Archive for the ‘News & Views’ Category

Ye Denizens of Shroudsponge

October 29, 2015 2 comments

“You can prove anything with the Bible.”

— My Grandmother*

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Just About Everyone Who Ever Lived

* I looked long and hard for the original author of the phrase about proving anything with the Bible. Not finding anything in cyberspace, I concluded that my grandmother thought this up all by herself.

And if you need an example, Colin Berry, just a couple of days ago, offered this afterthought in a long multi-topic  blog post titled, Might flour-power have been used create the enigmatic “Shroud” of Turin body image? A retired FMBRA flour scientist says … (the ellipsis are his and the following reference to the “denizens of the shroudsponge” is certainly a reference to the readers of this blog):

Hard though it is to believe, the denizens of the shroudsponge site are STILL returning again and again to what are seen as allegedly conflicting NT accounts re burial garments. (oh no they’re not).

As stated here before, MANY, MANY TIMES, there is no conflict whatsoever between the “sindon” (single large linen sheet) supplied to the cross by Joseph of Arimathea (as per 3 synoptic gospels), intended for discreet transport of a naked or near-naked body to the nearby tomb, and the “othonia”, assumed to be a narrow winding strip (or strips) supplied by Nicodemus and taken direct to the tomb, along with that 100lbs of myrrh and aloes.

Even those 12th century Hungarian monks charged with providing simple pen-drawn illustrations for the Pray Codex had no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling those two separate sources of linen, providing us with a ‘snapshot’ of one replacing the other!

You may click on the image to see it on Colin’s website. The caption for the image reads:

Hungarian Pray Codex (1192). Note the presence of TWO separate linens – Joseph of Arimathea’s beneath the corpse, having served its transport function, and the narrow winding strip in readiness as the permanent burial shroud. (Whether the medieval mind was correct in assuming ‘othonia’ to represent a narrow bandage-like winding is an entirely separate issue from that of TWO separate linens (sensible interpretation) v the self-serving notion prevailing in sindonology that J of A’s linen was somehow intended to be dual-purpose, thereby air-brushing out John’s testimony re Nicodemus having supplied additional linen replacing J of A’s transport linen, to serve as final burial shroud).

Categories: Other Blogs

That Sindonology Band is Back in Town

October 25, 2015 Leave a comment

clip_image001Over on one of his blogs, Colin Berry has let us know his “next posting has a provisional title: ‘76 mistruths about the Turin Shroud’.”

That should be fun.

Colin goes on to suggest, parenthetically, that “One could almost set that to music, featuring massed trombones.”

“Don’t expect anything soon,” he tells us, however, “… end November is a possibility.”

The title for this post are his words from his blog. Even that picture of a marching band comes from his blog; well, not originally. That picture is of the Davis High School Marching Band of Kaysville, Utah. Here is another picture.


Categories: Other Blogs

And now you have something to do this weekend

October 24, 2015 12 comments

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from
an innate doubt that God would work in this way…

image image Joe Marino uncovered a weekend’s worth of reading and reflection, specifically a blog posting and two papers:

Posting:  The Turin Shroud: fake or genuine? by Eric Hatfield (pictured in white shirt)

Main Paper:  The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik (pictured in striped shirt)

Supporting Paper:  Excursuses to the Article "The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment" by Atle Ottesen Søvik

Joe’s email to me reads:

Hi Dan,

I came across this interesting article at the "Is there a God" blog (from June 2015):

It references 2 substantial Shroud articles on, one of which Barrie mentioned on his site back in 2014:

The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik – (This article is a translation of the article “Likkledet i Torino – en kritisk vurdering," published in Teologisk Tidsskrift (Journal of Theology), no 3, 2013: 266-294). The author holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and teaches at MF Norwegian School of Theology. You can follow Atle and read some of his other papers (many in English) on We have also added a permanent link to the article on the Scientific Papers & Articles and Website Library pages of the site. Here is the abstract:

This article discusses the question of whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus, and it consists of four parts. First I present facts about the Shroud. Then I discuss whether the image comes from a corpse or is artificially produced another way, and conclude that it comes from a corpse. This means that if it is a forgery, a corpse was used to create the image. After that, I briefly discuss whether it may be the burial cloth of an unknown crucified man, and argue that it must be the burial cloth of Jesus or a forgery meant to resemble Jesus. Finally, I discuss the crucial question of when the image was formed: is it a forgery from the fourteenth century or is it the real burial cloth of Jesus from AD 30?

The author of the blog article states:

I was fortunate to come across a 2013 review of both sides of the argument by Atle Søvik, a Norwegian Philosopher of Religion and Professor of Theology. His review is based mainly on published peer-reviewed papers, and is found in a main paper and a supporting paper.

