How could a medieval mind create an image such as the one on the shroud?

clip_image001A reader writes:

I just read and enjoyed your comments on While I am a practicing Roman Catholic, I also have a PhD in chemistry and I hope that I can maintain scientific objectivity regarding the shroud. I believe that whether or not the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus can be an open question – although I personally believe it is. But whether or not the shroud is the burial cloth of a crucified person or a fake seems to me to be beyond question. If it is a fake, it is probably the most brilliant hoax of all time! It seems to me to be beyond belief that one or more persons could have assembled all of the abundant supporting evidence 1000 years ago. One can concede that with research and great diligence the faker(s) could have assembled the evidence (however unlikely that is) – with one exception: the image! As far as I know, no one has been able to satisfactorily explain or duplicate the image. How could a medieval mind conceive and execute a negative three-dimensional image such as the one on the shroud? It is that aspect of the shroud that tilts my opinion toward regarding it as the burial cloth of Jesus.

Exactly. And why, in an age that was so undemanding, would someone do so.

And then again, I think about the inventiveness and the technology that went into building those cathedrals. But isn’t that altogether quite different?

37 thoughts on “How could a medieval mind create an image such as the one on the shroud?”

  1. Indeed, I think that for it’s time the shroud is overkill if it’s a forgery. As Yannick has pointed out the blood evidence alone would suggest authenticity as it is nearly inconceiveable that any medieval forger would have any incentive or knowledge to go to such lengths to create such an artifact. Given this the probability that this was created as a forgery in such detail – by accident – is extremely low.

    1. Well said Chris. I’m glad you refer to my paper because I truly think, like any credible medical expert who have examine the shroud, that the evidence coming from the blood and serum stains on the cloth is well enough (no matter what some might think) to understand that if there was a forgery in the case of the Shroud, it could ONLY have been created by someone who used a real scourged and crucified corpse to do so.

      And since there are so many aspects of the Shroud that are very far away from the artistic trends of the medieval period (like the cap of thorns, the nails in the wrist area, the scourge marks all over the body and not only on the back side of the body but on the front side too, etc.), in my mind, the only possible forgery scenario (note that it’s only a slim possibility and surely not the most probable scenario) would be to think that this was done by someone who had seen legal Roman scourging and crucifixion with his own eyes, that he knew very well all the aspects of it and that he was so much a perfectionist and fanatical that he dared to take an unwilling victim and did to him all the tortures we found in the Gospels (including the way of the cross).

      But even such a scenario got a major problem in my mind: why this hypothetical forger would have wanted to perform such an intense scourging on his victim while there is absolutely no precise description in the Gospels about the severity of this torture in Jesus case? Why he would have taken the risk to kill his victim before his crucifixion, while obviously, this would have been the most important part of his forgery? Don’t make any sense at all. And to me, along with the evidence of the wearing of a crown of thorns, the very high intensity of the scourging of the Shroud man is probably the most important aspect of the Shroud that lead to one conclusion: this man was surely Jesus!

      Effectively, since it was very important for the Romans, when they sentenced someone to be executed by crucifixion, that the condemned person died on the cross and not before (this fact is reported in Barbet’s book), we have to assume that, normally, the scourging of an average victim of crucifixion was far from being as severe as the one endured by the Shroud man, for the simple and good reason that the authorities didn’t want the victim to die before being nailed on the cross. In fact, the main purpose (maybe the only one) of the legal scourging that was done by the Roman prior to a standard crucifixion was to remove the strength of the condemned person so that he could not offer any resistance no more on his way to the cross and during the procedure of nailing. In that regard, we must assume that the kind of very severe scourging endured by the Shroud man was very exceptional when this was done inside the standard procedure used by the Romans for a legal crucifixion…

      And guess what? Such a severe scourging fits very well with St John’s account (who was probably the only eye-witness of all the 4 evangelists) that the scourging of Jesus was not done in the context of his crucifixion but, instead, it was done as a separate form of punishment, BEFORE Pilatus finally ordained his crucifixion. In such a context, it is much easier to assume that this kind of independent scourging sentence was done much more brutally than a standard scourging done prior to a crucifixion, because those who did the dirty job didn’t know at the time that Jesus would end up on the cross… In this very particular context, and on the contrary of a scourging done before a standard crucifixion, the soldiers were not afraid that he could die fast after the scourging, since it was surely not something prohibited by the Roman legal system (on the contrary to a crucifixion where the victim had to die on the cross and not before).

