Thank You, Everyone

imageThis is my last posting. I’m retiring from blogging. I need to. It’s time to move on. I’m now more involved in the community where I live and I want to become more active in the church.

I’ll let commenting continue for a few days and then shut down comments for good by years’ end. I’ll keep the blog up for future research and reading.

Thank you, everyone!

If you want to take over in some way, write to me and we’ll try to figure out something.

imageI started this experiment seven years ago with the hope of beginning an ongoing conversation about any and all topics related to the shroud. The slow pace of papers and the length of time between conferences, very much the time-tested way, was too slow for my temperament. There was the Shroud Science Group conducting discussions in private by email. I enjoyed that. But its membership was restricted. It reminded me of the proverbial boyhood tree house with the sign that read, “No Girls Allowed.”

Maybe that’s unfair: You had to be nominated. You had to be invited. No one was ever turned away although a couple of people were eventually kicked out of the group for email misbehaving. If there had been a sign and someplace to hang it, it would have read, “No Skeptics Allowed.” At least, it felt that way.

Skepticism is the healthiest of attitudes with all things having to do with religion. I believed that. For instance, a Christian should never fear new discoveries in science and history. There can be no better test of the strength and truth of one’s faith than to face the questions posed by new views of reality.

We needed to be tempted, not by going into the desert but into the jostling crowd. It took a long time. Thank, God, for Colin Berry and all the others.

At first I didn’t do blogging correctly and this blog didn’t catch on. Eventually, I learned to say less and encouraged others to become the center of the discussion, something I’m not good at. In doing so I created an opportunity to learn a lot from skeptics and non-skeptics alike. I hope this has been true for others because this blog was never intended for my benefit alone.

This blog has exceeded all my expectations. Lately, I have been posting almost every day, sometimes two or three times a day. Comments pour in. They are good comments, not those meaningless short comments you see in so many blogs. There has been a lot of constructive discussion.

In looking back over seven years, I realize that my overall views on the shroud have not changed significantly. You’ll note that in the right hand column of every page, I say, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.” I used to say it probably is instead of may be. I still gut-think it is probably authentic but in all honesty I can’t defend the word probably with real-world science and objective history.

Belief is a less cautious word than knowing. I can say with more honesty that from all the evidence discussed here, with everyone’s input considered, I believe the shroud is indeed authentic. But I can’t say I know it.

As I leave blogging about the shroud, I want to leave a few thoughts behind. This is today’s list. I may awake to a new list tomorrow but I won’t go back and change it. I’m really out of here.

On Overwhelming Evidence: From time to time, people have tried to convince me that the evidence in favor of authenticity is overwhelming. Similarly, others have tried to convince me that the evidence against authenticity – particularly the carbon dating – is overwhelming. No, it is not. It is underwhelming. That is why this blog has over 4000 postings with a total of more than 46,000 comments. That is why this blog has accumulated 3.3 million page views. That is why 790 people subscribe to receive email copies of every posting.

Redo the Carbon Dating: Of course.

On Seeing Things on the Shroud: I don’t think there are any images of ancient coins, plants, teeth or written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew; all these are wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. See: I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin

On 3D Encoding: I think the ability to plot a 3D representation of the body from the image of a man on the shroud with tools like the VP8 Image Analyzer or ImageJ is a valid image characteristic. However, I don’t think that the data – essentially greyscale values of the image – necessarily represents cloth to body distance. To think so requires the assumption that the shroud covered the body. It probably did if the cloth is authentic, but we are not there yet. Nonetheless, I’ve listened to others preposterously trying to prove the authenticity of the cloth from the facts and measurements derived from this assumption.

Moreover, it is often said that it is impossible to plot 3D information from paintings and ordinary photographs. Bill Meacham wrote:

Unlike ordinary photographs or paintings, the Shroud image converted into an undistorted three-dimensional figure, a phenomenon which suggested that the image-forming process acted uniformly through space over the body, front and back, and did not depend on contact of cloth with body at every point.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up. See: It is really, really time to rethink what we think about 3D

Exaggerations: NASA did not analyze the shroud. Ray Rogers was not a general In the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists did not study the shroud, and so-and-so was not a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Drop the exaggerations. They only weaken the truth.

Dematerialization: The suggestion that the image was formed by a cloth falling through a dematerializing body is unfortunate. Permit me to quote Hugh Farey here:

… The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

See: The Process of Resurrection and Dematerialization 101

Sindonology: To quote Colin Berry, because in this I think he is right:

. . . There is no such thing as an expert in the field of sindonology (or shroudology as I prefer to call it. We are all beginners. Some begin better than others. The TS is a test of our ability to separate the wishful thinking that comes with appealing imagery from that of cold hard reality. Sadly there is no part of the human mind that is devoted to detecting CHR. The human mind is programmed to respond on a more immediate like/dislike response to what it sees. It’s part and parcel of the human condition to instantly add layers of fancy to what cunningly or otherwise seduces, or attempts to seduce the eye.


Some of my other favorite postings:

Maybe the devil made them post this

It Was A Single Procedural Screw-Up. No Other Area Was Sampled. Is That Enough?

Why do we think the Resurrection was a process? What if it was not?

The Best Shroud of Turin Pareidolia?

Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin

The Pollen Scam?

Why the images and bloodstains were not painted on

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer?

A Masterly Demolition of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

A Pointless Discussion of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

The Curious ‘a’ in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript

Discussion about the Pray Codex and its relation to the Shroud is over?

Get Thee Upset! Or Not: Thomas de Wesselow’s New Book on the Shroud

Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?


