Hank Hanegraaff on the Shroud of Turin

Popular Evangelical Christian radio talk-show host, Hank Hanegraaff, known to listeners as the Bible Answer Man responds to a question concerning the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin, as well as the Ark of the Covenant and Noah’s Ark:

Link to Video

Charles Freeman’s theory now in Wikipedia

imageFour days ago, the Wikipedia entry, History of the Shroud of Turin (not to be confused with the main entry Shroud of Turin) was updated by user Charle Freeman (that is correct, no s) to add “fuller summary of my article written for History Today.”

This is it and it may be found under the section heading, Historical attributions:

History Today article

In an article published by History Today in November 2014, British scholar Charles Freeman analyses early depictions and descriptions of the Shroud and argues that the iconography of the bloodstains and all-over scourge marks are not known before 1300 and the Shroud was a painted linen at that date, now much decayed and faded. As it was unlikely that a forger would have deceived anyone with a single cloth with images on it, Freeman seeks an alternative function. He goes on to argue that the Shroud was a medieval prop used in Easter ritual plays depicting the resurrection of Christ. He believes it was used in a ceremony called the ‘Quem Quaeritis?‘ or ‘whom do you seek?’ which involved re-enacting gospel accounts of the resurrection, and is represented as such in the well-known Lirey pilgrim badge. As such it was deservedly an object of veneration from the fourteenth century as it is still is today.[50][51]

Hat tip to OperaLady

How many cities can you identify on the back?

Is that Turin, Italy in 2015?  Is that Atlanta?

Front of the Shroud Expo T Shirt. The Expo is now in San Antonio:


And the back:


STERA’s Annual Fundraising Campaign

imageBarrie Schwortz writes on the STERA Facebook page:

Our next website update marks the official start of our annual end-of-year fundraising campaign. As you know, STERA, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies, in part, on the generosity of our viewers to help maintain the website and our other projects. You can safely make a tax deductible contribution online using your credit/debit card or PayPal via our Secure Contribution Form at https://www.shroud.com/steraform.htm. In appreciation, those who contribute $100.00 or more will receive a special gift for their kindness. Thank you for your support!

STERA, Inc. Secure Contribution Form


Welcome to the STERA, Inc. Secure Contribution Form. Your credit/debit card information will be sent in 256 bit encrypted form for your security. To use your Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card, carefully complete and submit the form below….

STERA is an approved 501(c)(3), “Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organization.” Therefore, if you file taxes in the United States, your contribution may be tax deductible. I hope you will give generously to the organization, which maintains the shroud.com website and supports other independent activities related to the Shroud of Turin.

STERA is not large enough to be rated by any of the major charity rating services. However, the following data is available from the IRS via Charity Navigator. You may want to review STERA’s latest Form 990 or 990EZ (according to Charity Navigator the latest form on file is for December, 2012). Please be aware that with small organizations, asset, revenue and expenses amounts can be very volatile year-to-year and are therefore often not good indicators*.

  • EIN:   26-3322158
  • Street Address:   1094 HIGHLAND MEADOWS DR
  • City, State, Zip:   FLORISSANT, CO 80816-8818
  • NTEE Code:   X99
  • NTEE Classification:   Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C.
  • NTEE Type:   Religion-Related, Spiritual Development
  • Classification:   Educational Organization
  • Subsection:   501(c)(3) 
  • Foundation Status:   This information is temporarily unavailable from the IRS
  • Deductibility: Contributions are deductible
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • Group Name: [Not Applicable]
  • Ruling Date: July, 2009
  • Asset Amount:   $13,457 for 2012*
  • Income Amount:    $71,754 for 2012*
  • Form 990 Revenue Amount:   $71,754 for 2012*
  • Latest Form 990 Return:   December, 2012
  • Filing Requirement:  990 (all other) or 990EZ return
  • Fiscal Year End:  December
  • IRS Forms 990 On File:  December, 2012; December, 2011; December, 2010

* According to forms 990EZ, Part I, Line1, “Contributions, gifts, grants, and similar amounts received” in 2010 were $82,924; in 2011 were $ 36,061 and in 2012 were $71,754. Amounts for 2013 are not available at this time from Charity Navigator or other known online sources.

Scientists, after all, are human

germ theory, flat Earth versus round Earth, Galileo’s observations, the double helix,
Shroud of Turin, stem-cell research, and climate change

imageProfessor E.A. Shinn, at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, in a special to the Tampa Tribune asks and answers: Are there two kinds of people? Yes! 

As I age, I have come to notice that scientists, although trained to consider only facts, are as susceptible to accepting and promoting one set of facts while rejecting other equally valid sets of data as do laypersons. This is especially true when the facts are similar and especially those based on computer models and when the subject has political or economic implications. Such considerations can mean the difference between getting funding and being unfunded. Scientists, after all, are human, and scientific controversy has always been with us, whether it be germ theory, flat Earth versus round Earth, Galileo’s observations, the double helix, Shroud of Turin, stem-cell research, and now the latest, climate change.

Funding for Shroud of Turin research?

I think HE sees?

Just in case you were wondering about the Machy mould being discussed in The Conspiracy of the Faux-Sweat Imprint, here is some more information. These images,above, are  from Colin Berry’s blog (in fact we are looking at them there through something of a wormhole in the way you can structure things on the web).

Tell me: do you see the image on the left? Are HIS eyes open? Compare the face on the left to the image of a face elsewhere on the mold of someone holding the shroud.