      In sum, the conjuncture created by the crown of thorns and the very severe scourging endured by the Shroud man (along also with some other things that I didn’t describe here like the piece of evidence coming from the aragonite dirt found on the cloth, etc.) is enough for me to put a very serious doubt over the “natural” forgery scenario that I described in my paper concerning the evidence of the bloodstains as being one possible scenario that could explain the Shroud. The odds against such a scenario are so high that it’s much easier to believe the Shroud is really the genuine Shroud of Christ.

    2. Complementary comment: In my mind, the only era in which the improbable “natural” forgery scenario I just described could have been done is in the few decades following the finding of the true cross in Jerusalem around 326 A.D. and what we can consider as the beginning of the first era of false Christian relics. Before that time (especially before the Edict of Milan of 313 A.D.), while Christianity was still considered illegal in the Roman Empire, I really don’t think a Christian would have dare to produced such a gruesome relic of Jesus Christ and too many years after that era (let’s say 50 years or so after the abolition of Crucifixion by Constantine between 315 and 337 A.D.), I also doubt that that there were still many persons who really knew all the details of a standard Roman crucifixion and who could have been able to reproduce it with so much care and precision. You can see that the critical time period in which a scenario like that could have been logically performed is not very long!

      1. To your last two comments Yannick, I have to say I agree and well said. There are far to many particulars of evidence that point the Shroud and it’s image not being created in the 1300’s. Another one is the Shroud itself, in that not one sheet or garment of that size has ever been found to have been manufactured in the period assumed by the C14 dating. That I know of from my readings anyways.


  2. “Inventiveness and technology”! As a then young engineer in 1974 I picked up a copy of “The Ancient Engineers” by L Sprague De Camp – it was first published in 1960. It covers Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, Orientals and the European medevals and has a section on the cathedrals. I still have it. It is now a little dated by more recent archaeology, but is nevertheless still an entertaining and informative read. I googled and was delighted to see it’s still in print.

    It shows somethng of an agnostic streak. I remember he mentions one Heron, a near-contemporary of Jesus, who had invented a vessel that gave an illusion of turning water into wine. Whether this invention was behind Luke’s gospel story about Cana, who can say? It has a good section on the great Library of Alexandria and tells the story of its origins and its progressive decline during 100 – 400 AD, apparently partly due to fanatical desert monks under St Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria.. It was then that the centre of learning shifted to Baghdad, and the Arab surge in mathematics, and also ensured that at least some of the ancient classics survived, although much was lost.

    The medieval engineers still had very little theoretical knowledge of structural mechanics. Their building work was essentially trial and error, even the flying buttresses. Cathedrals typically took a hundred years or so to complete, and there were many structural failures during construction with significant loss of workmen’s lives. Nevertheless the ancients were also highly inventive.

    Pick up a copy if you can, as it’s both informative and entertaining. As for the Shroud,, it would be beyond their technology and I’d have to agree with Chris’s comment, that it would be well and truly overkill for its time if it were either Byzantine or Medieval. Significant advances in Medieval technology had to await Fibonacci’s adoption of the Hindu-Arab numerical system around 1200 AD, and the subsequent Italian Renaissance.

  3. we could duplicate any cathedral today with our technology. we can not duplicate the shroud enough said.

  4. Since the ancients had no concept of the 3D of the Shroud, much less the anatomical and blood specificity on the Shroud, I think dogs will start flying before it was possible for a medieval to forge the Shroud and all its characteristics.

  5. Message for Paul and Andy: You’re right when it concern an artistic forgery. But we cannot discard completely the possibility that someone from the 4th century who knew well the Roman method of scourging and crucifixion could have taken an unwilling victim and scourge him and crucified him in order to produce a very realistic relic of Jesus burial cloth. But as I also said, this scenario is so improbable that it’s much easier to assume that the Shroud is really the authentic burial cloth of Jesus. The probability for that last scenario to be true is much higher than the previous one and I must also say that it is highly unlikely that someone from the 4th century had enough “balls” to produce a gruesome, bloody and crude (Jesus is nude!) relic like the Shroud by using a real human body. It just doesn’t fit at all with the religious and cultural sensibilities of that era…

  6. why not take a rat and scourge it then kill it and wrap it in linen and see what image you get in three days. you could give the rat a pain killer to ease your concerns. I will lay a million to one odds that you would use up all the rats in new york city and get nothing but a mess on the cloth.

