Getting Dizzy Reading Veneroso’s The Chimera

imageAnd I haven’t even started chapter 2. I know it’s fiction, but . . .

1)  Coins over the eyes:

“What about the computer-enhanced markings on the eyelids? They match perfectly— perfectly, I tell you —inscriptions on coins minted during the reign of Pontius Pilate. And do you know how Jews of the first century buried their dead?” “Yes, I know.”

“With coins on the eyelids!” “Yes, I know.” “Well, of course you know,” Stanton responded triumphantly. “We all know. Any thinking person knows. Only His Holiness refuses to know.”

. . . “Only His Holiness refuses to know.” Well not exactly. Most informed people know the claim about coins over the eyes is myth.

2)  Carbon 14 Dating:

Only the carbon-14 dating flew in the face of the other findings. And on this, a flawed test disavowed by its own researchers, the Vatican was preparing to pronounce the shroud a “pious forgery.” Mysterious all the more, but a forgery nonetheless.

. . . “disavowed by its own researchers.” Not exactly.

3)  Father Secondo Pia’s rectory:

Next, her imagination floated to the makeshift darkroom of Father Secondo Pia’s rectory on that fateful day in 1898. He had received papal permission to subject the Holy Shroud to the objective eye of that new-fangled invention called photography. When he developed his film and looked at the negative, the priest found himself staring openmouthed at the positive image of a person who looked for all the world like Jesus Christ.

. . . “the priest found himself staring openmouthed.”  Fr. Pia?

4)  STURP:

Eighty years later, Pope Paul VI— less hostile toward scientific inquiry or, perhaps, more secure in his faith— allowed access to the shroud by an impressive array of twenty-four eminent scientists from the United States, including avowed atheists. The more they studied , the more excited and intrigued they became. Preliminary results awed even the most stoic. Atheists evolved into polite skeptics, skeptics into cautious believers , believers into outspoken advocates. So often did her mother [a fictitious member of STURP] describe the scene in 1978 Jeannette felt she had been there herself.

Yet one question continued to baffle: How was the image made? It appeared only on the outermost surface of the fibers. Lack of pigment and brushstroke ruled out painting. Most scientists concluded the shroud was no work of art, although one insisted no less a genius than Leonardo da Vinci had produced the image by a process still unknown.

. . . [a STURP member insisted that] “Leonardo da Vinci had produced the image. . .” Not exactly.

5)  Impartial and unimpeachable researcher:

Yet as a woman who lost faith in organized religion even as she refound faith in God, Gramm stubbornly refused to leave the Roman Catholic Church. “They baptized me, they’re stuck with me,” she insisted. Describing herself as an “ex-Catholic, as in exiled,” Gramm had nothing to gain by siding with a church she regarded as patriarchal, archaic, and oppressive of women. In short, she was a perfect, impartial, and unimpeachable witness to the shroud’s authenticity.

. . . “a perfect, impartial, and unimpeachable witness to the shroud’s authenticity.” Not at all.

6) The pope is about to do the impossible, suppress research. Having only two or three days to stop him from doing so:

“We need to conduct a new C-14 on the main cloth right away. We need to fax the others, but only those we can trust: Nickoloff in Moscow, Liang in Hong Kong, and Zendri. Where is he? We definitely need Zendri.” “Still here in Rome, I think. We can call and have him meet us at the airport,” she said, extracting her cellular phone from her shoulder bag. “If we move fast, we can catch the next shuttle to Milan,” Gramm said . . . .

. . . “conduct a new C-14 on the main cloth right away.” I can’t wait.

Quotes taken from J.R. Veneroso (2013-05-03). The Chimera. Xlibris. Kindle Edition.

22 thoughts on “Getting Dizzy Reading Veneroso’s The Chimera”

  1. I’m assuming the author felt the need to REALLY establish the Shroud’s authenticity in order to set-up believably the cloning angle. From a writer’s perspective this makes sense. Of course a serious Shroudie is understandably going to have trouble seeing past the artistic license (and the misconceptions it may seed in readers with only a casual knowledge of the Shroud).

  2. Dan you wrote: “(the placing of) coins over the eyes is myth”.

    The true fact is placing coins over the deceased’s eyes as a Second Temple period/1st century CE CURRENT/DAILY PRACTICE is myth. However, the numismatic archaeological finds in Second Temple tombs just cannot TOTALLY RULED OUT a MOST SPORADIC PRACTICE of placing either a coin between the teeth/on the tongue OR over each eyes.

    1/Is it “impossible” for coins to fall down into the mouth of an undamaged skull?

    So far as the archaeological record is concerned, only four small bronze coins (or prutot in Hebrew, dilepta in Greek) were retrieved inside three different skulls (one damaged, two undamaged) excavated from Judean tombs of the Second Temple period. Because all the coins were found in the oral cavity, those inside the two intact skulls were explained as coins “unequivocally” placed in the mouth and very rare manifestations of a pagan influence on Judean burial customs associated with Charon’s obol (or payment required by the ferryman Charon to reach the mythical underworld).

    Now it has been demonstrated experimentally a prutah or dilepton type coin, placed over the eye of a deceased lying in a supine position with his head held upright (as if on a headstone or head-rest) or tilted forward (as if on a pillow), may drop through the lower fissure in the back of the eye socket and fall into the mouth, by a “piggybank effect”, as the body decays. It may also happen with a coin placed over both eyes.

