On Christ Naked in Medieval Art and “Empty Vessels”

imageI tipped off Stephen Jones to the comments in the A Masterly Demolition of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript? thread because that thread was born of something he wrote in his blog.

He wrote back in his blog:

Thanks. I don’t usually read your blog’s comments since you blocked me from commenting on them in February, but I did read those particular comments since I still get emailed your posts (not comments).

I have found it a great time-saver not to have to respond to the `empty vessels which make the most noise’ on your blog. So even if you unblock me, I won’t be commenting any more on it.

I had written to him: “The discussion in the blog may say a lot about how we see things one way and skeptics see things another way, and how difficult it is to convince anyone.”

“Agreed,” he wrote. “As I say in my policies statement, "Internet debates were [are] largely a waste of time"

LET’S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY: I do not have any blocks in place for Stephen Jones. Nor do I recall ever having blocked a comment from him. Nor can I imagine that I would have. But mistakes happen. If I did block something, I apologize. Let me have the comment, Stephen, so I can publish it.

NOW TO MOVE ON: to “empty vessels which make the most noise on your [= my] blog.”

I must disagree that internet debates are a waste of time. A case in point: We often hear the argument that a medieval artist, because of the cultural sensitivities of the time, would not have painted a naked Christ and that therefore the Shroud seems authentic. I have said that during presentations I have given. I have pointed out the many pictures of Jesus on the cross or in his tomb wearing, at least, a loin cloth. No one has ever challenged me. Well, thanks to internet debates, I just learned about the following two works of medieval art from these “empty vessels,” as you call them. (How, Stephen, can you refer to your readers or my readers this way?)

image1) Preparation of Christ’s Body for His Entombment; Tempera on wood; Spain, 13th Century;

image2) Altar detail, cathedral in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein

46 thoughts on “On Christ Naked in Medieval Art and “Empty Vessels””

  1. Dan

    I am surprised and disappointed you made a separate blog post out of an exchange of comments we had on my blog, under my post, “My critique of “The Pray Codex,” Wikipedia, 1 May 2011“. You did not ask my permission, and your post amounts to an attack on me. I find that unethical, and I have never, and would never, write a separate blog post attacking you, or any of my fellow Shroud pro-authenticists.

    You also imply falsely that my “empty vessels [who] make the most noise refers to “my [your] readers” generally, when in the context it clearly did not. I made it clear I was only referring to “those who have done the least study of a topic” (the Shroud) but “are the most frequent and confident posters on that topic,” and who “tend to drive away all but the most hardcore debaters on it” [your blog].

    You claim you did not block me from posting to your blog, but the facts are:

    1. On 8 February this year my comments to your blog ceased to appear, immediately after I respectfully disagreed with you. I tried reposting my comments and even sent a plain text test message but they did not appear.

    2. I mentioned under a comment you had made on my blog the same day, 8 February, that my comments were not appearing on your blog. I repeated my comment to this effect late that same day and again the next day, but there never was a response from you.

    3. I find it strange that you never checked to see what my response to your comment on my blog was, in which case you would have read that my comments to your blog were not appearing. Were you not interested to read what my response to your comment was? And did you not notice that I had stopped commenting on your blog?

    4. I also find strange your comment today that: “If something went wrong I apologize. If I made a mistake, perhaps, I apologize. There is no intent to block your comments, ever.” But as I commented back, “Your `If I made a mistake, perhaps, I apologize’ seems strange. If you did not block my comments to your blog, then there would be no reason for you to apologize.”

    Quite frankly Dan, for the above reasons, I find it hard to believe that you did not block me, especially now after your unprovoked hostile post against me.

    But as I said in my last comment today to you on my blog, “it was a blessing in disguise that I was unable to comment on your blog, because I have saved a lot of time from not having to respond to those commenters on your blog who seem to take no notice of what I, or anyone else writes, anyway. So I still do not intend to resume commenting on your blog …”

    And now after what I can only regard as your above unprovoked hostile post against me, Dan, I certainly will not resume commenting on your blog!

    Stephen E. Jones

    1. Stephen, search my blog and you will see post after post praising you. But there is a time when I call it like I see it. I blog the good and the bad. Calling commenters on my blog empty vessels was not something I was going to ignore.

      Did you ever ask why I was supposedly blocking you. You have my email address. I can’t speak for errors that may of occurred in the blogging software or in spam blockers.

      If you would read the comments on my site you should know that I don’t block people because they disagree with me. Yes, I have throttled back one person, Colin Berry, to force his comments into moderation, but I have always approved them including the complaints about my denying him freedom of speech. I have edited a couple of comments from people and have always noted the fact. I have withdrawn two comments that I thought were inappropriate but wrote to the commenters. There are a couple of troublesome trolls that I do block.

      Believe what you want Stephen about my blocking you. Incidentally, your comment went right in without moderation and I did nothing to make that happen. It meant you were not blocked.

      Don’t comment if you don’t want to, Stephan But do expect me to post about your blog which is 99.9 percent of the time great, much better researched and better written than mine. Tell me why it is unethical to do a separate post about you or anyone, skeptic or otherwise. What does your being a fellow shroudie have to do with it?

      If Joe Nickell or Barry Schwortz or Russ Breault or Richard Dawkins or anyone including you implies that even one of the commenters on my blog is an “empty vessels,” I’ll call them out on that. It is not a personal attack. You did write, afterall, “Personally I think you give too much `oxygen’ to those `empty vessels which make the most noise’ on your blog.”