A final note:


When I first started this blog someone told me. “The Shroud of Turin is a Catholic relic. As an Episcopalian you have no right to comment on it.”

I wrote a reply and never posted it. This is my last chance:

It’s true; I’m an Episcopalian. Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Maybe I should explain what sort of Episcopalian I am. I’m High Church – all smells and bells, some say. Every Sunday it’s Solemn High Mass with a priest, deacon and sub-deacon, plenty of incense, holy water, chimes, chanting and recitation of The Angeles (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”). To some, should they visit a service, it might seem a lot like the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass of old. There are differences, however. There is little or no Latin. Look closely and you will see wedding rings on most of our priests and bishops. That is because most of them are married. Many of our priests and even a few bishops are women; so girls are allowed. Generally speaking, we Episcopalians think most Christian denominations or traditions are part of one universal church, one body of Christ. One expression of this is our practice of open communion. We welcome all baptized Christians to participate in the Eucharist. (Personally, I would do away with the requirement of baptism. I would welcome anyone to the “Lord’s Table” regardless of belief or anything else – let God sort these things out, not men and women).

Okay, so I’m an Episcopalian. So what? Would it be any different if I was Methodist or Presbyterian or Greek Orthodox? You say it is a Catholic relic. Is it? Why is that? If the history of the shroud is right, was it not a possession of the Church in Constantinople before 1204? Early on, perhaps it was a relic of the Nestorians or the Syriac Church or even the Church in India. We don’t know is the point. Today, to my way of thinking it is an item (an icon or a relic) for all Christians. The Pope is its current legal custodian and the leader of perhaps its most interested Christian tradition. Beyond that, let God sort it out, not men and women.

Thank you, everyone!

David Rolfe’s Website

imageA reader writes:

I just visited [David Rolfe’s] Shroud Enigma website.  It has been a long time since I looked at it and I see that it has been revised to emphasize his wonderful Shroud of Turin films.  Maybe you could direct your readers to it.

Indeed. The site is The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin. And indeed the films are wonderful. However, I must say more. The Silent Witness, available on Vimeo, is truly a seminal work for the ages.

I had not visited in awhile as well. Thanks for guiding me back to David’s site. 

Why Didn’t I Think of That

Had there been that iconic double image – both sides of the same man, aligned
head-to-head – in someone or other’s possession for 1300 or years prior to Lirey,
it would have leaked out into the public domain

— Colin Berry

imageTypically and daily, well over three thousand people see each and every new posting to this blog. It may arrive in their inbox as one of the 787 emails that go every time I post something. It may arrive via Twitter and Facebook. On average, one thousand people access a posting from search engines or subject-specific news feeds like Yahoo.  Hundreds type in the URL or click on a book mark.

Some will skim the first few lines, if that. Some will read the whole posting before chucking it. There is, however, a hardcore group that reads the posts carefully and writes comments. These comments often lead to wonderful discussions by several people, almost all of them people better informed and a heck of a lot smarter than me when it comes to the shroud.  Often, the topic drifts. That’s fine.

Now and then someone writes something that grabs your attention.  For instance, this morning I saw the following by Colin Berry. It made me stop and think. I don’t like what Colin wrote because maybe it’s true and I am hoping someone smarter than me will respond:

Had there been that iconic double image – both sides of the same man, aligned head-to-head – in someone or other’s possession for 1300 or years prior to Lirey, it would have leaked out into the public domain, if only as a rumour. It would have required just one quick sketch, scarcely more than graffiti, to become an instantly recognizable logo, signalling the sheet that enveloped the crucified Jesus, leaving his supposed faint bloodied imprint of BOTH sides.

But there’s no record pre-1355 of any such iconic double image. So why not just accept that the double-image did not exist before the mid-14th century?

imageAnd then the topic drifts; call it a two for one comment from Colin. I wonder why Colin thinks what he thinks:

… Why not regard it as an ingenious artefact that has (allegedly) perplexed the brightest and best of modern day scientists? Or has it? Which top notch scientists have been invited to examine it? If anyone here knows of any, then please name them and their research achievements. Don’t be content to say they were “experts” or highly regarded in their chosen field. State the discoveries and insights for which they are famous.

I say the TS has never been investigated by a top notch scientist associated with a major discovery, no disrespect to the Hellers, Adlers, Rogers etc, certainly not of Nobel Prize standard. Yet the UK institute where one of my medically-qualified offspring works does immunological research is reputed as having a still-active Nobel Prize winner on every floor! They do exist, and I’ve no doubt some are quite approachable. Why has the TS not been evaluated by someone of that standing? …

To my way of thinking, the acclaim that a scientist is top notch and the nominations for prizes and fellowship usually stem from accomplishments made before fame. I think, for instance, of Jonas Salk. He was not an acclaimed top notch scientist or a prize winner when he saw the possibility of developing a polio vaccine. To quote Julius Youngner, a scientist interviewed for a PBS documentary, “Jonas was a young whippersnapper who came out of nowhere, and suddenly is taking on this responsibility…”

I don’t like Colin’s argument. But others might.  He does have a point, however, that can well be directed at some who make exaggerated claims of credentials for shroud scientists and sometimes so-called scientists.

If you want to read the whole discussion, and you should if you have not, visit A Must Read Regarding the Othon de la Roche Hypothesis.  There are, as of this moment, 40 thoughtful, thought-provoking comments.

Searching for Papers

imageA reader writes:

… you know that by typing in “" you get a list of all of the pdf papers on the site in alphabetical order. This can be useful in doing research. You should let others on your blog know.

Actually, the pdfs directory is not the only place pdf files are stored on the site.

