A Guest Post by O.K.
It is well known that after the transfer to Constantinople in 944, all Byzantine descriptions of Mandylion and the Shroud (Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Gregory Referendarius, Nicholas Mesarites) are deliberately vague. The true nature of the Mandylion/Shroud had to remain secret, for the reasons I will discuss next time. We can only guess properties of the Mandylion/Shroud from several allusions. Several of those allusions (pointing to the identity between Shroud and Mandylion and great confusion of the academic community) were discussed in my old posting on Dan’s blog. Today I want to present another allusion, which (what is very strange to me) was ommited by all historians’ elaborations regarding the Mandylion known to me.
In Mark Guscin’s english translation of the 944 sermon of Gregory Referendarius, in chapter 13 we can find a very interesting remark, no historian, as far as I know, paid a proper attention to:
Who is like you, God, doing everything in wisdom from times of old? […] You wiped clean the sweat of the nature you had taken on and what was wiped clean was transformed into an image of your unchanging form, just like Adam’s form was drawn out of the ground, like the eyes of nature in the folds of the kneaded earth. (my emphasis).
Here we have a comparison between creation of Adam, the First Man (and naked, just like the Man of the Shroud -cf. Genesis, chapter 2) and creation of the form of Jesus on the Mandylion. What is the significance of that? I think it is great.
The main "argument" (or should I say pseudo-argument because it has been undermined long ago) is the conviction that the Mandylion contained nothing else, but only image of the face of Jesus. There are of course documents telling otherwise (like Codex Vossianus Latinus Q69), ignored usually by narrow-minded majority of academic scholars, but with regards to the Adam reference in Gregory Referendarius other question arises:
If Mandylion contained only the face, do those wise guys think that Adam’s form drawn out of the ground consisted only of the face?
IMHO, this is ridiculous. The reference to Adam makes sense only if it is an allusion to the fact, that the Mandylion contained the image of the whole body.
Just like the (again deliberately ambiguous!) reference to the side wound (chapter 22 of the Gregory Referendarius’ sermon).
So, based on the contemporary accounts (Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Symeon Magister, Gregory Referendarius, see Daniel Scavone’s paper Acheiropoietos: Jesus Images in Constantinople: the Documentary Evidence ) we can make a list of several allusions (except for #2 not clearly stated facts, which, I should stress once again, is deliberate) to the properties of the Mandylion:
1. It contained bloodstains
2. The image on the Mandylion was very faint, "sweat-like".
3. The reference to the Adam makes sense only if it was an allusion to the fact that the Mandylion contained the whole body (which was mentioned in later, Latin versions of the Abgar story, like Codex Vossianus Latinus Q69)
4. The allusion to the side wound -suggest presence of the whole body image and the side wound.
There is only one known object in the world that fits those "allusions" -the Shroud of Turin.
The star with a strange light curve, the aliens, the Shroud
of Turin and Resurrection theories about it’s image
Some reflections about natural and extraordinary (miraculous) explanations about
the Shroud’s image formation, with comparison to extraordinary claims regarding other sciences (here: astronomy).
For some time there is a great hype in the media (see for example Ian O’Neill: Has Kepler Discovered an Alien Megastructure? on Discovery.com or Sarah Kaplan: The strange star that has serious scientists talking about an alien megastructure, Washington Post, October 15) about the star designated as KIC 8462852. The star has been observed by Kepler space telescope, designed to detect extrasolar planets via transit method. Data gathered suggest that this star has a very atypical light curve, which characterize by irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20% level. This is a quote from the paper (submitted, but not yet accepted, to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of the most respected peer-reviewed astronomical journals in the world -the preprint is available in arXiv repository) Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 – Where’s the Flux? by T. S. Boyajian et al. which describes the strange behavior of that star. The authors in section 4 give a list of several possible explanations for that phenomena:
• Instrumental effects or data reduction artifacts?
• Intrinsic variability?
