Shroud of Turin Lecture in Melbourne

imageFlorida Today reports:

The Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, will hold a lecture by Donald Nohs, director of Confraternity of the Passion International, discussing the Shroud of Turin. The free event will take place 6:30 p.m., April 27. Call 321-674-8000.

Isn’t that the steering wheel from a 1953 Chevy Bel Air?

imagePhillip J. Long, who teaches full time at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, has an interesting article in his blog, Reading Acts. In Why Should We Care About Archaeology? he writes:

First, popular media tends to promote “sensational finds” which challenge the Bible. Most recently, James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici . . .

Second, we all want to be able to claim that “archaeology proves the Bible.” When archaeologists first started exploring what was then called Palestine . . .

Third, people in your congregations are smart and can check facts quickly. In the age of smart phones and iPads, anything you say from the pulpit can be checked on the internet instantly. For example, there is a persistent story that the wheels of the Egyptian chariots were found in the Red Sea near Nuweiba, in the Sinai. These stories come from one pseudo-scholar who has no proof of the claim other than his own underwater photographs, which are not even that clear. If you claim that this is a fact of history and members of your congregation double check on your claim, they will find that the evidence for the discovery is simply missing. I think most pastors would not cite the Shroud of Turin or some fanciful report of the discovery of a piece of the True Cross as “proofs of the Bible

Isn’t that the steering wheel from the 1953 Chevy Bel Air I drove in high school?

Was Adler’s Analysis Science?

imageAfter receiving Yannick’s long posting about bloodstains, I noticed that Colin Berry, on his blog, is talking today about bloodstains as well. He tells us that “revered STURP scientist Dr. Alan D. Adler (1931-2000) . . . is credited with having convinced many a wavering sceptic that it really is blood on the Shroud – albeit degraded blood in an unusual conformation, complexed with bilirubin. . . .”

He then goes on to quote Adler and asks, “It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science?”

Colin tells us he is going to sit back and listen to our comments.

Here is the quote he offers:

… The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry of the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation (sic) change ;it no longer remains in the “met”form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is  known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds -the so-called high spin, high iron porphyrin. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all of this. There is an extraordinarily high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin  in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis. In less than 30 seconds the hemolyzed hemoglobin would run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, an exudate forms, and all the intact cells with bilirubin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin. So what one ends up with is on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin.You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.

In fact, we have been able to simulate the spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed when we first started doing the analysis that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right color and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence…”

Is it science?

Source: It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science? | Casting a critical eye at that Shroud of Turin

For more on Al Alder see Stephen E. Jones’ blog: Al Adler

Please, don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains !!!

imageYannick Clément writes at some length. Please keep in mind that English is not his first language and he goes to a lot of effort to be clear. I may not always agree with him on this or that. Nonetheless he has important things to say that warrant attention and careful consideration. So . . .

An open letter about the Shroud authenticity debate.
Please, don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains !!!

In one, if not the best Shroud of Turin documentary I’ve ever watched (along with « Unfolding the Shroud » and « Secrets of the Dead »), Fr. Martin Haigh reported a very clever and true statement from professor Cameron (British Home Office Pathologist), that anybody interested in the Shroud MUST ALWAYS keep in mind, simply because it is a PROVEN FACT (it’s perhaps the most solid proven fact in all the scientific aspects regarding the Shroud). Here’s what professor Cameron had to say about the Shroud : “From the evidence of the bloodstains ALONE, this is clearly NOT A HUMAN FORGERY”. And you can be sure that this statement can be backed-up by medical or blood experts like Pierre Barbet, Pierluigi Baima-Bollone, Alan Adler, John Heller, Frederick Zugibe and many more !!!

Even today, even on this great blog, even after all the pioneer researches done by some great French scientists like Barbet and Vignon, even after all the data published by STURP in peer-reviewed journals, we constantly [find] people who still denied that basic fact about the Shroud !!! Those people still think that the Shroud can be something like a very brilliant artwork of some kind done by an anonymous forger (using a scorch technique or a rubbing technique involving some kind of pigments, like red ochre or sulfuric acid in water mixed with cobalt blue, are the most popular hypothesis of these people).

I’m really amazed that we who knows the facts very well and understand that the Shroud of Turin is an authentic burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus, are still debating the question of whether or not the body images on the cloth were produced by some artistic technique ! Really, I can’t believe that we are still stuck at that point !

