Thomas Freeman, historian, author of the ‘The Closing of the Western Mind,’ in a mostly negative review of Thomas de Wesselow’s book, ‘The Sign’ at Amazon.com:
This book must be taken with great caution- sadly because , despite all my doubts, it is engagingly written. I just think de Wesselow should have not kept all his speculations secret and shared his arguments with people who have worked in the field of relics before he went public.
. . . and perhaps Shroud of Turin scholars in particular.
Freeman writes “I came across hundreds of relics from the Passion and Crucifixion in my work (fleets of wood from the Cross alone) and did not see anything special about the Turin Shroud- the relics of the blood of Christ collected while he was on the Cross are much more interesting ( I wrote a whole chapter on them in my Holy Bones).”
Personally, every ancient relic related to Jesus-Christ, whether it’s authentic or not, is interesting from an historic and/or artistic point of view. Even if it’s a relic is not authentic (like I believe the Mandylion is not), that can tell us a lot about the mentalities of ancient time and the kind of fights that were raging inside the Church versus many heresies (those relics were often used as “tools” to defend the orthodoxy of the faith).
Having said that, I have to specify that the Shroud of Turin stands out on top of my list for a number of reasons. The main reason is of course because I believe this relic is authentic and being so, it is an auto-portrait of Jesus-Christ (so, it’s something important). The second reason, for me (because of my faith), being that it “proves” (I use this word with great caution) the Incarnation of God (the Word became flesh). There’s a lot of information that exist on the Shroud that speak directly (and loud) about this most important point of our faith… To me, this aspect is awesome ! And I have to say that, second on my list, there is the Sudarium of Oviedo, for the same reasons I just exposed about the Shroud… Yes, I believe that this relic is also authentic, even if I also believe St-John, in his gospel, never intend to say a word about this little cloth (I really believe the word “Sudarium” he used for both Jesus and Lazarus must be interpreted as “Shroud” instead). Nevertheless, I want to make it clear : it’s not because this relic have some good chances of not having been named in the gospels (this is my own opinion) that it is not an authentic cloth from the Passion…
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