• Occultation by circumstellar dust clumps
• Aftermath of catastrophic collisions in asteroid belt
• Aftermath of giant impact in planetary system
• Dust-enshrouded planetesimals
• A comet family? (this is considered the most likely scenario)
So why the media hype? Because, according to some speculations, the observed light curve is also consistent wit a sci-fi kind scenario, namely the alien-built megastructure Dyson swarm orbiting around the swarm. This is also a kind of “explanation”, which can be tested, but -not surprisingly -the term “aliens” does not even appear in Boyajian et al. paper. Natural hypotheses are preferred first, which is -quite natural, actually. Scientists are rather expected to examine ordinary explanations (instrumental or natural phenomena) for unexpected observations, before going to extraordinary (extraterrestail life and advanced intelligent civilizations) – because as catch phrase says “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Or should we go straightforward to the aliens, and claim that we “discovered” 1 them, citing as proof the atypical light curve of some star, which can be fitted to alien megastructure scenario (and disregard other explanations)?
What all of this has with regards to the Shroud? Simply in sindonology there is a notable camp that claims the image on the Shroud can only be explained via some effect directly associated with Resurrection (John Jackson’s “Fall-Through” hypothesis, Mark Antonacci “Historically Consistent Method”, various other scenarios involving radiation, neutron burst and so on). These claims have been raised again recently -just see shroudstory.com entries from the few last days: Proof of the Resurrection?, October 31, Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things, October 30. Plus recent editions of Colorado’s Center Critical Summary 3.0, and Mark Antonacci’s new book.
And I just ask: should we go straightforward to the aliens?
Don’t understand me wrong, I do not deny that those scenarios may be correct. I don’t deny that there indeed may be Dyson swarm around the star KIC 8462852 either. Simply: should we go first to extraordinary “Resurrection effect” explanations, or carefully examine all naturalistic theories first? Primacy of naturalistic explanations does not exclude the Resurrection event. Paul Vignon, for example, was a devout Catholic, but tried to explain the origin of the Shroud image in purely natural terms. He did not succeed, indeed, but this not lead him to accept so easily supernatural explanation, ignoring all more or less plausible natural scenarios. Had astronomers abandoned their attempts to explain atypical light curve of KIC 8462852 via purely natural means, instead jumped right to the aliens theory, everyone would consider them crazy eggheads. But in sindonology, going right on to the supernatural, without carefully considering everything else first, seems quite common, to my dismay.
But of course, the analogy is not fully corresponding. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, yes. But the Shroud is extraordinary on its own. It isn’t just some star, even with the most peculiar light curve. It isn’t just some cloth. It’s a cloth with a image of Man corresponding to what was described in the Gospels -which proclaimed Jesus (suffering the same way as the Man of the Shroud) the Savior and God Incarnate.
So maybe in case of the Shroud a different approach is justified?
A Guest Posting by Richard Savage
I’m debating the Shroud with the skeptics at International Skeptics Forum (Thread 299015). If you haven’t noticed me on Dan’s blog before, I’ve been doing this for a long time (over 3 years). We’re now on our 4th sub-thread, and ‘going strong’ (17,000 replies, and 788,000 visits altogether) – though, getting nowhere…
No one I’ve told about my hobby can understand my persistence — and really, neither can I — but, for some reason, I’m enjoying myself, and still have hopes. Maybe it has something to do with trying to love my enemies… I don’t know.
But then, my memory is easing down that slippery slope, and I could use a lot of help…
I’m trying to address one sub-sub-etc-issue at a time (there must be thousands of them) with the skeptics, and feel like I’m finally getting somewhere — very slowly. I’ve done a lot of reading and studying about the shroud over the past 35 years, but my memory for specifics has never been that good (I can’t tell a joke), and as my memory of generalities gets worse, so does my memory for specifics, only worse.
But mostly, I haven’t done a good job of keeping track of citations. There’s more to this story, but I’ll spare you the details and just say that I’m looking for some needles in a lot of haystacks — and need some help from people who have kept better track of the same, and more, needles. This blog seems full of such people, and if I can just interest you guys in my plight, I’m sure that I can get a lot of help — and gain some real speed and substance when answering the skeptics.
Without further ado, here’s my first question. My opponents claim that the banding proves that there has been no repair (or, something similar). What’s our best argument(s) otherwise?
