the sixth-century Image of Edessa “probably never actually looked like a cloth at all.”

If you weren’t in St. Louis on Sunday morning of the conference for Jack Markwardt’s special presentation, then Modern Scholarship and the History of the Shroud of Turin is a MUST READ:

clip_image002In 1997, Professor Robin Cormack, an art historian, concluded that Wilson’s identification of the Turin Shroud with the Mandylion was “an impossible guess”, pointing to a depiction of that icon in a St. Catherine Monastery panel painting that is datable to 945-959 (Figure 1).

In 2010, Wilson acknowledged that “a fringe runs along the bottom edge where we would expect the Shroud’s fold line to be,” but he then proceeded to argue that varying portrayals of the Mandylion cancelled out one another as reliable representations of that icon and made it improbable that Byzantine artists “had actually viewed at first hand the original Image they were copying”; however, this stance constituted a rather dramatic about-face from that which he had assumed in 1998 when, in support his folded-relic hypothesis, he had contended that copies of the Mandylion, such as the now-lost image of Spas Nereditsa (Figure 2), “convey other recurring possible clues to the original’s clip_image004appearance”, such as a lattice-type decoration possibly denoting the presence of an overlay grille and an image which had been set upon a landscape-aspect cloth. If, as Wilson presently asserts, Byzantine artists did not actually view the original Mandylion in producing copies of it, then depictions that feature lattice-type decorations and landscape-aspect cloths would not necessarily be evidential of that icon having been the hypothetically folded and framed Turin Shroud.

Other unfavorable academic commentary would quickly ensue. In 1998, Professor Cameron flatly pronounced that “the Edessan image has nothing to do with the Shroud of Turin.” In 2003, Andrew Palmer, a professor of Byzantine history, in dating the Acts of Thaddeus, which alludes to an image of Jesus on cloth, to the period of 609-726 CE,undermined Wilson’s claim that it had been written in the sixth century and coincidental with the alleged historical appearance of the Edessa icon. In 2004, Professor Sebastian Brock, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on Syriac texts, declared that the Mandylion’s history provided “a very unsatisfactory ancestry for those who would like to identify the famous Turin Shroud with the Edessan Mandylion.”

In 2007, Mark Guscin, a well-known authenticist, concluded that the Sermon of Gregorius Referendarius recites “that the sweat of agony (like drops of blood) adorned the Image (of Edessa), just like blood from its side adorned the body from which the sweat had dripped, i.e. two different events at two different times,” refuting Wilson’s assertion that it referenced blood flowing from Jesus’ side wound, thereby proving that the Edessa icon had borne a full-length image of his crucified body. In that same year, Professor Irma Karaulashvili, a Georgian scholar and specialist in Syriac texts, observed that the Image of Edessa “seems to have been painted, most plausibly on wood”, citing several Syriac sources which had variously described the early Edessa icon as a quadrangle wooden tablet, a dappa (tablet), and a piece of wood.In doing so, Karaulashvili concurred with Cameron that the sixth-century Image of Edessa “probably never actually looked like a cloth at all.”

But, read on:

clip_image003Not only does the cloth of the Image of Edessa, as so depicted, strongly resemble an imaged Byzantine labarum (see Figure 19), but also the image of Jesus presented on that cloth mirrors the facial image of the Turin Shroud, absent its wounds and bloodstains, particularly with regard to their respective mouths, beards, and uneven lengths of hair (see Figure 20),and if the tenth-century Image of Edessa was, in fact, a late sixth-century Byzantine labarum, an object which modern scholars “nearly universally believe” to have been modeled upon Constantinople’s Image of God Incarnate,then that archetypal acheiropoietos image of Jesus was almost certainly the Shroud of Turin.