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You can tell the good guys. They are wearing white shirts.

December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

The alleged primary hacker,Timothy W. Linick (1946-1989),
is the one in the black shirt standing most prominently in the foreground.

imageFor those of you who like drip-drip-drip water torture blogging, Stephen Jones has just rolled out a next installment of the conspiracy theory that the KGB hacked the computers in three radiocarbon dating labs in order to make the shroud appear to be medieval. No, really, the KGB. Stephen started this this past May:

Introduction. This is the second installment of part #10, Summary (1), of my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker. I will add new installments to this part #10(1) until it gets too long, when I will then start a part #10(2). Previous posts in this series were part #1, part #2, part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, part #7, part #8 and part #9, which this part #10 will summarise. To help prevent this summary becoming too long, I usually will not post full quotes supporting my points but will provide a reference and link back to the original post in this series where that particular quote appears.

Other than that we have a picture, shown above, with the following very interesting caption:

[Above: Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory staff and Rochester radiocarbon dating laboratory’s Prof. Harry Gove (second from right) around the AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) computer’s control console terminal[2], on 6 May 1988, after it had, or was about to, display the alleged hacker’s first bogus radiocarbon age of the Shroud, "640 years"[3], which was then calibrated to the `too good to be true’ and, as we shall see, effectively impossible "1350 AD" date that the Shroud’s flax was supposedly harvested[4]. The alleged primary hacker,Timothy W. Linick (1946-1989), is the one in the black shirt standing most prominently in the foreground[5].]

It looks like it going to be summaries for awhile. You can follow along if you wish (on your own) or you can wait with me until the end of this series to see if any evidence of hacking emerges.

Jerry Coyne: Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin

December 3, 2014 10 comments

The shroud is covered with gesso, which was used as a ground for painting.
If it was the miraculous imprint of Jesus on a burial shroud,
there would be no reason for the gesso.

imageRenowned evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, is well known for his best selling book Why Evolution Is True and his famous New Republic book review of, Of Pandas and People. Every now and then, mostly in his blog, also called Why Evolution Is True, he jumps onto the skeptical Shroud of Turin bandwagon.  I’ve mentioned him at times:

Now he has climbed aboard with our friend Charles Freeman and posted Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin in his blog. Get this:

The image has degenerated substantially over the centuries. We know this because there are a fair number of paintings from centuries ago showing what it looked like. The degradation is due to its repeated unfurling and exhibition, which would crack and flake the paint, in addition to the fact (revealed in the article I’ll cite in a second) that in past times it was customary for supplicants to hurl their rosaries at the shroud and then recover them.

But we know the Shroud is a fake for several reasons. Carbon dating of the linen cloth (in three separate labs) has placed its manufacture between 1260 and 1390, which (if you know dating) is the time at which the flax plants furnishing the cloth would have been harvested, no longer absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Further, an Italian scientist managed to reproduce the Shroud by using materials that would have been available during the Middle Ages.

The other reasons for fakery (not fraudulence, as it apparently wasn’t designed to deceive people) are given in a very nice article by the historian Charles Freeman that just appeared in History Today, “The origins of the shroud of Turin.” (It’s free online.) I recommend that you read it, as it’s a fascinating summary of what we know about the shroud.

The other reasons for fakery are these:

  • The shroud is covered with gesso (calcium carbonate; ground-up chalk), which was used as a ground for painting. If it was the miraculous imprint of Jesus on a burial shroud, there would be no reason for the gesso.
  • [ . . . ]
  • Finally, the image changed over the year. In 1355 to at least 1559, Jesus was naked, with his hands covering his genitals. But in 1578, as Freeman notes, reproductions show it with a loincloth over Jesus’s groin and butt. Clearly there were some prudes, possibly the Bishop of Milan, who were distressed at the exposure of the Saviour’s bum.  The loincloth later disappeared, though there’s still a white patch on the Shroud showing where it was.
      Coyne summarizes the criticism of the carbon dating based on a single article,

 a recent news article by Inés San Martin on the Catholic Crux website

    :

Other scientists, however, believe those results could be off by centuries, pointing to the possibility of bacterial contamination of the cloth. They note, for instance, that burial shrouds for Egyptian pharaohs sometimes test to centuries later than their known age for precisely that reason

Then Coyne lets loose:

In view of the multifarious evidence, the Church really should say that it was a medieval painting that could not have been Jesus’s burial shroud. But they won’t do that; it would turn off the supplicants who think it’s real . . . .