Yannick Clément, independent Shroud researcher from Louiseville, Québec, Canada
Guest post concerning the supposed uniqueness
of the Shroud of Turin’s body image
Here’s a message I would like to address to all the people who, over the years, have written on this blog and elsewhere that the Shroud image is certainly not of natural origin since it is a unique case in history, while thousands of people were certainly buried inside this kind of burial cloth.
To me, this is a wrong argument.
First, we must understand that we don’t have a lot of intact ancient burial cloth from Antiquity. In that context, claiming that there hadn’t been any other body images of dead people formed on their burial cloth is unscientific. These potential other images could simply have been lost due to the decaying of the bodies, which would have destroyed them.
Secondly, even if this would be proven that the Shroud image is the only one that has ever been formed on an ancient burial cloth, this would never been a rational argument to discard the hypothesis of a naturally formed image. Effectively, this could simply mean that, in order to get this kind of body image on a burial linen cloth, one or, more probably, some very particular conditions (but natural nonetheless) must have been reunited TOGETHER.
These words “very particular conditions” and “together” are maybe what was at the heart of the image formation that happened on the Shroud of Turin and, among these very particular conditions, I think people (starting with Shroud researchers) should consider with great care the FACT (the blood evidence proves this) that we are dealing here with the burial cloth of a man who died from a series of HIGHLY TRAUMATIC TORTURES. This is already one very particular condition that we are aware of and we know that this had nothing to do with the Resurrection of Christ (but maybe with his death, as reported by the Gospels).
Considering this possibility (which is often ignored or not considered seriously in the context of the image formation), I ask these 2 questions:
Who knows if this highly traumatic state of the Shroud man’s body (and not is supposed glorious body transformation) is not the primary cause of the image formation that happened on the cloth?
Who knows if this highly traumatic state of the Shroud man’s body (and not is supposed glorious body transformation) has not contributed heavily to make the Shroud of Turin, the only known burial cloth in history who got a complete body image on it?
Before ending this guest post, I have to add one more thing (which is important when we think the Shroud can be the real burial cloth of Christ): Even if I am right here, it’s still possible to consider seriously the possibility that the disappearance of Jesus’ body from inside the cloth after less than 72 hours (i.e. the maximum range before the stage of decay stage starts) as another important conditions that might have played a huge role in the ending result (i.e. the formation of a faint but complete body image of the Shroud man on the cloth’s surface). Effectively, in the context of a naturally formed image, it’s truly possible that such a short period of contact between the body and the cloth was primordial to yield the kind of complete and distinct image that is on the Shroud, because it’s truly possible that if this period of contact would have keep on for some more hours (or even a day or two), the ending result would have been a big and undistinct yellow stain that would have covered all the cloth or, at least, a good portion of it. And if the period of contact would have keep on for many more days, the decaying of the body would have surely caused the destruction of the image or, at least, a good portion of it.
Important note: If this short period of contact really played an important role in the natural formation of the body image, it is not, in itself, a proof that something supernatural that would be related to the Resurrection of Christ really happened. Effectively, the door would still be left open for the idea of a manual extraction of the body out of the Shroud by some people before the start of active decay. On the other hand, the door would also be left open for the idea of a sudden, quiet and complete vanishing of the body out of this space-time universe. And if this ever happened, the Resurrection of Christ would have contributed only to stop the natural image formation that was going on (probably for hours at that time) before it was too late instead of having been the main supernatural cause of the image formation, as some people believe.
Note that this is what I personally believe, which proves that you can be someone who believes in the Resurrection of Jesus-Christ, while considering the image on the Shroud as having been formed by a totally (while still undetermined) natural mechanism that was most probably related to the Passion and death of Jesus, much more than his Resurrection…
I get to that point after a long reflection based on my own personal experience of God, the testimony of Jesus’ disciples (as it is reported in the Gospels) concerning his Resurrection and all the pertinent data coming from the Shroud. And if I’m correct, then yes we can say that the Resurrection had something to do with the image formation that happened on the Shroud, but not in the supernatural way it is often described these days (i.e. a supernatural burst of energy coming from the whole body at the time of the Resurrection that would have left the image we know on the cloth). The reader should note that I’m not the only one in that somewhat “unusual” category of people of believes in Christ’s Resurrection, while thinking the image has been formed naturally and was much more related to the Passion and death of Jesus than on his Resurrection. Effectively, we can find in that same category noted Shroud researchers like Pierre Barbet, Yves Delage, Paul Vignon, Antoine Legrand, Father Peter Rinaldi along with probably guys like John DeSalvo, Ray Rogers, Frederick Zugibe and Bruno Barberis (to name a few).