The preferred method, to my way of thinking, is to use the following Google search: filetype:pdf

If you want to limit yourself to the pdfs directory (why would you?) modify the command so it reads thus: filetype:pdf

If you want to search elsewhere, you may. For instance: filetype:pdf filetype:pdf filetype:pdf

With any of these searches, it is a good idea to add some words like shroud or pollen or whatever is your particular interest of the moment.

If you start your search with Google Advanced Search, you can specify a language. is altogether another matter.   It is a rich archive of papers on the shroud – probably the largest and you’ll find many newer English language papers there – but you can’t search it with Google or any of the other major search engines if you specify a filetype. So don’t. On the other hand, it is a good bet that whatever it is you find in, it will be a PDF file. And using words like Shroud and Turin are a must. For instance the following work well in Google: shroud of turin

Donate to STERA

imageBarrie Schwortz has posted the following on the STERA Facebook page:

We hope you are enjoying the Fall Update to! It was a large one and also launched our once-a-year fundraising effort. Naturally, we hope many of you will make a tax deductible contribution to STERA, Inc. since we must rely in part on our viewers for financial support. We have made it easy to safely contribute online using PayPal or a credit or debit card via our Secure Contribution Form. You can also contribute by mail or by telephone. We thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity.


Here is a link to the Nonprofit Locator page on STERA

Here is a link to latest IRS 990 I could find online.

The Sudarium: A Better Provenance and History?

imageThe Paranormal Report blog, just yesterday, posted a short report, The Sudarium of Oviedo – Better than the Shroud of Turin?

on the Sudarium of Oviedo:

Lying in the Cathedral of Oviedo, Spain in relative obscurity compared to its more famous cousin, the Sudarium presents a better provenance and history than the Shroud and may be the sole surviving relic of the crucifixion that has made it to modern times. Measuring 34″ by 21″, the Sudarium is a bloodstained cloth purported to have covered the head of Jesus of Nazareth after his burial. The cloth is mentioned to have been in the tomb in John 20:6-7 described as a cloth seperate from the shroud. It isn’t mentioned again until 570 A.D. when it was being kept by monks in a cave near Jerusalem. In 614, just before the Sasanian King of Persia Khusru II conquered Jerusalem, the cloth was taken to Alexandria, and within just a few years made its way to Spain through North Africa. Its been there ever since.

AND: here is a 1997 paper with pictures, The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin by Mark Guscin

Here are some postings on the Sudarium in this blog in just the past year:

Fr. Matthew Pittam on Relics

imageWhen have you ever read about the carbon dating of the shroud in which no mention was made about the results?

The University of Oxford is to become a world leading centre into the study of religious relics following the launch of a new department. This ground-breaking centre, based in Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre, is to be composed of computer and medical scientists as well as historians, classicists and theologians. Such an interdisciplinary approach builds upon work that has been undertaken by the university’s archaeological school since the 1980s.

Past achievements within the university have included the dating of the shroud of Turin, which involved study in three laboratories and the radiocarbon accelerator unit. This new unit is the first time that such a wide-ranging field of experts has been brought together in this way.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; this article is not about the shroud but … As a new centre to study relics opens in Oxford, Fr Matthew Pittam takes a look at some more unusual examples in the Catholic Herald:

  • The head of St Catherine of Siena – San Domenico Basilica Siena, Italy
  • The Holy Prepuce (Christ’s foreskin) – stolen in the 1980s
  • St Antonius’s body – Church of San Marco, Florence, Italy
  • Blessed John Henry Newman – The Oratory of St Philip Neri, Birmingham, UK
  • The hand of St Francis Xavier – Gesu, Rome

Well, I hope Oxford is not planning to test the foreskin.  It has gone missing, since 1983. 

Fr. Pittam concludes his article:

I remember a friend telling me how he had retrieved relics from a presbytery bin when the parish priest had disposed of them in the early 1980s. This just shows how relics have been regarded by many more recently.

Hopefully, the new Oxford Centre for the Study of Relics will help further advance and promote the use of relics in the Church and encourage us to think afresh about their importance. Whilst studies will undoubtedly identify some relics as counterfeit or misidentified, others may be confirmed as originating from the time and place where the holy person lived. It will certainly give the veneration of relics more credibility.

JFK and the Shroud of Turin

imageJohn Klotz has an interesting posting in his blog, Living Free.  It’s called Yet again, JFK [and the Shroud]. Read it and follow the links.

THE BOOKENDS — beginning:

I am working to update and mold the material in Quantum Christ into a new book tentatively entitled "The Pope and the Apocalypse [and the Shroud?] Distractions abound including four matters that are still in litigation at one stage or another. Also, current events of an apocalyptic nature including the refugee crisis are a necessary distraction but a component of what I will be writing about.

— ending:

This morning there was published on Salon an excerpt from a new book by David Talbot. David is not only the founder and first editor of Salon; he has spent a lifetime digging deep in the JFK assassination. I thoroughly recommend the Salon posting. And the next time some scientific expert or skeptic derides the authenticity of the Shroud as being disproved by the "evidence," think JFK and the Warren Report.

(link shortened by me using Google URL Shortener)

Is it the evidence or the legitimizing and reporting of the evidence?

Dematerialization 101

After too much wine, I guess I might imagine that dematerialization might have happened.

clip_image001Though my recent posting, The Process of Resurrection, got few comments (only 14), it did generate some emails to which I here respond without bothering to repeat the content of the emails; you’ll get the gist of them.

No, the Resurrection is not a scientific fact. No John Jackson did not prove any such thing. And no, the “fact” that Jesus walked through a closed door is not evidence that his post-resurrection body had dematerialized. Nor did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene not to touch him because he was mechanically transparent.

