Posts Tagged ‘Edessa’

Two Articles on the Shroud’s History

March 7, 2015 1 comment

They appear in the Italian language daily L’Indro (the links include translation into English):

image1)  Shroud: before the Middle Ages did not exist: The Mandylion is not the Shroud of Turin, which appeared only in 1355 in Lirey by Andrea Nicolotti

Google Translate says:  A much exploited in past to attribute an ancient history in a relic that is lacking is to take the hypothetical events attributed to a relic different and apply them to that, or to argue that two relics are actually the same thing. There are some stories that concern ancient images acheropite, ie ‘not made ​​by human hands’, fabrics on which it would miraculously imprinted the image of Christ. One of them is the Veronica, another is called Mandylion , ie ‘handkerchief’ or ‘towel’ of Edessa . The clip_image001legend on this handkerchief took its first steps in the V century as an appendix of another apocryphal legend and free of historical verisimilitude, already known in the previous century, which told of a correspondence exchanged between Jesus and King Abgar V of Edessa . In the text known as the ‘ Doctrine of Addai ‘it is said that King Abgar had sent his messenger to Jesus, who not only gave him a letter, but he also painted a portrait. Towards the middle of the sixth century, the legend was further modified and instead of the painted colors there was talk of a miraculous image : seeing the inability of the messenger in painting the portrait, Jesus would have washed his face and he wiped with a towel ; and on the fabric would miraculously imprinted the image of his face

image2) From the Mandylion Shroud: Reconstruction of the history of the Mandylion of Edessa in Lirey by Filippo Burgarella

Google Translate says:  To which attributes the discovery of the icon hidden for centuries in a niche of the walls of Edessa and prodigiously duplicated. A ‘icon, then, on two different media: the original on a towel folded four times (‘ rhakos tetradiplon ‘) and the copy on tile (‘ Keramion ‘). It was believed that the copy was formed by contact with the original on Keramion place to protect that niche. An Icon that in both formats ‘achiropita’, ie not painted by the hand of man, even to distinguish it from the pagan idols, facts instead of human hands (‘deadly works facta’) as reaffirm the imperial laws. Since then it was kept in the cathedral rebuilt by Emperor Justinian made. In 639 Edessa falls under Islamic rule, which saves the icon from the havoc of the Byzantine iconoclasts. From then on it is called Mandylion….

The Metamorphosis and Manipulation of a Legend?

September 26, 2014 4 comments

imageAndrea Nicolotti’s book, From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin: The Metamorphosis and Manipulation of a Legend (Art and Material Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe) has finally been published in English. It was available in Italian in 2011. Andrea, who has commented in this blog on occasion, considers this to be a “revised and augmented edition.”

The price for the Hardcover edition is $124.00 at Amazon. The list price is $142.00.  (Please note that Amazon is reporting that the book has not been released even though the publication date is September 15th. Nonetheless, Amazon is accepting orders at this time).

A limited preview of the first chapter and the conclusion from the last chapter is available at The Table of Contents and Index are also provided.

The whet your appetite here are three paragraphs from the conclusion:

There is not a shred of evidence that the Mandylion of Edessa was a long shroud or that it showed the entire body of the crucified and wounded figure of Christ. Those who argue for the shared identity of the Shroud of Turin and the Mandylion of Edessa have based their arguments on evidence that cannot withstand close scrutiny. In order to argue for the authenticity of the Turinese relic, some have gone to great lengths. In so doing, they have approached the changing nature of the legends concerning this relic too simplistically. More-over, they have used evolving legends as if they were trustworthy historical sources, which is utterly unacceptable.

It is clear that the ultimate aim of the theory that identifies the Shroud with the Mandylion is to demonstrate that the Shroud of Turin has existed and can be documented since antiquity. But the first historical documents that mention the Shroud date to the fourteenth century, and the date obtained by radiocarbon dating places it between 1260 and 1390 CE. The history of the Shroud is the topic of my next book, but it is important to clarify that even if the Shroud was authentic and dated from the first century, it is a completely different object than the Edessean image.

We can therefore end this analysis by quoting the 1786 opinion of the Marquis Giovanni de Serpos, in regard to the reliability of that “sweet illusion” and the “birth of a devout imagination” in the legend of Abgar: “Everything so far narrated must be counted as mere fable.”

Order it today and Amazon will ship it the minute it becomes available. I look forward to reading this book and his next book on the history of the Shroud.

