What one single characteristic about the shroud . . . ?

imageA 14 year old reader from San Francisco writes:

Is there one single characteristic about the shroud that more than anything else convinces you it is truly Jesus’ burial cloth? How convinced are you? I think both of these questions must be asked together. I will tell you my answers after a few others provide theirs.

I have read most of your blog for the last two years and have read every English language book about the shroud I could find in the public library or for the Kindle. That is certainly most of titles published in this and the previous century. 

32 thoughts on “What one single characteristic about the shroud . . . ?”

  1. I feel very old all of a sudden. Great question. It’s tough to answer because, as is often pointed out with others, it is the sum of many factors that convinces me. If I have to choose just one, I suppose it is the fact that we have only one such Shroud. If it was a fake the method used for the image formation should have (n.b. not ‘must’ have) been used again in some similar way. This is the hallmark of novel technologies.

    But I’d like to flip the question to our skeptic friends and ask what one feature of the Shroud convinces you it can’t be authentic?

  2. yes, it’s hard to distill it as one reason, but the biggest one for me is that the image is inherently unlike what we would expect from a 13th/14th century artist, most particularly the ultra realism of the image (the kinked leg and turned in foot on the dorsal image is a big one for me), the nudity, and a number of the blood marks.
    Great question and very articulate for a 14 year old!

  3. “But I’d like to flip the question to our skeptic friends and ask what one feature of the Shroud convinces you it can’t be authentic?”

    If I was a skeptic I’d say the carbon dating. And it’s still a big question for me. I’m not fully convinced by the criticisms of the dating.

  4. Big problems for the anti-authenticists:
    1) The pollen. Is it all a lie? Surely not.
    2) Blood before image. Is it, or isn’t it? I don’t think the issue is satisfactorily resolved.
    3) Twin bodies on a long cloth. Why? Again, not yet satisfactorily explained.

    Big problems for the authenticists:
    1) Carbon dating. Can two thirds of the corner of the shroud really be undetectable?
    2) Cloth/body position. Straight, bent, wrapped, draped, rigor mortis, dislocated arms?
    3) Early history. Not enough art historians are persuaded by the mandylion hypothesis.

    How convinced am I? About 55% in favour of the 13th/14th century, 35% in favour of the burial cloth of Jesus, 10% in favour of something completely different!

    1. Hugh, I find De Wesselow’s case for the Mandylion connection compelling,you don’t?

      1. I tend to find everybody’s ideas compelling, being by nature a trusting soul, which is why I immediately look around for people with contrary evidence. So I find this review – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/cr/rR3FIPYKEJ9BCUG – compelling too. The trouble is that for every Ian Wilson, there is a Davor Aslanovski, and everybody quotes passages of medieval writing out of context, making them difficult to assess objectively.

      2. Hugh
        This review provides a logical rebuttal of De Wesselow’s claim that the sheet/s at the Pharos and the Sheet that de Clari referred to as being raised every week were one and the same thing, but what it does not do is refute the claim that the sheet that de Clari refers to is the Shroud, and that this is one and the same as the Mandylion. If the Mandylion was at the Pharos in 1201, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been the sheet that de Clari refers to at the other church in 1204, does it?

      3. Davor Aslanovski used to be very active in this blog until forced away by insults. I’d like to see him back. Things and personalities have changed around here. In Google, enter: site:shroudstory.com Aslanovski

  5. The best argument for the Shroud being Jesus’ burial cloth ? Headache.

    Headache you get considering far fetched arguments skeptics develop to build a conspiracy theory.

  6. If I had to point to only one thing, it would be the precise correspondence of the image characteristics to the prophetic texts in the Old Testament and the New Testament eyewitness accounts.

  7. Terrific question. As others have commented, it is the collective evidence that I find the most convincing, but if I had to choose one in particular, it would involve the bloodstains. Particularly the details-I am unsure that a medieval artist would have the foresight to include everything to be analyzed by scientists 700 years or so in the future. For example, why not just use the blood of an animal, who would know the difference? The serum halo rings on the wrist & side wounds, visible under uv light, how does an artist effectively create these using clotted blood? or how could they anticipate their detection, if added around the edges at a separate time, after “painting” the bloodstains? The directional flow of the blood, such as off of the elbow and the back of the foot (which aligns with a blood mark of similar size & shape next to the foot on the front side). Together, details such as these help to convince me that the cloth once wrapped a human body. I am not entirely convinced that it was Jesus’ body, although I think that it probably was. For me, I still keep open the possibility that it could have been artificially created-although I am unsure exactly how.

  8. My number one reason is the extreme superficiality of the image effecting only the top two microfibers or approximately 1% of a single thread. The image does not penetrate the cloth as does the burns, water stains and bloodstains. This extreme superficial image has the same image intensity top to bottom and front to back. One would think a piece of technology would be required for this phenomenon.

  9. For me the following characteristics convince me it’s not an art work ( each one of them is sufficient to convince me actually):
    1-negative image: why would a medieval artist produce something that can only be fully appreciated 600 years after it’s creation, how would check his work, how did he produce it and why didn’t he produce anything else)
    2- 3d information illustrated by VP8 image analyzer ( arguments same as above).
    3- blood stains (Kelly’s arguments work for me)
    4- the fact that a multidisciplinary team with some of the best image analysis experts spent all this time yet failed to explain the image creation technique and illustrated further questions re- image superficiality and half-tone effects.
    5- forensic accuracy re-rigor mortis, serum halos , high bilirubin, blood stains profiles unlike any depicted in art.