    1. Paul, you must understand that the Shroud is the only intact ancient burial cloth (most probably made with manufacturing techniques of Antiquity) of a scourged and crucified man we possess. And more than that, it’s the only burial cloth we possess of man whos body left that cloth before the appearance of the first liquid of putrefaction.

      Scientifically speaking, nobody (especially those who see the Shroud has a “proof” (SIC) of the Resurrection) has the right to reject the possibility that the image on the cloth can strictly come from a natural interraction between the corpse and the surface of the cloth. I said it often on this blog and I’ll say it again: There’s absolutely nothing in all the known data from the Shroud that can allow us to reject such a natural possibility.

      Of course, since we talk about the probable Shroud of Christ, the Resurrection is always near and anyone can believe what you believe (that the image came directly from this miraculous event). Look… Even me, in the paper I wrote about the evidence of the bloodstains (and which was published in the December issue of the BSTS Newsletter), has left that door open as a “possibility” because of the name that is associated with the cloth. But, as I also said, from all the data we know now about the Shroud, I really don’t think such a scenario must be considered, scientifically speaking, as more probable than the natural one (which is not necessarily the same than the one proposed by Ray Rogers).

      If at least all the partisans of the supernatural scenario could at least recognize that a natural process is something possible in the case of the Shroud (even if it is really the authentic Shroud of Christ), that would be a very good thing…

  7. And to all of you, here’s another strong argument of mine against the idea that the Shroud could have been created (during medieval time or before) by someone who used the body of an unwilling victim in order to produce his false relic of Christ : The very particular nature of the vast majority of the bloodstains on the cloth!

    Effectively, Al Adler’s analyses of the blood samples from the Shroud have confirmed Pierre Barbet’s hypothesis that most of the bloodstains on the cloth came from moistened (or more probably re-moistened blood clots instead of coming from blood in liquid form), which clearly indicates that the Shroud man was already dead for quite some time (which could well be more than a few hours) when his corpse came in contact with the Shroud.

    This reality is very inconsistent with the idea that someone would have wanted to create a false relic of Jesus’ Passion while using the scourged and crucified body of an unwilling victim, since, in all logic, that person (or persons) would never have wanted to wait a long time after his death before placing his dead body inside the Shroud. Why we must think that way? Simply because the more this supposed forger (or forgers) would have wait before placing the corpse in the cloth, the higher was the risk that the blood clots would have been too dry to produced a good imprint of all the major wounds on the cloth! And in the context of a “natural” forgery done with the body of a real crucified victim, we must believe that the reproduction of all the bloody stigmata of Christ on the cloth would have been one if not the major aspect of the forger’s plan. In such a context, we would expect the Shroud to show bloodstains that come from still fresh wounds, which is absolutely not the case (except for some post-mortem blood flows from the feet and the post-mortem blood flows coming from the side wound).

    In sum, the particular nature of the vast majority of the bloodstains on the Shroud clearly indicates that there was a pretty long delay between the death of the Shroud man and the deposit of his corpse inside the Shroud (a delay of possibly a few hours), which is totally inconsistent with the idea that this relic would have been “naturally” created by someone using the real scourged and crucified body of an unwilling victim… On the contrary, in such a forgery scenario, we would expect to see some evidences of a very short delay of time between the death of the victim and the deposit of his body inside the cloth, which doesn’t appear to be the case for the Shroud.

    This additional argument of mine is just another very problematic aspect of the “natural” forgery scenario that I described in my paper about the evidence of the bloodstains and that show even more clearly how good the scenario that the Shroud is really the authentic burial cloth of Christ really is…

    1. is there a possibilty that something was made “naturally “that can not be made now or has not been made by any known human in the history of mankind

      1. Paul, the shroud is either a natural artifact or man-made, this is the exclusive scientific alternative.

        Then the mirror question is : is there a possibilty that something was man-made that can not be made now or has not been made by any known human in the history of mankind ?
        Odds are low too.

        The main argument against gas diffusion is reachable resolution, but one should keep in mind that potential resolution is very good with gas diffusion (see Rogers’ tests), limiting factor is body-cloth clearance.

