Was Jesus Left-Handed as evidenced by the Shroud of Turin?

RoyalBeatz07 thinks he has it figured out.

So the choices are simple, 1) Jesus Christ is the image on the Shroud of Turin and is left-handed! 2) Jesus Christ is the image on the Shroud and was desecrated by his followers! 3) Left-hander Leonardo Da Vinci is the image on the Shroud and he posed naturally. 4) A left-handed unknown individual is the image on the Shroud. 5) The experts can’t tell which side is the up side of the Shroud. Isn’t it interesting that a left-hander noticed it? When all the experts have looked at it, and run out of ideas, then it’s time for a left-hander to look at it. We see things that right-handers miss.

There is also the possibility that contrary to what RoyalBeatz07 thinks, Jesus’ followers accidentally put his left hand over his right even if (and this is arguable and speculative) it was the wrong thing to do. Filed under something to think about someday.

Religulous: Fishes and Loaves in a Barrel

T. R. Jones in the Chicago Reader offers his views on the Religulous written by Bill Maher and directed by Larry Charles:

Maher’s first film project, Religulous, is a major disappointment because here, unlike on Real Time, he aims for laughs instead of insight—and aims low. The movie opens with Maher in Israel, perched on a hill in what was once the ancient city of Megiddo, which the Book of Revelation prophecies will be the site of Armageddon. As he points out, people are now more capable of destroying the world—through nuclear technology, pollution, and global warming—than they are of understanding it. “If there’s one thing I hate more than prophecy,” he concludes, “it’s self-fulfilling prophecy.” To him, faith is a neurological disease that has to be cured before the human race destroys the planet, and anyone who defends faith is an “enabler” and a “fellow traveler.” As he concludes at the end of the movie, “Faith means making a virtue of not thinking.”

But as Maher and director Larry Charles tour the world, surveying the influence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, they bypass serious religious scholars and historians—the sort of thinkers who might have moved the discussion into uncharted territory—in favor of fundamentalist goofballs who can be ridiculed with ease. Their first stop is the Truckers Chapel in Raleigh, North Carolina—a trailer at the side of a highway rest stop—where Maher quizzes a half dozen truckers on the more fanciful extrabiblical aspects of Christianity. One volunteers the theory that, because DNA testing on the Shroud of Turin has supposedly revealed the presence of female blood, Jesus must have been born of a virgin.

Actually, no such DNA results exist. All we know is that the bloodstains are human blood. Had DNA revealed female blood, a more disturbing conclusion might have surfaced.   Chicago Reader | Movie Review: Fishes and Loaves in a Barrel

Francis Bacon and the Shroud of Turin (Continued)

Let’s look a bit more at what Chet Raymo wrote (see Francis Bacon and the Shroud of Turin):

raymo In the meantime, an objective observer should assume that the Shroud is a 14th-century religious icon or outright fraud. That is when the Shroud first appears in the historical record, and that is when carbon-dating assigns its origin. It was a time when religious icons were commonly manufactured or assumed. Why evoke miracles when a perfectly natural explanation is more plausible?

Who is invoking miracles?  Among all of the scientists I know who are studying the shroud, I know of no one who is invoking miracles to explain the carbon dated age of the cloth.

We’ve already said why we should not assume a scientific conclusion in the light of reasonable doubt about evidence. Assuming in this context is not scientific. But what about how Raymo tries to tie up his argument. Look at the second sentence: “That is when the Shroud first appears in the historical record, and that is when carbon-dating assigns its origin.”

Scientists rightly decry the use of historical evidence as scientific input. But that is where it should stop. They decry it, too, when history seems to contradict scientific conclusions. If there is disagreement, then science is the arbiter. In its most rigid form it is called scientism. Science is always right, they tell us. Raymo does it one better. He is using history, because it is convenient to do so. “I’m right,” he implies, “history supports what I say about the carbon dating.”

But does it?

First, let’s add a few words (in bold) to make part of his statement more accurate. Then let’s see if it is meaningful:

That is when the Shroud first appears in the existing and known historical record in Western Europe.

Museums are filled with items from antiquity whose earliest known records are much later. It is absurd to try and make a rational correlation between the dates of first written records about an item and its actual provenance. Moreover, there is actually a wealth of information that suggests that earlier records do exist and what we are dealing with is a gap:

There is a drawing of a shroud from 1192 (nearly a century earlier than the earliest carbon 14 date) that is clearly identifiable from particular features as the current Shroud of Turin. It is well known that a cloth with a purported image of Jesus existed in Edessa as documented by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius (and this must be considered legend) the cloth was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the 70). In 544 a cloth with an image thought to be of Jesus was found concealed above a gate in the city walls of Edessa. That cloth was transferred to Constantinople on August 14, 944. It was, at that time, described as a full-length burial cloth with an image of Jesus and bloodstains. Following the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, it became the property of Othon de la Roche, French Duke of Athens and Thebes. He sent it to his castle home in the town of Besançon, France in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from castle and displayed in the Besançon Cathedral until the cathedral was destroyed by fire in March of 1349. Any records that might have existed may have been burned in that fire as all church records were destroyed. In that same year, Geoffroy de Charny, a French knight married Jeanne de Vergy, a grand-niece of Othon de la Roche, and delivered the shroud to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe.

Now, given Raymo’s invocation of Francis Bacon (as I explained in a previous post) and his lack of desire to examine the evidence, we might be suspicious that he is unwilling to believe the evidence or is unaware of it. He tells us that he just isn’t interested in reading it.

For a long time it was the historical evidence that caused many people to doubt the carbon dating — not the miracle straw-man argument Raymo voices. Now it is the overwhelming scientific evidence that what was tested was not part of the shroud, probably because it way a repaired part of the shroud.  

If that wasn’t enough, Raymo drops in, “It was a time when religious icons were commonly manufactured or assumed.” That is certainly true. It is irrelevant. It’s an emotional argument full of irrationality. Some relics emerged during this time that were, in fact, real relics. History tells us why and that is why the shroud, if it is real or much older. The marauding, thieving French and Venetians of the Fourth Crusades brought numerous relics and treasures back to Europe. Over the years they began to emerge and for the first time they were documented in Western European records.

It is far better for a scientist to say we don’t know and to advance a hypotheses than to ask people to assume science is right despite evidence to the contrary.