      I consider nothing has changed. I’ll write as I do. I’ll read your blog and your commenters and I may comment on occassion. And you may comment or not. I’m so sorry you didn’t try to figure out why your comments were not appearing. I can only assume this has angered you.


  2. Are there other scenes of a naked Christ in medieval art? These all seem to show what’s on the shroud, it’s all the same burial scene. It could be that the shroud was the inspiration for all these. To show that there was no taboo against showing a naked Christ I would think you’d have to see diverse and multiple depictions of it. If this is it I don’t think anyone should doubt there was a taboo.

    1. Most of these scenes Chris were probably influenced by the byzantine art, especially the epitaphios. Make a quick internet search with this word and you’ll find many example of epitaphios and you’ll see that it is roughly the same kind of scene concerning the burial of Jesus… The first known epitaphios were found in Rome at the beginning of the 8th century under Pope John Vii (a greek pope who had most probably some relations with Constantinople). My guess is that the very first epitaphios was made by an artist who saw the Shroud and then, after that, this kind of art form depicting the burial of Christ became a tradition in the byzantine world and the other artists were just following closely the first epitaphios. That doesn’t mean they too were able to see the Shroud, but there’s a very good probability that the one who did the very first epitaphios had that chance. That’s what I think… You’re right about the fact that the body of Christ in these artworks is just too close to the one on the Shroud to have nothing to do with it…

  3. En el arte medieval hay muchas escenas del BAUTISMO de Jesús mostrándolo desnudo.

    Las relacionadas con su MUERTE son sin embargo excepcionales.

    1. Bing Translation: There are many scenes of the baptism of Jesus in medieval art showing him.Those related to his death are however exceptional.

  4. Carlos, that would seem significant. I think it should be further studied to see how significant. I would think you’d need a lot of art historians etc to contribute and it would time quite a bit of time to come to a conclusion.

  5. The blogger in question has a strange policy of restricting visitors to his site to just one comment, although he makes exceptions for some but not others. So I confine myself to mining the site for useful information, while often finding myself totally at odds with the interpretations, and especially with those “proofs” of his (a strangely dogmatic term for a BSc biologist to use, but never mind).

    Stephen Jones did a post on the Pray Codex back in January 2010 in which he attempted to show that the Pray Codex was not the only work of devotional art to be influenced by an alleged prior sight of the Shroud.

    One of the images shown was the “Entombment of Jesus”, 1181, by Nicholas of Verdun, Klosterneuburg Abbey, Vienna preceding the Hungarian Codex by just 11 or 12 years.

    I would strongly urge folk to look closely at that image and to compare it with the Codex. Be prepared for a surprise. Why? Because the panel of the Codex with the zig zag pattern and that fabled L-shaped arrangement of 4 circles (“poker holes”) that is almost universally assumed to represent the Shroud is probably nothing of the sort. Comparing with the Vienna picture, it is the raised lid of a sarcophagus…

    1. Afterthought (to my previous comment re sarcophagi and their lids) : if you put “entombment of Christ” into a search engine, and peruse the image files, you will find numerous instances of a sarcophagus being featured as the receptacle for the body, with or without the removable lid in view. In fact, there is even an example provided on this very post, with Christ being lowered into a sarcophagus, and with a gentleman at the foot end ensconced on a domed lid!

      I am now more than ever convinced that what we are supposed to assume to represent the “Shroud” in the atrociously-drawn Pray Codex – viz the slanting white panel with zig-zag pattern (“herring bone weave”) and L-shaped arrangement of 4 holes (“poker holes”) – is in fact the raised lid of a recently vacated sarcophagus. But do not despair you Shroud-seekers. There is a nominal representation of it shown coiled up on the lid – though I expect to be told that is the face cloth (despite Scripture stating the latter had been left in a corner of the tomb).

  6. I wasn’t aware of these few artworks from the 13th century showing Christ nude. This is really interesting but this cannot be taken as some kind of argument against the fact that the depiction of Christ in the Pray Codex is surely linked with the Shroud. In fact, in my mind, I think we can make the opposite reflection : Since those artworks were done in Europe during the 13th century, after the 4th crusade when some crusaders like Robert de Clari probably saw the body images on the Shroud of Turin, I think there’s a fairly good probability that those paintings of a nude Christ were influenced by the testimonies of these crusaders who had seen the Shroud in Constantinople in 1203, before the sack of the city.

    One other thing to note : the Pray Codex is still, as I know, the only artwork made during the 12th century (not the 13th folks, the 12th !!!) to show Jesus nude. Despite what the skeptics might say, this fact alone makes this artwork very unique in the history of art, since it is the only known depiction of Christ nude made during the time the Shroud was most probably kept in Constantinople (before 1204)…

    And there’s one more thing very important to understand : The nudity of Christ in the drawing of the Pray Codex, even if it is a very good clue that indicate a probable link with the Shroud, is not what I consider to be the most important feature. No, the feature that is even more important, because it indicate an almost sure connection between this artwork and the Shroud, is the L-shaped holes. Nevermind what the skeptics can say, the fact that there’s such a series of holes in the drawing of the Pray Codex indicate clearly a close connection with the Shroud. If you use your logic, there’s no room for any other RATIONAL explanation… Of course, any skeptic (like Collinsberry) can come out and give us some explanation of his own using his imagination, but is it rational in the context of a religious artwork of the 12th century ? I don’t think so…

    1. Yannick: The codex Pray date is 1192-5. No great difference with the 13th century. I don’t know if it is unique in some sense. I am not expert in medieval art, are you? And if so, what would that prove? Some paint will be the first, right? The identification of the Shroud of Turin and the canvas Robert de Clari mentioned in Constantinople is, again, pure speculation. As for the holes in an “L” (?) shape I’m tired to repeat everything I said. I think in this forum only reads what I write Dan Porter. Thank you, Dan.