        A natural phenomenon doesn’t mean simple and easy to reproduce.

      2. Anoxie, I say amen to what you said to Paul. Marcel Alonso once made a very nice analogy concerning the uniqueness of the image that is on the Shroud when he compared it to a flower (note that he could have also talked about a snowflake or a cloud or many other natural objects). As anyone knows, each flower (or snowflake or cloud) is unique and it is quite an impossible task for a scientist to reproduce with all the same exact chemical and physical details and properties in a laboratory… I think this kind of analogy is interesting regarding the Shroud because it can well be close to the truth.

  8. Here’s a new comment of mine to complete my thoughts on the subject of alternative scenarios concerning the Shroud that would involved the image of another man than Jesus:

    After having shown with some solid arguments the highly improbability of the “natural” forgery scenario that you can find in my paper about the evidence of the bloodstains, all we’re left with is this question: If the Shroud is most probably not a “natural” forgery, then could it be the burial cloth of an anonymous person who was tortured and crucified by the Romans in the same manner than Jesus?

    To answer this question properly, I think we must rely again on the conjuncture of the puncture wounds in the head area (coming most probably from the wearing of a cap of thorns covering all the head) and the very high number of scourge marks all over the body of the Shroud man (indicating that the Shroud man suffered a very severe scourging). Effectively, even though it’s impossible to conclude that no other crucified victim could have been crowned with a cap of sharp objects by the Romans (especially in the case of rebellious leaders or self-proclaimed Messiahs), it’s easy to assume that such a torture was extremely rare. Here, it’s important to note that there is no known ancient manuscript that clearly described a torture of that nature in the case of another crucified victim other than Jesus of Nazareth. And concerning the very severe scourging endured by the Shroud man, which must be considered as being very unusual for a crucifixion victim, I encourage you to read again my first comment (comment #2) that you can find on this same page.

    And along with these 2 crucial elements, there are all these other problematic features coming from the Shroud that we can add to our analysis:

    1- The presence of a side wound that comes most probably from a lance stab in the chest area that was done after the death of the Shroud man, which was probably not part of the procedure used by the Romans during a standard crucifixion, especially in Palestine where the breaking of the legs to accelerate death was the common practice to “finish the job”. Note that the fact that there is no sign that the Shroud man had his legs broken cannot be taken, alone, as a highly problematic feature concerning the scenario involving the burial cloth of an anonymous person who was tortured like Jesus because we must assume that some other crucified victims could have died on the cross in the same manner (especially those who died faster than normal), but when we consider it along all the other problematic features, it can be seen as one more confirmation that the Shroud man is most probably Jesus of Nazareth, especially in the light of some pieces of evidence (like the the general anthropometric and physiognominic characteristics of the Shroud man, some particularities of the cloth itself or the very particular chemical signature of the aragonite dirt found on the cloth), which suggest that the Shroud man was most probably a Jew who was crucified in Palestine during the Roman occupation.
    2- The man of the Shroud had the privilege to be buried in a high quality linen shroud (most probably in a family tomb), which is far from having been part of the procedure used by the Romans after a standard crucifixion. For example, some specialists of the second temple period like Daube have indicated that the normal procedure in Palestine at the time of Christ was to buried all the crucified victims in a common grave and only after a full year, the authorities could allowed the family to collect the bones in order to place them in a ossuary and buried them in a family tomb.
    3- When we put together the fact that no traces of any known ancient burial products have been found on the Shroud by the STURP team and also the fact that the corpse has not been washed before being enveloped in the Shroud, we can conclude that the burial of the Shroud man was incomplete. This point is still debated, but personally, I think this is where the data leads us. And if this is correct, then it is a very problematic feature coming from the Shroud. Effectively, after having said that the Shroud man received the very unusual privilege to be buried inside a high quality linen shroud (most probably in a family tomb), it is very strange to note that his burial really seem to have been done in a great haste. This feature fit very well with the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ burial, which was done just before the beginning of the Sabbath and the Passover feast, but the probability that another person could have been buried that way, after receiving from the Roman authorities such a privilege, must be considered as being extremely low.
    4- The data coming from the Shroud indicates that the corpse must have stayed inside the cloth for a short period of time that goes from approximately 24 to 72 hours. Again, such a feature would fit very well with the Gospel accounts for Jesus, but the probability that this can be related to another person as to be estimated as extremely low.
    5- Never mind the fact that the Shroud is a blood stained burial cloth that has covered a corpse for a time, it was kept and well preserved until this day. As Barrie Schwortz’ mother once said to him: “If the Shroud would not belong to Jesus, they would not have kept it for 2000 years! This is a burial shroud. It’s supposed to be kept in a tomb…” This is a very clever comment from an old Jewish lady! Effectively, whether the Shroud man was buried in Palestine or in any other parts of the Roman Empire during Antiquity (I think there are enough data

