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Quote for Today: Diana Fulbright on Wishful Thinking.

Professor Diana Fulbright has often said this in the context of some of the weaker arguments we hear for the shroud’s authenticity. I couldn’t agree more.

I deplore wishful claims which unwittingly undermine credibility for the Shroud’s authenticity, which is supported by an abundance of valid evidence.

Here is the full comment from which the above quotation is taken. I do agree on the questions of the topless box and the full frontal motif. Thoughts?

Professor Freeman (#36) wrote: “I am simply not convinced by the argument based on the Vignon markings that the Byzantine images of Christ are derived from the Turin Shroud…. the fully frontal faces of Christ are derived from imperial art.” He refers to the Santa Pudenziana apse mosaic in Rome “where Christ is shown in full, front on and with a beard,as an imperial magistrate.”

I support the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the cloth that wrapped the body of Christ in the sepulcher. Yet I agree with you that the Vignon markings and other features of Byzantine Christological iconography cannot credibly be attributed to features of the Shroud facial image. In several papers, I have shown that these various features are found as standard motifs in Graeco-Roman portraiture. One such motif, the so-called “topless box,” I also observed on two statues of Sesostris III (12th Dynasty, †1818 BCE).

The earliest depictions of Christ drew upon pagan themes and forms (e.g., Christ Helios). But it is not necessary to point to one area alone of Hellenistic imagery – whether to imperial portraiture, to pagan religious art, or to an often-posited “philosophical,” type – as the inspiration for Christian iconography. Rather, motifs and conventions of the entire gamut of Hellenistic and Classical portraiture – pagan, imperial and private – provided the foundation for the development of the great body of Christian art.

The standard media for paintings from this period were encaustic on wood panel, and thus, unfortunately, few have survived. (Imperial magistrates?) Yet a treasure from the Fayum necropolis – more than one thousand portraits of ordinary upper-class persons of Graeco-Roman Egypt – attests to these frequency of these motifs.

I deplore wishful claims which unwittingly undermine credibility for the Shroud’s authenticity, which is supported by an abundance of valid evidence.

Regarding your comment, “If the bloodstains are AB, then we need to square this with the evidence that AB only appears in the historical record after AD 900.”

Recently on this blog, Dr. Kelly Kearse posted information concerning when the AB blood type first appeared in history. He reports, “AB blood type has been reported in skeletal remains that are approximately 1,600-2,000 years old.”

Usually a different objection is raised – that all very old blood will type AB, which Dr. Kearse has refuted, pointing out that the blood of Tutankhamen (18th dynasty, 1322 BCE) was typed A. You might also want to read his paper, “Blood on the Shroud of Turin: An Immunological Review,” available at http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/kearse.pdf.

This short biography is taken from from The Speakers’ Directory at shroud.com.

Diana has served as Director of Research, Shroud of Turin Center, Richmond, Virginia, since its inception in 1997. She has investigated the Turin Shroud since 1981, when she met Vern Miller, Official Photographer of the Shroud for the STURP research team, at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. Degrees from the University of California in Oriental History and Languages (Los Angeles); Religious Studies (Santa Barbara). Doctoral work at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, L’Institute Francais d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire, and UC Santa Barbara. Taught Religious Studies and related languages at the University of Iowa, the University of California, and at the Benedictine Monastery in Richmond. She has lectured on the Shroud of Turin at professional conferences in Paris, Orvieto, Italy, Jerusalem, Dallas, and to various church groups and civic organizations of the greater Richmond area and elsewhere.

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