Drop the Alexios I Komnenos Letter

imageA reader from the “show me” state of Missouri writes:

I see your point. The oft-cited letter of Alexios I Komnenos as evidence the Shroud was in Constantinople is a glaring warning sign about ancient documents that mention a burial cloth of Jesus. I think back to books, presentations and now blog postings that have mentioned this letter and feel all these authors were pulling a fast one over on me. Of course that was not so. It meant they had not bothered to read the letter. How foolish they were to claim the letter is evidence.

That wasn’t my point. It should have been. (See The Letter from Alexius Comnenus). I agree with the reader. I’m not saying that the shroud that is now in Turin wasn’t in Constantinople at that time in history. It probably was. But this document, the Komnenos/Comnenos Letter, is worthless. It is counter-productive to use it.

Stephen Jones still defends it. (See his May 8th posting). If I read him correctly he argues that because there is other evidence that the shroud existed in Constantinople, a reference to it in the fraudulent letter is legitimate and hence the fraudulent letter is itself legitimate evidence. Is this not like believing that there is mustard on your ham sandwich because there is a bottle of mustard on the table – or something like that.

Here is the list of items in the letter just in case you missed it before. Of the one item, the shroud, Stephen writes, “Yes. Among the worthless dross, this nugget of precious gold.” (emphasis his):

the pillar to which he was bound; the lash with which he was scourged; the scarlet robe in which he was arrayed; the crown of thorns with which he was crowned; the reed he held in his hands, in place of a scepter; the garments of which he was despoiled before the cross; the larger part of the wood of the cross on which he was crucified; the nails with which he was affixed; the linen cloths found in the sepulcher after his resurrection; the twelve  of remnants from the five loaves and the two fishes; the entire head of St. John the Baptist with the hair and the beard; the relics or bodies of many of the Innocents, of certain prophets and apostles, of martyrs and, especially, of the protomartyr St. Stephen, and of confessors and virgins, these latter being of such great number that we have omitted writing about each of them individually. (emphasis mine)

Precious golden mustard maybe. Stephen also writes:

Porter here commits the atheist’s fallacy: That because `all religions contradict each other, therefore all are false.’ But one (Christianity) could be true, and all the others be false. Which in fact is what Christianity claims (Acts 4:12, 10:43; Lk 24:47, Jn 20:31; 1Tim 2:5). That all the other relics in Constantinople were fakes, has no bearing at all, on whether only one among them, the Shroud, was authentic.

Huh?  The point of the so-called Atheist fallacy is ‘contradiction.’  The relics don’t do that. Stephen is right in saying that one among many in a list could be true, that being the Appeal to Association Fallacy. But he is wrong to invoke this really stupid Appeal to Contradiction fallacy. It makes no sense.

10 thoughts on “Drop the Alexios I Komnenos Letter”

  1. Come on O.K. I want to see this evidence because if it convincing then you have to put everything aside and translate just the few relevant lines in English for us. After all, you know that we have been waiting for decades for concrete evidence and you will save IW and us a lot of time.

    1. I have sent it to Dan. But Louis, it is probably not what you expect. I don’t prove they were indeed true burial cloths of Jesus, I want just to show that there were three such alleged items in Constantinople.

  2. O.K. Thanks for the reply. What you mean to say is clear, it may not be concrete evidence but it does help narrow the search. More documentation would have been useful, and if it existed it was probably destroyed during the Fourth Crusade. Many of the documents Napoleon looted from the Vatican Archives are said to have been used by shopkeepers to wrap their goods. They probably obtained it from overloaded carts taking the material from Rome to Paris, with documents falling on the ground.
    I wish you success in your research!

  3. Does the order of the list of relics mean anything? If the shroud was the most precious, why is it only ninth in the list, after a number of apparently less prestigious artefacts such as the reed he held instead of a sceptre?

    1. Does the order of the list of relics mean anything? If the shroud was the most precious, why is it only ninth in the list, after a number of apparently less prestigious artefacts such as the reed he held instead of a sceptre?

      Usually not, it is random. The top of the ranking is wood of the True Cross, which is often placed first, but here is 7th.

  4. Good question, however since there were no editors around it is possible that the relics were listed as they came into his head.

  5. Good answers. So the most precious, most prominent, miraculously created actual image of their God was not the first thing, not even among the top five, that came into their heads. Interesting.

    1. Good answers. So the most precious, most prominent, miraculously created actual image of their God was not the first thing, not even among the top five, that came into their heads. Interesting.

      No, and I would say that this relic was in fact very problematic, perhaps even scandalous, for the Byzantines -at least from some perspective.

      There are some reasons for this, which I will maybe explain later.

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