Implications of Catania?

What follows are Google Translations of two articles: The first is a May 19 story in the Italian language edition (and not the English language edition) of Vatican News: Shroud, dating to be redone? An international conference in Catania

The second is a May 25 article in the Catania edition of MeridioNews: The Holy Shroud may not date back to the Middle Ages. Researchers from Catania: “All the certainties were denied”

Did something get lost in the translation? Huh?

The borderline between past and present, therefore, lies in the difference between probability and certainty. “The error in the past has been to consider absolute an approximate truth.

Yes, probably certainly so. If not that, certainly probably so.

Anyway, take this as a warning. Nothing can happen without a consensus about how to go forward. We need a team of people who cannot agree but must agree on a protocol. We must include Robert Rucker and Mark Antonacci because they think the Resurrection altered the C14 date. We need some folks from Colorado, too. We need some skeptics who think we are all nuts. How about Colin Berry and Hugh Farey.? We need some wild imagination. How about Tulane professor who suggests that the shroud image and the C14 disparity is God’s coded instructions on how to annihilate baryon particles so that mankind can save the universe and build computers powerful enough to emulate the mind, consciousness and soul of everyone who has ever lived thus providing life everlasting by way of virtual reality. (Why use an unknown code in the shroud? Why not written instructions. Written instructions work but not if Google must translate them.) And we need the guy in Australia who thinks the carbon dating labs were hacked by the KGB. And me; I make for a good wack-a-mole target in thinking the image is authentic but not related to the resurrection and not natural either. As soon as we all agree on everything then I’m sure the Vatican will want us to test the shroud again.

Vatican News Article

Shroud, dating to be redone? An international conference in Catania

New data cast further shadows on the 1988 radiocarbon analysis according to which the sacred linen would be from the Middle Ages. On May 23rd at Catania, an international conference of scientists and sindonologists. Benedetto Torrisi: incorrect sampling techniques. Our studies prove it

Federico Piana – Vatican City

The dating with the radiocarbon method of the Shroud is not reliable. Everything must be redone. The analyzes that led researchers back to 1988 to analyze three tissue samples and establish with extreme certainty that the cloth was packaged over a period of time between 1260 and 1390 AD and must be completely questioned again. Numerous internationally renowned experts and sindonologists are convinced of this on the basis of ‘raw’ scientific data, which will be presented for the first time in the world in a technical conference entitled: “The dating of the Holy Shroud: everything to be redone”, scheduled for University of Catania next May 23rd.

Raw data revolutionizes the scenario

Benedetto Torrisi will also be among the participants, associate of statistics at the University of Catania. For him those data are irrefutable: “It is a statement that relies on the strength of the evidence. Thanks to the multidisciplinary meeting between sindonologists, statisticians and analysts we obtained the raw data of the surveys made at the time in the institutes of Oxford, Arizona and Zurich. This data revolutionizes the scenario. First, because greater statistical results emerged from them than in 1988. Then, analyzing them well, we were able to reach new conclusions to offer to the world scientific community “. To understand the enormous scope of the novelty, just remember that at the end of the 1988 analysis the scientific journal “Nature” published only four sampled results: “In reality – says Professor Torrisi – we have found more than sixteen sampling values”. This means casting shadows of doubt on the validity of the theories published then in “Nature”.

Incorrect sampling method

The problem of the heterogeneity of radiocarbon analysis data could be a further confirmation of the need to put everything back into question. “The lack of agreement is present not only in the results of the three individual research institutes, but is also found within the results of the same center,” explains Professor Torrisi, who judged it to be wrong, from the point of view of statistical validity and therefore of the entire operation, also the general sampling techniques of the Shroud tissue.

Overcoming radiocarbon analysis?

The scientific community that will give life to the conference of 23 May next to Catania will try to argue the reasons, evidence in hand, to request another analysis to date the Shroud. But if the C14 radiocarbon analysis is to be overcome, Professor Torrisi does not say so. Leave all the options open: “Do we need to stay radiocarbon or look at other more effective techniques? To this, perhaps, the conference will respond. I am only certain of one thing: the analysis on the Shroud must be redone ”. Perhaps to discover that it is not of medieval construction, but of the age of Jesus.

