When History Trumps Science

imageA reader writes:

The Hymn of the Pearl, the Mozarabic Rite and the Hungarian Pray Manuscript, taken together, nullifies the C14 dating. Period.

A good scientist must wonder. Throw in all the evidence of many things going wrong with the carbon dating, and you must declare the carbon dating invalid and wrong.

If authentic, the Shroud must have been at the heart the beginning of Christianity

imageMUST READ:  “The Sign, by Thomas de Wesselow, claims that the Shroud is very definitely there and is central to the climax of the whole story, writes David Rolfe. I agree.

And he writes as part of an article, Biblical evidence and the Shroud of Turin, at The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin:

Until now, this debate has not been germane to the Shroud as sindonologists have been preoccupied with the more pressing issue of authenticity. But that has all changed with the publication of Thomas de Wesselow’s book. In a stroke he has catapaulted the Shroud right back into the heart of the gospels and the birth of the new religion. I welcome it as an opportunity to set the Shroud within that crucible. For, if it is authentic, as I have come to believe, it must have been at the heart of it. Hold on to your hats! If you regard Scripture as sacrosanct, this leg of the journey is a bumpy one but I think it will be worth taking. The Shroud takes us into the tomb and whatever happened there to create a world-changing new religion. De Wesselow’s least considered chapter concerns the image itself. He has already stuck his neck out far enough by merely granting the Shroud academic respect, he could not possibly countenance something "unexplainable" as far as the image is concerned. He looked for the best possible rational explanation for the image he could find and, despite its limitations, plumped for it. That is perfectly understandable.

Read the full posting, Biblical evidence and the Shroud of Turin.

Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?

imageSimon Peter Sutherland wonders:

[Some] historical text is from what is called “The Hymn of the pearl”. This text is said to have been written by the apostle Thomas himself and is somewhat mysterious and less direct, maybe even poetical, but nevertheless, a reference. This work is referred to in the third century Acts of Thomas and the work itself is generally agreed to date to the 2nd century AD.

The text reads as follows;

But, when suddenly I saw my garment reflected as in a mirror, I perceived in it my whole self as well and through it I knew and saw myself. For though we originated from the one and the same we were partially divided, then again we were one, with a single form. The treasurers too who had brought the garment I saw as two beings, but there existed a single form in both, One royal symbol consisting of two halves…And the image of the King of Kings was all over it

imageHere is something I wrote in this blog in September of 2008 when few people were reading this blog.

There is a wonderful early 3rd century text called the Acts of Thomas (not to be confused with the Gospel of Thomas). Many scholars argue it is Gnostic and the Catholic Church has called it heretical. But that does not diminish its significance for historians. It is the legendary story — true, partly true or false — of the apostle Thomas’ (Judas Thomas or Thomas Judas Didymus) mission to India and his martyrdom. Authorship is often attributed to the Gnostic poet Bardesane of Edessa, perhaps as early as 216 CE).

Within the Acts of Thomas is an extraordinary Syriac poem, The Hymn of the Pearl, (also known as the Hymn of the Robe of Gloryand the Hymn of the Soul). The poem is thought to be older than the Acts of Thomas. It is inserted in different places in different versions of the Acts found among early Greek and Syriac Christian traditions.

Within the Hymn of the Pearl there are a few lines of poetry that are intriguing. These lines, referred to as the “two images segment,” seem to have been inserted into the hymn. This is one common translation of those lines with optional interpretations (other translations appear after the fold):

Suddenly, I saw my image on my [burial] garment like in a mirror

Myself and myself through myself [or myself facing outward and inward]

As though divided, yet one likeness

Two images: but one likeness of the King [of kings]

pearl_26What could these lines possibly mean? The poem does not offer a clue.

If we infer from the context of the poem that the first-person speaker of these lines is Jesus (contextually justifiable in a stylistic sense and not a literal sense) then these words might be a wonderful description of the Shroud of Turin, Jesus’ purported burial shroud.

On the shroud, we find two images: one facing outward and one facing inward, though the modern interpretation is usually expressed as a front and back image.

eusebiusThis hypothesis is reinforced by the Legend of Abgar, as related by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius, a cloth bearing an image of Jesus was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the biblical 70).

The words, “like in a mirror,” are puzzling. Several interpretations have been suggested: 1) The image is a collimated image as is, indeed, a mirror. 2) The image is reversed left to right, also an attribute of an image in a mirror. 3) The image is life size. 4) The image on the shroud is a negative and this is a primitive attempt to describe negativity.

There is little question that the Hymn of the Pearl, originated in the Mesopotamian city of Edessa. And it was in Edessa, in 544 AD, that the Edessa Cloth was discovered — the cloth that we now know, from solid historical records, was a full burial cloth in which . . .

You can see [not only] the figure of a face, but [also] the figure of the whole body.