It helps to see the size of this thing. Here is a picture of  Alain Hourseau, the owner of the mold, holding it in his hands.

And finally here, below, is a good picture of the whole mold. Is that face from one of the Veronicas? Again, I ask: are the eyes open? Is this a case of I think I see too much?

Me thinks so! And does it really matter?

BTW: It was Colin back in February who wrote this healthy swipe:

That was in the mid-1350s, accompanied by at least two promotional pilgrims’ badges’  The first and better known lead/tin one in the Cluny museum, dredged up from the Seine in 1855,  without any obvious Christ-like figure, and the (later?) revisionist version (see Ian Wilson’s pdf  in the BSTS Newsletter on the Machy mould) that has the added Veronica- style in vivo motif of Christ’s face as an additional inset image above the word SUAIRE ( signalling a “sweat-imprinted face cloth” and no doubt attempting to suggest, even subliminally, that the entire Shroud image was likewise a sweat imprint, albeit post-mortem).

The surplus-to-requirements and source or confusion face and label on the Machy mould above "SUAIRE" (left) and one contender (right) for title of surviving Veil of Veronica (from wiki entry for latter), i.e. the Holy Face of Jaen.

The surplus-to-requirements and source or confusion face and label on the Machy mould above “SUAIRE” (left) and  just one several similar images that could have chosen  to represent the Veil of Veronica, the one shown here described as a 14th century “copy” ,  entitled the ‘Holy Face of Jaen’.

What better way than piggybacking, seen with the addition of a motif of the famed pilgrim-attracting Veil of Veronica  (Fr. Le voile de Véronique)  with its alleged imprint of the face of Jesus en route to Calvary, imprinted we are told in sweat.  Contrary view (or a prioriassumption): Mario Latendresse describes it as “the face of the man on the Shroud”.

And from Hong Kong

Angelo Paratico has a nice quick synopsis of the modern day study of the shroud in Beyond Thirty-Nine, a blog he co-authors from Hong Kong. The posting is called  The Turin’s Shroud – a Mystery hidden into a Riddle.

clip_image001In Hong Kong we have one of the world’s great experts in the science of Sindonology, which is the study of the Shroud of Turin, known as Sindone in Italian. A Hong Kong resident since 1970, William Meacham, is an archeologist and a professor at HKU. He has many books published under his name and in particular there is one which is often cited by sindonologists: The Rape of the Shroud published in 2005.

In 1978 a special commission received permission to investigate scientifically this mysterious fabric, which appeared out of nowhere in Lirey, France, in the year 1353. This commission was called STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project). It started well, but soon descended into a factional war between bickering scientists and reluctant cardinals. Being these the basis, it is not surprising that the results, instead of clearing the waters, made them even murkier.

The book of Prof. Meacham is an highly scientific and well researched work, as he was one of the experts summoned to Italy and involved in the dating project of the Shroud, but was later sidelined by a group of people with a narrow view of what they were examining and, perhaps, lacking the necessary expertise. . . .

[ . . . ]

The validity of the C14 radiocarbon dating was put in doubt from the very beginning, and for a number of good reasons. We’ll limit ourselves to the most basic ones, noting only that it is hard to believe how scientists could act so clumsily. . . .

They found that where the image appeared there were no traces of pigments or colors, and it was certainly not obtained by heating or printing. . . .

Did anyone tell Charles and Colin? Be right back

Here is some show off trivia:

This relict had remained a property of the royal house of Italy, the Savoy, until 1983 when it was finally bequeathed to the Vatican by the last king of Italy, Umberto II, in his testament. Curiously this donation had been challenged, because what did belong to the last king should have been taken over by the republican government of Italy in 1946 but this matter is still taking dust in the Italian Parliament, as more pressing matters concerning the economy are at hand.

Akiane Kramarik, The Prince of Peace and the Shroud of Turin

imageimageJustin Jones, yesterday, in The Daily Beast, writes in Blessed or Cursed? Child Prodigies Reveal All:

“I wake up after I have had many dreams,” Akiane added. “I wake up and I pray, and then I see visions and I explain all those to my mom,” who would give her canvases to re-create them. They even led her to paint “The Prince of Peace,” a portrait of Jesus completed when she was ten. The model: a carpenter who showed up to her house looking for work.

“Some researches actually analyzed my work and compared the Shroud of Turin with… this painting,” Akiane told Katie Couric earlier this year. The Shroud of Turin is the alleged cloth Jesus was buried in after he was crucified. “They said it was almost 80 to 90 per cent accurate.”  (bolding emphasis mine)

Also See

Posting on the Holy Shroud Guild Facebook Page

imageAbout six hours ago, Giorgio Bracaglia posted the following on The Holy Shroud Guild Facebook page, which he manages:

By December I am planning to do a research survey with this audience. The topics will be about GMO (Monsanto) and Ray Rogers’ 2005 Thermochimica Acta manuscript. The articles are designed to represent faithfully only one perspective.Your task will be to read the two short essays (1/2 page each) and respond accordingly based on the readings. 5 questions in total for each topic.

I am hoping to send out the links by the first week of December.

I am hoping for at least 30 responses.
Thank you


GMO and Monsanto in the same breath can only mean genetically modified organisms, and the context would be agricultural products.

The Holy Shroud Guild was the oldest American Shroud organization and is a ministry of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (The Redemptorists). For well over a half a century, the Holy Shroud Guild served and cooperated with the Centro in Turin, Italy.

