Greetings, Mr. Porter,
I just read your piece [Pictures of the Day] … Standing room only for talk by Barrie Schwortz at Jalsa Salana United Kingdom yesterday….
I would like to give some input, and perhaps you’ll have some answers. The question of how the images, on both the ventral and dorsal sides of the Shroud were made, is still considered a mystery. By the way, I’m not a scientist. But I do remember what "dorsal" and "ventral" mean."
I have what might be an answer. But first, a tiny bit of background. For a short while, I befriended Barry Schwortz, the photographer that was hired by STURP, in 1978, to photograph ever square centimeter of the Shroud. When I say, "For a short while," I do not mean to suggest that Barry and I had any problems. We did not. In fact, we corresponded very well. It’s just that we just happened to lose contact.
Anyway, you can check with him on the following, if he remembers. Once, I asked him the following question: "Barry, has there ever been a test conducted, on the Santa Sindone, that would determine whether or not the blood on it was pre-mortem blood, or post-mortem blood." He answered, "Well, I can’t answer that, but I am certain, of course, that they would have conducted such a test. But, I’m going to be having lunch, in Turin, with Dr. Adler, and I’ll ask him."
So, he did have lunch with Dr. Adler, in Turin. Eventually, he got back to me, through email, and said that he was very surprised at Dr. Adler’s response. Dr. Adler told him that, no, no such test had ever been performed on the Shroud. That is very hard to believe. And Barry was as surprised, of course, as I was. But, this was coming from the horse’s mouth, so to speak–Dr. Adler, a prime and important member of the STURP team. There would be no reason that he would state that no such test had been performed, if that had not been the case.
How did I know to ask such a question? Hey, just thinking, that’s all; wondering. I barely knew if there was any such thing as "post mortem" blood, but the thought came to me, so I pushed it forward.
Now, I am aware that, in the literature, one reads, for example phrases like, "The pre-mortem and post-mortem blood on the Shroud…" and one assumes that, since the statement was made, matter-of-factly, that tests were actually done. But, were they? Or has it just been assumed, all these years since STURP, that post-mortem blood exists on the Shroud?
I am aware, because I read his book, that Dr. Heller proved, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that the stains on the Shroud are blood stains. I was just looking for that book, in my library, but I can’t find it. I might have made the mistake of loaning it out to someone. Anyway, I do not recall Dr. Heller, in that book, saying a single word about post-mortem blood.
Now to the point. And this is a point that would be very uncomfortable for those who believe in the doctrine of Christianity. But, if we’re talking about science, and following where the science goes, and what it reveals, then we cannot allow doctrines to interfere with science…Can we?
Now if, indeed, no post-mortem blood exists on the Shroud, and it has simply been assumed, by the scientists, including Heller, that the Shroud contains post-mortem blood [Hang with me, here!!], then would our conclusions regarding the scientific results of studies on the Shroud change?
If STURP began its scientific studies with the idea that "The Man of the Shroud," as he is sometimes called, was dead when the Shroud was draped over him, might that affect how STURP interpreted scientific results?
So, now I’ll get to the point: If we assume that "The Man of the Shroud" was not dead, but was merely unconscious; that is, that he did not die as a result of his ordeal; and if we assume, as a consequence of that first assumption, that the only blood stains on the Shroud are pre-mortem blood stains, might we then be able to explain how the images were made on both sides of the Shroud?
I’m not a scientist, as I said before. But I do know one thing: Dead people and live people are…ahem…different. Dead folks do not breath. Dead folks, that I know of, do not emit uric acid from their skins [except maybe for a while after death??]. Dead folks do not sweat. Dead folks do not produce heat [Well, maybe they do, but I don’t think so]. The oxygen, in the air, that interacts with the skin of dead folks, interacts differently [doesn’t it??] than oxygen that interacts with the skin of live folks.
You may be aware that a new study has concluded that oils were on the Shroud [I can send you that if you’re interested, although you might know of this study], contrary to what was concluded by STURP. And those oils were burned off in 1532, at the fire, which is why STURP found no oil residue.