[ . . . ]

Now why would the Popes keep making pilgrimages to something that’s just a painting?

Catholics must have their miracles, even in the face of counterevidence. Just once I’d like to hear the Church declare unequivocally that the Shroud is simply a painting from the 14th century or so. And I’d also like to hear them say that Adam and Eve weren’t the historical ancestors of all humanity. (Genetic studies have disproven a two-person ancestry.) But it will be a cold day in July (in Chicago) when that happens!

I don’t have a problem with Coyne when it comes to evolutionary biology or his criticism of ID. Coyne and I don’t share the same beliefs about the existence of God, but that’s okay. He is one of the New Atheism crowd like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and I can accept that and disagree amicably. But, Coyle as a scientist – come on now, Jerry, are you sure that the shroud is a painting?  You know this how?

Gesso?  Are you sure?  Who said so?

The Makeshift Body Bag of Turin

November 27, 2014 186 comments

New angle on that much over-hyped Hungarian Pray Codex . . .

image“Please be content for now with another new claim,” writes Colin Berry. . .

the so-called Turin Shroud was never intended to represent the final burial shroud. It was a makeshift body bag used to transport Jesus from the cross to his final resting place, the rock tomb. It was simply to provide a dignified transport of a blood and sweat-soaked victim pending the final washing and anointing prior to final burial, probably in WINDING sheets. It was the body bag that received the sweat and blood imprint, NOT the final burial shroud enclosing a washed, anointed, perfumed body.

(I used the same picture, above that Colin used because it effectively makes his point).

imageColin extensively examines scripture to support this contention. And then from left field:

New angle on that much over-hyped Hungarian Pray Codex: might that be Jesus on an opened-out body bag in the upper picture, with the replacement snake-like linen for winding in readiness?

But as Colin notes:

I never imagined for one moment that I was the first to propose the ‘body bag’ hypothesis, in view of the Gospel accounts making clear that ‘fine linen’ was used for immediate transport from cross to tomb. And here’s a comment from David Mo that includes a French quote (my italics) making precisely  the same point. My immediate response follows:

Here is what David Mo wrote (translation by Google):

More interesting: "The other Shroud which also bears an imprint of Jesus Christ is the one body called the Shroud of Besancon. The painting is not so strong or if the features that distinguish the Shroud of Turin. This is what has been told to those who gave the history of the one and the other, that of Turin had been used to wrap the body bloodied at the descent from the cross, and that of Besançon had been used to bury him after he was washed & embalmed. " It was a common belief que la mark Shroud of Turin Was Made with blood.

Colin tells us that:

Ian Wilson no less has expressed views that chime with mine (my bolding)

Wilson concurs with this as a possible explanation: "Although this may have been a me re chin band, it implies a more substantial piece of linen, and an alternative interpretation is that it could have been the Shroud we know today. The root meaning ofsudarion is sweat cloth, and the Shroud may have been intended as a temporary wrapping to soak up the sweat and blood from the body prior to a more definitive burial, which would have taken place after the Passover Sabbath." (emphasis is Colin’s)

A small catholic on relics

November 27, 2014 4 comments

imageBill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and award-winning former faith columnist for The Kansas City Star, writes the daily "Faith Matters" blog for the Star‘s website and a monthly column for The Presbyterian Outlook. He calls himself a small catholic and his work appears in the National Catholic Reporter, this time with a column entitled, Relics mean something, but they don’t mean everything:

What the whole of Christianity depends on is not whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus but whether Jesus, in fact, was resurrected.

And yet there’s something about the human condition that makes it easier for us if we can hold onto something solid, something verifiably original and authentic.