I would like to say to every person who still thinks the Shroud is an artwork forgery that it is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE (from a forensic point of view) to reproduce the blood stains on the Shroud with the same level of medical precision. So, from this moment on, you can forget any kind of art technique to explain the Shroud of Turin ! Why do you think it is that way ? Simply because science has proved that there really was a dead man draped into that burial shroud and that this dead man suffered exactly the same tortures than Jesus !!! This is as simple as that and this is called in science : A FACT ! And this fact lead to one single conclusion : In order to produced the bloodstains that are on the Shroud, there MUST have been a real human being who had bled a great deal prior to be put into this cloth. This is the only way to explain the bloodstains. I repeat it : THIS IS THE ONLY WAY !

So, starting from this most important FACT, all that is left to the sceptics is only 2 scenarios. The first scenario can be summarise like that : it is a burial shroud of someone else than Jesus who was also beaten, scourge and crucified in a similar manner than what we read in the Gospels accounts of the Passion. In other words, the bloody and body images were produced naturally by some undetermined phenomenon(s) and they can be considered like an accidental resemblance with the Jesus of the Gospels. The second scenario can be summarise like that : This Shroud was done by a forger using a real man to reproduce every moment of the Passion, death and burial of Jesus. All this in order to produce a Christian relic and, with or without a known intention, this forger succeed to transferred an image of the body at the surface of the cloth, maybe while using some natural method of transfer of some kind that he knew but that is unknown to us, or simply because he had a great deal of luck that all the natural and biological elements were put together and were able to form the body images we see. I want to make this clear to anyone : Scientifically speaking, this is the ONLY WAY a forgery can be thought as “possible”. All the rest (scorching, rubbing, medieval photograph, painting, etc.) have been set aside by science since a long time now and I don’t understand that sceptics still think it is a “plausible” way to explain the Shroud !!! From a scientific standpoint, this kind of thinking is pretty much like today’s creationists in some Christian circles who still believe that the world was really created in 6 days and who believe that this planet is only 6000 years old or so !!! From a scientific standpoint, the way most sceptics see the Shroud and the way those creationists see the universe are exactly the same, i.e. completely off-track versus the reality !!!

So, please, can we take this eternal authenticity debate between pro-shroud and anti-shroud people to a next step ??? Can we at least agree on one important and solid fact ? That is : In order to produce the bloody and body images we see on the Shroud, it takes a real human being and not only that, a real human being who suffered a great deal ! Again, the very particular nature of the blood on the Shroud is clear about it : the high level of bilirubin found by Heller and Adler lead to only one scientific conclusion : the man who bled in the Shroud had suffered intensely prior to his death. And the conclusion is completely coherent with the body images we see on the cloth ! Question to the sceptics : What do you need now to understand that the Shroud had nothing to do with a scorching, a rubbing or any other art form that is known or unknown to us ?!? If we all could agree on this simple and solid scientific base, I think this would greatly help to elevate the authenticity debate to a higher level !!!

All we would be left with is this question : Did the bloody and body images on the Shroud were produced by a human will or not ? And when I say “not”, I don’t necessarily mean “divine”. It can simply refer to some will of Mother Nature that science cannot explain yet. So, in reality, there is 3 possibilities that are on the table :

1- It is a real burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus, but who cannot be Jesus of Nazareth because a forger produces it “naturally” (without using any art technique).

2- It is a real burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus (and who can probably be Jesus of Nazareth) and was produced by some undetermined natural phenomenon(s).

3- It is a real burial shroud of Jesus Christ and was produced by some undetermined supernatural action directly linked to his resurrection.

I really think this is where we now stand in fact of all the scientific facts we know about the Shroud, especially the facts regarding the bloodstains. I really don’t think there are some other possibilities than the three I just mentioned… The answer to the mystery HAS TO BE FOUND in one of those three possibilities and nothing else.

If this eternal Shroud authenticity debate could focus one day (the sooner, the better) ONLY on those three possibilities, that will be a great day for the Shroud and there will be no more time lost for nothing !!!

The Shroud was really a burial shroud used to envelop a real human being who was tortured and crucified, just like the Universe is really much older than 6 000 years… It would be nice if every person who wants to enter the Shroud authenticity debate could at least recognise this basic scientific FACT, because then, this debate would finally have some chances to be done INTELLIGENTLY !!! So, why wasting one more second of our precious time arguing with useless ideas that simply doesn’t fit with what science knows about the Shroud ?

Since a long time now, there’s one solid conclusion that science is able to proclaim without any serious doubt : THE SHROUD IS NOT AN ARTWORK OF ANY KIND, SIMPLY BECAUSE THE BLOODSTAINS ARE ABLE TO TELL US THAT IT IS A REAL BURIAL SHROUD THAT ENVELOPED, FOR LESS THAN 48 HOURS, A REAL MAN WHO WAS TORTURED AND DIED OF CRUCIFIXION.

