ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny

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The Sudarium Christi - the facecloth of Christ

"The Sudarium Which Was on His Head" (Jn 20:2)

The Gospel of John states that the LINEN CLOTHS were lying there fallen, and the HANDKERCHIEF that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but in its own place, folded up. It should be remembered that a handkerchief - "sudarium" was used to cover the head of the deceased from the time of death until the final burial.


Translation: Gospel of John in Greek, specifically from chapter 20, verses 3-8:

"But Peter and the other disciple set out for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed."

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In the Cathedral of Oviedo in northern Spain is a linen cloth called the Sudarium Christi, or the Face Cloth of Christ.  It is often referred to as the Cloth of Oviedo.  The Sudarium Christi is a poor-quality linen cloth, like a handkerchief, measuring 33 by 21 inches.  Unlike the Shroud of Turin, it does not have an image.  However, it does have bloodstains and serum stains from pulmonary edema fluid which match the blood and serum patterns and blood type (AB) of the Shroud of Turin.

The Sudarium Christi has a well-documented history.  One source traces the cloth back as far as 570 AD.  Pelayo, Bishop of Oviedo in the 1100s, noted in his Chronicles that the Oviedo Cloth left Jerusalem in 614 AD in response to an attack led by Persian King Chosroes II, and made its way across North Africa to Spain.  It was transported to Oviedo in a silver ark (large box) along with many other sacred relics.  The Sudarium was never in contact with the Shroud since its arrival in Spain around 711 AD. The Oviedo Cloth was placed around the head at the time of death on the Cross and remained there until the body was to be covered by the Shroud in the Garden Tomb.  Then it was removed and placed to one side (John 20:7).  Oviedo scholar Mark Guscin notes that the practice of covering the face is referenced in the Talmud (Moed Katan 27a).  He adds that Rabbi Alfred Kolatch of New York talks of the Kevod Ha-Met or "respect for the dead" as the reason for covering the head.  Rabbi Michael Tuktzinsky of Jerusalem in his Sefer Gesher Cha'yim (Volume 1, Chapter 3, 1911) offers as a reason that it is a hardship for onlookers to gaze on the face of a dead person. According to Guscin, studies by members of the Spanish Centre for Sindonology (Dr. Jose Villalain, Jaime Izquierdo, and Guillermo Heras of the University of Valencia) using infrared and ultraviolet photography and electron microscopy have demonstrated that this Cloth and the Shroud of Turin touched the same face, although at different points in the burial process.  They note that the length of the nose on both cloths is 8 centimeters (3 Inches).  Tradition and historical information support the idea that the face touched by both cloths was that of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Those interested in the work of Oviedo scholar Mark Guscin can read about it in his book The Oviedo Cloth, 1998, The Luttenworth Press, Cambridge, CT. ISBN 07188-2985-9. Original text by John C. Iannone 1999-2001.  Adapted by J.M. Fischer from 2004 to 2016.
Shroud photos courtesy of Barrie M. Schwortz. 1978

The Sudarium of Oviedo is a small piece of cloth measuring approximately 84 x 53 cm (33 x 21 inches) and is made of a fine, transparent linen fabric. The Sudarium bears numerous bloodstains, which are believed to have come from Jesus' face. The stains are brownish-red in color and are distributed irregularly across the cloth, forming a pattern consistent with the wounds inflicted during the crucifixion, including a large stain over the nose and mouth area. The bloodstains are a prominent feature of the relic and have been the subject of much analysis. Here are some details about the bloodstains: The bloodstains on the Sudarium are distributed in a pattern that corresponds to the anatomy of a face. There is a large stain over the nose and mouth area, with smaller stains around the eyes and cheeks, as well as near the hairline. This pattern is consistent with the placement of wounds inflicted during crucifixion, such as those caused by a crown of thorns or from blood flowing from the nose and mouth. The bloodstains on the Sudarium are brownish-red in color, indicating that the blood had oxidized and aged over time. The stains have a mottled appearance, with some areas darker and others lighter, which is consistent with the characteristics of bloodstains that have dried and spread on a porous linen fabric. The bloodstains on the Sudarium vary in size and shape. Some stains are small and round, while others are larger and irregular in shape, suggesting that they were created by contact with wounds that had different sizes and shapes. The bloodstains on the Sudarium are not superficial but appear to have penetrated the fabric. This suggests that the blood came into direct contact with the cloth and was absorbed by the fibers, rather than being applied on the surface. One notable feature of the bloodstains on the Sudarium is the absence of smear marks. Smear marks, which would typically be present if blood had been wiped or smeared on the cloth, are not found on the Sudarium, suggesting that the blood was applied in a different manner, such as by contact with a passive, motionless object like a face.

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Whole Blood Stains: These stains are dark red or brown and are the result of fresh blood coming into contact with the cloth. Whole blood stains typically exhibit a consistent color throughout the stain, and they may appear as small or large patches on the Sudarium.

Serum Stains: Serum is the clear, yellowish fluid that separates from blood when it clots. Serum stains on the Sudarium appear as lighter areas that may have a yellow or yellow-brown color. These stains are typically smaller in size and may be found within or around whole blood stains.

Transfer Stains: Transfer stains occur when blood from a wound is transferred to another surface, such as when a cloth is pressed against the wound. On the Sudarium, transfer stains may appear as distinct imprints of a wound, showing the shape and size of the injury. These stains can provide valuable information about the type of wound that caused the blood stains.

Clotted Blood Stains: Clotted blood stains on the Sudarium appear as dark, irregularly shaped areas that result from blood coagulating and forming clots. These stains can provide insights into the coagulation properties of the blood, which can be useful for forensic analysis.

Smudged Blood Stains: Smudged blood stains on the Sudarium may occur when blood is smeared or wiped across the cloth. These stains may appear as irregular or blurred patches of blood, and they can provide clues about how the cloth was handled or manipulated after coming into contact with blood.

The Sudarium of Oviedo has various blood stains. Three of these stains are particularly noteworthy: the butterfly stain, faded stain, and crown of thorns.

Symmetric Stains: The symmetric stains on the Sudarium of Oviedo are blood stains that exhibit a high degree of symmetry, with a pattern that is almost perfectly mirrored on both sides of the cloth. These stains are typically located near the center of the Sudarium and are characterized by their consistent and symmetrical appearance. The symmetric stains may be oval, circular, or elongated in shape, and they may vary in size.

The origin and significance of the symmetric stains on the Sudarium of Oviedo are subjects of ongoing research and investigation. Some researchers believe that these stains may be the result of blood flow from a wound on the head, given their central location on the cloth and their symmetrical appearance. Others propose that the symmetric stains may have been formed through a process of capillary action, where blood was drawn into the cloth by the fibers, resulting in a symmetrical pattern.

The symmetric stains on the Sudarium of Oviedo are of particular interest to those studying the cloth, as they provide valuable clues about the bloodstain patterns and the possible events that may have taken place during the burial of Jesus Christ. Further research and analysis of these stains may help shed more light on their formation and significance about the Sudarium's history and religious beliefs.

Butterfly Stain: The butterfly stain on the Sudarium of Oviedo is a distinctive pattern that resembles the shape of a butterfly. It consists of two large, symmetrical, and elongated blood stains that are connected at one end, with the opposite ends fanning out. The butterfly stain is located near one edge of the cloth and is characterized by its unique shape and symmetry. The origin and significance of the butterfly stain are subjects of debate among researchers and scholars, and various theories have been proposed to explain its formation.

Faded Stain: The faded stain on the Sudarium of Oviedo is a blood stain that appears to be lighter in color compared to the surrounding stains on the cloth. It may have a more brownish or yellowish hue, indicating that the blood may have undergone some changes or degradation over time. The faded stain is typically smaller in size and may be found in various locations on the Sudarium. The cause of the faded stain, whether it is a result of natural degradation or other factors, is a topic of investigation among experts.

Crown of Thorns: The crown of thorns stain on the Sudarium of Oviedo is a cluster of blood stains that resemble the pattern of a crown, with multiple small stains arranged in a circular or semi-circular shape. This stain is associated with the crown of thorns that is said to have been placed on Jesus' head during the crucifixion, according to Christian tradition. The crown of thorns stain is often located near the top of the Sudarium and is characterized by its unique pattern resembling a crown, which is of significant religious significance to Christians.

Holes: The Sudarium has several holes, which are believed to be from puncture wounds caused by thorns or other sharp objects. The holes are located near the edges of the cloth and are irregular in shape, further supporting the theory that the Sudarium was used to cover a face that had been beaten and pierced.

Folds: The Sudarium shows evidence of having been folded in a particular manner, with a distinctive pattern of creases and folds. The folds form a "zig-zag" pattern that is consistent with the Jewish burial customs of the 1st century AD, where a body would be wrapped in a shroud and the face covered with a separate cloth.

Water stains: The Sudarium also bears faint water stains, which are believed to have been caused by the cloth being used to wipe Jesus' face after he was taken down from the cross and before it was folded and placed in the tomb.

Age and wear: The Sudarium shows signs of age and wear, including discoloration, fraying edges, and patches where the original fabric has been reinforced with newer fabric. These signs of wear are consistent with its long history as a revered relic.

Connection of the Sudarium to the Shroud of Turin

Blood type and DNA analysis: Studies conducted on both the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin have found that they both contain bloodstains with the same blood type, known as AB. In addition, DNA analysis of the bloodstains on both relics has shown similar characteristics, with shared genetic markers. However, it's important to note that these findings do not conclusively prove that the Sudarium and the Shroud were in contact with the same individual, as blood type and DNA alone cannot definitively identify a specific person.

Consistency of bloodstains: The bloodstains on both the Sudarium and the Shroud are consistent in their location, distribution, and patterns. For example, both relics have bloodstains over the nose and mouth area, which is consistent with wounds caused by a crown of thorns, and both have bloodstains around the eyes and cheeks, which could correspond to blood flow from facial injuries. This similarity in the bloodstain patterns has been considered as evidence that the Sudarium and the Shroud were used similarly, possibly to cover the face of the same individual.

Historical and geographical proximity: The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin have both been associated with the region of Palestine and are believed to have had the same religious communities at different points in history. According to historical records, the Sudarium was brought to Spain from Jerusalem in the 7th century, while the Shroud is believed to have been brought to France from Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in the 14th century. Some proponents of the connection between the two relics argue that their proximity in time and geography supports the idea that they were associated with the same individual, namely Jesus Christ.

Complementary nature: Proponents of the connection between the Sudarium and the Shroud argue that the two relics are complementary to each other. The Sudarium, being a smaller cloth specifically used to cover the face, could have been used in addition to the larger Shroud, which is believed to have covered the entire body of Jesus. Some researchers suggest that the Sudarium was used as an initial covering for the face immediately after the crucifixion, and then the body was wrapped in the Shroud, which explains the similarities in bloodstain patterns between the two relics.

In his 2007 book THE CASE FOR THE REAL JESUS, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, interviewed some of the most accomplished historians specializing in ancient texts. The case was made without a single mention of the Shroud of Turin or the Sudarium.

"In recent years, six major challenges to the traditional view of Jesus have emerged... They are among the most powerful and prevalent objections to creedal Christianity that are currently circulating in popular culture." (Page 14)
After grilling the experts, he summarized his findings on pages 266 and 267:

"Are scholars discovering a radically different Jesus in ancient documents just as credible as the four gospels? No, the alternative texts that are touted in liberal circles are too late to be historically credible - for instance, the Gospel of Thomas was written after AD 175 and probably closer to 200.According to eminent New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, the Thomas gospel has 'no significant new light to shed on the historical Jesus.'The Secret Gospel of Mark, with its homoerotic undercurrents, turned out to be an embarrassing hoax that fooled many liberal scholars too eager to buy into bizarre theories about Jesus, while no serious historians give credence to the so-called Jesus Papers. The Gnostic depiction of Jesus as a revealer of hidden knowledge - including the teaching that we all possess the divine light that he embodied - lacks any connection to the historical Jesus.

Is the Bible's portrait of Jesus unreliable because of mistakes or deliberate changes by scribes through the centuries? No, there are no new disclosures that have cast any doubt on the essential reliability of the New Testament. Only about one percent of the manuscript variants affect the meaning of the text to any degree, and not a single cardinal doctrine is at stake. The unrivaled wealth of New Testament manuscripts greatly enhances the credibility of the Bible's portrayal of Jesus.

Have new explanations refuted Jesus' resurrection? No, the truth is that a persuasive case for Jesus rising from the dead can be made by using five facts that are well-evidenced and which the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject - including skeptical ones - accept as true: Jesus' death by crucifixion; his disciples' belief that he rose and appeared to them; the conversion of the church persecutor Paul; the conversion of the skeptic James, who was Jesus' half-brother; and Jesus' empty tomb. All the attempts by skeptics and Muslims to put Jesus back into his tomb utterly fail when subjected to serious analysis, while the overblown and ill-supported claims of the Jesus Tomb documentary and book have been decimated by knowledgeable scholars.

Were Christian beliefs about Jesus stolen from pagan religions? No, they were not. Allegations that the virgin birth, the resurrection, communion, and baptism came from earlier mythology simply evaporated when the shoddy scholarship of 'copycat' theorists was exposed. There are simply no examples of dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity and that have meaningful parallels to Jesus' resurrection. In short, this is a theory that careful scholars discredited decades ago.

Was Jesus an imposter who failed to fulfill the messianic prophecies? On the contrary, a compelling case can be made that Jesus - and Jesus alone - matches the 'fingerprint' of the Messiah. Only Jesus managed to fulfill the prophecies that needed to come to fruition before the fall of the Jewish temple in AD 70. Consequently, if Jesus isn't the predicted Messiah, then there will never be one. What's more, Jesus' fulfillment of these prophecies against all odds makes it rational to conclude that he will fulfill the final ones when the time is right.

Should people be free to pick and choose what they want to believe about Jesus? We have the freedom to believe anything we want. But just because the U.S. Constitution provides equal protection for all religions doesn't mean that all beliefs are equally true. Whatever we believe about Jesus cannot change the reality of who he established himself to be: the unique Son of God. So why cobble together our make-believe Jesus to try to fulfill our prejudices when we can meet and experience the actual Jesus of history and faith?"

Alfonso Sánchez Hermosilla 2015 Commonalities between the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo

The new discoveries done after the inspection of the Sudarium of Oviedo, both macroscopic and microscopic, coincide with the accumulated knowledge that already existed. Said research was initiated by Mons. Ricci, and followed by EDICES. Additionally, the information which contains matches what the researchers who have had access to the Shroud of Turin have published, and with the information provided by the Gospels about the facts related to the Passion, Death, and post-mortem handling of the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth. These discoveries are compatible with intense physical maltreatment, with multiple traumas that produce bruised wounds, bleeding wounds, sharp wounds, and bruised wounds, which probably include flagellation in the Roman manner using a Flagrum Taxilatum. Although in the Sudarium of Oviedo, there are no objective final signs of the presence of a penetrating injury into the thorax, there are plenty of indirect signs that point to this possibility. When writing this report, we do not have another alternative hypothesis to the previously expressed, with real possibilities of being true. This damage must have been produced after the death of the Man of the Shroud, and not when he was still alive. All the information provided by the study and research of these relics matches to what, from the Forensic Medicine point of view, was to be expected to happen in linens of these characteristics if they had covered the head of a corpse that had received all the injuries that suffered Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospels. We are aware of the lack of up-to-date and agreed protocols by the scientific community for the investigation of archaeological pieces similar to the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin. This is a field where researchers are still pioneers, which makes very difficult progress in the investigation, due to the necessity to be cautious and efficient. The discoveries that have been made open new areas of research that were unexpected until now. A priori they seem to be promising, which includes new stains that were unknown until now. For this reason, it seems reasonable to believe that it would be convenient to carry out new direct research in the future on both Relics and to relate the discoveries that have been verified in the Sudarium of Oviedo to possible matches to the Shroud of Turin. 1

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The cloth, which was attached to the back of the head, was secured with pins, possibly made from thorns, based on the punctures in the cloth. The pins were conical in shape, similar to a needle. There are a number of perforations, related to the formation of the stains and the original use of the linen. Some of these were produced when the Sudarium was fastened to the head of the deceased, using sharp instruments that scientists believe were pinned to the beard and hair. They have a truncated conical nature, and appear in pairs, indicating the possibility that thorns were used. The wrinkles and perforations in the image indicate where the cloth was secured on the beard of the man.

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The lower main stains observed in the Sudarium were produced by a mixture of blood and pulmonary edema at the rate of 1 to 6 that flowed slowly from the nose and mouth while the corpse was in a vertical position with the head inclined 70 degrees forward about the vertical axis. Pulmonary edema is characteristic of crucifixion victims. This blood has been determined to be post-mortem blood.  The Sudarium, therefore, would have to have been placed on the head of a crucified man about 4 pm, who had died about an hour before

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After approximately one hour, at about 5:00 p.m., once the Roman centurion pierced the corpse’s thorax, the body was taken down probably with the arms still fixed to the horizontal beam. For unknown reasons, the caretakers who moved the body decided to turn the corpse face down.  In this posture, the nasal flow ran into the back of the nose and soaked the upper part of the main stains that were covering the bridge of the nose and the forehead. The corpse remained like this for almost another hour.

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Let's look at the coincidences that evidence that the sudarium wrapped the same man of the Shroud of Turin. Both cloths have been used for a bearded man with a mustache and longhair arranged behind in a ponytail. The Shroud shows a crucified man and the corpse of the Sudarium died in an upright position. Moreover, in both cases, the executed man was tortured with a crown of thorns. Finally, in both instances, the blood corresponds to the scarce type AB. It is easy to see the back of the hair in the Shroud image. If we look carefully and use the reinforced negative image, we can see long hair falling from the bottom of the nape of the neck to the space between the shoulder blades.  The ponytail can also be observed on both clothes. The "ponytail" could be a result of the attachment and sewing of the Sudarium around the central back strand of hair. There is a distinction on the cloth between lifeblood and post-mortem blood. One can distinguish that from taking samples from the cloth and the blood that came out through the nose and mouth mixed with the pleural edema fluid is postmortem blood. 

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Furthermore, It is atypical to find soil dirt in this zone of the anatomy, but it is just the same zone where a particular presence of dust was found in the Shroud of Turin. The very low concentration of strontium traces in the Sudarium matches also well with the type of limestone characteristic of the rock of Calvary in Jerusalem

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In 2012, scientists detected the presence of structures that are compatible with dried blobs of fibrin.  The most likely hypothesis is that such blobs were formed within a body cavity, pleural and/or pericardial. To reach such a condition, the individual must undergo severe trauma as the scourging and a few hours must elapse to allow the fibrin formation before the fluid is released. The fibrin accumulated in the pleural cavity needs a path to reach the Sudarium. This path could be the wound from the spear that connected the cavity with the respiratory tracts.  In the Sudarium of Oviedo, the presence of these fibrin blobs free from blood elements could be another indirect proof of the scourging, because the formation of fibrin requires a previous injury. This is the most plausible hypothesis for the formation of the fibrin elements.  To reach the Sudarium, the fibrin could flow out through the nose and the mouth, together with blood and the liquid of the edema from the lungs.

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The oldest surviving manuscript of Antoninus' account of his pilgrimage visiting Jerusalem in AD 570, is a Latin manuscript entitled "Itinerarium Antonini Placentini Peregrinatio ad loca sancta“, translated, The Journey of Antoninus of Piacenza to the Holy Places. This manuscript is preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, France, and is dated to the 8th century. It is a handwritten copy of Antoninus' travel diary and provides valuable insights into the Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the late antique period.

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Ancient documents relate that the Sudarium was safeguarded in Jerusalem until the Persian invasion of 614 A.D. The Christians fled to Spain with a chest filled with relics, stopping briefly in Alexandria, Egypt. The chest remained in Seville during the time of Saint Isidore and was transferred to Toledo after he died in 636 A.D. When the Muslims invaded Spain in 711 A.D., they quickly conquered Toledo, so the Christians absconded to the north with their relics. The Holy Chest was hidden on a mountaintop near Oviedo for 50 years. The relics were then transferred to a monastery in Oviedo until King Alphonsus II built the Holy Chamber in the year 812 A.D., now part of the Cathedral.

All the studies carried out so far point in one direction, with nothing to suggest the contrary. The sudarium was used to cover the head of the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth from when he was taken down from the cross until he was buried. The Sudarium provides strong, independent evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. If the Shroud is a fake, then the Sudarium must also be so. Such a wide range of evidence as presented here strengthens the tradition that both cloths have wrapped the same body, that of Jesus of Nazareth.  This makes the job of any potential forger close to impossible. The two cloths authenticate and validate each other and together they provide a strong case for being the original burial cloths of Jesus. Both coincide and fit perfectly with the Gospel accounts.

1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276400495_Commonalities_between_the_Shroud_of_Turin_and_the_Sudarium_of_Oviedo

Last edited by Otangelo on Mon Jan 29, 2024 2:42 pm; edited 2 times in total


27From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 14 Sat Jan 27, 2024 3:32 am



Chapter 15

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The Resurrection

Matthew 28:1-10: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find the tomb empty, an angel announces Jesus' resurrection, and Jesus appears to them.
Mark 16:1-8: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome discover the empty tomb, and a young man (an angel) tells them of Jesus’ resurrection.
Luke 24:1-12: Women find the tomb empty, two men (angels) announce Jesus' resurrection, and Peter visits the tomb.
John 20:1-18: Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty, sees two angels, and then Jesus appears to her.
These passages from the Gospels provide the scriptural foundation for the events of the Passion of Christ. Each Gospel offers a slightly different perspective.

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Jesus was lying flat with the shroud covering the body. Jesus' body progressively dematerialized. During the resurrection, Jesus' body passed through the shroud, leaving an imprint, and leaving it behind as a relic.

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The absence of traces of putrefaction testifies to the brief presence of the body of the Man of the Shroud in the tomb. The blood imprint was interrupted after about 36 hours: precisely the time described by the Gospel for the discovery of the empty tomb.

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John 20:3-8: So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.

The image captures the moment of discovery, with the empty cloth indicating the absence of Jesus' body and suggesting his resurrection. The empty tomb and the discarded shroud are seen as evidence of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, fulfilling his prophecies and confirming his divinity. It is a pivotal moment that ignites the faith of the disciples, leading to the foundation of the Christian Church. The image of the empty cloths specifically symbolizes that death has been overcome; the grave could not hold Jesus. This moment is foundational for the doctrine of resurrection, promising eternal life to believers. It's a message of hope and renewal, signifying that life triumphs over death through Christ. The depiction of this scene evokes the awe and wonder of the miraculous event, as well as the turning point from doubt to belief among Jesus' followers.

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Empowerment and Revelation: The Profound Theological Significance of Mary Magdalene's Encounter with the Risen Jesus

The passage John 20:1-18 describes a deeply moving and significant moment in the Christian narrative. Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' most devoted followers, visits Jesus' tomb early in the morning and finds it empty. Distraught, she encounters Jesus but does not recognize him at first. When she does, she exclaims "Rabbouni!" (which means "Teacher" in Aramaic). This moment of recognition is profoundly emotional as it signifies her realization that Jesus has risen, affirming the core Christian belief in resurrection. The emotional intensity of Mary Magdalene's exclamation "Rabbouni!" stems from several factors: Mary Magdalene's relationship with Jesus was one of close discipleship and profound gratitude. She was dramatically healed by Jesus and followed him closely thereafter, making her recognition of him deeply personal and emotionally charged. The resurrection was a pivotal event. For Mary and other followers of Jesus, the crucifixion was a moment of despair and perceived defeat. Seeing Jesus alive again turned that despair into hope and joy, validating his teachings and promises. Mary wasn't expecting to see Jesus. Her initial inability to recognize him and her subsequent realization would have created a surge of surprise and joy, contributing to the emotional weight of the moment. Some theologians suggest that Jesus, having risen, was in a transformed, glorified state. His instruction to Mary might have been an indication that his resurrected form was different, not to be interacted with in the same way as before. Jesus might have been urging Mary to focus on the bigger picture – the message of the resurrection and the spreading of the Gospel – rather than clinging to him in her personal grief and joy.  In some interpretations, Jesus' remark is connected to his ascension to Heaven. He might have been indicating that he had not yet ascended to the Father, and thus, the time for physical interaction had passed, leading to a new phase in the relationship between Jesus and his followers.