    So, when we take into account all these problematic features together, we have to conclude that it is extremely unlikely that the Shroud can really be the burial cloth of an anonymous man who would have been tortured in the same way than Jesus of Nazareth, as reported by the Gospels.

    In conclusion, for all the reasons I have exposed here in this comment and also in the previous ones you can read on this page, I think it fair and clever to consider the first two scenarios that I have described in my paper about the evidence of the bloodstains (here’s the link for that paper: as being both extremely unlikely. Also, I think it’s very important to mention another potentially very problematic feature of the Shroud regarding these first two scenarios involving another person than Jesus of Nazareth and that have been described by Paul Vignon, Pierre Barbet and Antoine Legrand during the first half of the 20th century (and that have since been accepted by author medical specialists who have also studied the Shroud, like Baima Bollone and some others): it is related to the “potential fact” that the “extraction” of the dead body out of the shroud before it start to corrupt there was done in such a way that it doesn’t seem to have disturbed the bloodstains or broken the linen fibrils under them. Note that I have used the term “potential fact” regarding this feature because I think it’s fair to say that such a feature still need to be scientifically confirmed properly because I’m not aware of any solid conclusion about that which would be based on solid data and observations and which would have been published in a peer-reviewed journal…

    One thing’s for sure: If a microscopic examination of the bloodstains (and particularly of the state of the linen fibers underneath them) could scientifically confirm the observation made by Vignon, Barbet and Legrand, this would be a highly problematic feature for the two scenarios I described that involved another man than Jesus. That’s why I think this particular kind of close examination of the bloodstains and the fibers located underneath should be absolutely included in the scientific protocol that would be built if a new series of direct tests on the relic would be allowed by the Vatican.

    But never mind this last feature that still need to be properly confirmed, that doesn’t change a thing about the fact that there are too many features attached to the Shroud that would be very problematic in the case this cloth would be a false relic done with the use of a real tortured and crucified body or if it would be the shroud of an anonymous victim of a Roman crucifixion. I really think the reflections and argumentation I’ve made here on this page during the last few days are solid enough to conclude that there’s only one scenario that can pretend to rationally explain all the features coming from the Shroud and it involves the authentic burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth! For me, this is a pure elimination process: Since it is a proven fact that the Shroud cannot be the work of an artist and since it is a proven fact that the Shroud is really an authentic burial cloth of a real crucified man who was tortured like the Jesus of the Gospels and since the probability is extremely low (near absolute zero) for this cloth to be the one of an unwilling victim of a “natural” forgery and since the probability is also extremely low (near absolute zero) for this cloth to be the one of an anonymous crucified man who endured the same kinds of tortures than Jesus, all I’m left with is the idea that this cloth is really the authentic burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. Sorry for the skeptics and the defenders of the accuracy of the C14 dating of 1988, but there is no other rational possibility than this one. All the others are shown to be extremely weak when you consider all the available data and observations concerning the Shroud and his image. I hope the personal reflection I have exposed on this page in numerous comments have been able to convince you of that reality…

    This is where I stand right now in my reflection about the identity of the Shroud man. And right now, you can be certain that I’ll leave the question of whether the body image came from a natural process or not on the side, because after many debate on this blog, I have understand that this is a deaf debate that goes nowhere since it’s virtually impossible to change another person’s opinion about that once his mind has been set. And since it’s impossible to completely reject the possibility that this body image of a crucified man who can well be Jesus of Nazareth could be related to his Resurrection, I think such a debate will still be a waste of time in the future, even in the case where some scientists would be able to find a completely natural and reproducible explanation for the formation of this image. In sum, the only way we could settle this debate for good would be, for science, to find an definitive proof that this cloth cannot be the one of Jesus of Nazareth and, honestly, because of the long reflection and argumentation I’ve exposed here on this page, I’m very confident that this hypothetical day will never come.