The Bible doesn’t even say that Jesus walked through anything. John 20:19 (New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition) reads:

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Where does it say that he walked or passed through a door or a wall? Now go read The Process of Resurrection if you haven’t already done so. Read about angels and the in-between. Understand, we are talking metaphorically.

Verse 26 doesn’t offer any support to the idea that Jesus passed through anything:

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

And verse 27 doesn’t say that Jesus had rematerialized mechanically while in the upper room with Thomas:

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

It doesn’t say that Thomas touched Jesus.  Maybe this was history’s greatest bluff and Thomas was not only a doubter but someone who failed to call that bluff.

Verse 17 does not mean that Jesus’ body was dematerialized:

Jesus said to her “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father…

Wishful imagination is permitted. But it is only wishful imagination. The author of John’s Gospel, whoever he was, could have been more specific. And Jesus could have been clearer.

“Do not doubt but believe,” said Jesus to Thomas.

What we find in the Bible, in John’s Gospel, or in any of the Old or New Testament books, is not scientific fact. And no, it isn’t even evidence. To my way of thinking this is not only true in the fields of science but also so in the objective study of history.  It is not historical fact that Jesus appeared to anyone after his burial. Thus I don’t know if the events in the cenacle happened as John’s Gospel tells it. I don’t know if these events happened at all.

But I do believe the stories; that is a different way of thinking, altogether. I peg my faith on what I believe not on what I know to be fact.

“Do not doubt but believe,” said Jesus to Thomas.

So, I should also tell you what I don’t believe.  I don’t believe that Jesus’ body dematerialized and/or rematerialized, not as part of the Resurrection and not at any other time before the Ascension.  There is no biblical, scientific or historical basis whatsoever for thinking so.

I’m saying I don’t believe it. I’m not saying I believe it didn’t happen. The distinction is in why.

But the shroud proves dematerialization, nonetheless, right?

Wrong! The idea that Jesus’ burial cloth fell through a mechanically transparent body while something energetic created an image on the cloth is complete fantasy.  I turn to the best short answer anyone has ever written on the subject. There is nothing new in what Hugh Farey writes, just wonderfully, right-on, articulate brevity:

[You say:] “The fall-through hypothesis fits the data of the image characteristics.”

Well, of course. The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

After too much wine, I guess I might imagine dematerialization might have happened. After all, nobody can prove it didn’t.

Another Perspective on the Shroud Copy Exhibited at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The amazing research that has gone into the identification and authentication of the Shroud of Turin (replica represented in the Exhibit) gave me pause

Kanwal Prakash Singh gives us an interesting perspective from his visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (related, see Facebook: Barrie Schwortz on Indianapolis) in the Punjab News Express:

What one sees at the “National Geographic Sacred Journeys” Exhibit that opened on August 29 at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is only one part; what the treasured iconic images and artifacts inspire in our heart and the “pilgrimage” into our deeper self may transform our perceptions and relationships with others may be the real major blessing and sure to initiate interfaith events and journeys of discovery closer to home. That will define the ultimate gift and triumph of the “Sacred Journeys” Exhibit, annual Indy Festival of Faiths, other faith-based efforts, and lead us to learn about and respect this diversity as an important dimension and spectrum of our humanity.

… The Sacred Journeys Exhibit at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis is a carefully-choreographed window to some selected panels of sacred heritage and faith traditions…

Towards the end of the article:

“Sacred Journeys” is especially important for children. In today’s multicultural society, schools, workplaces, an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world, it is important that we know about other cultures and neighbors. If for no other reason, then at least to develop respect: end suspicion, unfounded stereotyping, prejudice; problems of mistaken identity and wrongful associations that are causing many challenges for Sikh Americans and others.


“Sacred Journeys” helped my understanding and awareness. It did not intrude upon faith precepts, commandments, and traditions. The amazing research that has gone into the identification and authentication of the Shroud of Turin (replica represented in the Exhibit) gave me pause about the priceless surviving artifacts and vestments of Sikh Gurus, many hand-written sacred texts, the hallowed history and heritage that presently lie in less than ideal conditions and environment – in old suitcases, closets, untended places in Sikh shrines and with people that may not fully understand their historic and timeless spiritual significance. Witnessing the care, attention, scientific and technological advancements adopted by Abrahamic faiths, gave me a jolt of urgency to draw attention to preservation, safeguarding the sacred in Sikh and other faiths.



The Process of Resurrection

imageDuring the past several days, I have noticed several comments with the phrases “resurrection process” or the “process of resurrection.” Why do we think the resurrection was a process?

We are all familiar, at least in principle, with the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It is a process. We can make a time-lapsed movie of it and see each and every step. Some will say they see a miracle unfolding. Others will say it is nothing of the kind; it is a perfectly explainable biological process.

If you were to take the first frame and the last frame from the movie of the process, splice them together and pretend that nothing happened in between then you could pronounce and demonstrate with a very short, two-frame movie that a miracle transformation had taken place without a process.

The resurrection, if we are to believe in it, was a miracle. And if we are to take our knowledge from scripture alone, there was a before and after, a first frame so to speak and a last frame. There was nothing in between that we know about. So, why do we think there was a process? Why do we think, for instance, the body dematerialized such that a cloth might fall through it or that that the body might releases some form of energetic byproduct during the resurrection? Why do we think, as Mark Antonacci suggests that Jesus might have passed through a traversable Lorentzian wormhole in space-time or as Frank Tipler suggests that the process of resurrection might have been a form of electroweak quantum tunneling and the images on the Shroud the consequence of a Sphaleron field?

imageThomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica tried to explain that angels in going from one place to another did not pass through the place in between. Nor did they consume time doing so.