Inexplicable 3D Optical Illusion Phenomenon

From Shroud of Turin for Journalists: The Peculiar 3D Phenomenon of the Shroud of Turin Image

3d_htm18 For simplicity, let’s confine our discussion to black and white pictures. The Shroud, after all, is monochromatic: brown and white actually.

Like any painting or photograph of a face or an entire human body (or for that matter a vase, apple or any three dimensional object) brightness represents light. Look at a full frontal picture of a man. The tip of his nose approaches white and the depth of the recesses of his eyes are darker. The roundness of his face from his cheeks towards his ears is progressively darker.  At first glance, the face on the Shroud of Turin appears to be such a picture. It isn’t.

How do we know this? All regular pictures, be they paintings or photographs, represent light coming from some direction and being reflected towards our eyes. The eye of the painter or the camera lens is a proxy for our own eyes. The reason the recesses of a man’s eyes are darker than the tip of his nose is because less light gets to into the recess. Image analysis shows us that this is not so with the facial image on the Shroud. There is no direction to what seems like light. Something else is causing the lighter and darker shades. That is looks like light to us is an optical illusion.

Look at the black and white picture that looks like a smoke ring. We might think that this is light reflected off of the smoke. It is not. This is an analog data file of elevation, sometimes called a bump map in the world of computer graphics. With special computer software we can plot the data, the brighter and darker tones, as an elevation. That is exactly what we can do with the image on the Shroud of Turin: plot it as an elevation.

Let’s be clear: You can not plot a regular photograph this way. Nor can you do so for a painting, even a brown and white painting. You can do so with a precise copy of the Shroud, however.

Not only does this show that the image on the Shroud is not a photograph or painting, it shows that something extraordinary occurred to form the image.

Continue reading “Inexplicable 3D Optical Illusion Phenomenon”

Francis Bacon and the Shroud of Turin

raymo It is a well established principle in criminal law that if there is reasonable doubt about someone’s guilt, acquittal is warranted. That principle, not often stated that way, is part of science as well. If there is reasonable doubt about some scientific proof, it is not really proof. Knowing that there is doubt, it is unwise for a scientist to say, “In the meantime, an objective observer should assume.” Yet that is exactly what Chet Raymo writes in Science Musings. He tells us:

A reader asks by e-mail why I have not taken note here of the new chemical tests that “prove” the Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial cloth of Jesus, is between 1300 and 3000 years old. The answer is simple. I prefer to wait until I read the original scientific paper, and analyses of the paper’s content by knowledgeable chemists.

Fair enough. But read them.

Raymo writes:

You will have noted that a commenter here suggested recently that I am not aware of the considerable literature on the Shroud. I am indeed aware of it, but I have better things to do that read the many books and web sites that support the Shroud cult, just as I don’t bother reading the voluminous literature on alien abductions or astrology. . . .I reply [sic assume rely] on the filter of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. When one of the two weekly peer-reviewed journals to which I subscribe — Nature and Science — takes notice, so will I. Be assured that I am open to any possibility.

First of all, poisoning the well is not effective scientific commentary. By implying that the scientists who endeavor to study the shroud objectively are part of a cult or that this study is anything like alien abductions or astrology shows the writer to be extraordinarily non-objective. Indeed pay attention to Nature. Philip Ball, writing in Nature Online explained peer-reviewed scientific findings by Raymond Rogers, a Los Alamos chemist, that the carbon dating was invalid. He pointed out that Rogers credentials were impeccable, his approach was objective and unbiased and his science was solid.

But expand your reading, Chet. Scientists know very well that Nature and Science do not have a monopoly on science. May I suggest Chemistry Today (July/August 2008). May I suggest Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pp. 189-194). And, though not published, as of yet, but presented to peers at Ohio State University, review the findings of Robert Villarreal and a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories (some cult, those Los Alamos folks). He stated:

the [1988] age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.

And while this recent statement (March 2008) is not peer-reviewed, it is nonetheless a statement by Christopher Ramsey appearing on the website of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University of which Ramsey is the head:

There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow, and so further research is certainly needed. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.

This is hardly the stuff of in the meantime merely assuming.

To make a point, Chet Raymo tells us that . . .

Nearly 400 years ago, Francis Bacon wrote: “What a man would like to be true, he preferentially believes.” This is the danger that lurks in every search for truth.

It cuts both ways. To ask us to assume something despite reasonable doubt shows us that Raymo “preferentially believes.”

Better to say, as most in this supposed cult (which is actually a group of very serious scientists, historians and archeologists, many in academia) say, “We don’t know.”

For more information see posting on the Carbon Dating Mistake.

Chet Raymo is the author of Natural Prayers, Honey from Stone, and Climbing Brandon, and many other books that explore the relationship between science and religion. Raymo has also published several novels and books for children. He is a professor of physics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and a science columnist for the Boston Globe.

Hymn of the Pearl and the Shroud of Turin

thomas There is a wonderful early 3rd century text called the Acts of Thomas (not to be confused with the Gospel of Thomas). Many scholars argue it is Gnostic and the Catholic Church has called it heretical. But that does not diminish its significance for historians. It is the legendary story — true, partly true or false — of the apostle Thomas’ (Judas Thomas or Thomas Judas Didymus) mission to India and his martyrdom. Authorship is often attributed to the Gnostic poet Bardesane of Edessa, perhaps as early as 216 CE).

Within the Acts of Thomas is an extraordinary Syriac poem, The Hymn of the Pearl, (also known as the Hymn of the Robe of Glory and the Hymn of the Soul). The poem is thought to be older than the Acts of Thomas. It is inserted in different places in different versions of the Acts found among early Greek and Syriac Christian traditions.

Within the Hymn of the Pearl there are a few lines of poetry that are intriguing. These lines, referred to as the “two images segment,” seem to have been inserted into the hymn. This is one common translation of those lines with optional interpretations (other translations appear after the fold):

Suddenly, I saw my image on my [burial] garment like in a mirror

Myself and myself through myself [or myself facing outward and inward]

As though divided, yet one likeness

Two images: but one likeness of the King [of kings]

pearl_26 What could these lines possibly mean? The poem does not offer a clue.

If we infer from the context of the poem that the first-person speaker of these lines is Jesus (contextually justifiable in a stylistic sense and not a literal sense) then these words might be a wonderful description of the Shroud of Turin, Jesus’ purported burial shroud.