    Additional note: In his 1983 paper about the Shroud’s authenticity, the archaeologist William Meacham mention one more alternative scenario that imply the preservation of the burial cloth of a willing martyr of the late 3rd or 4th century A.D. who would have wanted to do a close and complete imitation of Jesus’ Passion and death. Even if such a scenario would explain many features we see on the Shroud, it’s important to note that there are still some features about the Shroud that doesn’t seem to fit well with it, which are:

    1- The very violent scourging endured by the Shroud man, which could have killed him before he could be crucified.
    2- The data coming from the Shroud indicates that the corpse must have stayed inside the cloth for a short period of time that goes from approximately 24 to 72 hours, which is very hard to explain in the context of an imitation of Jesus’ Passion and death, except if we believe that the followers of this willing martyr would have wanted to reproduce also the finding of the empty tomb and the empty burial cloths. But even then, that wouldn’t explain why they would have wanted to keep such a gruesome grave cloth, which is another very problematic aspect of the Shroud regarding this particular scenario.
    3- This willing martyr and his collaborators would have been able to do all the tortures and crucifixion so much in secret that their gruesome reproduction of Jesus’ Passion and death never became publicly known, which is very hard to believe because such a plan would have probably needed to be done in open air, at least for the crucifixion. Also, the fact that such a plan would have needed the participation of many persons makes it hard to believe that they would not have wanted to talk about publicly about in order to emphasize the courage and valor of the martyr who was able to imitate Christ so well.
    4- The exact reproduction of the Passion, death and burial of Christ by this willing martyr would have been a unique case in all the history of Christianity and would never has been documented in any known ancient manuscript, even though his burial cloth would have been kept very soon after his death and well preserved until this day.
    5- This willing Christian martyr would have been totally naked during his scourging and crucifixion and finally, his corpse would have been kept that way for his burial, which is somewhat problematic in the context of a close reproduction of the burial of Christ. In other words, as a sign of respect toward Christ, it’s very hard to imagine that the group of followers would not have put a modesty cloth to at least cover the buttocks of their imitator of Jesus.

    Final note: The reflections contained in this particular comment of mine are in fact a short summary of an upcoming article I have already written in English, which still need to be translated in French (a huge task for me!!!) and also corrected for the English version (a huge task for Andy of!!!). Expect to see the publication of this very long article during the course of this year (but I still don’t know when exactly).

  9. Years ago the English Catholic physician Dr. Michael Straiton wrote about the possibility of a man (perhaps a Saracen?) being crucified to produce the Shroud during the medieval period.

    1. Please read this comment of mine Louis ( I talk specifically about this possible scenario and bring some solid arguments that I think clearly show the impossibility (in all logic) of it for the medieval period and the very low level of probability for such a natural forgery scenario to have been done during Antiquity. It’s very rational to presume that if a natural forgery would really have been done to create a false Christian relic with a real tortured and crucified body, the outcome would have been a very different image and also some important differences in the bloodstains that we see on the cloth.

  10. Yannick, I did read what you wrote in the previous comment. There is no disagreement with you, and Dr. Straiton was referred to just in case anyone is interested in more that has been written on this topic.

    1. I’m going to assume some sarcasm in your statement. It is easily undestood that Yannick was comparing the Shroud image’s uniqueness to the uniqueness of an idividual flower or snow flake…lets not play games here please.


  11. If that’s the way you think then don’t comment on anything I have posted. Well, #22 has not been answered.

    1. Show me another intact burial shroud of a scourged and crucified man which didn’t stayed in contact with the body for more than 72 hours and we’ll see if your speculation concerning the uniqueness of the Shroud is true. Personally, as you know, I have very serious doubt about it. I think if we could have other shrouds of the same kind than the one in Turin, we would probably see also a body image on it (complete or not, precise or not, who knows?), along with some bloodstains…

      1. Hold it, weren’t you arguing for the uniqueness of the Shroud yourself? I’m confused….Anyways, I doubt we will ever find a shroud that had covered a crucifixion victim and which was removed within the alloted time. So in essence your idea that if one was found it would have some kind of image is pure speculation. The question one should be asking here is ; If this is an authentic burial shroud, Why was it removed? and was it just plain chance that it was removed at precisely the right moment so that putrefaction did not destroy any evidence?


