Because this subject was the starting point of this “debate”, I just want to share a personal reflection with you about the possible images of coins, flowers and other objects found on the Shroud by some researchers. It is a logical argument that goes against all those possibilities.
When it comes to analyse the Shroud, we always have to remember the context of the burial. It’s so important and, unfortunately, it’s an aspect of the question that is often forgotten ! We found a pretty good description of the burial of Jesus and the 2 days after in the 4 gospels. From this description, it is pretty clear that the burial rite was only partially done on friday because there was not enough time left to perform it completely (because the Sabbath and the Passover was at end and everyone had to be at home). From the gospel accounts, we know that the women had to go back to the tomb early Sunday morning to complete the burial rite with, among other things, an anointing with a perfume.
On the other hand, we have to understand that the action of putting flowers, coins or other objects into the Shroud, if it ever was planned, was an action surely reserved for the conclusion of the burial rite. It’s just logical to think that way. You don’t put coins over the eyes or throw flowers on the body before doing all the task of the burial rite, like an anointing with a perfume !
So, in this context, HOW IN THE WORLD THE PEOPLE WHO PERFORMED THE PARTIAL RITE ON FRIDAY WOULD HAVE PUT THINGS LIKE COINS, FLOWERS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT ON THE BODY OF JESUS (OR BESIDE THE BODY, IN THE SHROUD) WHILE THEY ALREADY KNEW THEY DIDN’T HAD TIME TO COMPLETE THE RITE AND THEY HAD TO COME BACK TO THE TOMB ON SUDAY MORNING TO FINISH THE JOB AND PERFORMED AN ANOINTING ON THE BODY ?
When you use your logic, that make absolutely NO SENSE !!! If those objects were left in the Shroud on Friday, they would have to take them out of the shroud on Sunday morning, performed the ritual anointing, and then place again those objects in the Shroud at the very end of the ritual. It’s not logical at all ! If those objects were planned to be left on the body or beside it in the Shroud, it’s almost sure they would have waited until the very end of the burial rite to do it. In the context describe above of an evident lack of time on Friday, wouldn’t you have done the same and wait until the end of the ritual on Sunday morning to add those objects in the Shroud (if there was any object at all to be place there) ??? I really think so !
I think this little reflection is enough to understand that those objects are simply not there on the Shroud… Or, if there really is images of those objects (I really don’t think so), they were surely formed in a separated event that is not related at all to the body image formation and this other image formation process had to take place AFTER the body image formation process was completed, during another period of time that could have taken place decades, if not centuries later. One thing’s for sure, if there really is some images of those things on the Shroud, they are not related to the burial of Jesus-Christ…
One last comment : The practice of putting coins over the eyes was directly taken from a pagan rite of Egypt. In this rite, the family would put coins over the eyes of the dead because they thought he would need money to pay is right to cross the Styx river ! So, in the context of the dead of Jesus, don’t you think it would be VERY strange for his family and disciples to perform a pagan rite during his entombment ??? That makes no sense to me… If there was any Jews who performed this kind of ritual, they were surely Hellenistic Jews and not pious Jews who practice the laws and rules received from Moses… This portrait doesn’t seem to correspond to the family and the disciples of Jesus who was not at all an Hellenistic Jew !!!
See: More on Freeing the HAL 9000: Yes, what is the Archdiocese of Turin afraid of? « Shroud of Turin Blog for all the comments leading up to this one.
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