Was the Shroud of Turin the Tablecloth of the Last Supper?

April 18, 2019 Leave a comment

This is a repeat posting from 2011. Today being Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, it seems like a good day to revisit the subject.  To my way of thinking, the subject gains gravitas mainly because it was proposed by John and Rebecca Jackson. 

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Salvador Dalí, The Last Supper

Every now and then we hear that the Shroud of Turin might have been a tablecloth used at the Last Supper before it was Jesus’ primary burial cloth.

I’m not convinced. I’m not convinced that a tablecloth was used by most or any Jews at the time of Christ. And if so, does it even matter?

A paper, Was the Shroud of Turin also the Tablecloth of the Last Supper? by John and Rebecca Jackson appears on the web, in Italian. (I’m looking for an English version). In the meantime, if you are not proficient in Italian, you can use Google Toolbar or Microsoft Bing to read a reasonable translation in English. Here are the first four paragraphs as translated by Google:

In this paper we present the hypothesis that the relic of the ‘ Last Supper , that the cloth was used for the table, still exists. For reasons which we will discuss, we will show that this tablecloth, a requirement for the Jewish Passover is the time of Christ, in fact, the Shroud of Turin. We believe that the Shroud of Turin is at the same time, the burial cloth of Jesus and the cloth for the Lord’s Supper served. If so, it would represent an important archaeological evidence of the first Eucharist.

We present our study only as a hypothesis that we wish could provoke further scientific research. This study represents a further deepening of what has been presented at the Conference on the Face of Faces, Christ, held in 1998. 1 We argued, then, is that the Shroud of Turin, exposed to Constantinople in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, was actually the burial cloth of Jesus is that the fire occurred in 1532 meant that the test did the carbon be more recent than it actually was. 2 also indicate several studies showing that the Shroud and its image has different features, cultural and ethnological Jewish origin that proved it to be placed in the first century 3 .

If the Shroud of Turin is the actual, historical burial cloth of Jesus Christ, then it would have to be present at the historical foundation of the Church when it is extended out of its cradle of Judaism. After the events of the Gospel of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, began immediately powerful currents of traditions, theologies and liturgies based on the Resurrection. If the Shroud was the property of the original Judeo-Christian communities, it is then possible, and perhaps inevitable that it (the Shroud) was involved in the dynamics of development and growth of the early Church.

Noting that writing and art were used to obtain information on the history of the Shroud, we suggest that the Liturgy of the Church is also another potential vehicle of historical information that can be examined.

Rabbi Samson H. Levey, Emeritus Professor of Rabbinics and Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, provides some answers to the question. This appears on Barrie Schwortz’ shroud.com website.

I. To get a clear picture of Jewish life and practice during the first two centuries C.E. we must rely on the primary Tannaitic sources, namely the Mishnah, the Tosefta and the other Tannaitic passages dispersed throughout the Talmudim of Babylon (Bavli) and of the Land of Israel (Yerushalim).

During this period, a table was used for meals… We find no evidence that the Jewish people used different tables for the Sabbath and festivals, including Passover, than they ordinarily used; although they probably subjected it to a thorough cleaning, same as the rest of the house, to clear away the leaven immediately before Passover. (Mishnah, Pesahim, Ch.1 et passim)

What did the table look like? It had a square top (sometimes also a square bottom), usually made of wood, (Mishnah Kelim 16:1), pottery (Mishnah Kelim 2:3); overlaid with marble (ibid 22:1). It usually had three legs (ibid 22:2), and could accommodate three or four people. For larger groups, such as weddings, long boards were used (called dahavanot) (Tosefta Kelim, Baba Metzia, 5:3).

II. Table Cover: Food was ordinarily eaten off the bare table top (Bavli, Baba Batra 57b), and only the intellectual elite seem to have used a cloth to cover part of the small table for use as napkins to wipe their lips after eating (ibid). According to Maimonides, the Mishnah refers to a leather table covering (skortia), probably designed to protect the table from the elements (Mishnah Kelim 16:4). The only explicit reference to “a cover for tables” (Mishnah Makshirin 5:8) is explained as a sheet spread over the food (not the bare table) to protect it from flies and other insects. (M.Jastrow, Dictionary, vol.II, p.1396, col.1, bot. sub Kesiyah, Cf. P.Blackman, Mishnah VI, 682).