      2. The uniqueness of the Shroud is real in the sense that we could find 99 other burial shrouds of a crucified man whos body was extract of it before the first liquid of putrefaction came and we would get 100 slightly or very different images, but that surely don’t mean in my mind that we would get no image at all beside the one that is on the Shroud of Turin. I think that’s what Marcel Alonso meant by comparing the Shroud with a flower. This and also the fact that, like a flower, even though the image on the Shroud is not reproducible, that surely don’t mean it necessarily come from the Resurrection of Christ directly (or indirectly as a by-product). I agree with Alonso’s point of view.

      3. And concerning your very good questions Ron, I guess you didn’t noticed the long comment I posted yesterday, which got lost because of my exchange with our friend Louis, because I used what’s at the heart of your questions as one very important argument that goes against the idea that the Shroud can be the one of another person than Jesus ! I sure hope you’ll take time to read this long comment of mine… Here’s the link:

  12. You know that Garlaschelli and others failed without a real body. The rest has to be done with experiments;

  13. Yannick Clément :The uniqueness of the Shroud is real in the sense that we could find 99 other burial shrouds of a crucified man whos body was extract of it before the first liquid of putrefaction came and we would get 100 slightly or very different images, but that surely don’t mean in my mind that we would get no image at all beside the one that is on the Shroud of Turin. I think that’s what Marcel Alonso meant by comparing the Shroud with a flower. This and also the fact that, like a flower, even though the image on the Shroud is not reproducible, that surely don’t mean it necessarily come from the Resurrection of Christ directly (or indirectly as a by-product). I agree with Alonso’s point of view.

    Yannick I really don’t think anyone here has ever stated that because the image cannot be reproduced, as of yet, that it must then be from a resurrection event. But if you take all the evidence gathered to this point, into consideration, I think it may be quite difficult to argue against it actually being so. The whole point against the 100 shroud hypothesis is that it would be very very unlikely that a burial shroud would ever be removed from a victim, especially in 1st century Judea. I agree with you that the chances the Shroud is a fake is practically zero. I also agree that we can not say for sure that it was not some natural chemical occurance that caused the image, but when one gathers all the evidence and coincidences to scripture together, one finds it hard to go against a miraculous event. That is my belief anyways.

    Sorry, I don’t have time today but I will certainly read your comment when I get the chance.


    1. Quote: “Sorry, I don’t have time today but I will certainly read your comment when I get the chance.”

      I really hope so Ron (and anyone else) because I think that’s one of the best comment in which I made a good summary of all the main arguments for which the Shroud must be considered as being most probably the Shroud of Jesus.

      And concerning your point of view versus the supernatural, I won’t comment because that’s your personal idea. But I will say this: The fact that Jesus resurrect and that we can see some signs (not proofs) of it on the Shroud (the 2 bests signs are the fact that such a gruesome burial cloth has been kept until this day and the fact that the dead body left the cloth without disturbing the bloodstains and the fibers underneath them) doesn’t mean that the image on the cloth must be a by-product or a direct act of God that is related to this supernatural event. One doesn’t necessarily go with the other. Unfortunately, people tend to forget this reality (and I’m not talking about you).

  14. Yannick, it is nice to see that you have not appointed a spokesman, for it would be a surprise if you did. As commented on this blog some time ago, being a supernatural event the Resurrection could not be subject to direct observation, however it is possible, repeat, possible that it can be indirectly observed on the Shroud.

    1. No reason for me, a believer, to seek the truth in that direction for the moment… I think much more tests could be performed concerning some interesting natural hypotheses (the one of Rogers is not the only one) and I’m sure new natural hypotheses could even be concieved in the future. So, in my mind, I have no reason to look elsewhere until all these potential natural solutions can be completely discarded by science.

      Here’s an advice for you Louis: If you really seek a true miraculous imprint, I think you would be better served with the Guadalupe Tilma and that’s not a joke from me. I truly believe this particular imprint of St Mary has more chances to be miraculous than the image on the Shroud…

  15. Yannick, no reason to seek a true miraculous imprint, even in an age where believing in God is going out of fashion. To go a bit further, even if the imprint is proved to be miraculous it would still not answer many questions because it is not simply something about survival after death.

    Having written about the Tilma many years ago there is no reason to doubt what you are saying, but in this case also more studies are needed.