    1. Thanks Carlos ! If it’s true, it just reinforce my hypothesis that these European artworks all dates AFTER the 4th crusade and well after the Pray Codex and they were probably based directly or indirectly on the Shroud… I don’t see another rational explanation to explain a change so drastic in religious art.

  7. Este paseo iconográfico por la Edad Media tiene el interés añadido de HACER EVIDENTE que la imagen de la Sábana Santa no tiene NINGÚN parecido en el arte medieval.

    Es comparar las pinturas de Leonardo con los dibujos de los Simpsons.

    ¿Dónde están los “entobments” medievales en los que SE INSPIRÓ el artista falsario que creó la Sábana?

    Los escépticos dicen que la imagen de la Sábana tiene convencionalismos medievales, como por ejemplo las manos cruzadas sobre el pubis para ocultar los genitales ( cosa que NO es cierta pues hay pinturas medievales del Bautismo de Jesús en las que se muestran los genitales).

    ¿Dónde están los “entobments” que INSPIRARON al artista falsario?

  8. Carlos: An artist inspired by other artists’ works does not need to be limited to imitate one and only one of them. He can take elements of such different works and composing his own work. An fourteenth century artist had available images of Jesus in the tomb with his arms crossed and images of Jesus naked in the tomb, pictures of Jesus almost naked in the tomb with his arms crossed, images of Jesus completely naked in baptism, and so on. He could draw on some or all of them to compose their own image. This is how artistic inspiration works. It does not seem so difficult to understand.

    And the same way for Codex Pray.

    If the artist had to imitate an earlier image this picture would not exist.

    : Lamentation_of_the_Virgin, The Rohan Master,1435, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lamentation_of_the_Virgin_Rohan.jpg.

    This one is really unique!

  9. ¡Realmente unica! Le felicito sinceramente, David. Una maravillosa obra del siglo XV.

    Yo le entiendo perfectamente, ahora usted debe intentar entenderme a mí.

    -Advertirá que es completamente FALSO que la postura de los brazos cruzados sobre el pubis ocultando los genitales en la imagen de la Sábana de Turín se deba a convencionalismos medievales .¿ Lo entenderán los ESCÉPTICOS?

    -Advertirá que la ÚNICA imagen de Jesús MUERTO y DESNUDO que ha podido mostrar (también le felicito sinceramente por ello) que sea ANTERIOR a la Sábana Santa es la procedente de un pintor español del siglo XIII en la “Cloister Collection” que se conserva en The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Si la datación es correcta es una imagen EXCEPCIONAL por lo ATÍPICA.
    [Personalmente DUDO de su datación correcta porque no se indican datos sobre su procedencia, está muy restaurada y hay zonas “confusas” pictóricamente hablando].

    -Advertirá que en la imagen que usted muestra de Jesús muerto y desnudo del Maestro Rohan, obra del siglo XV, el dedo pulgar de la mano izquierda está retraido sobre la palma y el dedo pulgar de la mano derecha está ausente.

    -Advertirá que en la imagen que usted muestra del “entombment” de la catedral de Lübeck, obra del siglo XV con Jesús muerto, desnudo y con los brazos cruzados sobre el pubis, los dedos pulgares están ausentes. INTENCIONALMENTE AUSENTES.

    Y están ausentes los dedos pulgares porque están retraidos sobre las palmas de las manos, como muestra el propio artista en el “Descenso de la Cruz”, obra del mismo panel del altar.
    Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Dom, altar, detail

    -¿No le parece lícito pensar que el Jesús muerto desnudo, con los brazos cruzados sobre el pubis y los pulgares ausentes esté inspirado en la Sábana de Lirey?

    -En el Codex Pray el tema fundamental son los agujeros (holes).

    Pero se da la circunstancia que aparece Jesús con esos detalles que no puedo considerar como ARBITRARIOS pues todos ellos son y han sido objeto de DEBATE con los ESCÉPTICOS: desnudez de Jesús, brazos cruzados sobre el pubis y ausencia de pulgares.
    La CASUALIDAD puede haber hecho concurrir en el Codex Pray todos esos detalles…….. y además los 2 grupos de agujeros (holes).

    Pero es más lógico pensar que el artista? tenía información privilegiada.

  10. carlos :

    Yo le entiendo perfectamente, ahora usted debe intentar entenderme a mí.
    -Advertirá que es completamente FALSO que la postura de los brazos cruzados sobre el pubis ocultando los genitales en la imagen de la Sábana de Turín se deba a convencionalismos medievales .¿ Lo entenderán los ESCÉPTICOS?

    Pues no. No lo entiendo ni creo que Ud. me entienda a mí. Porque hace afirmaciones rotundas que no puede demostrar. Como la anterior. Y se pone a discutir sobre los pulgares del Maestro de Rohan. Una cuestión que no tiene nada que ver con lo que yo argumentaba. Yo digo A y Ud. me responde que no B. Etc., etc. Me deja perplejo. ¿Tiene problemas con mi inglés?


    Well, no. I don’t understand you and I believe you don’t understand me. Because you make strong claims that you can’t prove. As above. And you get to discuss the thumbs of Master Rohan’s painting. One issue that has nothing to do with what I argued. I say A and you reply me that not B. Etc., etc.. I am puzzled. Have you problems with my English?

