Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Show Me. Prove It.

August 30, 2015 1 comment

If scientists are gradually losing their position as high priests of society,
generations educated in a system governed by the scientific method still carry the
burden of doubting Thomas. Although faith does not rest on scientific evidence, unbelievers
continue to clamor "Show me," "Prove it."

imageMUST READ:  Republished, yesterday, August 29, 2015, in the English edition of the Russian Orthodox internet portal, Pravosvie Ru, The Shroud of Turin: A Mystery Across the Ages warrants your full attention:

On this day, the Church celebrates the icon of the Savior "Made Without Hands" -the prototype of which is believed to be an image of Jesus Christ’s holy face, left on a cloth used to cover His face at burial after the crucifixion. An exhaustively researched and highly interesting article by Fr. Alexy Young, Nun Michaila, and Mary Mansur was published a number of years ago in the periodical, "Orthodox America" ​​on the Shroud of Turin and the Holy Napkin. We present it today in the spirit of the present feast.

Science, although not incompatible with faith when properly understood, has more often served to reduce the wonders of nature to molecular conglomerates than to awaken man to the infinite wisdom and power of God as reflected in His creation. Because it acts to unlock the mysteries of nature, science has long been cast in the role of a protagonist by those seeking to destroy the stronghold of faith. Historian Lewis Spitz writes:

"The scientific revolution, which made its first giant strides in the 17th century, has won such a total victory through its apparent domination of nature that the Western mind has virtually capitulated to its truth."

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.    (Heb. 11:1)

If scientists are gradually losing their position as high priests of society, generations educated in a system governed by the scientific method still carry the burden of doubting Thomas. Although faith does not rest on scientific evidence, unbelievers continue to clamor "Show me," "Prove it." Ultimately the case rests on the question of Christ’s Resurrection. While there is not, and can never be, a scientific test for the resurrection of Christ, skeptics have used the lack of material evidence in their favor. Is it not providential that today, in this age of science’s hegemony, they are being challenged by a mysterious piece of cloth, the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ?

To say that the Shroud is a challenge to hard-line materialists is not to say that the debate over its authenticity is neatly divided between believers and unbelievers. Not at all….

Read the full article, which leads to this interesting Conclusion:

As Orthodox Christians, do we need the relic of the Lord’s Shroud? As far as the fullness of the Faith, "given once and for all to the saints," is concerned, we do not. The image on the Shroud adds nothing doctrinal to what has already been revealed; neither does it take anything away. Had it not survived Apostolic times, as some think, our faith in Christ and His Church, the Ark of Salvation, would be the same. Nor do we seek after signs and wonders to confirm our faith in Christ. On the other hand, the Shroud provides a visual document of something that the Evangelists describe in only a few terse words: "They crucified Him,"

In the image on the Shroud there unfolds before our very eyes the story, the process of indescribable suffering, those physiological processes which took place in the human Body of Christ. This is all precisely documented on the Shroud, attesting to our Lord’s humanity and at the same time revealing His divine power, for He arose as God, rising in such a way as to leav e all the evidence imprinted upon the Shroud and miraculously undisturbed,., containing a providential meaning which is not being revealed."

The late Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev), an eminent Church writer who wrote these words, was so impressed by the powerful testimony of the Turin Shroud that he urged the widespread dissemination of this "discovery," which he said "lies with the conscience of each faithful Christian soul who becomes acquainted with it." [53] What precisely is the value of the testimony offered by the Shroud?

All in all it is a startling medical documentary of what was described so briefly in the Gospels. Dr. John Heller biophysicist

The Russian bishop-saint, Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783)–as so many spiritual directors–was alarmed at the cold-hearted insensitivity of people, at the callousness, indifference, and wordliness of the average soul, joined to complete love of self. In our own day, most pastors would add to this list the soul-killing sin of self-righteousness and "zeal not according to knowledge," which stems from the Luciferian sin of pride.

As a spiritual remedy, the Saint urged people to "keep in your house a picture of the passion of Christ, look at it often and with reverence …. the whole deepest content of the Gospel is portrayed in the passion of Christ and incites us to imitation."[54] To imitation of what?

