Home > History, Press Coverage > The Guardian Notes the History Today Article by Charles Freeman

The Guardian Notes the History Today Article by Charles Freeman

October 23, 2014

imageThe Headline:  Turin shroud was made for medieval Easter ritual, historian says

The Lede: Charles Freeman believes relic venerated as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth dates from 14th century and was used as a prop

Charlotte Higgins writes:

The original purpose of the shroud, argues Freeman, is likely to have been as a prop in a kind of medieval, theatrical ceremony that took place at Easter – the Quem quaeritis? or “whom do you seek?”

“On Easter morning the gospel accounts of the resurrection would be re-enacted with ‘disciples’ acting out a presentation in which they would enter a makeshift tomb and bring out the grave clothes to show that Christ had indeed risen,” he said.

This will probably get syndicated. Many Guardian articles about the shroud do.

  1. Louis
    October 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    A naked Jesus painted on a shroud for a re-enactment of the gospel accounts of the resurrection?

  2. October 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Dan, that’s what I was afraid of. This nonsensical, biased article is spreading out. Do we really want it? Should we be happy that several more people will get wrong perception of the Shroud. This ‘significant’, as you called it article of Freeman is actually nothing else but propaganda attempt to discredit the Shroud, based on absurd, and long compromised conceptions. It is typical of that kind, I can assure you.

    No, I truly don’t believe Charles’ intentions are true. I engaged in many discussions with him on this forum, and I know his (unfortunately bad) style.

    • October 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      But if his conceptions are absurd and long compromised why worry if they are published?

      • Max patrick Hamon
        October 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

        David, have you ever heard of poisoning the well for gullible/misinformed people?

        • emma08
          October 24, 2014 at 1:25 am

          It would be nice to see a counter article from someone of repute.
          Perhaps de wesselow.
          I think a number of us have problems with Charles’ article.

          But he has the “authority” of “historian” title behind him.
          Personally I don’t give this much weight, but many do.

          Having a PhD and worked part time as an academic for a few years, I can attest to the fact that many of the so called “expert” academics I worked with were either “wrong” or very dogmatic (which often made them “Wrong”, at least in parts). Probably only 20% of the academics I have encountered have been truly open minded and relatively free of dogmatic positions.

          I am now very skeptical about the weight given to “Experts”.

          I strongly suspect that Charles’ skepticism with regard to the Shroud as influencing what he writes. Or else he is simply not looking at things from all angles in a balanced way (ie. see my comments on the other post about his comments on the “boldness” of artistic representations suggesting that the Shroud was originally much bolder)

          What frustrates me most about him is that he rarely acknowledges valid potential alternative theories.

        • October 24, 2014 at 9:39 am

          Max, you’ve commented many times how you resent having to “spoon feed” people — that we should all do our own research. If people are misinformed and gullible, and drinking from poisoned wells, it is no one’s fault but their own.

    • Dan
      October 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      When I use the word significant it does not mean I agree with the article or am pleased with it.

  3. Max patrick Hamon
    October 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    This is just crap!

    Just see the way it was displayed then on ostensions as seen both on the Lirey Pilgrim badge and Machy mold. This is no Byzantine liturgy with theatrical prop but Medieval Western liturgy in the Lirey collegiate church! Charles is mistaking Lirey for Constantinople!

    Besides the Lirey Shroud was in a massive oak wood reliquary keep, see 1418 Collégiale relic receipt in Archives départementales de l’Aube, ref. 9G 4):

    “[…] ung drap, ou quel est la figure ou representation du Suaire Nostre Seigneur Jesucrist, lequel est en ung coffre armoyé des armes de Charny

    In the Paris badge, the reliquary keep carved front side (seen in lower part of the badge) is accurately dated by means of the two coats of arms as the husband’s (Geoffroi de Charny) was placed at the heraldic “dextre” as “place of honour” (ie on the left handside of the modern onlooker) only when both husband & wife (here Jeanne de Vergy(-Mirebeau)) were alive. When one of them was dead, the husband’s coat of arm was placed at heraldic “senestre” (this according to a use & custom that prevailed till the 19th c CE in France), which means the reliquary keep was made when Geoffroy of Charny was still alive while the badge in se, most likely dates back to late 14th- early 15th c. CE.; a reliquary keep that is not to be mistaken either with the empty tomb seen in a roundel of glory topped with a cross of Triumph and the “crown of thorns”/circlet of rushes!

    • Max patrick Hamon
      October 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      The reliquary keep was made when Geoffroy of Charny was still alive (and thus can be dated around 1350 c. CE) while the badge in se, most likely dates back to late 14th-early 15th c. CE. This is the subtlety Ian Wilson totally missed.

  4. Max patrick Hamon
    October 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Could Charles show us late 14th- early 15th c. CE iconography or present us literary descriptions of so called “‘disciples’ acting out a presentation in which they would enter a makeshift tomb and bring out the grave clothes to show that Christ had indeed risen”. There is neither literary nor iconographic ground for it!

    • Max patrick Hamon
      October 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Only canons, bishops and archbishops could hold it bare-handed then…

    • Max patrick Hamon
      October 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      I mean “bring out the grave clothes”, the Lirey Shroud included.

  5. October 24, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Or, make the Image again to a tee

    • October 24, 2014 at 1:47 am

      As I am totally tied up with leading my tour group, and have contributed many comments to this theme, I am now opting out. I need to concentrate on getting it around other sources. As I have said, it will be at least a year before we know whether my article has been accepted by specialists in the areas it covers or not and, while several havE already been of help to me, I must concentrate on discussions with them.
      There only seems to have been one comment that the open-minded Guardian removed and that was by one John Klotz.

