Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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 8 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:

A Rare Piece of Cloth

July 21, 2015 11 comments

imageStephen Jones, now embarked on a series of posts to summarize the “overwhelming evidence” of authenticity, does have a point in his post yesterday, first in quoting from Edward Hall’s obituary in The Independent:

"Such total involvement got its reward especially in his [Hall’s] participation in the dating of the Shroud of Turin in 1988 … `There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the 14th century,’ he bluntly told a British Museum press conference. `Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it.’"

and then in telling us:

… And in a sense Hall was right! If the Shroud were a medieval forgery, then the forger, to maximise his profit, would have "just got a bit of linen." That is, he would have used the least expensive "bit of linen" he could find that would still deceive his prospective buyers (and that wouldn’t require much-see #3). But the Shroud is not just any "bit of linen." As we have seen above the Shroud would have been expensive and rare in the first century. And it would have been even more expensive and rare in the 14th century, of which there is only one known  other example, but in fragments as opposed to the ~4.4 x 1.1 metre Shroud. So the medieval forger would have been most unlikely to have obtained a fine linen herringbone twill sheet the size of the Shroud in the first place.

Categories: History Tags:

Byzantine Coins Again

July 10, 2015 6 comments

I think the Byzantine solidi are a meaningful part of a larger historical picture
by which I am persuaded the shroud is much older than its carbon dating suggests.

Is John Jackson and company pointing to something lower down?

BT, a longtime reader of this blogimage writes:

There are many depictions of Christ on Byzantine coins with features that correspond to features on the shroud.  But then there are the exceptions. Then too there are the questions about whether those features are really features at all.  This solidus is an exception. Look at the hair and beard on Christ. Yet the common motif of two parallel curved lines at the neckline of Christ’s shirt is maintained.  It also raises questions about the motif of parallel lines in the neckline of the garment. Fanti on page 113 of his new book compares the neckline on Jesus’ “dress” (shirt) to a “wrinkle on the neck (double-lined)” on the shroud. This is so for many solidi. But in this one we find this very same feature on the neckline of shirts worn by Justinian II  and his young son and co-emperor Tiberius. It is a common way of drawing a hemmed collar on a shirt, is it not?

imageYes.  But aren’t the co-emperors wearing armor (click on the above image to see a larger version)? And does that make a difference?  I also wonder what wrinkle we are referring to. In the Siefker, Propp, Koumis, Jackson and Jackson A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypothesis (v 2.1) we see:


I always thought it was the more visible wrinkle. Was I wrong? Is John Jackson and company pointing to something lower down? It makes sense.

MORE:  We had an interesting discussion in the blog with 69 comments about thie second-reign solidus in October of 2012 when Hugh Farey had asked:

The coins of Justinian II’s first reign (685 – 695 AD) are indeed remarkably shroud-like, and it is difficult not to think it was indeed the model. However, when, after a period of exile, Justinian returned to the throne (705 – 711 AD), the same sort of coins (with the same designation – Christus Rex Regnantium) have a closely shaven Christ with tightly curly hair. Can anyone suggest why the changed their mind about Christ’s appearance?

And we have had many other discussions in this blog about Byzantine coins:

I think the Byzantine solidi are a meaningful part of a larger historical picture by which I am persuaded the shroud is much older than its carbon dating suggests.

Categories: History Tags:

Stephen Jones on the Thomas De Wesselow Presentation

June 14, 2015 49 comments

“de Wesselow’s Monty Pythonesque explanation”

imageStephen Jones reviews the Thomas De Wesselow Video in his blog. First he praises it:

The AGNOSTIC art historian Thomas De Wesselow is DEVASTATING against the Shroud being a medieval forgery.

He concludes that the Shroud can ONLY be Christ’s burial sheet or someone else crucified in the first (or early) century in imitation of Christ.

But then he goes on to tell us:

Being a non-Christian, de Wesselow cannot accept the Shroud image was caused by Jesus’ resurrection. So he argues for the Shroud body image having been caused by a Maillard reaction, as proposed by STURP chemist Ray Rogers….


But de Wesselow doesn’t mention that that explanation fails on several counts:

“[1] However the potential source for amines required for the reaction is a decomposing body, and no signs of decomposition have been found on the Shroud.

[2] Rogers also notes that their tests revealed that there were no proteins or bodily fluids on the image areas.

[3] Also, the image resolution and the uniform coloration of the linen resolution seem to be incompatible with a mechanism involving diffusion.” (Ibid. My numbers in square brackets) …

[4] there are no Shroud-like images on other burial shrouds, of which there are many Egyptian ones…. This invalidates de Wesselow’s Monty Pythonesque explanation that: “What the apostles were seeing was the image of Jesus on the Shroud, which they then mistook for the real thing. It sounds … as absurd as a scene from a Monty Python film.”

[5] a Maillard reaction would not explain the coin and flower images on the Shroud.

[6] a non-resurrection explanation does not explain how the Shroud was removed from Jesus’ (or another crucified in imitation of Jesus) body with the blood clots that adhered to both His body and the Shroud being intact and not tearing.

[7] Ockham’s Razor again: Jesus is the only person of whom it is credibly claimed that He was resurrected….

imageBUT:   I completely doubt the existence of coin and flower images. I question the nature of intact blood clots after centuries of rolling and folding. I find Stephen’s point about Jesus being “the only person of whom it is credibly claimed that He was resurrected” logically fallacious in this context. In fact, I agree with only one of Stephen’s seven points: the argument that the resolution is incompatible with a mechanism involving gaseous diffusion. And I’m not sure about that.

Too bad.

Categories: History, Other Blogs

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