St. Tikhon observed that "God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into the valleys." And it was this awesome humility of the Lord on the Cross that St. Tikhon wished his spiritual children to imitate. But how to find humility? In union with all Orthodox Fathers, St. Tikhon taught that each individual must seek to know himself as he really is, without self-deception. Seeing thus his own wickedness, he must then consider "the suffering of Christ, the magnitude of whose love and suffering surpasses our understanding."[55] Christ’s example of humble obedience "even unto death" inspired this Saint to instruct his spiritual children to "remember often, especially during the night, the suffering of Christ. It will kindle in you love for the Sufferer; this love will preserve you from sin. Meditate upon His Passion …. The suffering Christ is like a saving bock from which we learn…repentance, faith, devotion to God, love of our neighbor, humility, meekness, patience, detachment from worldly vanities …" [56]

What is it, then, to follow Christ? To do good and to suffer for the sake of the will of God… to endure all, looking upon Christ Who suffered  St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

St. Tikhon was not here introducing some novelty into Orthodox piety or theology, It must be made perfectly clear that he was not suggesting the use of imagination–a common element in Western spirituality–in order to create dangerous emotions that lead to "prelest" or spiritual deception. St. Tikhon understood that the Son of God suffered not just a death such as might come to any man, but a terrifying emptying of His divinity joined to an unimaginable physical, mental, and spiritual agony that we cannot comprehend.  But we can, even with sinful eyes, gaze upon it, as those who put the Lord to death stood by and watched and some, like the blessed Centurion, even confessed Christ. The image on the Shroud vividly tells us, in ways that words often cannot, what unutterable suffering was endured for our sake, and the high price with which cur souls were ransomed from eternal death.

And then there is the cry in a scientific  age, “My Lord and My God!”:

Together with this universal significance which applies to all Christians at all times, the Shroud may also be said to be uniquely relevant to our 20th century, in which science has had such a powerful voice. Some believe that this image was encoded on the fibers of the cloth like a time capsule intended specifically for our materialistic age, when only the tools of modern science could begin to decode or unlock its secrets, when belief in God would be so weak or non-existent that even faith in science would testify to "the things of God."

There is a poster, plastered on walls in the Soviet Union, which shows a smiling astronaut flying through space. The caption reads: "There is no God," For individuals raised under the forced domination of ‘scientific-atheism," the inability of scientists to disprove the Shroud does not go unnoticed. And there is reason to believe that the scientific evidence in favor of the Shroud’s authenticity has been instrumental in opening doors to faith behind the Iron Curtain. (A report on the Shroud, written by a scientist in the Soviet Union, is said to be circulating there in Samizdat.)

We, too, in the free world, have been greatly influenced by the scientific-materialist outlook. And it seems that now, at a time which many believe to be the 11th hour, the suffering yet serene face looking at us from the Shroud confronts us with the REALITY of Jesus Christ. Can it be that in this age of diminishing faith, when even believers are crying out "Lord, help Thou my unbelief," the Lord in His mercy has condescended to reveal Himself to men in a special way, that seeing they might believe and exclaim with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!"

Who is Addai?

August 19, 2015 7 comments

from newly published papers at

imageIf you are fascinated by historical theory, like I am, read, FROM JERUSALEM TO EDESSA – THE SHROUD AND THE FAMILY OF JESUS:

Semitic name Addai, abbreviation for Adonija, does not derive from a person of the New Testament. It is necessary to wait until Eusebius – secondary source compared to the Doctrina (Illert 2007: 20) – to identify him with Thaddeus, one of the twelve Disciples (Matteo 10,3 / Marco 3,18) (HE I 12,3). According to the Doctrina, Addai came from “Panea, at the springs of Jordan River” (Howard 1981: 42s). The position against the conjecture that this is a reference to the Gospels is supported by the different name used in the Bible. As a matter of facts, it mentions the place as Caesarea Philippi (Marco 8,27 / Matteo 16,13). Because of this detail, Theodor Zahn’s position is still convincing. He presumes that «since it is totally impartial, this should be considered as a trustworthy tradition through the first, or one of the first, preachers of Christian faith in Edessa» (1881: 369). A significant role into the Doctrina is played by James the Brother of the Lord (Howard 1981: 22-25. 34s).

Yet there is a pre-existent source connecting James with Addai. According to the First Apocalypse of James, the Brother of the Lord had instructed Addai. The Gnostic apocryphal text in Coptic language brought to us, that we know also from the recently (re)published Codix Tchacos, contains Jewish-Christian translations and can be dated back to the 3rd century (Brankaer/Bethge 2007: 114-117; 84s). Richard Bauckham assumes that there had been a mission of the Family Members of the Lord towards East (1990: 66-70) and that Addai, before the year 70, had relations withJerusalem. Richard Bauckham also gives the Apocalypse of James for sure (2008: 265). Also M. L. Chaumont considers the Mission of Addai a verified historical fact (1988: 14-16), but, like Adolf von Harnack (1924: 681), he places it in a later period of time, around the year 100.

