I vividly recall that we were seated in a circle on battered, rickety old folding chairs, without a table. It’s hard to remember exactly who attended our weekly Bible study class that day—were there six, eight, or even ten of us? Bibles, reference books, notebooks, and highlighters were strewn about the floor near our feet. It had been snowing, so some of us could have been wearing boots; or was that another time. I can’t be sure; it was so many years ago. One detail I do remember distinctly is that we were engrossed in a passage from the Gospel of John, a book written sixty or more years after the Resurrection. It was the passage in which Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for the gardener. That’s when the question suddenly struck me. I had heard it many years ago, but I had never heard an answer.
“Where did Jesus get the clothes he was wearing?” I blurted this out to the whole group of us.
There was one comment that day. It came from someone who wrote for the New Yorker. Or was it The Atlantic? “This story would have never made it past our editor,” he said. “Loose ends, too ‘chasing rabbits’.”
“Let’s move on,” said the class leader. “We’ll return to that question.” We never did.
I posed the question again on this blog last summer. The most on-point and thought-provoking response came from Hugh Farey who wrote, “While we’re on the subject, what happened to all the dead people who came out of their graves and walked around the city?”
Loose ends, too ‘chasing rabbits’. Point well made.
I thought about this question yesterday while reading a paper by Robert Rucker, “Holistic Solution to the Mysteries of the Shroud of Turin.” While I applaud Robert Rucker’s ingenious one-stop-shopping approach to unraveling the enigmas of the Shroud’s images, as well as the redness of the bloodstains, all while tackling the carbon-14 conundrum and remaining within the confines of a Christian believer’s cognitive framework, I cannot think his hypothesis is holistic as he suggests in the title. This is how he put it:
In following the evidence where it leads, we are led to the hypothesis that there was an extremely rapid intense burst of radiation from the body that caused the image. Neutrons that were evidently in this burst of radiation shifted the carbon date in the forward direction consistent with the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud. Radiation in this burst could have also thrust the dried blood off the body onto the cloth, caused the blood to retain a reddish color without discoloring fibers below the blood, and might have even elevated the upper cloth above the body.Rucker, R. A. (2019, December 30). Holistic Solution to the Mysteries of the Shroud of Turin. Shroud Research Network (Robert R. Rucker personal website) retrieved from https://www.shroudresearch.net/hproxy.php/Holistic-Solution-to-the-Mysteries-of-the-Shroud-narration.pdf
“Holistic” refers to an approach or perspective that considers the whole, rather than focusing on individual parts. In other words, it involves looking at something in its entirety, not only in a conclusion but also in supporting facts, and in understanding how everything works together as a whole.
By following the evidence where it leads, Rucker tells us, we are led to his hypothesis. However, some of the critical evidence he relies upon is not without significant controversy. Many observations and conclusions about the Shroud’s images and bloodstains remain disputed forcing Rucker to pick and choose among competing facts. This situation is no different, of course, than what John Jackson, et al. have faced with another radiation hypothesis. If Rucker is incorrect on some of his more critical assumptions, then his hypothesis collapses.
More problematic is Rucker’s blending of science and miracles in ways that test the limits of plausibility. However, if Rucker were to really embrace a true holistic approach and propose that the radiation, while doing all those other things, could also, simultaneously weave a robe for Jesus to wear, I might for want of an answer reconsider.
There is nothing more dangerous than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
No, not an ad hominem remark. A warning.
The most credible type of statement that a person can make is one that is against one’s own self-interest. Even in a courtroom, this creates an exception to the “hearsay rule,” because no sane person says something that is against his own self-interest.
From what you have mentioned before, you proclaim to be a Christian. (Of course, there are many atheists and agnostics who were “Christians” right up to the point of their formal deconversion . . . so there is that, also.) Well, whatever kind of Christian you are, it is difficult to not notice that –of all times– DURING LENT, you are no longer satisfied with just launching grenades at the Holy Shroud’s authenticity. No, now you seem to be amusing yourself with sowing doubts in peoples’ minds about the credibility of the Gospels. And, this is all being done under the cloak of your being a Christian –which makes your subtle attacks more powerful to those who are unwary.
Very competent Christians and atheists have debated these known inconsistencies for ages. I will add that police detectives are well-aware that if you get statements from witnesses to an occurrence, there will routinely be inconsistencies between their statements. A total lack of inconsistencies is a big red flag for collusion in concocting a story that people are adhering to.
It is fine to probe and question these things –I do that, too. But, context and motivations are everything. You seem motivated by an agenda with what you are doing –first you put out your write-up on “The Inconsistencies” on March 15, and now this one on March 17th –both, DURING LENT. I’m sorry, but this is not what I recognize as something that a Christian would do.