I hope I have been able to set the record straight. Now, and maybe for the first time in history, can we start an intelligent debate that can always rest on that solid scientific base ???

Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada

P.S. : I’m pretty sure many sceptics are aware of this fact (that the Shroud was a real burial sheet of someone) but are not willing to publicly acknowledge it, simply because they know this would mean that finding a “rational” answer to the mystery of the Shroud would then be much harder, if not nearly impossible… Unfortunately, honesty is not a quality we can find in every person (scientists included) and this eternal Shroud debate is full of sad examples where people (from both camps) were not honest at all and did not really seek the truth.

Rosetta Correa interviews Barrie Schwortz

imageMUST READ:  Rosette Correa conducted an interview with Barrie Schwortz. The B.C. Catholic of the Archdiocese of Vancouver carried it yesterday. It will be quoted from time to time:

Correa: What were the religious affiliations of the team?

Schwortz: This was first a scientific research, and had nothing to do with religion or religious affiliation, but the team was made up of Catholics, a few Jewish guys like me, and some Protestants. To say whether they believed in the authenticity of the shroud at first is not established, but they did after we finished our studies.

Correa: You came in as scientists, what did you come out as?

Schwortz: To be accurate, I came in as a photographer well versed in technical issues. In the end I came out not just as a scientist, but as someone who had found a deeper meaning to things.

I was Jewish, and not very active in my own faith, but ultimately, because of the shroud, where I had to take a public role, I was forced to confront my own beliefs. I was 50 years old at that time, and I was not in a rush.

I had been raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, and God had been a part of my upbringing, but I had ignored Him for most of my life. When I established shroud.com and spoke out publicly, people started asking, "What do you believe in?" and since I wanted to be truthful about every bit of this, it forced me for the first time as an adult to look inside my heart and confront my faith.

Full interview: The B.C. Catholic Paper – Researcher uncovers mysteries about famous cloth

Remember Dan Brown. People believe novels.

imageThe promo folks are busy. The Inquisitor’s Key by Jefferson Bass arriving from William Morrow on May 8, 2012, is being talked about (Hardcover, Enlarged Print and Kindle).

This is the eighth or ninth book in a popular mystery series known as the Body Farm Mysteries by the team of authors, Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, hence the pen name Jefferson Bass.

This description, shamelessly being copied into blogs seems to come from the keyboard of book reviewer Harriet Klausner. There is more here than in the publisher’s description:

Miranda Lovelady is in France excavating a recently discovered chamber beneath the Palace of the Popes in Avignon.  She finds a stone chest inscribed with the message that inside lie the bones of Jesus of Nazareth.  Using a ploy, she gets her lover and teacher Dr. Bill Brockton to leave his Tennessee Body Farm for France.  The two forensic scientists believe that in all likelihood, these remains are a fake, as Chaucer pointed out with The Pardoner’s Tale, the Middle Ages had a thriving business.

To their amazement, the early analysis supports the stone’s claim that this is the remains of Jesus or at least someone who died in a similar fashion two millennia ago.  Brockton also analyzes the Shroud of Turin.  However, killers try to murder the pair while a true believer wants the bones as a means to begin the End of Time with the Second Coming.

Putting aside how Lovelady got Brocton to drop an autopsy to rush to Europe aside as improbable unless she was insane, the latest Body Farm forensic thriller (see The Bone Thief and The Bone Yard) is an exhilarating entry that focuses on the potential remains of Jesus.  When the storyline centers on the science and Christian history, it is incredibly well written and fascinating; when the plot turns into a shoot en up action thriller it is exciting but ordinary.  Still fans will appreciate Brockton examining the Shroud and looking at two thousand year old remains.

Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist who founded the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility, known as the Body Farm. He is a friend of Emily A. Craig and hints in other promo material that Craig’s “dust transfer” technique was how a medieval artist might have created the image on the shroud. Remember Dan Brown. People believe novels.

David and Richard Goliath Dawkins

imageA reader writes:

In response to Dr. Rofle’s invitation for advice on his David and Goliath challenge to Professor Dawkins, I offer these suggestions. Thank you for allowing me to do so.

Professor Fanti’s paper in JIST does an excellent job of summarizing various image formation hypotheses. Perhaps the summary can be extracted from the full paper and presented on Dr. Rolfe’s website.

As for the specification of image attributes that must be satisfied by any image formation solution, avoid any language suggesting a real human body or any form of unexplained energy. To mention any such hints of a miracle will certainly cause any secular skeptic to justifiably refuse the challenge.