On the shroud, we find two images: one facing outward and one facing inward, though the modern interpretation is usually expressed as a front and back image.

eusebius This hypothesis is reinforced by the Legend of Abgar, as related by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius, a cloth bearing an image of Jesus was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the biblical 70).

The words, “like in a mirror,” are puzzling. Several interpretations have been suggested: 1) The image is a collimated image as is, indeed, a mirror. 2) The image is reversed left to right, also an attribute of an image in a mirror. 3) The image is life size. 4) The image on the shroud is a negative and this is a primitive attempt to describe negativity.

There is little question that the Hymn of the Pearl, originated in the Mesopotamian city of Edessa. And it was in Edessa, in 544 AD, that the Edessa Cloth was discovered — the cloth that we now know, from solid historical records, was a full burial cloth in which . . .

You can see [not only] the figure of a face, but [also] the figure of the whole body.

– The Codex Vossianus Latinus

The Rev. Albert Dreisbach, an Episcopal priest who studied the Shroud of Turin for many years asks us . . .

to ponder what these seemingly strange expressions might mean, if they do NOT have reference to the Turin Shroud . . .

Continue reading “Hymn of the Pearl and the Shroud of Turin”

Brad H. Gore Says

This comment has been promoted to its own posting. Gore was one of the authors of the 1989 Nature article on the carbon 14 dating of the shroud. Please feel free to comment:

Exactly where is the data that discredits the Radiocarbon dating. Have other parts of the Shroud been dated for comparison. Is cotton vs. linen the only “evidence”. In other words are we still in need of information. And what the notion of a neutron flux at the resurection…as put forward in the issue of Nature with our shroud paper. Careful fellow humans for we are without the final truth and in a perfect creation we do not want to give out a dream of our own imagining as a replacement. As one of the original authors of the dating I am still waiting to see something interesting and have remained silent. I see many have a lot to say and seem to know all the secrets of the universe. Besides fragile human ego I see nothing so far. More will be revealed beyond the fragility of human nature …I pray.

— Brad H. Gore

The Big Carbon Dated Mistake: Shroud of Turin and the Scientific Quest for God

Source: One Episcopalian on Faith

Was the Shroud of Turin Carbon Dated? Over and over, we read in newspapers and blogs that the shroud was carbon dated thus proving it was medieval. Sometimes, a reporter will mitigate by mentioning that some people question the results. But what we should be reading, if scientific accuracy is important, is that the carbon dating is well understood to be invalid.

What is being reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals and at scientific conference is very different than what is being reported in main stream media. Why? Because, invariably, any reporting about the shroud falls under the general category of religion which is often a subcategory of something called lifestyle. Not that it shouldn’t be so categorized, but journalists who write these stories invariably have only a sketchy and often outdated understanding of the science of the shroud. So much has happened in the twenty years since the shroud was carbon dated. It warrants consideration. That carbon dating exercise warrants more than a mild “some people question” attempt at balanced reporting. There are always people to question anything. What exactly are the questions? And who are the some people?

Fortunately, many readers know the answer. Thanks to the Internet, many of today’s readers are well informed and this makes reporters’ stories that mostly rely on regurgitated old information look lame.

The new information, well documented in ethical scientific journals, doesn’t prove that the shroud is authentic. Far from it. But it does show that the single scientific argument having any peer-reviewed gravitas, has crumbled. Now, other arguments from history and other scientific disciplines that suggest that the shroud is much older warrant consideration and mention.

It’s likely that the Shroud of Turin’s wasn’t really carbon dated.

To still accept the carbon dating of the shroud, we must imagine that Robert Villarreal and his team of nine scientists at the prestigious Los Alamos National Laboratory were wrong when they showed that the carbon dating violated the first principle of carbon dating: the sample must represent the whole. They demonstrated that the sample area was significantly unlike the rest of the shroud. In other words it is almost certain that the shroud itself was not carbon dated. (Reported August 15, 2008, at the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin scientific conference).

To still accept the old carbon dating, we must also imagine that a comprehensive twelve page article in the scientific journal Chemistry Today (Jul/Aug 2008) is simply wrong. Do we imagine the authors Sue Benford and Joe Marino are wrong?  Do we imagine the reviewers and editors who scrutinized the article, are also wrong?

To believe in the tests, we must also ignore Christopher Ramsey, the current head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, a lab that participated in the original carbon 14 dating of the Shroud. In March of 2008, he said that because of new information “further research is certainly needed.” He went on to say:

It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.

To still accept the old carbon dating, we must imaging that chemist Raymond Rogers was wrong when he found significant chemical difference between the carbon dating sample material and the rest of the shroud — he had set out to prove the opposite. He found extraordinary evidence of medieval mending that explains the chemical differences. He also found clear chemical reasons to believe that the cloth is several centuries older than the carbon dating results. He published his findings in the peer-reviewed journal Thermochimica Acta (Vol 425 (2005) 189–194). 

We must imagine, too, that Georgia Tech’s Principal Research Scientist, forensic materials chemist John L. Brown was wrong when with a scanning electron microscope he found clear evidence of mending. (“Microscopical Investigation of Selected Raes Threads From the Shroud of Turin,” Jan 2005)

Why is mending an issue?

raesco21 To measure the age of the shroud, a single sample was cut from a corner of the cloth. That sample was divided among three radiocarbon dating laboratories and a reserved piece was set aside in case it was needed. The labs, in turn, divided their pieces into sub-samples in order to run multiple tests. Each sub-sample was then burned with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide. An Accelerator Mass Spectrometer was then used to measure the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 isotopes. Because carbon 14 decays over the years, it is possible to used the ratio determines the age of the sample.

A problem arises if the sample consists of older original cloth thread and newer threads from mending because the carbon dioxide gas is a mixture of gas having different ratios.

Several textile experts examined documenting photographs of the radiocarbon samples and found what they believed was visual evidence of reweaving. Based on estimates from these photographs and on a historically-plausible date for reweaving, Ronald Hatfield of Beta Analytic, a leading radiocarbon dating firm, provided estimates that show that the original cloth might, in fact, date to the first century.