Mary Magdalene's role as the first witness to the resurrected Jesus highlights the importance of testimony in the Christian faith. Her encounter underscores the value of personal experience and witness in spreading the Gospel. Mary Magdalene's prominent role in this event emphasizes the significant place of women in the early Christian community. Despite societal norms of the time, this narrative places a woman at the center of one of Christianity's most pivotal moments, illustrating the inclusive nature of Jesus' ministry.

The role of women in the context of Jesus' ministry and the broader narratives of the Bible offers a compelling counterpoint to the prevailing societal norms of the time. In a period where women were often regarded as second-class citizens and their testimonies were given little credence, the inclusion and elevation of women in key biblical narratives is significant. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus consistently breaks societal norms by valuing and respecting women. He interacts with women publicly, teaches them alongside men, and includes them in his ministry. This was revolutionary in a context where women were often relegated to the background and excluded from religious and scholarly discussions. In several pivotal biblical events, women are central figures. The resurrection narrative, where women (specifically Mary Magdalene) are the first to witness the empty tomb and the risen Christ, is a prime example. This is a powerful statement, especially considering that women's testimonies were often disregarded in legal and societal contexts at the time. Jesus' interactions with women often served to empower them. Examples include his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26), where he breaks cultural taboos to engage with her and reveal his identity as the Messiah, and his defense of Mary of Bethany's choice to sit and listen to his teachings (Luke 10:39-42). Jesus’ parables often feature women in significant roles, highlighting their value and worth in the kingdom of God. The parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), for instance, uses the diligence of a woman searching for a lost coin to illustrate God’s diligence in seeking the lost. The New Testament indicates that women played crucial roles in the early Christian community. Figures like Phoebe, a deaconess (Romans 16:1), and Priscilla, a teacher of the faith (Acts 18:26), show that women were active participants and leaders in the early church. By valuing and including women, Jesus' actions and teachings challenge misogynistic tendencies. He elevates the status of women, affirms their dignity and worth, and sets a precedent for their equal treatment in the community of believers. Beyond the Gospels, women in the Bible often play crucial roles, challenging the status quo. Figures like Deborah, a judge and leader (Judges 4-5), and Esther, who saves her people (Book of Esther), highlight the strength and leadership of women in various contexts. The inclusion and elevation of women in the Bible carry deep theological implications. It suggests a vision of the kingdom of God where societal divisions and discrimination are overcome, pointing towards a more inclusive and equitable community.

The fact that Mary initially does not recognize Jesus suggests a theme regarding the nature of belief and recognition. It speaks to the idea that understanding and recognizing the divine can be a process, often requiring a shift in perspective or an enlightening moment. The resurrection itself is central to Christian theology, symbolizing not just the defeat of death but also the potential for spiritual transformation. This event offers hope and a promise of new life beyond physical death, which is a cornerstone of Christian belief. Jesus addressing Mary by name and her subsequent recognition of him underscores the personal nature of faith and the individual relationship that believers can have with the Lord. It suggests that faith is not just a collective experience but also deeply personal. Jesus' instruction to Mary not to hold onto him could be interpreted as a reminder of the transient nature of earthly existence and relationships. It points to the idea that while physical presence is temporary, spiritual connections and truths endure. Following her encounter, Mary Magdalene goes to the disciples to announce that she has seen the Lord. This act highlights the importance of proclamation in Christianity - the responsibility of believers to share their experiences and the message of Jesus Christ. The episode also touches upon the theme of believing without seeing. Although Mary sees Jesus, the broader narrative of the resurrection includes a call to believe in the risen Christ even without physical evidence, emphasizing faith as trust in what is not seen. The mysterious nature of Jesus' appearance and his initial non-recognition by Mary point to the theme of divine mystery and revelation. It suggests that understanding divine truths often involves moments of revelation that transcend ordinary understanding. Each of these theological lessons contributes to the depth and richness of the Christian narrative and offers insights into the nature of faith, the role of individuals in religious life, and the understanding of divine mysteries.

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The episode of The Incredulity of Thomas, where Thomas puts his finger in the side wound of Jesus, holds several theological lessons:

Thomas initially doubted Jesus' resurrection until he could see and touch Jesus' wounds. This episode teaches that faith often requires believing without physical evidence. Jesus' words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” highlight the virtue of faith based on spiritual conviction rather than physical proof. Thomas' doubt is a very human response, showing that doubt and questioning are natural parts of faith. This episode reassures believers that experiencing doubt does not disqualify them from faith but is a part of the journey toward deeper understanding and belief. By inviting Thomas to touch his wounds, Jesus provides evidence of his physical resurrection. This counters any notion that the resurrection was only spiritual or metaphorical, emphasizing the Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Jesus' response to Thomas is not one of anger or frustration but of patience and compassion. This demonstrates God's willingness to meet us at our point of need and doubt, offering assurance and evidence when necessary. Thomas' experience becomes a powerful testimony for others. His declaration, “My Lord and my God,” upon witnessing Jesus, is a profound confession of faith, suggesting that personal experiences of God can lead to deep and articulate expressions of faith. This incident also addresses the wider audience beyond the initial disciples. Just as Jesus addressed Thomas' doubts, He is available to future generations of believers, inviting them to come to belief, even if they have not physically seen Him. Finally, the episode shows the transformation that can occur through a personal encounter with the Lord. Thomas moves from skepticism to a strong declaration of faith, illustrating the transformative power of an encounter with Christ. This biblical episode offers rich insights into the nature of faith, the legitimacy of doubt, the reality of the resurrection, and the compassionate nature of Christ.

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The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven is a significant event. The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus' earthly work. His life, crucifixion, and resurrection were all part of his mission to offer salvation. The Ascension signifies that this mission was accomplished, confirming his divinity and the fulfillment of prophecies. The Ascension symbolizes Jesus' exaltation and enthronement as Lord. This event signifies that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, emphasizing his divine sovereignty and role as the ultimate mediator between God and humanity. Before ascending, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide and empower his disciples (Acts 1:8 ). The Ascension thus sets the stage for the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, indicating the continuous presence of God with believers through the Spirit. With Jesus' departure, the responsibility of spreading the Gospel was passed to his followers. The Ascension therefore initiates the church's mission in the world, encouraging believers to witness and share their faith. The Ascension also points to the future second coming of Christ. It offers Christians the hope that as Jesus ascended to heaven, he will one day return similarly to bring final redemption and restoration. The Ascension signifies that Jesus is now at the right hand of God, interceding on behalf of humanity. This offers us believers reassurance that Christ is continually advocating for us, maintaining a spiritual connection between heaven and earth. In ascending to heaven, Jesus, in his resurrected body, takes human nature into the divine realm. This elevates the understanding of human destiny, showing that humanity is called to a transformed, glorified existence with God. The event signifies a shift from Jesus' physical presence to his spiritual presence through the Holy Spirit. This transition empowers believers to live faithfully and carry out Christ's work, emphasizing the role of faith and the spiritual connection with Jesus. The Ascension, therefore, is not just a miraculous event but is loaded with theological significance, offering lessons about the nature of Christ's mission, the role of the Church, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the future hope for believers.

Understanding the Apostles' Belief in the Resurrection in the Gospel of John

HE SAW AND BELIEVED! (John 20.1-10)

What is so important about the “grave clothes” in John’s Gospel that they become the focal point of the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection? Specifically, four verses (vv. 5-8 ) are focused on the “linen wrappings” (τὰ ὀθόνια) and the “face cloth” (σουδάριον). Due to the plural noun, “linen wrappings,” found here in the account of the Fourth Gospel, John Calvin rejected the idea that the Shroud of Turin might be the authentic burial “cloth” of Jesus. But the plural noun here should not cause a problem a)

Of note, it was something about the burial linens that gave birth to faith in the Resurrection for “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (the likely author of that Gospel)! Whereas Paul wrote that “faith comes by hearing,” for that disciple faith came by seeing: “He saw and believed” (v. 8 ). [Traditionally that disciple has been identified with being the apostle John. So, we will go with that understanding hereafter.]

There is a progression of intensity that builds regarding the funeral linens. This is evidenced in the original Greek by four different words the writer uses for “looking” and “seeing.” Emphasis should be placed on the verb “lying” (κείμενα), as it occurs three times in verses 5-7. In addition, how one interprets the perfect tense of the verb “rolled up” or “folded up” (ἐντετυλιγμένον) in verse 7 will be critical to one’s conclusion about the passage. Furthermore, the reader is teased by the lack of an object for the verb (εἶδεν) in verse 8: “He saw and believed!” What exactly did John see? All we are told is that it had to do with how the linens were “lying” and the “face cloth” folded up apart
from the other linens. Clues for what John is saying are found both before and after this passage. This story should be understood within the larger context of John’s Gospel, especially about the stories that immediately follow in chapter twenty. First, we are intended to understand that, contrary to what Mary had concluded from her initial visit to the empty tomb, the corpse of Jesus had not been stolen! Second, John is telling us that no one had unwrapped the linens to set Jesus free! His glorious, resurrected body miraculously dematerialized and passed right through the burial garment, leaving it intact but without a corpse. It is interesting how this understanding of the passage is supported both by the Letter of Hebrews and by the one unconventional, scientific explanation for how the image was formed on the cloth! Finally, the Shroud—with its miraculous image of Jesus’ wounds of
crucifixion—is in the background to the subsequent story regarding “Doubting Thomas.” But one should not think that viewing the image will grant some special blessing beyond a stronger faith. Jesus informs us that
faith apart from seeing is blessed (20.29).

The passage from the Gospel of John (20:6-8 ) depicts a pivotal moment in the narrative of Jesus' resurrection. In this context, three different verbs are used to describe the faith of the apostles, providing a deeper understanding of how and why they believed.

See (Greek: θεωρέω - theōréō): It would be pronounced in English phonetically as "theh-o-REH-o." The accent is on the second to last syllable, which is common in Greek words.
When Peter enters the tomb, he sees the linens and the burial cloth. This verb implies careful and reflective observation. It's not just looking, but contemplating or examining attentively. The faith that arises from "seeing" in this context is a faith based on the observation of physical evidence. For Peter, seeing the linens and the burial cloth awakened the possibility of the resurrection, but he does not yet arrive at a full understanding of it.

See and Believe (Greek: ὁράω - horáō and πιστεύω - pisteúō): The Greek words "ὁράω" (horáō) and "πιστεύω" (pisteúō) would be pronounced in English as:

"ὁράω" (horáō): hoh-RAH-oh, with the accent on the second syllable.
"πιστεύω" (pisteúō): pis-TEV-oh, with the accent on the second syllable as well.

The other disciple, traditionally identified as John, also "sees" but additionally "believes." Here, "seeing" (horáō) has a slightly different nuance; it's perceiving with the eyes but also with understanding. The faith that arises here is more intuitive and spiritual. John's "seeing" is accompanied by an inner understanding that leads him to "believe" (pisteúō) in the resurrection. In this case, faith is not solely dependent on physical evidence but also on a spiritual and personal understanding.

In the Gospel of John, the evidence that led to the other disciple, traditionally identified as John, to "see and believe" was his observation of the empty tomb and the burial linens. When John and Peter ran to the tomb after Mary Magdalene reported its emptiness, John reached the tomb first but did not enter. Instead, he stooped and looked in, seeing the linen wrappings lying there. Peter then arrived and went into the tomb, observing the linen wrappings and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linens but rolled up in a place by itself. After Peter's inspection, John also entered the tomb. The Gospel notes that he saw and believed. The significance of this moment is not just in seeing the empty tomb but in understanding what it signified. The arrangement of the linens and the absence of Jesus' body suggested not a grave robbery (as robbers would not have left the linens neatly arranged) but a resurrection. 

Linen Wrappings Left Behind: The linen wrappings that had been used to cover Jesus' body were still present in the tomb. In the context of a grave robbery, it would be unusual for robbers to take the time to unwrap the body and leave the linens behind. Typically, grave robbers would be in a hurry and would not bother with such details; their primary objective would be to take valuable items quickly, including potentially the linens themselves if they were of any worth.
The Neatness of the Linens: The Gospel mentions that the linen wrappings were lying there. This detail suggests an orderly, undisturbed scene rather than the disarray one might expect if someone had hastily unwrapped and removed the body.
The Separate Cloth: Most significantly, the Gospel notes that the cloth that had been placed over Jesus' head was not just left behind, but was folded up (or rolled up in some translations) and placed separately from the linen wrappings. This detail adds to the orderly and deliberate appearance of the scene. It implies that the body was not taken away in haste or with disregard.

The combination of these details—the presence of the linens, their orderly arrangement, and the separate placement of the head cloth—suggests a scenario that goes beyond human intervention, particularly a rushed or covert removal of the body. To the disciples, this scene likely indicated something extraordinary and aligned with Jesus' predictions of his resurrection. It was this realization, upon seeing and understanding the arrangement of the linens, that led to belief, particularly in the case of John, as he interpreted these signs in the context of Jesus' teachings. This understanding, combined with their knowledge of Jesus' teachings and prophecies about his resurrection, led to a belief that transcended mere physical observation. John's faith was prompted by what he saw, but it was also an intuitive recognition and spiritual understanding of the significance of the empty tomb and its implications for Jesus' resurrection.

Believe without Seeing: The concept of "believing without seeing" as emphasized by John in John 20:29.

John 20: 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This phrase conveys the essence of faith that is not contingent upon empirical evidence or physical observation. The word for this kind of faith in Greek is "πίστις" (pistis), which translates to "faith" or "belief" in English, signifying trust, confidence, and conviction in something without the need for visible proof.

This is a faith that does not depend on physical or visual proof but on internal trust and conviction. It represents the faith of future believers who will not have the opportunity to see the physical proofs of Jesus' resurrection.

These different verbs and approaches to faith in the Gospel of John reflect a progression in understanding and accepting Jesus’ resurrection. It begins with a faith based on physical observation and moves towards a deeper, internal faith, ultimately culminating in a faith that transcends the need for physical proof. Each verb reflects a different stage in the journey toward the comprehension and acceptance of the resurrection as the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

a) because:  
(1) all three synoptic Gospels mention the single cloth (σινδών);
(2) the plural noun could simply be referring to other “funeral linens” that were involved in the burial process—such as a headband, a face cloth, and thin strips used to wrap the feet and upper body once the corpse had been placed inside the long, single cloth (σινδών); and
(3) Luke uses the same plural noun (τὰ ὀθόνια), “funeral linens,” in his account of the Resurrection (24.12) after earlier speaking of the singular burial cloth (σινδών) or shroud (23.53). One theory is that τὰ ὀθόνια refers to all the
funeral linens minus the Shroud. The majority view, though, is that this plural noun in Luke 23.53 is intended to include all the funeral or “linen wrappings” used in the burial process. Apparently, τὰ ὀθόνια refers collectively to several cloths of various sizes. John uses a different word, κειρία, in describing the grave clothes of Lazarus (11.44). Carson describes that earlier burial in this manner: “The corpse was customarily laid on a sheet of linen, wide enough to envelop the body completely and more than twice the length of the corpse. The body was so placed on the sheet that the feet were at one end, and then the sheet was drawn over the head and back down to the feet. The feet were bound at the ankles, and the arms were tied to the body with linen strips…. Jesus’ body was apparently prepared for burial in the same way (cf. 19.40; 20.5, 7).” D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John. Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991) 418-19

b)  Larry Stalley: Are There Veiled References to the Shroud of Turin In the New Testament? 2020 https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/anc-stalley-pap.pdf

What Prompted John to Believe?

In John 20:8 we read: “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed.” This immediately follows verses 20:5–7, so they are the cause that resulted in this effect. What exactly did John see that made him believe the Lord had been raised from the dead?

Research done by Rebecca Jackson, cited by Joseph Marino in “Is the Turin Shroud Compatible with a First Century Jerusalem Burial?—Some Jewish Perspectives,” documents that Jewish burial customs of the first century mandated that one who died a violent death had to have all bloodstained items buried with the body. This was due to the belief that a bodily resurrection required the whole body to be buried together, with all blood, bones, etc. included. This meant the face cloth would have been buried with the body, but not necessarily that it remained on the face while it was within the shroud.

Marino cites Jewish lawyer Victor Tunkel, who made the following points in an oral presentation titled “A Jewish View of the Shroud of Turin” to the British Society for the Turin Shroud on May 12, 1983:

it has a chance to be genuine because Jesus did not undergo a normal, natural death. He suffered a violent, blood-stained death, and the rules for burial in such cases are quite different. In a normal death, the body has to be washed and then dressed in conventional shrouds. That does not apply to the body that has died in violent circumstances.

In Jesus’ case, it was a case of capital punishment, but would include someone whose throat had been cut or was stabbed many times and left for dead, and so on. Because of the belief in the 1st century in the bodily resurrection, the Jews, or at least the Pharisees, took the view that the blood is as much part of the body as the limbs, the hair, and every other body part and must be buried so as to be available for that resurrection. So if one found a bloodstained body, absolutely drenched in blood, one can’t take the clothes off, wash the body, put it in shrouds because one would be taking away some of the body, which of course then wouldn’t be available for the resurrection. This was a key point in debates between Pharisees and Sadducees.

We can therefore be confident that those who prepared the Lord’s body planned to include the sudarion somewhere within His shroud during the final preparations. In my opinion, though, it strains one’s sense of propriety to imagine that, after being used to blot bodily fluids in the above manner, the cloth would afterward have been re-wrapped around His head. Included within the shroud, yes, but not laid again upon that beloved face.

We must realize that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had to undertake very incomplete, hasty preparations to get the body of the Lord into the tomb before the Sabbath began. They would have been fully aware that the women were going to finish the work once the Sabbath ended (Lk. 23:55, “Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid”), so they only needed to do a bare minimum of preparation that would have also eased the women’s later task. The men only needed to convey the Lord’s body to the tomb, place it on the shroud, put some 75 pounds of sweet-smelling myrrh and aloes around the body (Jn. 19:39–40), cover the body, and loosely bind the shroud closed with ties. That way, the women would have no difficulty uncovering the Lord’s body later to properly finish the task. They would not have needed to unwind fourteen feet of linen from around His body, scattering already-placed spices in the process, then re-wrapping Him once the task was completed.

Since the women had to finish the men’s hurried burial preparations, the sudarion would reasonably have been set aside in the tomb by Joseph and Nicodemus during their early preparation, because by that time it had done its job of absorbing the blood and pulmonary fluids and probably interfered with their putting myrrh and aloes around the Lord’s head. Because it was blood-stained it would need to be included within the shroud once the women had done their work, so it would not have been discarded, just set aside so as not to interfere with the women’s ministrations, to be afterward included within the shroud. But the Resurrection left the face-cloth still where the men had put it, “rolled up in a place by itself” (Jn. 20:7).

Another reason to suppose that the face-cloth was not inside the shroud after the men’s job was done has to do with the studies that have proven there is 3-D information within the Shroud image. The intensity of the face image, being dependent on the distance of the face from the inside of the sindon, indicates that there was no other cloth intervening between His face and the outer shroud. If there was, it would have distorted the image, and no such distortion is apparent.

The sight that greeted the eyes of Peter and John when they visited the tomb, therefore, was the face-cloth rolled up by itself, where it had been put during the men’s hasty preparation, and the main shroud, with its closing ties still fastened, in a collapsed heap. In my opinion, this sight prompted John to believe in the Resurrection (Jn. 20:8 ) because the ties were still fastened. The image burnt into the microfibrils of the surface of the shroud that was in contact with the body would not have been visible at that time, being on the underside of the fabric and unseen until the sindon was unfolded. So it was not an image on the Shroud that would have impressed John when he looked into the tomb.

Feuillet also offered some valuable insights on John 20:7 (page 19):

the linens in question must be the shroud, but perhaps also the ties of the hands and feet which, in the account of the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11:44) are called keiriai. It seems that John does not specify that only the linens are still there while the body of Jesus had disappeared. Since John does not use the verb menein, but the verb keisthai, I prefer to translate, not “lying on the ground”, which is an unnecessary addition to the text, but rather “spread out flat, sunk down”, a sense perfectly attested by keisthai. The verb entulissein used by Matthew (27:59) and by Luke (23:53) in connection with sindôn suggests a big sheet that completely enveloped the body of Christ. John wants to suggest that, with the body of Jesus having disappeared, the two parts of the shroud (upper and lower) have come together. A very spiritual conception of the corporal resurrection and the only acceptable conception.


The above study, differentiating between the various Greek terms used to describe the burial cloths used in both the typical burial accorded to Lazarus and the more involved preparations given for the Savior, allows us to say that Scripture itself supports viewing the Shroud of Turin as the genuine burial cloth of Christ. I think we can be confident that, when all of the data is in and all of the criticisms of the skeptics have been addressed, the Shroud of Turin will be shown to corroborate inerrant Scripture. 1

Contradictions in the Resurrection narratives?

What time did the women visit the tomb?

The Gospel of Matthew states that "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb" (Matthew 28:1, NIV). This account suggests that the women visited the tomb early in the morning after the Sabbath day had ended.

The Gospel of Mark also indicates that "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body" (Mark 16:1, NIV). This account also implies that the women visited the tomb after the Sabbath had ended, and they had purchased spices to anoint Jesus' body.

On the other hand, the Gospel of Luke seems to suggest a different timing. It states that "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb" (Luke 24:1, NIV). This account appears to indicate that the women visited the tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week, possibly before sunrise.

Lastly, the Gospel of John provides a slightly different perspective. It states that "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb" (John 20:1, NIV). This account suggests that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb while it was still dark, on the first day of the week.

The differences in timing among the Gospel accounts can be reconciled by considering the possibility that the women visited the tomb multiple times, at different times of the day, and that the Gospel writers may have focused on different aspects of the events. It's also worth noting that the Gospel writers may have used different cultural or linguistic conventions in describing time, and that the accounts were not meant to be precise chronological records, but rather testimonies of the resurrection event and its significance. Scholars and theologians have proposed various harmonizations and explanations for these differences, and ultimately, the focus of the Gospel accounts is not on the exact timing of the women's visit to the tomb, but on the central message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is a cornerstone of Christian faith.

Was the tomb open, or closed?

According to the Gospel accounts, the state of the tomb of Jesus at the time of the women's visitation is described differently in different Gospels, and there appears to be some discrepancy or contradiction in this regard.

The Gospel of Matthew states "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it" (Matthew 28:2, NIV). This account implies that the tomb was initially closed with a stone, which was rolled away by the angel, allowing the women to see inside.

The Gospel of Mark also mentions that "They [the women] saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away" (Mark 16:4, NIV). This account suggests that the tomb was open, with the stone rolled away when the women arrived.

The Gospel of Luke does not specifically mention the state of the tomb being open or closed at the time of the women's visit, but it does mention that the women "found the stone rolled away from the tomb" (Luke 24:2, NIV), which implies that the tomb was open.

The Gospel of John provides a different perspective. It states that Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb and "saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance" (John 20:1, NIV). This account also suggests that the tomb was open, with the stone removed.

While there may be differences in the details provided by the Gospel writers, it's important to note that these accounts were written by different authors, with different perspectives, purposes, and audiences. It's also possible that the Gospel writers were focusing on different aspects of the events, and that the accounts were not meant to provide a precise, chronological description of the state of the tomb. Various harmonizations and explanations have been proposed by scholars and theologians to reconcile these differences. Nonetheless, the central message of the Gospel accounts is that Jesus' tomb was found empty, signifying the resurrection of Jesus, which is a key doctrine of Christian faith.

Who was in the tomb?

According to the Gospel accounts, when the women visited the tomb of Jesus, they did not find anyone inside the tomb. The Gospel of Matthew mentions that an angel of the Lord was present outside the tomb and spoke to the women (Matthew 28:5-7). The Gospel of Mark mentions that the women entered the tomb and found a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side (Mark 16:5). The Gospel of Luke mentions that two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside the women (Luke 24:4). The Gospel of John does not mention anyone being inside the tomb when Mary Magdalene visited (John 20:1-2).