God tells us that we will know a tree by its fruit. What kind of fruit are you producing, Dan? The seeds that you sow are sown so as to produce doubt. Do you think that God would perceive such fruit as being anything but rotten?
Again, atheists and agnostics were “Christians” right up to the point of their coming to grips with themselves that they are no longer believers. If this is how you feel (and, I sincerely hope that it is not), then come out of the shadows, and declare what you are now so that people are aware of which way your bias leans.
But, if this is not how you feel, please think carefully about what you are doing, what is motivating it, and what its effects are on people. If you aid people in turning away from God, do you not think that you have some blood on your hands for their souls being lost to Hell? A Christian would –or should– think in such terms.
The Bible teaches us to be God-loving, but also God-fearing. And, one day we will all have to account to God for the things that we did, and the things that we did not do, during our time on earth.
If you are still a Christian, and I hope that you are, I would urge you to please take stock of what you are doing.
Correction: No sane person says anything against his own self-interest unless they believe it to be true.
I fully support Mr Ruckers Hypothesis. It give some explanation to the following:
STURP also concluded that only the top one or two layers of fibers were discolored out of about 100 fibers in a thread. This discoloration did not extend across the entire 15 to 20 µm diameter of the fibers but only discolored the fibers to a thickness of less than 0.2 µm, which is about 2% of the radius. In general, this thin discolored layer extends around the entire circumference of a fiber over much of the length of the discoloration.
STURP concluded this discoloration is not due to any substance or material (such as atoms) added to the fibers but rather is the result of a rearrangement of the atoms already in the fibers.
Dear Teddi, Over the past twenty years or so, I have been involved in the world of Shroud studies. Throughout this time, I have never encountered any researcher or Shroud enthusiast who ever said anything resembling, “But, if this is not how you feel, please think carefully about what you are doing, what is motivating it, and what its effects are on people. If you aid people in turning away from God, do you not think that you have some blood on your hands for their souls being lost to Hell? A Christian would –or should– think in such terms.”
Blood on my hands? For what? I suppose this rhetoric is a reflection of our current era, characterized by divisive posturing and heightened emotions. Sad!
At the same time, you were commenting, Joe Marino, one of the responsible old timers around here, wrote in a brand new paper: “Although most [researchers] were Christian, only a few could be considered devout; the team included Jews and agnostics as well. As men who built bombs and helped send crafts into space, they were mainly interested in the Shroud from a purely scientific perspective.”
And you wrote to me: “God tells us that we will know a tree by its fruit. What kind of fruit are you producing, Dan? The seeds that you sow are sown so as to produce doubt. Do you think that God would perceive such fruit as being anything but rotten?”
That is a matter for God to judge. It is between God and me, thank you very much.
Did you really mean to ask me if I am still a Christian? Kindly limit your comments to the subject at hand: the Shroud of Turin.
Ho-hum; Here I come, blundering in where angels fear to tread.
For the first time since the late 600s, the people of Britain have declared themselves not to be, in the majority, Christian, and we may ask ourselves why. I believe it is due to the steady rise of rationalism, as opposed to authority and revelation, and the result of something first pointed out by St Augustine in the 5th century, that to expect pagans to believe in the message of Christ, after Christians have told them something else that they know from experience and reason to be false, is wildly over-optimistic.
Most of the “facts” of the bible are disputable, and often disputed, and, to my mind, should not be over-strenuously defended at the cost of the “truth” of God’s word, which can only be established by more careful analysis of his world and his words together. The message of the bible has, I think, lost credibility not because its truth is any less reasonable, or obvious, than it ever was, but because most people get bogged down in Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood, and the Three Wise Men.
I have heard Christians bemoan the rise of secularism, but they rarely ask themselves why the power of the Church does not seem, at present, to prevail against it. They should, and Lent is precisely the time set aside by the Church for just such an examination.
The way scientists go about this kind of examination is to look, rigorously, for what might be seen as flaws in their arguments, to try to explain them before they are exploited by those who don’t want to accept them. Sometimes they explore these difficulties publicly, as Darwin did about halfway through the Origin of Species, in a chapter called “Difficulties on Theory.” It were no bad thing if Christians did the same. The trouble with a scientific “explanation” of one extraordinary occurrence is that it suggests that there ought to be a scientific “explanation” of all the others, and where Jesus got his clothes from, and what happened to the risen dead that walked about the streets are exactly the sort of incidents to consider, before the pagans laugh us to scorn, as St Augustine put it.
