I found myself wondering about the famous quote by writer John Walsh, which appeared in his 1963 book, “Shroud.”
“Only this much is certain: The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence-showing us in its dark simplicity how He appeared to men-or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground.”
So which is it? By stripping the adjectival Walsh to mere either-or alternatives, we can simply ask ourselves, is it a relic or an objet d’art?
Is there nothing else?
Is there really no middle ground. These days, I am quite unconvinced by evidence that the Shroud is genuine. And I am equally unconvinced by the evidence that it is not so. I’m walking around in a daze. I’m in the middle ground.
Dr. Michael Tite, who in 1988 led the British Museum’s oversight role in the carbon dating process and later was Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, implied during a BBC Radio interview in 2016:
I don’t believe it’s the [authentic] Shroud but I think it is highly probable there was a body in there. It was the time of the Crusades. A very appropriate way of humiliating a Christian would be to crucify him, like Christ. I think that is a very real possibility. And then the cloth is put over the body and sort of bodily fluids resulting from the stress of a crucifixion react and cause this discolouration and ultimately a certain degree of decay in the Shroud.
John Dominic Crossan, a Jesus Seminar Biblical scholar most noted for his assertion that Jesus was not buried, proclaimed on Belief Net.
My best understanding is that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval relic forgery. I wonder whether it was done from a crucified dead body or from a crucified living body. That is the rather horrible question once you accept it as a forgery.
Unless Crossan’s and Tite’s suggestions are ingenious and most unbelievably clever, are they not positioned in the middle ground?
The first step in determining authenticity would be to accurately date the shroud. If it is found to be of medieval origin it cannot be the actual burial cloth. However if it is our 1st century manufacture then it would be potentially authentic.
Oh, dear, well, it’s nonsense, isn’t it? It’s one of those sayings, a bit like “the most studied object of all time,” also nonsense, specifically designed to make a medieval origin sound too unlikely, and therefore a first century origin much more likely. Luckily, it is so extreme that it has the opposite effect, and actually weakens the authenticist case.
It’s based, I suppose, on the ridiculous notion that it is impossible to achieve shades of intensity using a single colour unless you use a one-fibre paintbrush and carefully colour only just enough fibres to achieve the shade you want. People who think that have never seen a pencil sketch.
In fact, most medievalists don’t think the manufacture of the Shroud required much ingenuity at all. The astonishing quasi-negative and quasi-3D effects were almost certainly entirely fortuitous, inevitable consequences of the printing technique. It may even have been a mistake, and the view we see now is almost certainly not what the craftsman intended. Either he didn’t get it right, or time and washing have rendered his original creation a mere shadow of its original design.
That’s not to say, of course, that the Shroud is not “awesome” or “instructive.” It can be those – indeed I believe it is – as well as being medieval.
Yes Dan, there are indeed a number of “middle grounds” one could suggest where the enigmatic TS is concerned. (No, it’s not a case of a simple either/or dichotomy between being either (a) authentic or (b) a medieval forgery displaying sheer artistic genius
So yes, I’m glad you have flagged up the “middle ground ” issue at this point in time, given I’ve been invited to comment on the TS under a number of relevant “technical issue” headings, none of which however make reference to that authentic v forgery dichotomy.
(The posting is in a late stage of preparation btw : a first draft will hopefully be in your hands soon, complete with its half a dozen graphics. ).
So what do I see as the new “middle grounds”? You make reference to the much trumpeted objet d’art approach to the TS, assuming it to be medievally generated.
Nope. I’d dismiss the notion of artistic input entirely!
No, the negative tone-reversed image is the give-away clue. totally ignored until Secondo Pia came along with his 19th century camera and image-capturing photographic emulsions in 1898, then proceeding to equate negative initial TS negative image with some kind of 1st century photographic image capture. No, no no!
Negative images have been known for centuries, probably millennia, albeit not described as such. How? Answer – via simple (simplistic?) imprinting of image from a 3D surface, as distinct from artistic rendering with paint and brush.
Why am I stressing that issue right here and now? Answer: it’s to forewarn that my approach to the TS in the forthcoming posting is based on my final Models 9 and 10, ones which incidentally took years to complete via patient experimental science-based modelling. Those two Models produced a simple “middle-ground” answer (in principle) to the TS, namely that it was NOT generated as an artistic painting but ENGINEERED as white flour CONTACT-IMPRINTS off a real naked 14th century human male. It either deployed a liquid flour slurry onto dry linen (Model 9) OR dusting of the subject with dry white flour, prior to pressing down manually and VERTICALLY to acquire separate frontal and dorsal images but WITHOUT SIDES!
Then the second-stage heating of the imprinted linen to give the impression of faint dried-on all-over body sweat from the crucified victim!
Sorry to bore you with the detail – but I have to say it again: it’s the IMPRINT means of production that matters. The body-imprint approach should probably be seen merely to generate a final product may have seemed UNINTENTIONALLY far more subtle, nay enigmatic, than the initiators had intended. That’s how and why things gradually took off with ever-increasing momentum (despite the initial mid 1350’s onslaught by that local Bishop Henri, namely that the alleged TS fake displayed as “genuine” at Lirey had in actuality been “cunningly painted”.
No, wrong, wrong, wrong. If engineered as I believe via simple contact imprinting, mimicking the browning of flour as occurs in simple bread-baking, with an end-result displaying that faint ‘ghostly and enigmatic’ body image, not forgetting dabbed-on blood “in all the right places”. Thus a final IMPRINTED image that seemed amazingly more subtle and realistic as a consequence.
No, not a miracle, merely a stroke of “good” fortune, albeit with huge centuries-old ‘sting in the tail’. lasting till 1988 (radiocarbon-dating).
Good. I’m looking forward to your posting. It won’t take long once I get it.
Comments are closed.