MeridioNews Article

The Holy Shroud may not date back to the Middle Ages. Researchers from Catania: “All the certainties were denied”

A study group of the Etnea University, coordinated by professor Benedetto Torrisi, states without fear that, on the dating of the sheet that perhaps wrapped Jesus, it is all to be redone. The conclusion comes after having obtained data that until now was kept secret

ANTONIA MARIA ARRABITO MAY 25TH 2019

Thirty years after the attribution of the Holy Shroud to the medieval period, a multidisciplinary Etna team led by the statistician Benedetto Torrisi reaches the opposite conclusion . “It’s all to be redone. There is full certainty that the Shroud does not date back to the Middle Ages » , the lecturer reiterates to MeridioNews after a conference at the University of Catania. “The dating is still possible through new examinations on remains never analyzed”, adds professor Paolo Di Lazzaro , deputy director of the International Center for the Shroud Studies of Turin. Torrisi rewinds the tape: “There are two focal dates in the history of the Shroud: 1988 , when the prestigious scientific journal Nature endorsed that it could date back to the years between 1260 and 1390 ; and 23 May 2019 , the date on which that certainty was publicly overturned in an irrefutable manner ». The professor of the Department of Economics in Etna refers to the scientific publication in the journal Archeometry .

The borderline between past and present, therefore, lies in the difference between probability and certainty. “The error in the past has been to consider absolute an approximate truth – the statistician continues – considering that the scientific techniques of the time could not have led to an outcome of this magnitude”. Despite this, the British Museum for years has secreted the analyzes carried out by laboratories in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. “Three tests, it is true – adds Torrisi – but all on contaminated Shroud fabrics , which have distorted the results. The Nature magazine was perhaps also in a hurryto validate, having taken only two months. Today, however, the situation has changed ». Torrisi says that, together with Tristan Casabianca , a Shroud scholar, the team had access to the data that had been kept secret: “And so after more than a year of work we have arrived at a new truth”.

If to overcome a dogma is an inalienable beginning, the discovery remains partial. Torrisi in fact dampens the enthusiasm: “We cannot yet express ourselves on the actual dating, new analyzes are needed” . However, this would not excite the Church , owner of the fabric. The obstacle could be overcome according to the physicist Di Lazzaro. There is an alternative way : the analysis of the burnt threads of the Shroud, recovered from the Chambéry fire of 1532 . «The burns of that stake pierced the original linen. In 2002 these parts were detached and preserved separately. Using them would have a twofold advantage: to analyze the least contaminated tissue without reworking the Shroud » . Paradoxically, Di Lazzaro adds, the burns “protect the fabric from agents that over time contaminate it and, in particular, from moth-repellent thymol and mothballs , probably used for the preservation of the Shroud”.

The reliability of the analysis would then depend on the amount of carbon 14 found in the fabric, thanks to which it is possible to trace the death of any organic material , including linen. Being a plant, death coincides with the time of harvest. In order to calculate its exact age it is necessary to quantify the carbon absorbed by the atmosphere, which decays very slowly in the entities without life, even in thousands of years. “Counting the residual carbon atoms on the burnt strings of the Shroud, we could finally go back to its dating, since it was made of uncontaminated fibers from 1532”, concludes the researcher.

Paper by Kelly Kearse Uploaded to Academia.edu

Yesterday, I received an email. “Dear Dan,” wrote what I can only presume was a caring and thoughtful computer:

You recently read the paper “Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral”. A new related paper was just uploaded to Academia that I thought you would be interested in. It is called ” The Shroud of Turin, the Relics of Jesus, and Eucharistic Miracles: The Significance of Type AB blood by Kelly Kearse

The abstract reads:

Various relics ascribed to have been in physical contact with Jesus have been evaluated for the presence of blood, including the Tunic of Argenteuil, the Sudarium of Oviedo, and most famously, the Shroud of Turin. Congruence was reported for certain bloodstain patterns that overlap between relics, suggesting that they may have been associated with the same person. Interestingly, in all cases the blood type was found to be AB, which has also been described for certain Eucharistic miracles. Here, we discuss the theological and scientific significance of shared blood type and comment on the scientific validity of these findings.

Indeed, I was interested. I remember that I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly at the St. Louis conference in 2014.