  11. Those other paintings of Christ naked are interesting, though I don’t think they make good counterexamples, since they are rather obviously based on the Pray Codex itself, or otherwise based on the same source as the Pray Codex, either directly or indirectly, so they would share the same “excuse” for depicting Him that way.

    1. I agree with you totally. I said pretty much the same thing yesterday in this comment : https://shroudofturin.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/on-christ-naked-in-medieval-art-and-empty-vessels/#comment-11910

      I just can’t believe that a change so drastic as a depiction of Christ nude could originally come from something else than the Shroud. Before the Pray Codex, I’m almost sure that there is no depiction of a Christ nude in all the religious art, so it took 12th century before seeing an artist having the guts to depict him that way. If this move isn’t related to the Shroud directly or indirectly, then I don’t know what !

      1. And this is not a naked Christ? Previous or after the codex Pray?:


        Is it likely that a similar picture could inspire the author of the codex Pray the idea of painting a naked Jesus while being embalmed?

        But in the baptism the water almost hide the Christ’s sex. How could he do the same at the scene of embalming?

        Perhaps inspired by this image?

        “It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer” (William of Ockham).

      2. Find me the correct datation of this baptism scene and we will talk. But anyway, you have to understand that the nudity of Christ in the artwork you show me is relative because the artist has found a way to cover the genitals. Of course, you’ll tell me that it is also the same thing for the Pray Codex, but there’s a major difference : the scene depicted in the Pray Codex correspond exactly with the image on the Shroud. The baptism scene you show me has nothing to do with the Shroud or the Passion of Christ.

  12. “The scene depicted in the Pray Codex correspond exactly with the image on the Shroud”.

    Exactly, dear Yannick, with nothing materially different (except for there being no blood trails on the forearms, hair or elsewhere, no scourge marks, no swollen cheek, no wrist wound, no obvious moustache and scarcely any beard, no epsilon on forehead – unless one considers a vague blotch to represent some other less distinctive Greek letter … but as you say, exactly the same in all other respects).

    As I have just informed Stephen Jones (whether he publishes or not it another matter), the mistaken identity between the tomb scene in the Pray Codex and the Turin Shroud must surely qualify as Shroudology’s Greatest Howler Of All Time…

    1. What I mean by that is that the artwork in the Pray Codex show Christ dead body being deposit in his shroud and that’s what we also see on the Shroud.

      But in the end, I think this actual debate was taken a bit off-track by the skeptics like Collinsberry and David.

      The only question we have to ask ourselves is this : Is it probable that the artwork contain in the Pray Codex can have been influenced (directly or indirectly) by the Shroud of Turin.

      And to answer this important question (because if it’s yes, it push the dating of the shroud back to at least the 12th century), we cannot analyse one element alone and then, analyse another element alone. No, we have to look at the WHOLE PICTURE AT ONCE ! And what it the whole picture ? That the artwork in the Pray Codex show a series of L-Shaped holes like we see on the Shroud, that it show Christ naked like we see on the Shroud, that it show the hands crossed over the pubis like we see on the Shroud, that it doesn’t show the thumbs like we see on the shroud and that it show a very particular weaving style like we see on the shroud.

      Now, you have to ask yourseltf one question : If the artist who did this artwork never saw the Shroud and never heard about it, how’s the chances that everyone of these very particular features (some of which, like the nudity of Christ, are, as I know, the most ancient features ever to appear in a religious artwork) could have been put in one single artwork during the 12th century ???

      If someone is honest, he have no choice to answer this question by saying EXTREMELY LOW ! I don’t even know if the probability would be 0,1 % ! THAT’S THE ONLY QUESTION WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES.

      Of course, there’s also a few differences but this doesn’t really matter if we think the Pray Codex was never intent to be an exact copy of the Shroud by the monk who probably did it. When you understand that the art style of the depiction of Christ is the same kind of depictions we see on the epitaphios, it is very probable that the artist who did the artwork had the intention to make some kind of epitaphios that would include some of the characteristics of the Shroud he knew (because he had previously seen the relic or because an eye-witness gave him these particular details). In my mind, in the light of the answer I gave to the important question I asked in this comment, there’s not much room left open for another scenario…

      And if you don’t agree with me, then look everywhere and found me another religious artwork that predate the first known publich showing of the Shroud in Lirey, France, around 1350, and that show ALL of the features I mentioned in this comment !!! I dare anyone here to found me just one artwork dating before 1350 that show them all !!! Just one !!!

      1. Any attempt to relate features on the Shroud with that of the Codex is rendered virtually null and void by the glaring lack of internal consistency where the Codex is concerned. To cite just two examples: we are solemnly informed that the panel with the zig zags is the Shroud (despite showing a discarded shroud deposited on its surface) while the strip-like Shroud in the upper picture that is draped around one or more of the figures shows no zig-zag pattern (why not – if the Shroud is supposed to be the centrepiece of the picture?)

        I’ll tell you why not – because the panel with the zig zags and tiny circles is NOT the Shroud. The panel is the patterned lid of a sarcophagus – and to point this out is not to take a topic off track, but to declare it off track in the first place through someone in the past having made a false connection based on some optimistic guesswork, to say nothing of agenda-pushing.

        Then there is the lack of internal consistency regarding the hands. In the tomb scene there are no wounds visible; in the later post-Resurrection (Enthronement?) scene both hands show wounds, with one at least showing the wound in the centreof the palm (which did not prevent Stephen Jones claiming the other to be in the wrist – despite that hand being drawn with scarcely no palm worth speaking of).

