Cover Blurb: Origins of the Turin Shroud: Solving history’s greatest mystery
The conversation is far from over. So if you are still with me we should take a look at History Today’s blog space. Here we find Charles attempting to defend his ‘it’s a painting’ assertion:
I am not sure why there should be something special physically about the Shroud and why it cannot be a ‘mere painting’. After all ,as my article shows, there is a mass of evidence that suggests it was just this . . .
And Terry Conspiracy putting the kibosh on:
The real issue, is whether the Shroud is a Medieval work of art, or not.
Well published scientific research has confirmed for most of us long ago, that whatever the Shroud is, and regardless of when exactly it was created, the Shroud of Turin is "not" a painting.
There are several highly respected teams of scientists and artists that have both invested and risked large portions of their careers by attempting to explain and/or replicate the process that created the image, and to date, none have even come close to being successful.
That is why it is still such a great mystery to ponder and speculate over.
What you fail to mention (I suspect deliberately) Charles, is that with the exception of the remaining stains of "human blood" that are still on the cloth, the actual image of Christ is virtually invisible to the eye up close, and it only takes on a vague human form at a distance.
All of the amazingly accurate "head to toe" evidence of scourging, the crown of thorns, and all the other chillingly accurate anatomical details of facial features, Crucifixion, and torture, only become visible when viewed in photographic "negative" images of the Shroud.
As much as I appreciate the insight you have given me through your discussion of the changes in the depiction of this icon’s blood in art images over time, I really would like you to explain how you could possibly devote so much time to exploring these fine forensic details in the Shroud’s image, without informing your readers about the unique and precarious precondition of having to wait 500 years for photography to be invented, before anyone, including the artist, could actually see those details.
Did I say kibosh? Not so fast. Charles has a reply:
No, Terry. These details were clear for all to see in the fifteenth ,sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when there were frequent expositions. Perhaps as the images faded, perhaps for other reasons, expositions became fewer and fewer and as the images could no longer be seen by large crowds, restricted to the cathedral and probably relatively few visitors. So in 1898 it had been thirty years since the previous exposition and twenty- six since the one before that (1842) . . . . So it must have been a real shock when the Shroud came out of storage and by this time it had the total faded images recorded by Secondo Pia.
Deliberately? Or out of a lack of comprehension? I suspect that Charles doesn’t understand what a photographic negative is (see Dear Charles Freeman, re the Famous Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck and his comments therein).
In my opinion the postulated and fitted halo is more a result of wishful thinking,
than careful, meticulous and objective analysis without preconceived ideas. — O.K.
Contrary to Peter Schumacher claims, after analysing BW photos of the Shroud I see no compelling evidence (and definitely not "beyond any reasonable doubt") for the presence of the postulated halo around Shroud face. According to my analysis there are no significant differences of intensity in the region around the face, compared to other non-image, non-burn areas (even if some regions around the face appear minimally darker than average background), not to say about any circular-shape „halo” around the face. In my opinion the postulated and fitted halo is more a result of wishful thinking, than careful, meticulous and objective analysis without preconceived ideas.
This does not mean that I reject Wilson and others theory that the Mandylion transferred to Constantinople in 944 was actually the Shroud. In my view, the analysis of documentary evidence created after the transfer leaves practically no room for other conclusion. This is another topic, however. Yet also I think that the history of the Mandylion, as both concept and physical object(s), and its relation to the Shroud is far more complex than most researchers assume and current theories do not give full answers for all questions and issues.
. . . Jesus took His Shroud with Him out of the empty tomb
and later gave it to the Apostle John, seems the most likely [possibility].