Categories: History

A superbly detailed exploration of the Image of Edessa

August 10, 2015 20 comments

imageThat is how Hugh Farey, in a comment to another posting, describes Mark Guscin’s The Tradition of the Image of Edessa, a 400+ page PhD thesis recently published on a University of London website.

The abstract of this paper begins:

The Image of Edessa was an image of Christ, which according to tradition was of miraculous origin. It was taken from Edessa (mod. Sanliurfa, Turkey) to Constantinople in 944, and disappeared from known history in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It generated, however, a vast amount of literature and hundreds of copies in churches all over the Byzantine world. This thesis is a study of the literature, paintings, icons and other aspects related to the Image of Edessa. It examines how it was used as a tool to express Christ’s humanity and for various other purposes, and how some of the related literature became completely decontextualised and was used as a magical charm, especially in the West….

The photograph of Mark is a publicity photo from ArcheBooks Publishing for his novel All the Diamonds in the World.

Categories: History Tags:

When is a Sindon Not a Sindon?

August 5, 2015 74 comments

For anyone wanting more information, I highly recommend 
Diana Fulbright’s 20+ page  paper on the subject,
A Clean Cloth: What Greek Word Usage Tells Us about the Burial Wrappings of Jesus.

imageOn reading the following on Colin Berry’s blog, it occurred to me that a bit of clarification wouldn’t hurt any of us. Colin writes:

Why does this blogger [=Colin] now refer to the Turin “Shroud”? Why not just Turin Shroud? Answer: because the single sheet of linen in Turin was intended by a medieval entrepreneur, into the business of providing “relics”, to represent that used by Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve the body from the cross and transport it to the nearby tomb. That single sheet “sindon” must not be confused with the linen clothes (plural) aka winding cloths or bandages, Greek “othonion” that were used for final interment as described in the book of John. In other words, Joseph’s linen, imagined by our medieval entrepreneur to have captured a sweat/blood imprint, was replaced by those “bandages”, and indeed there is an illustration in the Humgarian Pray manuscript of that changeover in progress.

Is that what the Pray Manuscript shows?  Hmmm? And there is this:

Conclusion: referring to the imprinted linen as the Turin SHROUD was probably the biggest semantic goof in history, and it’s had enormous consequences as regards the speculation that has grown up around the mechanism that produced the double image.

clip_image001Kim Dreisbach, once upon a time over at, clarified:

Students new to the study to the Shroud are sometimes confused by apparent inconsistencies in the description of Jesus’ burial cloth or cloths. In truth, the Bible – when read in Greek – uses a variety of terms to describe them.

The Synoptic Gospels use the word sindon in the singular to designate the Shroud (Matt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46 (twice); Lk. 23:53). Sindon appears only six times in all of the New Testament. In an anecdote unique to Mark, it is used twice in 14: 51-52 to describe the linen cloth left by an unnamed young man when he fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane.

In Jn. 19:40, the Fourth Gospeller uses the word othonia [Gk.] (plural) to describe the linen cloths used in the Burial. Othonia, a word of uncertain meaning, but probably best translated as a generic plural for grave clothes. The same word is used by Luke or his scribe in Lk.24:12 what had previously been described as the sindon in Lk. 23:53. Note: vs. l2 (But Peter rose and ran to the tomb, stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths (plural) by themselves; and he went home wondering what happened.) does not appear in the most ancient manuscripts, but is added by later ancient authorities.

Next we discover (keirias) [Gk.] translated by the RSV as bandages in Jn. 11:44’s description of the raising of Lazarus. In actuality, linen strips used to bind the wrists and ankles and probably also used on the outside at the neck, waist and ankles to secure the Shroud to the body.