By this sort of local movement an angel may, at will, be present successively in several places and thus may be said to pass through the space between the first and the last place of the series. Or an angel may cease to apply its powers in the first place and begin to apply them in the last, not passing through the space between.

Since there is succession, that is, before-and-after, in the application of an angel’s powers, now here and now there, it must be said that an angel’s local movement occurs in time, and is not instantaneous. This time, however, is not measurable in our minutes or seconds; these units of time are applicable only to bodily movement.

For angels, at least in how they traveled, there is only a first frame and a last frame, so to speak.

Thomas was much into angels and was brilliant at logical speculation. We can leave it at that. We don’t need to agree with the saint. Nonetheless, this notion of his provides a useful metaphor for pondering supernatural action. There is in his imaginings a change of state and no measure of time.

Might the resurrection have been that way? What about other miracles? When Jesus healed the blind man was there a moment in time when the man’s eyesight was partially restored? When Jesus turned water into wine were there moments in time, no matter how brief, when the wine was still mostly water and when – perhaps fractions of nanoseconds later – the water was mostly wine?

Might the resurrection have been just a miracle with a before and after and no in between process?

The problem, for us in the shroud world, is we need something to get that image on the cloth.  Or do we?

Fall Update to

Here it is, as promised, and right on time. In an email to subscribers, Barrie Schwortz writes:

We are happy to announce that our major Fall Update is now online! Just visit our Late Breaking Website News page for all the details.

This update leads off with my full report on the 49th annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Jalsa Salana UK Convention that was held in Hampshire, England, in August of this year, where I was invited to speak by the publishers of the highly respected 113 year old journal, The Review of Religions. I was joined by Pam Moon, who displayed materials from her beautiful Shroud of Turin Exhibition, including a lifesize Shroud replica and lifesize prints. The article also includes many photographs and videos from the event.

We have also added the next ten issues of Rex Morgan’s Shroud News, a report on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Exhibit, a memorial for the passing of two long time Shroud researchers and an article about another relic that is of interest to Shroud researchers.

You will also find a large selection of recently published Shroud articles and papers, a list of recently published books and newly released videos, news of a special sale on our backlit Shroud transparencies in PhotoGlow frames from our Website Store page, important information about our 20th anniversary update coming on January 21, 2016and much more.

This update is a big one and should keep you busy through the holidays, so enjoy reading all the new material!…

CONTRIBUTE:  With this update, STERA, Inc. begins its annual fundraising campaign.  STERA, which operates is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit. Here is a Financial Summary. As you can readily see by it, even a small tax-deductible contribution can make a big difference.

Here is a linked up table of contents for the Late Breaking Website News page:

Picture is inline at Caption reads:  “Arif Khan and Barrie Schwortz on Live TV to 50 Million Viewers in Africa. … ©2015 Review of Religions

Ye Denizens of Shroudsponge

“You can prove anything with the Bible.”

— My Grandmother*

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Just About Everyone Who Ever Lived

* I looked long and hard for the original author of the phrase about proving anything with the Bible. Not finding anything in cyberspace, I concluded that my grandmother thought this up all by herself.

And if you need an example, Colin Berry, just a couple of days ago, offered this afterthought in a long multi-topic  blog post titled, Might flour-power have been used create the enigmatic “Shroud” of Turin body image? A retired FMBRA flour scientist says … (the ellipsis are his and the following reference to the “denizens of the shroudsponge” is certainly a reference to the readers of this blog):

Hard though it is to believe, the denizens of the shroudsponge site are STILL returning again and again to what are seen as allegedly conflicting NT accounts re burial garments. (oh no they’re not).

As stated here before, MANY, MANY TIMES, there is no conflict whatsoever between the “sindon” (single large linen sheet) supplied to the cross by Joseph of Arimathea (as per 3 synoptic gospels), intended for discreet transport of a naked or near-naked body to the nearby tomb, and the “othonia”, assumed to be a narrow winding strip (or strips) supplied by Nicodemus and taken direct to the tomb, along with that 100lbs of myrrh and aloes.

Even those 12th century Hungarian monks charged with providing simple pen-drawn illustrations for the Pray Codex had no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling those two separate sources of linen, providing us with a ‘snapshot’ of one replacing the other!

You may click on the image to see it on Colin’s website. The caption for the image reads:

Hungarian Pray Codex (1192). Note the presence of TWO separate linens – Joseph of Arimathea’s beneath the corpse, having served its transport function, and the narrow winding strip in readiness as the permanent burial shroud. (Whether the medieval mind was correct in assuming ‘othonia’ to represent a narrow bandage-like winding is an entirely separate issue from that of TWO separate linens (sensible interpretation) v the self-serving notion prevailing in sindonology that J of A’s linen was somehow intended to be dual-purpose, thereby air-brushing out John’s testimony re Nicodemus having supplied additional linen replacing J of A’s transport linen, to serve as final burial shroud).

That Sindonology Band is Back in Town

clip_image001Over on one of his blogs, Colin Berry has let us know his “next posting has a provisional title: ‘76 mistruths about the Turin Shroud’.”

That should be fun.

Colin goes on to suggest, parenthetically, that “One could almost set that to music, featuring massed trombones.”

“Don’t expect anything soon,” he tells us, however, “… end November is a possibility.”

The title for this post are his words from his blog. Even that picture of a marching band comes from his blog; well, not originally. That picture is of the Davis High School Marching Band of Kaysville, Utah. Here is another picture.