It may be thought that a Professor of Theology isn’t an impartial observer, but I believe this is the most balanced assessment I have come across, because he is an academic, he seems impartial and reliable, it is in a peer-reviewed journal, he is not Catholic and he is likely a liberal Christian who isn’t as strongly biased towards supernatural explanations as a naturalist would be biased against them. I am strengthened in this conclusion after brief correspondence with a sceptical member of his review team.

The link for the "main paper" is what Barrie posted.  However, Barrie apparently didn’t post the "supporting paper," which is actually 2 pages longer than the main paper.  Funny, I don’t even remember seeing the main paper from when Barrie posted it–I must have somehow missed it.  I’m getting more senior moments than I used to.  I did a search on your blog for article name and author and didn’t see anything.  Both articles are impressive.

I GO TO CONCLUSLIONS:  It is a bad habit of mine.  But then I do go back and read. Here is Eric Hatfield’s conclusion from his blog site:

It seems to be a case of the carbon dating vs the rest of the evidence. Søvik cautiously concludes that the evidence for a first century date is slightly stronger, but I think neither side has proved their case or shown the other side to be wrong. The sceptical case relies on a few old papers and a lot of bluster, but the case for authenticity stumbles on the radiocarbon dating. I don’t think we can be confident either way. (I’m sorry to have to sit on the fence.)

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from an innate doubt that God would work in this way – after all, Jesus refused to use spectacular signs to authenticate himself. I cannot remove from my mind the many other relics, some of which are quite impossible, and some of which (e.g. non-decaying saints) seem quite superstitious.

If only the radiocarbon and vanillin testing could be re-done by agreed best methods, we might get a better answer. In the meantime, both believers and sceptics would do well to avoid making over-strong claims.

Bravo!  I have always had a bit of that gut-over-brain skepticism. 

And thanks, Joe.

Categories: Other Blogs, Paper Chase

Proof that art experts are not always right

October 23, 2015 5 comments

imageDramatic Irony Award In Blogging:

It should go without saying that scientists aren’t always right. Neither are art experts. In 1978, chemist Walter C. McCrone, a leading expert on art forgeries McCrone performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud and concluded that the burial cloth wasn’t old enough to be the real thing. But other scientists disagreed. Raymond Rogers, Science Fellow of the University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, dated the shroud to the 1st century, saying that the material that McCrone carbon dated was not the original fabric, but rather a part of the shroud that had been rewoven after a fire in the Middle Ages.

Of course, Walter McCrone never “performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud.” Nor did Rogers date the shroud to the 1st century. So it turns out, neither are art experts always write while righting blogs posts about writing wrongs.

Pictured, Walter McCrone looking right.

Categories: Other Blogs

Numerous Plant Species and Human Lineages Identified. Now What?

October 21, 2015 3 comments

imageA caller asked me (please use email or blog comments):

Have you taken a careful look at the two color-coded charts from the Nature paper? Now what?

I don’t know.  I think this paragraph from the paper, Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud helps somewhat.

DNA extracted from dust particles that were vacuumed from the Turin Shroud shows sequence profiles that identify numerous plant species and correspond to several distinct human mtDNA haplogroups. These results not only confirm that plant fibers and pollen grains are present on TS, as previously reported by optical microscopy, but also reveal that multiple human individuals touched or otherwise left traces of their DNA on the relic linen. The detection of such a variety of DNA sources is extremely valuable in assessing whether there are possible parallelisms between the areas of origin and distribution of identified land plant species and human mtDNA haplogroups and the temporal and spatial paths associated with the two alternative scenarios that have been proposed to explain the TS origin.

Is there more that we can know or assume from this data?

Click on each of these charts for bigger, easier to read versions.



Categories: News & Views

News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

October 20, 2015 2 comments

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Categories: News & Views, Science

Emanuela Marinelli to receive the International Prize for Catholic Culture

October 19, 2015 2 comments

… Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud. Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world.

imageWe learn from the Amici della Sindone (Friends of the Shroud) Facebook page (as automatically translated from Italian to English in Google Chrome):

The International Prize for Catholic Culture will be delivered to sindonologa Emanuela Marinelli (pictured) on October 23 at 20.30, in a solemn ceremony at the Theatre Remondinis of Bassano del Grappa. Professor Marinelli, Roman, takes care of the Shroud for 38 years and has written 17 books on the subject and held hundreds of conferences in various countries around the world; He was also the coordinator of the organizing committee of the World Congress "Sindone 2000" in Orvieto. Recognition Bassano, run by the local Catholic school culture and come to the XXXIII edition, went among others to personalities like Joseph Ratzinger, Krysztof Zanussi, Angelo Scola, Riccardo Muti, Camillo Ruini, Ugo Amaldi, Michael Novak, Divo Barsotti, Cornelius Fabro, Augusto Del Noce …

