imageIn one thread of discussion, Hugh Farey questions much of the correctness of Stephen Jones’ summary of the bloodstains on his shroud blog:

Bloodstains. As usual, the “obvious” turns out to be almost the exact opposite. While few (perhaps none) of Stephen Jones’s observations are incontrovertibly incorrect, even fewer (perhaps all) are utterly unchallengeable.

Let’s take a few, probably in no particular order.

1) The two different angles of flow on the forearms correspond to the two different angles at which they were suspended on the cross. If this is so, then that pattern was maintained after the blood dried, the body was removed from the cross, transported to the tomb and ended up being transferred to the shroud, without being rubbed or washed off…

2) unlike the dribbles of blood which would have descended from the spear thrust, which have mysteriously disappeared, to be replaced by the randomly directed dribbles we see today, zigzagging around below the wound and flowing from one side to the other of the shroud. From one side to the other at least twice, or possibly from one side to the other and back again. There is no pooling of blood in the middle, as might be expected from a shroud carrying a body – so how did it dribble across? Presumably it was before the body was placed on top, and dried so quickly that the body did not smudge or distort it all as it was laid down.

3) It is easy to find pictures of people who have suffered head traumas. Do they have clean, stain-free hair, with a handful of well defined dribbles placed on the surface, as we see on the shroud? Nothing like. Blood, people seem to forget, starts at the scalp, and oozes its way through. If Jesus’s hair was matted with blood, it did not transfer to the shroud at all. Curious. Some people have suggested that the blood came from the sides of the face when the cloth was wrapped around the head (but nothing was transferred from the hair), and then the shroud was realigned to receive the image of the hair. If it is hair, and not a packing of spices.

4) There have been quite convoluted attempts to distinguish between bloodflows that occurred during crucifixion and dried, bloodflows from wounds reopening as the body was taken down, and bloodflows from wounds reopening as the body was laid in the shroud. Also between wet, dry and re-wetted blood, and even venous and arterial. They are not based on the colour or appearance of the blood, but entirely on its position on the shroud, taking it for granted that the flows must be genuine and attempting to explain the inconsistencies. Nothing wrong with that, but the premise is not proved thereby.

5) The flogging marks. These are very neat and tidy, as if the body had been washed clean, and then new exudates had seeped from the wounds onto the cloth. But if it wasn’t washed (see above for ‘crucifixion’ flows), then where is all the mess?

6) The serum. The bloodstains are certainly not surrounded by neat rings of serum under UV light. One prong of the wrist stain has a kind of halo, the spear wound has a rim, and there is an interesting pattern on the big foot stain. Much of the blood is completely without serum.

7) The Oviedo cloth, to be sure, is not inconsistent with a seriously injured head. In fact it is so heavily marked it is not inconsistent with almost any assembly of serious head wounds. To claim it is a perfect match of blood and fluid stains is wholly unjustified.

I could go on, but these will be enough, I hope, to encourage people who might otherwise have swallowed Jones’s article whole at least to go back to a photo of the shroud (not that absurdly miscaptioned image which graces Jones’s posting) and see for themselves whether these inconsistencies don’t need answering.

Max Patrick Hamon responds:

Hugh, why don’t you tell (late) Prs Bucklin, Baima-Bollone, Zugibe and Cameron are very poor forensic medical examiners when it comes to the Shroud image? Don’t you mistake Jones’ most awkward review of the blood stain issue and the true forensic science behind most of it.

Hugh writes back:

While I wouldn’t dream of telling your famous quartet of forensic pathologists their business, I note that they have studiously refrained from telling me mine. Either they have not addressed the issues I have raised, or they have disagreed with each other in their explanations. The question of pre- and post-mortem bloodflows, whether the body was washed or not, the position of the hand wound, the cause of death – on no single one of these are all four scientists agreed. They are scientists, and I’ve no doubt would all attribute their varied conclusions to the fact that they were working from a photograph of a sheet rather than a dead body, but varied their conclusions are, for all that. My inconsistencies remain unexplained.

And in response to a series of comments in another thread, Hugh writes:

A pool of blood at the small of the back seems so natural and convincing that it would argue quite strongly for authenticity if in fact it existed at all, which it doesn’t. There is no pooling of blood in the small of the back. I would recommend that people actually look at the shroud, but alas, even when they do people tend to see what they expect rather than what is there. If the body, with side wound reopened and dripping with lots of blood, was laid gently, being held by a couple of people maybe under the arms and knees, on a flat sheet, would two neat little rivulets of blood trickle across the sheet from one side to the other, and then immediately dry so as not to get smudged? Or would the twin trickles flow from the chest wound across the back of the body itself, not dripping onto the sheet at all, and then dry so perfectly that they didn’t smudge at all when it was laid on the sheet? Or did the trickles of blood cleverly make their way across the body along the top of the arch of the back (warped by rigor mortis), in defiance of gravity, so that by not touching the cloth they didn’t get smudged? In which case how did they arrive on the cloth?

So: Matthias. Well done for at least trying to envisage what might have occurred, but your experiment appears to have demonstrated the likelihood of something that is not represented on the shroud.

And Ron: Who has “concluded” that the trickles occurred after the body was placed on the shroud, and upon what evidence? A ‘conclusion,’ after all implies some sort of decision making process rather than an instant impression.

And other readers: Check again. There is no pool of blood in the small of the back, is there?

Matthias demurs:

Hugh – I’d like you to explain why you think there is no blood on the small of the back. To my eyes at least there is a thin horizontal trail that looks to be of similar colour to the other alleged blood stains on the shroud. If the other similar coloured stains are indeed blood (I’m assuming they are) then I can’t see why the trail on the small of the back might not be blood. Then to the left and right of this thin trail are bigger stains.
Rather than Ron’s conclusion that this blood comes from the side wound, I think its highly likely that the stains to the right and left of the small back trail have come from the underside of the forearms. If you mimic the shroud figure’s pose like I did you will naturally see that blood would flow down the from the wrists on the underside of the forearms and collect around the hip area, possibly then trailing off across the small of the back.

Hugh – I’d be interested in your thoughts and why do you conclude that this isn’t blood? Is this because you think the other apparent blood stains on the shroud are not in fact blood either? Or do you think the other stains are blood but these ones aren’t????

Again I don’t understand why a forger would / could have gone to this level of detail.

And . . .

Credit and Thanks: I tip my hat. The picture shown above is from ShroudScope. It was extracted by Colin Berry who also made useful and informed adjustments to the contrast and brightness of the extraction.