With all of this evidence in hand, researchers combed records looking for other evidence. It is startling to look back at the clues that were there and ignored:

  • Giovanni Riggi, the person who actually cut the carbon dating sample from the Shroud stated, “I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric …”
  • Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, wrote “…1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.”
  • Edward (Teddy) Hall, head of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory at the time of the 1988 carbon dating noticed fibers that looked out of place. A laboratory in Derbyshire concluded that the rogue fibers noticed by Hall were cotton of “a fine, dark yellow strand.”  Derbyshire’s Peter South wrote: “It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past…”
  • Gilbert Raes when he examined some of the carbon 14 samples noticed that cotton fibers were contained inside the threads. This cotton is unique to the carbon dating sample area. There is no cotton elsewhere on the shroud.
  • Alan Adler at Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample; up to 2%, by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Why aluminum? That was an important question because it is not found elsewhere on the Shroud. It may have been aluminum hydroxide, a common mordant used in dying; possibly used to make a repair invisible to the naked eye.
  • Remi Van Haelst, a chemist, statistically showed that the sample was not homogeneous, hence suspiciously not a good sample.
  • Bryan Walsh, a statistician, confirmed Van Haelst’s analysis and found that different pieces of the sample, the sub-samples, contained different levels of the carbon 14 isotope. In other words, different parts of the sample produced starkly different ages, which is consistent with the argument that the samples were from a medieval repair to the cloth.

In light of this does it suffice to simply say that some people question the results? It does sound balanced. It is the sort of balance in reporting that diffuses. If someone is inclined to believe the shroud is real, he or she can continue to do so. If not, he or she can continue to believe in the carbon dating. But has the reader been given any real information?

Balance, when it comes to different opinions, as in politics, is a good thing in journalism. Balancing facts with fiction is not. Diffusing truth is never helpful.

One test for balance is to reverse the argument. Try this: the carbon dating is now understood to be invalid (a fair statement) but some question this. Okay, who?

Well there is Joe Nickell, a book author and writer for Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Nickell is not a scientist and has expressed a disdain for scientific methods. He attempts to use biblical-literalist arguments to refute the shroud’s authenticity, which is quite peculiar for an atheist. He likes to remind us, also, that three labs dated the shroud and obtained identical results. He fails to mention that the three labs performed the same test on pieces of the same sample. They should have achieved near-identical results but in reality the results were statistically different enough to call the results into question.

There is also Steven D, Schafersman, who is a scientist. His primary line of argument in defense of the carbon dating is that scientists make mistakes (presumably only those who question the results) and invariably they will continue to do so. He has attacked Rogers for relying on a non-peer-reviewed paper. That simply isn’t true. Rogers was attempting to disprove the hypothesis in that paper and found, to his surprise, that it was correct. Philip Ball, who for many years was the physical sciences editor for Nature, that most prestigious of peer-reviewed scientific journals, the same journal that published the 1988 carbon dating results, agrees that Rogers was trying to disprove the mending hypothesis. In fact, the public record shows that Rogers initially believed that the proponents of mending were part of a “lunatic fringe”  in shroud research.

So who else is defending the carbon dating? Is there anyone from the original team of scientists who did the testing that is now defending it. Are there any voices at all emerging from the radiocarbon dating laboratories other than that of Christopher Ramsey who calls for further research, who thinks it is equally important look at other scientific and historical evidence?

And what might that evidence be?

STURP_27 There is historical evidence that traces the shroud, with a high degree of certainty back to the 6th century, with plausibility back to 4th century and  possibly to the time of Christ.

There is the definitive proof that the images are not light-reflective images as are paintings or photographs. Rather, they are topographical graphs that just happen to look like images. In this sense, it is not unlike a sonogram of a fetus in a womb. This is not to suggest that it is sonogram. But, as with a sonogram, it looks like a light-reflective image. But because it is topographical data, it is possible to plot rotatable  3D images with graphics software. You can’t do this with a painting or a photograph.

This leads to a vexing problem. No one knows how the images on the shroud are formed. The brown color of the image is a dehydrated and oxidized organic substance. The fibers of the shroud are coated with a fine polysaccharide layer, possibly a soap residue from washing the cloth after weaving. In places, inexplicably, that layer has turned into a caramel-like or Maillard substance forming the images.

Known artistic techniques are ruled out. It’s not painted. That is proven. All this leads to another vexing problem.  It is easy, thus, for some people to imagine that the images are miraculously or supernaturally formed. But this is unscientific. It’s akin to God-of-the-gaps thinking now so popular in Intelligent Design theory. Many shroud researchers, including Rogers, think that images, might have been naturally formed and that there is no basis for assuming miracles.

Philip Ball offers a helpful perspective in Nature Online. He explained Rogers’ findings that the carbon dating was invalid. He explained, too, that Rogers credentials were impeccable, his approach was unbiased and his science was solid. And of the shroud, he said:

The scientific study of the Turin Shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God. It does more to inflame any debate than settle it . . . . And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artifact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made.

In that, there should be a story. It is arguably the most studied artifact in all of history and, frankly, we don’t know how old it is or how the images were formed. With all the technology we have, we don’t know how to create such images. We could carbon date it again but will anyone believe the results the next time given all that has happened before?

Pellegrino on Shroud and Tomb

Fascinating post here:

More details are above and on other threads in this discussion group, related to the Talpiot Tomb. At this point, given the unique biological anomalies in fiber traces recovered from Jesus ossuary bio-concretions – (all consistent with the Turin fibers), and other evidence including consistent patina fingerprint, and a tentative date on one fiber collected on sticky tape from the Turin Shroud (bracketing 1st century AD) – to say nothing of the fact that that I would never have accepted the cuts for the C-14 tests allowed by Cardinal Pellegrino over 20 years ago (too many recorded cuts and reweaves during the past 400 years, in the permitted sampling corner) – I’m willing to give it a maximum probability ceiling of 50%, that the Turin Shroud (regardless of whether or not the image of the Turin man is a Medieval artistic enhancement over the blood stains), is real and is original with the Jesus ossuary.

Much more data is required, to either negate or confirm this. One random fiber that seems to date, by C-14, from the right period (the shroud being consistent with wool weaves from another Jerusalem tomb and with flax herringbone weaves from Masada fabric) has my attention. Very well, then. What we await is permission to date ten more fibers from random points on the Turin Shroud, along with some blood stained fibers to see if mtDNA can be recovered and matches mtDNA from the Jesus ossuary bio-concretions. Jesiuts and Franciscans, by the way, have been extremely supportive and helpful, during the past year, with research on the Talpiot Tomb and apocrypha related to it. Also on Turin.

