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Getting the Left and the Right Right

imageMichael asks in a comment:

Ok tell me this why on the shroud of turin is jesus left side seem to be the mark of the spear? For 2000 yrs its been on right side!

daveb of wellington nz replies:

The scriptural reference for the wound in the side is the gospel of John 19:34. However John does not say on what side the wound was given. There are several references in the early Fathers of the Church establishing a tradition that the wound was given on the right side, and this is precisely what analysis of the Shroud image shows.

Now, the Shroud itself acts as a mirror. Imagine yourself holding up say a bed-blanket by its corners, and imagine that your bodily image is projected onto the blanket on the side facing you. This is roughly the way that a Shroud would be draped over a human body. Your right-hand side will be projected onto the.left side of the blanket image. and vice-versa your left-hand side will be projected onto the right side of the blanket, just as looking in a mirror. On the original Shroud cloth the wound certainly appears to be on the left hand side because of this. But you need to view it on one of the several photographic negative images to reorient it to the correct view, when the image will then appear correctly on the right-hand side. Similarly on the Shroud cloth, the right foot appears to be crossed over the left, when in actual fact, the left foot crosses over the right and is therefore in front, also as shown on the Shroud negative photographs.

There is quite a lot that can be said about the wound in the side, and forensic pathologist Dr Pierre Barbet conducted several investigations into the various wounds, examining the negative photographs and experimenting with recently dead cadavers and amputated limbs during the 1930s. His book “A Doctor at Calvary” published in the 1950s is a classic in Shroud forensic literature.

He considers that the cross could not be more than about six foot high as both the crucifixion and the blow itself had to be given by foot soldiers in the execution squad. The blow itself was not part of the actual execution, but was a legal requirement to establish the fact of death before delivering the body to relatives. The blow itself seems to have been given by the Roman “lancea”, a long bladed spear, and the size of the wound matches the size of the lancea blade exactly, from various Roman military artifacts which have been recovered.

Dr Barbet discussed the details of the side wound in chapter 7 “The wound to the heart” of his book. He considers that the blow was delivered above the sixth rib, obliquely but almost horizontally, and the soldier would be seeking to pierce the right auricle of the heart which is always filled with blood. The water described in John 19:34 is pericardial fluid which would have accumulated in a great amount from the trauma of crucifixion. Barbet was also a classicist of some ability and is able to support his analysis by reference to considerable Roman military and other sources as well as by his forensic abilities.

I hope these few notes might give you a better understanding of the various technicalities implicit in your question.

For more information see: Negativity and the Shroud

Image from Stephen Jones’ Blog

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