Wasn’t May 4 the Feast of the Holy Shroud?

944 CE

From what I was reading on the Shroud Science Group on Yahoo, Pope Julius II in 1506 declared 4 May to be the Feast of the Holy Shroud. This has since disappeared from calendars. This brought to mind this interesting paragraph from a paper by Kim Dreisbach. “The Shroud of Turin: Its Ecumenical Implications.” The paper can be found on Barrie Schwortz’ site at https://www.shroud.com/dreisbc2.htm.

Returning to the ecumenical dimension of this sacred linen, it became very evident to me on the night of August 16, 1983, when local judicatory leaders offered their corporate blessing to the TURIN SHROUD EXHIBIT and participated in the Evening Office of the Holy Shroud. The Greek Archbishop, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, the Episcopal Bishop and the Presiding Bishop of the AME Church gathered before the world’s first full size, backlit transparency of the Shroud and joined clergy representing the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians in an amazing witness to ecumenical unity. At the conclusion of the service, His Grace Bishop John of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Atlanta, turned to me and said: “Thank you very much for picking our day.” I didn’t fully understand the significance of his remark until he explained to me that August 16th is the Feast of the Holy Mandylion commemorating the occasion in 944 A.D. when the Shroud was first shown to the public in Byzantium following its arrival the previous day from Edessa in southeastern Turkey. What made things all the more amazing was that those who had scheduled the dedication had no idea of the significance of the date. It just happened to be the one night that all the various clergy had free on their busy calendars. Was it merely coincidence, or was it yet another sign of God’s larger purpose for his Son’s burial cloth?

Shall We Revisit a Posting From 2015?

The title is “Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.” It was posted on October 26, 2015.

It begins:

In response to A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender, Dan Spicer writes:

Look at p. 14 in our paper from St. Louis. We have a simple explanation.

That would be Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton (Revised 23 May 2015) as found at shroud.com.

Before turning to page 14, it might help to look at an extract of the abstract that amplifies the meaning of the title and nicely explains the mechanism:

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Do read the linked references above in this order:

Then read all the comments including those by Hugh Farey, Robert Siefker, OK and John Klotz (RIP).

Here are a couple of things I say (blogger’s privilege) :

When in the full light of the day, a paper is examined under a magnifying glass, that light, focused on one spot, may ignite the whole paper. That maybe will happen with Critical Summary 3.0.* The spot is the chart on page 73, Image Characteristics vs. Image Formation Hypotheses, that attempts to claim that only John Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis “is judged capable of satisfying image characteristics” – that is, seventeen image characteristics selected by the paper’s authors.

Dan Spicer offers an alternative, one that to me seems more realistic than a cloth falling through a body as a function or accident of resurrection. Moreover, Colin Berry’s explanation in support of contact imprinting must also be considered. And we must consider O.K.’s argument that the appearance of metacarpals in the image is possibly perfectly natural. As O.K. writes in a comment:

The authors of Critical Summary carefully use the word judgment. That’s appropriate. But we must realize that this is the judgment of a small team in Colorado, albeit a distinguished scientific team that understands the shroud. It is not the judgment of the wider community that studies, ponders and debates how the images on shroud were formed. I think that much, if not most, of the larger community disagrees with or is ambivalent towards the falling cloth hypothesis. The page 73 chart does little or nothing to change anything in this regard.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

BTW: It is now Critical Summary 4.0.

A Sign for Our Time

A Sign for Our Time: Photograph by Dan Porter of a photograph by Barrie Schwortz on a rural billboard along South Carolina Route 315 country road near the town of Bluffton. It has been there for well over two years. Does anyone driving by know what it is about? How many people don’t know that it is Jesus? (The sign below it is an unrelated advertisement that changes every now and then).

Are we in skeptical age? Several people on this blog have said so. I don’t know that that is true. To what other ages can we draw comparisons? And how do we define what we think we are skeptical about? Is it belief in God and how so? Has the definition and understanding of God, miracles, scriptural truth and literalism, doctrine and dogma changed with time? This chart is interesting. You may need to click on it to see it in a larger size.

Pew Research Center, Religious Landscape, Belief in God, 2014 in U.S.