The identities of the individuals described in the Gospel accounts as being present at the tomb vary among the Gospel writers, and there may be differences in their descriptions of the events. It's important to note that the Gospel accounts were written by different authors with different perspectives and purposes, and they may have chosen to emphasize different aspects of the events.

The angels were inside or outside of the tomb?

The Gospel accounts differ in their descriptions of where the angels were in relation to the tomb of Jesus.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the angel of the Lord is mentioned as being outside the tomb, sitting on the stone that had been rolled away from the entrance (Matthew 28:2-7).
In the Gospel of Mark, the young man dressed in a white robe is mentioned as being inside the tomb, sitting on the right side (Mark 16:5).
In the Gospel of Luke, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning are mentioned as standing beside the women, but it does not specifically mention whether they were inside or outside the tomb (Luke 24:4).
The Gospel of John does not mention any angels being present at the tomb when Mary Magdalene visited (John 20:1-2).

It's important to note that the Gospel accounts were written by different authors with different perspectives and purposes, and they may have chosen to emphasize different aspects of the events.  The differences in the descriptions of the angels' location do not necessarily represent contradictions, but rather different perspectives of the Gospel writers.

Were the angels sitting, or standing?

The Gospel accounts do not specifically mention whether the angels were seated or standing.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the angel of the Lord is mentioned as sitting on the stone that had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 28:2-7).
In the Gospel of Mark, the young man dressed in a white robe is mentioned as sitting on the right side inside the tomb (Mark 16:5).
In the Gospel of Luke, the two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning are mentioned as standing beside the women, but it does not specify whether they were inside or outside the tomb (Luke 24:4).
The Gospel of John does not mention any angels being present at the tomb when Mary Magdalene visited (John 20:1-2).

The Gospel accounts provide varying details about the angels, and they do not always provide complete descriptions of their physical posture.  The absence of specific details about the angels' posture does not necessarily imply contradictions, but rather differences in emphasis and perspective among the Gospel writers.

Did Maria Magdalene recognize Jesus?

According to the Gospel accounts, Mary Magdalene did not immediately recognize Jesus after his resurrection.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary near the tomb, and they recognized him and worshiped him (Matthew 28:9).
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, but she did not recognize him until he spoke to her (Mark 16:9-11).
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize him until he broke bread with them (Luke 24:13-35). There is no mention of Jesus appearing specifically to Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Luke.

In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene initially did not recognize Jesus at the tomb but thought he was the gardener. It was only when Jesus called her by name, "Mary," that she recognized him (John 20:11-18).
So, according to the Gospel accounts, Mary Magdalene did not immediately recognize Jesus after his resurrection but rather had moments of confusion or lack of recognition until Jesus revealed himself to her in some way, such as speaking to her or calling her by name. The details may vary slightly among the Gospel accounts, but they all emphasize that Mary Magdalene eventually recognized Jesus after his resurrection.

How was the Shroud laid on the body?

The following hypothesis states that the image on the Shroud of Jesus was created at the moment of Jesus' resurrection through radiation emitted from his body, altering the cloth's structure to leave a lasting inprint. This hypothesis suggests that the Shroud is not only a relic of Jesus but also a miraculous testament to his resurrection. For the image on the Shroud to be the result of a projection, several conditions must be met:

The body would have to emit linear radiation, capable of projecting an image both upwards and downwards onto the cloth, as both dorsal and frontal images are present.
The projection would require rays that are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the cloth, forming what is known as an orthogonal cylindrical projection in geometry.
Two types of projections can be used to represent a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional plane: conical projection and cylindrical projection. In conical projection, rays emanate from a single point and expand, enlarging the projected image. In cylindrical projection, as with sunlight, rays are considered parallel, maintaining the object's size in the projection.

By applying these geometric principles,  the hypothesis is that the Shroud's image is a miraculous projection, offering a scientifically grounded argument for its formation.

When discussing the creation of the image on the Shroud of Turin through projection, the conical projection would be the most coherent with the nature of radiation from a specific location. This is because radiation emanates from a finite, specific point within the body, positioned between the layers of the Shroud. However, contrary to the typical result of a conical projection, which would enlarge the image, the image on the Shroud maintains the proportions of the actual body.  With the projection center within the body, if the rays would pass through each point of the body in a conical shape, expanding, and end on the Shroud, it would radiate outwards in all directions. This would result in a projection so broad that it would be impossible to capture on any fabric, and many rays would be lost to the sides. Furthermore, this would lead to a fragment of the image being deformed, creating an anamorphosis so severe it
would be nearly unrecognizable.

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This type of projection doesn't serve this purpose well, as shown in the illustration with a cube.

In a cylindrical projection, the rays are parallel, with the projection center considered to be at infinity. An oblique cylindrical projection results in an image that isn't enlarged but is deformed, with a risk of the projection extending beyond the projection plane. 

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However, in the case of the Shroud, if we consider the image to be a product of projection, the use of orthogonal cylindrical projection is the only method that would not distort the proportions and would minimize anamorphosis. For this to occur, the body would need to be positioned as parallel as possible to the cloth, both frontally and dorsally. This is illustrated with a simple example where the body is not positioned frontally but obliquely, leading to a deformed image even with a cylindrical and orthogonal projection. It will be essential that the body is arranged dorsally and frontally in a parallel arrangement to the canvas. Let's look closely at the illustration below, where the body is arranged, not frontally, but obliquely with respect to the plane of the fabric. The result would be a deformed image in projection, no matter how cylindrical and orthogonal it was.

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To achieve an image like the one on the Shroud, the body would need to be placed between the layers of the cloth in a "sandwich" fashion, as parallel as possible. 

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This would result in two opposing radiations generating two orthogonal cylindrical projections, one upwards and the other downwards. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that there will always be body areas oblique to the projection planes, not showing their true form and magnitude.

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If we hypothesize that the image on the Shroud would have been created by a radiation line projection resulting in an orthogonal cylindrical projection, this would be plausible. The projection would have one projection plane within the body, projecting into two opposite and infinite directions to generate two sets of rays, one projecting the frontal view and the other the dorsal, with rays parallel and perpendicular to the cloths. This method of projection aligns with the nature of projection phenomena. The projection originated from the body itself, dispersing rays parallel and orthogonally both upwards and downwards, resembling a plane bisecting the body horizontally.

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This means that the arc made by the fabric in the head area should have a radius large enough so that the frontal and dorsal projections of the head were separated when the canvas was extended by a minimum of about 40 centimeters. However, on the canvas, the two frontal and dorsal representations of the head are shown little separated, with an approximate distance of about 15,7  centimeters. If the hypothesis of projection were taken as valid, we would have to admit that the man represented on the Shroud would have to have his head flattened so that the radius of the arc that the cloth forms when folded would be smaller, the projection and thus obtain as a result a short distance between the two representations of the head. 

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Moreover, the projection didn't just create a simple monochrome silhouette or momentarily reflect the internal organs but produced an exact image of the body's external surface. This implies that the cloth served not just as a projection plane but also as a medium that mirrored the external appearance of the body. This remarkable occurrence hints at an intentional manifestation by the body to leave a lasting image, radiating in a very particular and plausible manner to ensure its image was captured for posterity, recognizing the traces of the Passion.

Considering the hypothesis that the image is the result of radiation from a radiative body emitting corpuscular radiation in all directions at high speeds, this would imply a radial, expansive projection, akin to conical projection but without a precise projection center. This could still result in a coherent image, despite the diffuse and indistinct nature of such a projection. It's conceivable that the particles emitted from countless points on the body took parallel and orthogonal directions to the cloth's plane, intentionally creating a recognizable image.

The projection hypothesis  on a flat Shroud can be discarded 

The heads on the Shroud are only about 16 cm apart. For the projection hypothesis to hold true, the shroud would need to have formed a larger curve around the head to create sufficient space between the two head images when laid flat. This larger curve would ensure that the projections of the head, both from the front and the back, do not overlap or come too close, maintaining the integrity and separateness of the images.

The fact that the heads are only 16 cm apart suggests that the required elongated 'C' shape, with a sufficiently large curve around the head, was not achieved. If the shroud had been stretched out as proposed, the distance between the two head images would likely be greater. This discrepancy raises questions about the feasibility of the projection hypothesis under these specific conditions.

To accommodate the short distance between the head images while maintaining the projection hypothesis, one would have to assume either a different method of draping the shroud over the body or a variation in the projection process that could account for this spatial limitation. Such modifications, however, would need to be substantiated by further evidence or theoretical elaboration to maintain the plausibility of the projection hypothesis in light of the shroud's physical characteristics.

Possible Solution on How the Image on the Turin Shroud May Have Been Formed  

Think of the body wrapped in the shroud like a lightbulb. When a lightbulb is turned on, light radiates out from it. In the case of the Shroud, the body is like a lightbulb, but instead of light, it's some kind of unknown energy that's radiating out. This energy is thought to be similar to an electric field, which you might have experienced as a small shock when touching something after walking on a carpet. The Shroud wasn't just laid flat on the body; it was draped in a specific way. Imagine putting a piece of fabric over a basketball. The fabric doesn't touch every part of the ball but takes on its curved shape. Similarly, the Shroud would have been draped over the body, creating curves and not touching the body uniformly. As this energy radiated out from the body, it interacted with the cloth. Where the cloth was closer to the body, the image might have been clearer or more detailed, like a shadow that's sharper when you're closer to a light source. In parts where the cloth was not in direct contact or was a bit further away from the body, the image would be less clear or perhaps not even form at all. As the energy moved away from the body, it weakened. This is similar to how light gets dimmer the further away you are from the source. The researchers believe that for the image to form like it is on the Shroud, this energy needed to weaken in a very specific way. If it weakened too much or too little, the image wouldn't have formed correctly. The end result was an image that mirrored the front and back of the body, kind of like a 3D photograph. The details of the image, like the facial features or wounds, were likely influenced by how close the cloth was to those body parts and how the energy spread and weakened as it moved through the cloth. The image on the Turin Shroud could be like a complex interaction between an unknown form of energy radiating from a body and the way a cloth was draped over it, capturing a sort of energy imprint.

Fine-Tuned Energy Emission

The image on the Shroud is remarkably detailed, showing nuances of facial features and wounds. For such precise details to be captured, the energy emission would need to be finely calibrated. Too much energy and the image could become overexposed or blurred, losing its detail. Too little energy and the image might be too faint or incomplete. Despite the uneven draping of the cloth over the body, the image of the Shroud is relatively uniform in intensity and clarity. This suggests a carefully balanced energy output. If the energy varied significantly across different parts of the body, the image would likely show varying degrees of clarity and intensity, which is not observed. The distance between the cloth and the body's surface would have varied, with some parts of the body closer to the cloth than others. For the image to form consistently despite these variations, the energy radiation would need to be fine-tuned. It would have to be strong enough to reach and affect the cloth where it wasn't in direct contact with the body, yet not so strong as to oversaturate the areas where the cloth was closer.  If the energy emission was not finely controlled, the image could suffer from distortions. Since the Shroud is wrapped around a three-dimensional object, any inconsistencies in energy radiation could result in a warped or stretched appearance in the image, which is not seen in the Shroud. The exact type of energy responsible for the image is still a matter of debate and research. However, for it to create an image without burning or damaging the cloth, and to only affect the very top layers of the fabric, it would need to be of a specific intensity and nature - not too powerful to cause damage, yet potent enough to leave a lasting impression. The body wrapped in the Shroud acted like a source of energy, emitting a burst of low-energy charged particles, probably protons, similar to a lightbulb radiating light. This burst of radiation, proposed as the Vertically Collimated Radiation Burst (VCRB), was brief but intense. The Shroud was not laid flat but draped over the body in a way that created curves, without touching the body uniformly. This draping was crucial for the interaction between the emitted particles and the cloth. As the protons radiated from the body, they deposited their charge onto the cloth, generating electrical currents within the fibers. This led to localized heating and subsequent discoloration of the fibers, forming the detailed image of the crucified man. The radiation had to be finely tuned to create a uniform and detailed image. The proximity of the cloth to different body parts affected the image clarity, necessitating a precise level of energy emission to capture clear details without distortion.  The energy weakened as it moved away from the body, akin to light dimming with distance. This weakening had to be specific to ensure the right amount of energy interacted with the cloth to form the image. Rucker's hypothesis suggests that along with protons, neutrons were also emitted due to the splitting of deuterium nuclei. These neutrons, when absorbed by nitrogen-14 in the fibers, could have converted it to carbon-14, potentially explaining the Shroud’s controversial carbon dating results. The end result was a detailed image with topographical information, reflecting the vertical distance of the cloth from the body. The image was formed on the top two or three layers of fibers, without side images of the body, suggesting a precise and vertically aligned emission of energy.

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Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him…because he couldn't be held by death. For David says concerning him, “…Thou wilt not…let Thy Holy One see corruption.”’
‘Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being, therefore, a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised, and of that we all are witnesses’ (St. Peter in Acts 2:22-25, 27, 29-32).
The large round stone is still sealed at the entrance to the tomb, while the soldiers are on guard outside.
Jesus, having taken up his life again and being free of the laws of space, passes invisibly through the red rock streaked with white—the most glorious tomb in history.

When the dazzling angel of the resurrection rolls back the stone at dawn, the amazement and terror of the guards, the linen cloths, and the sudarium folded separately and lying on the ledge in the tomb are, with the simplicity of the works of God, the first eloquent witnesses that the glorious body was delivered from the sepulcher by divine power and not by thieves.

This is how the linen cloths appeared in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea to the first official witnesses of the resurrection of Christ—Peter, the visible head of the Church, and John, the favorite disciple—when they first looked into the tomb at dawn on that Sunday; and it was St. John himself, an eyewitness, who handed down the memory of it in his Gospel.

There is, though, another witness that can be examined concerning this miraculous event: the Holy Shroud, which wrapped the holy body, covered in pre- and post-mortal blood (the former already clotted, and the latter partly dried).

Because of the biochemical laws governing the coagulation of blood and the phenomenon of fibrinolysis, we can today ask whether the morphology of this blood, clearly visible on the Shroud, conforms with the known laws of coagulation and whether the 36-hour period of contact between Shroud and body was sufficient in that atmosphere to admit of the phenomenon of fibrinolysis as it appears on the Shroud.

We are dealing here with the phenomenon of clotting and the subsequent hydrolytic factor since evidence that could not have been thought up by a hypothetical forger, with the phenomenon of clotting and the subsequent transfer onto cloth cannot be imitated by the artist’s brush, which cannot reproduce the morphology of clotted or set blood.
In the authentic photographs, the imprints of the pre-mortal blood, which has transferred on the Shroud, appear thus: on the borders of the blood mark, the fibrin has formed a thicker line, while inside the mark the plasma appears more faded, according to its natural color.
With the post-mortal blood, which is especially evident on the Shroud at the wound in the side and in the blood which flowed from this wound down to the knee region, and to some extent in the blood on the soles of the feet, we find dried blood corresponding in its morphology to blood which has not clotted previously and which, unlike clotted pre-mortal blood, shows gumes surrounded by serous fluid.

At this point, the Holy Shroud can be called upon as a witness to the phenomenon of hemolysis and fibrinolysis. When this occurs, it follows precise laws related to the time of contact. Thus, if a certain number of hours have not passed, the transfer onto the cloth does not take place or does so only very roughly. However, if the period exceeds this number of hours, the transferred blood swamps the cloth through excessive softening of the fibrin. This process has been demonstrated. Furthermore, aloes and myrrh are hemolytic. Now it must be said that the Shroud, which was in contact with the naked, wounded body of the Man of the Shroud, shows signs that the process of fibrinolysis was interrupted if, in the view of experts, the imprints are typical of coagulated pre-mortal blood and dried post-mortal blood, perfectly transferred and clear in their respective morphologies.
If this process did not continue to the end, there must be a plausible reason. There are two possibilities:

That the body was stolen after being once more stripped naked;

After a certain number of hours, the body removed itself of its own volition, leaving a biological substance of the twentieth century the privilege of revealing the secret that seems to be hidden in this holy sheet, a secret which may be intimately linked with the greatest mystery of human history—the resurrection of Christ.
The first theory, that of theft, was sketched out by the Sanhedrin, to the jingle of coins, and found no following among the first authentic witnesses of the risen Christ, nor in the early apostolic and post-apostolic tradition. Also, the linen cloths found well folded and separated by the first official inspectors, Peter and John, at dawn on Sunday, would point to the theft of the body stripped naked once more—an inconceivable thing to the Jewish mentality of that time, according to which anyone in possession of, or merely touching, the winding sheet of a corpse was “legally impure.” It would also be against Roman law, under which violation of a tomb was punishable by death.

In this hypothetical case, a biochemical examination of the phenomenon of fibrinolysis would have to confirm that the robbers had removed the Holy Shroud from the body after a certain number of hours. On the other hand, the Gospels state that the soldiers were at the tomb from Saturday evening until Sunday morning; thus, if theft did occur, it would have to have been before the tomb was sealed on Saturday at sunset. However, this could not be so, since the presence of the body would have been checked before the sealing took place. Moreover, the short time between the sealing (Saturday night) and the resurrection (dawn on Sunday) would exclude any possibility of negligence on the part of the soldiers in guarding the tomb, and thus any possibility of theft. This story of theft was invented by the Sanhedrin after the flight of the soldiers, who were frightened by what had happened. Still, less can we believe the only other possibility that the theft would have taken place inside the sealed tomb and under the eyes of the temple guards!

If we wish to put forward the theory of serious negligence on the part of the Sanhedrin (which is also most unlikely) in not having checked the presence of the body of Jesus at the time they sealed the stone that Joseph of Arimathea, the owner of the tomb, had rolled over the entrance on Friday evening, we must conclude that the theft took place (if it took place at all!) during the Sabbath rest (!), or at the latest, at sunset on Saturday, i.e., when, at the end of the Sabbath rest, the Sanhedrin hurriedly gathered to discuss with Pilate the question of posting guards at the tomb.

In this case, the period the Holy Shroud was in contact with the body would be reduced by many hours if the theft took place on Saturday, or by at least eight or nine hours if it took place immediately at the end of the Sabbath rest (always supposing that the robbers wasted precious time in stripping the body and carefully folding the linen cloths when at any moment they could have been discovered and severely punished, as Eusebius and the early Fathers of the Church observe). If this is what happened, an examination of the fibrinolytic process would demonstrate a reduction in the precious hours of contact with the Shroud.

There is yet another possibility—that of the body being stolen while still wrapped in the Shroud. In this case, either the areas of the Shroud in contact with the wounds would have been saturated and the fibrinolysis process inter- rupted in those parts, or, if the cloth did remain in contact with the body, the number of hours of contact would be considerably increased and this might be subject to analysis, as would be the case if contact with the cloth did not occur in the hours of the Shroud of Turin.

"Qui tegit veritatem murum super mortuo, immundus usque ad vespertum" (Lev 22:4-6).

In this case, the robbers, according to the Sanhedrin, were the "friends of Jesus" who wanted to prove that he had risen.

However, it tends to be forgotten that Jesus' friends, at the time these events were taking place, had not the slightest idea of the resurrection. It was only after the numerous appearances of Jesus (two in the Last Supper room behind locked doors, at the lake, etc.) that their faith was strengthened and they were able to make of this historical fact, which they had witnessed, the central feature of the preaching of the Church. From these appearances behind locked doors, they were able in some way to understand the very nature of the glorified body.

Thus the theft of the body would have been a dangerous action out of all proportion to the purpose—that of trying to prove a resurrection which they did not believe. None of the disciples of Christ was charged officially with being the "desecrator" of that tomb, which was closely watched by temple guards who would not have hesitated to capture the "courageous" (!) desecrators and hand them over to the Sanhedrin if they had tried to remove the heavy stone, which was blocked by iron bars which, in their turn, had been sealed to that same rock out of which the cave had been hollowed.

The disciples showed that their "courage" amounted to both before and after the passion of the Master, as we can see clearly in the Gospel (Jn 20:19; Mt 26:57; Mk 14:50).

It is no good, therefore, objecting to the impossibility of blood having suffused through the blood, exploding off the corpse and wetting the holy linen. Only in the closeness of the discovery of the remains of this Edicule, and say so that the occasion of Moses, would have been buried in a hidden place, unknown to anyone, and that his body could never have been found. This is simply a rather indelicate way of perpetuating the hypothesis that the body of Jesus was carried off by the disciples (and therefore buried by them in a hidden place); in this case, the Shroud of Turin could not possibly be authentic, since it would have undergone the same fate as the body.
However, in refutation of this theory, we have the testimony of St. John, who says that the burial clothes were found carefully folded separately from the sudarium (which was also carefully folded) on the ledge of the tomb by the authorities, which of course totally contradicts their complicity and the theory of any other direction, connected with either intrinsic tradition or authentic theories, which are discredited by the evangelists and patristic exegesis.

This then is the Holy Shroud, with its unmistakable imprint like that of a photographic negative, which the morphological characteristics of blood imprints that only modern biochemistry has discovered—characteristics that cannot be imitated with a brush, even by the cleverest medical experts. These prints have a carmine-mauve coloration which recent experiments have shown to be possible because of the presence of aloes and myrrh in the cloth, since usually blood absorbed by cloth in time completely loses its characteristic coloring and fades to a light sepia color. This then is the Shroud, the imprints of which were perfected by various chemical reactions, such as that of the aloin, all of which contributed to producing in this funeral sheet the moving image of a man condemned to death on the cross, the serenity etched out with nails and preceded by a characteristic scourging and a severe cranial crowning with thorns, and then, in the middle kingdom of death, struck with a spear through the right side of the thorax (instead of the customary breaking of the legs). The image is a Man whose head remained bowed even in death and whose painter in the agony of death had raised eyes marked in the upper corner of the canvas of the Man in the image of the Gospels.

Then we come to the imprint of the face, which is truly remarkable: its renaissance beauty, revealed for the first time by the photographic reverse in 1898, could not possibly have been thought up and painted in negative by any brush of some painter in an age preceding the discovery of photography.

All of this was the value of testimony, written in letters of blood on that sheet which wrapped the body of the Man of the Shroud for about thirty-six hours—the tremendous is linked indirectly but genuinely to the final miracle, yet most important of all, worked by Jesus for his own sake, in fulfillment of his solemn affirmation: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (Jn 10:17-19).

His resurrection was thus the crowning glory of his mission on earth and a prelude to his glorification in heaven—that of the head and the members. St. Paul was to proclaim this solemnly for all people: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile... But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep; for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:17, 20-23).

This final meeting of the resurrected Christ with “those who belong to Christ” completes the mystery of universal salvation, as the hands of Satan. Father and the Spirit, like a most precious talon from the rising sun to the already souls of the just of the Old Testament who waited for him, have already received his liberating presence, as has “the little flock” of the New and everlasting Testament who, during the forty days of the founding of the Church—his reign of love—experienced his radiant visits: the first of all to meet him was Mary of Nazareth, his Mother, then Mary Magdalene, the holy women, Peter, the apostles, and the disciples.
Since his ascension into heaven in the flesh, Christ has encountered every generation of the faithful and will continue to do so until the final resurrection of the chosen when, by divine grace, even our bodies will be glorified in his likeness.

The Resurrection as Validation

The resurrection of Jesus Christ symbolizes victory over sin and death. The resurrection is God the Father's confirmation that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient to atone for the sins of humanity. 

The Sinlessness of Christ

Hebrews 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."
1 Peter 2:22: "He did not sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
Exegesis: These verses affirm the sinless nature of Jesus. His sinlessness is crucial because it qualifies Him as the perfect sacrifice, capable of atoning for the sins of humanity. Unlike humans, who are born with a sinful nature, Jesus, being sinless, was not subject to the law of sin and death.

The Price of Sin and the Sacrifice of Christ

Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
1 John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
Exegesis: Sin, as stated in Romans, earns the wage of death. This death is not just physical but also spiritual—eternal separation from God. Jesus' death on the cross, being a sinless sacrifice, paid this price in full, satisfying the justice of God. It is through His sacrifice that humanity can be reconciled with God.

The Resurrection as Validation

Romans 1:4: "And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:17: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Exegesis: The resurrection is God's seal of approval on the work of Christ. If Christ had remained dead, it would imply that His sacrifice was insufficient. However, the resurrection confirms that not only was Jesus' sacrifice sufficient, but it also demonstrates His power over death, affirming His divinity and the truth of His teachings.

The Implications for Believers

Romans 8:11: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you."
1 Peter 1:3: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
Exegesis: For believers, the resurrection is not just a historical event but a source of hope and assurance. It promises them new life and a future resurrection, similar to Christ's. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in those who believe, ensuring their ultimate victory over sin and death.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a pivotal event that signifies the acceptance of Christ's sacrifice by the Father. It underscores the sinless nature of Christ, His victory over sin and death, and the hope of resurrection for believers. This event is foundational to the Christian faith, offering assurance of eternal life and reconciliation with God.

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29From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 15 Sun Jan 28, 2024 4:07 am



Chapter 16

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The Linen cloth of the Shroud

Joseph of Arimathea: The Intersection of Wealth, Devotion, and Symbolism in the Burial of Jesus Christ

Joseph of Arimathea is an intriguing figure in the New Testament, primarily because of his role in the burial of Jesus Christ and the few but significant details provided about his background and status. The four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – all mention Joseph of Arimathea, but each provides different details. His portrayal is that of a wealthy man, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a secret follower or disciple of Jesus. The Sanhedrin was the supreme religious body in Judaism, consisting of high priests, elders, and scribes. It held significant authority over Jewish civil and religious matters. The description of Joseph as a "rich man" is particularly found in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 27:57). His wealth is significant for several reasons. First, it suggests a certain level of social and economic standing in Jewish society. Second, his wealth enabled him to have a private tomb, which is where Jesus was buried. This was unusual because crucifixion victims were typically not given honorable burials. His ownership of a tomb, likely a rock-hewn tomb, indicates substantial financial means. Joseph's membership in the Sanhedrin is crucial. The Sanhedrin, being the highest governing religious body, played a key role in the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. Despite this, Joseph is portrayed as a secret follower of Jesus, indicating a complex interplay of religious belief, political circumstance, and personal conviction. This dual role highlights the internal conflicts some Jewish leaders may have felt between their traditional beliefs and the teachings of Jesus. Joseph's request to Pilate for Jesus' body and his subsequent role in the burial are significant. It was a bold step, given the Roman and Jewish sentiments at the time. By asking Pilate for Jesus' body, Joseph exposed himself to potential political and social backlash. His actions are seen as acts of courage and devotion, providing a dignified burial for Jesus, which was an essential Jewish custom. Joseph's actions fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9 about the Messiah being buried with the rich. His role in the burial of Jesus also emphasizes the theme of Jesus receiving honor and respect even in death from unexpected sources, underscoring the universal impact of Jesus’ message and life. Joseph's story provides insights into the cultural and religious dynamics of the time. It reflects the varied responses to Jesus' teachings and the complexities within the Jewish leadership. His ability to approach Pilate also indicates a level of political influence or respectability.

The term "fine linen" signifies a high-quality fabric, which aligns with Joseph of Arimathea's wealth. Linen was a common fabric in ancient times, used for a variety of purposes, including clothing and burial shrouds. The quality of linen varied, and "fine twisted linen" indicates a superior quality. Linen's significance is also found in its ritual purity according to Jewish customs, making it an appropriate material for a burial shroud.  The use of fine linen for Jesus' burial can be seen as symbolically significant. Fine linen, being pure and expensive, could symbolize the purity of Christ and the significance of his death. In a broader theological context, it underscores the honor and dignity accorded to Jesus in his burial, despite the ignominy of crucifixion.  If Joseph of Arimathea, as a wealthy man, provided this linen, it would reflect his devotion and respect for Jesus. This act is a significant gesture, demonstrating reverence and a form of discipleship. It also indicates that Joseph, despite his status in the Sanhedrin, was deeply impacted by Jesus' ministry.

The Shroud's "fine twisted linen" connects to an intriguing and symbolic aspect of the Jewish religious tradition. In the Hebrew Bible, particularly in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, there are detailed descriptions of the garments that the high priest wore, especially when entering the Holy of Holies, the most sacred space in the Tabernacle (and later the Temple).  According to Exodus 28, the high priest's garments were to be made of "gold, blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and fine twisted linen." These garments were intricate, symbolic, and considered extremely sacred. The fine linen signified purity and sanctity, suitable for someone who was to perform the most sacred rites in the presence of God. If Joseph of Arimathea chose a cloth made of fine twisted linen similar to that of the high priest’s garments for Jesus' burial, this could be rich in symbolism. It might suggest that Jesus, in his death, was fulfilling a priestly role, serving as a mediator between God and humanity. This aligns with the concept in Christian theology of Jesus as the "great high priest" (as described in the Book of Hebrews), who makes the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. If Joseph intentionally chose a high priest's linen for Jesus' burial, it could reflect his understanding of Jesus' identity and mission. Joseph, being a member of the Sanhedrin and likely knowledgeable about Jewish religious customs, might have seen the significance of using such a material for someone he believed to be the Messiah.  The idea that Jesus was buried in a cloth akin to that worn by the high priest when entering the Holy of Holies could be seen as a fulfillment of Jesus’ role as the ultimate mediator between God and humanity. His death and subsequent resurrection are the ultimate sacrifice, surpassing the sacrifices made by the priests in the Temple. The use of a high priest's linen for burial also presents a stark contrast to Jesus' humble life. Throughout his ministry, Jesus eschewed grandeur and opulence. If his burial involved a fine linen cloth, it juxtaposes the humility of his life with the honor and significance of his death and burial. This perspective also provides insights into the early Christian understanding of Jesus' death within the context of Jewish tradition. It reflects how early followers of Jesus interpreted his life and death through the lens of their Jewish heritage and scriptures.

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The Theological Meaning of Fine Linen in the Bible

Fine linen in the Old Testament

Exodus 26:1, 31, 36; 27:9, 16, 18; 28:5-8, 15, 39-42; 35:6, 23, 25, 35; 36:8, 35, 37; 38:9, 16, 18, 23; 39:2-3, 5, 8, 24-29, 41: These verses in Exodus extensively detail the use of fine linen in the Tabernacle and the priestly garments. It was used for the curtains of the Tabernacle, the veil of the sanctuary, and the Ephod and breastplate of the High Priest, among other items, symbolizing holiness and purity.

Leviticus 6:10; 16:4, 23: In Leviticus, fine linen is mentioned in the context of priestly garments, especially during important rituals like the Day of Atonement. The High Priest wore linen garments, signifying purity and separation for sacred duties.

1 Chronicles 15:27; 2 Chronicles 2:14; 3:14; 5:12: These verses describe the use of fine linen in worship and temple services, including the attire of King David and the Levites when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem, and in the construction and decoration of Solomon's Temple.

Esther 1:6: In Esther, fine linen is mentioned as part of the lavish decorations in King Ahasuerus's palace, illustrating wealth and royal grandeur.

Proverbs 31:22: The virtuous woman in Proverbs is described as making bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple, indicating a combination of practicality, skill, and dignity.

In the Old Testament, fine linen predominantly symbolizes holiness, purity, and separation for sacred purposes, especially in the context of the Tabernacle and priestly garments.  In royal and wealthy settings, like in Esther and Proverbs, fine linen signifies wealth, luxury, and honor. Fine linen's use in temple services, priestly garments, and religious ceremonies underscores its importance in Hebrew worship and ritual practices. These references to fine linen in the Old Testament highlight its significance not just as a material but as a symbol of various religious and cultural themes, deeply embedded in the ancient Israelite understanding of worship, purity, and social status.

Fine linen in the New Testament

Luke 16:19: "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day."
This verse is part of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, highlighting the rich man's opulence and comfort in life, contrasted with Lazarus's suffering.

Revelation 15:6: "Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests."
This imagery describes the angels as pure and majestic, symbolizing divine authority and righteousness.

Revelation 19:8: "Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Here, fine linen represents the righteous deeds of the saints, symbolizing purity and divine approval.

Revelation 19:14: "The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean."
This verse describes the heavenly hosts, symbolizing their purity, righteousness, and readiness for spiritual warfare.

In all these verses, fine linen is a symbol of purity, righteousness, and divine approval. It's used to distinguish those who are aligned with God's will and those who are not.  Luke 16:19 uses fine linen to depict earthly wealth and luxury, in stark contrast to the spiritual representations in Revelation. This juxtaposition highlights the difference between earthly riches and spiritual wealth. Especially in Revelation, fine linen signifies divine authority (as seen with the angels) and approval (as with the bride of the Lamb and the heavenly armies). It's a visual representation of being in harmony with divine principles. The consistent use of fine linen across these verses underscores a broader biblical theme of spiritual purity and righteousness, contrasting earthly values with heavenly ideals. The imagery is powerful, conveying deep theological truths about God's kingdom and the nature of true righteousness.


This Greek word generally refers to linen cloths or wrappings. It is most notably used in the context of Jesus' burial.

John 19:40: "Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was by Jewish burial customs."
Here, "othonia" refers to the linen strips used to wrap Jesus' body, following Jewish burial practices.

John 20:5-7: "He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen."
This passage describes the linen strips ("othonia") found in the empty tomb after Jesus' resurrection, highlighting their significance in the resurrection narrative.


This term refers to a linen sheet or shroud and is used in the accounts of Jesus' burial as well.

Mark 14:51-52: "A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind."
Here, "sindon" is used to describe the linen garment of a young man during Jesus' arrest.

Mark 15:46: "So Joseph bought some linen cloth (sindon), took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb."
This verse details the use of "sindon" for Jesus' burial, emphasizing the respect and care given to his body.

Both terms are crucial in understanding the burial customs of the time. "Othonia" refers to the strips of linen used for wrapping the body, while "sindon" refers to the larger linen sheet or shroud. The presence of "othonia" in the empty tomb is a key element in the resurrection narrative, symbolizing Jesus' victory over death and the fulfillment of prophecy. The reference to "sindon" in Mark 14:51-52 also adds a layer of meaning, indicating humility and vulnerability in the context of Jesus’ arrest. These terms enrich our understanding of the cultural and religious practices of the time, as well as providing deeper insight into the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection.

The connections between the various references to fine linen in both the Old and New Testaments, and the specific use of "othonia" and "sindon" in the context of Jesus' burial, present a rich tapestry of symbolic continuity and contrast throughout the biblical narrative.

Symbolic Continuity in Holiness and Purity

In the Old Testament, fine linen is predominantly associated with holiness, purity, and divine service, particularly in the priestly garments and Tabernacle furnishings. This sets a precedent for the New Testament, where fine linen continues to symbolize purity and righteousness, as seen in Revelation. The "othonia" (linen strips) and "sindon" (linen shroud) used in Jesus' burial align with this symbolism. These linen materials, used by Jewish burial customs, underscore the purity and sanctity of Jesus' body, paralleling the Old Testament's association of linen with sacred and holy purposes. In the New Testament, particularly in the parable of the rich man in Luke 16:19, fine linen represents wealth and luxury, contrasting with its spiritual symbolism in Revelation. This earthly use of fine linen is a stark contrast to the heavenly and spiritual symbolism in other contexts. The use of "othonia" and "sindon" in Jesus' burial, though humble in appearance, contrasts with the earthly opulence often associated with fine linen. It reflects a deeper spiritual richness and fulfillment of prophetic significance, diverging from the materialistic connotations of linen. Throughout the Old Testament, fine linen's role in worship and priestly functions points towards a future fulfillment of religious and spiritual significance. The "othonia" and "sindon" in Jesus' burial can be seen as a culmination of this symbolism. The burial of Christ, followed by his resurrection, marks a pivotal point, symbolizing the fulfillment of prophecy and the ultimate act of redemption. The Old Testament establishes the role of fine linen in religious practices under the Old Covenant. In the New Testament, particularly with the use of "othonia" and "sindon" in the burial of Jesus, there is a transition to the New Covenant. This change is symbolized by Jesus' death and resurrection, representing a new era in spiritual understanding and relationship with God. The biblical narrative uses fine linen, "othonia," and "sindon" to weave a complex symbol of holiness, purity, contrast between earthly and heavenly realms, fulfillment of prophecy, and the transition from the Old to the New Covenant. These themes are central to understanding the continuity and evolution of theological concepts across the Old and New Testaments.

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Various magnifications of the Shroud fabric: fine linen, hand-woven with a herringbone weave. Fine linen fabrics (byssus) were available in Jerusalem at the Temple. These valuable fabrics also came from India. One of these precious linens could have been used for Jesus' burial. Interesting is the identification on Shroud samples of significant traces of DNA typical of the Indian population (38.7%). European DNA is only 5.7%. Substantial traces of Middle Eastern DNA (55.6%) were also found.

The Weave of the Shroud of Turin

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RAY DOWNING (2017): The cloth is made of linen thread, and linen thread is made from the stems of the flax plant. To transform these stems into workable fiber that can be spun into thread and later woven into cloth, a long process of preparation must be carefully followed. The plants are pulled from the ground and tied into bundles. They are then laid down in the fields until the non-fiber parts rot. The remaining fiber, once dry, is pounded and cleaned. The final step before spinning is combing the long, lustrous fibers into bundles. At this point, the fiber is twisted (spun) into a thread. During Jesus' time, all spinning was done by hand with spindles. The spinning wheel wouldn't be invented for at least another 500 years. In the spinning process, the spinner twists the fibers in one of two ways: clockwise (Z) or counterclockwise (S).  Because the structure of the flax fiber has a natural tendency to twist itself in an S twist, spinners over the millennia have spun it in this S direction, as if not wanting to "fight" the fiber. Curiously, the yarn that makes the Shroud has been spun in a Z twist (clockwise).

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Stephen E. Jones (2015): The yarn used to weave the Shroud of Turin is of very high quality, evenly spun, and it has been woven into an unusual, fancy weave for the time, called 3 to 1 herringbone twill. The resulting cloth is very fine, with a density of 35 threads per centimeter, or about 89 threads per inch. To give some perspective, the finest surviving Egyptian mummy fabrics are 30 threads per centimeter (75 threads per inch), the thread is spun in an S twist and woven in simple plain weave - one thread over, one thread under.

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Close-up of Shroud fabric, with its distinctive three-to-one herringbone twill weave.

The gospel of Mark mentions that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus' body in a linen cloth for burial:

“Joseph of Arimathea, a highly regarded member of the council, who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised that he was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him if he had been dead for some time. When Pilate was informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. After Joseph bought a linen cloth and took down the body, he wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock. ” — Mark 15:43-46


A herringbone weave has a v-shaped or chevron pattern formed by regularly reversing with offset the width-wise woof (or weft) thread as it is drawn through the lengthwise warp. The result is a broken zigzag pattern that resembles the skeleton of a herring fish.

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Image side of the undated and presumably not pre-treated Shroud sample, "split from one used in the radiocarbon dating study of 1988 at Arizona" retained by Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory.] 

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Non-image side of the above Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory piece of its Shroud sample.

The Shroud's herringbone 3:1 twill weave was formed by passing each weft thread alternately under three warp threads and over one.

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The Shroud's complex herringbone three-to-one twill weave (a) compared to a plain weave (b)

Each successive weft thread begins at an ascending point in the warp one thread earlier, the direction being reversed at regular intervals by repeating the process at a descending point, thus producing the diagonal "herringbone" pattern.

The Shroud is an ancient textile

Below is a summary of scientific and historical evidence supporting the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the ancient burial cloth of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. The method used to attach a three-inch wide strip of fabric along one edge of the main body of the Shroud exhibits a unique stitching technique. This particular style of stitch, noted for its intricacy and professionalism, bears a striking resemblance to the hemming found on textiles uncovered within the archaeological site of Masada, a Jewish fortress that met its end in 73-74 AD. The dimensions of the Shroud, approximately 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches, closely align with the ancient measurement of 2 by 8 cubits, reflecting the textile production capabilities of that era.

Woven from linen in a sophisticated 3-over-1 herringbone pattern, the Shroud's quality and weave pattern aligns with historical accounts, suggesting it was a high-quality item, such as the "sindon" mentioned in the New Testament, which was procured by Joseph of Arimathea, a man of considerable wealth. The Shroud's history is marked by a significant event in 1532 when a fire in the Chambery, France church, where it was stored, caused part of the metal container to melt and damage the cloth with burns, while attempts to douse the flames introduced water stains. Interestingly, the image on the cloth remained largely unaffected. After this event, in 1534, nuns undertook repairs, sewing patches over the damaged areas and adding a supportive backing cloth, known as the "Holland" backing. The Shroud was later transferred to Turin in 1578, where it has been kept since. A notable restoration in 2002, which involved removing the 16th-century patches and replacing the backing cloth, brought to light the distinctive stitching along one edge when a narrow strip was joined to a larger piece. This stitching, identified by Swiss textile historian Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, is reminiscent of techniques from the first century, not seen in later European textiles, further deepening the mystery and historical intrigue surrounding the Shroud. The Shroud features a seam with stitching so fine it's nearly imperceptible, a technique paralleled only by textiles found at the Jewish stronghold of Masada, last held in 73 AD. The likelihood that a medieval counterfeiter would possess knowledge of such a specific, ancient Jewish stitching method is incredibly slim. Moreover, even if such a forger were aware of this technique, the practicality and motivation behind incorporating this nearly invisible detail into a fraudulent piece are highly questionable. This level of craftsmanship would not only be superfluous for forgery but would also require an extraordinary level of skill, further diminishing the chances that a medieval fabricator could or would employ this specific stitching in their work.

Textiles with Z-spinning were available in Palestine, in the 1st. Century, and as such, have been bought in Jerusalem and used to bury Jesus.

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The Shroud is crafted from fine linen, displaying a Syrian weave, a detail attributed to its origins being traced back to a purchase by Joseph of Arimathea. It's believed that he acquired the cloth from a Syrian merchant, who was trading his wares in the vicinity of the Damascus Gate during the Passover period. This connection to Syria is further supported by the Shroud's measurements, which align with the Syrian cubit, specifically 8 by 2 cubits in size.  Adding to the evidence of its Syrian origins are the traces of pollen found on the cloth, which correspond to species native to Syria, suggesting that the linen was indeed produced or spent significant time in that region before finding its way to Jerusalem.  The use of such a high-quality piece of linen for Jesus's burial aligns with biblical accounts that he was laid to rest in the manner of the wealthy, fulfilling the prophecy that he would be buried with the rich. The Shroud, with its fine Syrian weave and distinctive measurements, serves as a tangible link to these historical and scriptural narratives, offering insights into the burial customs and trade connections of the time.

The Shroud's characteristics are in harmony with the Gospel narratives that describe the burial cloth of Jesus. According to these accounts, Joseph of Arimathea, a man of both wealth and influence who was a follower of Jesus, procured a linen cloth for Jesus's burial, adhering to the Jewish custom of using linen for such purposes. The Shroud, made entirely of linen, fits this biblical description, being sufficiently large to envelop an adult body, as would have been necessary for Jesus's interment. The linguistic nuances in the Gospels, which include terms like "wrapped," "enveloped," and "bound," permit interpretations that accommodate the Shroud being the primary burial cloth, possibly accompanied by additional linen strips for securing the body, as per Jewish tradition. This interpretation is supported by scholarly analyses of the original texts, Jewish burial customs, and early Christian practices, suggesting that the term "linen cloths" likely includes both the Shroud and any supplementary bindings.

Joseph of Arimathea's adherence to Jewish law, which forbids the mixing of linen and wool, is reflected in the Shroud's pure linen composition, confirmed by chemical analyses that detected no wool content. The high-quality, handcrafted linen speaks to Joseph's status and his respect for Jesus, given the labor-intensive process involved in linen production, from the cultivation of flax to the spinning of the fibers into thread. The dimensions of the Shroud are not arbitrary but hold significant meaning, reflecting the ancient Near Eastern units of measurement. The Shroud consists of two linen strips, woven together in a manner that suggests they were made simultaneously on the same loom, indicating a deliberate choice in its dimensions. Despite its age and the historical treatments it has undergone, the Shroud has maintained a consistent shape, with its dimensions suggesting a calculated ratio, further hinting at its ancient origins.

When analyzing the Shroud's dimensions against both medieval and ancient units of measurement, it aligns more closely with the ancient Assyrian cubit, used in regions including Persia, Assyria, and Egypt. This alignment with ancient measurements lends further credence to the Shroud's origins in the time and region of Jesus's life and death. In essence, the Shroud's material, craftsmanship, and dimensions are congruent with the descriptions of Jesus's burial cloth in the Gospels, reflecting the customs of the time and the respect accorded to Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. While debates about the age of the Shroud and the origins of its image persist, the evidence of the cloth itself suggests a deep historical and cultural context, pointing to its authenticity as a relic from the era of Jesus's burial.

Flury-Lemberg, Mechthild. “A cloth of inestimable worth,” in The Two Faces of the Shroud: Pilgrims and Scientists Searching for a Face. Gian Maria Zaccone, ed. (Turin: Editrice ODPF), 2001, pp. 137-142.
STATEMENT: [Re: the stitching on the one long side of the Shroud, linking the large piece with an 8-cm.-wide strip of the same fabric:] We can now prove that this dates back to when the original cloth was made. The sheet was prepared professionally and its stitching can be compared with that of fabric found in tombs at Masada (the Jewish fortress close to the Dead Sea, which was destroyed in 73 AD). [Pp. 140-141]

Fulbright, Diana. “Akeldama repudiation of Turin Shroud omits evidence from the Judean Desert,” in Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy 4-6 May 2010, pp. 79-85.
We learn that the New Testament accounts of the burial of Jesus provide the “most valuable evidence” for the context of the burial of their “man of the shroud” from Akeldama. Objections disputing the first-century date of the Turin Shroud – in this case, its herringbone weave and its large size – in fact may corroborate the antiquity of the cloth.

D. Fulbright (2010):  At Murabba’at, the site of numerous manuscripts and artifacts in line with the finds from Qumran, archaeologists and textile experts Grace M. Crowfoot and her daughter Elizabeth Crowfoot recorded seven twill weave fabrics, including a dark blue cloth of fine and regular herringbone twill weave (2:2) with Z spun warp threads and mixed S and Z spun weft threads, probably imported.  Numerous textile fragments were discovered at Masada by the Yadin excavations in 1963-65. Avigail Sheffer and Hero Granger-Taylor, archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority, recorded in their preliminary report fourteen twill weave textiles. These include several textiles in diamond twill weave, which is a more complex variation of the herringbone pattern, as the direction of the diagonal is reversed periodically, ultimately forming diamond patterns in the cloth. Most of the textiles found at Masada were imported from Anatolia and farther north, from Germany, according to expert textile analysts. The worn and patched condition of these imported textiles of intricate weaving indicates well-to-do people fallen on hard times.

A few other ancient textiles made on four-harness looms and found in the Near East, namely in Palmyra, Antinoë, Möns Claudianus, and Masada, can also be regarded as analogs of the burial garments from Turin. They are all woolen fabrics made with 2/2 twill or 2/2 diamond twill weaves and high-quality products, as evidenced by, among other things, a high density of threads (up to 160 threads per 1cm).

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Legging discovered in permafrost, South Tyrol. Wool, 2:2 herringbone weave, ca. 800 – 500 B.C.E.

Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg has shown that the herringbone pattern existed not only during the first century of our era, but long before. She has published a study of woolen leggings (54.6 cm. x 15.7 cm,) found on the frozen remains of a man discovered in the permafrost of South Tyrol in 1994. They are made of coarse goat hair, and woven in a 2:2 herringbone pattern. The leggings have been dated to ca. 800 to 500 B.C.E

Archaeologists who have asserted that the weave of the Turin Shroud was unknown until it was introduced in Europe a thousand years after Christ possibly have been misinformed, despite evidence which should be very well known to textile experts working with them. We may also ask if the herringbone pattern was so unusual in ancient times as to have been an anomaly. Gilbert Raes, renowned expert on ancient textiles, wrote: “At the beginning of our age both cotton and linen were known in the Middle East. The type of weave [the herringbone pattern of the Turin Shroud] is not particularly distinctive and does not enable us to determine the period in which it was produced”. Objections disputing the first-century date of the Turin Shroud – in this case, its herringbone weave and its large size – in fact may corroborate the antiquity of the cloth.  5

G. Vial (1988): The only herringbone in linen so far analyzed and published is that cited in note 10. It is very late — the second half of the XVIth century — and much simpler than that of Turin. The number of threads per centimeter in its main warp is practically half of the Turin count (19.5 instead of 38) and the proportion of warp/weft reductions is less: 19.5/16 = 1.22 instead of 38/26 = 1.46 for Turin. The important main warp of the latter thus offered a much smoother surface to the reproduction of the image. If one takes into account the three constitutive elements of a textile — the structure, the primary material, and the reductions of warp and weft — one must acknowledge that the Shroud of Turin is truly "incomparable".... 6

The Shroud's weave was expensive and rare

Because of its complexity, the Shroud would have been an expensive, and therefore rare, fabric. Especially so in the first century when fine linen ranked in value with gold and silver. No example of herringbone twill weave in linen from first or early centuries has been found, although examples of that weave have been found in silk and wool. There are no examples of herringbone twill weave from France up to and including the fourteenth century. There is only one known example of a medieval herringbone twill linen weave fabric, a fourteenth-century, block-painted linen fragment with a 3:1 chevron twill weave, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Further evidence of the extreme rarity of medieval linen cloths with a Shroud-like herringbone twill weave, was the fact that the then British Museum's Dr. Michael Tite was unable to find any medieval linen with a weave that resembled the Shroud's, to use as a blind control sample for the 1988 radiocarbon dating.

The Shroud's expensive weave is consistent with it being the linen shroud bought by the "rich man" Joseph of Arimathea in which to bury Jesus' body. The Gospels record that Joseph of Arimathea, a "rich man," bought a linen shroud and wrapped Jesus' body in it (Mt 27:57-60; Mk 15:43-46; Lk 23:50-53; Jn 19:38-42). The Shroud's expensive herringbone three-to-one twill weave is consistent with it having been that linen shroud bought by the rich man Joseph of Arimathea in which to wrap and bury Jesus' body.  That the Shroud's weave is expensive and rare is another problem for the forgery theory. The primary motive of art and archaeological (including relic) forgery is financial gain.  If the Shroud were a medieval forgery, then the forger, to maximize his profit, would have "just got a bit of linen." That is, he would have used the least expensive "bit of linen" he could find that would still deceive his prospective buyers. But the Shroud is not just any "bit of linen." As we have seen above the Shroud would have been expensive and rare in the first century. And it would have been even more expensive and rare in the 14th century, of which there is only one known other example, but in fragments as opposed to the ~4.4 x 1.1 metre Shroud. So the medieval forger would have been most unlikely to have obtained a fine linen herringbone twill sheet the size of the Shroud in the first place. And if the forger did have the opportunity to obtain the 8 x 2 cubit ancient Syrian or Palestinian fine linen sheet that the Shroud is, he would not have bought it for the very high price it would have been, as that would have severely reduced the profit margin on his planned forgery of the Shroud image upon it. This is yet another of the many problems of the forgery claim.3 

C. Mader: The shroud of Turin is a single length of linen cloth. The weave is a three-hop (3 over 1) herringbone twill. The weft thread passes over three warp threads, under one, over three, and so forth for each run of the weft thread across the loom. The next weft is offset by one, and the next forms a twill. After a few threads, the offset is reversed forming a herringbone. Linen is a cloth made from yarn of twisted flax fibers. Flax is a plant grown from seed from which linseed oil is pressed for fiber for making linen yarn. Linen cloth is woven from the yarn produced by spinning flax fibers together. Flax is among the oldest fiber crops in the world. The use of flax for the production of linen goes back at least 5000 years. The best grades of flax fibers are used for linen fabrics such as the fine-quality cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The thickness of the fibers from flax plants varies significantly. The average thickness of the Shroud fibers is about 13 micrometers The Shroud of Turin linen is approximately 350 (315-390) micrometers thick. The yarn consists of approximately 70 to 120 flax fibers twisted together in a clockwise Z-twist. The various lengths (hanks) of yarn are not spliced together but laid in side-by-side during the weaving. The variegated patterns, known as banding, in both the warp and weft yarn, suggest that the yarn was bleached before weaving rather than after the cloth was taken from the loom. This is a significant clue to the age of the cloth because medieval European linen was field bleached, a process that eliminates banding. Warp threads are the threads that are strung onto the loom before weaving begins. They run along the length of the cloth. Weft threads are the threads that run across, being passed over and under to create the cloth. Twill means the cloth’s pattern has a diagonal wale or texture. Denim, as used in ordinary blue jeans is an example of twill. Herringbone means the offset is periodically reversed, hence the diagonal wale is reversed. The resulting appearance is that of a herring fish bone.

The weave is important because it is evident in one of the illustrations in the Hungarian Pray manuscript which dates to 1180-1195 which is earlier than the 1988 carbon dating of 1260- 1390. The manuscript shows the burial of Jesus naked with hands over his pubic area and no visible thumbs. It shows the identical pattern of burn holes found on the shroud. The herringbone weave of the shroud is depicted. The Pray Codex or Hungarian Pray Manuscript is one of the most important historical documents showing that the Shroud of Turin existed before the 1200s within the Byzantine Empire.1

Shroud 1st draft: Rodney Hoare holds an MA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge, and in his book “The Turin Shroud is Genuine” he notes “The specific cotton found within the Shroud, Gossypium herbaceum, is found only in the Middle East. Even more important is the absence of any wool fibers, which certainly would have been present on any European loom. Therefore the Shroud is not of European origin.5

The cloth itself has been described (Raes 1976) as a three-to-one herringbone twill, a common weave in antiquity but generally used in silks of the first centuries A.D. rather than linen. The thread was hand-spun and hand-loomed; after ca. 1200, most European thread was spun on the wheel. Minute traces of cotton fibers were discovered, an indication that the Shroud was woven on a loom also used for weaving cotton. (The use of equipment for working both cotton and linen would have been permitted by the ancient Jewish ritual code whereas wool and linen would have been worked on different looms to avoid the prohibited "mixing of kinds.") The cotton was of the Asian Gossypum herbaceum, and some commentators have construed its presence as conclusive evidence of a Middle Eastern origin. While not common in Europe until much later, cotton was being woven in Spain as early as the 8th century and in Holland by the 12th. 2

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Sem_t191

Other linen cloth examples exist, even older than the Shroud of Turin, hypothesized to be 2000 years old. In the image, a Mortuary linen, 2140–1976 bce. from Egypt. 1

The size of the Shroud

Stephen E. Jones (2015): In 1989, an expert in early Syriac, Ian Dickinson, of Canterbury, England, realized that the measurements of the Shroud were approximately 8 x 2 of the Assyrian standard cubit of between 21.4 and 21.6 inches, which was the common unit of lineal measurement in Jesus' day:

"Along these same lines has been a study of the shroud's dimensions as recently made by an expert in early Syriac, Ian Dickinson, from Canterbury, England. Curious at the shroud's, by British units of measurement, anomalous 14 foot 3 inch by 3 foot 7-inch overall size, Dickinson wondered if these dimensions might make more sense if converted to the cubit measure as prevailing in Jesus's time. Establishing that the first-century Jewish cubit was most likely to the Assyrian standard, reliably calculated at between 21.4 and 21.6 inches, Dickinson found that if he chose the lower of these measures there was an astonishing correlation, accurate to the nearest half-inch:

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Shroud17

Such conformity to an exact 8 by 2 Jewish cubits is yet another piece of knowledge difficult to imagine of any medieval forger. It also correlates perfectly with the `doubled in four' arrangement by which we hypothesized the shroud to have been once folded and mounted as the `holy face' of Edessa, for the exposed facial area of this latter would have been an exact 1 by 2 Jewish cubits".

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 CubitPetrieRed
Above: Page 67 of "Inductive Metrology: Or, The Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments," by William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1877).]

The Standard Assyrian cubit was 21.6 inches. During the 19th century the archaeological pioneer, Sir Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) and Assyriologist Julius Oppert (1825–1905), from many measurements of ancient buildings in Babylon, found the length of the Assyrian cubit to be almost 21.5 inches, since refined by other archaeologists to be 21.6 ±0.2 inches. According to page 67 of Petrie's book above, he himself accepted 21.60 inches as the mean length of the Assyrian cubit.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Flury-LembergM150720

Mechthild Flury-Lemberg: 437 x 111 cms. In 1998, ancient textiles conservator, Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, determined the true dimensions of the Shroud to be 437 x 111 cms, i.e. 172 x 44 in. or 14 ft 4 in. x 3 ft 8 in.:

"The first speaker was Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, a former curator of the Abegg Foundation textile museum, Switzerland, whose theme was 'The Shroud fabric, its technical and archaeological characteristics. It was Dr. Flury-Lemberg who, immediately before the 1998 exposition, had the task of preparing the Shroud for its display and housing in the new three-ton Italgas container constructed for it. Because the plate for the new container had been made slightly too small, Dr. Flury-Lemberg gained permission to remove the blue surround that had been sewn on in the 19th century. The intention behind this surround had been to save the Shroud from the repeated handling at the edges to which they had been subjected throughout the long centuries when it was the custom to hold it up before the populace. However, the surround had ever since prevented examination of the same edges, thereby hindering accurate calculation of its dimensions. Now the dimensions have been authoritatively determined by Dr. Flury-Lemberg as 437 cm long by 111 cm wide." The Shroud's 437 x 111 cm dimensions are exactly 8 x 2 cubits! The Shroud's 437 x 111 cm dimensions are, to the nearest centimeter, exactly 8 x 2 Assyrian standard cubits of 21.6 inches!

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Excel437x111
Above: Table showing that the 1998 437 x 111 cms true dimensions of the Shroud are even more exactly 8 x 2 Assyrian standard cubits of 21.6 inches than the 14 ft 3 in. x 3 ft 7 in. pre-1998 measurements were. 

And again, the Assyrian standard cubit was the international measure of commerce prevailing in Jesus's time, including among the Jews

"So there were cubits for Temple use and various other applications, but it is a particular cubit of the marketplace that is connected with the Shroud, the cubit that is known as the Assyrian cubit: the widely used, indeed, international standard of that time for merchants of the Near East, and had been so for centuries. This cubit of commerce was carried with the lingua communis, the language of trade and diplomacy that stretched from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, the tongue that had become the common language of the Jew. Aramaic: the same language which Jesus spoke. Aramaic had been the communication medium of the Assyrian Empire and Israel had been a subject of Assyria." This is another major problem for the medieval (or earlier) forgery claim since a medieval artist/forger would be most unlikely to know the length of the standard cubit of Jesus' day, as this was only discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century!! 3


The Shroud features a narrow linen strip, approximately 8 centimeters (about 3.5 inches) wide, running along its left side when viewed with the front image positioned in the lower half and the figure displayed upright. This side strip, however, is not intact throughout; it lacks sections at both ends, with 14 centimeters (around 5.5 inches) missing at the lower left corner and 36 centimeters (approximately 14 inches) absent at the upper left corner. The side strip and the main body of the Shroud are crafted from the same fabric, evidenced by the continuation of distinct weaving anomalies from the main section across the side strip. This strip is attached to the Shroud's larger section through a seam that is about 4-5 millimeters in width, utilizing linen thread for stitching. During preparations for the Shroud's 1998 public display, Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, an expert in ancient textile conservation, removed a blue satin border that Princess Clotilde of Savoy had added in 1868. This process allowed Flury-Lemberg a unique opportunity to examine the area between the Shroud's underside and the linen backing, which was added in 1534 by the nuns from Chambéry's Poor Clare convent following damage from a fire in 1532. In 2000, Flury-Lemberg revealed her discovery of a highly refined, nearly invisible stitching technique used to finish the Shroud's edges, visible only from the underside. Throughout her forty-year career in historic textile preservation, she encountered this specific stitching style only once before, in textiles dating back to the first century at Masada, a Jewish stronghold seized by Roman forces in 73 AD and subsequently abandoned.4

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 SeamMasadaWilson2010p74
Drawing of `invisible seam' found on cloth fragments at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada, which is "identical to that found on the Shroud and nowhere else".

Since a medieval forger would be most unlikely (to put it mildly) to even know about almost invisible first-century Jewish stitching; and even if he did know about it, he would be even more unlikely to go to the trouble of adding it to his forgery (what use would almost invisible stitching be to a forger?); and even if he wanted to use it, he would be most unlikely to have the high degree of skill needed to do such stitching. 

1. Charles Mader: The Weave of the Shroud of Turin 
2. RAY DOWNING: The Fabric of the Shroud of Turin March 30, 2017
3. Stephen E. Jones: Dimensions #3: The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic! JULY 10, 2015
4. Stephen E. Jones: Sidestrip #5: The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic! AUGUST 24, 2015
5. Shroud 1st draft
6. https://hal.science/hal-03343240/document

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:34 pm; edited 3 times in total


30From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 16 Sun Jan 28, 2024 4:40 am



Chapter 17

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Panel_82

According to the research of John H. Heller and Alan D. Adler, the stains thought to be blood on the Shroud of Turin are derived from genuine clotted wounds, having passed eleven different diagnostic tests that confirm their authenticity as blood. These tests have determined the presence of various blood constituents, such as proteins, albumen, hem products, and the bile pigment bilirubin, an area of expertise for Adler. Notably, Adler observed that in regions where blood is present alongside the body image, the underlying cloth fibers do not show characteristics of the body image beneath the bloodstains. This suggests that the blood was applied to the cloth before the process that created the body image, a sequence that is inconsistent with typical artistic methods.

The presence of actual blood on the Shroud of Turin has been supported by extensive scientific analysis, particularly during the 1978 STURP testing. The findings from this research include:

High Iron Content: Detected in the bloodstained areas through X-ray fluorescence tests, indicating the presence of heme-bound iron, a component of blood.
Spectral Fingerprint of Blood: Blood's unique spectral characteristics were identified using reflection spectra analysis.
Microspectrophotometric Evidence: Transmission spectra provided indications of blood.
Porphyrin Fluorescence: Ultraviolet imaging revealed the fluorescence of porphyrin, a derivative of hemoglobin, confirming the presence of blood.
Hemochromagen Tests: These tests were positive, supporting the presence of blood.
Cyanmethemoglobin Tests: These tests also returned positive results, further corroborating the presence of blood.
Bile Pigments Detection: The presence of bile pigments, which are components of blood, was confirmed.
Protein Demonstration: Tests positively identified the presence of protein in the stains.
Human Albumin Tests: Immunological testing indicated the presence of human albumin, a type of protein found in blood.
Protease Test Results: These tests, which detect enzymes responsible for protein metabolism in living organisms, indicated that the protein had broken down into essential amino acids.
Forensic Analysis: The appearance of various wounds and marks was examined by STURP chemists, further substantiating the presence of blood.

In addition to the previously mentioned tests confirming the presence of real blood on the Shroud of Turin, further analysis has revealed the presence of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow-orange compound that typically arises in the body as a result of the breakdown of red blood cells. Its presence in the bloodstains on the Shroud suggests that the individual may have suffered from significant physical stress and trauma, consistent with the infliction of torture. The presence of bilirubin in the bloodstains, as detected and discussed in scientific papers, adds another layer to the understanding of the conditions and experiences of the individual whose image appears on the Shroud​

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Table511

The research conducted by Adler and Heller, leading authorities in blood analysis, provided conclusive evidence that the stains on the Shroud of Turin were indeed real blood. At a public meeting of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) in New London, Connecticut in October 1981, Adler, who had published extensively on blood research, emphatically declared that the red substance on the Shroud was undoubtedly blood. Their findings were supported by several key observations and tests:

Clotted Blood: The bloodstains were identified as clotted blood, characterized by thickening at the edges. This is typical of blood drying and forming a scab, where the edges of the clot contract and exude serum.
Serum Halos: Under ultraviolet light, every bloodstain exhibited a yellowish fluorescence, indicative of a serum exudate ring or halo around a scab. This is a common feature of blood clot retraction and was crucial in confirming the authenticity of the bloodstains.
Serum Albumin: This protein, abundant in blood plasma and produced in the liver, was found in the serum halos of the Shroud. Tests for serum albumin were positive not only in the halos but also in areas adjacent to the bloodstains, such as near the lance wound.

The cumulative evidence from these tests, conducted between 1979 and 1981, led STURP in its 1981 final report to conclusively state that the blood on the Shroud was real. This conclusion was drawn from the combined expertise and rigorous scientific analysis of Adler, Heller, and their colleagues.

Details not visible to the naked eye reveal a plethora of injuries on the Shroud, including wounds on the wrists and feet, along with countless bloodstains. Among these stains, there are over a hundred small, dumbbell-shaped marks across the body and legs of the figure on the Shroud, consistent with the type of wounds inflicted by a Roman flagrum. This particular whip, known for its two lead balls at the end of each of its three thongs, was designed to cause deep, internal injuries, preventing a victim of crucifixion from dying prematurely due to excessive blood loss. Each of these scourge marks is accompanied by tiny blood clots that form a serum retraction halo, which is distinctly visible under ultraviolet light but can be barely seen, with some even invisible, with the naked eye. This suggests that any medieval forger would need not only a sophisticated understanding of blood clot physiology but also the ability to create imagery of serum rings that become apparent solely under ultraviolet light, a technology not discovered until the 19th century.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 54ppd5b5

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Adsfas14
Dr. Alan Adler, from the Western Connecticut Institute, analyzed the samples. This highly esteemed hematologist, who is Jewish and was not a member of the STURP team, made a definitive statement after determining the blood-like nature of the stains: "If this isn't blood, I'll eat my microscope." It was only after this assertion that he was informed about the origin of the samples. This anecdote highlights the unbiased approach and scientific rigor that Dr. Adler brought to the study of the Shroud of Turin. His expertise in hematology provided a valuable perspective in analyzing the nature of the stains on the Shroud. Dr. Adler's statement, made before knowing the samples' origin, underscores the confidence he had in his professional assessment. The fact that he was not part of the STURP team and was not initially aware that the samples came from the Shroud adds credibility to his findings, as it eliminates potential biases related to the Shroud's controversial and revered status. Dr. Adler's involvement in the analysis and his subsequent reaction upon learning the source of the samples illustrate the intrigue and complexity surrounding the Shroud. His findings, particularly about the stains being blood, contribute significantly to the body of research on the Shroud, offering insights that continue to fuel both scientific inquiry and public fascination with this enigmatic artifact.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Adsfas15
Chemical Examination. John Heller, from the New England Institute, and J. Janney, from the Los Alamos National Scientific Laboratory, conducted a chemical examination of the Shroud's fibers. Heller fully concurred with Adler's opinion. There was no doubt, it was blood. This chemical examination further substantiates the findings regarding the Shroud of Turin. The collaboration between John Heller and J. Janney, both from esteemed scientific backgrounds, adds a layer of credibility to the research. Heller's agreement with Dr. Alan Adler's assessment that the stains on the Shroud were indeed blood reinforces the conclusion drawn from independent analyses. Their work highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the scientific inquiry into the Shroud. By combining expertise from different scientific fields – hematology, chemistry, and material science – a more comprehensive understanding of the Shroud's characteristics emerges. The confirmation that the stains are blood adds to the intrigue of the Shroud, as it aligns with the historical accounts of Jesus' crucifixion and the wounds he would have sustained, according to Christian tradition. The involvement of reputable scientists like Heller and Janney in the examination of the Shroud underscores the artifact's significance in both the scientific and religious communities. Their findings contribute to the ongoing debate about the Shroud's authenticity and the historical context it represents.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Adsfas16
Multiple tests were conducted on the Shroud's bloodstains, revealing that the blood is very old and partially degraded. However, Heller and Adler conducted a comprehensive analysis using twelve different tests, all of which returned positive results. These tests included checks for albumin, biliary pigments, proteins, the hemochromogen test, and Heller's critical fluorescence test. Remarkably, they also confirmed the presence of red blood cells. Adding to the complexity of the findings, the presence of bilirubin and creatinine was detected, indicating the blood of a tortured individual. Dr. Baima Bollone, a professor of Legal Medicine at the University of Turin, conducted independent analyses of the Shroud's samples. His research corroborated the findings of Heller and Adler, further solidifying the evidence. The detection of bilirubin is particularly significant, as it is often associated with the body's response to severe physical stress and trauma, consistent with the kind of suffering described in accounts of the crucifixion. Similarly, the presence of creatinine in conjunction with bilirubin suggests a scenario of significant physical exertion and muscle injury. These scientific findings add a profound dimension to the study of the Shroud. The presence of compounds associated with physical trauma supports the narrative that the Shroud wrapped a body that had undergone severe suffering, aligning with the biblical description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This biochemical evidence, along with the detection of red blood cells and other components, contributes to the ongoing debate about the Shroud's authenticity, suggesting it could be more than a mere medieval artifact and may indeed be a relic of historical and religious significance.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 G1jj1410
The blood on the Shroud of Turin has been identified as human and belongs to the AB blood group. This determination was made by Dr. Baima Bollone, who utilized the antigen fluorescence method in his analysis. This blood type is notably frequent among the Hebrew population and quite rare globally, with only about 3% of the world's population estimated to have it. The AB blood type's rarity in Europe but higher prevalence in the Middle Eastern region, particularly in areas like Palestine, adds an intriguing layer to the Shroud's analysis. This geographical correlation is significant because it aligns with the historical and biblical accounts that place the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the Palestine region. Dr. Bollone's use of the antigen fluorescence method, a sophisticated technique for blood typing, lends credibility to his findings. The identification of the AB blood type not only contributes to the physical and forensic understanding of the Shroud but also intersects with anthropological and historical data about population genetics in the ancient world. This discovery adds to the body of evidence suggesting that the Shroud could indeed be an authentic relic from the time of Christ, given the consistency of the blood type with the region's historical population. The rarity of the AB blood group in Europe further suggests that the Shroud is unlikely to be a medieval European creation, as such a blood type would have been exceptionally uncommon in that population during that period. The convergence of scientific, historical, and geographical data surrounding the Shroud continues to fuel both scholarly and public interest in its origins and significance.

Claim: The PLOS ONE Editors Retraction: Atomic Resolution Studies Detect New Biologic Evidence on the Turin Shroud 2018 Jul 19
there are not sufficient controls to support conclusions referring to human blood or physical trauma. For example, period ink and animal blood controls were not included in diffraction and STEM analyses, as would be needed to rule out alternate interpretations regarding the material on the fiber, and the creatinine findings do not provide definitive evidence of trauma or violence. Thus, we consider that the main conclusions of the article are not sufficiently supported. 1

Reply:  G.Fanti: Our experimental data are compatible with creatinine with inside ferrihydrate cores. The observed nano-particles are not compatible with pigments, inks, and other chemical/biological compounds, as explicitly explained.  Creatinine can be found also in sweat, but we found “creatinine bounded to iron oxide ferritin cores”. This is a different compound with a negligible presence in healthy organisms whereas can be found consistently only in the blood serum under pathological conditions producing the rupture of the cells and the interaction in the bloodstream between creatinine and the ferrihydrate clusters contained in the ferritin.  This compound is toxic for the organism and it is related to acute kidney disease. This is one of the reasons why many injured in strong accidents could die from kidney disease. This is the finding that can be related to strong polytrauma and that cannot be explained by supposing contamination simply with the blood of someone who accidentally touched the Turin Shroud while he was bleeding. It could be animal blood. But, if this was the case, the animal would have suffered a strong polytrauma. This would call the intention of an artist to produce an artifact; but why should he use the blood serum after torture? Should we think that an artist in the Middle Ages could have used the blood serum of a tortured person or animal to produce the exact pattern that someone, using the equipment and the technologies of many centuries later, would have detected? 2

Claim: "The Microscope"(ISSN 0026-282X) is not a peer-reviewed journal and somehow the detected artist's pigments (ochre and vermillion) don't exist. Wishful thinking doesn't work.
Reply: Giulio Fanti Blood reinforced by pigments in the reddish stains of the Turin Shroud May–June 2017

Samples from the Turin Shroud (TS) furnished by STERA Inc. have been analyzed and compared with both material coming from the TS and sticky tapes taken from a copy of the TS produced in 1656 and conserved at Palma di Montechiaro, Sicily, Italy. The attention has been focused to the many reddish particles contained in these samples that appear to be of many types, shapes, and sizes. Some of them seem to correspond to the so-called “sub-micron particles” recognized by W. McCrone in the form of red ochre (iron oxide) and vermillion (mercury sulfide); the others, as described by many researchers of the STuRP like A. Adler and J. Heller, seem typical of blood. After a detailed analysis of these particles by using various types of microscopes and by performing different spectral analyses like Raman and EDX, the results obtained are commented, concluding that the analyzed reddish material, corresponding to some TS bloodstain area, contains human blood reinforced with pigments. It can therefore be supposed that the bloodstains, originally composed of blood, have been refreshed by some artist perhaps during the XVII century. 3

It is this observation, “coupled with the extreme superficiality of the coloring and the lack of pigments” that “makes it extremely unlikely that a shroud-like picture was obtained using a chemical contact method, both in a modern laboratory and even more so by a hypothetical medieval forger”. “There is no image beneath the blood stains. This means that the traces of blood deposited before the image was. Therefore, the image was formed after the corpse was laid down. Furthermore, all the blood stains have well-defined edges, no burrs, so it can be assumed that the corpse was not removed from the sheet. “There are no signs of putrefaction near the orifices, which usually occur around 40 hours after death. Consequently, the image is not the result of putrefaction gases, and the corpse was not left in the sheet for more than two days”.

One of the assumptions related to the formation of the image was that regarding some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at a short wavelength), which could fit the requirements for reproducing the main features of the Shroud image, such as superficiality of color, color gradient, the image also in areas of the body not in contact with the cloth and the absence of pigment on the sheet. 4

Claim: "Cross-reactivity precludes a definitive assignment of human or even primate blood being present on the Shroud; the blood is most correctly classified as species unknown." - this is what happens with tiny samples and HUGE confirmation biases. The albumin is a 'generic mammal'.
Reply:   Production of the body and ‘blood’ images involved an actual human body. The red color of much of the ‘blood,’ the high bilirubin levels detected therein, and the body image lend strong support to the view that the ‘blood’ came from a beaten individual. Regarding the ‘blood,’ Heller and Adler (hereafter H&A) concluded that it was actual blood material based on physics-based and chemistry-based testing, most tests of which will be discussed, specifically the following: detection of higher-than elsewhere levels of iron in ‘blood’ areas via X-ray fluorescence, indicative spectra obtained by microspectrophotometry, generation with chemicals and ultraviolet light of characteristic porphyrin fluorescence, positive tests for hemochromagen using hydrazine, positive tests for cyanmethemoglobin using a neutralized cyanide solution, positive tests for the bile pigment bilirubin, positive tests for protein, and use of proteolytic enzymes on ‘blood’ material, leaving no residues. The tests and data not discussed 3 are the reflection spectra indicative of bilirubin’s32 and blood’s presence,33 chemical detection of the specific protein albumin,34 the presence of serum halos around various ‘blood’ marks when viewed under ultraviolet light,35 the immunological determination that the ‘blood’ is of primate origin,36 and the forensic judgment that the various blood and wound marks appear extremely realistic. 5

Deacon Pedro  (2021):  Traces of human blood were found on the shroud. Tests have confirmed that this blood belonged to a human body at the time of death, as it was already coagulating on the skin. The blood is very dense, which is a common result of dehydration. Because of the amount of bilirubin found in the blood, it can also be concluded that the man had been beaten in the hours preceding his death. Blood samples taken from the cloth were found to be type AB. These samples also helped determine the DNA of the man of the shroud. Experts explain that the blood samples are so old and degraded that very few DNA segments were found, eliminating any possibility of cloning anything from the blood found on the cloth. Other DNA experts argue, however, that so much contamination exists on the shroud that no DNA test, no matter how carefully done, could ever be considered definitive. 6

Kelly P. Kearse (2012):  In summary, the preponderance of current scientific evidence indicates that: (i) there is blood on the Shroud of Turin; (ii) the blood is of primate, i.e. human origin; and (iii) the blood type is most likely AB as determined by forward typing methods, specifically mixed agglutination and immunohistochemistry techniques. Results highlighted in green show the nucleotide sequence on the shroud is that of either a human or an orangutan. The orangutan sequence is the same as humans in this region but contains 5 nucleotide differences in other regions of the gene (not shown). That leaves us with only one option for the blood on the shroud. Human Blood! (K. Kearse 2012) 7

Blood on the Shroud of Turin

Forensic analysis and chemical testing have established that the bloodstains on the Shroud are indeed real blood. Through various scientific methods, including immunological testing, fluorescence, and spectrographic analysis, along with blood typing techniques, researchers have determined the stains to be of human origin. The stains show patterns of real bleeding from actual wounds, suggesting direct contact between the wounded body and the cloth. The bloodstains exhibit forensic characteristics typical of clotting, with red blood cells concentrated at the clot's edge and a distinct yellowish halo indicating serum separation. Experts have been able to differentiate between venous and arterial blood flow patterns on the Shroud, indicating that much of the bleeding occurred while the individual was still alive, with some bloodstains resulting from postmortem bleeding. The distribution and flow patterns of the blood have allowed pathologists to infer the position of the body at the time of shrouding, suggesting that the individual was laid on his back, with the cloth covering the entire body from the face down to the feet. Analysis of blood flow patterns, especially along the arms, indicates bleeding from wrist wounds, with blood flowing down the arms, suggesting that the individual was positioned upright with arms outstretched at an angle. Changes in the flow patterns also suggest movement, possibly the individual pulling themselves up.

The chest area of the Shroud shows significant bloodstains, likely from a severe chest wound, with indications of postmortem bleeding. Mixed within these stains are traces of clear bodily fluids, possibly from the heart or chest cavity, suggesting a postmortem injury near the heart. The complexity of the bloodstains, including clot formations, serum separation, and the intermingling of different bodily fluids, along with the specific flow patterns, would be exceedingly difficult to replicate artificially by applying blood to the cloth. The presence of bilirubin, a pigment produced under extreme physical stress, reinforces the conclusion that the blood came from the individual wrapped in the Shroud, whether for genuine burial purposes or for creating a relic. Regarding the identification of the blood as real, Ray Rogers and Alan Adler, experts in their respective fields, conducted studies confirming the presence of real blood based on the conversion of heme to its parent porphyrin and the analysis of blood flecks. Additionally, x-ray fluorescence confirmed higher iron levels in the blood areas, consistent with blood, and protein tests were positive in these regions but not elsewhere on the Shroud. While there have been claims regarding the blood type and DNA analysis, definitive conclusions about the DNA have been elusive due to the age and degradation of the blood samples, making it challenging to obtain reliable DNA information. Therefore, while the presence of blood is certain, the specific details about its origin or the individual's identity remain undetermined.

Forensic doctor Baima Bollone was the only qualified expert who picked up in person and analyzed the blood from the threads of the ST. In the conclusion of the paper [35] he wrote “Sui fili di macchie di ‘sangue’ sono inoltre presenti più corposi apporti di materiale di contenuto minerale corrispondente a quello di macchie sperimentali ottenute con miscele di sangue, aloe, mirra e saponina. Le indagini di ematologia forense risultano dimostrative per la presenza di sangue”. Our translation: “On the threads of 'blood' stains a larger quantity of mineral-based material is also present, which corresponds to that of experimental stains made by mixtures of blood, aloe, myrrh and saponin. Forensic investigations of haematology are demonstrative for the presence of blood”

Other important tests were carried out by Heller and Adler on threads and fibrils much smaller than those of Bollone, which confirmed the presence of blood. The most recent critical review paper on blood-related issue can be found in [37]. In this paper Kearse comments on studies by Bollone, Heller and Adler that demonstrate bloodstained fibres of the Shroud contain (human) albumin and immunoglobulin and human antibody of the IgG class, consistent with the presence of real blood. Concerning blood type AB on the Shroud, it was demonstrated using a forward typing approach only (which measures red cell antigens). In fresh blood, confirmation by additional tests known as reverse typing (which measures antibodies in serum) is necessary. Unfortunately, reverse typing tests in aged blood are somewhat problematic. They rely on antibodies both being present and maintaining a functional, working conformation over time. In aged samples of type AB, it is difficult recognizing if the antibodies were never there to begin with or were once present but degraded over time. In conclusion, according to [37] human blood on the TS needs to be conclusively demonstrated, to extend the current immunological evidence beyond primate.
The conclusion that the ‘blood’ is actual blood concurs with and meshes with the consensus of medical community members who have studied the image that 1) the body image is anatomically and medically realistic to an extraordinary degree, and 2) production of the body and ‘blood’ images involved an actual human body. The red color of much of the ‘blood,’ the high bilirubin levels detected therein, and the body image lend strong support to the view that the ‘blood’ came from a beaten individual. In light of the foregoing, forging the Shroud would have required the use of a body beaten and crucified precisely after the manner of Jesus’ crucifixion. Such a requirement makes more unlikely the possibility that an individual went to the trouble of forging the Shroud. In short, it is highly likely that the ‘blood’ on the Shroud of Turin is not paint and is blood. Though this conclusion does not mean the Shroud of Turin is authentic, it does mean that the Shroud is less likely to be a forgery. 8 

Is the Body Image Formed by Pigment Substances?

The Shroud of Turin FIRST CENTURY AFTER CHRIST! , Giulio Fanti, page 324
The analysis performed by the first author on dusts vacuumed from the Shroud identifies some pigments on the linen fabric, but these are relatively rare and therefore inadequate to explain any coloration producing the body image as a result. Parallel analyses on image fibers, again conducted by the first author, definitely confirm on the other hand the absence of pigment or of any other intake substance on the image fibers, in harmony with the results obtained by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) in their 1978 direct examination of the body image. The image is in fact the product of chemical reactions (oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation) of fibers on the image’s surface. Among the pigments present in the vacuumed dusts, the first author found particles of lapis lazuli (a blue-colored precious hard stone) mixed with iron oxide particles (which are red), leading them to suspect external contamination had occurred in the course of the centuries. It is a known fact that in the past centuries artists avowedly made copies of the Shroud, touching the sacred Linen with their paintings, to confer to them qualities of the highest order, but physically contaminating the Shroud in the process. The minimal evidence of pigments found among the vacuumed particles of the Shroud is not even sufficient for reproducing a hundredth part of the whole image. Probably these traces derive from later contaminations, when artists were allowed to physically touch the Shroud with their paintings in order to create another relic. In support to this hypothesis is the fact that in the vacuumed particles have been found red particles (iron oxide) and particles of other colors (e.g., blue lapis lazuli). Let us think of a hypothetical artist who tries to reproduce these characteristics on a linen cloth using a simple painting technique: difficulties seem insuperable. First of all, the artist should dip the brush, not in the color, because there are not pigments on the threads, but in an acid capable of shading the linen chemically. However, the artist has to see what he or she is painting, so the acid (usually transparent) should be pre-emptively colored, though, at work completed, he or she should eliminate any evidence of pigment, because on the Shroud there is no colorant. Since colored fibers are side by side with uncolored ones, the brush must have only one bristle with a diameter not superior to 0.01 mm (0.00039 in.). Inexplicably, the artist also has to be able to color the part of the straw in the inner side of the bundle without coloring the adjacent straws, since the color is uniformly distributed around the circumference.

Claim:  According to Dr. Walter McCrone and his colleagues, the 3’ by 14’ foot cloth depicting Christ’s crucified body is an inspired painting produced by a Medieval artist just before its first appearance in recorded history in 1356. 9
Reply: Walter C. McCrone, Jr. was a renowned light microscopist and a prominent skeptic of the Shroud of Turin's authenticity. Although he was an original member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), he never examined the Shroud firsthand. McCrone claimed, based on microscopic analysis of particles collected from the Shroud by STURP in 1978, that the image was not created by blood but was instead a painting. He publicized these assertions widely, gaining significant media attention.

McCrone's conclusions were rigorously challenged by the comprehensive chemical, physical, X-ray, and visual examinations conducted by other STURP scientists, notably Dr. Alan Adler, an expert in blood chemistry. McCrone had agreed not to publish his findings until all STURP members had the chance to review and discuss them, to submit them to peer-reviewed journals. However, he broke this agreement by publishing his findings in his own journal, The Microscope, and in the media, without subjecting them to external peer review. Despite being invited to defend his claims at scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed journals, McCrone declined. His reluctance to engage with the scientific community and his admission that he believed the Shroud to be a fake, despite lacking proof, revealed a bias against the Shroud's authenticity. This stance was not only at odds with the broader scientific community's findings but also led to skepticism even among other critics of the Shroud's authenticity. McCrone's credibility was further questioned after his assertion that the Vinland Map was a forgery was proven incorrect. His refusal to acknowledge scientific critiques of his work on the map was seen as a personal affront, and he never conceded his error. Some have suggested that McCrone was driven by a desire to be seen as a major iconoclastic figure in history, leading to a lack of objectivity in his work.

His body of work on the Shroud, including several articles and a book, remains controversial and is often cited as an example of his predisposition towards debunking historical artifacts. Despite his contributions to microscopy, McCrone's legacy in the context of the Shroud of Turin is marked by controversy and debate over his methodologies and conclusions. Forensic and Biochemical Evidence of Blood on the Shroud Affirms the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin

"It is not possible to artificially reproduce, for example, the separation of blood in a liquid phase followed by a solid phase, as can happen when blood from a corpse flows out. The bloodstains that can be observed on the Shroud were indeed formed by direct contact with the wounded body of a man who had been scourged and crucified, in full accordance with what is seen in the image and what has penetrated at the opposite end of the liquid. The entire Shroud has been examined under fluorescence with X-rays (quantitative analysis of the atomic elements present), and elements not related to the image, such as calcium, strontium, and iron, an indication of the process of linen degradation and iron oxidation, due to the blood's contact and subsequent migration to the cellulose fibers at the edges of the stains, were found. It is interesting to note that the red coating of the fibers is exclusively made of blood: in fact, it dissolves completely in water, showing that there is no trace of vermilion or any other pigment that could dissolve proteins without leaving any residue. Therefore, there are no added substances or retouching.

The first hematological studies conducted in the United States on samples taken from the Shroud of Turin have been once again carried out on a sample of blood taken from the Shroud by Adler, and compared against a standard control and a normal blood sample. The results were shown to a colleague at the New York City Medical Examiner's office, without telling him that it was from the Shroud. The colleague, in disbelief, exclaimed: "My God!" Subsequently, he was asked to clarify what he meant by that exclamation. He said, "It's the blood from a man who has been severely beaten and then crucified."
In short, all the tests conducted show that there is blood on the Shroud, and it is human blood."

The Shroud of Turin exhibits intricate details that align with what would be expected from an authentic burial cloth of a crucifixion victim. Among the most compelling features are the bloodstains, which provide profound insights into its potential authenticity. Forensic analysis indicates the presence of both venous and arterial blood on the Shroud, distinguishable by their respective characteristics. Venous blood, which is darker due to its lower oxygen content, seems to match the patterns one would expect from a body in a supine position, while the arterial bloodstains suggest a brighter hue consistent with blood that is oxygenated. This distinction between the two types of blood is particularly noteworthy because the concept of blood circulation and the differences between venous and arterial blood were not understood until the 17th century. The presence of these medically accurate depictions on the Shroud, therefore, challenges the notion that it could be a medieval creation. No artist or forger in the 14th century—the period when skeptics claim the Shroud might have been fabricated—would have had the anatomical knowledge to reproduce such details.

Moreover, the bloodstains follow the gravity flow corresponding to the positions of the wounds, as one would anticipate if the cloth had wrapped an actual body that had experienced crucifixion. The patterns of clotting and flow are consistent with what has been observed in modern forensic pathology when a body has been subjected to severe trauma. The detail extends to the image of the man on the Shroud itself, which is anatomically flawless down to the positioning and proportion of the wounds. This level of detail would be exceedingly difficult to achieve by an artist, especially considering the lack of scientific knowledge at the time the Shroud is speculated to have been created. It is also important to consider the chemical composition of the supposed bloodstains. Various studies have reported finding components such as hemoglobin and even traces of DNA, which further support the hypothesis that the Shroud interacted with the human body.

The anatomical precision, the forensically accurate positioning of bloodstains, the medically precise representation of blood types, and the chemical makeup of the stains collectively form a strong argument for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. These are not the traits of a medieval painting but rather the marks of a genuine burial cloth of a crucified individual. The Shroud of Turin bears the hallmarks of authenticity, not only through its portrayal of anatomically correct blood flow and the distinction between venous and arterial blood but also through its biochemical markers. Crucially, the stains identified as blood have been found to contain high levels of bilirubin, a compound that the human body typically produces in greater quantities when under extreme stress or suffering from severe trauma. Elevated bilirubin would be consistent with someone who had experienced significant physical torture, supporting the narrative that the image is that of a crucifixion victim.

Additionally, the presence of creatinine in the mix, a breakdown product of muscle metabolism, often found in higher levels in the human body following extreme physical exertion and muscle injury, correlates with the physical torment associated with crucifixion. These compounds, found together with hemoglobin in the blood on the Shroud, suggest the bloodstains are not only genuine but also that they originate from a person who endured significant physical suffering. The discovery of these particular compounds significantly challenges the assertion that the Shroud is a medieval forgery. The accurate depiction of blood flow and the presence of specific markers of injury and stress in the blood provides a compelling case that the cloth is indeed the burial shroud of a crucified man. Given the knowledge of the time, a forger from the medieval period would not have had the understanding necessary to include such biochemical details, nor would they have had the means to do so even if the knowledge was available. These details point towards a scenario where the Shroud came into contact with a body that had been through profound physical trauma, consistent with the kind of torture that was characteristic of Roman crucifixion. As such, the biochemical evidence on the Shroud, when combined with the anatomical and forensic data, presents a strong case for its authenticity.


The Shroud of Turin bears bloodstains that are predominantly the result of contact with clotted wounds from a human body. The blood present on the Shroud has been identified as belonging to a human male and is of the AB blood type, which is relatively rare, comprising about 3% of the global population. This finding was initially made by Dr. Baima Ballone in Turin and later corroborated in the United States. Blood chemistry experts, including Dr. Alan Adler and the late Dr. John Heller, noted a significant presence of bilirubin in the blood, indicative of a person who experienced severe stress or trauma before death, which could explain the blood's reddish hue, unusual for ancient samples. Additionally, Drs. Victor and Nancy Tryon identified male chromosomes in the blood and found traces of "degraded DNA," which supports the notion of the blood being ancient. An intriguing detail about the Shroud is the wound mark on the wrist, which appears as a simple stain. However, when viewed from behind using an optical fiber to bypass the protective backing added in 1532, this mark takes on a square shape. This particularity could be attributed to the dense nature of the blood due to dehydration, with the square-shaped wound possibly corresponding to the entry point of a nail. Notably, a relic in the Church of the Holy Cross in Rome, believed to be one of the nails that crucified Jesus, matches the square shape and size of this wound on the Shroud. This relic was among those discovered by Saint Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine, during an archaeological excavation at Golgotha, a site historically recognized as the location of Jesus' crucifixion. The Church of the Holy Cross also houses a piece of wood, traditionally believed to have been placed above the cross, bearing the inscription "Jesus the Nazarene" in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The consistency of the wound size on the Shroud with the relic nail and the presence of such historically significant relics add layers of intrigue and emotional depth to the study of the Shroud of Turin.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 G1155v11

The distinction between premortem and postmortem blood

The analysis of the bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin reveals a distinct difference between blood flows that occurred before death (antemortem or premortem) and those that occurred after death (postmortem). This distinction is crucial in understanding the circumstances surrounding the death of the individual depicted on the Shroud. One significant observation is that the blood flows on the face of the man on the Shroud are all premortem. Computer mapping has demonstrated that these streams of blood flow downwards across the face, with none moving towards the back of the neck or head. This pattern suggests that the man died in an upright position, such as on a cross, and that the blood in his head drained internally while he remained upright. In contrast, postmortem blood flows are also present on the Shroud. Notable examples include the blood from the spear wound in the side, the pool of blood across the lower back resulting from that wound, and a trickle of blood from the right foot, likely after the removal of a nail. These postmortem blood flows are characterized by their direction influenced by gravity and the absence of force from a beating heart. This difference in the blood flow patterns helps to provide a clearer picture of the events and positions related to the death of the man depicted on the Shroud.

Blood and water

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Bloodw10

On the man's right side, there is a large blood-The Shroud of Turin displays a stain that is interpreted as comprising blood from the heart and a watery fluid from the heart's pericardial sac and the pleural (lung) cavity. Near the top of this stain, there appears to be a wound, which aligns with the type of injury that would be inflicted by a Roman lancea, a weapon mentioned in John's Gospel as having pierced Jesus' side. This lance, if thrust upward between the fifth and sixth ribs, would likely have pierced the right atrium of the heart, which is known to fill with blood upon death. This corresponds with the biblical account in the Gospel of John, where it is noted that Jesus' side was pierced with a spear, leading to a flow of blood and water. This event is significant because Roman crucifixion squads typically broke the legs of victims to hasten death, making it difficult for them to push up to exhale. The mention of the flow of "blood and water" from Jesus' side by the Apostle John, and its later reference in one of his letters, suggests its rarity or uniqueness, especially as it was during a time when crucifixions were common. Christian apologists of the second and third centuries, an era marked by frequent public crucifixions, argued that this flow of blood and water was a miraculous event. This argument suggests that such an occurrence was not commonly observed in other crucifixions.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6053220/
2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/comment?id=10.1371/annotation/1db55bd5-b398-468c-9536-524cb6340480
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1296207417300092
4. https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/modern-science-cant-duplicate-the-image-on-the-shroud-of-turin
5. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/ford1.pdf
6. https://slmedia.org/blog/deacon-structing-the-shroud-of-turin-the-facts
7. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/kearse1.pdf
8. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/ford1.pdf
9. http://www.mccroneinstitute.org/v/64/The-Shroud-of-Turin

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:34 pm; edited 3 times in total


31From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 17 Sun Jan 28, 2024 4:51 am



Chapter 18

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Panel102

Pollen, Limestone, and micro traces

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Avinoam-Danin

Avinoam Danin (1939–2015), Professor of Botany at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a world authority on the flora of Israel

Botanist A. Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem determined the origin of the Shroud based on a comprehensive analysis of pollen taken from the Shroud and plant images associated with the Shroud. Danin's analysis suggests that flowers and other plant materials were placed on the Shroud of Turin, leaving pollen grains and imprints of plants and flowers on the linen cloth. In addition to the image of a crucified man, the cloth also contains faint images of plants. Tentatively identifying the plant images through a method of image comparison known as Polarized Image Overlay Technique (PIOT), Alan and Mary Whanger have reported that the flowers were from the Near East region and that the Shroud originated in early centuries. Analysis of the floral images by Danin and an analysis of the pollen grains by Uri Baruch identify a combination of certain species that could be found only in the months of March and April in the region of Jerusalem during that time.

The analysis positively identifies a high density of pollen of the thistle Gundelia tournefortii which has bloomed in Israel between March and May for millennia. An image of the plant can be seen near the image of the man's shoulder. It has been hypothesized by the Whangers, who have researched the Shroud for decades, that this is the plant used for the "crown of thorns" on Jesus' head. Two pollen grains of this species were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo, widely accepted as the burial face cloth of Jesus. The location of the Sudarium has been documented from the 1st Century and it has resided in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the 8th Century.  "There is no way that similar patterns of blood stains, probably of the identical blood type, with the same type of pollen grains, could not be synchronic - covering the same body," Danin stated. "The pollen association and the similarities in the blood stains in the two cloths provide clear evidence that the Shroud originated before the 8th Century."  Another plant seen in a clear image on the Shroud is of the Zygophyllum dumosum species, according to the paper. This is a native plant with an unusual leaf morphology, displaying paired leaflets on the ends of leaf petiole of the current year during the beginning of winter.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Dddsad13

In 1973, swiss criminologist Max Frei was invited to verify the accuracy of the 1969 photographs of the Shroud. Examining the Shroud by a microscope, he detected some pollen grains. In 1978, Dr Frei removed additional samples from the Shroud. He successfully identified an additional 8 species

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Dalle_18
Pollens from 58 species of plants have been found on the Shroud. But only 17 of these, i.e., less than one-third, grow in France or Italy. 55 of the 58 grow in Jerusalem. If the fabric originated in Europe, we cannot explain the presence of so much non-European pollen on the Shroud.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Image414
Minute traces of cotton fibers were discovered, an indication that the Shroud was woven on a loom also used for weaving cotton. The cotton was of the Asian Gossypum herbaceum, and some commentators have construed its presence as conclusive evidence of a Middle Eastern origin. While not common in Europe until much later, cotton was being woven in Spain as early as the 8th century and in Holland by the 12th.1

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Dalle_16
The whole set of sindonic entomogamous species, suggests the use of botanical products that were widely used in ancient funeral and burial rituals, whose purpose in embalming the body was to delay decomposition, as well as to make burials smell less unpleasant. These 2000-year-old techniques using ointments, oils and perfumed balsams were unusual in Europe, with some reported exceptions
during the Roman Empire.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Dalle_17
The pollen discovered in this relic could be from the compounds of early burial ointments, suggesting that its origins lie in the first century AD. It is not difficult for pollen to stay attached to fibers for a long time (Boi 2015), but the attachment can be even stronger when the pollen is combined with greasy botanical substances, such as those applied to the body after death, or those adhering to a burial cloth.

The burial cloth of the Shroud was treated with Helichrysum oil, probably to protect the textile fibers, as documented in the ancient texts. The precise identification of Helichrysum pollen discovered validates
the theory that the corpse kept in the Shroud received a funeral and burial with all the honour and respect that was customary in the Hebrew tradition. 2

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Jerusa17
In October 1978 the Shroud of Turin Project (STURP) took samples of surface material on the Shroud by pressing a specially formulated sticky-tape onto body image. Under his microscope they found traces of travertine (deposited from springs) aragonite variety of calcium carbonate rather than the more common calcite. Travertine aragonite limestone was typically found in limestone caves in Palestine.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Adsfas12
A fragment of wood taken from the area of the head and particles of aromatic resins were found. Myrrh and aloe are, "coincidentally," what the Gospels mention in the burial of Jesus of Nazareth. The presence of myrrh and aloe aligns with the biblical account of Jesus' burial, where these substances were used in the preparation of the body. 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Adsfas13

Traces of epithelial tissue and muscle tissue particles corresponding to the back area were found. There are no indications that the body had decomposed; however, as seen through analysis, male skin and flesh particles have been discovered. This finding is significant in the study of the Shroud of Turin. The presence of epithelial and muscle tissue, especially identified as male, adds a layer of physical evidence that supports the theory that the Shroud wrapped a human body. 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Patibu19

The precise identification of Helichrysum pollen, which had formerly been wrongly recognized as Gundelia tournefortii, confirms and authenticates the theory that the corpse kept in the Shroud received a funeral and burial with all the honour and respect that would have been customary in the Hebrew tradition. The largest amount of Helichrysum pollen originates from the form used to produce its oil, utilizing exclusively fresh flowers.

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Some of the pollen species identified are quite significant. They are endemic to the East, grow in Israel, and bloom between March and April. Gundelia tournefortii and Zygophyllum dumosum are two indicators of the Shroud's origin. According to Danin and Baruch, pollens and the supposed images of these two plants appear on the Shroud. These are significant indicators, as these plants are found together only in the geographical area of the Holy Land, specifically around Jerusalem, and pollinate in spring.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Dalle_19
White particles were found on the cloth of the Sudarium of Oviedo, and they were identified as particles of resin of aloe and myrrh. There are clusters of myrrh –more specifically storax -, and aloe. A mixture similar to that which, according to the gospels, was used profusely at the burial of Jesus. That is one of the lines of evidence corroborating that both clothes, the Shroud, and the Sudarium, were used in a burial ceremony.

The Ethnocultural significance of the use of plants in Ancient Funerary Rituals and its possible implications with pollens found on the Shroud of Turin

The study of the Shroud of Turin's pollen content, particularly conducted by Max Frei in the 1970s, represents a fascinating yet controversial chapter in the investigation of the Shroud. Frei, a recognized pollen expert, utilized adhesive tape samples to collect pollen grains from the Shroud's surface. He first collected around 12 samples in 1973, focusing on the upper body area, and identified 48 different varieties of pollen grains. In 1978, he gathered an additional 26 samples and also examined particles from the Shroud's silver case and dust extracted by vacuum cleaning. Frei's method involved removing the pollen grains from the tape and embedding them in glycerin gelatin on individual slides, allowing for thorough examination under both light and scanning electron microscopes. His most significant discovery was Zygophyllum dumosum pollen, a plant native to Israel, Jordan, and Sinai, suggesting the Shroud's Middle Eastern origin. Comparing these grains to living specimens from various regions, Frei concluded that the Shroud and its pollen likely originated in the Middle East.

Despite his expertise and dedication, Frei's findings faced skepticism. Critics pointed out the abundance and diversity of the pollen grains, the implausible geographical and biological distribution, their relatively fresh appearance, and overly precise identifications. There were concerns that the relic, being a valued and protected item, wouldn't have accumulated such a diverse range of pollen during its history. To confirm the species found on the Shroud, a detailed understanding of the botanical families of pollens and their comparison with flora from Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa is necessary. In the 1970s, when palynology was in its infancy, such comprehensive comparison materials and pollen atlases were not readily available. Frei's methodology, primarily relying on light microscopy (up to 1000 magnifications), was deemed insufficient for a detailed palynological study, as the tape did not provide the best view of the necessary morphological features.

Over time, even Frei himself and other scientists questioned the accuracy of his conclusions. The need for extensive research, involving the collection and identification of flowering plants from various geographical areas and the preparation of known pollen samples, was emphasized. Such an endeavor would have been time-consuming and technically challenging, especially considering the limitations of microscopy technology available at the time. Frei's early death prevented him from publishing a detailed analysis or completing his book, "The Pollens of the Shroud of Turin." His initial findings, though intriguing, remain a subject of debate and highlight the complexities and challenges inherent in the scientific study of historical artifacts like the Shroud of Turin.

The ongoing investigation into the pollen samples from the Shroud of Turin, initially analyzed by Max Frei in the 1970s, took a significant turn in the 1990s and 2000s, with further analyses and debates among various scientists. In the 1990s, the original samples collected by Frei were re-examined by Danin and Baruch (Danin et al., 1999). Their analysis confirmed the species initially identified by Frei, leading to Danin's conclusion about a specific 10-square-kilometer area, located between Jerusalem and Jericho, where 70 percent of these species could be found. This area, notably near Jerusalem, was identified as containing twenty-seven of the twenty-eight species Frei had identified. However, the legitimacy of these findings was soon challenged. In 2000, several researchers including McCrone (1990), Litt (Danin & Guerra, 2008), Bryant (2000), and Boi (2012) questioned the accuracy of these pollen identifications. Intriguingly, these criticisms and challenges were acknowledged by Danin himself (Danin & Guerra, 2008). The situation surrounding Frei's samples became more complicated when, on July 15, 1988, Frei's widow, Gertrud Frei-Sulzer, offered the entire collection of Frei's samples to ASSIST (Association of Scientists and Scholars International for the Shroud of Turin), rendering the samples almost inaccessible for further study. These were the samples taken in 1978; those from 1973 were believed to have been lost in Vercelli, where Ettore Morano had conducted examinations using a scanning electron microscope.

As a result, more than four decades of research by Frei culminated in a situation where the original tape samples and his manuscripts were virtually lost, leaving the scientific community without concrete evidence to further investigate. In recent years, additional scrutiny by researchers like Litt (Danin & Guerra, 2008) and Bryant (2000) led to new discoveries. They found that the most abundant type of pollen in the Shroud samples was not Gundelia tournefortii, as previously identified by Frei and Danin & Baruch, but belonged to a species in the Asteraceae family. This revelation cast doubt on the initial identification of this pollen type. In a detailed review, the most abundant types of pollen found on the Shroud were categorized, along with their bibliographical references and newly proposed identifications. The analysis by Danin et al. (1999) presented a partial account of the pollen, focusing only on a segment of the optical microscope slides. They concurred that the most abundant pollen was Gundelia tournefortii (Asteraceae), followed by Cistaceae type (Cistus spp.), unspecified Apiaceae, and Pistacia spp. These taxa represented 64.21% of the total pollen identified. The debate over the pollen samples from the Shroud of Turin highlights the complexities of palynological studies, especially when applied to ancient and controversial artifacts. The evolving techniques, interpretations, and scholarly debates underscore the challenges in reaching definitive conclusions about the Shroud's history and origins.

In previous studies of pollen found on the Shroud of Turin, there have been notable errors in the identification of pollen grains. For example, Pistacia lentiscus was mistakenly identified as Anemone coronaria in SEM images, as noted by Ghio in 1986. Additionally, in a light microscope (LM) image by Danin et al. in 1999, pollen from the Asteraceae family was incorrectly identified as Gundelia tournefortii. Researchers such as Frei, Ghio, and Danin et al. reported that the most numerous pollen types on the Shroud were from entomogamous plants, which require insects for pollination. The abundant presence of Gundelia pollen raised questions. This plant, Gundelia tournefortii, also known as 'A’kub' or 'Ka’ub', is native to areas like Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Cyprus. Its traditional use in cuisine, documented in the Talmud of Babylonia and biblical texts, alongside its reduction due to harvesting before flowering, has been historically significant.

The high quantity of Gundelia pollen on the Shroud was used to suggest a connection to Asia Minor. Danin et al. in 1999 hypothesized that the Shroud came into direct contact with the plant after the death of the man wrapped in it, coinciding with the blooming season around Easter. They also proposed that Gundelia might have been used for the crown of thorns on the crucified individual. However, this theory was challenged by authors like Hind in 2013, who argued that Gundelia, lacking sharp thorns, was an unlikely choice for a crown of thorns. Moreover, if the crown was made from the plant's leaves, pollen wouldn't be present in large quantities, as it originates from the flowers, not the leaves. The widespread distribution of this pollen on the Shroud, from head to toe, was also puzzling, especially considering that the crown of thorns would likely have been removed before wrapping the body. This raises doubts about the presence of such large quantities of Gundelia pollen. Additionally, if parts of Gundelia had been in contact with the Shroud, one would expect to find latex residue, especially in the head area where the crown would have been. The absence of such evidence further complicates the hypothesis.
Finally, considering Gundelia's known ethnocultural uses, primarily in food and animal fodder, and its absence in magical or medicinal rituals, the reason for its substantial presence on the Shroud remains unclear. This lack of clear explanation for the high quantity of Gundelia pollen calls for a reevaluation of previous findings and assumptions. The reevaluation of pollen samples from the Shroud of Turin has led to a new understanding, particularly with the replacement of initially identified Gundelia tournefortii pollen with Helichrysum spp. This finding aligns with the use of botanical products in ancient funeral and burial rituals, commonly used for their embalming properties and to mitigate the odor of decomposition.

Max Frei's 1978 analysis of the Oviedo Sudarium, using adhesive tape to collect microscopic particles, yielded partial and ambiguous results, as noted by Ricci in 1985. In contrast, the Spanish Center for Sindonology (CES) in the 1990s employed non-invasive methods to avoid damaging the tissue. They observed entomophilous pollen types embedded in dissolved resins and incense, complicating specific recognition. The presence of this pollen in oils and ointments, notably from the pressing of fresh flowers, like Helichrysum oil, supports the idea of ancient burial rituals incorporating botanicals, including Ferula and Pistacia. This understanding of pollen offers a new perspective on the Shroud. Historical and cultural practices involving botanical products for cultic rituals, prevalent from a few centuries B.C. to the third century A.D., suggest the application of oils, balms, and ointments on the Shroud. These practices likely contributed to the Shroud's remarkable preservation. New Testament accounts from John, Mark, Matthew, and Luke provide insights into the funeral ritual practiced on Jesus. They mention the use of aromatic spices (oil), the preparation of balms and perfumes, and the symbolic cleaning of the body. Jewish traditions, as outlined in the Talmud, do not permit embalming or mummification, using spices primarily to counteract odors in the hot, dry climate. The Talmud also notes that blood should not be cleaned from a body with signs of violence, believing it to be part of the body to be entombed.

The Shroud of Turin's case aligns with these practices. The body wrapped in the Shroud appears to have undergone a violent death, with blood marks both pre and post-mortem, suggesting a Jewish ritual burial as described in the Talmud. The application of oils and ointments, in line with ethnocultural customs, would have served dual purposes: protecting against rapid decomposition and purifying the environment. These substances left traces among the flax fibers, including pollen from the products used. This practice could have also enabled the capture of other environmental pollen, providing additional protection for the fabric due to its antiseptic and preservative properties. The pollens identified on the Shroud of Turin thus offer valuable insights into the funeral rituals of the time, serving as witnesses to the practices and environment surrounding the body wrapped within. The treatment of the body and funeral cloth with oils and ointments, as per the ceremonial rites practiced around 2000 years ago, likely played a crucial role in preserving pollen grains on the Shroud of Turin. These greasy substances could have acted as a medium, enabling pollen to adhere to the fabric and remain intact over millennia. Danin et al. (1999) identified several pollen types on the Shroud, with Cistus and Cistaceae representing 8.2%, Apiaceae (Ferula) 4.2%, and Pistacia spp. 0.6% of the total. The presence of pollen from Cistus, Cistaceae, Pistacia, and Apiaceae suggests their use during funeral rituals, possibly applied as oils and resins directly on the body and the Shroud. These products were commonly used in ancient funeral practices.

Laudanum, a resin derived from Cistus ladanifer, was mixed with myrrh to create ointments. Its name, similar to 'lebona' (incense in Hebrew), may have led to confusion in biblical text transcriptions, mistakenly identifying it as incense. Perfumed oils were also made using myrrh collected from other Cistaceae and Cistus species. Galbanum, a fragrant resin from Ferula spp. (representative of the Apiaceae family), was another significant substance with a strong smell, possibly used in temple rituals. Pistacia, from the Anacardiaceae family, was used to produce ointments through the boiling of various plant parts. Its resin, obtained by making incisions in the trunk, was burnt to mask odors during burials. Mastic, terebinth, and turpentine are other known products from Pistacia. While the quantities of these pollen types on the Shroud are not overwhelmingly high, they provide clues about the plants used in the burial rites. Cistaceae and Apiaceae are insect-pollinated plants, while Pistacia uses both insects and wind for pollination. These species produce ointments from various plant parts, not solely the inflorescences. This fact might explain why their pollen is present in significant, though not high, quantities on the Shroud. The presence of these specific pollen types helps illuminate the practices and materials used in ancient funeral rituals, offering insights into the historical and cultural context of the time.

Identifying pollen at the species level is a complex task, especially for those belonging to large and diverse families like Compositae or Asteraceae, which includes over 23,000 species globally. This high diversity means that the probability of making an error in species-level identification is considerable, as many species within this family have very similar pollen. For accurate identification, electron microscope (SEM) observation is necessary, as light microscope (MO) observation alone is often insufficient. In the case of the Shroud of Turin, Frei's last paper, presented posthumously at the "II National Conference of Sindonology - 1981," included SEM images of some Shroud pollen. However, upon closer examination, identification errors were found in these tables. For instance, the pollen identified as Anemone coronaria actually corresponded to Pistacia lentiscus, and what was labeled as Ridolfia segetum (belonging to Apiaceae) was actually a type of Asteraceae. The Asteraceae pollen identified in the Shroud samples seems very familiar and is likely a species from the genus Helichrysum, based on detailed observations with both optical and electronic microscopes. This contrasts with the previous identification of only Artemisia spp., Carduus spp., Echinops spp., and Gundelia tournefortii from the Asteraceae family, as the pollen characteristics do not match. Microscope slides with Helichrysum pollen, prepared using Frei’s technique, and subsequent SEM imaging confirm that the pollen is indeed Helichrysum, not Gundelia. However, Helichrysums have stenopaliniform pollen, which makes it difficult to distinguish between species due to morphological similarities, as found in a doctoral thesis comparing six Helichrysum species from the Balearic Islands.

Therefore, the most abundant pollen on the Shroud likely belongs to the Asteraceae family and is a species of Helichrysum. This plant is known for its essential oil, highly valued and obtained exclusively from the pressing of fresh flowers. Two thousand years ago, this oil was used in burial and funeral rites, possibly explaining its presence during the preparation of the body wrapped in the Shroud. Helichrysum's essential oil was used to protect the linen and the body, and its flowers might have been used to crown the head of the deceased. This new identification sheds light on the funerary rituals of the time and the specific scenario in which the plant and its pollen could have come into contact with the Shroud. The application of Helichrysum oil during burial preparation could explain the high levels of this pollen in all analyzed samples. Historical texts by Theocritus, Dioscorides, and Pliny the Elder describe the use of Helichrysum for crowning idols and honoring the deceased, indicating its spiritual, medicinal, ornamental, and culinary significance.

The presence of pollen on the Shroud of Turin offers a potential insight into the burial rituals of a Jewish man approximately 2000 years ago. The Bible provides limited information on the plants of ethnocultural significance in Asia Minor at that time, necessitating reference to other historical texts. Authors like Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides have extensively documented species used in rites of passage during and before that era.

Given the hypothesis that the Shroud wrapped a Jewish corpse and remained hidden and protected until its emergence in 1355 A.D., it would have been stored in conditions safe from insects, humidity, or other fabric-altering agents. If the Shroud was treated with oils and ointments during the funeral ritual, these substances could have oxidized over time, making them difficult to identify in their original form. These oils and ointments, insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol, fat, wax, or other vegetable oils, likely contributed to the fabric's yellowing while preserving it through their powerful insect-repellent properties. This preservation method is akin to that used on other ancient fabrics, such as those of the Copts, where applied substances protected the fabric and allowed their ingredients to be masked within the pollen grains found. The discovery of pollen by Max Frei and subsequent reevaluations by Danin et al. in 1999 ("Flora of the Shroud of Turin") offer insights into the Shroud's geographic origin and the ethnocultural uses practiced on the relic. However, pinpointing a specific geographical origin is challenging, as most identified pollen types are Mediterranean.

The findings suggest that the Shroud was likely treated with Helichrysum oil, laudanum resin (from Cistus), oil from Cistaceae, mastic (from Pistacia spp.), turpentine, terebinth, and aromatic galbanum (from Ferula spp.) during the burial rites. The predominant presence of Helichrysum pollen, extracted traditionally from fresh inflorescences, explains its abundance on the Shroud's entire surface. This differs from Gundelia tournefortii, previously misidentified and not typically used in burial rites but rather in culinary applications.  The other significant pollens, like Pistacia, Cistus, Cistaceae, and Apiaceae (Ferula spp.), hint at the use of balms, resins, and ointments in the funeral ritual. Since these substances come from plant parts other than flowers, their pollen is less abundant, aligning with the observed pollen quantities on the Shroud. This analysis, supported by optical and electronic microscopy, sheds light on the possible ethnocultural practices and materials used in the burial ritual of the individual wrapped in the Shroud of Turin.


The study of pollen on the Shroud of Turin has provided crucial insights into the historical and cultural context of the artifact. Up to now, analyses have indicated that the pollen on the Shroud originates predominantly from Asia Minor. Recent correct identifications of this pollen have shed light on the funeral rituals and burial practices of the time, revealing the use of various balsams, ointments, oils, and spices. Danin et al.'s study in 1999 played a pivotal role in this understanding. It demonstrated that the most common species among the 204 identified pollen types, in order of abundance, were initially thought to be Gundelia, Cistus, Cistaceae, and Apiaceae. However, the species previously identified as Gundelia has now been corrected to Helichrysum spp. This significant correction has led to a new realization about the burial practices: the possible preparation of the body with oils and ointments, particularly involving Helichrysum. Previous investigations largely focused on tracing the Shroud's journey, often overlooking the evidence provided by pollen about the nature of the funeral rituals. The current understanding includes botanical species such as Cistus spp., Cistaceae, Ferula spp., Helichrysum spp., and Pistacia spp., all of which are native to the Mediterranean region. It's noteworthy that in the samples collected by Frei, there are still 109 pollen types that remain unidentified. If these could be analyzed, along with new samples, it might lead to more definitive conclusions about the specific funeral practices involved with the Shroud.  Overall, the pollen study not only contributes to our understanding of the Shroud’s historical journey but also offers a unique window into the ethnocultural practices of the time, particularly concerning burial rites and rituals. 3

1. https://www.shroud.com/meacham2.htm
3. https://sindone.it/museo/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/SINDON-08.pdf

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32From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 18 Sun Jan 28, 2024 5:18 am



Chapter 19

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Panel108

If Christianity is true, then we are of infinite value. Even if we are poor sinners, Christ, the alpha and omega, the author of all life, the one that laid the foundations of the earth, which made Adam and Eve from the mud on the earth, became man. Became one of us. A tiny speck in the universe. He walked among us and showed us his sublime unequaled character. His wonderful, humble being, but brilliant and wise like no man has ever seen.  He sacrificed Himself, left his unfathomable glory in the presence of the father and holy spirit, to show us who he is. He gave His life so that we could live, and be part of His family. Never, a greater story has been told, and if its true, which is what I believe, those that belong to Christ, are the most fortunate, and eternity belongs to them. We have value, and we are beloved. There is a good reason, why the Gospel is called the good news.

For you were BOUGHT at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 6:20
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He PURCHASED with His own blood.
Acts 20:28
"...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a RANSOM for many."
Matthew 20:28
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a RANSOM for all, to be testified in due time,
1 Timothy 2:5-6
knowing that you were not REDEEMED with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1 Peter 1:18-19
These are all terms used to describe a financial transaction.
When you complete a transaction at the store the cashier gives you a piece of paper that describes the details of the price paid
It's called a 'receipt'.

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. “ (Romans 5:9)
“In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)
“Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20)
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Grace Unveiled: The Redemptive Love of Christ

Christianity presents a profound narrative that stands unparalleled in the tapestry of world religions. At the heart of this narrative is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, where God himself steps into the bounds of time and space, embracing humanity in its fullest form. This divine act isn't merely a visitation; it's a deep, abiding presence, where the Creator experiences the breadth of human joy and suffering alongside His creation. What sets Christianity apart is not just the incarnation but the purpose behind it. Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human, embarks on a mission of redemption, culminating in His sacrificial death on the cross. This isn't a mere martyrdom but a pivotal act of atonement. In this singular event, the sins of humanity, past, present, and future, are absorbed by Christ's willing sacrifice, offering a bridge back to God that no human effort could construct. It's as if, in the cosmic courtroom, the judge steps down to serve the sentence, ensuring justice is met, yet mercy prevails.

This leads us to the beautiful doctrine of grace, the unmerited favor bestowed upon humanity. It's a gift, freely offered, that transcends human merit and works. This grace, accessed through faith in Christ, brings forgiveness, transformation, and the promise of eternal life. It's an invitation to a restored relationship with God, not based on human credentials but on divine generosity. In world religions, many narratives speak of gods and avatars, prophets and sages, each with roles to guide, teach, or exemplify moral truths. Yet, none offers a story where God Himself bears the weight of humanity's failings, not to condemn but to redeem and restore. This narrative of love, sacrifice, and resurrection opens a way for personal reconciliation with God the Father, a path laid not by human striving but by the profound depths of divine love and sacrifice.

Thus, Christianity unfolds a unique and transformative story, where God's love is demonstrated not just in powerful acts from on high but through the humble, self-giving love of Jesus Christ, inviting all into a relationship that heals, redeems, and transcends the brokenness of the human condition.

In many world religions, the pathway to divine favor or enlightenment is intricately tied to moral improvement, adherence to religious laws, and the accumulation of good deeds. This framework often positions the divine as a judge or a distant figure who rewards or punishes based on the moral quality of an individual's actions. The believer's journey, then, becomes one of striving toward moral perfection or spiritual purity through their own efforts and deeds.
Catholicism introduces the concept of purgatory, a temporary state of purification for souls who have died in a state of grace but still need to undergo purification to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven. Purgatory reflects the understanding that the process of sanctification, or being made holy, may continue after death for some, before they can fully enjoy the beatific vision of God. In Hinduism and other Eastern religions, the concept of reincarnation plays a central role. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara) is governed by karma, the law of moral cause and effect. Actions in this life directly influence the circumstances of future lives, with the ultimate goal being liberation (moksha) from the cycle of reincarnation. This liberation is achieved through various paths, such as righteous living, devotion, and knowledge, leading to a union with the divine or an understanding of one's inherent divinity.

In stark contrast, Christianity posits that human effort, no matter how noble or well-intended, is insufficient to bridge the chasm that sin has created between humanity and God. The Christian narrative is different insofar that the salvific act of Christ on the cross is a complete and unrepeatable act of grace that offers reconciliation and redemption to all of humanity. This act is not contingent on human merit but is a free gift that can be accepted by faith. This perspective shifts the focus from human striving to divine grace. While moral improvement and good deeds are valued and encouraged within Christianity, they are seen as the fruit of one's relationship with God through Christ, rather than the means of earning salvation. The emphasis is on transformation from the inside out, powered by the Holy Spirit, rather than solely human effort. This distinct approach underscores a different understanding of the divine-human relationship. In Christianity, God is not a distant judge but a loving Father who has made the ultimate sacrifice to restore the relationship with His creation. The emphasis is on God's initiative in bridging the gap, with human response being one of acceptance, trust, and transformation through grace.

This unique narrative in Christianity, centering on God's redemptive action in Jesus Christ, offers a contrasting viewpoint to the works-based paths to salvation or liberation found in other religious traditions. It highlights the profound belief in the power of grace to redeem, transform, and elevate humanity beyond the limitations of its own efforts to achieve divine favor or enlightenment. The Christian concept of salvation not only showcases the justice and holiness of God but also stands on a foundation that many argue is historically and empirically supported, making a compelling case for its truth. God's justice and holiness are not compromised by His mercy. Instead, they are fully expressed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The requirement of a holy God is that sin must be punished—this is where His justice stands firm. However, God's love and mercy are equally integral to His character. The incarnation and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ reconcile these seemingly paradoxical aspects of God's nature. By willingly taking upon Himself the punishment for sin, Jesus satisfies divine justice while simultaneously opening the way for mercy and forgiveness. This act upholds God's holiness, demonstrating that sin has been dealt with righteously, not merely overlooked.

The credibility of Christianity is further bolstered by the fulfillment of over 350 prophecies from the Old Testament in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These prophecies, written centuries before Christ's birth, detail everything from His lineage and birthplace to His manner of death and the purpose behind it. The probability of one person fulfilling even a handful of these prophecies by chance is astronomically low, suggesting a divine orchestration behind these events. This interweaving of prophecy and fulfillment serves not only as evidence of the truth of Christian claims but also illustrates the continuity and reliability of God's plan for humanity's redemption.
The Shroud of Turin provides tangible, empirical evidence supporting the historical reality of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. It is a physical artifact that aligns with the biblical descriptions of Christ's burial. The image on the Shroud, which is a photographic negative, was created by a burst of radiant energy, exposing a moment of divine power at the resurrection. The Shroud not only provides material evidence for this crucial event but also signifies the intersection of faith and science, where empirical investigation meets the mysteries of divine action.

The Shroud of Turin is a "receipt" of His sacrificial act—a tangible proof of the price paid for humanity's redemption. This concept of redemption is not merely a spiritual metaphor but is anchored in historical events and physical evidence. The coherence and consistency of the Christian narrative, supported by fulfilled prophecies and historical evidence, present a compelling, powerful case for its truth. The Christian concept of salvation beautifully encapsulates the justice and holiness of God, demonstrating that divine love does not negate divine righteousness but fulfills it. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Jesus and the possible empirical evidence of the Shroud of Turin add layers of credibility to the Christian claim, inviting a deeper exploration of faith grounded in historical reality. This unique blend of divine action, prophetic fulfillment, and historical evidence sets Christianity apart, offering a compelling narrative.

To those standing at the crossroads of faith, contemplating this profound narrative and the unparalleled offer of grace it extends, I extend an earnest invitation. Perhaps you've felt the weight of striving, the relentless pursuit of moral perfection or spiritual enlightenment, only to find it just beyond reach. Maybe you've grappled with questions of justice and mercy, wondering how a holy God could reconcile with humanity's failings. Consider this message, a narrative not of human striving but of divine reaching. In Jesus Christ, God Himself stepped into our world, not as a distant judge but as a savior willing to bear the weight of our sins. His sacrifice on the cross wasn't just a historic event; it was a personal act of love for each of us. This is where justice and mercy meet—where the holy requirements of a just God are fully satisfied in the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. This act of grace doesn't demand repayment or earned merit; it simply asks for acceptance. The barriers we erect—be they doubt, fear, or self-reliance—can be dissolved by the profound realization that God's love for us is both unearned and unending. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior isn't a surrender of weakness but a courageous step into true freedom and life to its fullest. So, to those who have yet to respond to this divine invitation, I urge you to consider the barriers within your heart. Reflect on the depth of God's love, demonstrated through Jesus Christ, and the transformative power of His grace. This is an invitation to a relationship, not a transaction; a journey of faith, not a destination of perfection.

Taking this step forward to receive Christ as Lord and Savior is to allow His sacrifice to become effective in your life, to be enveloped in the grace that promises not just forgiveness but transformation. It's an invitation to experience the depth of God's love, to find your place in the story of redemption that He has been writing since the dawn of time. This decision is deeply personal, yet it connects you to a community of believers spanning centuries, all of whom have made the same courageous choice to embrace the gift of God's grace. In Christ, you are offered a new beginning, a narrative marked by love, sacrifice, and the promise of eternal life. I invite you, then, to consider this step, not as the end but as the beginning of a journey with God, where His strength becomes yours, His grace your foundation, and His love the guiding light. Let the sacrifice of Jesus Christ become effective in you, transforming your life from the inside out, and leading you into the fullness of life that was always meant to be yours.

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33From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny - Page 2 Empty Chapter 19 Sun Jan 28, 2024 6:58 am



Chapter 20

Addressing Common Objections about the Shroud

The Shroud of Turin & Idolatry

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Isn’t the Shroud a violation of the commandment that forbids making a graven image?

This is one of the most common objections that some Christians have raised regarding the Shroud. The prohibition comes from one of the Ten Commandments:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exod. 20:4 KJV).

But of course, if the Shroud is authentic, then man did not make the image—God did.

Nonetheless, sincere intentions motivate this question. It is helpful to understand this commandment from the Jewish perspective. The Hebrew Scriptures sometimes articulate a style of Hebraism known as
a Hebrew doublet. It is a Hebrew manner of expression wherein a statement is made, but then immediately following that statement a subsequent restatement of the matter is provided that is designed to
provide further clarification or understanding as to the meaning of the prior statement. This is what is found with this prohibition against graven images (Exodus 20:5‐6). The subsequent restatement following this prohibition provides the Hebrew doublet which clarifies the meaning of the prior statement. Below is the subsequent Hebrew doublet statement:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD [YHVH] thy God am a jealous God . . . (Exod. 20:5‐6 KJV, emphasis added).

The passage from Exodus 20:4-5, commonly referred to as the Second Commandment, addresses the prohibition of idolatry, particularly through the creation of graven images. This commandment is clarified and contextualized by additional scriptures, which emphasize that the prohibition is specifically against creating images for the purpose of idolatrous worship.

Leviticus 26:1 (NASB) reiterates this message, warning against the creation of idols, images, sacred pillars, or figured stones for the purpose of bowing down to them. Similarly, Deuteronomy 5:8-9 (NKJV) reinforces this commandment, explicitly instructing against making and worshipping carved images of any form from the natural world.

This understanding is further supported by examples from other Hebrew Scriptures. The Temple of Solomon, a place sanctified by God's presence (1 Kings 8:10-11), was adorned with images such as twelve oxen (2 Chronicles 4:3), four hundred pomegranates (2 Chronicles 4:13), and carvings of lions and palm trees (1 Kings 7:36). These decorations demonstrate that the use of images in themselves was not prohibited, as long as they were not objects of worship.

Another significant example is found in the narrative where God commands the Israelites to make a graven image of a snake during a plague (Numbers 21:8-9). This bronze serpent, lifted upon a pole, was used as a means for the Israelites to look upon and be healed, symbolizing God's power to save. This instance shows that under certain circumstances, the creation of images was permitted, even commanded, by God, as long as it did not contradict the core principle against idolatry.

Thus, the commandment against graven images, as clarified by these doublets and examples, is specifically targeted at preventing idolatrous practices rather than a blanket ban on all forms of artistic representation.

In the Book of Numbers (21:8-9), there is an account where Moses, following God's instructions, created a bronze serpent and placed it on a pole. This was done so that any Israelite bitten by a snake could look at the bronze serpent and be healed. This instance is crucial because it demonstrates that the bronze serpent was not created for the purpose of idol worship, aligning with God's commandment against idolatry.

However, over time, some Israelites began to worship this bronze serpent as an idol. Recognizing this deviation into idolatry, King Hezekiah took action to destroy it, as recounted in 2 Kings 18:4. This action underscores the fine line between the use of symbols in religious practice and their potential to be misinterpreted or misused as objects of worship.

Centuries later, Jesus (Yeshua) referenced the bronze serpent in a positive context. In John 3:14-15 (KJV), Jesus draws a parallel between the serpent lifted by Moses in the wilderness and his own crucifixion. He highlighted that, like the serpent, which was a symbol of salvation from death for the Israelites, he must be 'lifted up' for the salvation of humankind. This interpretation by Jesus indicates that the initial purpose of the serpent image was not idolatrous but was intended as a means of deliverance.

Another example of the use of images in a non-idolatrous religious context can be found in Exodus 25:18-22. Here, God commanded the creation of two golden cherubim to be placed on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. This command was given despite the cherubim being graven images. The presence of these images in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place, and God's communication with Moses from between them, further illustrates the nuanced understanding of the commandment against idolatry. It highlights that the prohibition was specifically against the creation of images for the purpose of worshiping them as idols, rather than a blanket ban on all forms of artistic representation.

The Shroud of Turin, an artifact steeped in history and mystery, was only recently acquired by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1983, following the death of Umberto II, the last king of Italy, the Shroud was bequeathed to the Pope, bringing this renowned relic under the Church's care. It's noteworthy that the Vatican has maintained a neutral stance on the Shroud's authenticity, neither affirming nor denying its historical connection to Jesus Christ. In the context of Biblical teachings, the handling and veneration of relics like the Shroud can be compared to the treatment of graven images. While idolatrous worship of any object, including relics, is clearly prohibited, the mere act of preserving a relic is not synonymous with worship. The Bible itself records instances where God instructed the preservation of certain items, not for worship, but as testimonies and reminders of divine acts. For example, in Exodus 16:32-34, God commanded that a portion of the manna, which sustained the Israelites in the wilderness, be kept for future generations. This was to serve as a tangible reminder of God's provision during their exodus from Egypt. Similarly, in Numbers 17:10, God instructed the preservation of Aaron’s rod that budded, again not as an object of worship, but as a symbol and remembrance of divine intervention and approval.

These relics were given a place of honor and safekeeping within the most sacred site in ancient Israelite worship: the Ark of the Covenant, situated in the Holy of Holies. The Book of Hebrews (9:3-4) references these items, emphasizing their presence and significance. The golden pot containing manna and Aaron's rod are mentioned specifically as being within the Ark, underscoring their importance in the religious and cultural heritage of the Israelites.

Thus, in both historical and Biblical contexts, relics have been viewed not merely as objects of veneration but as important symbols and reminders of faith, divine action, and heritage.

The interpretation of biblical passages about idolatry, such as those found in different versions of the Bible, often centers on the context and intent behind creating images. The Contemporary English Version, Berean Study Bible, and God's Word version, for example, all highlight the prohibition of idol-making, but the emphasis is on the intent of worshiping these idols, rather than the mere act of creating images or representations.

Historically, many nations surrounding Israel were indeed idolatrous, crafting images of gods, mythical beings, and various creatures for worship. The biblical injunction was meant to set apart the people of Israel from these practices, forbidding them from creating and worshiping idols, which could include representations of anything from the heavens, earth, or waters.

However, this commandment is not generally interpreted as a blanket ban on all forms of art or representation. If it were taken to such an extreme, it would indeed prohibit all paintings, carvings, photographs, and even children's drawings of natural or historical subjects. This would conflict with the human inclination toward creativity and expression, which many view as a reflection of the divine image of humanity.

Art, in its many forms, is often seen as a sacred gift, allowing humans to create beautiful and meaningful works, from paintings and sculptures to architectural designs and everyday objects. The key distinction, as highlighted by biblical commentary and interpretations, lies in the purpose behind these creations. As noted by sources like the Jamison-Fausset-Brown commentary, the act of making an image is not inherently sinful; rather, it becomes problematic when the image is created for the purpose of idolatrous worship.

This view is supported by references in the Bible itself, such as Leviticus 26:1, which specifically links the prohibition to the intent of bowing down to or worshiping the created images. Furthermore, examples from biblical history, such as the richly decorated Solomon's Temple, which included carvings of cherubs, flowers, oxen, and lions, demonstrate that artistic representations were not universally condemned.

In conclusion, while the biblical texts caution against idolatry, this does not equate to a blanket ban on all forms of art or representation. The context, culture, and especially the intent behind creating and using images are crucial in understanding these passages. Interpreted with these factors in mind, the scriptures support the idea that art can be a valuable and meaningful part of human culture and expression, as long as it is not used as an object of idolatrous worship.

Kenneth Stevenson, the co-author of The ‘Shroud and the Controversy’, who was a member of STURP as an engineer and the founder of ‘Everlasting Covenant Ministries’, observed that: ‘in over a decade of lecturing on the Shroud, I have found no episode of image worship or idolatry. On the other hand, countless numbers have written to me to proclaim that they have come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus through the story of the Shroud.’

Idolatry, in a religious or spiritual context, refers to the worship of idols or false gods. It is the act of giving supreme reverence, love, or adoration to something or someone other than God. Idolatry can take many forms, including:

Literal Idol Worship: This involves the physical worship of idols, statues, or images as divine or as representations of gods. In many ancient cultures, and some modern ones, idols are used as a focal point for religious rituals and prayers.

Figurative or Symbolic Idolatry: This form of idolatry occurs when excessive devotion or importance is given to something other than God, which could include money, power, fame, or even a person. This concept is often used in religious teachings to caution against placing too much importance on materialistic or worldly pursuits.

Ideological Idolatry: This refers to the excessive devotion or blind adherence to an idea or ideology, elevating it to a status that overrides God in importance, and focal point of someone's life.
In Christianity, for instance, it's a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments, which instructs believers not to have any gods other than the one true God and not to make idols. 


Iconoclasm was a significant religious and political movement in the Byzantine Empire during the 8th and 9th centuries. This period was marked by two phases of iconoclastic activity: the first between about 726 and 787, and the second between 814 and 842. The reasons for, and the nature of, the controversy, as well as the eventual restoration of icons, are complex and multifaceted.

Reasons for Iconoclasm 

Religious Arguments: Some Byzantine Christians believed that the veneration of icons (paintings, mosaics, and other depictions of saints, Christ, and the Virgin Mary) was a form of idolatry, which violated the Biblical commandment against making and worshiping graven images. They argued that such practices could mislead believers into directing their worship toward the images rather than toward God.

The growth of Islam, which strictly prohibits the depiction of religious figures, may have influenced Byzantine thought. The Byzantine Empire had suffered several military defeats against Muslim forces, leading some to believe that these defeats were divine punishment for the practice of icon veneration. The Iconoclast movement also had political dimensions. Emperors who supported iconoclasm, like Leo III and Constantine V, likely saw it as a means to consolidate power and assert imperial control over the church and its practices. Additionally, iconoclasm had support among certain social groups, such as military and administrative elites. Iconoclasm sparked a significant religious and cultural controversy. Those who venerated icons, known as Iconodules, argued that icons were not objects of worship but were instead aids to worship, helping believers to honor and remember the holy figures depicted. Iconodules included prominent church figures like St. John of Damascus and St. Theodore the Studite, who provided theological defenses for the veneration of icons.

Restoration of Icons: The First Period of Iconoclasm Ended with the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Second Council of Nicaea) in 787: This council declared the veneration of icons to be orthodox Christian practice, distinguishing veneration from worship, which was due to God alone.

The End of the Second Iconoclast Period: The final restoration of icons, known as the "Triumph of Orthodoxy," took place in 843 under Empress Theodora. This followed the death of the last iconoclast emperor, Theophilus, and was partly due to the changing political and religious landscape, including the weakening of iconoclast support. The restoration of icons was also influenced by a shift in theological understanding and cultural attitudes. Over time, the arguments of the Iconodules gained more acceptance, and the veneration of icons became deeply integrated into the religious and cultural life of the Byzantine Empire. The Bible's stance on the fabrication of images, without directing devotion and worship to them, is subject to interpretation and varies among different Christian denominations and traditions. The key biblical references that inform this discussion are found primarily in the Old Testament, particularly in the Ten Commandments, and their interpretations have evolved.

Biblical References: The Second Commandment: In Exodus 20:4-5 (NIV), the Second Commandment states, "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them..." 

This commandment explicitly forbids the creation of idols and the act of worshipping them. The historical context of this commandment was the prevalence of idol worship among the nations surrounding the Israelites. The commandment primarily addressed the issue of idolatry - the worship of images as gods.
Some Christian groups, like certain Protestant denominations, interpret this commandment very strictly, understanding it to forbid the creation of any representation of God, holy figures, or any living being. This has led to iconoclastic movements throughout history, where religious images were destroyed or banned. Other Christian traditions, notably the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, interpret this commandment as prohibiting the worship of images as gods, but not the creation of images themselves. In these traditions, religious images (icons, statues, paintings) are venerated, but not worshipped, and are used as aids for devotion and teaching about the Christian faith. These traditions make a distinction between veneration (honor or respect) and worship (adoration that is due to God alone). They argue that religious images help to focus a believer's thoughts on the divine. In the New Testament, there isn't a direct prohibition against creating images, and the focus is more on the internal state of a believer's heart towards God, rather than external practices.

Was Jesus wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, or, as John reports, tied by strips of linen in company with the spices?

Question: Do the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) contradict the Gospel of John regarding the burial clothes of Jesus? Was Jesus wrapped (ἐντυλίσσω—wrap) it in a clean linen cloth, or, as John reports,     tied it (δέω—tie, bind; wrap??) by strips of linen (ὀθόνιοις—dat. of means) in company with the spices?
Answering: Barrie Schwortz (2016):  “ The Gospels  state that Jesus was tied with linen strips, yet the Shroud is a single large cloth, so it can’t be real.” That is another statement I hear frequently.  I guess most people do not realize that by the first century, even the Egyptians had stopped wrapping mummies with strips. So why are “linen strips” even mentioned in the Gospels?

One has to remember that Jesus and his disciples were Jews and his burial would be conducted according to Jewish law and tradition. The Old Testament requires Jewish men of high stature to be buried in “pure linen raiments.”  The Gospels tell us that the shroud of Jesus was provided by Joseph of Arimathea,  a wealthy man. That makes good sense since such a cloth would have been expensive by first-century standards and would most likely have been imported, quite possibly from Syria. Jewish custom requires burial in a large single sheet, as demonstrated in the accompanying  Dela Rovere painting. Once the body is wrapped in the cloth, it must be bound by linen strips to ensure the cloth does not fall off when the body is transported. That is not only consistent with a first-century Jewish burial, but also with contemporary burials, and not just by Jews but by Muslims as well. When my father died in 2003, he was given an Orthodox Jewish burial and was wrapped in a white linen shroud very similar to the Shroud of Turin. When the disciples entered the tomb on Sunday morning, only the cloth and strips remained, so they are mentioned in the Gospels.

Of course, the  Gospels also tell us there was a second cloth, folded and separate from the other. I often am told that, since the Shroud is only one cloth and two were mentioned in scripture, the Shroud must consequently be a fake. Never mind the fact that over two millennia,  it is quite possible the two clothes could get separated!

The Sudarium of Oviedo Centro Español di Sindonologia

So what is this second cloth and why was it there? Once again, Jewish law requires that anything containing the victim’s blood or bodily fluids be buried with the body. Once Jesus was taken down from the cross, his face and head were wrapped in a smaller cloth or napkin which absorbed the blood and pleural fluids from his nose and mouth.  We still follow a similar procedure today and typically cover the face of the dead immediately upon their passing. Frankly, it is the preservation of this second cloth and its presence in the tomb that convinces me this was an authentic Jewish burial. Even more amazing is that this second cloth, known as the  Sudarium, has survived to the present day and is now kept in the cathedral in Oviedo, Spain, where it has resided since the 7th century! 1

Perhaps the answer or solution to this apparent problem is that John, an eyewitness of these events, was not speaking to the same part of the burial activity as the other three writers who received their information second hand, but to a quite different aspect of the process of which he was aware and which is not that well known today. Taken literally, John appears to be saying that the body of Jesus was “tied with linen strips” (ὀθόνια) in connection with his burial. If we then use his account of the burial of Lazarus some chapters earlier to help with the interpretation of just what is meant (“the feet and hands bound with cords,” John 11:44) we would have to say this tying of Jesus also probably was applied to the hands and feet, not to the whole body. The Lazarus account goes on to say, “λύσατε—loose/untie him” (KJV); (not: “take off the grave clothes” - NIV) and let him depart.” Then the picture becomes clear and the items mentioned later in the gospels that were found by the first visitors to the grave, the linen strips and the folded cloth, can be put into better perspective. The gospels are not in conflict—no Scripture is. Rather, it is much more likely that our understanding of Jewish burial practices simply has not been that clear now after almost 2000 years. And it may have been a preconception or simple misconception on the part of both early and later translators that attempted to force from John’s words a parallel meaning to the first three gospels regarding the wrapping of Jesus, when in fact he was speaking to something quite different—a tying of the limbs to hold them in position at the time of burial due to rigor mortis rather than a separate wrapping or covering of the entire body with strips. 2

1. https://hbu.edu/news-and-events/2016/08/12/five-reasons-paganism-resurrection-jesus-christ/
2. https://biblearchaeology.org/research/the-shroud-of-turin/3199-some-ruminations-on-the-shroud-of-turin

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Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:35 pm; edited 1 time in total




Chapter 1 Intro and description of the Shroud
Chapter 2 History of the Shroud
Chapter 3 6th. to 14th. century of the Shroud
Chapter 4 Secondo Pia's 1898 discovery
Chapter 5 3d Information on the Shroud
Chapter 6 STURP and Radiocarbon dating
Chapter 7 The Shroud, a forgery?
Chapter 8 How was the image made?
Chapter 9 The Linen
Chapter 10 The Blood
Chapter 11 Pollen, Limestone, and Micro traces
Chapter 12  The Flagellation
Chapter 13 Head Wounds, and the Crown of Thorns 
Chapter 14 Golgotha - Calvary - The Crucifixion 
Chapter 15 The death
Chapter 16 The burial
Chapter 17 The Resurrection 
Chapter 18 Bought, Purchased, Randomed and Redeemed 
Chapter 19 Addressing Common Objections about the Shroud & Some Renderings & Images


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