By the way: in answer to lies that the drive-by Media machines have told you (and by this I refer, among others, to the inventor of the term, “drive-by media,” Rush Limbaugh):

Item: Most Americans believe that we scientists claimed to have found bones in the Jesus Ossuary (and a quote that someone created, originally, as a joke was falsely attributed to me: “Bones of Jesus found. Easter canceled”). In fact, I not only failed to find a trace of bone in the Jesus ossuary bio-concretions; but all fiber evidence is counter-indicative of decay products from a process of primary burial and decay. The only bone fragment recovered from a bio-concretion in this ossuary is consistent (based on extreme hemispherical curvature) with a metacarpal. Even if only coincidentally consistent with the blood image evidence of metacarpals popped loose from the Turin Man’s wrists like wisdom teeth, it is nonetheless hauntingly consistent with what crucifixion would have left behind (blood, skin, and metacarpals). The one definitive conclusion I am willing to stand by is that the Jesus ossuary was missing skeletal remains decayed from a body. That is, we are missing a body and all that appears to have been laid in the ossuary in the first place are two shrouds of unusual composition – again, one of them uniquely consistent with the Turin fabric (flax woven on a loom contaminated with cotton – and which has remained mysteriously un-invaded by black mold, and unoxidized, and supple).

Read the full posting: Crowlspace » Pellegrino on Shroud and Tomb

Shroud of Turin Carbon Dating – Get Real

We read in the papers, over and over, that the shroud was carbon dated (aka carbon 14, radiocarbon) and it showed that it was medieval. Sometimes a reporter will add that some people question the results. But what we should be reading is that the carbon dating is invalid or at the very least there is reasonable doubt about the results.

Yes, I guess we can imagine that Robert Villarreal and his team of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were wrong in showing that the sample area of the cloth is not representative the whole cloth. In other words it is almost certain that the shroud itself was not carbon dated. We can imagine that the comprehensive twelve page article in the scientific journal Chemistry Today (Jul/Aug 2008) is simply wrong, as well. Or maybe Raymond Rogers was wrong when he found significant chemical difference between the carbon dating sample material and the rest of the shroud. Moreover, he provided extraordinary evidence of mending that explains why the differences and shows that the carbon dating can’t be right.

Should we add to our list of people who are maybe wrong the likes of Georgia Tech’s materials experts John Brown who also found clear evidence of mending. There are other who we might imagine are wrong, those who found, by statistics that the samples used in the carbon dating were not homogeneous. That is a show stopper for believing test results. And what about the written comments of textile experts who found suspicious material — that might be from mending — in the material taken from the shroud for testing. What about the “blue mosaic” photographic evidence that shows clearly that the carbon dating sample is suspiciously not like the rest of the shroud. 

It is important to note what Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit which participated in the 1988 Carbon 14 Dating of the Shroud wrote in March of 2008:

There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.

If there is reasonable doubt about the validity of the sample or, to be more precise, overwhelming evidence that the sample was meaningless, we should be reading that these tests are no longer considered valid. The Shroud of Turin was not really carbon dated.

Who from any of the labs involved in the testing are defending the old tests. No one. What scientists, if any, still defend the tests. For more information see Facts Plus Facts.

Interesting Shroud of Turin Discussion in Christians Forums

It starts with this:

So… since it didn’t pop up until the 1300’s… whatcha think of this “cloth that was the burial shroud of christ”?  Do you think it’s real? Sham? Somewhere in between?

It gets interesting when somebody calling himself OrthodoxyUSA chimes in. He is well informed. See Shroud of Turin – Christian Forums

Ridiculous ‘Shroud is fake’ article at Suite101.com

An absolutely ridiculous article appears at Suite101.com. The title is “The Shroud of Turin Debunked: A Forged Christian Relic.” There are two clues: 1) It cites a piece from a 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer which accused Public Broadcasting System (PBS) of burying the truth about the shroud and 2) it deals only with selective evidence.

Resting in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy is a fourteen-foot-long linen cloth whose long history has been rife with controversy. Though believers in the shroud’s authenticity are undeterred by skeptics’ arguments, the bulk of the evidence indicates that the shroud is certainly a medieval forgery.

Well, let’s look at that evidence:

Biblical and Historical Evidence

Joe Nickell, in an article from the July/August 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer entitled “PBS ‘Secrets of the Dead’ Buries the Truth About Turin Shroud,” points out several facts that call the shroud’s authenticity into doubt. First of all, the Bible itself, specifically the Gospel of John, explicitly states that the crucified body of Jesus was wrapped in several cloths, including a separate cloth covering the face.

That is true, but totally irrelevant. Because there were several cloths, according to the Gospel of John, does not in any way rule out that one of those cloths might have been saved. There is no logic to such a statement. Moreover, this is selective use of gospel narrative by someone who also, elsewhere, debunks biblical narratives.

Second, the figure of Jesus on the shroud conforms to artistic representations of him from the fourteenth century; the body is elongated, as was common in Gothic art, and bears a striking resemblance to other depictions of Christ from that period.

Actually, that is a real stretch. The visual arts (paintings and sketches) of that period were very primitive and lacked anatomical precision found in the shroud. Moreover, at the time no artists would have painted the hand wounds in the wrists (they were always in the palms) or painted the body naked.

Third, and most damningly, there is no mention of the shroud in historical records at all until 1389. In that year, in a report to Pope Clement IV, a bishop openly admits the shroud was “cunningly painted” to perpetrate a “fraud” involving “pretended miracles.”

By the way, not 1389 but 1349.

Good grief! Most artifacts from antiquity lack written records that go back to their provenance. And as historians and archeologists well know, there are always gaps in records. In fact, there is a drawing of a shroud from 1192 in the Pray Codex found in the Budapest Museum (nearly a century earlier than the earliest carbon 14 date) that is clearly identifiable from particular features as the current Shroud of Turin. It is well known that a cloth with an image believed to be of Jesus existed in Edessa as documented by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius (and this must be considered legend) the cloth was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus. In 544 a cloth with an image thought to be of Jesus was found concealed above a gate in the city walls of Edessa. That cloth was transferred to Constantinople on August 14, 944. It was, at that time, described as a full-length burial cloth with an image of Jesus and bloodstains.