Also, how have specific definitions changed? Today for instance, we know from a survey, just a few years ago, about a third of American Catholics when asked to respond to the statement, “Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead” said they did not strongly agree. The percentage of Mainline Protestants was statistically the same. The survey, Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) was conducted in 2006 by Michael O. Emerson of Rice
University and David H. Sikkink of the University of Notre Dame with funding from their respective schools and the Lilly Endowment Fund.

The others mostly interpreted the resurrection as spiritual. Has this changed with time? How do we know?

A Good Sign: I think the Shroud is wonderful for stimulating thought and discussion and raising new questions among believers and skeptics. This blog, Colin’s blog and Barrie’s website are examples. So, too, are conferences and experiments by skeptics and believers, alike. And so, too, are billboards on country roads.

A Bad Sign: Remember when Mark Antonacci proposed this while collecting signatures on a petition:

[During the Resurrection] particle radiation was emitted from the length and width of Jesus’ dead body while he was wrapped in the Shroud, and it was this “event” which caused the unique images on the cloth. …

… If unfakable and independent evidence was obtained to confirm this hypothesis however, it could actually be used to analyze the central premises of various religions throughout history and in our world today.

Objective and independent evidence does not exist to prove the central premises of any other religion, agnosticism or atheism. In contrast, the Shroud of Turin could provide thousands of unfakable items of scientific and medical evidence to prove the central premises of Christianity. This new, incomparable evidence could lessen or remove the underlying bases for many of the world’s ongoing wars and conflicts. The world has everything to gain and nothing to lose by the proposed molecular and atomic testing of the Shroud of Turin. … (Emphasis in bold font mine)

Dare to challenge the premise of militant fundamentalists of any world religion, including Christianity, with scientific proofs and see how that plays out. Not a good sign!

And this means, what, exactly?

getThumbnailApplied Optics, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp. 2158-2165 (March 20, 2019) contains an article, 2D reproduction of the face on the Turin Shroud by infrared femtosecond pulse laser processing by C. Donnet, J. Granier, G. Vergé, Y. Bleu, S. Reynaud, and F. Vocanson. The abstract reads:

Femtosecond pulse laser processing concentrates a huge quantity of light energy in extremely short pulses of a few tens to hundreds of femtoseconds, enabling superficial laser machining or marking of any kind of materials, with a reduced or insignificant heat affected area. A digitized paper printed image of the face on the Turin Shroud was used to monitor a scan head intercalated between a femtosecond pulsed laser source and a linen fabric sample, enabling the direct 2D reproduction of the image of the face with a laser beam size corresponding to one pixel of the digitized image. The contrast in the marked image was controlled by adjusting the energy density, the number of superimposed pulses per pixel, and the distance between successive impacts. The visual aspect of the laser-induced image is very similar, at naked eye, to the source image. The negative photograph of the marked linen fabric reveals a face remarkably close to the well-known negative picture of the face on the Turin Shroud. Analyses by infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were performed to characterize the laser marked areas.

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And this means, what, exactly?

  • An AoGIEBPoRM* Perspective: The image was formed when the miracle of Resurrection initiated a controlled superficial laser machining of the Shroud linen. If not that exactly, then an interesting possibility warranting more investigation.
  • A Practical Perspective:  This is an interesting way to encode graphics content on materials without inks, paint or dyes.  Who will be first to market?

*AoGIEBPoRM = Accidental or God-Intended Energetic By-Process (byproduct) of Resurrection Miracle:  I continue to have philosophical problems with this. Deep down, I think, some of us are not so much trying to understand how the image was created as we are trying to prove to ourselves and others that the miracle of the Resurrection is both physical and real.  Actually, I like to put the word real first. I think the Resurrection can be real for many Christians without them having to believe that it is physical, as well. As for me, I do think the Resurrection was physical but not in the sense that there was anything process-wise or anything produced that could be measurable or observable other than the end result.  Jesus was there in the tomb and then he wasn’t. He didn’t pass through the burial cloths or remove them. He didn’t exit through the door or the walls.  Because the door of the tomb is part of the narratives, I think it was closed and then it was open so his followers could see in.  But the door didn’t move. It was in a closed position and then instantly (by which I mean zero time) it was in an open position. If the Shroud is real and if the image came to be on the cloth in the tomb, then I think, like the position of the door, the image came about in zero time.  Nothing pushed the door and nothing etched the image onto the cloth. It just happened miraculously. It was all miraculous beyond the reach of science. To my way of thinking, how the image came to be is so beyond science that it cannot be hypothesized.