    Characteristic that convince me it is Jesus:
    1- the profile of injuries match the biblical account perfectly.
    2- the argument that this is a victim subjected to the same process described in the bible to create an artifact doesn’t convince me because it fails to explain how the image was formed, and is not required since people would be convinced with much less evidence as we can see in other relics.

    Questions for pro-authenticity camp:
    1- c14 dating (the sampling process is an embarrassment and is not a representative of the whole cloth, against the original protocol, not blind)
    2- history gaps ( a valuable object like that with a naked Jesus would likely be hidden for long times as well, the mandilion hypothesis makes sense to me especially because they could only show the face of a naked Jesus)
    3- was the body washed or not or partially washed.?

    Thus far the questions for pro-authenticity camp are all non essential to the argument but are good for further inquiry. I am currently 100% convinced it’s authentic. I know I lose credibility by claiming 100% but I honestly don’t feel any doubt that I am looking at Jesus’s burial cloth.

  10. I’ll be a little bit cynical, or maybe manichean.

    What one single characteristic about the shroud that more than anything else convinces you it is truly Jesus’ burial cloth?

    The HATE. The HATE of the sceptics to that piece of cloth.

    So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

    “Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
    You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
    And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and hers;
    he will crush[b] your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

    Gen 3:14-15 (NIV)

    In some eyes, the HATE of the Serpent’s offspring to the Shroud could be the most convincing evidence that this is the burial Shroud of Jesus.

    1. Am I unduly fortunate in not having found any hate? I have swum in very contrary waters, and come across cynicism in some measure, bafflement and frustration, but not hate. I hope we are sure of our targets before we invoke biblical curses against people who disagree with us, or we are in danger of falling into our own trap.

      1. Don’t worry Hugh, although we often disagree, I don’t consider you. I have a respect of your knowledge of the Shroud, and clashes of our views in our frequent discussions has been beneficial to me, I hope to you as well.

        But having engaged in many polemics about the Shroud -and looking at views of some Shroud opponents -I can see how much HATE has consumed their hearts. The HATE to the Shroud and the Man who was wrapped in it -this demonic HATE is perhaps the best indicator Who This Man Is.

  11. The sum total of the evidence is much more important to me than any one factor. But the unique qualities of the image itself is the source of the enduring mystery.

  12. I’m impressed! This 14 year old has been reading this blog for the last two years! Talk about “Out of the mouths of babes”! My answer: It is not just one thing, but the collective weight of present evidence that persuades me that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, even though there remain many gaps yet to be filled.

  13. It is very pleasing to see that a 14-year-old kid has read most of this blog for the past two years. He is eager to learn, is on the right track and one must look forward to his answers.

  14. My completely unscientific reason for believing in the Shroud’s authenticity: The Face. The peace that is present on that face, despite the most humiliating tortures the man who was buried in the Shroud endured. This convinces me that it’s Jesus Christ.

    The real reasons: what everyone else has said. How can this be a product of human artifice? Who did it? Why don’t more examples of this kind of artwork exist? How could the image be superficial and not penetrate the fibrils? Why is it a negative?

    Also, this will probably cause some ridicule(I hope Joe Nickell isn’t reading this!), but I’m convinced that the Shroud is authentic even if it does come from the 14th century. As someone who comes from the Catholic tradition, I believe that the one Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is made present daily on the altars of the Catholic Church,the Orthodox Church, and every ecclesial communion with a valid priesthood. As such, I do believe that a miracle could have occurred in the Middle Ages that made the miraculous image of Christ appear on a cloth through some divine intervention. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich does talk about miraculous, not made by hand copies of the Shroud being created in the Middle Ages through some paranormal occurrence. I believe it’s much more likely that this is the Shroud that wrapped Christ in the tomb, but the medieval date doesn’t mean it didn’t come from the Hand of God, at least for me.

    “Saying with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction.”-Revelation 5:12

  15. life on earth whose beginning is a mystery and is explained as happening over millions of years but cannot be replicated today, The shroud was made over a period of three days but still can not be cannot be duplicated today. Which one is more a miracle? I will take the shroud.

  16. I love this question.

    For me, it is the apparent fact that the Shroud shows that a real crucified man was wrapped in the cloth, not a representation of a crucified man, and that man suffered the cruelties of the Cross as described in the Gospels down to the smallest detail. His back shows the beating by the Romans, but it also shows that He bore the Cross for some period of time across his shoulders and his knee shows that the Cross was much to bear in His weakened state. Small details that I don’t think you’d fake.
    And all this sits somewhat superficially on the top most fibers of the Shroud.

    I believe when you look at the Shroud, you are looking at the image of Christ at the moment of His Resurrection. It is a snapshot, for lack of a better term, of the Hope that is in us for those that believe.

  17. Why is carbon dating a question for pro-authenticity camp? Remember the Hungarian Pray Manuscript Codex? It predate the 1260-1390AD range. The only question for pro authenticity camp would be the history gap.

    1. Yes, I find the Codex-Shroud link quite compelling.
      Now…the 14 year old reader offered his or her answers, I for one am waiting with anticipation!!! (knowing from experience that my 15 year son provides sometimes very interesting and fresh perspectives on things)

  18. I’m yet to hear a convincing skeptic explanation for the trickle of blood across the lower back. Given there are no biblical allusions to this, it makes no sense as a forgery.

  19. that’s very cryptic Dan….aren’t there enough answers? Actually I just realised I only answered the first of two questions.
    Answer to second question:
    65% the shroud is authentic
    35% it is a fake

    1. Yes, I was just trying to remind the original letter writer that he had promised to give us his answer after others had answered the question.

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