And now you have something to do this weekend

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from
an innate doubt that God would work in this way…

image image Joe Marino uncovered a weekend’s worth of reading and reflection, specifically a blog posting and two papers:

Posting:  The Turin Shroud: fake or genuine? by Eric Hatfield (pictured in white shirt)

Main Paper:  The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik (pictured in striped shirt)

Supporting Paper:  Excursuses to the Article "The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment" by Atle Ottesen Søvik

Joe’s email to me reads:

Hi Dan,

I came across this interesting article at the "Is there a God" blog (from June 2015):

It references 2 substantial Shroud articles on, one of which Barrie mentioned on his site back in 2014:

The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik – (This article is a translation of the article “Likkledet i Torino – en kritisk vurdering," published in Teologisk Tidsskrift (Journal of Theology), no 3, 2013: 266-294). The author holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and teaches at MF Norwegian School of Theology. You can follow Atle and read some of his other papers (many in English) on We have also added a permanent link to the article on the Scientific Papers & Articles and Website Library pages of the site. Here is the abstract:

This article discusses the question of whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus, and it consists of four parts. First I present facts about the Shroud. Then I discuss whether the image comes from a corpse or is artificially produced another way, and conclude that it comes from a corpse. This means that if it is a forgery, a corpse was used to create the image. After that, I briefly discuss whether it may be the burial cloth of an unknown crucified man, and argue that it must be the burial cloth of Jesus or a forgery meant to resemble Jesus. Finally, I discuss the crucial question of when the image was formed: is it a forgery from the fourteenth century or is it the real burial cloth of Jesus from AD 30?

The author of the blog article states:

I was fortunate to come across a 2013 review of both sides of the argument by Atle Søvik, a Norwegian Philosopher of Religion and Professor of Theology. His review is based mainly on published peer-reviewed papers, and is found in a main paper and a supporting paper.

It may be thought that a Professor of Theology isn’t an impartial observer, but I believe this is the most balanced assessment I have come across, because he is an academic, he seems impartial and reliable, it is in a peer-reviewed journal, he is not Catholic and he is likely a liberal Christian who isn’t as strongly biased towards supernatural explanations as a naturalist would be biased against them. I am strengthened in this conclusion after brief correspondence with a sceptical member of his review team.

The link for the "main paper" is what Barrie posted.  However, Barrie apparently didn’t post the "supporting paper," which is actually 2 pages longer than the main paper.  Funny, I don’t even remember seeing the main paper from when Barrie posted it–I must have somehow missed it.  I’m getting more senior moments than I used to.  I did a search on your blog for article name and author and didn’t see anything.  Both articles are impressive.

I GO TO CONCLUSLIONS:  It is a bad habit of mine.  But then I do go back and read. Here is Eric Hatfield’s conclusion from his blog site:

It seems to be a case of the carbon dating vs the rest of the evidence. Søvik cautiously concludes that the evidence for a first century date is slightly stronger, but I think neither side has proved their case or shown the other side to be wrong. The sceptical case relies on a few old papers and a lot of bluster, but the case for authenticity stumbles on the radiocarbon dating. I don’t think we can be confident either way. (I’m sorry to have to sit on the fence.)

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from an innate doubt that God would work in this way – after all, Jesus refused to use spectacular signs to authenticate himself. I cannot remove from my mind the many other relics, some of which are quite impossible, and some of which (e.g. non-decaying saints) seem quite superstitious.

If only the radiocarbon and vanillin testing could be re-done by agreed best methods, we might get a better answer. In the meantime, both believers and sceptics would do well to avoid making over-strong claims.

Bravo!  I have always had a bit of that gut-over-brain skepticism. 

And thanks, Joe.

Proof that art experts are not always right

imageDramatic Irony Award In Blogging:

It should go without saying that scientists aren’t always right. Neither are art experts. In 1978, chemist Walter C. McCrone, a leading expert on art forgeries McCrone performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud and concluded that the burial cloth wasn’t old enough to be the real thing. But other scientists disagreed. Raymond Rogers, Science Fellow of the University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, dated the shroud to the 1st century, saying that the material that McCrone carbon dated was not the original fabric, but rather a part of the shroud that had been rewoven after a fire in the Middle Ages.

Of course, Walter McCrone never “performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud.” Nor did Rogers date the shroud to the 1st century. So it turns out, neither are art experts always write while righting blogs posts about writing wrongs.

Pictured, Walter McCrone looking right.

Numerous Plant Species and Human Lineages Identified. Now What?

imageA caller asked me (please use email or blog comments):

Have you taken a careful look at the two color-coded charts from the Nature paper? Now what?

I don’t know.  I think this paragraph from the paper, Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud helps somewhat.

DNA extracted from dust particles that were vacuumed from the Turin Shroud shows sequence profiles that identify numerous plant species and correspond to several distinct human mtDNA haplogroups. These results not only confirm that plant fibers and pollen grains are present on TS, as previously reported by optical microscopy, but also reveal that multiple human individuals touched or otherwise left traces of their DNA on the relic linen. The detection of such a variety of DNA sources is extremely valuable in assessing whether there are possible parallelisms between the areas of origin and distribution of identified land plant species and human mtDNA haplogroups and the temporal and spatial paths associated with the two alternative scenarios that have been proposed to explain the TS origin.

Is there more that we can know or assume from this data?

Click on each of these charts for bigger, easier to read versions.