There is a lot to struggle with and debate in my head about with this way of thinking.  But it makes a heck of a lot more sense to me than AoGIEBPoRM.

When Miracles Just Happened

image.pngMore on Robert Rucker’s new paper Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin. Therein, after advising us to be open-minded by not being bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” Rucker writes:

The radiation not only had to be emitted from the surface of the body, but it had to be emitted from within the body because we can see bones on the Shroud, including teeth, bones in the hand, etc. The radiation had to be emitted within the body to carry to the linen cloth the information regarding the presence of these bones in the body. Since there was no lens between the body and the cloth to focus this radiation, the radiation had to be emitted in vertically collimated directions up and down, like a billion vertically oriented lasers going off simultaneously within the body. In this way, each point on the cloth could be affected by only one point on the body (the point directly above or below it) so that a good resolution image could be formed without a lens.

Why? It would seem to me that a God who could raise Jesus to new life, could also by his will do for all that “radiation” what a lens would do. At the same time, He might even attenuate the radiation for the desired effect.  I mean, why not?  Do a miracle within a miracle with a Goldilocks effect image.  But perhaps we scientifically-minded mortals are more bound than we think to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism” even as we warn readers not to be. We have to have something natural like radiation to do God’s work (except for a bit of luck when it comes to all things quantifiable).

Of course, if we are truly not bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” then we could skip the radiation altogether and allow God to discolor the fibers without it.  Can God do that?

It’s quite possible that miracles — if you believe in them as I do — don’t produce radiation or anything other than the end result.  Then what?

I was just wondering:  Did God intend the image?  If so, why did He go to so much trouble? If not, and the radiation was not anticipated (and you can convince me this is what happened) I might believe in this nuttiness.

Do you remember when miracles just happened?

New Paper from Robert Rucker

image_thumb29Just five days ago, on April 18, 2019,  Robert A. Rucker released a new paper at shroudresearch.net:  Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin

It concerns me when a scientist attempts to justify a scientific hypothesis with an appeal to consensus (argumentum ad populum) and that is exactly what Rucker does:

Most Shroud researchers believe that the evidence on the Shroud indicates that the image could not have been formed by an artist or forger, but that in some unknown way the body that was wrapped in the Shroud encoded an image of itself onto the cloth (Ref. 2 and 3). This is the starting point for this proposal.

The assumption about most researchers might be true.  It probably is. At least it is these days. At one time in history, there was a consensus belief in geocentrism. Things change, group-think evolves. This is exactly why argumentum ad populum is a fallacy. Might it be, if more well-informed skeptics of the Shroud researched the cloth, that a different consensus might arise?

Anyway, it is sufficient for me that I disagree. I don’t think the evidence indicates that the image could not have been formed by an artist or forger. That doesn’t mean that I think the image was formed by an artist or forger. It means I don’t think the evidence supports  an obviously unprovable assumption. Can anyone prove it?

Nor do I think the evidence supports the idea “that in some unknown way the body that was wrapped in the Shroud encoded an image of itself onto the cloth.”  Just the word unknown de-hypothesizes everything, doesn’t it?

There is this in the hypothesis:

The radiation not only had to be emitted from the surface of the body, but it had to be emitted from within the body because we can see bones on the Shroud, including teeth, bones in the hand, etc. The radiation had to be emitted within the body to carry to the linen cloth the information regarding the presence of these bones in the body.

We would be wise to regard the advice of Raymond Rogers who wrote:

Two of the most damaging things a “scientist” can do during the development of a “scientific” study is to include speculations on an equal basis with tested facts and
exclude observations he does not like. We have seen both problems in Shroud literature. “I think I see,” seems to be accepted by “true believers” on an equal basis with quantitative measurements.

[…]

Physiologically, the effect is explained in terms of “lateral neural inhibition”: the human eye enhances edge contrasts. The mind plays games with what we think we see. Some devoted observers see images of flowers, teeth, bones, etc. on the Shroud. A statement like “I think I see” is totally unacceptable in a scientific discussion.

