Today, Colin Berry, after citing a comment on this blog, asks a question (well, editorializes, really). Fair enough. It seems to be a valid point:
Well, we’d all like to solve the mystery of the Shroud, and if bilirubin has a part to play, then ought we not to know precisely how much was there, if only to be certain that SOME was there?
So what’s the answer. I’m happy to have the answer in old money (mg%) or in SI units, e.g mmoles /decilitre. But please don’t quote back Alan D Adler’s comment that there were “extraordinary levels of bilirubin”. I am already familiar with that quotation. However, there’s little prospect of “solving the mystery of the Shroud” (sic) when the amount of an allegedly crucial signature of trauma and crucifixion is reported as “extraordinary”, leaving one to speculate as to whether that is just 1 mg% or 20 mg%. That’s the difference between normal and highly jaundiced. Oh, and let’s not bother for now about the proportion of the bilirubin that was conjugated or unconjugated with glucuronic acid (which clinicians use an an aid to differential diagnosis, e.g whether the bilirubin was due to excessive haemolysis of red blood cells or due to liver or kidney impairment). Total bilirubin will do. If you can say how it was measured, so much the better.
Btw: there has to be lots of bilirubin according to Alan Adler, to explain why the blood looks permanently red. But that did not prevent him advising the Shroud’s custodians to instal extra light protection for the Shroud on the grounds that bilirubin was unstable to light. Yup, I’m confused too…