Today under the supervision of Giorgio Bracaglia, The Holy Shroud Guild’s past is the present. Archiving thousands of materials so that we can preserve the greatness of the Holy Shroud Guild and its founders that will reach out to new generation and continue the research for the future.

The Conspiracy of the Faux-Sweat Imprint

Colin Berry: I have set out a possible scenario that led to the TS being
fabricated as a rival attraction to the Veil of Veronica, indeed one that built
on the established credentials of the Veronica . . . as perceived by those at the time,
and which later . . . came to supplant the Veronica as the Church’s new “central icon”
(to borrow Neil McGregor’s words re the 14th century Veronica).

Colin’s old blog site, Shroud of Turin Without All The Hype (or something like that) has sprung back to life after several months, reincarnated as The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? The blog that separates the science from the pseudo-science…. The first posting since March is The Shroud of Turin: probably not miraculous, just a simulated sweat imprint – a triumph of medieval joined-up thinking.

(the 3D, negative scorch image, right, resides
on Colin’s blog, click on the image to see
a larger version)

There must have been at least some who, viewing, or even hearing of the Veil, [ca. 1350] must have asked themselves: how can plain old perspiration (“sweat” in common parlance) imprint an image on cloth? What would it look like initially? What would it look like a day later, a week later, a century or millennium later? And among those people, might there be just one individual who then asked themselves an audacious question: could or might the process be simulated, or to put it baldly, faked? Could one pass off an entirely and audaciously  man-made image as that of a divine sweat image? And if that were the case, what would be the most profitable way of doing that? Content oneself with producing a face imprint that was superior to that on the Veil, and claim that one had the “real” version, and that the one in Rome was the fake? Or avoid any such controversy and unpleasantness. Instead, marshall one’s technology to make an even more audacious claim, namely that one had not only an image that captured the face of Jesus, but that of his entire body! How could that be done? Was there a scenario from the New Testament gospels that might be adduced to back one’s claim?

Certainly there was, and it’s one that occurred just a day or two AFTER the crucifixion. It was the initial placement by Joseph of Arimathea of Jesus on  a costly sheet of linen, conveniently with no reference at this stage to the body being cleaned of blood and other bodily secretions, notably sweat.

Already a plan for developing that germ of an idea was taking shape. What were the criteria that could be adopted first to produce a whole body imprint of the crucified Jesus that would pass muster, yet importantly pose no threat to the status of the Veil?

Just a sampling here to give you an idea of what Colin is talking about and to encourage you to read . . . just a simulated sweat imprint . . . :

1. The image must NOT be mistaken for anything but a burial shroud. A single image of the frontal side might be mistaken for some kind of painted portrait. Solution: imprint BOTH sides of the body, align them head to head making it seems as though  . . .

[ . . . ]

5. Choose a weave that is receptive to one’s imprinting process. A twill weave  (e.g. herringbone 3/1 weave) has more flat areas than a simple 1/1 criss-cross one.

[ . . . ]

13. Feet are a problem. Does one terminate the dorsal imprint at the heel, as would be expected, thereby leaving an image lacking feet? Or does one image-imprint off a template as if the linen had been pulled up around the heels and pulled tight against the soles to capture those surfaces as well (creating an option for adding blood imprints too on soles of feet issuing from crucifixion nail holes)? Go for that latter option, since human intervention with enveloping a  shroud around the feet is not inconsistent with the the 1st century rock tomb scenario and indeed serves to enhance it.

14. The chin and neck are also problematical. Cloth laid loosely over the frontal surface would tend to bridge from chin to chest, creating a detached floating head with no neck. But cloth that imaged the neck, as if it had followed all the contours would risk imaging the underside of the chin too, making the neck look too long. Some compromise is needed, to get some neck and not too much underside of chin. Maybe simulate a crease at the chin to suggest there had been pressure applied to the linen, manual, or maybe from having a ‘neck tie’ of some kind that would not itself be imaged.

15. Loin cloth? . . .  Finer sensibilities must take a back seat. . . .

16. Frontal nudity? Use crossed hands to cover the genital area. Take liberties with human anatomy if necessary (slightly overlong arms and fingers).

Is it fair to call this a conspiracy theory?  No!  That is why I didn’t use the word theory in the title. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but it is clear that Colin intends to support his conjecture, indeed subsume the conjecture under science.

Quote for Today: Historical criteria do not fall from the sky

clip_image001Tristan Casabianca in a comment yesterday wrote:

Ockham’s razor (criterion of simplicity) is not at all the main weapon in the hands of historians and philosophers. For sure, it is the most popular, the most discussed, but not the most important.

From my article published last year in the Heythrop Journal (“The Shroud of Turin: A Historiographical Approach”):

Historical criteria do not fall from the sky; they are part of a slowly-built-up methodology routinely used by historians, whatever may be their opinion on the subject being discussed. This article will use criteria specified by Christopher Behan McCullagh. One can list these in order of priority from the most important to the least; this list, while not written in stone, provides a general idea of the most important conditions to satisfy. Thus one has: 1) plausibility: does our knowledge in other well-known fields support or reinforce the hypothesis? 2) Explanatory scope: can the hypothesis do justice to all the facts? 3) Explanatory power: the hypothesis has to be specific and accurate, rather than ambiguous. 4) Less ad hoc: ceteris paribus, the hypothesis should not invoke or rely on unverified data (this includes the criterion of simplicity). 5) Illumination: does the hypothesis shed light on other widely accepted phenomena? This last criterion was added by Licona who believes it contributes further specification.