News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Emanuela Marinelli to receive the International Prize for Catholic Culture

… Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud. Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world.

imageWe learn from the Amici della Sindone (Friends of the Shroud) Facebook page (as automatically translated from Italian to English in Google Chrome):

The International Prize for Catholic Culture will be delivered to sindonologa Emanuela Marinelli (pictured) on October 23 at 20.30, in a solemn ceremony at the Theatre Remondinis of Bassano del Grappa. Professor Marinelli, Roman, takes care of the Shroud for 38 years and has written 17 books on the subject and held hundreds of conferences in various countries around the world; He was also the coordinator of the organizing committee of the World Congress "Sindone 2000" in Orvieto. Recognition Bassano, run by the local Catholic school culture and come to the XXXIII edition, went among others to personalities like Joseph Ratzinger, Krysztof Zanussi, Angelo Scola, Riccardo Muti, Camillo Ruini, Ugo Amaldi, Michael Novak, Divo Barsotti, Cornelius Fabro, Augusto Del Noce …

In 1977, the Swiss botanist Max Frei made public the results of a search on the pollen of which had found no trace on the Shroud: over 58 types, 38 belonged to plants of Palestine that does not exist in Europe. The most frequent pollen were identical to those found in the sediments of the Sea of ​​Galilee. In Emanuela Marinelli, then a young graduate in Natural Sciences and Geology at the "Sapienza" of Rome, the discovery sparked a deep interest. Pollen from Palestine, as a signature on the relic that since 1933 was not exposed to the public. The Marinelli knocked Centre Roman Sindonology Monsignor Giulio Ricci, began to study. He learned that at the heel of the stranger wrapped in the cloth was no sign of a kind of aragonite, the same as that found in the caves of Jerusalem. And Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud.Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world. For this passionate outreach activities Professor receives 23 October in Bassano del Grappa the prestigious International Award for Culture Cattolica.La we meet in a cafe in Rome. Youthful, lively, the way he talks it is clear that falling in love for the Holy Shroud continues, since that distant day when, say, a copy before she found herself without words: "It seemed to me – he says – a Gospel written in blood." But it was 1988, the year of the famous test using carbon 14 on a piece of cloth: the Shroud, or so it was said, to the test of science. From the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich came the verdict: the sheet went back to the Middle Ages. A trenchant outcome, which seemed to sweep away centuries of hopes to have, still, a material trace of the passage of Christ on earth. Almost everyone at that point, as he wrote Vittorio Messori, bowed, devout, in "St. C14." Not everyone, however. Emanuela Marinelli: "The angle of the sheet material to be analyzed turned out to have been manipulated, patched, polluted by fungi and bacteria. If the sample was contaminated, the date could refer to the tracks left by dust and manipulation. " They supported him then, moreover, distinguished scholars like Gove. The shadow that science seemed to have dissipated, actually remained.Although, says Marinelli, "he is felt a desire to deny the historicity of the Shroud, regardless of any element emerged from the research. An ideologically motivated denial: perhaps because, as Cardinal Biffi said, if the Shroud is false for a Christian does not change anything, but if the shroud is real, for atheists change many things … ".The ‘truth’ absolute sentenced by Carbon 14 was for Marinelli, who had a degree in Natural Sciences with a thesis on the radioactivity of uranium, a challenge to study again. That was when he published the first of his 17 books, exploring every search, every word spoken on the Shroud. Because much yet, according to her, it was not clear. "The fabric – he says – shows a selvedge and seam details, and is comparable to the tissues found years ago at Masada, and dating back to the first century after Christ. The analyzes show that there is blood in your wound; other analyzes show that a body lay in the towel for 36/40 hours. But there is no trace of the drag that should appear, if the body had been removed. " "He knows what scholars, although atheists and ‘deniers’, admit that the Shroud was wrapped a man? Doctors and artists: the first because they recognize that this is blood, the latter because they understand that this is not painting. The experiment more significant, however, was conducted in Italy, Enea. An excimer laser was focused on a tissue, and the effect is the closest thing we have to the image of the Shroud. The fabric is yellowed, as had been crossed by a fortissimaluce. " The faith does not affect his studies? We ask. Her calm: "No. Pollens, aragonite, the selvage of the fabric, are all facts. Today we can say that the test of carbon 14 is not enough to deny the authenticity of the Shroud. " You can, in your opinion, conduct new tests reliable? "I’m afraid not, because the fire which escaped the cloth closed in a box, in 1532 in Chambéry, it can still contaminated, and this will alter the results of the carbon." The Shroud, then, is it for you? "An image still unexplained, leaving us on the threshold of an enigma. How Arpino wrote: ‘In a world that is bulging of monuments, pyramids, coliseums, triumphal arches, equestrian statues, temples untouched or corroded by mold and neglect, on this planet only a linen cloth, with quell’Orma preserves its mystery ‘. But this, in his poverty, continues to call men. The Shroud is an icon of human suffering. People, when I go to talk, I listen to is everywhere: in the most distant regions of the world, in schools, in prisons. " But one evening an elderly woman, after the conference, got up from the floor. It was modest Southern Italy, with his hands spoiled from family work. "Professor – he said – I did not understand much of the carbon 14, however, one thing I realized. I understand that we must become like the Shroud, we stamparci into the image of that suffering face, to take him to those we meet. " And that time was the teacher, moved, to remain silent.