Limit the attributes to 1) the 200-600 nm superficiality of the image on a fiber and omit mentioning the primary cell wall as this is uncertain, 2) the superficiality of image to the top two or three fibers of the yarn, 3) the superficial image of facial hair on the reverse side of the fabric, 4) the fact that the image can be removed from a fiber with adhesive tape, 5) the fact that the image doesn’t fluoresce in UV light, 6) the halftone effect from striated color patterns, 7) the fact that a negative of the image is a reasonably photorealistic positive image of a man, 8) the fact that the photometric luminous intensity of various parts of the image can be plotted as an isometric drawing of a valid human body shape and 9) the fact that no image content has been found below any bloodstains.

Do not include anything about rigor mortis, blood flow, putrefaction, distortion of human proportions or formation at a distance as all of these are subject to interpretation. 

The first part of the challenge should be an invitation to Professor Dawkins to jointly review, confirm and finalize the definition of essential image attributes.  

But didn’t Goliath issue the challenge? And wasn’t it David that accepted? Otherwise I essentially agree with this. One thing, though: on point 3, I don’t think it is necessary to produce an image on the reverse side of the fabric, but the method must accommodate the possibility and not make it impossible.

How not to get people to comment

 imageA blogger writes:

I say this because my derisive post about the Shroud of Turin is getting the most hits by far. It seems people google "Shroud of Turin" and somehow end up here. Something tells me these folks might not like what I said about the infamous fake shroud.

Which brings me to the other odd thing: they never comment. Never. Just this week, 260 people visited that post. Were they incensed to learn that the shroud is a fake? Did they huffily retreat and click on over to the Vatican’s site? Are they praying for me now?

I have no idea because no one ever posts a comment. I think I sort of understand. There was a time in the past when I hesitated to comment on blogs, but I got over it. These people should, too. It would be fun to get some wingnut comments.

Go ahead. Be a wingnut at The Worlds – lite: What gets hits.

The Sedevacantist Monk and his YouTube Shroud of Turin video

imageIt keeps coming up; someone mentions it or it percolates near the top of search engine results every now and them. It’s a video by Brother Michael Dimond called, Proof that the Shroud of Turin is the Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ!

It came up again today.

You have to watch it and judge for yourself. Perhaps it is unfair of me to point out something about Br. Dimond; I’m poisoning the well or something like that. But if I don’t mention it someone else will.

Br. Dimond is a self-proclaimed "Benedictine monk" of a two-person Sedevacantism monastic sect (the other member is his sibling-brother Peter) that claims that the papacy has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. From their two-person "Most Holy Family Monastery" they claim that Pope John Paul I was murdered by Masons and Communists who infiltrated the Vatican. And they claim many other things from their website at www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com and www.vaticancatholic.com.

This video, good or not, will be thought of by many people as ridiculous or not-ridiculous (your point of view applies) as some of their other claims, which include:

  • Vatican II was a false council
  • The Heretic Benedict XVI (He is sympathetic to Anglicans)
  • John Paul II (manifest heretic who claimed to be pope 1978-2005)
  • John Paul I (manifest heretic who claimed to be pope for 33 days in 1978)
  • Paul VI (manifest heretic who claimed to be pope 1963-1978)
  • John XXIII (manifest heretic who claimed to be pope 1958-1963)
  • Sedevacantism – the Chair of Peter is Empty

Proof that the Shroud of Turin is the Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ! – YouTube

Charlie Rose interviews Thomas de Wesselow

imageClassic Charlie Rose!

An interview with Thomas de Wesselow on his new book about the Shroud of Turin.

It runs about 15 minutes.

Did he say blood underneath the hands? Or was he misquoted?

imageFrom a local story on WIVT/WBGH, Binghamton, New York Channel 34:

Saint Michael’s Orthodox Church in Binghamton is celebrating the Easter season with an exhibit dedicated to the Shroud of Turin.

The display in the sanctuary includes a life sized reproduction of a photograph taken in 1931 of what many believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Father Thomas Drobena, a Lutheran priest from Connecticut, purchased the print after seeing the Shroud in Turin, Italy. Every evening this week, he will conduct a presentation at Saint Mike’s explaining both the markings in the photo and what’s there but can’t be seen.

Fr. Thomas Drobena says, "For example, the hands of Jesus are folded in front of him. And scientists have discovered that there is blood underneath the hands, something that you cannot see."

The church is open for viewing each day from noon until 1 pm through Friday. Then, at 7 pm each day, Father Drobena will conduct his Mysteries of the Shroud presentation. He says that will include an explanation of how the image is not actually on the cloth.

Did he say blood underneath the hands? Or was he misquoted?