It was published in the May 2013 edition of the Heythrop Journal (Volume 54, Issue 3). You can access the article if you have institutional or societal privileges. You can rent it for forty-eight hours for $6.00, read the cloud copy for $15.00 or buy the PDF file with full retention and printing privileges for $35.00.

OR, FOR FREE you can read, save and print a not-quite-final version found at shroud.com

Presentation: The Day the Shroud Foiled Hitler

imageRuss Breault posts on the Shroud Encounter Facebook page:

Anyone near Cleveland, Ohio? I will be at Cuyahoga Community College–East Campus on Thursday 11/20 at 12:00 Noon. It will be in room 2410 in the Student Services Bldg. The presentation is "THE DAY THE SHROUD FOILED HITLER" and documents his obsession with the occult and how he obtained the Spear of Destiny from Austria, his search for the Holy Grail and ultimately his attempt to steal the Shroud. From 1939 to 1946 the cloth was taken to a Benedictine monastery 150 miles south of Rome and hidden inside an altar. The Nazis came looking for it first in Turin in April of 1943 and later in September at the monastery…but they never found their prize. How did it happen? Come hear the untold story!

A scorch is a scorch, of course, of course,

imageColin Berry tells us, I’ve been misunderstood. I did not claim that the Turin Shroud image was an actual sweat imprint – only that is was made to SEEM like a sweat imprint.

Got it? I thought I had. And I thought most of us had. But:

As the comments on other Shroud sites, to say nothing of editorial content, become increasingly bizarre, it’s time to set out my own stall more carefully to avoid misunderstanding.

In my last posting I made what I consider to be a major new claim  regarding the faint body image on Turin Shroud – one for which I not unnaturally expect credit if it finds general support – and brickbats if not.

Nope, I don’t seek commercial gain, nor media celebrity but do expect academic kudos if as I hope my ideas prove to be the correct ones- and I have reason to believe that the "simulated sweat imprint" idea is not only original, except for one passing mention discovered yesterday in googling.  Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s a  PARADIGM SHIFT , one that will require a major rethink about the TS and how it was able to capture the imagination through engendering assumptions that never got properly questioned, even to this day.

It goes to the heart, not just of science and the scientific method vis-a-vis other methods of enquiry. It has a huge amount to say about the theory of knowledge in general – and the way in which our view of the natural and material world can be coloured by our preconceptions, faulty as often as not).

[ . . . ]

But just because it was intended to be seen that way does NOT mean that the medieval artisan set out to create an image with sweat, or even simulated sweat, or indeed any liquid concoction whatsoever. . . .

Okay, some people misunderstood, maybe.

. . . Why is the scorch hypothesis still in the frame? Answer: because it seems as good a way as any for SIMULATING a sweat imprint, given a contact scorch from a hot template can be as faint and superficial as one wishes – it being a fairly simple and straightforward matter to control image intensity. What’s more, while the medieval artisan would not have known it, the resulting image would centuries later respond to modern technology, starting with photography and light/dark reversed  images ("negatives") on silver-coated emulsions, giving the "haunting" photograph-like positive image revealed by Secondo Pia (1898), and later still the remarkable response to 3D-rendering software etc.

. . . The field is wide open to others to come up with alternative suggestions and test them

Was that a scorch imitating sweat or sweat imitating a scorch?

Maybe Friar Ockham was wrong

The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why?
On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice,
the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true?

imageThis past week I was reading an excerpt-as-an-article in Salon. It was taken from Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart by  Lex Bayer (left) and John Figdor (right). Salon packaged the excerpt as The new atheist commandments: Science, philosophy and principles to replace religion. Therein, the authors argue that “Atheism need not be reactionary — it can offer constructive rules to live by.”

“Stand back, Moses: Here’s our shot,” Bayer and Figdor say in the Salon lead.

Bumptious pompousity, if not part of stand up comedy, is reactionary; I guess they don’t get it. Or maybe they are just being flip. Anyway, it was a turn off. I thought about powering down the laptop for the night but the next sentence caught my attention:

We begin by suggesting a framework of secular belief. It begins with the simple question, How can I justify any of my beliefs?

I had to read on.

[W] e quickly realize that every belief is based on other preexisting beliefs. . . .

. . . Instead of presuming source beliefs are beliefs based on faith, let’s instead regard them as the starting assumptions for a logical proof. We can put forth a set of core assumptions and then develop a broader system of belief based on those assumptions. If the resulting system fails to create a cohesive and comprehensive system of belief, then we can start over. The initial assumptions can then be reformulated until a set is found that does lead to a consistent, meaningful “theorem of life.”

One method is . . .

to favor simplicity. This is called Ockham’s razor, after the fourteenth-century philosopher and theologian William of Ockham. The “razor” refers to any principle that helps narrow possibilities. This principle states that the answer that requires the fewest assumptions while explaining all of the facts is most likely to be correct.

But the authors caution us about this:

If we apply the razor to our search for source beliefs, it follows that a system of beliefs that requires fewer source beliefs has a greater likelihood of being valid. In other words, the fewer leaps of faith (unjustifiable source beliefs) required in order to create a system of belief, the less faith we need and the more confident we can be in the outcome.