Dan, it seems like you have chosen me as your favorite whipping boy. Whenever you refer to my work, you are highly critical of it even including ridicule. Have I ever done anything to offend you? Did I ever ridicule you? I think not. But I would like to answer some of the issues that you raise. When you quote my paper from December 30 of 2019, you are quoting an old version. It has gone through two revisions since that date. The current edition of my paper 24 on the research page of my website is dated September 18 of 2020. You quoted from the last paragraph in Section 1 Introduction. It now reads the following:
“In following the evidence where it leads, we are led to the hypothesis that there was an extremely rapid intense burst of radiation from the body that caused the image. If neutrons were included in this burst of radiation, they would have shifted the carbon date in the forward direction, potentially explaining the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud. If this radiation burst was sufficiently brief and intense, it could have thrust the dried blood off the body onto the cloth, caused the blood to retain a reddish color without discoloring fibers below the blood, and might have even elevated the upper cloth above the body, as will be discussed below. Thus, the hypothesis of an extremely rapid intense burst of radiation from the body is proposed to explain the mysteries of the Shroud related to the image, the carbon dating, and the blood on the cloth. It is the only single hypothesis that has been proposed to explain these mysteries.”
In your second to the last paragraph, you criticize me for using evidence that not everyone agrees is true. You do not provide any examples, so I am not sure what you are talking about. If a Shroud researcher is to be limited to using only what everyone agrees is true, then no one would ever do any research on the Shroud because everything related to the Shroud has someone who disagrees. Therefore, I try to use evidence that most researchers believe is true. If I have failed in this, please point out in what area I have failed.
In the last paragraph, you refer to my “blending of science and miracles”. Please point out in my paper where I refer to miracles, the miraculous, or to the supernatural. I have learned to not use these terms because people have different definitions for them. This paper is only about logically following the scientific evidence from the Shroud. You are accusing me of utilizing the miraculous because you are making a philosophical assumption of naturalism, which is an assumption that the only allowed explanation is that which is consistent with our current understanding of physics. This assumption cannot be proven to be true scientifically or philosophically and is contrary to the history of the development of physics. I only claim that the scientific evidence from the Shroud logically forces me into believing that events occurred in forming the image and shifting the carbon dating that are beyond or outside of our current understanding of physics, but I do not claim these events are miraculous because that would be outside of the realm of science. Thus, your accusation is false and only based on your assumption of naturalism.
I would like to answer some of the questions that are raised in your article. Where did Jesus get his clothes? I can think of numerous options, but we are not told which option is true. The writers of Scripture were not concerned with answering this question because it should be a non-issue. I do not see a problem with this. What happened to all the dead people who came out of their graves and walked around the city?” The answer is simple. They lived out the rest of their lives until they died. These questions result from people wanting to create problems out of non-problems.
No, please don’t take it personally. I don’t entirely agree with your hypothesis, which I would prefer to call speculation. If I have ridiculed you, I apologize, and if you could point out where, I’ll address it accordingly.
I appreciate your update regarding the revision of your paper. By way of Google, I found the 2019 version on your website at https://www.shroudresearch.net/hproxy.php/holistic-solution-to-the-mysteries-of-the-shroud-narration.pdf. That’s the way of search engines: direct links. To avoid confusion for others who might come across the outdated paper on your personal site, consider adding a notice on the paper to inform readers that it is now obsolete. I just checked and it is there. Google doesn’t walk us in but leads us directly to the paper.
Regarding the connection between science and miracles, even though you may not have explicitly used the term “miracle,” your “hypothesis” suggests it by leaving the source of the extraordinary radiation that creates the image unexplained. Could it be a miraculous event or a natural phenomenon? Could we discuss this more because I am intrigued?
As a non-scientist, I tend to explore different perspectives. One of my favorites is Saint Thomas Aquinas, who speculated that angels could travel between locations without passing through the intervening space or taking time. This concept, if one believes in such angels, offers an easy-to-understand analogy and highlights the mysterious and miraculous aspects found in scripture. Here’s my interpretation of what transpired:
“Based solely on scripture, I believe the following happened: Jesus was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb on Friday. Starting Sunday morning, a risen Christ appeared as a tangible apparition to many people on several occasions. The rest of the story forms the backdrop for the miracle narrative. I fear the day when faith is supplanted by evidence and proof. Should we alter the song to ‘Amazing proof… was blind, but now I know’? In other words, nothing happened. Another way to express this is a change of state without an event — and in the absence of an event, there’s no time for radiation.”