III. A sheet of any cloth, including a mixture of materials (shatnez) may be used as a shroud (Mishnah Kilayim 9:4). It is unlikely that one would be buried in an unclean sheet. The Tannaitic principle is expressed by Rabbi Meir (second century), that at the Resurrection the dead will arise wearing the same garments in which they were interred, and unclean raiment would be a disgrace (Bavli Sanhedrin 90b). Rabban Gamallel (first century) instituted the use of a plain linen shroud for everyone (Bavli Moed Katan 27b. Cf. Matthew 27:59).

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The Fire at Notre Dame in Paris

April 15, 2019 7 comments
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Palm Sunday

April 14, 2019 Leave a comment
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shroudphotos.com – spectacular new website of Vernon Miller’s photographs

April 12, 2019 5 comments

Bravo. Well done!

The website:  shroudphotos.com

An amazing, well-organized collection of Vernon D. Miller’s 1978 photographs of the Shroud of Turin. The photographs are zoomable and scrollable in your browser (I tested with Chrome and Windows Edge). Easy download buttons are provided for all the photographs, presumably, so you can get the best resolution available for each photo.

VernMillerCollection

I tested the download buttons with Chrome.  It worked well.  I have not analyzed the images for resolution.  But with a bit of two-finger stretching on my iPad, I’m guessing it is knock-your-socks-off great.

schematicNotes accompany the photographs. For instance, for the exhibit partially shown here, we find the following description. Of course, your interpretations might be different:

Image 001 (Section 1A)

DESCRIPTION: The Descriptive Photo is the Shroud cloth that is accompanied by a description of the visible marks seen on the cloth.
IMAGE: Full image
MAN SHROUD IMAGE: Negative
OTHER: Description

For another photograph, we find something like this with film, lens and shutter details.

Image 005 (Section 1B)

DESCRIPTION: Full image
PHOTOGRAPHY INFO: TRI-X copies of Mosaic 048 f/16.5 at 1 sec (Fui N M) (2.9 f pm Gamma .95) (notches in film)
IMAGE: Full image
MAN SHROUD IMAGE: Negative
OTHER: Mosaic

From the about page because it is important:

License for Photos

The opportunity of accessing photos from this website carries the obligation to follow the license agreement HERE. Essentially these high quality photos are available to you but they must not be placed on any website without prior written permission; they may be used for other purposes as stated in the license. In downloading any of these photos, the license should be adhered to and credit for these photos should be clearly displayed in the following manner:

“@ Vernon Miller, 1978. No unauthorized reproduction of Material on other Websites is allowed without prior written permission from the shroudphotos.com copyright holder. Original photos are available for free at http://www.shroudphotos.com”.

The License above applies only to the photos on the website. The copyright holder for the website vww.shroudphotos.com and its text, is D’Muhala and Lavoie Trust, 2018, All Rights Reserved. No part of this website, except as otherwise herein stated in ‘the license’, can be copied without written permission from the copyright holder.

(Also see the article at Catholic News Agency website dated April 11, 2019 )

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Okay, which is it? The facts or the facts?

April 11, 2019 11 comments

image.pngWas it a matter of interpretation or persuasion?

I remember sitting in LaGuardia  Airport several years ago watching news reports about a baseball game. The results of the game had depended on the umpire’s call for a controversial play at home plate.  Over and over, a local television news station showed clips of the runner being tagged out. The New York announcer had me convinced. The Yankees should have won the game.  Hours later I was sitting at Lambert Field in St. Louis seeing those same clips, over and over and over. And there, the local St. Louis announcer had me convinced that the runner was not tagged out. The Yankees should have lost the game.