He writes today in part 1 of what will be multiple installments of an article on the servant of the priest:
Introduction. The Gospels don’t record that Jesus’ burial shroud [sindon] was in the empty tomb. Indeed, despite the desire by most Shroud pro-authenticist to place the Shroud in the empty tomb, included among the othonia, or even as the soudarion, both mentioned in (Jn 20:5-7), the evidence is that it wasn’t there. What Peter and John saw in the empty tomb, as recorded in Luke 24:12 and John 20:5-7, was the linen strips [othonia] which had bound [edesan] Jesus’ hands and feet and the spices (Jn 19:40), as well as the sweat-cloth [soudarion] (the Sudarium of Oviedo) which had been on [epi] Jesus head, but no Shroud [sindon]. From seeing this arrangement of the othonia andsoudarion but no sindon, John believed that Jesus had risen from the dead (Jn 20:6-9). Several early Christian writings record that the resurrected Jesus took His shroud with him out of the tomb and gave it to different individuals. The earliest and most highly regarded of these writings, the late first/early second century The Gospel of the Hebrews records that after His resurrection Jesus gave his shroud [sindon] to "the servant of the priest." Since it seems incredible . . . .
FYI: The following quotation is taken from Wikipedia which sources it from the critical 3rd German edition of Schneemelcher’s New Testament Apocrypha, translated by George Ogg:
And when the Lord had given the linen cloth to the servant of the priest, he went to James and appeared to him. For James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drunk the cup of the Lord until he should see him risen from among them that sleep. And shortly thereafter the Lord said: Bring a table and bread! And immediately it is added: He took the bread, blessed it and brake it and gave it to James the Just and said to him: My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man is risen from among them that sleep.
Please note, first, that Charles Freeman has maintained a very civilized dialog with everyone in this blog. He has posted more than 80 comments in this blog since his article appeared in History Today. It continues to be a fruitful discussion.
If you are not familiar with the issues, these have the been the primary postings about Charles Freeman’s article:
- A Significant Article by Charles Freeman in History Today
- The Guardian Notes the History Today Article by Charles Freeman
- More on Charles Freeman’s Article
- Bigger Fish to Fry Than Freeman
- Barrie Schwortz Dismisses Freeman’s Claims: It was the Science
- How Knowledge is Created: The Shroud of Turin
- History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On
- An Exquisite Response as an Exquisite Response
- The Holkham Bible Recently Much Mentioned
- More on Charles Freeman’s Article and Podcast from the OSC IB Blog
Now, onto those terrific comments:
So someone depicts Christ with more scourge marks than the artistic norm at the time and that’s proof the Shroud is an Easter prop? All the paint just happened to flake off? I might add that none of these images show any anatomical realism–they just show the body scourged more than usual. How these images from the Holkham bible are used as a reference point seems a little obtuse.
Colin Berry writes:
Despite your historical analysis, the TS remains an unsolved scientific enigma – and that cannot be casually dismissed with scientifically-flaky explanations that depend on even flakier paint.
For full context, Colin’s expanded comment should be read:
Yes, I’ve been through your article several times now Charles, and find it thought provoking and (in places) provocative too. That’s why I was interested to hear your opinion re the chemical nature of the body image and bloodstains if, as you suggest, they were both applied freehand as artists’ pigments . (My own views on the nature of the body image and blood have been the subject of numerous postings, and are probably best kept to one side for now to avoid cluttering up the discourse).
Can be confine ourselves first to the body image (blood being hugely more problematical)?
The body image is bleached by a reducing agent (diimide), Susceptibility to one type of simple chemical invariably means it’s susceptible to others too, like oxygen in the air, maybe activated by light. (There are well known model chemical systems in which photooxidation results in bleaching of dyes and other organic chomophores occurs due to self-sensitized production of singlet oxygen).
So while the original image may have been a lot easy to see at a distance than today’s TS, one has to consider a whole range of physical and chemical options and scenarios, instead of assuming it was simply paint that had flaked off. The latter would not explain why the resistant faint ‘signature’ has the physical and chemical properties of chemically-dehydrated linen carbohydrates, i.e essentially “scorch-like” (even if that term was not used by STURP). Nor would it explain why a highly degraded image comes to have so spectacular a response to 3D-rendering software. Thousands of oil and water colour portraits must have flaked away over the centuries. How many have left a faint and intriguing quasi-photograph?
Once you take on board that the image we see today is the primary image, albeit now somewhat faded, and reject any paint-flaking hypothesis that is unsupported by chemical evidence of trace contamination, then one is back where we started. Despite your historical analysis, the TS remains an unsolved scientific enigma – and that cannot be casually dismissed with scientifically-flaky explanations that depend on even flakier paint.