In 1204, following the sacking of Constantinople, it became the property of Othon de la Roche, the French Duke of Athens and Thebes. He sent it to his home in the town of Besançon, France in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from his castle and displayed in the Besançon Cathedral until the cathedral was destroyed by fire in March of 1349. Any records that might have existed may have been burned in that fire as all church records were destroyed (not an uncommon problem for historians). In that same year, Geoffroy de Charny, a French knight married Jeanne de Vergy, a grand-niece of Othon de la Roche, and delivered a/the shroud to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe.

As for the memorandum of Pierre d’Arcis, the Bishop of Troyes, the letter is a draft piece and is believed by historians to refer to a painting that was made of the shroud and not the shroud, itself.

General Physical Evidence

The figure of Jesus has other unusual properties. For one thing, the image is not distorted, as it would be if it were the impression of a three-dimensional body wrapped in cloth; one has only to smear a napkin with mustard and press it against one’s face to see that the resulting two-dimensional image looks nothing like the figure on the shroud.

Actually, that presumes that the image is a contact image. Given that no one knows how the image was formed, the statement is not helpful. In fact, no one believes that the image is a contact image.

Christ’s hair hangs downward, like that of a standing person, and the suspiciously bright red “blood” on the shroud appears to be painted on top of the hair rather than saturated within it.

Image analysis shows that the hair does not hang down. There are two dark bands on each side of the face (that are not part of the face but run upward and downward beyond the face) and these create something of an optical illusion of hair hanging down. Nickell knows this but chooses to ignore it.

In addition, the cloth itself is a 3:1 herringbone twill, of which no examples have been found from the first century, when the shroud was supposed to have originated.

No have any sample of 3 over 1 herringbone twill been found in the medieval era.

Scientific Tests

Pieces of the shroud were carbon-dated in 1987 by three separate laboratories. All three — at Oxford, Zurich, and the University of Arizona — produced a date of origin circa 1260–1390, which is consistent with the time the shroud turned up in the historical record.

Actually the correct date is 1988, not 1987. All three labs ran the same tests on pieces of a single sample. No, all three labs did not arrive at the same date range. That is a statistical combination of the results from the three labs.

However, tests recently conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory by a team of nine scientists under the direction of Robert Villarreal confirm what chemist Raymond Rogers found and published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005): The tested sample was not representative of the shroud’s cloth. Rogers’ findings had also been confirmed by Georgia Tech’s materials forensic chemist John L. Brown.

This is part of the problem in basing an article mostly on a single 2004 article. Research would have reveal this.

Tests of the “blood” were carried out by microanalyst Walter McCrone over a period of years, and the findings were consistent with the image being created with tempera paint.

Actually that statement is completely false. Walter McCrone did conclude that the bloodstains, and indeed the images, were painted, but it was not over a period of years. He wrote his conclusion in the same year that he carried out his microscopic inspection of fibers taken from the shroud.

However, Mark Anderson, who worked for McCrone, examined the fibers using laser microprobe Raman spectrometry and found that what McCrone thought was (inorganic) paint was in fact an organic substance. Previously, the shroud (and not just fibers) had been observed with visible and ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and thermography. No paint was found. Later, pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry tests conducted at the Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska, on fibers examined by McCrone, were unable to detect any paint particles or painting medium.

Moreover, immunological, fluorescence and spectrographic tests, as well as Rh and ABO typing of blood antigens, reveal that the stains are human blood.  Many of the bloodstains have the distinctive forensic signature of clotting with red corpuscles about the edge of a clot with a clear yellowish halo of serum. The heme was converted into its parent porphyrin, and the spectra examined. The bloodstains are blood. Microchemical tests for proteins were positive in blood areas. Much of this work is published in peer reviewed scientific journals including Archeological Chemistry: Organic, Inorganic, and Biochemical Analysis (American Chemical Society), Applied Optics and the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal.

Now, here we get slightly more current.

There has been enormous controversy over the scientific testing, with some authenticity advocates like the late Ray Rogers (writing in the May/June 2005 issue of Skeptical Inquirer) insisting that the carbon dating samples were contaminated. However, in light of the mountain of evidence pointing to forgery, and considering the fact that at least one modern artist has produced a comparable fake, it seems clear that the shroud, while a splendid artistic object, is nonetheless not the burial shroud of a savior that its believers wish it to be.

Actually, it is much more than Rogers. It is Brown and Villarreal and his team and Benford and Marino, etc. A good set of references for a current, carefully researched article would include material published in 2008.

  • Peer reviewed scientific journal: Chemistry Today (Vol 26, Num 4, Jul/Aug 2008), “Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud”,  Benford M.S., Marino J.G.
  • Peer-reviewed conference paper (Aug 2008), “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” Robert Villarreal (Paper and video presentation awaiting publication, see Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference Press Release)
  • Peer reviewed scientific journal: Thermochimica Acta (Vol 425, Jan 2005) “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Rogers, R.N.

You don’t need to believe it is real or that it is fake. But you have to do the research and use real facts in writing an article such as this.

Source: The Shroud of Turin Debunked: A Forged Christian Relic

Facsimile of the Shroud of Turin Displayed at Anglican Church

The  East Anglia Seminarians report:

On Saturday we went to see one of four life-size facsimiles of the Shroud of Turin, which is on display in an Anglican church in Little Aston. It was bought for the vicar’s wife by a friend off Ebay, of all places! I went along, fairly indifferently I must admit, as I had already seen the Shroud in Turin some years ago and was never incredibly struck by subsequent pictures I had seen of it.

But the afternoon was a very wothwhile experience, largely because of the way the presentation was laid out. On first walking in we were confronted with the negative of the Shroud, which shows up much more clearly the scars and blood stains than the actual shroud does, and accompanied with this was scientific evidence of the shroud’s credibility, as well as quotes from the Scriptures that set the scene and turned the display into a meditation on the Passion. All the seminarians that came were visibly awed by what they saw and read. At the end of the display was the facsimile itself. I thought particularly poignant a piece of artwork which depicted the Cross, composed of the words of Psalm 22 (‘All who see me mock at me,/ They make mouths at me, they wag their heads’).