Finally we come to the word sudarion [Gk.] which is found in the canonical texts solely in John (11:44. 20:7) and Luke (l9:20; Acts l9:12). It is translated by the RSV as "the napkin which had been on his head" (Jn. 20:7) and earlier in 11:44 as the cloth with which Lazarus’ face was wrapped. Scholars like the late Dr. John A.T Robinson ( "The Shroud of Turin and the Grave Cloths of the Gospels") and J.N. Sanders regard it as a chin band going around the face/head for the purpose of keeping the corpse’s jaws closed. Certainly this appears to be the intent of the artist who drew the manuscript illustration for the Hungarian Pray mss, Fol. 27v, Budapest of 1192-95 which clearly illustrates that the Shroud’s full length image(s) were known in the 12th century. (See Ian Wilson, 1986, The Mysterious Shroud, Garden City, NY; Doubleday & Company, p.115. See also Bercovits, I. 1969, Dublin: Irish University Press. Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, pl. III.) .

imageFor anyone wanting more information, I highly recommend  Diana Fulbright’s 20+ page paper on the subject, A Clean Cloth: What Greek Word Usage Tells Us about the Burial Wrappings of Jesus.

Diana  has researched  the Shroud since 1980.  She formerly taught the History of Christianity and related languages at the University of Iowa and Biblical Studies and Hebrew at the Benedictine Abbey in Richmond.

From Constantinople to Lirey through the Sainte-Chapelle

August 4, 2015 88 comments


Between the date of this exposition in 1203 and the first exposition of the Shroud of Turin
at Lirey around 1356, there is a 153-year gap.  . . .   This silence was simply due to the lack of knowledge and attention by the Latins to the most obscure relic in the Grande Châsse
at the Sainte-Chapelle. The Shroud of Turin was lying silently in a reliquary of the Sainte-Chapelle waiting to be discovered by a more attentive and humble group of clerics.

Mario Latendresse writes to inform us about a long posting he made “about the thesis of the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, which would explain the transfer of the Mandylion from Constantinople to Lirey through the Sainte-Chapelle.”  He provides:

An Introduction  &

Full text of the arguments in favor of the thesis of the Sainte-Chapelle

Take the time to carefully read both postings. The following from Mario’s conclusion may whet your appetite.

It is almost certain that the reliquary of the Mandylion did reach the Sainte-Chapelle as part of the relics ceded by Baudoin II to his relative Louis IX, and it is very likely that the Mandylion was in its reliquary. The size of the Mandylion, which is a cloth, appears large because 1) the first inventory states explicitly that it is large; 2) the Golden Bull of 1247 as well as the first inventory of the Grande Châsse does not mention any portrait in the reliquary and all the late reliquaries mention an image at the bottom of the reliquary, therefore the cloth appeared large enough to hide that image; 3) because no image is mentioned in the first inventory and the Golden Bull, the cloth also appears folded; 4) the reliquary of the Mandylion was large enough to contain a folded cloth as large as the Shroud of Turin, as a matter of fact, it was just the right size to do so. It is also likely that the Mandylion disappeared from the Sainte-Chapelle between the early 14th century and the early 16th century based on the presence of a cloth mentioned in the first inventory and the Golden Bull although none are mentioned starting in the early 16th century.

In natural sciences, it is customary to formulate an hypothesis to compare it to the observations. It is also a process that is easy to do because once an hypothesis is well described, the comparison is systematic and simple. That same process can be applied to the inventories, which are mainly observations about the reliquaries and relics. In the following, we propose two opposite hypotheses about the Mandylion and its reliquary and compare them to the inventories to see which hypothesis is the most coherent. The first one is similar to Andrea Nicolotti’s hypothesis whereas the second one is based on the thesis that the Mandylion is the Shroud of Turin.


Between the date of this exposition in 1203 and the first exposition of the Shroud of Turin at Lirey around 1356, there is a 153-year gap. The thesis of the Sainte-Chapelle explains this silence without referring to a complex and obscure scenario. This silence was simply due to the lack of knowledge and attention by the Latins to the most obscure relic in the Grande Châsse at the Sainte-Chapelle. The Shroud of Turin was lying silently in a reliquary of the Sainte-Chapelle waiting to be discovered by a more attentive and humble group of clerics.

How and why the Mandylion was passed to Geoffroy de Charny has not been discussed. But we can already see that the appearance of the Shroud at Lirey occurred during the disappearance of the Mandylion at theSainte-Chapelle….

The photograph, above, is appearing through an electronic window into Mario website. CLICK HERE or on the photograph to see a full size version of it on his site. The caption reads:

An elevated baldachin on a platform at the same location where the Grande Châsse containing the relics of Constantinople were kept in the choir of the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris.