The appearance of bones including teeth is the issue here.  The claim is unacceptably treated on a par with facts.  Can we be sure that we are seeing teeth and bones?

We can also look at this explanation from Colin Berry:

Personally I think the boniness is prima facie evidence for imprinting by a contact process [rather] than one by radiation. With a contact process, it is just those parts of each finger that are approximately in the plane of the linen (i.e parallel) that make best contact, especially if there is applied pressure, and that is the top surface. One has only to go a few mm below that topmost plane, and the curvature of the finger means progressively less contact and pressure. There is also the likelihood of a tenting effect across the fingers that means poor imaging between the fingers. Now look at the Shroud image and you will see precisely the kind of shadowing one would expect.

FYI:

Title:  Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin
Author:  Robert A. Rucker, MS (nuclear)
Published:  April 18, 2019 (Revision 0) at shroudresearch.net

Abstract

The Shroud of Turin contains good-resolution full-size images, without pigment, of the front and back of a naked crucified man. This paper proposes a multi-step process for formation of these images on the linen Shroud. By following the evidence on the Shroud where it leads, without a presupposition of naturalism, a hypothesis for image formation can be hypothesized that is consistent with all the evidence on the Shroud. The proposed hypothesis involves radiation emitted in the body that carries the information to the Shroud that is required to control the mechanism that discolors the fibers in the threads that make the image. This information is that which defines the appearance of a naked crucified man. We can see the image on the Shroud because this information has been encoded into the pattern of the discolored fibers that make the image. The proposal includes the radiation discoloring the fibers by a static discharge from the top portions of the fibers facing the body, resulting in electrical heating and possible production of ozone that discolors the fibers. This process naturally results in a negative image that contains 3D or topographical information, threads with a mottled appearance, and microscopic properties that are consistent with the Shroud.

Happy Easter 2019

hildreth-meiere-national-washington-cathedral-banner
Resurrection Chapel of Washington National Cathedral

New York Times: What It Means to Worship a Man Crucified as a Criminal

maxresdefaultAn opinion piece,  What It Means to Worship a Man Crucified as a Criminal by Peter Wehner, a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D. C., appeared yesterday in the New York Times.  I recommend it:

During a Christmas break while I was a student at the University of Washington, I tuned in to a show that influenced the trajectory of my faith, quite by accident. It was a broadcast of an hourlong “Firing Line” interview in 1980 between William F. Buckley Jr. and Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist who late in life converted to Christianity.

In the course of the interview, Mr. Muggeridge used a parable. Imagine that the Apostle Paul, after his Damascus Road conversion, starts off on his journey, Mr. Muggeridge said, and consults with an eminent public relations man. “I’ve got this campaign and I want to promote this gospel,” Paul tells this individual, who responds, “Well, you’ve got to have some sort of symbol.” To which Paul would reply: “Well, I have got one. I’ve got this cross.”

“The public relations man would have laughed his head off,” Mr. Muggeridge said, with the P.R. man insisting: “You can’t popularize a thing like that. It’s absolutely mad.”

The reaction of Mr. Muggeridge’s imaginary P.R. person is understandable. The Episcopal priest Fleming Rutledge has written that until the accounts of Jesus’ death burst upon the Mediterranean world, “no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man.” And yet the crucifixion — an emblem of agony and one of the cruelest methods of execution ever practiced — became a historical pivot point and eventually the most compelling symbol of the most popular faith on earth.

Good Friday 2019

clip_image001_thumb
Second illustration in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript (or Pray Codex) as seen in the National Széchényi Library of Budapest. Named after György Pray who studied it in the late 1700s.

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

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. 

image_thumb53
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).

The Fire at Notre Dame in Paris

Pray for the safety of the firefighters. Pray for the church. And pray for treasures of art and relics.

fire-notre-dame-e1555350009205

Palm Sunday

chrism-mass12

shroudphotos.com – spectacular new website of Vernon Miller’s photographs

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 )

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

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.

Colin Berry: Sindonology’s 10 Biggest Mistakes

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.

David Hume and the Image on the Shroud

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.