East Anglia Seminarians: Facsimile of the Shroud

Dating the shroud – A scientist responds to the story in the News and Observer

T. V. Oommen writes in a letter published by the paper:

I am responding to the Aug. 29 article “Scientists debate shroud’s date.” As a scientist involved in the shroud’s study and research, and as a participant in the recent Ohio Shroud Conference where I made a presentation on “Shroud coins dating by image extraction,” I can emphatically say that there is plenty of evidence for the antiquity of the shroud as of first century origin.

There were several presentations on the erroneous dating of the shroud by the 1988 radiocarbon(C-14) dating. The area where the samples were taken was from a medieval patch with cotton, which appeared to blend perfectly with the linen shroud. If this is true, the main body of the shroud should show an ancient date. The theory that the entire shroud could show a more recent date because of the newer carbon generated during fiery events remains to be proven.

Some other scientists also propose similar views; for example, that powerful radiations from the resurrection event must have generated C-14. So another carbon dating of the shroud may not resolve the issue.

The coin identification I presented showed Pontius Pilate coins issued AD 30/31 placed on the eye area, which implies the shroud’s age is very close to that. Read more about it at www.ohioshroudconference.com.

T.V. Oommen


newsobserver.com | Dating the shroud

Breaking News: Turin shroud ‘older than thought’

Yes, the masthead of the blog says, “Breaking News.” The link given is to a BBC article dated January 31, 2005.

The Shroud of Turin is much older than suggested by radiocarbon dating carried out in the 1980s, according to a new study in a peer-reviewed journal.A research paper published in Thermochimica Acta suggests the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. BBC Article…

BUT, THE BREAKING NEWS IS that in his presentation on August 15, 2008, at  Ohio State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist, Robert Villarreal, disclosed startling new findings proving that the sample of material used in 1988 to Carbon-14 (C-14) date the Shroud of Turin, which categorized the cloth as a medieval fake, could not have been from the original linen cloth because it was cotton. His work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) and reported in the OLD BBC Article…

Nonetheless, it is good to be reminded. See VARDIOUS – ASPECTS :: World News Briefing: Turin shroud ‘older than thought’. It includes links to supporting information.

Opinion: On the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference

Long time shroud researcher Kevin E Moran has written a useful commentary on the Shroud of Turin Conference at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. I completely agree with his assessment and it was good to see the VP8 demonstrated and to learn more about it.

This conference was far superior to the 2005 Dallas meeting organized by a Machiavellian lawyer collecting signatures for sale! This was a true international meeting held to accomplish cooperation, exchange meaningful information and work with old colleagues and new friends. It was as the organizer Joe Marino named it “multifaceted” It was truly open to the public. There were people from Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, and other countries as well as a video greeting from Bill Meachem in Hong Kong. Rex Morgan, from Australia, gave an excellent over view of Shroud research history and projected the need for future work. There were 6 from the original 1978 investigators who spent 5 days and nights working on the Shroud in Turin, some gave papers and all participated in a panel session with questions from the audience. There was a new report on work on sample fibers from the late Ray Rogers by Los Alamos Scientific Lab. Avinoam Danin, botanist from Israel, presented the science behind the flowers found on the Shroud. Dr. Petrus Soons from South America showed his computer generated hologram of the face on the Shroud and explained how it was made.

Barrie Schwortz presented a DVD “Tribute to the STURP team 1978 – 2008”. It was a great “music video” using pictures he took at the testing and some never before published. As usual Barrie helped presenters, took documenting photos, ran the over head projector and just was a great assistant to all. His enthusiasm and professionalism was wonderful.

VP-8 Demonstration of Old Serial Number 56

Thanks to the help of Rich Orareo, from Boston and Pete Schumacher, from Alamogordo, New Mexico, we were able to assemble a complete VP-8 system for demonstration for old and new Shroud people. Rex Morgan said he had not seen a working system in 30 years. Guilio Fanti was able to test the face cloth of Manopella. Even though he had a good picture, it was nothing like the Shroud. It proved to be the work of an artist.

Richard Orareo purchased the VP-8 used on eBay for his “Boston Shroud Collection” museum. It required work to get it back to life by Pete Schumacher. More was spent shipping it around the country for repairs then it cost to buy on eBay! I was able to combine Serial #56 with other equipment that we acquired for the Atlanta museum of the late Fr. Kim Dreisbach. As some may know, the Museum in the Omni Center was taken over by Ted Turner for his video studio. The main exhibits were put in storage for years, but the VP-8, Serial #51, was kept out in my shop for testing photos from all over the world. I can add that I have never been sent a photo that comes even close to the Shroud in the 3D presentation mode. And the Manopella cloth was no exception.

Kevin E Moran
Belmont, NC

h/t: Ohio Shroud of Turin Conference Blog: Comments on the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference by Kevin E Moran

Plant life traces on Shroud of Turin draws local interest

 stlouis2008St. Louis Review Online:

For decades, scientists have debated the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Two researchers were in St. Louis last week to present their findings on the shroud. The event was held at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Some 400 people attended.

Avinoam Danin, emeritus professor of botany at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has spent years examining images of plant life discovered on the shroud.

He also has discovered additional pieces of plant life on the cloth, which has provided additional evidence to support his theory that the shroud was used somewhere in the area of Jerusalem.

Dr. Petrus Soons, a native of the Netherlands and retired doctor, has used digital photos of the shroud to create three-dimensional holograms, which have provided new and unique views of the cloth.

While neither Soons nor Danin attempted to prove that the image of the man found on the shroud indeed was that of Christ, both agreed that their research provides additional insight into the history of the cloth.

Full story  St. Louis Review Online

Is the Shroud of Turin Real? Is it Jesus Christ’s Burial Cloth?

An interesting posting over at the blog Discovering God’s Holy Plan. I’m a bit more confident than the author, but I fully appreciate his sentiment of not wanting to base one’s faith too much on the shroud. I certainly don’t. Anyway, it is well written and the whole site is worth exploring:

The Shroud of Turin is a very interesting piece of cloth. It has an image of a male, with blood stains, pierced hands, and more. It very much resembles the image of what many consider Jesus may have looked like. So is the shroud of Turin real.

First, I am not sure if it is real or not. I have read both arguments, and it is somewhat convincing that it may indeed be real. I think the photos of it look really freaky and interesting. Because if that was Jesus…Wow, we know what he looked like! And if it is fake, then how did they get it so 3D, and how did they know what it would look like in a picture negative? They couldn’t have predicted it would look so detailed & freaky.

