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Who Is He?

June 25, 2015

‘Silent Witness’ caused consternation.

imageK. V. Turley has posted an interesting piece, The Shroud of Turin: Fact, Fable and Mystery in Catholic Exchange:

In the late 1970s an unusual documentary film surfaced. When it was shown to London’s film critics, ‘Silent Witness’ caused consternation. Its subject matter was the Shroud of Turin – not a subject commonplace in a Britain then dealing with economic recession and punk rock. It was the first time a major documentary had emerged on that particular piece of cloth based on the then latest research, of which that decade had seen a flurry.

A year or so after, I remember being dragooned by priests into a school lecture theatre where the lights were dimmed and the aforementioned film was screened. It delighted and intrigued in equal measure. The combination of detective story and seeming scientific affirmation of the faith was a heady mix. And who could forget the ending? When all the evidence had been sifted, and the latest findings gone through in detail, we were left with only the Shroud’s head image visible upon a black screen, and then, after a brief silence, and with more than hint of incredulous impatience, a voice demanded: ‘Who is he?’

And then there was the carbon dating:

Science had been asked and had answered in a way that seemed to place doubt on any belief other than that of scientific materialism.

It was only decades later that other doubts began to emerge though, and this time they were about that 1988 test. Questions were asked about the process employed, of where on the cloth the samples had been excised from, and, more importantly, the mindset of the scientists behind it. Had they looked for and, therefore, subsequently found what they wanted? Regardless, what was certain, and what had never been fully explained to the masses, was just how fallible such carbon dating was thought to be by many scientists.  The populace had been lead to believe that the results of such tests were gospel; they were anything but.

Today, in the hushed dark of a Baroque chapel, withholding its secret still, it awaits those who come to meditate upon its pierced figure, drawing all closer to the mystery woven into the cloth’s very fabric. It is indeed an icon of suffering, but it is also one of love, ultimately speaking as it does of the Passion.

Maybe, we shall never have definitive ‘proof’; perhaps, we aren’t meant to: this linen cloth being more enigmatic than history can ever explain and even more mysterious than science can ever prove.

So, still resonating through the darkness, comes that same voice to demand:

Who is he?

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  1. June 25, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Beautiful!

  2. June 25, 2015 at 7:03 am

    He is Jesus. Yep, many will scoff at my answer, but each person has to give their own answer. There is no way to prove it is or isn’t Jesus, so my opinion is just as valid as anyone else.

    • June 25, 2015 at 7:08 am

      As much as any fact can be proven, I think the identity of the man in the Shroud is proven. We do not order our lives by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The identity of the man in the Shroud is not a gift of faith, it is a gift of reason.

  3. Louis
    June 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Catholic Exchange is a good source of information and K.V. Turley, who studied theology, is based in England, involved in producing documentaries, it seems.
    “Who is he” on the Shroud can perhaps be linked to “Who do people say that I am?” in the New Testament. I will cite two sources, both Jewish:
    https://www.academia.edu/12851672/The_Historical_Jesus_The_view_of_Professor_Geza_Vermes
    Professor G.Vermes departed from this world telling Jews and Christians that the “real words of Jesus” would pose a challenge to both groups alike. He shunned organised religion and, from what it is possible to gauge, was guided by an existential spiritual legacy that he thought Jesus left for us.
    Harold Bloom, on the other hand, says that “Jesus did not tell us who he was”. He of course analysed the Bible from the point of literature and this analysis is linked to existence:
    https://www.academia.edu/12823419/Book_Review_Jesus_and_Yahveh_the_names_divine

    • Louis
      June 30, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Professor Pallant Ramsundar (Trinidad and Tobago), a Methodist and mathemician has written some interesting material about the timeline relating to Jesus. Since he is of Indian (Hindu) origin it would have been easy for him to use astronomical data in his studies.

  4. piero
    June 25, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I would like to emphasize once again that I consider the radiocarbon testing
    as a method disrespectful to the holy relic because that controls
    is a destructive test.
    So: an analytical way which have to be limited, useful only to
    the control of parts that have been already shown with safety
    (ie: a safety that for now we have not obtained, certainly not yet!)
    as mending or patching …

    I think that a further sentence about the authenticity of the Shroud
    (…or about the best [for example: with respect the SPM techniques]
    way of having to follow along with analytical works, and then
    to be able to arrive at scientific truth) uttered by me or
    declared by a group of high-level scientists has definitely different power
    of impact on international public opinion.
    In short, you can think that amateur scientists (or the layman)
    or any poorly documented skeptic cannot create respectable
    opinion on the subject.
    Here I want to clarify: this year I’m not even able to go
    to Turin Cathedral because I have no money and then
    my words will certainly have very little value on public opinion!
    Then, what can have a greatest value is a study done
    by respectable scientists (working in daylight, that is,
    without some subterfuge … ie: no data specially rigged
    to validate a given hypothesis), possibly certificates
    from other serious scientists…
    The title of the work can be the following:
    “Statistical Evaluations for the Epoch and
    Apparent Origin for the Body Image Formation in the Shroud of Turin”.

    As an unusual documentary film can be indicated the AFM film
    about linen fibril’s surfaces (…and then it’s important to show
    what we can see on preliminar experiments)…

  5. piero
    June 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Errata corrige:

    >…. I consider the radiocarbon test …
    >… … to the holy relic because that control
    is a destructive test.

    Instead of:
    >…I consider the radiocarbon testing …
    >… to the holy relic because that controls
    is a destructive test.

  6. Max patrick Hamon
    June 30, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Re Who is he: On June 30, 2015, the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, shall appear very, very close to one another.The conjunction has been suggested as a source for the “Star of BethleHem”.

    See link at:

  7. daveb of wellington nz
    June 30, 2015 at 2:05 am

    The year of Jesus’ birth is uncertain but can be narrowed down to probably between 6 and 4 BC. The biblical account indicates two sightings of the star, one before the wise men began their journey (probably from Babylonia or Persia) and the other near their journey’s end, when the omen “came and stood over where the young child was.” A celestial object near the horizon of any given observer might be considered by him as pointing out some spot on Earth below.

    Chinese annals record novae in 5 BC and 4 BC; in the early 17th century, Johannes Kepler advanced the view that the Star of Bethlehem may have been a nova occurring in or near some conjunction of bright planets.

    Several striking planetary conjunctions also took place within 10 years of the chronological point now taken as the beginning of the Christian era. A triple conjunction in early 6 BC, in which Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn stood at the points of a triangle, has often been mentioned as a possible explanation of the star. Prior to that, in 7 BC, Jupiter and Saturn were for eight months within three degrees of each other and three times within that period passed within one degree. Several years later, on June 17, 2 BC, the bright planets Venus and Jupiter would have appeared to observers in Babylon to have merged just before setting in the general direction of Bethlehem to the west.

    Alternatively, interpret it as a literary device. Several notable people in ancient times were said to have had asterism phenomena at their birth as a signal portent. Matthew’s gospel is noted for several allusions to gentiles, some favourable, others less so. If he wants important gentiles at the birth of Jesus, a sign from a star gives them a reason for their journey.

    • Nabber
      June 30, 2015 at 11:21 am

      thanks for the great rundown on dates….

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