      • Nabber
        October 24, 2014 at 8:55 am

        With all due respect, “don’t hurry back” ….

        • October 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

          Completely uncalled for and uncharitable.

  6. Sampath Fernando
    October 24, 2014 at 5:02 am

    As an Engineer I felt that a Historian who doesn’t know how to paint or print that image on a piece of linen with current technology wrote that article in the Guardian to gain some sort of cheap publicity.

  7. October 24, 2014 at 5:34 am

    There only seems to have been one comment that the open-minded Guardian removed and that was by one John Klotz.

    That sems to show how open-minded Guardian actually is.

    emma08:

    It would be nice to see a counter article from someone of repute.
    Perhaps de wesselow.

    De Wesselow is even worse than Freeman. I have read his book -and I can say it is not worth the paper on on which it has been printed. It really adds nothing to our knowledge of the Shroud -it is only a (very) cheap attempt to use the Shroud to attack Christianity (not the first one in fact). De Wesselow presents his anti-Christian sentiment wherever it is possible, even if it is completely irrelevant to the main thread. Just like Freeman, it appears his main goal is to spread confusion, deceive and divert people from Christianity -with all the means possible.

    • October 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

      The wise man can learn more than the fool, than the fool from the wise man. If you can’t see the value of De Wesselow’s work, you have sealed yourself in an echo chamber.

      • October 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

        I have seen -the negative value of it, after I have read the book, have you David?

        • October 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

          What is the negative value? That it could convince a person that the Shroud itself spawned the Jesus movement? It’s an interesting theory but one that, if a person does any kind of further research and reflection, crumbles quickly. The value (to the authentist) in his book is his acknowledging that the Shroud does not fit, from an art history perspective, a medieval artisan’s handy-work.

          Again, if a reader comes away from that book thinking the author has explained away the origins of Christianity — that reader has only themselves to blame for their new found ignorance.

        • Louis
          October 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

          There is a problem when it comes to Jesus’s resurrection and there are various reasons why it is being challenged.

          For agnostics like de Wesselow, the Shroud is the Resurrection and, whatever the value of his book in demonstrating that the relic is not a painting, his interpretation of the New Testament is wrong:
          https://www.academia.edu/4691390/Book_review_The_Sign_by_Thomas_de_Wesselow

          Some others challenge the belief on other grounds, which also do not prove anything:
          https://www.academia.edu/7556467/Jesus_was_not_buried_in_Talpiot_-_Parts_I_and_II
          Part IV will be written shortly.

          Just an empty tomb with an empty shroud — with no image — would not give rise to Christianity. The Jesus Movement was a Resurrection Movement, not an Empty Tomb movement. That is clear in the NT, and doubting Thomas’ incredulity illustrates this.

        • Louis
          October 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

          Here is Part III:
          https://www.academia.edu/7471223/Jesus_was_not_buried_in_Talpiot_-_Part_III
          Part IV will be one nail in the coffin of the documentary/book, something that was hidden from the public in the midst of the hype.

        • October 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

          These are excellent resources, Louis. Thanks.

        • Louis
          October 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

          Thanks for the remarks, David G. I added G because there are other Davids around!
          Keep tuned while some fine tuning is done by me.

  8. Dan
    October 24, 2014 at 7:38 am

    It is spreading: Christianity Today, NBC, Daily Mail, Yahoo News,

  9. Louis
    October 24, 2014 at 8:08 am

    O.K. I hope John will post the comment deleted by the “Guardian” here. You must have observed that in the Western world God is going ‘out’, and scepticism is coming ‘in’, that is why the news outlets spread any new bit of news, but they are mostly neutral.
    People are looking for palpable signs that God exists, or that what Christ said is true. C.G. Jung first believed in Christ, then hung a copy of the Shroud face in his study:
    https://www.academia.edu/6823292/What_did_Jung_see_in_the_Shroud

  10. Louis
    October 24, 2014 at 8:22 am

    A “loincloth painted on” the Shroud is ridiculous, it is an attempt to do away with a strong point in favour of authenticity.See the first comment on this thread.

  11. October 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

    What is the negative value?

    I could have said that ‘negative value’ is the cash I paid for de Wesselow’s book.

    The value (to the authentist) in his book is his acknowledging that the Shroud does not fit, from an art history perspective, a medieval artisan’s handy-work.

    But one doesn’t need de Wesselow to come to this conclusion. Actually his book added virtually nothing to my knowledge of the Shroud. I expected that he, as a Cambridge art historian would add some proffesional arguments from artistic representations of Christ in ancient Christian arts supporting the authenticity of the Shroud, however he has added nothing that has been previously unknown to me. Actually de Weselow pays little interest to proving that the Shroud once covered Jesus’ body, and his arguments to this point are nothing extraordinary -one doesn’t need PhD in art history (or anything) just some plain common sense. The actual history of the Shroud is largely irrelevant to him. I have got impression that he is interested only in attacking and disproving Christianity, and the Shroud itself is only a mean to achieve this goal. No matter his thesis is absurd (I suppose he is fully aware of that), the goal is just to make noise, and if a few naive people give credit to that, it would be his bonus.

  12. Don
    October 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Charles Freeman is just another Joe Nickell.

  1. November 4, 2014 at 9:51 am
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