A podcast interview with historian Charles Freeman (25 minutes)
I previously noted in this blog in my posting How Knowledge is Created: The Shroud of Turin:
From the OSC IB Blogs for Students and Teachers (Oxford Study Courses International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) we get some opinion on examining the Shroud of Turin in TOK classes (Theory of Knowledge). Eileen Dombrowski has written a long, interesting blog posting, The Shroud of Turin: perspectives, faith, and evidence.
Eileen Dombrowski, now, seems to be getting really excited about Charles Freeman’s article:
This topic of the Shroud of Turin just keeps getting better and better for TOK. In my last post, I outlined TOK lessons based on it. But now – even better materials for launching a class! A podcast interview with historian Charles Freeman (25 minutes), linked from the website of History Today, readily sets up a leaner lesson on the methods of research of an historian. The interviewer applauds Freeman’s research as “historical detective work” on an “unsolved mystery” and invites him to explain his methods of investigation.
In preparation for class discussions on methodology in history, I recommend giving this podcast to your students, along with guiding questions that help them focus their minds analytically as they listen. Below is a set of questions I worked out myself as I listened. You’re welcome to use them yourself if you find them helpful. (You can download a pdf version of the questions here: Turin Shroud Freeman podcast questions)
- “What does he say that the “shroudies” assume, and what are the consequences for their explanations?”
- “Notice Freeman’s steps in reasoning: ‘So what clinches this further…’ ‘So we’re coming closer…’ ‘What actually clinched it…’”
- “Why does Freeman rule out forgery and deliberate hoax? Why does he think that his research and explanation will be favourably considered by the Catholic Church?”
It is interesting. But I wonder how significant this is as evidence. And specifically, of what?
The following paper by Andrea Di Genua, Emanuela Marinelli, Ivan Polverari and Domenico Repice, Judas, Thaddeus, Addai: possible connections with the vicissitudes of the Edessan and Constantinopolitan Mandylion and any research perspectives has been added to Academia.edu. (There is also a version in Italian*: Giuda, Taddeo, Addai: possibili collegamenti con le vicende del Mandylion edesseno-costantinopolitano ed eventuali prospettive di ricerca)
The abstract reads:
The Mandylion or image of Edessa, first mentioned in the 6th century, was a depiction of Christ’s face, described by some texts as a painting and by others as a miraculous imprint on a cloth. It is reasonable to believe that this mysterious cloth was the Shroud which is today kept in Turin, folded in such a way as to show only the face.
The protagonist of the events related to the Edessan image is Thaddeus-Addai, who is at times defined as “apostle” and at other times simply as disciple. The identification of Thaddeus Addai with the apostle Judas Thaddeus or one of the 70 (or 72) disciples remains an issue which deserves further studies; however, considering the research already conducted, a possible relation between the numerous literary witnesses and the figure of Judas Thaddeus is not to be ruled out.
The analysis of the 10th icon of the Abgar legend is intriguing:
The upper part of the diptych, on the left, shows the depiction of a saint, identifiable as Thaddeus. However, it is likely that this saint is not one of the 72 disciples, but exactly the apostle Judas Thaddeus, as identified in Greek books. The Western and Eastern traditions diverge substantially on this point. In the upper right side, King Abgar is represented with the facial features of Emperor Constantine VII, who in 944 moved the relic to Constantinople .
The images of St Judas Thaddeus are very late in the West, and the saint is always represented carrying a medal depicting Jesus’ face. In Early Christianity and in the Middle Ages, the apostle Judas is only represented in the apostolic college, with no reference to the Mandylion (mosaics in Monreale, el Bawit in Egypt, etc.).
The saint depicted on the left has a face similar to that of the character who, on the right, hands over the Mandylion to King Abgar. This similarity does not prove that they are the same person, since byzantine painters used to employ patterns to reproduce the human face and, as always, painters tend to make self-portraits; this, therefore, would explain the similarity of the two and also the similarities of the saints depicted in the lower part.
* The English version is a translation from Italian by Augusto Monacelli