So our hearts long for the Shroud of Turin eventually to be validated as the true burial cloth of Jesus. And we want to know that this or that particular cup is the one Jesus used at the Last Supper. And that someone saved the ax George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree and, while they were at it, also preserved his wooden teeth. (Good luck with both of those myths.)

I’m happy for Pope Francis to visit the Shroud of Turin just as I’m happy for Protestant tourists to stop at the front doors of the Wittenberg Cathedral. (The original wooden doors were destroyed in a fire and have been replaced with bronze doors.)

I just hope the pontiff’s trip won’t lead people to imagine that it ultimately matters whether what he sees there is Jesus’ burial cloth. That would focus on a dead man. By stark contrast, Christianity is about the living Christ and our commitment to follow where his Spirit leads.

St. John of the Shroud: Priest, Servant of the Priest, Cousin to Jesus

November 25, 2014 8 comments

imageIn his serialized attempt to convince us that Jesus took his burial shroud with him following his resurrection and gave it to John the Apostle who was the servant of the priest mentioned in a fragment of text from St. Jerome that quotes the Gospel of the Hebrews, Stephen Jones explains that Jesus and John were first cousins and that the Apostle John was also a priest.

I know that, didn’t I? Did I?  If so, I didn’t know why. Very ingenious analysis by Stephen:

Mark and Mathew evidently record the three prominent women disciples standing by the Cross after Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been taken by the Apostle John (Jn 19:26-27), her nephew (see below), to his home[11]. That the remaining three women mentioned are the same group in each account is shown by Mark listing "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome" as the women who went to the tomb in the early morning after the sabbath to anoint Jesus’ body (Mk 16:1).

That means that Jesus and Apostle John were first cousins:

[ . . . ]

Mary was also a "kinswoman" of Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Lk 1:36 YLT)[13]. The Greek word for "kinswoman," sungenis, is simply the female of sungenes "a kinsman" (Mk 6:4; Lk 1:58; 2:44; 14:12; 21:16; Jn 18:26; Ac 10:24) including "of tribal kinship" (Rom 9:3; 16:7,11,21)[14]. Elizabeth was one of the "daughters of Aaron" (Lk 1:5), that is, she was of priestly descent and the daughter of a priest[15]. Therefore Mary, and Salome her sister, were descended from David (Lk 1:32) and so were of the tribe of Judah (Mt 1:1-6; Lk 3:30-31) and also they were descended from Aaron, and so were of the tribe of Levi (Ex 6:16-20). There is no contradiction in this, as while a priest had to be a descendent of Aaron, he was not required to take a wife from the descendants of Aaron but the only requirement was that she was an Israelite virgin (Lev 21:1,7,14)[16]. The conditions of Jesus’ descent from David (Mt 1:1; Rom 1:3; 2Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16) are satisfied if at least one of Mary’s parents were of Davidic decent[17].

Therefore, for the Apostle John, the son of Salome, to be a priest, it was only necessary that his father, Zebedee (Mt 4:21; 10:2; Mk 1:19; 3:17; 10:35; Lk 5:10), was of Aaronic descent and therefore was a priest[18]. And that would have been so if Mary (and Salome’s) father, Heli (Lk 3:23)[19], i.e. "Eli" – a priestly name (1Sam 1:9; 2:11; 14:3), was a descendant of Aaron and therefore a priest[20]. And that would have been the case, if the father of Elisabeth, who was Mary’s and Salome’s kinswoman, was a brother of Zebedee, John’s father. Further Biblical confirmation that John was a priest is found in Jn 20:4-8, where John reached the empty tomb first but did not enter it until after Peter went in and confirmed that Jesus’ body was not there. It was forbidden for a priest to enter a tomb[21] where he might make contact with a dead body and so become "unclean" (Lev 21:1-3)[22].

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I think HE sees?

November 19, 2014 11 comments

Just in case you were wondering about the Machy mould being discussed in The Conspiracy of the Faux-Sweat Imprint, here is some more information. These images,above, are  from Colin Berry’s blog (in fact we are looking at them there through something of a wormhole in the way you can structure things on the web).