        When is this obsession with the Pray Codex going to end? The Codex (“book” in modern parlance) was simply text accompanied by some small and somewhat amateurish line drawings – almost cartoons – in an obscure Hungarian volume that was probably intended only for the eyes of a few clerics and/or pious well-to-do folk – many of whom were probably able to read and not needing vague and inconsistent symbols in cramped pictures to tell them things that are not in the scriptures – like a burial shroud, referred to briefly in the Gospels merely as “fine linen” or “clean linen cloth” or “linen clothes” that somehow acquired an imprint of its brief occupant with no mention whatsoever of a unconventional up-and-over configuration… all this to remain a well-kept secret for the next thirteen and a half centuries. One couldn’t make it up …

      2. we cannot analyse one element alone and then, analyse another element alone. No, we have to look at the WHOLE PICTURE AT ONCE ! And what it the whole picture ?

        Exactly. I think it can be argued within reason that the Codex wasn’t *directly* copied from the Shroud, but the people who persuade themselves that there is no connection between the two at all, simply because they can find some of the individual elements in different contexts, are simply deluding themselves, imo. It’s like finding a written work and conjecturing that it was created by random banging on a keyboard because you’ve seen all the same letters elsewhere. The confluence of the naked Christ and his general appearance, hidden thumbs and long fingers, hands crossed over the genitals, and long shroud establish the connection. The question from that point is which direction the connection is in (I consider it more plausible that the Shroud was the ultimate source for a number of reasons). The L-shape and herringbone pattern wouldn’t be significant on their own, imo, but they become suggestive in light of the connection established by the other factors.

    2. no blood trails on the forearms, hair or elsewhere, no scourge marks, no swollen cheek, no wrist wound

      Because clearly the artist didn’t think Jesus had been scourged or crucified….

      1. NOT AT ALL DEUCE !!! If there’s no blood on this artwork, it is simply because it was done during the 12th century and up until that time, there was absolutely no depiction of a suffering Christ with bruises and bloodstains ! You must never forget the historical context !!! In fact, the very first depictions of Jesus with blood are dated of the 13th century and were done in Europe. We have to wait until the 14th century before seeing the byzantine artist having the guts to do the same. Why ? Because before the 13th century, showing a suffering Christ would have been considered scandalous and disgusting for the people ! And more than that, up until the 13th century, theologically speaking, a suffering Christ didn’t fit at all with the mainstream teaching of the Church (whether it was the European Church or the Orthodox Church). It was mainly the Christ in Glory that was showed before the 13th century (along with some depictions that shows kind of a sad Jesus). So, during the time the Pray Codex was made, it wasn’t “in the air” at all to depict a suffering Christ and that’s why this artwork don’t show any blood or bruises or injuries. And, because of this particular religious and artistic context of pre-13th century that was completely repulsive to any depiction of a suffering Christ, you can easily understand that the hypothesis of Ian Wilson concerning the Mandylion is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY ! In my mind, it’s even ridiculous when you understand well the context of the time the image first appeared in Edessa during the 5th or 6th century (the context that I just describe). At that time, if an image of a beaten and bloody Christ would have been publicly showed, it would have made a scandal ! And there would be a lot of textual reports (here, I don’t refer to one or two dissonant legendary text. I talk about eye-witness accounts) that would clearly states that there was a very particular image of Christ in Edessa (and later on, in Constantinople) that was showing him suffering with lot of bloodstains. There’s absolutely no doubt about the fact that many copies of it showing the bloodstains and the beaten face would have been made and there’s also no doubt at all that an image of a suffering Christ the point directly to his Passion (the crown of thorns is easily discernible on the head of the man of the Shroud) would have had a MAJOR IMPACT on byzantine art, especially any form of art related to the Passion of Christ. The influence of an image of a suffering Christ would have been dramatic on byzantine art first and then, on all the Christian art everywhere. But the fact is this : The Mandylion had absolutely no influence like that whatsoever and there is absolutely no depiction of a suffering Christ showing bloodstains before the 13th century (some 7 or 8 centuries after the first apparition of the Mandylion) ! In itself, this important historical fact is enough to completely discard this relic as having been the Shroud folded 4 times to show only the face. Like I say, I don’t have any doubts that this image of Edessa was related, directly or indirectly, to the Shroud (just like the Pray Codex, the Pantocrator, the epitaphios and other artworks of the byzantine era), but believing that this image and the Shroud were one and the same cloth, I really think that this is ludicrous. In sum, this idea of Wilson just doesn’t fit at all with what we know about the byzantine art of the first 13 centuries A.D. !!! It’s as simple as that. But nevertheless, the image of Edessa is important because it is a good indicator that the Shroud was already known by some people in the Middle East around the 6th, possibly even the 5th century.

  13. Totalmente de acuerdo, Yannick, es lo que he estado manteniendo.

    Existen MUCHAS obras de arte con Jesús desnudo en el BAUTISMO anteriores a 1350, yo guardo una COLECCION de ellas.

    [La que muestra David Mo se conserva en en la Capella Palatina di Palermo y es del siglo XII.]

    Pero obras de arte que muestren a Jesús MUERTO desnudo anteriores a 1350 SON TOTALMENTE EXCEPCIONALES ( 2 obras si aceptáramos además del Codex Pray la obra del pintor español del siglo 12 de la Clouster Collection, cuya datación me parece muy dudosa).

    Y obras de arte que muestren a Jesús muerto desnudo, con los brazos cruzados sobre el pubis y los pulgares ausentes, como en la Sábana Santa, SOLO conocemos 1 obra, la del Codex Pray.