– The Codex Vossianus Latinus

The Rev. Albert Dreisbach, an Episcopal priest who studied the Shroud of Turin for many years asks us . . .

to ponder what these seemingly strange expressions might mean, if they do NOT have reference to the Turin Shroud . . .

Other Translations of the Hymn of the Pearl

Continue reading “Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?”

Voice of Russia: Relics of the True Cross and More

imageJulia Galiullina writing for the Voice of Russia, Detectives of centuries-old forgeries: Voice of Russia:

A center which will check the authenticity of old Christian relics has opened in the Russian city of Voronezh as a branch of the local university.

This is the first such center in Russia.

At present, the Russian Orthodox Church is receiving many relics from abroad, and a strong need has appeared to check their authenticity.

[ . . . ]

Fake Christian relics started to appear in the 11th century A.D. At that time, many churches wanted to have relics of great and venerated saints, and swindlers often used this demand to their advantage.

Some centuries later, fake particles of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, nails and other “sacred” artifacts, which allegedly had to do with His passions, started to appear.

Many relics, either genuine or fake, were obtained by Europeans during the crusades. Later, they were kept in monasteries all over Europe and attracted many pilgrims.

[ . . . ]

The first examination which the newly-founded center in Voronezh held was to examine the authenticity of 10 pieces of wood, which were allegedly parts of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

The examination proved that some of these particles were genuine, while the others were fake.


Image: Discovery of the True Cross (ca. 1385) Fresco, Santa Croce, Florence, Italy

New Book: Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit

imageJoe Marino writes:

I just got the book by archaeologist Jodi Magness called Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit.  Chapter 11 is titled "Tombs and Burial Customs."  The chapter is 35 pages long.  In the first paragraph she says "To understand the burials of Jesus and James, it is necessary first to consider the evidence for ancient Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem."  She focuses on the James ossuary from 2002 and the "Jesus family tomb" that the Discovery Channel did a documentary on in 2007.

And the Shroud?  If authentic, it could tell us something about burial customs in Jerusalem.  How much material on the Shroud?  You guessed it:  none, zippo, zilch.  You would think she would at least mention it to dismiss it.  This is just like that recent book by Josh McDowell about Evidences for the Christian faith, a 600+ page book (as I recall) that didn’t mention the Shroud.

Modern scholarship leaves a bit to be desired at times.

In a follow up email he writes:

"The Gospel accounts include an accurate (although not necessarily historical) description of Jesus’ body being wrapped in a linen shroud."  She cites Raymond Brown’s "The Death of the Messiah."

She doesn’t elaborate either in the text or the end notes.  I don’t have access at the moment to Brown’s work but I’m curious as to why if she acknowledges (albeit on Brown’s authority) that if it was normal practice to wrap corpses in linen shrouds, that Jesus would not have been.  Brown wrote 1 extensive article on the Shroud and was basically neutral.  I wonder if this sentence is an indirect knock on the Shroud?  But why wouldn’t she just come right out and mention the Shroud but say she didn’t think it was authentic?

She just leaves everybody hanging on this.  Again, not good scholarship in my opinion.

John C. Iannone Seeks Funding for a new shroud film

imageJohn C. John C. Iannone, a published Christian writer, lecturer and filmmaker who has written the script for the film "The Image and The Rose" (working title The Shroud) is seeking kick starter funding for a new film:

The Image and the Rose (working title "The Shroud") is a dramatic film inspired by true events of a conspiracy by sinister forces to discredit and then destroy in a fire (1997) the Holy Shroud, the burial cloth of Jesus in Turin, Italy as scientific teams were demonstrating its authenticity. Their efforts are thwarted by a Team: James (Archaeologist); Rebecca (CIA Agent) and Brother Thomas (Vatican Archivist) who risk their lives to stop the conspirators (Knights of the Blue Rose). It is a high-paced  mystery/thriller called by some a cross between the spirituality of The Passion of the Christ and the mystery and intrigue of The DaVinci Code.

For more information and to pledge funding, if you wish, see The Image and the Rose (A Film) by John C. Iannone — Kickstarter. Also see North Star Production Studios, LLC.

Comments on the Challenge to Richard Dawkins

imageI’m not sure I understand the title of the posting over at Battle for the Core: Dawkins Too Busy with the Crowd to Worship His Savior?  Jon Haines writes:

If for nothing else, this project makes a point…that the confidence in the explanatory power of modern empirical science esps (MES) espoused by Richard Dawkins remains limited. The shroud of Turin remains a mystery– that doesn’t mean that there is no answer of course there is an answer–all knowledge, including that acquired by modern empirical science (MES) is based on the principle of sufficient reason…that every effect must have a cause. That is why This organization has offered 20,000 pounds for the person who can solve it. In the Aristotelaisn/Thomistic worldview, that cause includes more than the mere mechanical cause of a given effect. What is the mechanical explanation for the coming about of this piece of cloth with an image on it? Any ideas?