Of course, it’s possible to misuse this concept—typically by ignoring the requirement to explain all the facts. For example, the hypothesis that height alone determines a person’s weight is a lot simpler than the notion that the complex interplay of a few dozen genes, diet, and exercise does so. But the simpler explanation fails to explain all the facts—namely, the stunning range of actual variation we see in real-life height-to-weight ratios. The five-foot-five sumo wrestler who weighs a hundred pounds more than the six-foot-nine basketball player presents an instant (and fatal) problem for the simpler answer. Thus, simpler is better so long as it explains all the facts.

Not being able to justify is not parsimonious unless you can be certain that you have all the facts. It’s not just not explaining all the facts. It’s knowing what the facts are that can be the problem. 

How often do we invoke Ockham’s Razor in this blog? In just the first half of this month we have have encountered:

  • Charles Freeman responding to John Green: 

    I still cannot see why you think the Shroud is outside the ordinary as a physical object other than that it was kept rather than being thrown away as we know most linens were after their colours had faded. Still please go on with your researches. You are certainly not into Occam Razor country!

  • John Klotz reacting to Charles Freeman:

    Amid all the tumult an debate, I think that applying Occam’s razor, the simplest solution, requiring the fewest assumptions is that the Shroud is what it purports to be, the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

  • Colin Berry addressing Charles Freeman:

    It’s the subtlety of the TS image , both as-is, and the way it responds to modern technology that should have told you the TS was no ordinary image, certainly not painted. Flaked-off paint? The onus is on you to deal with Occam’s Razor.

  • And Colin Berry addressing the lack of directionality in the images:

    Is it any wonder that some see the subject itself as the source of radiant energy, wavelength usually unspecified, albeit with handy orthogonal projection and ability to ‘scorch’ linen across air gaps, provided (a) they don’t exceed 3.7cm and (b) Occams’s razor is kept in its protective sheath.

  • Two and a half years ago I posted the following:

Taking Ockham’s Razor to Ockham’s Razor

imageThere is a whole lot of wisdom in a brief paper by Massimo Pigliucci over at Rationally Speaking:

. . . Philosophers often refer to this as the principle of economy, while scientists tend to call it parsimony. Skeptics invoke it every time they wish to dismiss out of hand claims of unusual phenomena (after all, to invoke the “unusual” is by definition unparsimonious, so there).

. . . The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why? On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice, the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true? Setting aside the surprisingly difficult task of operationally defining “simpler” in the context of scientific hypotheses (it can be done, but only in certain domains, and it ain’t straightforward), there doesn’t seem to be any particular logical or metaphysical reason to believe that the universe is a simple as it could be.

What proof is there that the philosopher Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1288-1348) was right? How much science has been decided by taking leap of faith in Ockham?

Both sides in the Shroud of Turin debate invoke Ockham  as a weapon of choice, it seems, in every debate.

A MUST READ: Razoring Ockham’s razor

John of . . . , John the . . . , Servant of the Priest? That Also?

In conclusion, the identity of the Beloved Disciple remains a debatable
(and perhaps irresolvable) issue.

imageStephen Jones is up with an interesting introduction to the second installment of his Servant of the Priest entry into the Shroud of Turin encyclopedia he is writing:

Several early Christian writings record that the resurrected Jesus gave His shroud to different individuals. . . . A third possibility, which seems not to have been previously considered, is that "the servant of the priest" was the Apostle John, of whom there is historical and Biblical evidence that he was a priest and that he may have even been a servant in the High Priest’s household. This latter possibility, that Jesus took His Shroud with Him out of the empty tomb and later gave it to the Apostle John, seems the most likely.

St. John the Evangelist? John of Patmos? John the Beloved Disciple?

Fascinating. But John the who? All of the above? And more?

Last month,  Cornelis Bennema uploaded a paper to Academia.edu on The Historical Reliability of the Gospel of John. Around page 14 we encounter a discussion of the authorship:

If we can accept that the Beloved Disciple is the author of this Gospel, the next issue is to decide on his identity. The variety of candidates that scholars have proposed for his identity (e.g., John of Zebedee, John the Elder, Lazarus, Thomas, Nathanael) should warn us to tread carefully and modestly. It seems that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is deliberately kept anonymous in the Gospel, which implies that he cannot be one of the named disciples in the Gospel and hence we can rule out the identification with Lazarus, Thomas or Nathanael. Nonetheless, Bauckham argues that while the Gospel uses the literary device of anonymity, it does not want to conceal the identity of the Beloved Disciple and it is highly likely that the original readers knew who the Beloved Disciple was. Besides, the title “according to John” was probably included in the Gospel from the outset, thus strengthening the argument that some of the first audience knew this John. We must therefore probe further by looking at the internal and external evidence.

[ . . . ]

In conclusion, the identity of the Beloved Disciple remains a debatable (and perhaps irresolvable) issue. Yet, even if we cannot ascertain beyond doubt the identity of the Beloved Disciple, what is relevant is that he was an eyewitness from the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry to the end and present at key moments. John’s Gospel emphasises the function of the Beloved Disciple within the Johannine narrative (as the reliable eyewitness to Jesus) rather than his identity. The most important contribution of the Beloved Disciple has been the writing of this Gospel where his testimony has been carefully preserved.  Although the Beloved Disciple was not necessarily one of the Twelve, if we consider his privileged and intimate relationship with Jesus (13:23) and his “rivalry” with Peter, it seems likely that he was. . . . All things considered, I propose that John of Zebedee is the most likely candidate, but John the Elder is a serious contender. Yet, we should not exaggerate the issue of authorship with regard to the historical reliability of the Gospel of John because an account from John of Zebedee is not necessarily more reliable than one from John the Elder. Nor is an account written by an eyewitness (e.g., John’s Gospel) necessarily more reliable than one written by someone else but based on an eyewitness account (e.g., Luke’s Gospel).