Tell me: do you see the image on the left? Are HIS eyes open? Compare the face on the left to the image of a face elsewhere on the mold of someone holding the shroud.

It helps to see the size of this thing. Here is a picture of  Alain Hourseau, the owner of the mold, holding it in his hands.

And finally here, below, is a good picture of the whole mold. Is that face from one of the Veronicas? Again, I ask: are the eyes open? Is this a case of I think I see too much?

Me thinks so! And does it really matter?



BTW: It was Colin back in February who wrote this healthy swipe:

That was in the mid-1350s, accompanied by at least two promotional pilgrims’ badges’  The first and better known lead/tin one in the Cluny museum, dredged up from the Seine in 1855,  without any obvious Christ-like figure, and the (later?) revisionist version (see Ian Wilson’s pdf  in the BSTS Newsletter on the Machy mould) that has the added Veronica- style in vivo motif of Christ’s face as an additional inset image above the word SUAIRE ( signalling a “sweat-imprinted face cloth” and no doubt attempting to suggest, even subliminally, that the entire Shroud image was likewise a sweat imprint, albeit post-mortem).

The surplus-to-requirements and source or confusion face and label on the Machy mould above "SUAIRE" (left) and one contender (right) for title of surviving Veil of Veronica (from wiki entry for latter), i.e. the Holy Face of Jaen.

The surplus-to-requirements and source or confusion face and label on the Machy mould above “SUAIRE” (left) and  just one several similar images that could have chosen  to represent the Veil of Veronica, the one shown here described as a 14th century “copy” ,  entitled the ‘Holy Face of Jaen’.

What better way than piggybacking, seen with the addition of a motif of the famed pilgrim-attracting Veil of Veronica  (Fr. Le voile de Véronique)  with its alleged imprint of the face of Jesus en route to Calvary, imprinted we are told in sweat.  Contrary view (or a prioriassumption): Mario Latendresse describes it as “the face of the man on the Shroud”.

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And from Hong Kong

November 19, 2014 3 comments

Angelo Paratico has a nice quick synopsis of the modern day study of the shroud in Beyond Thirty-Nine, a blog he co-authors from Hong Kong. The posting is called  The Turin’s Shroud – a Mystery hidden into a Riddle.

clip_image001In Hong Kong we have one of the world’s great experts in the science of Sindonology, which is the study of the Shroud of Turin, known as Sindone in Italian. A Hong Kong resident since 1970, William Meacham, is an archeologist and a professor at HKU. He has many books published under his name and in particular there is one which is often cited by sindonologists: The Rape of the Shroud published in 2005.

In 1978 a special commission received permission to investigate scientifically this mysterious fabric, which appeared out of nowhere in Lirey, France, in the year 1353. This commission was called STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project). It started well, but soon descended into a factional war between bickering scientists and reluctant cardinals. Being these the basis, it is not surprising that the results, instead of clearing the waters, made them even murkier.

The book of Prof. Meacham is an highly scientific and well researched work, as he was one of the experts summoned to Italy and involved in the dating project of the Shroud, but was later sidelined by a group of people with a narrow view of what they were examining and, perhaps, lacking the necessary expertise. . . .

[ . . . ]

The validity of the C14 radiocarbon dating was put in doubt from the very beginning, and for a number of good reasons. We’ll limit ourselves to the most basic ones, noting only that it is hard to believe how scientists could act so clumsily. . . .

They found that where the image appeared there were no traces of pigments or colors, and it was certainly not obtained by heating or printing. . . .

Did anyone tell Charles and Colin? Be right back

Here is some show off trivia:

This relict had remained a property of the royal house of Italy, the Savoy, until 1983 when it was finally bequeathed to the Vatican by the last king of Italy, Umberto II, in his testament. Curiously this donation had been challenged, because what did belong to the last king should have been taken over by the republican government of Italy in 1946 but this matter is still taking dust in the Italian Parliament, as more pressing matters concerning the economy are at hand.

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