These are my comments on the current (1 May 2011) Wikipedia article on the Pray Codex (or Pray Manuscript). Like the curate's egg, this Wikipedia article is "good in parts." That is, it contains both true and false information about the Pray Manuscript, as I will show.
See in particular points 11. and 12. below, which to my knowledge are two hitherto unrecognised features shared in common between the Pray Manuscript and the Shroud of Turin. The article's words are bold to distinguish them from mine.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Entombment of Christ (above) and Three Marys at the tomb (below). This third illuminated pen and ink drawing in the Pray Codex is reproduced in Plate III of Ilona Berkovits' book, "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," 1969. The "Entombment of Christ" upper scene is evidently that in John 19:38-42 (ESV):
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
The three persons in the upper scene therefore are from left to right: Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish ruling council (Mk 15:43; Lk 23:50), the Sanhedrin, who bought Jesus' linen burial shroud (Mt 27:59; Mk 15:46) and whose tomb it was (Mk 15:46); Nicodemus, who was also a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Jn 3:1); and presumably the Apostle John, who was an eyewitness to Jesus' crucifixion and burial (Jn 19:26-27; 32-35; 21:24).
The "Three Marys at the tomb" lower scene depicts Mark 16:1-6 (ESV):
16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
The title "Three Marys" is therefore a misnomer because the older woman on the right is not Mary the mother of Jesus, but her sister Salome, the Apostle John's mother. Ilona Berkovits in her book, "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," 1969, p.19, more correctly titles this "Visit to the Sepulchre."
"The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is medieval. ... AD 1260-1390"
But the Pray Manuscript (hereafter PM) is reliably dated between 1192-1195, having been compiled in Hungary's Boldva monastery, which was built from 1175 and destroyed in 1285. Therefore if the above image of the Entombment of Jesus on the PM includes a burial shroud that has unique features shared in common with the Shroud of Turin, which can only reasonably be explained by the artist who created those particular PM images, having copied them from the Shroud, then the Shroud must have existed long before 1260, the earliest possible date of the 1988 radiocarbon dating.
The Codex Pray, Pray Codex or The Hungarian Pray Manuscript is a collection of medieval manuscripts. In 1813 it was named after György Pray, who discovered it in 1770. That the existence or whereabouts of the PM was unknown in Hungary until it was discovered by Pray in 1770 is one of a number of defeaters of the alternative, that a 14th century forger copied features of the PM to incorporate them into his forgery of the Shroud of Turin. Pray presumably discovered the PM papers in the archives of the University of Nagy-Szombat in nearby Slovakia, where he was professor of theology from 1750 to 1777, and they were among Pray's personal collection which he donated to the University of Budapest in 1784. So it is highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that a forger in 14th century France would have even known about the PM, let alone travelled the ~2,500 kilometres (~1550 miles) round trip from France to Hungary and back to copy it, in an age when the gullible public would be satisfied by far less. See my "Or the artist of the fake shroud knew of the Pray Manuscript and incorporated these signs into his forgery?"
It is the first known example of continuous prose text in Hungarian. The Codex is kept in the National Széchényi Library of Budapest.
One of the most prominent documents within the Codex (f. 154a) is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer (Hungarian: Halotti beszéd és könyörgés). It is an old handwritten Hungarian text dating to 1192-1195. Its importance of the Funeral Sermon comes from that it is the oldest surviving Hungarian, and Uralic, text.
The Codex also features a missal, an Easter mystery play, songs with musical notation, laws from the time of Coloman of Hungary and the annals, which list the Hungarian kings.