St. John, Servant of the Priest?  Let’s see where Stephen takes us as he continues his posting.

Weakened image fibers

imageA reader writes:

I was reading Colin Berry’s recent posting which makes an important claim, namely that it is impossible for the image to have been formed without heat. He reasons that the mechanical weakness of image fibers is evidence of this.

The posting, for those who would like to refer to it, is Checklist of reasons for thinking the Turin Shroud image represents a dried-on sweat imprint. Real 1st century or simulated 14th century?  The following paragraph is certainly what the reader is referring to:

It’s entirely impossible for the image to have been formed with no application of heat. I have a permanently-stained shirt from the time I helped clear an overgrown garden. There are plant saps that leave yellow stains that are absolutely permanent – which will not wash out, even with hot water and detergent. But my money’s on a thermal component. Why? Because of a little-remarked upon property of TS image fibres, namely their mechanical weakness. Why should that be, given the core of each linen fibre is predominantly tough old cellulose? That’s a possible lead I’m chasing up right at this moment.

The reader continues:

When I Googled <weakened image fibers on the Shroud of Turin> I discovered a paper by Robert Villarreal called THE ALPHA- PARTICLE IRRADIATION HYPOTHESIS: SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF THE SHROUD. He speaks of weakened fibers caused by alpha-particle irradiation. That causes heat.

I think the reader is referring to the program for the St. Louis Conference (to the best of my knowledge, the actual paper has not been published yet). Therein we read Bob Villarreal saying:

In a personal communication with Ray, he related to me that the fibers from the body image areas of the shroud seemed to be removed more easily than those from non-image areas. It was as if whatever process created the body image had in some way slightly weakened the shroud fibers at that point they became more friable. Ray was a physical and thermal chemist and not an analytical or radio chemist. If he had been the latter, he might have recognized that he had stumbled on to what caused the images on the Shroud. . . .

Okay! But I don’t think Colin Berry and Bob Villarreal are going down the same path with this. 

God in his lab

It’s a reminder that God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions,
can do whatever he likes

Never heard it expressed quite like that before. Mark Shea, over in his Catholic and Enjoying It blog is answering a reader.

A reader writes:

. . . Merely because there is no biblical reference to something does not make it a fake. The Bible is not intended to be the Big Book of Everything. John himself attests that there are plenty of things Jesus said and did that don’t make it into the biblical record (Jn 21:25). So lack of mention in Scripture does not necessarily make something a fake.

Likewise, the Shroud’s emergence into the documentary record in the 14th century doesn’t necessarily mean it was created at that time. Indeed, one of the problems of the Shroud is that nobody, even today, can make another one, which argues for its genuineness.

. . .  It’s a reminder that God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, can do whatever he likes . . .

Weaving Fan a.k.a. Colin Berry?

While reading what follows, please be aware that Colin Berry denies
that he is Weaving Fan. I believe him. I trust him. We all should.

I knew this sounded really familiar. This month two years ago we were talking about the 3 over 1 herringbone cloth in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (see previous posting).

First we go to Stephen Jones’ blog where Stephen has written:

Weave. The cloth’s weave is known as "3 to 1 twill" because each transversal weft thread passes alternatively over three and under one of the longitudinal warp threads[16]. This gives the weave the appearance of diagonal lines which reverse direction at regular intervals to create a herringbone pattern[17]. Such complex herringbone three to one twill weaves are known from antiquity, for example, from Egypt and Syria, but they are not known from the Middle Ages.[18]

The footnote (18) points to Ian Wilson, ("The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, 2010, pp.74-75).

Someone calling himself Weaving Fan disputed Stephen in his blog:

S’uch complex three to one twill weaves are known from ‘antiquity, for example, from Egypt and Syria, but they are not known from the Middle Ages.’

This is surely not true- your source was certainly not someone who knew about textiles- 3/1 was used extensively especially in ecclesiastical vestments . As one commentator says `’Tablet-woven 3/1 was used to create some of the most elaborately patterned bands of the Middle Ages. Collingwood’s Techniques of Tablet Weaving (TTW) illustrates some amazing examples, including the maniple from Arlon, which is my favorite piece of tablet weaving."

The choice of twills is not difficult to make – 3/1 is fairly standard. Gilbert Raes said that the weave in itself could not be used to date the Shroud as examples go back to 800 Bc and certainly throughout the Roman period ( it was common for damask) and Middle Ages.