Maybe the devil made them post this

imageI thought it sounded familiar.* Here was a short paragraph of indisputable wishful thinking. Here it was being quoted in an article without any attribution that I could see, its author being used solely as a straw man to be wishfully disputed:

[…] some of the inexplicable anomalies that the shroud seems to posses: the 3-dimensional quality of the image; the laser-like transmission of the image that is beyond our present technology, etc? Frankly, I can’t explain them. Neither do I care to. Satan has been very good at getting our attention off of God and getting us to waste our time on trivialities. If Satan, as the father of lies, can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), then he’s probably clever enough to provide some trickery in this world. […]

That part of a paragraph is from a short book, The Shroud of Turin: Holy or Hoax, by a fundamentalist preacher named Jon J. Cardwell of Anniston, Alabama. You can get a PDF of the book for free at There are many little the-shroud-cannot-be-real gems in it like this:

The Hebrew word למרטים (L’Maratiym), which is translated “plucked off the hair,” literally means “to make bald.” Jesus Christ didn’t just have a tuft of His beard pulled out; His entire beard was plucked from His face!

And this:

according to Isaiah 52:14: “As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”  In other words, the Christ’s appearance would be disfigured until He was unrecognizable as a human being.

No, I did not forget (sic). Astonished is spelled astonied in the King James version of the Bible.

And this:

A cursory study of the coinage and the sculptures of that day do so inform and testify. By all three cultures, long hair for men “would have been regarded as a token of effeminacy.”

You get the idea! So one wonders, did Cardwell even need to be disputed. Julie LaBrecque and Walid Shoebat think so. In a blog posting, Amazing Discoveries Reveal That The Shroud Of Turin Included The Gospels, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection And The Trinity, they start off with this:

The evidence for the Shroud of Turin being divinely made is overwhelming; not only is it beyond doubt that it is the very burial cloth used to bury Christ, but the Shroud survived throughout the ages from fires and the scrutiny of science and the slander of men it put an end to several hotly debated issues (as we shall see here). The Shroud was no manmade relic, for it possesses attributes that defy science proving it conforms to no known law of physics (more on that later). It even etched the Gospel message putting an end to theological disputes by debunking the iconoclast and the opposition to the veneration of images. It ended the debate whether Christ was crucified on a stake or a cross and it even confirmed Christian theology regarding the Holy Trinity leaving the ardent skeptic with no answer but to slander it by saying that it was made by the devil himself:

Beyond doubt? Really? And … leaving the ardent skeptic with no answer but to slander the shroud by saying that it was made by the devil himself? Tell that to Colin Berry or Joe Nickell.

Okay, let’s see what we have from LaBrecque and Shoebat. There is this over-stretched counterargument :

Is all this denial because God chose that the Shroud be entrusted to Catholics given in succession, and by this the Shroud also proves that God designed an apostolic succession?

Nice try.  What about the Coptics, Greek, Ethiopian, Syriac and Russian Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Moravians, the Mar Thoma Orthodox when it comes to apostolic succession?

And, arguably, it was never really entrusted to the Catholics until Umberto II died in 1983.

There is this from LaBrecque and Shoebat (fasten your seatbelts and try to read it all):

It is here that we begin to see what baffles science. In 2004, Dame Piczek, a physicist, became fascinated by the total absence of distortion of the Shroud image, a physical impossibility if the body had been lying on solid rock. Piczek’s work strongly suggests that the image of Jesus was projected as a quantum hologram onto the cloth as His body underwent the process of Resurrection.

Piczek perhaps best known for her study of the Shroud of Turin was baffled “The entire Resurrection process is akin to the Big Bang creation of the universe when something was created from nothing,” explains Piczek. “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.”

She further explains:

“The Body is hovering between the upper and the lower sheet and there is NO TRACE OF GRAVITY. The lack of gravity is also further proven by the Shroud linen. The linen does not fall on top of the Body, but remains in its unnaturally stretched condition at some distance from the body.”

To fathom or even scientifically explain “no time” “no space” “no gravity” is an impossibility:

“According to the nature of event horizons the dead body must have left its image on the two surfaces of the event horizons. At the time of the explosion (when time stopped) of the event horizons these images were ejected onto both sides of the Shroud, with the body hovering parallel to the event horizons. This explains why the image shows a dead man, not the risen body, and also explains why the image is negative (went from a positive body image to the negative image like a camera film negative). This indicates how the image got onto the cloth.”

The complicated physics behind the image on the Shroud explained: “As quantum time collapses to absolute zero (time stopped moving) in the tomb of Christ, the two event horizons (one stopping events from above and the other stopping the events from below at the moment of the zero time collapse) going through the body get infinitely close to each other and eliminate each other.

And why would the devil, who loves death, want known that the transference of the Image to the cloth even speaks of a future resurrection event? …

Me: I’m about as far as you can get from being a fundamentalist or a biblical literalist. Even so, I would put my money on Genesis I with God hovering over the face of the waters and proclaiming, “Let there be light” and then taking a nap on the seventh day before I’d bet on any of Piczek’s ludicrous made-up physics.

imageMaybe the devil made LaBrecque and Shoebat post this piece. How would we know?  I mean, how can you  explain that a certain quoted fundamentalist preacher named Jon J. Cardwell of Anniston, Alabama was never even mentioned by name?  Maybe the devil didn’t want that?

* The devil made me tell a lie. I never thought that paragraph by Cardwell sounded familiar. I had never heard of him or his book. I went a-Googling for the source of that paragraph. 

What Type of Person Are You?

Tom Hoopes writes in the English edition of Aleteia, That Moment When You Start Taking Jesus Seriously:

There are two kinds of people attracted by the truth. First, there are people with highly attuned B.S.-detectors who want to find rock-bottom truth. They come to Christ through philosophy or scientific discovery or apologetics.

But then there are people who are not necessarily intellectuals but who delight in the “Amazing Faith Facts” side of Catholicism. The Shroud of Turin, the Our Lady of Guadalupe tilma or the blood of St. Januarius bring them in. These, too, thrill to the truth.  (emphasis mine)

And then there are those of us who …