 

 

 

Radiocarbon Dating of the Turin Shroud: New Evidence from Raw Data

image.pngHat tip to Joe Marino for spotting this. The following was published yesterday, March 22, 2019, in Archaeometry, a Wiley publication. If you don’t have institutional access you can have access for 48 hours for $7.00, print-restricted online access for $16.50 or full PDF rights for $42.00.

Link:  Radiocarbon Dating of the Turin Shroud: New Evidence from Raw Data © Oxford University 2019

Abstract: In 1988, three laboratories performed a radiocarbon analysis of the Turin Shroud. The results, which were centralized by the British Museum and published in Nature in 1989, provided ‘conclusive evidence’ of the medieval origin of the artefact. However, the raw data were never released by the institutions. In 2017, in response to a legal request, all raw data kept by the British Museum were made accessible. A statistical analysis of the Nature article and the raw data strongly suggests that homogeneity is lacking in the data and that the procedure should be reconsidered.

Authors: T. CASABIANCA† Ajaccio 20000, France E. MARINELLI Collegamento pro Sindone, Rome, Italy G. PERNAGALLO Department of Economics and Business, University of Catania, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania CT, Italy and B. TORRISI Department of Economics and Business, University of Catania, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania CT, Italy

Fair Use Quote: A telling tidbit from page 6 of 9:

The same rationale applies to the intra-laboratory differences. We also computed the Ward and Wilson test for the raw radiocarbon dates of Arizona, and in both cases (raw 1 and raw 2), the null hypothesis was rejected. Using OxCal for Arizona Raw 2, the overall agreement index (34.6%) is below the threshold (with 12.8% for A3 and 43.0% for A6), whereas for Arizona Raw 1 the overall agreement index is lower (21.4%). Based on these results, a relevant problem emerges in the consistency between the Arizona raw radiocarbon dates and the published results from the other laboratories.

Ah, something that makes sense published in a real scientific journal.

When colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Colin, please note that there is a question for you at the end of this posting.

radiation

Hugh Farey had observed:

My own view is that it is not God’s normal practice to produce miracles which tell lies.

And that got me thinking and searching for more insight around that wisdom.

“The idea of an All-Perfect Being lying involves a logical contradiction, just like the idea of a square circle,” wrote Jimmy Akin in Why God Can’t Lie (Or Sin) two years ago in the National Catholic Register.

God, we may believe is omnipotent but that does not mean he can lie and at the same time be perfect, Akin had argued, just as he cannot create a four-sided triangle or make Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,

Hugh was talking about the Resurrection and the notion from some that the miracle would have changed the radiocarbon date of the shroud. Part of this idea, it was thought, was that some forensic detritus, telltale isotopes, would have been left behind. Hugh thus said:

Hedges’ point was that unless there was some reason to suppose these indicative isotopes were there, there was no point in wasting time and effort (and money?) looking for them. The reason “a miracle might have resulted in such isotopes” is not sufficient. Nobody goes prospecting for gold in a mountain range on the basis of an irrational belief.

Of course, you (and for that matter Bob Rucker and Mark Antonacci) may be right, and the miracle of the resurrection did produce exactly the results you suggest, but until some expert in miracles can persuade the custodians of the Shroud that it’s worthwhile looking for them, they are unlikely to bother. My own view is that it is not God’s normal practice to produce miracles which tell lies, such that if the apparent medieval age of the Shroud is produced by a miracle, it is more likely to be thanks to a deceptive power than an honest one.

I recall a discussion from 2013.  Mark Antonacci was then petitioning for a chance to look for indicative isotopes.  At that time Colin Berry suggested a problem with that:

. . . All someone has to do is sneak a mixture of ordinary beryllium and americium-241 (present in domestic smoke alarms) into the cabinet housing the Shroud. That mixture then emits neutrons (half life approx.10 days) and before you know what the Shroud will then be impregnated with radioisotopes such as chlorine-36 and calcium- 41 that Antonacci and his pressure group (if invited in with their scanners) could later proclaim to the world as proof that the Christian story based on Resurrection is proven – and a lot more besides (he reckons, see below ) as to the mechanism of resurrection.