Jack Markwardt’s Antioch Theory

August 15, 2014 12 comments

clip_image001Jack. pictured here, will be presenting two papers at
the St. Louis Conference

1)  Modern Scholarship And The History Of The Turin Shroud

2) The Full-Length History Of The Turin Shroud

Daveb brought up the Antioch theory in response to Charles Freeman’s call for looking beyond the Edessa-Constantinople route. Daveb wrote:

I have previously mentioned Markwardt’s theory that the Shroud was taken to Antioch and kept there. It makes a lot of sense to me, more than taking it to Alexandria as Charles would seem to have it. We know that Peter was first bishop of Antioch, and there is good indicative evidence that he held the burial cloths. Markwardt [pictured here] suggests that the hiding of the Shroud in a wall in Antioch for safe-keeping when other relics were being pillaged or destroyed there, may be the true basis of the similar story from Edessa, Antioch, although often prone to earthquakes, and on the Orontes, could more likely have had a more conducive climate for the cloth’s survival in a wall than Edessa. He suggests that it was taken to Edessa only when Antioch was under threat from the Persian Chosroes. Arriving in Edessa, it was of course not stored in a wall but in the Hagia Sophia cathedral there.

I posted something on this topic back in April of 2012. I think it warrants another look. And the linked-to PDF is definitely worth reading. As posted then:

Jack Markwardt explains:

imageI originated and presented this hypothesis to an international conference convened at Ohio State University in 2008 for the simple reason that the early history of the Turin Shroud cannot be credibly linked to the ancient city of Edessa through a literal application of the Abgar legend. The preeminent historian of Edessa, J.B. Segal, after years of arduous study and investigation, concluded that the Abgar legend constitutes “one of the most successful pious frauds of antiquity”. It should not be surprising, therefore, that a number of highly-respected modern historians have summarily rejected this pious fraud as evidential of the Turin Shroud’s whereabouts during the first Christian millennium, particularly because real historical evidence provides not the slightest indication that pagan Edessa was even partially converted to Christianity prior to the late second-century reign of King Abgar the Great. The preeminent historian of Antioch, Glanville Downey, ascribed that development to a two-phase evangelization mission, one which initially resulted in the baptism of Abgar the Great and ultimately concluded with the consecration of Edessa’s first bishop, Palut, in 200 CE, by Serapion, the bishop of Antioch. Relatively recent attribution of an image of Christ to the city of Edessa during the first half-millennium of Christianity arises exclusively from a substantial permutation of the Abgar legend authored, in ca. 945, by a Byzantine Emperor who desired to bestow an apostolic provenance upon the Christ-icon which had recently been transferred to his capital from Edessa. In order to explain away, in one bold imperial stroke, the complete historical anonymity of this icon during the first five Christian centuries, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus sponsored the publication and circulation of a tale which featured not only the cloth’s first-century concealment within a niche located above an Edessa city gate, but also its miraculous rediscovery there by a fictional Edessan bishop, Eulalius, during the Persian siege of 544 CE. It has been suggested, in lieu of this incredible miracle-discovery tale, that the icon was actually found in the wake of the great flood of 525 CE which damaged Edessa’s city walls; however, it is rather significant that such a truly notable event merited no mention whatsoever in the Edessan Chronicle, a Syriac work composed in ca. 540-544 CE, which not only described the great flood but also detailed the most commonplace of Edessan ecclesiastical matters. In my opinion, modern scholarship will continue to reject the identification of the acheiropoietos image of Christ which was brought from Edessa to Constantinople in 944 CE with the Turin Shroud unless and until the provenance of that icon, and the circumstances surrounding its arrival in Edessa, can be reasonably established on the basis of non-legendary evidence.

I was there at Ohio in 2008 and remember the presentation, Ancient Edessa and the Shroud: History Concealed by the Discipline of the Secret. It was excellent. Read it.

Comment Promoted: Looking Beyond an Edessa-Constantinople Route

August 15, 2014 25 comments

the key problem is survival

Charles Freeman writes in a comment:

As 99.9999 per cent or more of ancient textiles ( and these included all clothing) are lost, it is hard to say anything more than that the Shroud, if it is indeed first century, is a unique SURVIVAL. I am more interested in knowing about the looms ,ancient or medieval, that could have produced it and I am aware that this is a highly specialist area and I would defer to expert opinion.

Still there is much basic work to be done. Contrary to what Ian Wilson tells us ,the Shroud is not a particularly fine linen cloth. Examples of linen with 40 to 70 warp and weft threads per cm are known from Egypt, Palestine and Syria in this period, much greater quality than the Shroud. (See the good article on weaving in the ancient eastern Mediterranean in the Cambridge History of Western textiles ( p, 110 for the figures).

Again if one looks at examples such as the Ramesses Girdle, now in Liverpool, of c. 1200 BC, which, even with computer help, has proved almost impossible to reweave, the Shroud is not especially complicated.

So when one says that the Shroud is unique, it does not mean that one should say it is something special as a cloth so long as much finer and more complicated cloths from the ancient Mediterranean are known to exist.

For me, the key problem is survival. Although I believe that the Shroud is medieval, if a first century date does come up on a radiocarbon redating, I would assume that it was kept somewhere among the large and vibrant early Christian communities of Egypt where the damp would not have got at it. I am frustrated by the way so-called Shroud researchers are not prepared to look outside the Edessa/Constantinople route, when there are so many alternatives to it to explore. The Shroud would not have survived long cooped up in a brick wall in damp (even subject to flooding) Edessa!!

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