An Email from David Rolfe to the Shroud Science Group

imageJoe Marino had sent to the Shroud Science Group mailing list a copy of the Dawkins letter that I republished in a previous posting. David Rolfe then responded with the following email, which he invited me to repost on this blog that “we might get the benefit of the widest possible input for suggestions on how best to make the challenge as succinct and direct as possible.” Please read the letter and help out.

Dear Joe and Researchers

Thanks, Joe, for posting this.   Some might not be aware of how virulent and far-reaching the Dawkins campaign is.

I am pleased to say that the organisers of the conference in Valencia have granted me the opportunity to present the premise of the "Dawkins Challenge" there and,  in the course of the conference as a whole and building on the opportunity created by Giulio’s Paper, to arrive at a basic consensus for the precise terms of the Challenge.   My hope then is that the Challenge can be re-announced as part of the conclusion of the conference.  Dawkins’ stated conviction that the human mind is the supreme intelligence in the universe must also, ultimately, force him to take on solving the Shroud’s "mediaeval" mystery or admit, al least, his own limitations.

I believe that focusing on the (so far) unfathomable nature of the image is the most uncomplicated way of raising the Shroud back into a positive light with the secular world.  Although there are specific theories among Shroud scientists it is not incumbent on us, at this stage,  to put forward a mechanism ourselves.  Getting Dawkins – and through him the public at large – to accept the profound nature of the mystery will be a sufficient goal.

Giulio’s paper, in meticulous detail, explains why the "natural" theories proposed so far fall short.   It will be important to express the Challenge itself as succinctly as possible.  I recently re-read John Jackson’s paper on the subject published (I think) in 1989 in Shroud Spectrum.  In this it would appear to be summarised in a few lines which I quote here:

"…No one, including the present author, has been able to re-produce satisfactorily the Shroud image.  In fact, replicating the Shroud image with its high resolution, 3- dimensionality, positive/negativity, superficial alteration of threads, vertical mapping, and cellulose dehydration chemistry should be insisted upon by the scientific community if a "natural" process was involved"

Perhaps all SSG members might give some thought to the best and most succinct way possible of expressing the Challenge so that the Valencia conference has as much input to work with as possible.  But, remember, less will be more if the Challenge is to be accepted.

Yours David

I had already written to the SSG mailing list . . .

simplify all criteria statements to remove what one blogger called "supposition and conjecture." I recently gave an example: Item 23 reads, “Bloodstains appear on and outside the body image, indicating that some blood drained from the corpse to the fabric.” The first part of the sentence, up to the coma, is a legitimate observation. The rest of the sentence is supposition. While I think that is very reasonable, even probably true, it is nonetheless supposition. I think that any assumption of a body or of body and cloth relationship as part of a criteria statement, as we find in many of the criteria in Giulio’s paper, is conjecture ahead a proposed solution.

All input will be passed on to David for consideration.

Imagine that there really is a supreme being

UPDATE:  See An Email from David Rolfe to the Shroud Science Group

imageThis silly letter, along with an appeal to subscribe to Free Inquiry magazine, has been received by at least one university library, a seminary and the residents of a retirement/nursing home. The seminary library already has a subscription to the popular Atheist magazine.

RICHARD DAWKINS, FRS
OXFORD, U.K.

Dear Friend,

Just for a moment, imagine that there really is a supreme being who created all things, including the human race. Would he (or she or it) give you such a highly developed brain and then punish you for using it?

Would the most advanced life-form in the universe devise such grand concepts as DNA, nuclear fusion, and quantum mechanics and then spend all eternity fussing about whether you regularly sing to him, vote against gay marriage, or accept on faith that Earth is only 6,000 years old when there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary?

Frankly, I don’t believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. But even if I did, I’m certain he would want us to think for ourselves and eschew such claptrap.

He would be committed to the application of reason and encourage scientific discovery and the cultivation of moral excellence. He would want us to be more concerned about living a valuable life than enforcing arbitrary rules to avoid a vindictive punishment in an afterlife.

And in my opinion, he would undoubtedly want you to read FREE INQUIRY. Why? Because let’s face it … a guy that smart wouldn’t want to spend eternity with anyone dull enough to blindly believe in him!

So maybe, just maybe, FREE INQUIRY is your ticket to salvation. If not spiritual salvation in a mythical afterlife, then certainly intellectual salvation in this life.