    1. Maybe not carlos – though I hardly think that a handful of crudely-executed line drawings – almost cartoon-like- constitutes art. But as a retired scientist, I am well-acquainted with the promotion by true-believers of tendentious hypotheses founded on little more than wishful thinking and carefully-selected data, ones that studiously ignore any and all contradictory evidence. Science finds itself in eternal conflict with the human propensity to make up a good story…

  14. carlos :
    Colinsberry, creo que usted de arte medieval NO ENTIENDE NADA.

    I think no one at this forum is a real expert in medieval art. Neither you nor I are. But you make a few basic errors that are detected immediately. (Also Yannick, and others).

    1. You make basic mistakes, like when you say that there was no convention of painting the dead (not the Christ only) with arms crossed over his abdomen. You want examples?
    2. You talk about identity when speaking of similarity.
    3. You look only at the similarities and forget differences. Striking differences especially.
    4. Your theory of the medieval artist who leaves clues “encrypted” is illusory. I have never seen or read anything similar. Medieval artists represented its subject directly or resorted to conventional symbols of his time. Perhaps the Codex Pray is “unique” at this issue also
    5. You talk about a process of transmission of iconographic motifs that is not real. The art forms do not arise by diffusion of a single work all imitate, even in cases of very famous works in his time.
    6. You seem to believe that the thing you know matches what exists. In the Middle Ages there was a wealth of manuscripts and paintings now disappeared. Only a few thousands of the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts and paintings survives. These thousands are but the tip of the iceberg. To say that the Codex Pray was the first naked representing Christ in the tomb is naive. In all likelihood is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Finally: I exposed a plausible method of work for the codex Pray artist that does not involve direct imitation of any painting allegedly existing in Constantinople or anywhere. I have not heard responding to my proposal. Unless the answer is to repeat once more that the codex Pray is the only one that was identical to the Shroud of Turin. As Colin and I have amply demonstrated, neither is true. It is neither unique nor identical.

  15. Yannick Clément :
    Find me the correct datation of this baptism scene and we will talk. But anyway, you have to understand that the nudity of Christ in the artwork you show me is relative because the artist has found a way to cover the genitals. Of course, you’ll tell me that it is also the same thing for the Pray Codex, but there’s a major difference : the scene depicted in the Pray Codex correspond exactly with the image on the Shroud. The baptism scene you show me has nothing to do with the Shroud or the Passion of Christ.

    Palatine Chapel, Palermo. 12th Century. We talk?

    Yes, the passion is not baptism. I know. The Pray artist also knew. But he had the same problem as the Palatine Chapel artist: how to paint a naked Christ without showing your sex? The Palatine artist found the solution in water waves. The Pray Codex artist used a conventional resort in the painting of 12th, also common in real burials: hands folded on his abdomen. (See Charles Freeman: The Shroud of Turin and the Image of Edessa: A Misguided Journey On burial practices).

    Other artists solved the problem differently. They place people in front of the body of Christ. Or putting a cloth napkin. Perhaps the solution of the Pray codex artist was original, but not so original because he used iconographic resources of his time. It is not necessary to resort to a hypothetical visit to Constantinople or a hypothetical vision of a hypothetical shroud of Christ, and so. Too many assumptions. Remember Ockham’s Razor.

    1. David, I take note of the fact this depiction of Christ was made during the 12th century. No problem, I trust you on that. But before talking about an artistic convention or an artistic trend, please show me more than one example of a nude Christ made during the 12th century or before ! Have you ever thought that this depiction can represent some kind of incongruity versus what was the normal depictions of Christ at that time ??? Show me more examples please and then we can call it a “convention”…

      1. Christ Baptism Images. Before 1200. Some examples.

        Neonian Baptistry, Ravena, end 5th century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptistry_of_Neon

        Arian Baptistry, Ravena, 6th Century , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arian_Baptistry

        Cappadocia. Göreme, ‘Karanlik Kilise’. Fresco (early 12th century)

        St. Martin Church, Zillis, Swiss, 12th Century.
        http://www.zillis-st-martin.ch/hauptseite.htm (Click “Bilderdecke”)

        Manuscript, Clermont-Ferrand – BM – ms. 0001, 12th Century, http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/documentation/enlumine/fr/rechexperte_00.htm (Write “BAPTEME DU CHRIST” in the box “TITRE ENLUMINURE/SUJET” + Click “RECHERCHER”)

        Manuscript Autun – BM – ms. 0019 bis, 9th Century. http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/documentation/enlumine/fr/rechexperte_00.htm

        Baptême de Jésus , Hortus deliciarum, 12th.

        Baptême de Jésus , Evangéliaire d’Echternach, Nuremberg, 11th.

        Baptême de Jésus, Psautier, Melk, 12th

        Baptême de Jésus, Monastère d’Erevan, Ethiopie, 11th

        I hope it’s enough for you.

      2. Ok. thank you for the information ! I wasn’t aware of it. It prove just that there was an artistic tradition for the depictions of the baptism of Jesus to present him nude. Ok. But as I said, to analysed correctly to probability of a direct connection between the Pray codex and the Shroud, we have to take all the elements together and not just one element at the time. And when you put all the elements that are on the artwork of the Pray codex together, sorry but there’s not much room left for another possibility than to think that the monk who did the artwork saw the Shroud or had some precise information (especially for the burn holes) coming from the testimony of an eye-witness.

  16. ¿Abdomen?

    No he escrito nunca abdomen en este debate.

    El abdomen es un territorio extenso y es habitual que las manos del muerto descansen sobre el abdomen. Hay MUCHOS ejemplos en la iconografía.