That’s what I wanted to say. In sum, my feeling is that these two very unusual conditions (i.e. the highly traumatic state of the body and the very short stage of the body inside the cloth) were the ones that contributed the most heavily to the formation of the body image we still see on the Shroud of Turin today, along with possibly another important condition that would be the presence of a thin and uneven layer of carbohydrate impurities on the cloth’s surface, which would not be as unusual for a burial cloth manufactured during Antiquity as the two other conditions I just described… In the end, all these conditions could well be totally natural and have nothing to do with the Resurrection of Christ, while having been unusual enough has a whole to have been the only case in history where a dead man has left a complete and distinct image of his whole body on his burial cloth. And if the Resurrection ever had something to do with the image formation, this could have simply been to stop the natural image formation process at the “right time”, which, in itself, can be seen as the accomplishment of God’s Will.
In the end, I simply hope that nobody who will read this will ever be tempted to use the wrong argument of the uniqueness of the Shroud image to back-up a belief they can have that this image can be of supernatural origin. I hope this reflection will be enough for them to understand that such an argument can fit as well with the idea of a body image of totally natural origin! Last note (and this is important): the argument of the uniqueness of this image would never be used by those who proposed the scenario involving a false relic produced by a genius forger with some unknown artistic technique, simply because they know that this kind of uniqueness fits very badly with their idea! Effectively, if this is how the image was produced on the cloth, the logical question would be: why there is not any other image of this kind in all the Christian art (or in any other art form)? In all logic, we should have found other example of the use of this awesome technique in other artworks or Christian relics…
P.S. : I think I prefer to consider myself as a Shroud philosopher (someone who reflect a lot on the subject) more than anything else.
If we take the question of the image formation without also taking into account the rest of the important data coming from the Shroud, I would say that even if Colin Berry could really produced an image on linen that would show ALL the chemical and physical properties of the Shroud image (I’m 99% certain that he can’t because, among other thing, there is absolutely no color penetration anywhere on the Shroud, which is something no medieval forger using the kind of chemical process he proposed could have rationally achieve), his result would never prove that this is how the Shroud image was formed. This would only show that the kind of "artificial" process he proposed can produce an image on linen like the Shroud, which is very different than claiming this MUST be the way it was done.
And more importantly, the evidence coming from the bloodstains (which I have summarized in this paper: http://shroudnm.com/docs/2012-07-26-Yannick-Clément-The-evidence-of-the-bloodstains.pdf) would still be there to contradict the idea of a false relic that could have been "artificially" created by a forger. As I showed in my paper, the blood evidence coming from the Shroud is enough to prove that this cloth is a real burial cloth that has enveloped only for a short period of time a real scourged and crucified man that has been executed with the known historical method that was used by the Roman Empire before the reign of the Emperor Constantine. In such a context, the ONLY rational hypothesis that could involve a forgery is the one I summarized in the point #1 you can find in page 6, which goes like this: "It is a real burial shroud of someone other than Jesus of Nazareth who suffered the same tortures as he with a forged image done by someone without using any art technique. In this case, a forger “naturally” produced the image while using a real human corpse. Because of the great resemblance between what happen to Jesus in the Gospels, we must assume that this forger did it in order to produce a false relic of the Passion of the Christ. Also, because of the presence of many differences between any known artistic depictions of the Passion of the Christ prior to the first known public exhibition of the Shroud in the 14th century and the bloodstains and the body image that are on the Shroud (for example, the nailing in the wrist instead of in the palms, the wearing of a cap of thorns instead of a crown and the very distinct dumbbell shaped marks of scourging coming from a Roman flagrum), we must assume that if he tortured and crucified himself (with the help of some collaborators), this forger was well aware of the Roman procedures concerning scourging and crucifixion. In fact, it is even more rational to think that this forger used the body of a real crucified victim who was put to death by the Romans, before the crucifixion was banished by the emperor Constantine, in the last years of his reign that ended in 337. We also have to assume that this forger took the dead body out of the shroud before it started to corrupt in such a way that this extraction did not disturb the bloodstains, never broke the linen fibrils under them and did not disturb the body image. In sum, this scenario can be described like a “natural” forgery using a real tortured and crucified body. And whether or not the forger knew that he would obtain a body image on the cloth, along with the bloodstains, is not completely clear. In fact, the formation of an image like that could have well been just an accident."