Sincerely,
Richard Dawkins

Did a medieval artist use Emily Craig’s technique to create the Shroud’s image?

imageJon Jefferson, who along with Bill Bass, makes up the author(s) Jefferson Bass of The Inquisitor’s Key, writes about his researching the novel in Fact/Fiction: The beautifully blurry line – in writing, life, and religion:

But what I wondered about more was the image on the Shroud. Ever since the cloth was first displayed, in the 1350s, controversy has raged: Is the Shroud genuine, the faint image of the crucified Christ? Or is it a hoax from the Middle Ages – the heyday, mind you, of fake relics – created (as one bishop at the time wrote to warn the pope) by a clever artist for the cynical purpose of attracting pilgrims to Lirey, France, the town where it was first displayed?

For more than a century now – ever since a photographic negative of the Shroud created a more haunting, ghostly image – scientists have weighed in, time and again, on both sides of the authenticity question. One of these scientists – a friend of mine, a former medical illustrator who’s now a forensic anthropologist – has published a journal article explaining (and demonstrating) a simple “dust transfer” technique that a medieval artist could have used to create the faint, haunting image on linen. But did a medieval artist use that technique to create the image

I thought the world had forgotten about the strange theory of Emily A. Craig and Randall R. Bresee.

I guess we will need to wait until May 8, the planned release date, to find out Hardcover, Kindle and large-print editions will be available then.

A million people to see Jesus’ Holy Robe

imageAccording to Vatican Insider:

Over the next four weeks, around a million German Christians will be travelling to Trier to admire the "Heiliger Rock", or the Holy Robe: one of the most important relics in German Christendom, that Jesus supposedly wore before being crucified. Stephan Ackermann, the Bishop of Trier – Karl Marx’s home city – has decided that the robe will be put on display for the eighteenth time in its history, until 13 May.

According to legend, Helena – the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine – brought the seamless garment to Germany, while the first documentary evidence to mention the relic’s presence in Trier dates back to 1196. Meanwhile, Prüm Abbey has the sandals that belonged to Christ. These, together with the Holy Robe and many other relics venerated by the Catholic world, attracted the scorn of Martin Luther, who referred to them as "junk".

The Shroud as Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection

imageThis morning, a new posting by Andrew Dalton, Probing the Shroud for Reasons to Believe at Formation Toolbox, a Catholic resources website:

Is faith in the resurrection a blind leap into the dark, or do we have reasons to believe that Christ rose from the dead?

We may point to many signs of Christ’s historical resurrection (the empty tomb, the initial disbelief of the disciples followed by the sudden conversion of thousands, their subsequent martyrdom in defense of that faith, the steady flourishing of Christian communities despite violent and sustained persecution, the transfer of the day of worship to Sunday, etc.). This line of argument is perennially valid and often necessary, but when dealing with modern man, with his penchant for the empirical, it may be handy to call his attention to the Shroud of Turin, which substantiates the Gospel in an utterly unique way.

The best science on the Shroud today points to its authenticity. Forensic experts report precise details about the physical sufferings of a crucified man. Indeed, reason—not faith—brings us beyond the simple affirmation of a burial cloth of any old crucified man.

Who but the controversial “King of the Jews” could have been treated with such cruel and distinctive tortures—beaten, scourged, crowned with thorns, made to carry his cross, nailed to the wood, pierced in the side with a spear (and we find evidence for these on the Shroud)—and then so tenderly cared for after crucifixion, even wrapped in a pricy linen and positioned respectfully in a tomb? Besides, as one Jewish woman concluded, “Of course, it’s Jesus! Whose burial cloth but his would be vigilantly preserved and venerated down through the centuries?”

But reason carries us further still. Why are there no signs of decomposition on a cloth that clearly covered a cadaver? If rigor mortis eventually gives way to putrefaction, why is the body seen in that rigid state? Why exactly 30 to 36 hours after its initial contact with the Shroud did the blood suddenly stop soaking into the fibers? If the linen were later peeled off of Jesus’ dead body by some natural means, why do the bloodstains show no smearing whatsoever?

The mysteries continue to crescendo. Why does the image appear at all when no other corpse has ever been known to leave a mark remotely similar? Why is the ancient image a “photo-negative” best viewed with technology that would not surface until the nineteenth century? Why is three-dimensional information encoded in a centuries-old image? Finally, if even the most advanced modern technologies cannot reproduce the same effect, what in the world is the image doing there at all?

Shroud science leads me to affirm that belief in Jesus’ resurrection actually offers the most reasonable solution to this enigmatic image. That’s a conclusion worth sharing with friends.

It’s a neat summary. I just don’t like to use the shroud quite so much for propping up faith. Or is it at some point unavoidable?

Yannick: I said it before and I’ll say it again: Ian Wilson is Wrong

imageYannick wants us to be open-minded. From a comment me made yesterday:

That’s it folks !  That’s where my extensive research and reflection have leaded me.  Now it’s up to you to make up your mind about the hypothesis of Wilson.  At least, you now have the other side of the historical coin that Wilson and all his disciples do not want you to know (and/or don’t even want to look at this other side of the coin themselves) !!!