What was the “and a lot more besides”?  Scarey stuff! Mark Antonacci had written:

A leading hypothesis published in Scientific Research and Essays in 2012 asserts that partic

le radiation was emitted from the length and width of Jesus’ dead body while he was wrapped in the Shroud, and it was this “event” which caused the unique images on the cloth. Molecular and atomic testing could prove that hypothesis to be true. ……

…..If unfakable and independent evidence was obtained to confirm this hypothesis however, it could actually be used to analyze the central premises of various religions throughout history and in our world today. (emphasis is mine)

dubious

The paper Mark was citing was, Particle radiation from the body could explain the Shroud’s images and its carbon dating.  It was by non-other than Mark himself. Scientific Research and Essays is one of many “open access” journals from Academic Journals, a Nigerian online-only journal publisher “solely financed by the handling fees received from authors (currently $550). See Open Access: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

David Goulet was quick to comment on Colin Berry’s problem back in 2013:

Would the sabotage you are mentioning lead to ‘unfakable’ evidence? If there is a way to skew the evidence then doesn’t this demonstrate the evidence is indeed fakable? And now that skeptics like yourself are aware of the possibility of sabotage, this would undermine authenticity claims based on said testing.

For myself, I share your fear. There is a segment of Christianity that pushes a Christian triumphalism and the Shroud could be be exploited by them. The thought that Christians would use the Shroud to proselytize turns my stomach. It has been called the Silent Witness…that is exactly how it should be seen. If God wanted it to preach he would have added audio to it.

Hmmm, that makes me wonder… could there be audio properties encoded in it? Who needs flowers and coins when you could have music and soundbites. :)

This whole nuttiness of trying to prove the resurrection is troubling.  Paulette had commented:

Suppose Antonacci’s tests show what he expects. Suddenly it will be the skeptics who will scream about contamination and conspiracies. And I might need to agree with them. But not to worry. It is not going to happen.

And Louis wrote:

As commented more than once on this blog:

a) If the TS is ever “proved” to be a fake it will not demolish Christianity

b) If it can be “proved” in some way or the other that it demonstrates the Resurrection, there will still be many more questions to answer.

One more thing, and since I am not a scientist I may not be asking this in the right way: Colin, are chlorine-36 and calcium- 41 the isotopes created by resurrection events?  Don’t we want to make sure that what isotopes might be found on the shroud are not the result it being stored near a source of naturally occurring radiation?

No, really, why is there an image on the cloth?

image.pngPerhaps it is all in how we ask the question. Is it, who moved the stone? Or, is it, why was the stone moved? Was it necessary to move the stone so that Christ could exit the tomb — the One who could be where He wanted to be when He wanted to be — the One who could suddenly appear behind locked doors or out somewhere on the road to Emmaus or Damascus? 

Or was the stone moved so Peter and the Beloved Disciple could see in, see that the tomb was empty and see the burial cloths lying there?  Was that necessary?  Were the post-resurrection appearances not enough?

And the burial cloth, now in Turin, that many of us believe is or might be a burial cloth mentioned in the Gospels, has a faint image of a man on it.  Why?  Consider, too, maybe it was a cloth used instead beneath the cross or used to transport the body to the tomb. Nonetheless, why an image? 

Without the image, there would have been no history of a cloth with Christ’s image upon it during the first twelve-hundred years leading up to the Fourth Crusades, no Lirey story worth telling, no startled Secundo Pia, no VP-8 epiphany moment, no STURP and no endless discussion now. Is that why?

Is it why as much as how in the sense that we wonder if the image was caused by an accidental energetic consequence of a miracle? Is that why?

Or a natural phenomenon? Is that why?

Is it why in that a forger at some time in history felt he needed an image in addition to ample signs of brutality? Is that why?

No, really, why is there an image on the cloth?

Microsoft 3D Builder

3D Builder

I’ve been playing with Microsoft 3D Builder for Windows 10. It recalculates heightmap projections so quickly you can jiggle your mouse or your finger on a touch screen and jiggle the image. That helps with spotting features.

The software is free and apparently only runs on Windows 10.  It took less than two minutes to install and only a few minutes to figure out.  It is designed for preparing images for 3D printing but it works well as a quick visualization program. You can rotate views and change viewing angles by simply dragging the object on the screen.