Stephen shot back. First he quotes Ian Wilson:

A further highly unusual feature of the Shroud’s linen is the weave itself. … an altogether more complex three-to-one herringbone twill … To make it, the weaver would have had to pass each weft (or transverse) thread alternately under three warp (or vertical) threads, then over on; creating diagonal lines. At regular intervals he or she would then have had to reverse direction to create the distinctive zigzags. …Even among textile experts, therefore, the search for parallels to the Shroud, whether from the Middle Ages or from further back in antiquity, has not been easy. This difficulty was made very evident when the British Museum’s Dr Michael Tite, the official invigilator for the 1988 carbon dating work, was looking for some historical samples of linen resembling the Shroud’s weave to use for controls. His plan was that the carbon dating laboratories should not know which of the samples had come from the actual Shroud. He even sought my help on this. But the plan failed. In order to provide controls that were at least all of linen he had to abandon the requirement that their weave should be herringbone. French specialist Gabriel Vial found much the same difficulty following his hands-on examination of the Shroud in 1988. There was literally no parallel that he could cite from the Middle Ages. … Vial found the era of antiquity itself – that is, around the time of Christ – significantly more productive …

But Stephen has more to say:

The fact is that Tite of the British Museum could NOT FIND a medieval piece of linen AT ALL which was 3:1 herringbone twill and therefore visually identical to the Shroud, so that the C14 dating labs could not tell which was the Shroud. But if medieval European 3:1 herringbone twill linen was so common as you claim it was, it would have been NO PROBLEM for Tite to obtain a POSTAGE STAMP sized sample of at least ONE of them.

Weaving Fan had said:

Wilson seems to imply that there were no similar herringbone cloths around in the Middle Ages. This is not true- it is simply that most are in museums (e.g the Victorian and Albert Museum in London) and can not be cut up to provide a control sample.

Stephen now has his hackles up:

This is FALSE. See above.

As I pointed out above, several aspects of your comment I found to be substandard and even offensive, and so according to my policies it should not have appeared (see below). I only allowed it to appear so that I could further refute your argument.

[ . . . ]

I suspected this "Weaving fan" above may have been Colin Berry, who has been permanently banned from commenting on this blog because of his continual substandard and offensive comments.

Now according to this post on Dan Porter’s blog it seems it was. Evidently Colin is not troubled by the ethics of posting comments to a blog where he has been banned, by the subterfuge of adopting a new pseudonym for the sole purpose of deceiving its Moderator.

But just as the leopard cannot change his spots, so it seems that Colin Berry cannot change his style, by not posting offensive and substandard comments! So whatever pseudonym Colin uses he won’t last long on my blog.

And now, of course, if we are not going bonkers by all this, we go to my blog. The link is two paragraphs up, but by now it is boring.

The 14th century 3 in 1 herring bone weave

imageCharles Freeman is commenting over at the History Today blog:

I am doing some work with a TV producer who is approaching weavers to recreate the Shroud weave- at the moment it looks as if only a medieval treadle loom could do it – but we shall see what the experts who specialise in treating early weaves ( it always amazes me that groups of such experts do exist!) come up with. One weaver apparently told me that she is furious she had got rid of her treadle loom as it would have been ideal.


P.S. This producer has already tracked down someone who has recreated a three in one herring bone weave as a commission for a church vestment. Whether they knew it or not ,the only other three in one herringbone linen, other than the Shroud, we know of is also from a church vestment dated to the fourteenth century-more circumstantial ,but only circumstantial, evidence that this weave was about at this time. I’d do think the evidence for authenticity is just not there and is being eroded by the day but there is nothing to stop anybody finding some evidence for an early date- it just has not been done yet so let the debate continue! (bolding emphasis mine)

Something Colin Berry wrote this morning reminded me of this

I remember someone arguing with me that the shroud was a replacement
shroud created in the 14th century after the original burial cloth was
destroyed in a fire. The original shroud’s image, caused by Jesus’ sweat,
was miraculously transferred from the ashes of the old shroud to the new cloth.
That would explain everything, wouldn’t it.

imageMoving on . . .

Stephen Jones, in his posting that attempts to show that Jesus took his shroud with him rather than leaving it behind in the tomb, brings Tom Wright, my favorite resurrection theology theologian, into play in a somewhat beyond-the-point rambling way:

And this is supported by no less than leading theologian N.T. Wright, in his magisterial ~850 page "The Resurrection of the Son of God" (2003), that John "came to his new belief … not simply on the basis of the emptiness of the tomb … but on the basis of what he deduced both from the fact that the grave-clothes had been left behind and from the position in which they were lying … they had not been unwrapped, but that the body had somehow passed through them":

"An apparent and striking counter-example to this proposal is found in John 20.8. The beloved disciple goes into the empty tomb, sees what Peter had seen a moment before (the grave-clothes lying, separate from the head-cloth), and believes. Could it be that in his case, or at least in the mind of the evangelist writing this, the empty tomb by itself was sufficient for the rise of his faith? The answer suggested by the text is ‘No’. The grave-clothes seem to be understood as a sign of what had happened to Jesus, a sign which would be the functional equivalent of the actual appearances of Jesus (John 20.19-23). The beloved disciple came to his new belief, the text wants us to understand, not simply on the basis of the emptiness of the tomb (which had been explained by Mary in verse 2 in terms of the removal of the body to an unknown location), but on the basis of what he deduced both from the fact that the grave-clothes had been left behind and from the position in which they were lying. He, like Thomas at the end of the chapter, saw something which elicited faith. The fact that the grave-clothes were left behind showed that the body had not been carried off, whether by foes, friends or indeed a gardener (verse 15). Their positioning, carefully described in verse 7, suggests that they had not been unwrapped, but that the body had somehow passed through them, much as, later on, it would appear and disappear through locked doors (verse 19). The conclusion holds, then: an empty tomb, by itself, could not have functioned as a sufficient condition of early Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection"[94]

That the body has passed through them? My current thinking du jour is that the body transcended material reality, perhaps time and space as we understand it. That doesn’t mean passing through anything or moving about in real space. I tentatively extend this thinking to the post resurrection appearances or apparitions. As for the image, I think it is somehow related to the resurrection but not the result of it.