  16. This comment is written specially for Louis but it can also be interesting, I hope, for anyone else who will read this:

    There’s a major difference between the Shroud and the Guadalupe Tilma and it’s crucial to understand it because it can make a huge difference in the way we can understand these 2 imprints. This difference is this: On the contrary to the Shroud of Turin, the Guadalupe Tilma CANNOT BE the result of some natural process still undetermined! That’s why, in the case of the Shroud, things are much complicated…

    As I often said before, in the case of the Shroud, there are no data that exist right now that can be seen as defying so much the known laws of nature that it can discard the idea that the image can really be the result of one or more natural process(es). This is not the case for the Tilma who can only be an artistic forgery or a miraculous imprint, period. This image cannot be anything else… Here, there’s no middle ground, it’s one possibility or the other, which is totally unlike what goes on for the Shroud. This is truly a HUGE difference that can (and must) be acknowledged by everyone!

    And because, so far, the few scientific inquiries regarding the Tilma have come out empty of any rational and scientific explanation, that’s why I have no difficulty to believe that such an imprint is truly miraculous in nature.

    Again, we must understand (and this is also true for the partisan of the supernatural and the skeptics) that, in the case of the Shroud, such a statement can’t be made (if we really want to stay scientifically sound) because there is still a true possibility that the image is the result of some natural interaction between the cloth and the corpse it covered. In that sense, one must be very prudent before claiming this image cannot be anything else than a by-product of the Resurrection of Christ, since science has been able to conclude that it cannot be the product of an artistic forgery…

    That’s why I dare again to say to the skeptics and, particularly, to the strong defenders of an image that would be the result of a supernatural process: LET’S NOT FORGET THE TRUE POSSIBILITY OF AN IMAGE COMING FROM A NATURAL PROCESS. After all, before he resurrect on Sunday morning, Jesus body was dead like any other victim of a Roman crucifixion and it’s fun to note that this is exactly what we see on the Shroud! People constantly tend to forget that the body image on the Shroud is not the image of a glorious body of light but it is the gruesome image of a dead and tortured Jesus. In fact, it is the image of the body described by the Evangelists on Good Friday, not the image of the body they later described on Easter morning.

    So, in that context, and keeping in mind that this image cannot be the work of an artistic forger, why not thinking that such an image of a dead man could (I don’t say “must”, I say “could”) have come from an interaction between his dead body and the surface of the cloth? To me, , unlike the Tilma, which cannot at all be rationally considered as being the product of a natural process of any kind, there is still a very good probability that such a natural scenario regarding the Shroud can be true. Of course, more researches are truly needed for the Shroud and for the Tilma to get closer to a definitive answer on the nature of both images.

    Now, concerning the Shroud, as I often said, if Ray Rogers hypothesis concerning the chromophore (i.e. an image ONLY residing in a thin layer of impurities, some of which, like the pectin deposits found by Adler, that were “extracted” from the primary cell wall of the linen fiber during the retting process of the flax plant) is correct and if there really is a second superficial image of the hair, beard and mustache on the backside of the Shroud that would be identical in nature to the image visible on the front side, then I think a natural hypothesis to explain the Shroud would have to be considered as being much more plausible than any supernatural one, including the ones defended at all cost presently by Jackson, Fanti, Di Lazzaro and many others “true believers” of the Resurrection of Christ… And if this happen one day, then I hope it will finally force people to rethink the Shroud in order to see more clearly what’s really there, i.e. an image of a dead man!

  17. Yannick, many thanks for the above comments. My point of view corresponds to what you have said at the end of the second last paragraph, that is, much more research will be needed to get a definitive answer to the nature of both images. Since the Church seems unwilling to allow a fresh hands on scientific examination of the TS we are left waiting to see what new discoveries scientists can bring using computer images. As you must have seen in a recent controversy on this blog, just how much of this will be reliable is another problem. Dr. Philip Calahan did a good job on the Tilma and in this case the brushwork raises problems that can only be solved with a new examination to be able to judge the exact nature of the original material. There is no doubt that the Tilma has many mysteries, but whether it was supernaturally produced is difficult to determine at this stage. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus appears to have done some good work on the topic in a book that reached the best-seller lists of “The New York Times”, “Wall Street Journal” and other publications. Yet, another in-depth study is needed, something similar to the one made by Callahan .

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