dirildi!

Uyghur – ئەيسا تىرىلدى! ھەقىقەتىنلا تىرىلدى!‎ (Əysa tirildi! Ⱨəⱪiⱪətinla tirildi!)

Azeri – Məsih dirildi! Həqiqətən dirildi!

Chuvash – Христос чĕрĕлнĕ!! Чăн чĕрĕлнĕ! (Khristós chərəlnə! Chæn chərəlnə!)

Carolinian – Lios a melau sefal! Meipung, a mahan sefal!

Chamorro – La’la’i i Kristo! Magahet na luma’la’ i Kristo!

Fijian – Na Karisito tucake tale! Io sa tucake tale!

Filipino – Si Kristo ay nabuhay! Siya nga ay nabuhay!

Hawaiian – Ua ala aʻe nei ʻo Kristo! Ua ala ʻiʻo nō ʻo Ia!

Indonesian – Kristus telah bangkit! Dia benar-benar telah bangkit!

Malagasy – Nitsangana tamin’ny maty i Kristy! Nitsangana marina tokoa izy!

Malayalam – (ക്രിസ്തു ഉയിര്‍ത്തെഴുന്നേറ്റു! തീര്‍ച്ചയായും ഉയിര്‍ത്തെഴുന്നേറ്റു!) (Christu uyirthezhunnettu! Theerchayayum uyirthezhunnettu!)

Aleut – Kristus aq ungwektaq! Pichinuq ungwektaq!

Yupik languages – Xris-tusaq Ung-uixtuq! Iluumun Ung-uixtuq!

Japanese – ハリストス復活!実に復活! (Harisutosu fukkatsu! Jitsu ni fukkatsu!)

Korean – 그리스도께서 부활하셨네! 참으로 부활하셨네! (Geuriseudokkeseo Buhwalhasheotne! Chameuro Buhwalhasheotne!)

Navajo – Christ daaztsą́ą́dę́ę́ʼ náádiidzáá. Tʼáá aaníí daaztsą́ą́dę́ę́ʼ náádiidzáá.

Tlingit – Xristos Kuxwoo-digoot! Xegaa-kux Kuxwoo-digoot!

Ganda Kristo Ajukkide! Kweli Ajukkide!

Swahili – Kristo Amefufukka! Kweli Amefufukka!

Gikuyu – Kristo ni muriuku! Ni muriuku nema!

Quechua – Cristo causarimpunña! Ciertopuni causarimpunña!

Arabic (standard) – المسيح قام! حقا قام!‎ (al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!); المسيح قام! بالحقيقة قام!‎ (al-Masīḥ qām! Belḥāqiqāti qām!)

Syriac – ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ! ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܩܡ!‎ (Mshiḥa qām! sharīrāīth qām! ; Mshiḥo Qom! Shariroith Qom!)

Neo-Syriac – ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡܠܗ! ܒܗܩܘܬܐ ܩܡܠܗ!‎ (Mshikha qimlih! bhāqota qimlih!)

Turoyo-Syriac – ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܝܡ! ܫܪܥܪܐܝܬ ܩܝܡ!‎ (Mshiḥo qāyem! Shariroith qāyem!)

Tigrigna – (Christos tensiou! Bahake tensiou!)

Amharic – (Kristos Tenestwal! Bergit Tenestwal!)

Hebrew (modern) – המשיח קם! באמת קם!‎ (Hameshiach qam! Be’emet qam!)

Maltese – Kristu qam! Huwa qam tassew! or Kristu qam mill-mewt! Huwa qam tassew!

Coptic – ⲠⲓⲬⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ ⲁϥⲧⲱⲛϥ! Ϧⲉⲛ ⲟⲩⲙⲉⲑⲙⲏⲓ ⲁϥⲧⲱⲛϥ! (Pikhristos Aftonf! Khen oumethmi aftonf!)

Mandarin – 基督復活了 他確實復活了 (Jidu fuhuo-le! Ta queshi fuhuo-le!)

Abkhazian – Kyrsa Dybzaheit! – Itzzabyrgny Dybzaheit!

Georgian – ქრისტე აღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტად აღსდგა! (Kriste agsdga! Cheshmaritad agsdga!)

Estonian – Kristus on üles tõusnud! Tõesti, Ta on üles tõusnud!

Finnish – Kristus nousi kuolleista! Totisesti nousi!

Hungarian – Krisztus feltámadt! Valóban feltámadt!

Esperanto – Kristo leviĝis! Vere Li leviĝis!

Ido – Kristo riviveskabas! Ya Il rivivesakabas!

Interlingua – Christo ha resurgite! Vermente ille ha resurgite! (or) Christo ha resurrecte! Vermente ille ha resurrecte!

Quenya – Tengwar Rendering (Hristo Ortane! Anwave Ortanes!)

Klingon – Hu’ta’ QISt! Hu’bejta’!

Dothraki – Khal Asvezhvenanaz yathoay. Me Yathoay Me nem nesa.

Tzotzil – Icha’kuxi Kajvaltik Kristo! Ta melel icha’kuxi!

Tzeltal – Cha’kuxaj Kajwaltik Kristo! Ta melel cha’kuxaj!

Rastafarian – Krestos a uprisin! Seen, him a uprisin fe tru!

Source of translations:  Wikipedia Photograph: Sam Lucero

Categories: History

Happy Easter from Discovery

April 19, 2014 10 comments

imageIt must be the day before Easter. Rossella Lorentz just three hours ago posted an article called Fact-Checking the Bible. It is pretty tame. In fact, this who media season leading up to Easter has been fairly quiet. Here are some samples. The Shroud of Turin gets mentioned in a sort of different way:


  . . . according to newly published research by Tel Aviv University based on radiocarbon dating and evidence unearthed in excavations, camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until the 10th century BC — several centuries after the time they appear in the Bible.

Adam and Eve: 

The fossil record indicates that humans did not appear suddenly, but evolved gradually over the course of six million years.

. . . they weren’t the only man and woman alive at the time, or the only people to have present-day offspring.

The Great Flood:

[A] 3,700-year-old clay tablet, consisting of 60 lines in cuneiform, has been dubbed a prototype of Noah’s ark described in the Bible.

The tablet contains a detailed construction manual for building an ark with palm-fiber ropes, wooden ribs and coated in hot bitumen to make it waterproof. It also contains the first description of the ark’s shape — surprisingly, it’s a massive round vessel.

We can skip over Exodus, the birth of Jesus, the question of whether or not Judas betrayed Jesus and jump right into the Crucifixion of Jesus: 

Described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in writings by Paul the Apostle, Jesus’ death by crucifixion at the direction of Pontius Pilate has also been questioned. The main argument is that there is no first-hand witness for Jesus’s crucifixion.

As for physical evidence, a heated ongoing debate surrounds the Shroud of Turin, the piece of linen that that some believe to have been wrapped around Jesus’ body after the crucifixion and others debunk as a medieval fake following radiocarbon tests. The Vatican itself remains neutral on the issue.

Gosh, I’m not upset by any of this. I think I agree with most of it.  The Bible is not a history book, after all. But at least I think Jesus was crucified. I think the vast majority of biblical scholars and historians of the first century think so. And I don’t think the shroud can prove anything here.

Funny, they forgot to cover the Resurrection.

Categories: History

Maundy Thursday

April 17, 2014 1 comment


Lorenzetti Pietro. Last Supper.fresco. Assisi, c. 1320

Categories: History

Okay, we will need to wait several weeks

April 16, 2014 11 comments

imageStephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything. It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

. . .  I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right? By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named? Evidence, this time?


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