Now, if we assume that the Biblical account is true, and that Nicodemus brought "100 pounds" of aloe and myrrh to the burial site; and if we further assume that those substances were administered to "Jesus," not because he was dead, but because he was alive; and if we further assume that the substances were administered for the purpose of healing his wounds, then might we also have to re-visit the scientific studies, to determine:
1. What was the effect of those substances on the Shroud?
2. What was the effect of the interaction of those substances with the uric acid, sweat, and heat that "Jesus’" alive body was producing?
Could anything had been burnt, within the open and airy tomb, that would have helped the healing–some kind of ancient, medical practice? And if some healing substance was burnt, would the smoke from the substance have added to the combination of sweat, uric acid, heat, and oxygen that, together, could somehow have created the images on the Shroud?
Years ago, I contacted the Shema Israel International Burial Society, and I asked them the following question. Was the application of aloes and myrrh a part of ancient, Jewish burial practices? Answer? No. You can ask them yourselves. Just Google. They told me, in email, that no such practice existed, amongst Jews of that time, as part of the burial ritual of a human body. So, why would Nicodemus have taken "100 pounds" of aloes and myrrh there? Perhaps for the purpose of healing "Jesus’" body, since both of those substances are healing substances.
I hope you get my point. By the way, I have been told that the test that determines post or pre-mortem blood is called the gas chromotography test. If that is true, then it would be interesting to find out of that test was performed.
Now, I have one more thing to say, and this is a bit uncomfortable. Could any of the STURP scientists have been influenced by religious doctrine, thus drawing conclusions about the scientific results that were skewed because of the influence of those doctrines? Drawing the conclusion, for instance, that there exists post-mortem blood stains on the Shroud?
I was highly disturbed when I read this statement by Dr. D’Muhala, one of the STURP team members:
That is VERY disturbing. You will see what I’m referring to, if you read all of it.
One more thing, and you can verify this with Barry Schwortz. Barry told me that, when they first entered the room where the Shroud was, in order to begin their scientific study, a couple of the scientists were wearing crucifixes. Barry, without hesitating, pointed out to them that this was highly inappropriate, and that if it ever got leaked to the news media that members of the STURP team of scientists were performing their scientific studies on the Shroud, while wearing a visible sign of belief in a religious doctrine, then if STURP concluded that the Shroud was genuine, critics, cynics, atheists, and just the general public would believe that the results were not credible.
Am I suggesting that there has been some hanky-panky? I have no idea. And I have no way to prove that any of the STURP scientists were operating in any way that was not at the highest professional level. But, STURP people are just that–people.
Could the STURP team have discovered that there exists only pre-mortem blood on the Shroud? And then, fully understanding the ramifications of 2 billion Christians potentially being informed that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross "for the sins of the world," but survived that ordeal [as did happen, by the way, sometimes, as is recorded by the Jewish historian of that time, Flavius Josephus]?
This sounds like a suspense novel, I know. But, I can easily imagine that, in the wee hours of the night, while the STURP team was diligently studying the Santa Sindone, one of them looked up at the others, and said, "Oy vey!! We’ve got a problem. It’s clear that whoever this cloth covered was very much alive. There is no sign of death on this cloth."
I can very well imagine a discussion–a deep discussion taking place as to whether or not their findings should be revealed. Recall the beginning of Dr. Heller’s book, in which he stated that when he was first asked to be on the STURP team, his first thought was that he did not wish to be involved with something that could turn out to be controversial, since it involved the most important religious figure in human history, Jesus Christ.
But, what attracted Heller was the science. So, he agreed.
Well, I apologize to have taken so much of your time (assuming that you read this entire note). Of course, it may be that post-mortem blood does exist on the Shroud, and that that fact was scientifically proven. But, in truth, I have my doubts.
Thank you for your email. My friend Helmut Felzmann likes to remind me that forensic experts in Spain, Great Britain and Germany agree with him that Jesus survived crucifixion and recovered from his wounds. Perhaps he will join the discussion as he has in the past on this blog. Helmut has a website at http://www.shroud.info/
Again, thanks for your email. Oh, bye-the-way, I cannot imagine a discussion like the one you imagine. I think it is simple conspiracy theory. Sorry, but that is what I think.