To conclude this long summary, here’s a personal message I want to address to M. Breault and all the other fans of Wilson’s hypothesis :  If it’s true that you’re really interested by the history of Christian art, I really hope you will consider with great care, and with a very open-mind, all the facts, evidences and reflections that I give you in this comment (and in the other one I’ve written yesterday) !!!  I said it before and I’ll say it again :  On the contrary to Ian Wilson and others who have published papers and books to defend his hypothesis, I have personally absolutely nothing to gain by telling you what I consider as truth, except the pure satisfaction of maybe elevate a bit the debate and maybe “force” some open-minded people (I’m sure there are some) to reconsider what they, until now, have consider as an solid truth.

I have included the entire comment here. So click on Read More.

Continue reading “Yannick: I said it before and I’ll say it again: Ian Wilson is Wrong”

The Image on David Rolfe’s Website: Absence of Eyebrows?

imageColin Berry writes, “Did you know there is a high-definition image of the Turin Shroud (most of it still under wraps)?

And, pondering a piece of that image from David Rolfe’s website:

Given the absence of “eyebrows” except as a darkening of the image along the brow ridge – who is to say that there are eyebrows – as distinct from a pressure imprint off a bony prominence? What about the moustache and beard? Are they really there, or do we just interpret the darker image above and below the mouth as facial hair? Who is to say that they too are not mere prominences that are preferentially imaged.

And a few paragraphs later after some interesting analysis he screams:

Am I the only one to find it incomprehensible that a HD image should have been taken of the Shroud in 2008, and made the subject of a documentary – while here we are, over 4 years later speculating on what it might or might not show – except for the small part that the documentary-maker currently uses as banner on his blog?

RELEASE THE FULL HD IMAGE NOW, PLEASE TURIN – WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED

It is totally unacceptable that controversy and speculation should continue to this day, when much of it is uninformed or pure guesswork – the result of commentators being ignorant of, or denied (easy) access to the facts.

Are there any good reviews of de Wesselow’s book?

imageStuart Kelly writes a devastating book review of ‘The Sign’ in the Scotsman:

The material about the Shroud raises sufficient doubts for further work to be undertaken. The material about the Resurrection story is, frankly, bonkers. I half-hoped that Terry Jones, in drag, would burst in and shout “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very manky blanket!”

Are there any good reviews?

Francis Turretin had long hair

imageTurretinFan, who describes himself as a fan of Francis Turretin (pictured) and a reformed apologist, writes in his blog:

Jason Engwer is great guy and has produced lots of useful and helpful material. I really appreciate his on-line work, and I hope that no one will be so foolish as to think that the criticism I’m about to offer is supposed to reflect badly on him personally. My problem is with his statement, not him.

In particular, his comment asserting:

The large majority of the evidence suggests that the Shroud of Turin predates the medieval era. The 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud is an exception that’s often cited. However, there are a lot of problems with that carbon testing. Dan Porter has gathered together some of the relevant evidence here.

is misleading at best and more generally speaking, out and out false.

The statement is misleading because "evidence" isn’t like people. It’s not like there are five personified evidences, named James, Bob, and Sparky, and only Sparky says X, while James and Bob say Y.

What did he just say? Evidence isn’t like people? Sparky? I find reformed apologetics confusing.

Moreover, even within categories of evidence, how we pick our categories ends up determining the majority. There are three main categories of evidence: Scriptural, historical inquiry, and scientific examination.

Oh, oh! That’s a clue.

On Scriptural inquiry, there is virtually nothing to support the shroud. The Scriptures specifically relate that Jesus’ body was wrapped in multiple linen sheets (not a single shroud), that his body was covered with about 75 pounds (American weight) of spices, and that his head was separately wrapped. Moreover, the long-haired person depicted in the shroud does not correspond well with Paul’s comment about nature teaching that is a shame for men to have long hair, though it accords well with medieval European iconography. Moreover, there is absolutely nothing in Scripture suggesting that Jesus ever left a miraculous image of himself on anything.

Furthermore, the burial wrappings of Jesus are specifically described in Scripture, and there is no mention of a shroud. At best, one could hope to find a way to work a shroud into and around the Scriptural evidence, but the Scriptural evidence is uniformly against the Shroud’s authenticity.

I think this is precisely why biblical scholar extraordinaire, The Rt. Rev. John A.T. Robinson once noted:

The corpse of Jesus enfolded in a simple linen cloth passing lengthwise over the head and covering the whole body back and front is not, I submit, what any forger with medieval or modern presuppositions would have thought of; but it makes complete sense of the texts and conforms with the other ancient evidence.