Who was right? In the end, I couldn’t decide. Years later, I still don’t know. Was it a close call?  When I lived in New York, as I did for many years, would I have favored the New York slanted explanations? And during those many years when I lived in St. Louis, would I have agreed with the St. Louis perspective? Was it a matter of interpretation or persuasion?

I used to work for a man who would frequently admonish us in meetings by saying, “Okay, which is it? The facts or the facts?”

Roger, just a few hours ago, wrote in a comment on this blog:

Wouldn’t the Jesus image show large distortions caused by the unavoidable wrinkles in a shroud of fabric wrapped around a body? If you wrinkle photo paper and use it to develop a photo, then flattening it out would show many lines and voids where the image was interrupted by the creases and folds. Why are there no actual wounds? If a person were subjected to brutal torture by the Romans, shouldn’t there be some actual laceration and swelling? The flagrum was designed to tear through and remove flesh. How was there no flattening of the back or buttocks when the image is to represent a corpse laying on it’s back?

Even a body in rigor mortis flattens on the contact points.

You are right. The Yankees should have won. Now contrast that with this from a story that appeared exactly one year ago in CBN News, a publication of the Christian Broadcasting Network:

… “It is certainly the funeral fabric that wrapped a tortured man.”

[Giulio] Fanti used to research, the cloth, and the three-dimensional projection of the figure to confirm that the man sustained numerous wounds on his body before death.

“I counted 370 wounds from the flagellation, without taking into account the wounds on his sides, which the Shroud doesn’t show because it only enveloped the back and front of the body,” Fanti explained … .

You are right. The Cardinals should have won.

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Colin Berry: Sindonology’s 10 Biggest Mistakes

April 5, 2019 18 comments

image.pngIn a comment, Colin Berry tells us what he is planning on his own site.  I’d like to focus on each of the ten items that he will be discussing.  We can discuss them here and provide him our thoughts. He writes: 

As flagged up in an earlier comment, this long-in-the-tooth, dare I say somewhat jaded critic of the supposed supernatural Linen, is currently planning as we speak a new (and possibly final) posting on his own site.

Reminder: it’s to be entitled “Sindonology’s 10 Biggest Mistakes”.

Here’s a summary list of what’s on the drawing board:

1. Mistaken assumption that Secondo Pia’s discovery of the negative image via photography implies that ‘photography’ was required for initial image capture.

2. Mistaken assumption that the response of the body image to 3D-rendering software implies pre-existing “unique encoded 3D infomation”.

3. Mistaken conclusion that the faint body image is confined to the primary cell wall of the linen, with that supposed ‘ultra-superficiality’ needing some kind of subtle radiation-derived process.

4. Mistaken assumption that the Turin “Shroud” should be viewed as a “burial shroud”, whether real of simulated. The biblical account from first three Gospels suggests otherwise (J of A’s linen being intended merely for dignified transport from cross to tomb).

5. Mistaken assumption that the lack of lateral (“wrap around”) distortion of the body image rules out an imprinting mechanism dependent on physical contact (no air gaps).

6. Mistaken assumption in the 1981 STURP Summary that the image chromophore was due to chemical modification of the linen cellulose, with no mention of extraneous additions (whether Rogers’ ‘starch impurity’ or more recent proposals involving use of white flour as imprinting medium (my own Model 10)..

7. Premature radiocarbon dating, needing disfiguring removal of single chunky fabric rectangle. C-14 dating should have been postponed till the procedure worked with single excised threads, taken from multiple sites to exclude charges of “repair patches”.

8. Failure to identify the chemical nature of the image chromophore, especially to discriminate between chemically-modified cellulose and a chemical modification of extraneous coating (notably a Maillard-reaction involving starch or flour coating to generate high molecular weight melanoidins).

9. Pseudo-pathology based on assumption that bloodstains can be equated with body wounds, despite absence of any evidence for there being tears, punctures etc in the imprinted body image per se .