THINGS YOU WISH YOU COULD FORGET:  I remember someone arguing with me that the shroud was a replacement shroud created in the 14th century after the original burial cloth was destroyed in a fire. The original shroud’s image, caused by Jesus’ sweat, was miraculously transferred from the ashes of the old shroud to the new cloth.  That would explain everything, wouldn’t it. 

A sweat imprint that is a negative which is comparable to a brass rubbing

a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint,
and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous
flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered
with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot.
– Colin Berry


imageColin, is developing a response to Thibault Heimburger over in the comments section of his blog where is feels better insulated from the acerbic comments of anoxie. Anoxie is not a troll, as Colin says.  He is more like a camp follower who goes about heckling politicians by yelling out annoying questions and comments whenever the politician stops to speak. Politicians learn to insulate themselves, not by moving to venues with guarded doorways where they can, like Stephen Jones, carefully exclude annoying and perhaps dissenting comments but by ignoring them.

Too bad. But to be honest, this blog is not exempt. Four people are completely blocked from commenting. Three of them are beyond being reasonable or being able to comprehend why they should be blocked. You would agree with my decision. One other person has been completely blocked after several lengthy email attempts by me to get him to control his frequent bursts of anger resulting in unjustifiable insults. Unfortunately, this last person, was a significant contributor to this blog even though I seldom agreed with him.

Again, this is too bad. Colin’s comments are important. So if you want to see what Colin is writing in response to Thibault, and you should, you will need to go here. Here is a tempting tidbit:

imageWell,we seem to be agreed on one thing, namely that the first people to lay eyes on the Shroud would have known what it represented, given the double image, but would have wanted to known how it was formed. If as I believe the image was always faint, our early viewer would have seen it as an imprint left by the body that was once inside the shroud. The view that it was an imprint, not a painting, would have been immediately reinforced by noting that the image is a negative, comparable to a brass rubbing.

In the absence of any documentary evidence to the contrary, and noting the words of St.Francis de Sales that the TS was the repository of blood AND sweat then it seems plain common sense to me that the TS represented a sweat imprint – and that’s without having to make any connections with the Veil of Veronica. But the fact that the latter was the Roman Church’s "central icon" in the 14th century according to the BM’s present director (Neil MacGregor) makes it a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint, and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot. The two ideas of human mortality and miraculous radiation hardly sit well together, would you not agree?

Really, a negative comparable to a brass rubbing? Generally brass rubbings tend to be mostly, at least in concept, two-tone negatives of line drawings. When there is shading, as in these these examples, it is coarse hatching and/or as a result of applied rubbing pressure. Something to think about. But would the negative connection be noted?

The take away quote is this, however:

. . . a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint, and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot.

Quite possibly so!


Over at History Today’s blog space

Cover Blurb:  Origins of the Turin Shroud: Solving history’s greatest mystery

imageIf by now you are thoroughly bored by the continuing coverage of Charles Freeman’s article, then ignore this. I promise many other topics as well.

The conversation is far from over. So if you are still with me we should take a look at History Today’s blog space. Here we find Charles attempting to defend his ‘it’s a painting’ assertion:

I am not sure why there should be something special physically about the Shroud and why it cannot be a ‘mere painting’. After all ,as my article shows, there is a mass of evidence that suggests it was just this . . .

And Terry Conspiracy putting the kibosh on:

The real issue, is whether the Shroud is a Medieval work of art, or not.

Well published scientific research has confirmed for most of us long ago, that whatever the Shroud is, and regardless of when exactly it was created, the Shroud of Turin is "not" a painting.

There are several highly respected teams of scientists and artists that have both invested and risked large portions of their careers by attempting to explain and/or replicate the process that created the image, and to date, none have even come close to being successful.

That is why it is still such a great mystery to ponder and speculate over.

What you fail to mention (I suspect deliberately) Charles, is that with the exception of the remaining stains of "human blood" that are still on the cloth, the actual image of Christ is virtually invisible to the eye up close, and it only takes on a vague human form at a distance.

All of the amazingly accurate "head to toe" evidence of scourging, the crown of thorns, and all the other chillingly accurate anatomical details of facial features, Crucifixion, and torture, only become visible when viewed in photographic "negative" images of the Shroud.

As much as I appreciate the insight you have given me through your discussion of the changes in the depiction of this icon’s blood in art images over time, I really would like you to explain how you could possibly devote so much time to exploring these fine forensic details in the Shroud’s image, without informing your readers about the unique and precarious precondition of having to wait 500 years for photography to be invented, before anyone, including the artist, could actually see those details.

Did I say kibosh? Not so fast. Charles has a reply:

No, Terry. These details were clear for all to see in the fifteenth ,sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when there were frequent expositions. Perhaps as the images faded, perhaps for other reasons, expositions became fewer and fewer and as the images could no longer be seen by large crowds, restricted to the cathedral and probably relatively few visitors. So in 1898 it had been thirty years since the previous exposition and twenty- six since the one before that (1842) . . . . So it must have been a real shock when the Shroud came out of storage and by this time it had the total faded images recorded by Secondo Pia.

Deliberately?  Or out of a lack of comprehension?  I suspect that Charles doesn’t understand what a photographic negative is (see Dear Charles Freeman, re the Famous Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck and his comments therein).