No, I am my own favorite whipping boy, and it is due to my own conclusions. For instance, I believe the image on the Shroud is on the fiber, not of the fiber, as Ray Rogers, the lead STURP chemist, and other STURPers have thought. This is a matter of ongoing debate. Unless the sticky tapes, despite their questionable past handling, are re-examined by objective researchers, this issue will remain unresolved by Rogers’ hypothesis and also McCrone’s, which continues to attract attention. Additionally, I am uncertain about whether the image on the Shroud has any 3D properties, though I have written about this topic previously. You have also mentioned the images of bones being visible. This is much in dispute.
To be honest, I now question whether the image on the Shroud has any connection to the Resurrection. If my philosophical stance is correct, then it eliminates all potential proof, which I consider a positive outcome. I consider the “Sign from God” movement ill-advised. I am not convinced that Christianity could withstand the paradigm shift from reliance on faith to reliance on proof or evidence. “Amazing proof . . . was blind, but now I know.”
Your comment comes at an opportune moment, as I am currently working on another post that delves into the meaning of resurrection and examines the level of tolerance and acceptance of differing perspectives within Christianity. This idea was inspired by another comment on this topic. I encourage you to join the conversation and share more of your thoughts. I would be delighted to hear from you and engage in a meaningful discussion about your views.
Thanks for commenting.
Just one question Dan. What is a tangible apparition? How could an apparition eat and have someone touch their flesh?
Good question. Let’s first, just for the fun of it ask ChatGPT. It says, “A “tangible apparition” refers to a ghostly or supernatural figure that appears to have physical, tangible properties. In other words, it is an apparition that can be touched or interacted with, as opposed to a typical ghostly figure that is often considered intangible or insubstantial. The term is somewhat contradictory, as apparitions are generally thought to be non-physical entities, but it is used to describe a phenomenon where a supernatural or spiritual being manifests in a way that resembles a physical presence.”
ChatGP is not completely correct. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that tangible used as an adjective means perceptible by touch and apparition used as a noun either a ghost or “the appearance of something remarkable or unexpected, typically an image of this type.” I think we have used the word appearances as in “post-resurrection appearances” too much and I think apparition with the built-in adjectives of remarkable and unexpected says so much more.
Apparition derives from the Latin apparere (appear). Apparition was first used in 1520 in a New Testament context, referring to the moment when the three wise men appear before the infant Jesus.
I should have said that I picked up the use of apparition following a talk by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, when he referred to the post-resurrection apparitions. That threw me for a loop and so I started researching the word. Merriam-Webster offers this:
1 a: an unusual or unexpected sight : PHENOMENON
b: a ghostly figure
2: the act of becoming visible : APPEARANCE
I can see the need to be clearer. Thanks.
Thanks. Although I have read other accounts of apparitions appearing and being called tangible because a hand was shaken by the person who experienced it. I would have thought though in Jesus case that just as his resurrection was unique, that his appearances would be too and would be a ‘type’ of things to come. After all we are talking about the Word made flesh. I agree it does hint more at ‘remarkable and unexpected’, but in modern language still leaves me with the impression of something insubstantial. Words seem difficult to find for this most remarkable of all events in history.
My Theory Is Better
Yea, verily, I say unto thee, brethren and sisters, that our blessed Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ, did arise from the cold and dark tomb, casting off His burial wraps. Lo, He stood before us, clad in the finest raiment, His sacred head adorned with hair turned to shimmerin’ gold, his eyes to the blue of the curtains of the Tabernacle, As our Redeemer strode forth, it appeared as if He walked upon the still waters, His blessed sandals remainin’ untouched by earthly soil.
Yet, I tell you this, my dear congregation of Shroudies, that due to the divine radiation surroundin’ His heavenly form, He could not embrace our dear sister Mary Magdalene. For the volcanic power of the Resurrection was upon Him, and His countenance did shine like the sun in its strength.
And lo, brethren and sisters, as our blessed Savior arose, the two angels, sent from the heavenly realms, lay upon His sacred shroud. One angel lay face up, while the other lay face down, and as they disappeared, they left behind a wondrous sight for all to behold. Imprinted upon the linen threads were the holy images of our Lord, testifying to His glorious Resurrection.
These images, dear congregation of Shroudies, served as a testament to the divine miracle that had transpired within the tomb. Yea, verily, our Savior had triumphed over death and the grave, and in His infinite mercy, He left behind a witness for generations to come, that they might see and believe in the power of His Resurrection.
Let us give thanks and praise to our Almighty God, for His boundless grace and for the gift of these miraculous images, that we may forever remember the victory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This comment was stuck in limbo for hours. I couldn’t approve it for some reason. I think I finely fixed it with a bit of copy and paste.. Hope I got it right, preacher man. I feel there’s a lesson in this, Thanks.
I forgot to say that the divine radiation changed the C14 ratio and four sparks of joy fell upon the cloth in the L shape of the constellation Boötes, the Shepherd.