    He escrito PUBIS o REGION PUBIANA de manera que las manos alcancen los genitales. Es esa postura que los ESCÉPTICOS dicen que es IMPOSIBLE ( falso) y que es un convencionalismo medieval para no mostrar los genitales.

    Ya hemos visto que ese convencionalismo medieval es FALSO como muestran los MUCHOS ejemplos del BAUTISMO de Jesús desnudo.

    Sin embargo es EXCEPCIONAL la iconografía que muestre a Jesús MUERTO desnudo.

    Seguro que han existido y existen muchas obras de arte que muestran a Jesús muerto desnudo, yo CREO en la autenticidad de la Sábana y su influencia en el Arte……¡ pero esas obras que muestran o mostraban a Jesús muerto desnudo NO LAS CONOCEMOS!

    Conocemos SOLO 2 obras anteriores a la Sábana Santa que muestren a Jesus muerto desnudo, y una de ellas es de datación dudosa ( la de la Clousters Collection).

    Los detalles que tienen similitud en el Codex Pray y la Sábana Santa no son de elección ARBITRARIA.
    [ y como ha indicado Mario Latendresse se daban las condiciones óptimas para que el artista del Codex Pray tuviera información sobre la Sábana]

    TODOS esos detalles han sido objeto de DEBATE con anterioridad al conocimiento del Códex Pray.

    Simbolismo y Arte son CONSUSTANCIALES desde el Pleistoceno….y la Edad Media es muy rica en Símbolos en todas las manifestaciones artísticas.

  17. Carlos: The Codex Pray image doesn’t have the hands just above the pubis, but in an unspecified area of the abdomen. And the right hand is not placed on the left hand, as in the shroud of Turin, but both hands are crossed at the wrists level. Thus, the Pray codex does not meet the conditions you require. It can’t be “inspired” by the Shroud.

    One thing is the symbol and other the signal. You confuse the signal (index or trace) with the complex relationship that exists between the symbol and the symbolized. Medieval artists used coded symbols to refer to the sacred. No signals.

  18. ¡Ja,ja,ja,ja….! ¡Me va a convencer, David!

    Las muñecas en la imagen de la Sábana Santa NO se cruzan.

    Pero muchas copias de la Sábana Santa realizadas a TAMAÑO NATURAL confunden la posición de las manos cruzando los brazos por encima de las muñecas o por las muñecas, e incluso algunas confunden los brazos y es el brazo izquierdo el que está debajo del brazo derecho ,etc, etc, etc

    Incluso la copia atribuida a Albrecth Dürer comete ese tipo de error.

    ¿Estarán esas copias NO inspiradas en la Sábana santa?

    ¿En qué obra de arte estarán inspiradas?

    ¿Estarán inspiradas en el Codex Pray?

  19. Carlos: We are talking about the Codex Pray . We are discussing whether the Codex Pray can be explained as an imitation of the Shroud of Turin. Therefore, I was referring to the Codex Pray hands, not the Shroud of Turin. I think you confused

    In conclusion I link to an image that inspires the codex Pray. Not that one copy to the other, but form and matter are the same. They are very similar because they use a common model.I invite you to observe carefully and compare where the angel sits. Yes a sarcophagus!


    Ingeburg Psalter, c. 1200; Musée Conté, Chantilly. (Picture from Arte/Rama, vol. IV, “Del periodo carolingio al gótico”. B. Aires, Ed. Codex, 1961, p. 133.)

    People say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes it is true.

    1. Your picture, circa 1200, is quite interesting David for a number of reasons that may throw some light on the supposedly ground-breaking feature of a naked Christ in the Pray Codex. Both take liberties of course with the Biblical account, but this one more so than the Shroud. This one has Christ being anointed with oil in the presence of Joseph, Nicodemus AND the Marys, which of course was not how it was described in John. It was the men only who did the initial treatment with the 100lbs of myrrh and aloes, with no mention of oils, and it was the women who were intending to administer the oils, ointments etc later, but were prevented from doing so by the Sabbath, and on returning to their duties at the earliest opportunity, i.e. the first day of the new week, found the tomb empty. So here we have a composite picture, with the men, the women, the oil, and perhaps not surprisingly a Christ who is not completely naked.

      But when you look at the Codex, it’s just the men, but still with some artistic licence (oil being applied, but no sign of bulk myrrh and aloes), but with the absence of women from the picture, pre-Sabbath, the artist has allowed himself the licence of oil being applied to a completely nude body.

      Having made that decision to show a nude body, finer sensibilities are preserved by showing hand crossed over the privates. So it’s wrong to count both the nudity and the crossed hands as if representing TWO separate points of correspondence with the Shroud, since one – the position of the hands – is a consequence of the other – the decision to allow the more realistic nudity that might accompany anointing, especially of preceded by washing.

      Yes, it may well have been the decision to show a strictly male-administered anointing, albeit having no scriptural reference, that influenced the decision to show a body with no signs of blood or other mistreatment, leaving the viewer to assume that the body had had a prior wash – in short a more sanitised version of what might otherwise have made for a gut-wrenching depiction of the immediate aftermath of crucifixion.

      Having removed any suggestion of spilt blood from the anointing scene, it would make no sense to have any suggestion or hints of a bloodied Turin Shroud (as we now call it) in the subsequent scene with the empty tomb, with just the angel and ladies in attendance. The panel with the zig zag pattern, the tiny holes, the red streak was NOT therefore an attempt to represent the Shroud, but merely the patterned lid of the tomb… Any idea it was the Shroud is a total red herring, but I’ve no doubt that idea will run and run, thanks to the existence of this and other sites that give free expression to dogmatism and scepticism alike, the former always guaranteed to win more support from those who might be described as iconophilic… that about exhausts all that this sceptical science bod wants to say on the subject of the Pray Codex – as good an example of subject-selecting pseudo-science if ever there was (Stephen E. Jones BSc, Grad Dip Ed please note).