Exactly. No medieval forger would have created what we see in the shroud.

Oh my gosh, look at that hair on Turretin.

Nonsense for Today

imageEvan Effa commenting about a review by James F. McGrath of Ehrman’s new book, “ Did Jesus Exist?”.

The [Israeli Archaeological Authority] is very sensitive I understand to the economic implications of these finds as they help generate pilgrim type tourist dollars. As much as the Turin Chamber of Commerce would like me to venerate the famous Shroud housed in their community, I would not take their stamp of Authenticity at face value either.

They are not exactly the same thing. Talk about apples and oranges! Well at least the people who don’t think Jesus existed think the shroud does. That’s progress.

James F. McGrath holds Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis.

Effa Evans is one suspicious person. He earlier commented:

If Nazareth was not actually inhabited at the time of the "Jesus of Nazareth" it further undermines the already shaky credibility of the Josephus-Plagiarizing Gospel author we call Luke.

Interestingly, the discovery of a supposed first century house in Nazareth (reported in Dec 2009 to much fanfare) has apparently NOT had any verification of the primary artifacts supposedly found on-site. . . . How fortuitous that this unverified blockbuster claim happened to be on the site of the International Marian Center of Nazareth – a Catholic Church owned tourist destination. It sure can’t hurt the revenues any…

It is a common strategy of conspiracy theory to demand verification from within the depths of sheer speculation.

Photograph of Nazareth ca. 1917.

Comment of the Week: Why the Shroud of Turin Matters

imageJohn Klotz comments:

Why the Shroud of Turin Matters

I hope I don’t alienate too many with the following comment.

We live in an very unsettled age where orthodoxy, both religious and scientific, is challenged as never before. The advance of science has rendered literal readings of scripture close to impossible. The Earth was not created six thousand years ago and man never walked with dinosaurs. Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, wrote about the origins of the creation myth of Genesis and concluded, as most biblical scholars do, that it was allegory, not history. Yet, a poll of American Catholics found a majority accepting Genesis as history and blithely unaware of the direction the Church was moving. And when a new Catechism was adopted at the turn of the millennium, biblical scholarship was virtually ignored.

But if uncertainty about the literal truth of Scripture is an issue, take some heart because the scientific method and the “rational” view of existence are taking hits that make the creationist-evolutionist controversy small change.

What is the actuality of existence, both of myself and the Universe? Since the time of Newton, the direction of science has been guided by developing “rational” philosophy that first separated itself from religion and finally rejected any spiritual answers.

But beginning at the turn of the last century, the entire basis of the Newtonian view began to unravel as science delved into the mysteries of the most basic level of existence, the quantum. Quantum Mechanics defied rational analysis and there has emerged, and continues to emerge, the realization that the basic organizing principal of existence is consciousness. Among its quantum concepts is quantum entanglement – a relationship among entities that works beyond time and space and it has been demonstrated that what affects one entangled entity simultaneously affects the other, even if light years away. To Einstein that was “spooky.”

And now, paralleling this ferment is Shroud science. Beginning with the discovery in 1898 that the Shroud of Turin’s faint images of a man, front and back, were in fact negative images demonstrating the reality of the Crucifixion, Shroud science has demonstrated that reality of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and death. It also lends support to his Resurrection.

The current flash of publicity concerning Thomas de Wesselow’s “The Sign” is an indication of the vitality of the Shroud Science and vindication of the work of a host of individuals in studying the Shroud, particularly the Shroud of Turin Study Group (STURP) whose work is preserved at http:// http://www.shroud.com, among other places.

Wesselow, like the atheist pope Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion” rejects out of hand any miraculous or spiritual explanation of anything. An art historian by training, he makes mincemeat of the claims that Shroud was a painting from medieval times and concludes that it was the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

However, after having stated his bias as a “rationalist”, he then goes on to make many irrational and dubious claims, essentially arguing that the Shroud accounts for all the reported post-Resurrection apparitions of Christ. Instead of the “walking corpse” the rationalists disdain, we now have a “talking Shroud.”

As important as the Shroud is, it is not the Resurrection. It is however a material object that factually supports the Resurrection.

In this era of philosophical turmoil and doubt, where science is now reaching the conclusion that at the most basic level of existence, consciousness governs, it is a new revelation, but a revelation brought to us by the application of science. In this time, and this place, it can not be ignored. To an anxious and confused generation, facing complex and near insolvable problems of existence, Christ is coming again.

Image: Womb of Consciousness HD Wallpaper