If Berry (or anyone else) still wants to defend the idea of a forgery while remaining rational, I urge him to think seriously of what I just said and to try to find a way to produce a Shroud-like image with the use of biological products that could have been released inside the Shroud shortly after death by a highly-traumatized human corpse that had been scourged and crucified. In my mind, that would certainly be much more interesting than seeing him constantly trying to produce at all cost a Shroud-like image with the use of a man-made technique, while completely leaving aside (or at the very least, not considering seriously) the crucial evidence coming from the bloodstains…
A Guest Posting by O.K. (Read Full PDF)
Why Jesus carried the whole cross and not only the patibulum.
Rebuttal of a long-standing sindonological myth.
The long standing myth of sindonology is that Jesus carried only the horizontal arm of the cross –the patibulum. This view (which is illustrated on the picture below) is based on several premises; namely the permanent presence of vertical beam, the stipes in Roman places of public executions, and the conviction that the whole cross would have been “too heavy” to carry by the single person. Neither of those premises are correct, in fact –and if we confront them with empirical evidence from relics (the Shroud of Turin, the Tunic of Argenteuil, the Good Thief patibulum) and archeological evidence, it is clear to us that Jesus most likely carried the whole cross.
The important work of Donald Lynn and Jean Lorre revisited
In a series of 39 charts, Fourier properties of the Shroud compared to drawings and paintings, O.K. explains why the shroud images are not painted and why bloodstains were not painted on either.
Think of the charts as a guest posting in PDF format. I couldn’t fit it into a simple blog posting and do justice to it, so click on the above link.
O.K. begins with this introduction:
One of the very important, yet rarely mentioned characteristics of the Shroud image is its lack of directionality, that is (to avoid confusion with light directionality, which is also absent) an isotropic FFT spectrum. In layman terms this mean that under high scope, there are no preferred directions in which image intensity modulates. For example , when painter paints a painting he moves his brush in regular way in some (consciously or subconsciously) preferred directions, thus modulating the intensity of the painted area. It can be detected via Fourier transform, or similar (for example wavelet) analysis. It is frequently used in painting analysis –for detection of forgeries for example (each painter has his or her characteristic frequency „signature”, just like handwriting style). Or in other words, according to Wikipedia:
The non -paint origin has been further examined by Fourier transform of the image: common paintings show a directionality that is absent from the Turin Shroud (citing J. J. Lorre – D. J. Lynn, "Digital enhancement of images of the Shroud of Turin", in: Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of research on the Shroud of Turin, Albuquerque 1977, Holy Shroud Guild, New York 1977)
Then he shows us!
Then he concludes:
I could write in conclusion the very same what I have written in introduction: as both blood and body images on the Shroud show isotropic FFT spectrum, it practically excludes that they were painted. We can say that the Shroud is indeed in literal sense acheiropoietos –not made (directly) by human hands (Marion and Courage agree with me). It is practically impossible for humans to make images without some preferred directions –they are always established, no matter what human would do, simply our trained behaviour is much more regular, than random –we are unable to make fully random moves, that would erase Fourier traces of our hands moving. And of course such demand was far beyond thinking horizon of medieval forger.
This of course eliminates the so-often-raised-by-the-sceptics scenario that blood (or pseudo-blood) was later manually added by some clever forgers –or any potential touch ups. All McCrones or Freemans who think the body image, or bloodstains were manually applied to the surface of the cloth would have very easy task –just show us Fourier „signature” of the forger. So why haven’t they done this so far, if they are so convinced that their case is right?