In 1977, the Swiss botanist Max Frei made public the results of a search on the pollen of which had found no trace on the Shroud: over 58 types, 38 belonged to plants of Palestine that does not exist in Europe. The most frequent pollen were identical to those found in the sediments of the Sea of ​​Galilee. In Emanuela Marinelli, then a young graduate in Natural Sciences and Geology at the "Sapienza" of Rome, the discovery sparked a deep interest. Pollen from Palestine, as a signature on the relic that since 1933 was not exposed to the public. The Marinelli knocked Centre Roman Sindonology Monsignor Giulio Ricci, began to study. He learned that at the heel of the stranger wrapped in the cloth was no sign of a kind of aragonite, the same as that found in the caves of Jerusalem. And Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud.Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world. For this passionate outreach activities Professor receives 23 October in Bassano del Grappa the prestigious International Award for Culture Cattolica.La we meet in a cafe in Rome. Youthful, lively, the way he talks it is clear that falling in love for the Holy Shroud continues, since that distant day when, say, a copy before she found herself without words: "It seemed to me – he says – a Gospel written in blood." But it was 1988, the year of the famous test using carbon 14 on a piece of cloth: the Shroud, or so it was said, to the test of science. From the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich came the verdict: the sheet went back to the Middle Ages. A trenchant outcome, which seemed to sweep away centuries of hopes to have, still, a material trace of the passage of Christ on earth. Almost everyone at that point, as he wrote Vittorio Messori, bowed, devout, in "St. C14." Not everyone, however. Emanuela Marinelli: "The angle of the sheet material to be analyzed turned out to have been manipulated, patched, polluted by fungi and bacteria. If the sample was contaminated, the date could refer to the tracks left by dust and manipulation. " They supported him then, moreover, distinguished scholars like Gove. The shadow that science seemed to have dissipated, actually remained.Although, says Marinelli, "he is felt a desire to deny the historicity of the Shroud, regardless of any element emerged from the research. An ideologically motivated denial: perhaps because, as Cardinal Biffi said, if the Shroud is false for a Christian does not change anything, but if the shroud is real, for atheists change many things … ".The ‘truth’ absolute sentenced by Carbon 14 was for Marinelli, who had a degree in Natural Sciences with a thesis on the radioactivity of uranium, a challenge to study again. That was when he published the first of his 17 books, exploring every search, every word spoken on the Shroud. Because much yet, according to her, it was not clear. "The fabric – he says – shows a selvedge and seam details, and is comparable to the tissues found years ago at Masada, and dating back to the first century after Christ. The analyzes show that there is blood in your wound; other analyzes show that a body lay in the towel for 36/40 hours. But there is no trace of the drag that should appear, if the body had been removed. " "He knows what scholars, although atheists and ‘deniers’, admit that the Shroud was wrapped a man? Doctors and artists: the first because they recognize that this is blood, the latter because they understand that this is not painting. The experiment more significant, however, was conducted in Italy, Enea. An excimer laser was focused on a tissue, and the effect is the closest thing we have to the image of the Shroud. The fabric is yellowed, as had been crossed by a fortissimaluce. " The faith does not affect his studies? We ask. Her calm: "No. Pollens, aragonite, the selvage of the fabric, are all facts. Today we can say that the test of carbon 14 is not enough to deny the authenticity of the Shroud. " You can, in your opinion, conduct new tests reliable? "I’m afraid not, because the fire which escaped the cloth closed in a box, in 1532 in Chambéry, it can still contaminated, and this will alter the results of the carbon." The Shroud, then, is it for you? "An image still unexplained, leaving us on the threshold of an enigma. How Arpino wrote: ‘In a world that is bulging of monuments, pyramids, coliseums, triumphal arches, equestrian statues, temples untouched or corroded by mold and neglect, on this planet only a linen cloth, with quell’Orma preserves its mystery ‘. But this, in his poverty, continues to call men. The Shroud is an icon of human suffering. People, when I go to talk, I listen to is everywhere: in the most distant regions of the world, in schools, in prisons. " But one evening an elderly woman, after the conference, got up from the floor. It was modest Southern Italy, with his hands spoiled from family work. "Professor – he said – I did not understand much of the carbon 14, however, one thing I realized. I understand that we must become like the Shroud, we stamparci into the image of that suffering face, to take him to those we meet. " And that time was the teacher, moved, to remain silent.

Categories: News & Views, Other Blogs

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 781 other followers

%d bloggers like this: