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the shroud of turin


Peter T Chattaway
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We don't seem to have a thread on this subject here yet, though I know we did discuss it a couple of message boards ago -- though the only thread I can find on that old message board at the moment is one on 'Film Ideas' that includes references to several SF stories about cloning Christ from the DNA in the bloodstains on the Shroud.

Anyhoo ...

- - -

The Shroud's Second Image

The shroud of turin was widely dismissed as a medieval forgery after radiocarbon tests in 1988 dated it to the 13th or 14th century. Now a growing body of evidence is calling for reassessment of the shroud, which is kept in Turin, Italy. The latest item comes from the London-based Journal of Optics, published by the Institute of Physics. Two scientists from the University of Padua, Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, report in the journal's April edition the discovery of a heretofore-undetected reverse image on the shroud. They say the smaller, fainter image on the back of the cloth depicts just the face and hands. And it's a superficial image, adhering only to the outermost fibers, just like the image on the front. "It is extremely difficult to make a fake with these features," Fanti writes.

ChristianityToday.com, December 15

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Peter, I saw this thread when it first came up and meant to reply, but it got away from me. Anyway, I thought of it again when I saw this headline today:

DALLAS, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Shroud of Turin Association for Research (AMSTAR), a scientific organization dedicated to research on the enigmatic Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, announced today that the 1988 Carbon-14 test was not done on the original burial cloth, but rather on a rewoven shroud patch creating an erroneous date for the actual age of the Shroud...

"Now conclusive evidence, gathered over the past two years, proves that the sample used to date the Shroud was actually taken from an expertly-done rewoven patch," says AMSTAR President, Tom D'Muhala. "Chemical testing indicates that the linen Shroud is actually very old -- much older than the published 1988 radiocarbon date."

I give the Shroud a fair amount of credence. None of the attempts I have seen to explain the image has been very persuasive to me, and many of the arguments against it are facile.

I know that you, Peter, have been impressed by arguments that the proportions of the face are distorted. Charges like this seem to me prima facie incredible, partly because so much of the evidence points to the image being based on a real human body that was really wrapped in the cloth. Additionally, I know that there is some distortion in the figure's proportions due to the way the cloth was draped around it -- for example, some sort of bunching at the ends seems to have made the figure taller in the legs than he really would have been.

I had the opportunity last year to talk to two Shroud experts, both of which, IIRC, appeared in that PBS special last year, and one of which, a former medical examiner, spoke at our church around the same time. Both men have done extensive measurements and analysis of the figure's proportions, and attest the anatomical correctness of the figure. That said, the question of the facial proportions is an interesting one, and I will try to make a point of getting back to one or both of these experts and asking them to comment.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I probably shouldn't chime in with my answer to the questions in the thread title, but here goes.

Who cares? If it is the actual shroud, what difference does it make to those who are already believers? As for unbelievers, will this somehow validate the historical existence of Jesus? I doubt it.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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SDG wrote:

: I give the Shroud a fair amount of credence. None of the attempts I have seen to

: explain the image has been very persuasive to me, and many of the arguments

: against it are facile.

I'm still waiting for some definitive word as to what the "blood" consists of! One scientist who studied the shroud said it was just pigments, like people use for paint -- but other scientists have actually begun to discuss the human DNA in it. Help!

: I know that you, Peter, have been impressed by arguments that the proportions of

: the face are distorted.

I have three problems with the Shroud, all of which have to do with the nature of the image itself (questions regarding how it got there are secondary).

First, yes, the proportions of the face are problematic -- the eyes, which (as they teach you in art class) are almost always in the middle of the face, are a little too high here -- but ever since this was pointed out to me several years ago, I have gotten into the habit of scanning people's faces and noting that it DOES happen from time to time that the eyes seem a little high. So, I'm not going to make too big a deal of this.

Second, the length of the arms. I have long arms myself, but the only way my hands can rest over my groin without falling to my side is if I lean forward. However, given the possible crucifixion poses and the possibility of something like rigor mortis setting in (though there might be another name for it, if it set in before Jesus was actually dead), this needn't be too big a deal, either.

Third, and most significantly, the image just does NOT look like the sort of image one gets if one wraps a cloth around somebody. The image looks like a photo. And there have been some interesting studies which suggest that the image IS a photo, of sorts, using basic chemical techniques that seem to have been used by isolated chemists here and there in the centuries prior to the "official" invention of photography. Attempts to replicate the Shroud have, admittedly, looked a little different, but then, those attempts are brand-new, whereas the Shroud has hundreds of years of wear-and-tear now.

: Charges like this seem to me prima facie incredible, partly because so much of the

: evidence points to the image being based on a real human body that was really

: wrapped in the cloth.

So much of the evidence ... except for the image itself.

Trust me, nothing would make me happier than for the Shroud to be the genuine article. But I remain unconvinced that it is, at this point.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Christian wrote:

: Who cares? If it is the actual shroud, what difference does it make to those who are

: already believers?

You obviously don't come from a sacramental, relics-concerned religious tradition. smile.gif

See our thread on The Missing for our earlier discussion of the role the Church has given to clothes, napkins, and other items that have had physical contact with Jesus and the Apostles since the days when the persons in question were physically walking among us (i.e., since the days recorded in the Gospels and in Acts).

: As for unbelievers, will this somehow validate the historical existence of Jesus? I doubt it.

It might make them doubt their doubt, though. smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The trouble I have with the shroud is Biblical in nature. Here's the description of how Joseph prepared the body of Jesus for burial:

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Why would they be mutually exclusive? What I mean is I see no reason why they wouldn't wrap up the body with a number of cloths (for one thing, that would make it easier to *move* to keep the limbs from splaying every which where) and then drape a final cloth over the body?

Sort of like sure, we put bodies in coffins, but we don't put them in there naked... we (traditionally) put them in their "Sunday Best..."

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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The Baptist Death Ray wrote:

: Sort of like sure, we put bodies in coffins, but we don't put them in there naked... we

: (traditionally) put them in their "Sunday Best..."

Um, that's an odd defense, considering the figure in the Shroud IS naked ...

But as far as the multiple cloths go, my understanding is that most sindonologists believe the jaw of the figure in the Shroud was held closed by a cloth that went under the chin and was tied up above the forehead.

user posted image

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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If the Shroud is real, why would it be any more incredible to imagine that the image could have been put on it through a layer of thin cloth (used to bind the limbs to the body in order to keep it orderly during transport) than if it were simply draped over the body?

When I was using the coffin/suit analogy, I wan't implying that they would have put Jesus in his best robe, I simply meant that when we bury our dead it's more than just dump a naked corpse into the ground, and it's not unreasonable to believe that Jews in Jesus' day did more than just drape a sheet over a corpse and walk away. smile.gif

As an aside, the whole impression on the cloth thing is absolutely fascinating, and the very fact that it's there makes me wonder why people thought radio carbon dating the shroud was a good idea in the first place. RCD is not nearly as accurate as most people think, and only works when you can assume that radiation decay in an object remains constant over time (you're measuring a specific rate of decay to figure out how long it has been decaying) so if something happens on or near it that changes the level of radiation in a place, it can throw the entire measurement off kilter. All speculations over what may have happened to it over the ages aside, we know absolutely nothing about whether or not the actual event of Christ's bodily ressurrection had any side effects other than Jesus sitting up and walking away. Of course God could have simply done it without any change in the world itself -- omnipotence is nifty that way -- but that doesn't mean that when Christ came back to life there *wasn't* radioactivity involved. There's just no way of knowing.

So the RCD of the shroud was apparently done with the idea that if the shroud was real, Jesus' ressurrection had no noticeable effect on the environment around Him, even though somehow His image was sort of burned into the shroud itself...

Mind you I'm not a scientist. Still, that strikes me as a *really* strange premise.

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Scientist Says Turin Shroud Not a Medieval Fake

The Shroud of Turin, which some Christians believe is Jesus Christ's burial cloth, may not be the fake scientific tests have concluded because they analyzed a patch put on it, according to a U.S. scientist. Raymond N. Rogers of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico published a paper this week arguing that new dating tests showed the 1988 tests were from a cloth patch probably sewn on after a fire damaged the Shroud in 1532.

Reuters, January 28

Shroud of Turin Could Date to Jesus' Time

A chemist who worked on testing of the Shroud of Turin says new analysis of the fiber indicates the cloth that some say was the burial linen of Jesus could be up to 3,000 years old. The analysis, by a scientist who was on the original 1978 team that was allowed to study tiny pieces of the cloth, indicates the shroud is far older than the initial findings suggesting it was probably from medieval times, and will likely be seized on by those who believe it wrapped the body of Jesus after his crucifixion. "I cannot disprove that this cloth was the burial shroud that was used on Jesus," Raymond N. Rogers, a retired chemist from the University of California-operated Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said in a telephone interview Friday from his home.

Associated Press, January 29

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Hard to keep a good shroud story down

The Shroud of Turin is back! After keeping a low profile for a few years, new experiments on the age of the shroud were all over the papers and websites last week. But while the coverage was heavily pro-shroud, a closer look tells a different story.

Jay Ingram, Toronto Star, February 5

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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To my eyes the whole thing looks very typically late medieval, and the fourteenth-century date fits everything perfectly. It would be curious to know how they hold the C-14 dating to be reliable at all if they got a fourteenth-century date for a sixteenth-century patch, but that's another matter.

The Shroud is a typical medieval arrangement. This sort of foot-to-head-to-foot wrapping is quite different from any depiction of a funeral I have seen in any ancient source; the corpse is always wrapped around, like the popular depiction of a mummy, or in some sort of woven wrapping, never like this. It is possible, of course, that the first-century Jews in Judea used the medieval arrangement by some strange coincidence, but the passage from John:

There's too much apathy in the world; but, then, who cares?

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  • 1 month later...
The Shroud is a typical medieval arrangement.  This sort of foot-to-head-to-foot wrapping is quite different from any depiction of a funeral I have seen in any ancient source; the corpse is always wrapped around, like the popular depiction of a mummy

As I understand it, there's a lot of confusion and debate surrounding burial, and this burial, in that period. The Bible says that the tomb was new, and intended for another, but that the man who owned it and got the permission from Pilate prepared a sindon, which is also the word for the shroud; and I believe the root of the field itself, sindonology. There appears to have been a smaller face cloth, said to be in Oviedo Cathedral, in Spain, a saudarion. They believe it would not have been buried with the corpse, but only was applied at the cross to hide the face of the battered victim, as apparently was custom. Further strips or cords, of linen or even vines or branches, might be used to bind the limbs.

As for the dating, if they indeed only measured damage from the fire, in particular, or other events, then the assumptions might be wrong, and particularly as subsequent tests apparently place the shroud in the time of Christ, with corrections and proper sampling of the cloth. That still does not remove the confusion as to practices in this time. Was the saudarion left on the face, or else employed as a cord around the jaw? Was something else binding the jaw, which many argue appears to be bound by examing the shroud image? Were the limbs further bound, or left free? But the idea of a head over back to top draping of a sindon is, I believe, something considered to be very possible.

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  • 1 month later...

The problems with the Shroud are legion, unfortunately, and need somewhat more space than this sort of forum can provide. There are, however, one or two general principles which might be of use here. I for one would rather it be genuine, but unfortunately the evidence does seem rather against it.

1. The only solid information we have is of course the Gospel record. The question is whether or not the Shroud squares with the accounts. In Matthew we read only that "... he (i. e., Joseph of Aramathea) wrapped [the body] in a clean linen cloth". Mark says something similar: "And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen ...". Luke writes: "And took it down, and wrapped [the body] in linen ... "; later on, after the Resurrection, "he (Peter) beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves ... ". John described these things in more detail (19:39-40), saying thet Nicodemus "brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury". Now John was an eyewitness to this, at least, and he also went with Peter to the tomb on Sunday, writing this (20:5-7): And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying, yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Two things we can deduce here: first, the genuine linen clothes would have a lot of spice remnants. Second, the wrappings would be typical of the Jewish funeral gear of the period. Unless I have forgotten something (which is more than possible) there were no traces of myrrh or aloes found in the Shroud, and we have, once again, the difficulty in reconciling this with what little we know about typical Jewish burial customs. Once again, Lazarus is worth noting, since a Shroud-type setup would probably have been little obstacle to someone trying to get out of it, whereas Lazarus needed assistance.