    Although arch-sceptics dismiss the coin-on-eye theory in connection with these finds, at close examination, in the context of a Judean burial of the Second Temple period, the Charon’s obol theory is a most unconvincing explanation as it creates more questions than answers and has a potential to mislead. For instance, in the Jericho D/18 tomb case, why exactly a Judean burier or mourner would have felt the need to place two coins instead of only one in the deceased’s mouth as Charon’s obol? Would the two coins have been intended for a return trip? In the Caiaphas’ daughter’s intact skull case, why exactly would a high priest family of Jerusalem have felt the need to recur to the pagan custom to bury one of its deceased members? It actually verges on sheer anachronism. Therefore, it would be good archaeology to integrate the forensic datum to reassess past findings and keep an open mind for the coin-on-eye issue in connection with the Turin Shroud.

    Reminder 1: More than thirty Pilate coins were found in 1st-century CE cave tombs through Israel.
    Reminder 2: An erroneous numismatic theory crept into Shroud literature. According to the Italian coin collector, Mario Moroni, the Judeans considered it offensive to their religion to be forced to use coins depicting pagan symbols such as a simpulum and a lituus.

    1. Correction: Reminder 1: Several 1st c. CE tombs (4-9) yielded more than 30 (30-40) Pilate coins throughout Israel.

    2. Max I agree with you on the coin issue in most respects. I do not think the “coins over the eyes issue” can be dismissed as easily as some have so easily speculated. This includes Dan by the way. Max I have read, a while back that is, so I cannot find the reference; That several skulls were found in Jerusalem caves, one with a coin still in the skull cavity. But in this study it was excluded that a coin could, if placed over the eye socket, find it’s way out of the skull cavity unless the skull ended up in the upright position. So it was concluded the coin was placed over the eyes during burial. Also, I could find no issue in all my readings of ancient Jewish culture, in placing coins over the eyes. So my point is that it is not controversial that coins may have been used in a first century Jewish burial, and/or to possibly keep the eyes closed(?). The pagan ritual was to place a ‘single’ coin in the mouth, not over the eyes, is also another point I have read in archaeological findings.

      Your comments…

      R

      1. I also wouldn’t find it odd that a coin was placed on a Jewish body, but this wasn’t just any Jewish body – if we assume it was Jesus. It was that of a messianic figure (to his believers). He was put to death, brutally, by Romans on the command of Pontius Pilate – who was goaded into the act (according to the Gospels) by the Jewish authorities who claimed Jesus was no friend of Caesar (true enough). It seems then exceedingly strange that his followers would place an image of the governor who sentenced him to execution onto his body. It’s like saying ‘Rome wins’. Why would they do that? If it was just to keep the eyes closed, I’d think they’d have used anything, a stone, a stick…anything but a coin that had the face of the oppressor on it.

  3. Re Moroni’s (Hendin’s?) theory, it is far from proven (I can even show some evidence to the contrary).

  4. Dan you also wrote: “Most informed people know” (the claim about coins over the eyes is myth). As far as the coin-over-eyes issue is concerned, as a professional cryptologist, I am a most informed individual: sporadic placings of a small coin (rather than a potsherd) over each eye is NOT inconsistent AT ALL with thanathology, halakha (religious Judean/Jewish law) and Second Temple period archaeological finds.

  5. I have to chuckle reading your comments. It’s like listening to a scientist protest that a girl couldn’t possibly fall down a rabbit hole. It is fiction. Period. Enjoy the ride. Curiouser and curiouser.

    1. Mr Joe Veneodo, most obviously you are just another IGNORAMUS boasting of his ignorance…

      1. JV, thank you to tell whose comments you’re referring to (for disambiguation’s sake).

        1. Yes, I was referring to Dan’s comments. When my novel was first started (1993) controversy raged over various aspects of the Shroud. I used these as a springboard into MY FICTION (not the Shroud’s), creating a mystery-thriller with totally made-up characters and events. Hope this clarifies.

        1. Oh, one further caveat: bear in mind part one of The Chimera takes place in 1997, when other discoveries, rebuttals and counter-rebuttals had yet to occur.

  6. Dan, could you PLEASE STOP poisoning the well as far as the coin-over-eye issue is concerned?

  7. David Goulet :
    I also wouldn’t find it odd that a coin was placed on a Jewish body, but this wasn’t just any Jewish body – if we assume it was Jesus. It was that of a messianic figure (to his believers). He was put to death, brutally, by Romans on the command of Pontius Pilate – who was goaded into the act (according to the Gospels) by the Jewish authorities who claimed Jesus was no friend of Caesar (true enough). It seems then exceedingly strange that his followers would place an image of the governor who sentenced him to execution onto his body. It’s like saying ‘Rome wins’. Why would they do that? If it was just to keep the eyes closed, I’d think they’d have used anything, a stone, a stick…anything but a coin that had the face of the oppressor on it.

    Good point, but there is a chance that because of time restraints, lack of materials, whatever, they had to compromise in the situation. There is also the possibility that at the time of burial, no one was actually believing he was the messiah, (at least that is what scriptures tells us) hence no issue with using coins.

    R

    1. If it was just a couple of servants tasked with the burial, I could see that possibility. If it was anyone closer to Jesus, then I still don’t see them using the coins – even if they didn’t at that point believe he was the Messiah. The symbolism would be unacceptable – better to leave the eyes open than sealed with Roman coins. But maybe I’m projecting my own ethos onto the situation. It’s like trying to do a puzzle — missing most of the pieces.

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