B&B, a regular reader of this blog, writes: “Here is a fourteenth century Epitapios from the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki. The herringbone pattern is not as good. Nor is it limited to just the burial shroud. It is best to the left of the front most woman’s halo.”
The implications are significant. Look very carefully at the weave pattern on the burial shroud pictured (two photographs) and the enlarged section showing the cloth below the shoulder. In the meantime I’m trying to find out more about this. And I’m trying to find a higher definition image.
Section beneath shoulder showing herringbone:
MUST SEE: In two minutes and eleven seconds.
I’m not an admirer of [Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams as a prose stylist, but just for fun I tried to read the passage held up for ridicule by Terry Sanderson [president of U.K.’s National Secular Society]. It seems to make sense. Theology, says Rowan, is not the study of God, who can’t be pinned down for study ("his word is not bound"). It’s not even the study of what God has done. Instead theology is language to make us aware what a huge task that study would be, because the awareness of that immensity is the beginning of the work and study of some small details is as far as we can ever get into it. This, he says, is also the method of St John’s gospel.
That seems perfectly comprehensible, whether or not it is true. It also implies something important about the distinction between theology and science: the purpose of scientific investigation is to produce reliable third-party knowledge which would be true even if there were no one to know it. But the purpose of Christian theology is to change the theologians. The knowledge it results in would then be inward, personable, and as incommunicable as any other aspect of experience.
And thus, if Rowan++ (Cantaur) is right, and I think he is, the Shroud of Turin can never be fully acceptable to science, authenticity-wise or otherwise, unless we choose to ignore its meaning.
Pope Benedict XVI recently caused a minor stir by referring to the Shroud as a relic in his newest book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection. He wrote:
Equally important is the indication that Joseph bought a linen cloth in which he wrapped the corpse. Whereas the Synoptics speak simply of a linen sheet in the singular, John uses the plural "linen cloths" (cf: 19:40) in keeping with Jewish burial customs–the Resurrection account will return to this matter in greater detail. The question of matching this description to the Turin Shroud need not detain us here; in any case, the shape of that relic can in principle be harmonized with both accounts." (Emphasis mine)
Previously, he had used the term icon. Icon is less sure, bound up in interpretation and not in authenticity. Icon can mean a painting or work of art. Had the pope become more sure? Was that why he used the word relic? Was this, in a sense, a promotion in terminology?
I rather hope not. I hope he meant relic in a scientific sense and icon in theological sense. It can be both. Calling the Shroud a relic is comforting to those who believe it is authentic or want it to be. But does that really mean anything, theologically? If Rowan is right, then no; not as I see it. If the pope meant two things, then I agree with him.
FOR more than 200 years Stonyhurst College has cared for its most precious artefact — a thorn said to be from the crown forced onto Christ’s head at his crucifixion.
Now it is being loaned to the British Museum for a new exhibition for thousands of visitors to enjoy.
The Crown Of Thorns is said to have been seized from Constantinople, the imperial capital of the Roman Empire, in the Fourth Crusade and was later sold to King Louis IX of France whilst he was in Venice.
. . . Jan Graffius, curator at the Stonyhurst, said: “It is an incredible object and we are really delighted that it will form part of the British Museum exhibition. . . .
A story in the Daily Mail adds a short article on the Shroud of Turin. That is to be expected. Also, as is the case in such stories, the comments are filled criticisms, not of just the relic’s possible authenticity, but of Christianity and all religion. This, too, is to be expected in mainstream media on the Internet.
It is called the Inner West Courier. It is a Sydney, Australia daily tabloid paper with “local news, council news, latest news, sports and weather.” It has picked up on the the Vincent Ruello claims about new things on the Shroud of Turin that no one has ever seen before. Ruello, to support his claim, is uploading tiny and shaky videos to YouTube to the Vinny Pop channel.
After I had discussed his claims in this blog, Mr. Ruello wrote to me, very upset because I did not believe him without some documentation. His videos make no sense. As far as I could tell from his emails and comments to me, he thought that he was discovering new information in a picture of the shroud by re-photographing it over and over with a handheld video camera at slightly different angles. He even thought he was creating xray images with this method.
He was so upset with me, he told me he would never contact me again and henceforth would only deal with the Vatican and its scientists. I figured that would be the end of it. Well, he wrote to me today about the article shown below. You couldn’t make it up. Really!
There is also a long discussion over at “Wikipedia Talk” where some anonymous individual (hmmm?) has written, “I consider [Mr. Ruello] the greatest scientific mind since Leonardo DaVinci and Albert Einstein.”
Let us hope this ridiculous series of claims does not make it into Wikipedia unless his technique (fourth paragraph from the bottom below) which manufactures visual noise actually creates images of real toes.
“[M]y discoveries could rewrite biblical history,” he tells us, “because they didn’t write in the bible that three toes had been ripped off . . . .”
Sorry, Mr. Ruello, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. But I do think you should stop uploading all these videos to YouTube and trying to edit Wikipedia until you can get another scientist or two to agree with you.