In short: it's a typical medieval shroud - take a look at, for example, Breughel's "Triumph of Death" - and, although there's always the theoretical possibility that the Jews used something like this in their typical first-century burials, we have no direct evidence of it, and what evidence we do have for ancient burials gives a quite different picture.

2. There's more. The Shroud couldn't have been wrapped around a body at any time. Lightly laid across, perhaps, but not wrapped around. Nobody carried a body from Golgotha to a tomb in this wrapper - and, so I am told, carrying a limp body the weight of that of a normal man without tight wrapping is a challenging task. The image is too neat. Any moderately tight wrapping would produce a distinctly distorted image. If you have a copy of any version of the Poser human-figure modelling software, take a look at a typical "skin". It has to be distorted to wrap completely around the model's frame, front, back and sides. It's this which is missing on the Shroud, and which proves that it can't possibly be anything more than a medieval conception of what a burial shroud with an image "should" look like.

No known ancient parallels - plenty of medieval parallels - medieval c14 date - no wraparound distortion - no spices present - difficult to reconcile with the Gospel accounts - none of these in isolation is an uninsurmountable problem, but together they add up to a very great likelihood that the Shroud is bogus.

There's too much apathy in the world; but, then, who cares?

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Phidippius wrote:

: Any moderately tight wrapping would produce a distinctly distorted image.

Yeah, this is one of my key problems. I can handle the abnormal length of the arms based on the fact that crucifixion does things to people's bodies, and I can handle the unusually short forehead (FWIW, I think this page, which is where I first came across this objection, errs in treating the beard as though it were a chin), but the lack of any wrapping-related distortion is a definite problem.

FWIW, Books & Culture posted a somewhat longwinded but provocative article on this subject a few weeks back.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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When three-dimensional computer imaging was introduced BROOKS INSTITUTE here in Santa Barbara did a study of the shroud and a computer created the image on the cloth in 3 dimensions.

Whether the shroud is real or not - and I am learning toward disproving for a variety of reasons - it was a very powerful moment for me personally when I was walking through the display back, I think, in the early 80's at Brooks and went around a corner and there was "Jesus" standing there - about 5ft tall created by the computer "layers" of the "3-dimensional" process. It was more sacred than erie for me.

Yes, Peter I read that article before and do find it a "fresh twist" of "removing" pigments in the cloth rather than "putting" an image in.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

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None of those.

It was a "life-size" figure of the entire "layered" person. I was looking "into his eyes" so to speak. It was created out of cardboard such that the computer "measured" the image on the cloth and then created the person, layer by layer, so that it "became" a full bodied person.

Here is information on the 3D process or what they call "Image Discontinuity."

I did a google and could not find an actual picture of what I saw then.

Sorry!

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Denny Wayman wrote:

: It was created out of cardboard such that the computer "measured" the image on the

: cloth and then created the person, layer by layer, so that it "became" a full bodied

: person.

Yeah, I remember that well. There was a picture of it in National Geographic in some sort of special issue on the subject around that time, wasn't there? The Shroud was big news in the early '80s, as I recall, and I just happened to be at that point in my preadolescent life where I was adding scientific curiosity to my childhood faith.

: I did a google and could not find an actual picture of what I saw then.

Huh, I just tried to find one too, and came up short after a few Google pages. You would think someone would have scanned an image and posted it by now.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Could have been. I remember National Geographic presenting the findings of the study Brooks Institute did back then.

I did a search with them and all the information is recent. That was pre-internet days!

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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  • 4 years later...

Shroud of Turin a fake: scientist

ROME - An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I am open to this, as I am to all attempts to reproduce the image on the Shroud. I am also skeptical. I have spent long hours looking at the image on the Shroud (a lifesize reverse print hangs in our parish's adoration chapel), and it seems clear to me that the image includes depth information that cannot be duplicated by contact methods, only by photometric methods. The tonal variance from the bridge of the nose to the sides of the nose, for instance, or the subtle gradations of the pectoral muscles.

The image on the Shroud seems very like a photographic negative; reverse the darks and lights and you get an image that maps depth and angle by gradations of light and darkness. Contact methods tend to be fairly all-or-nothing; you get image where there's contact and nothing where there isn't. I'm not convinced the Shroud can be explained this way.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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