  20. carlos :

    Pero muchas copias de la Sábana Santa realizadas a TAMAÑO NATURAL confunden la posición de las manos cruzando los brazos por encima de las muñecas o por las muñecas, e incluso algunas confunden los brazos y es el brazo izquierdo el que está debajo del brazo derecho ,etc, etc, etc
    Incluso la copia atribuida a Albrecth Dürer comete ese tipo de error.
    ¿Estarán esas copias NO inspiradas en la Sábana santa?

    No, Carlos, no: We say that these copies you linked resemble the Shroud of Turin for other reasons. Not by the hands. If those other reasons were not convincing we should say that they aren’t copies of the Shroud of Turin. This is what happens with the codex Pray.

    PS: No offense Dürer, please.

  21. David Mo,

    thanks for uploading all these interesting paintings. This one definitely shows some striking similarities with the PM and I agree that they certainly had some kind of common model.

    Notice for example how the shroud continues over Josef’s right shoulder in both cases, in the PM however it goes on behind his neck and proceeds all the way to John. We have the same kind of folds under Jesus head in both paintings where it is apparent that the shroud is being rolled up in the PM and therefore more narrow as it continues to John (?) who also participate in the ceremony by holding the shroud in his left hand.

    However, this seems to fit Jesus placement relative to the burial shroud according to the Turin Shroud (with head at cloth center) perfectly well. Maybe too well considering all the other similar features?

    So while there are many striking similarities due to a common way of depicting the anointment scene, the PM seems to abandon the template exactly where the Turin Shroud Jesus and cloth differ. And I think that makes all the difference.

  22. Mr. Moose and others: When I spoke of models I was not refering to a particular object, but a mind image, an iconic model, as is seen in various objects, images of manuscripts, frescoes, etc. It is transmitted through various works, much of them disappeared long ago. Remember that we are only seeing the remains of missing material. I explain the similarities (!) of the codex with the Shroud of Turin based on previous examples from the time of the codex Pray . And by rthe same way I can explain why it is the first image similar (!) that we know. Basing it on a composition of elements from preexisting models. For their explanation the sindonists need to forget the differences and add the assumption of the existence of the Shroud of Turin. That is: forget relevant facts and make aditional suppositions.

    That’s why my explanation is better than the sindonists explanation. And none of them has disputed me its validity. The case is closed for me. At least for now.

    PS: I don’t interpret by the same way as you the cloths you see on Joseph’s shoulder and into the hands of John. The sheet on Jesus lies just ends under his shoulders and feets. Neither the fifteen holes about appearing in the shroud of Turin are equivalent to eight or nine in the codex Pray. But these items seem already discussed and makes no sense discuss them again.

    1. What I had in mind was certain traditions in depicting these scenes of the PM (Pray manuscript) rather than a single common painting.

      I certainly don´t think it´s impossible to interpret the distinct line at Jesus shoulder as a division into two different cloths. But the same kind of sharp edged lines are occurring in the middle of what you consider to be a single piece of cloth? So I still think it´s plausible to imagine the continuation of the cloth Jesus is lying upon over Josef’s shoulder given the artist’s way of depicting fold marks.

      Now given a certain tradition of depicting the shroud resting over a participants shoulder, a tradition the artist certainly knew, don’t you think this comparison give any weight to the claim that we only have one shroud in the upper scene (instead of two or more)?

  23. No. I don’t think so. Maybe you are right and the Codex Pray artist knew the model iconographic that represent a larger shroud on Joseph of Arimathea’s shoulders. But he reinterprets the model in his own way. He paints clearly the end of the sheet under the shoulders and foots of the corpse. It is clearly seen in the bottom angle of the cloth that would be impossible if continued. The realism of the Pray codex painter is quite poor, but here it is very clear. If there is an angle, there is the end of the cloth. If the thing on the shoulders of Joseph and John’s hands were the same sheet the painter should paint both in the same way. This is not the case.

  24. I try to stay clear of that upper anointing picture, having no idea as to what is burial shroud as distinct from garments, or where the burial shroud starts or ends, or drapes around whom. All is speculation, given the illustrator fails to provide clues in terms of patterning, colour etc.

    What is certain is that our minor league illustrator was making no attempt to use the anointing scene with the three men to signal his having previously laid eyes on any iconic Shroud, assuming it were contemporaneous and residing hundreds of miles away, as shown by the absence of “herringbone weave” or “L-shaped poker holes”.

    A degree of caution is needed when interpreting the lower “angel/empty tomb” scene too, where the illustrator’s abilities to depict an abandoned burial shroud on a sarcophagus lid atop any empty sarcophagus are stretched to his technical limits. It’s anyone guess whether there’s a face cloth/napkin sitting in that heap of linen – but given the fairly close adherence to the Biblical account in the scene, i see no compelling reason why he would have felt obliged to show it.

    The only folk here who desperately want a napkin in the lower scene are those who want us to believe that the lid with the holes and zig zag pattern is THE Shroud, and that any heaps of linen must be the napkin alone. That’s hardly objective analysis and interpretation, is it? – more a case of “seeing what one wants to see” to fit a favoured previously-scripted narrative. There are a few scientists, or rather so-called scientists, who operate like that too. I have a name for them – but can no longer use it here, since Dan will then put me back on watch.

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