© Mario Latendresse. Photo taken 26 April 2015.

Remembering an Earlier Posting About The Seamless Robe

August 1, 2015 9 comments

preposterous beyond scientific embarrassment.

Simageomeone just wrote:

I hope your are the right person to write.

On the blog "Shroud of Turin blog" there was an article on november 2, 2011 "A Reaction to Giulio Fanti’s Suggestion" there ist also a photo.

I’m part of a student group at University of Hannover, Germany planning an exhibition about a seamless shirt in Steinhude. For this would like to design a map of europe with all the seamless clothes we found during our research and we would like to use the pictures. Who has the licence of this photo and can allow us to use it?

My response was:

No, I don’t know who has the license for the photo. You might try doing a Google image search on tunique d argenteuil. From there you can try all the many websites who are using the image. Such is the nature of the internet.  Moreover (at least in the U.S.) the image may not be copyrightable just as photographs of the shroud are not according to the U. S. District Court for Southern New York which has held that exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright.

NOVERMBER 2, 2011. I’d forgotten about that posting. So, for a slow news day in August, here is a repeat:

A Reaction to Giulio Fanti’s Suggestion


A reader writes:

clip_image001With regards to the SSG posting about the Argenteuil robe and carbon dating by Giulio, I am speechless. Good grief.

In the Catholic Church there are two competing claimants to the title of the seamless robe or chilote of Christ. Legendary accounts of the robe at Argenteuil’s provenance has it being given by the Byzantine empress Irene to Charlemagne in the 9th century. In other words it came by way of Byzantium. The earliest extant written records go back only to 1195 and describe it as a child’s garment. We can’t know otherwise by looking at it because it was cut up into many pieces during the French Revolution and each piece was hidden away in a different secret location. Today only few pieces remain that have been seamed together. Some do claim that it is the seamless robe but there isn’t any good evidence for doing so.

A robe at Trier is an alternate claimant.  Like the Argenteuil robe it only has a certain documented history that goes back only to the 12th century, though legend takes it back to St. Helena. Over the years it has been repaired and patched so much that it is hard to tell what might be authentic and what might not be. It is as good a candidate as the Argenteuil robe.

The claims don’t end there. Allegedly, the robe, or at least some piece of it, is to be found in the Patriarchal Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia, brought to that city by a Jewish Rabbi called Elias who bought the entire robe from a soldier who was present at the crucifixion. It is as good a story as any and I suppose it more likely true than the other stories. Portions of this robe are found at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg, Kiev’s Sophia Cathedral and the Moscow Cathedral of the Dormition.

The Shroud of Turin, on the other hand, has a respectable history going back to the Hymn of the Pearl, the letters of Sister Egeria, the Mozarabic Rite, John of Damascus, the capture by Curcuas and the subsequent witness of Gregory Referendus and Constantine VII and the Pray Manuscript. All of this would be almost worthless information were it not for the distinct, still inexplicable image on the Shroud.

The Sudarium has a reasonably well documented history back to the seventh century. From bloodstains there are reasons to believe that these two cloths covered the same body at about the same time. The idea that they might have been forged, both or one or the other, to have such similar bloodstain patterns is implausible to anyone who traces their possible paths during the Medieval. The Shroud and the Sudarium have been carbon dated with very dissimilar results. There are valid reasons to doubts the correctness of those dates independent of their differences.

To throw the Argenteuil robe into the mix with the Shroud and Sudarium and claim that a series of undesirable radiocarbon dates suggest some supernatural aura attached to Jesus as a source of c14 rejuvenation is preposterous beyond scientific embarrassment.

Categories: History

Is the Shroud the Inspiration for the Holy Grail Legends?

July 31, 2015 6 comments

Today, Stephen Jones is back to working on his dictionary of the shroud. He posts. He is working on G:

Grail, Holy. The "Holy Grail" is a dish, plate, stone, or cup and is part of the Arthurian (King Arthur and the knights of the round table) legendary literature. But historian Daniel Scavone, professor Emeritus of history at the University of Southern Indiana, has shown that the Shroud of Turin is the real object that inspired the Holy Grail legend….

It is an interesting idea.  I’ve heard Dan talk about the idea a couple of times. A more recent paper on the subject, Edessan sources for the legend of the Holy Grail is from the Frascati conference in 2010. And here is an interview that Russ Breault conducted with Dan Scavone back in 1999.

Categories: History Tags:

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