10. Failure to give proper recognition to the key role in French medieval society of the first documented owner of the Linen, namely Geoffroy de Charny, close confidante of his monarch, King Jean II (“The Good”). G. de Charny was prime mover in creating the “Order of the Star”. Possibility that the Linen was intended initially as a centrepiece for Star ceremonial, rudely interrupted by death of G.de Charny at the Battle of Poitiers, 1356. bearer of the Oriflamme,to say nothing of the capture/ransom of his monarch.

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David Hume and the Image on the Shroud

March 30, 2019 24 comments

Someone in the Shroud Science Group forwarded this to me knowing that I would have fun with it. I normally don’t report on discussions in SSG, respecting the fact that this is a semi-private discussion list.  The topic is generic enough and not so shrouded in shroud stuff that I need to worry. Here goes:

For example, we might see an atheist like David Hume arguing:

1) Premise: Miracles, by definition, are a violation of natural law;

2) Premise: Natural laws are unalterably uniform;

3) Conclusion: Therefore, miracles cannot occur.

Here we see that, by unjustifiably defining miracles in premise #1 he cannot help but conclude that miracles cannot occur. This, of course, IS begging the question.

We can say that David Hume was unjustifiably defining miracles and we could be right. But we could be wrong, too.  Actually, I tend to agree with Hume on both premises. It’s the unmentioned assumed premise that is the problem.

FI-MarshTacky-1060x523

This is Hawk, a horse my wife and I volunteer to help take care of at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.  Shown this photograph, my wife exclaimed, “What a beautiful horse.”

I said, “What a great photograph.”

What was the subject? Horses or photography?

gebert-oak-3

“David,” (I’m speaking to David Hume across the ages.) “This morning, I awoke to find a great Southern Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana), draped in Spanish Moss, growing on my front lawn where last evening there had  been nothing but grass.”

“There must have been a great upheaval of the earth to accommodate the root ball,” said David with a sardonic smile.

“No, the lawn is undisturbed.”

“That Spanish Moss is impossible. It takes months and months to grow. And it doesn’t transplant well from one tree to another.”

“But it’s there. Spanish Moss, tree and beautiful lawn. It is there. It happened.”

“It can’t be, it violates the inviolable, the unalterable. It didn’t happen.”

“I agree,” I said. “It didn’t happen. It happened.”

Is the subject natural laws or is it miracles?  The unmentioned assumed premise is that one has something to do with the other. Photographers don’t make great horses great and horses don’t make great photographers great. And miracles and nature don’t play together in the same pasture.  (That was a terrible metaphor but you get the idea).

I suggest that miracles have nothing to do with natural laws at all. They are, I imagine (and to imagine is as far as I can philosophize) instantaneous and not disruptive to the environment.  So what happened to the dirt where the tree ball is now? In that same instant, it was no more. It is part-and-parcel of the miracle of the tree.  So, too, the Spanish Moss.

I imagine the stone before Jesus’ tomb was found in a new place but it got there without being rolled or slid or carried.  No motion!  No motion!  No motion!  And Jesus did not walk out of the tomb. The stone was not in a new place — one cannot say moved — so that Jesus might exit but so that his followers might see that he was gone.  Jesus the Risen Christ just appeared where he willed when he willed. He did not remove his shroud or pass through it. Nor did the burial cloths pass through him.

Jesus did not travel to meet up on the Road to Emmaus. He was just there. He was just there in the room that had locked doors.  He was just there on the Road to Damascus at the proper time and place.

Miracles, as I imagine them, just don’t mess with the environment. They don’t mess with nature. They don’t happen. They happened. They go from before to after, from not having happened to happened, without happening in-between.

And this is why I say that if the image on the Shroud is not fake and not a natural formation (I have not ruled out either as possibilities though I find them unlikely) then I imagine that the image was miraculous but not produced as a consequence of the Resurrection. The Resurrection didn’t happen. It happened. The image on the Shroud didn’t happen. It happened.  No, it wasn’t produced by radiation or any kind of energetic anything. Not scientific. Not pseudo-scientific.

Miracles, I don’t believe, can ever be proven by science or denied by science. Or by philosophy. Unless I’m wrong of course. Prove it.

But then again, my wife insists the subject was horses, not photography.

 

 

 

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