At the same time, I also know there are plenty of people out there that make scams like this & try to pass it off as authentic to get money or attention. So who knows.

In my opinion, if it is a fake I would like to know how they did it back then. I suppose one day we will know for sure though.

So I am about 60% thinking it may be real, and about 40% thinking no. But I think it is important for others not to believe in God or the bible just based on one piece of evidence alone. Because if it turned out to be fake, then I wouldn’t want people to reject God or something because of it.

But I definitely think it is interesting, and I have been intrigued by it for a long time. I wish they could run more tests on it.

Thanks to » Is the Shroud of Turin Real? Is it Jesus Christ’s Burial Cloth? – Discovering God’s Holy Plan

Big Foot vs the Shroud of Turin

It was not lost on the blogosphere that two news stories broke almost at the same time.

  1. news about the Shroud of Turin (actually two stories: Jackson’s carbon monoxide hypothesis and the work by the Los Alamos National Laboratory team’s findings the confirmed that the carbon dating is invalid) and
  2. a couple of bigfoot researchers claiming to have found bigfoot (which turned out to be fraudulent).

Check out the news coverage and the interest generated as measured by Google searches (the last tiny peaks on the right side of the chart). Big foot got at least twice as much MSM coverage and nearly 100 times as many queries in Google. What does that suggest?



Interest in the Shroud of Turin Linked to News

Interest in the Shroud of Turin in most cases is related to news about the Shroud. Here are the stats from Google Trends with identification of the flags and two other points:

Interest in the Shroud of Turin

A. Second face on the back of the shroud discovered (most interest)

B. Rogers’ paper that argues that the carbon dating sample was likely a repair

C. Shadow Shroud story on CBS (most news coverage)

D. Attention from the Winter Olympics in Turin

E. BBC documentary on the Shroud of Turin (little news, much interest)

F. Pope’s announcement that the shroud would be exhibited in 2010 (much news, little interest)

* 3rd Quarter if 2006, unknown story that generated no interest)

* Mid-August 2008, LA Times story about Jackson couple, minor news blip and very little interest.

Best New Shroud of Turin Website

Image1 Be sure to check out this website, Shroud University. It is loaded with helpful resources including audio (and soon video) of the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference  presentations and open discussion forums.

Shroud University is a division of The Shroud of Turin Education Project, inc. and builds upon its original mission of providing the research tools necessary for students to explore this profound mystery. Is the Shroud of Turin a 2000-year-old relic of Jesus Christ or is it merely a medieval fake? It is a question that rivals “The Great Debate.”

ZENIT – What to Look for From the Shroud

It is a little bit of a muddled report, but it is nonetheless interesting: Paolo Centofanti writes:

ROME, SEPT. 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The exposition of the Holy Shroud of Turin in 2010 is a “providential opportunity” to understand its spiritual meaning, says one of its researchers.

Father Gianfranco Berbenni, titular professor of the course titled “Science and Theology in Face of the Holy Shroud,” in the Science and Faith master’s program of the Regina Apostolorum university, says he is in favor of scientific research that avoids the spectacular when dealing with the shroud.

In this interview with ZENIT, he suggests what can be gleaned from the 2010 exposition.

Q: What is your reaction to the announcement of the public exposition of the holy shroud?

Father Berbenni: It is a providential opportunity to be able to carry out a pastoral program that is centered on the passion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and it is a providential opportunity for the holy shroud to be a privileged witness, together with the service of the Gospels and of the sacraments, which might be the occasion for far more intense socio-political commitments, especially in the area of emergencies and charity.

Q: In recent months, there seems to be a new interest in the holy shroud. What do you see as positive or potentially negative about this?

Father Berbenni: I see as positive an aspect that is normal for science: never to abandon the analysis of an object. In this case, the holy shroud is an archeological vestige for science, a fabric with bloody impressions of a dead person in certain circumstances. I would say that it is a normal and welcome practice for science to continue its study.
Perhaps there is a search for the scientifically spectacular, and this is an element of weakness in the current research. I believe what is necessary is to go back to the cards in play, by returning to plan the “match” according to its norms, in a simple way, without the hope of spectacular findings.

Beyond the media, what is at stake here is the spectacular manner of the scientific procedure.
What is more, there is a danger, at least for us priests. Even if a level of viability is reached on radiation that allows for the superficial diffusion of the shroud’s bodily impression, the great danger would be if the scientists themselves began to “engage in theology” saying, “We have discovered the energy that has caused the Resurrection” — something that for theologians not only is very debatable but that goes against the current of the strategy that the Gospels have chosen as the determinant cause of faith in the Resurrection, namely, the testimony of the Scriptures and of the Apostles.

The real danger that lies behind this excess is to seek the cause of the superficial impression on the holy shroud; it is the invasion of laboratory science in theological science.

One would have to go back to 1984, when the “Shroud of Turin Research Project” (STURP) team of the United States reported on the research initiated in 1978 and presented a spectacular “Formal Scientific Research Program on the Holy Shroud of Turin,” which, sadly, has remained almost totally absent from debates on the Shroud.

One would have to return to that time, to discuss in detail the so-called superficiality of the bodily image of the holy shroud. It would be even more important and desirable if the medical world would make a new, high-level effort to analyze the holy shroud, especially with teams of experts in legal pathology. The medical-scientific sector is very much a minority in research on the holy shroud. I think it should intervene very forcefully.

Q: What are your thoughts on the experiment carried out by Italy’s Entity for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment, headed by Dr. Giuseppe Baldacchini, which has led to images structurally comparable with the image of the man of the holy shroud.
Father Berbenni: It is an interesting scientific experiment from the point of view of results. From the point of view of the study of the shroud, I believe it should be placed in a broader context of discussion.

Q: Do you think that in some way it can contribute elements for a possible explanation on how the image was formed?

Father Berbenni: I believe those who proceed to verify the thesis of the superficiality of the bodily image are those who have difficulty in considering the formation of the bodily impression as a simple natural phenomenon of a physical-chemical nature.
I believe they will follow the path to seek an energy that can be documented, as in the case of this ultraviolet radiation.
However, I think it is necessary to keep in mind the theory of the natural formation, according to which, there are no superficial impressions as, in fact, STURP’s scientists themselves were planning to verify — this which to them seemed an incontrovertible fact stemming from the first elements, postulates and collection of data.

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