One of the five illustrations within the Codex shows the burial of Jesus. It is sometimes claimed that the display shows remarkable similarities with the Shroud of Turin: that Jesus is shown entirely naked with the arms on the pelvis, just like in the body image of the Shroud of Turin, that the supposed fabric shows a herringbone pattern, identical to the weaving pattern of the Shroud of Turin, that the four tiny circles on the lower image, which appear to form a letter L, "perfectly reproduce four apparent "poker holes" on the Turin Shroud", which likewise appear to form a letter L.  These are the main features shared in common between the Shroud and the PM. But a more complete list includes at least twelve (12) unique features shared between the PM and the Shroud:
- Jesus is naked (uniquely in the medieval era);
- His hands are crossed over His pelvis;
- Jesus' left hand is over His right;
- there is a nail bloodstain in His right wrist (Plate IV);
- no thumbs are visible;
- Jesus' fingers are very long;
- there is a mark above Jesus' right eye corresponding to the reversed `3' bloodstain on the Shroud of Turin;
- the Shroud is more than double the body's length;
- the Shroud has a herringbone weave pattern;
- the Shroud has an L-shaped pattern of four `poker holes';
- and another pattern of five `poker holes';
- the end of the PM's shroud below Jesus' feet (upper scene) has a ragged edge which corresponds with (i.e. does not perfectly match) the Shroud of Turin's, with the latter's missing corner not yet removed.
The nail bloodstain in Jesus' right wrist on Plate IV, is exactly where it is on the Shroud (see below)! The significance of this is further
[Above (click to enlarge): Nail bloodstain in Jesus' right wrist (Berkovits, 1969, Plate IV) compared with that of the Shroud (ShroudScope).]
strengthened by the fact the Pray Manuscript artist depicted the nail wound on the left hand of plate IV (which is covered by the right hand on the Shroud) in the palm, as it was traditionally depicted by medieval artists. This is at least equal to the L-shaped `poker holes' (see below) in being proof beyond reasonable doubt that the Pray Manuscript artist worked directly from the Shroud!
Regarding points 10 and 11 above, a pattern of four L-shaped small circles on the PM matches a pattern of four `poker holes' burn marks on the Shroud of Turin; as also does a pattern of five small circles on the PM correspond with the same number of `poker holes' burn marks on the Shroud. See below. These refute the alternative that the Shroud was copied from the PM, because a forger would be most unlikely (again to put it mildly) to conclude from the patterns of small circles on the PM that he should fold his forgery in four and then thrust a hot poker four times through it! So these `poker holes' alone prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud of Turin is the original from which the 12th century PM is a copy.
[Above (click to enlarge): Illustrating points 10. and 11. above, the Shroud's L-shaped pattern of four `poker holes inverted (left); Pray Manuscript four L-shaped and five patterns of tiny circles (centre), and Shroud pattern of five `poker holes inverted (right).]
And as for point 12 above, that the end of the PM's shroud below Jesus' feet (upper scene), has a ragged edge which corresponds with the Shroud of Turin's, with the latter's missing corner not yet removed (see below). This, as far as I am aware, has not been previously stated anywhere. If this holds up it represents yet another proof beyond reasonable doubt (added to all the others!) that the PM was copied from the Shroud. And therefore the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud has be wrong!
[Above (click to enlarge): Illustrating point 12. above, the Shroud frontal feet corner (Raes' corner) with the actual corner piece missing and ragged edge (left), and the Pray Manuscript frontal feet corner with corner intact and ragged edge (right).]
The importance of these details lies in the fact that if they're interpreted correctly, Codex Pray illustration may serve as evidence for an existence of the Shroud of Turin already prior to 1260–1390 AD, the alleged fabrication date established in the radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin in 1988.Agreed! And there simply is no other reasonable way to interpret these twelve unique features shared in common between the PM (1192-95) and the Shroud, but that the PM was copied from the Shroud. In which case the Shroud had to exist before the PM. But even 1195, the latest date for the PM, is 65 years before 1260, the earliest date for the radiocarbon dating. Therefore the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" (Nature, 16 February, 1989, p.611) has to be wrong!
On the other hand, there are significant differences between the Pray Codex and the Shroud of Turin. This is simply false. There are no significant differences between the PM and the Shroud. In the latter, the image has a beard and moustache, while in the former, the image has neither. This is only half-true. As can be seen below, the PM's Jesus has a beard (albeit not a heavy one), but He does not have a moustache: the dark line below His nose is apparently His upper lip, as the women also have a similar line. And as can also be seen below, the Man on the Shroud has only a faint beard and moustache. But this is hardly a "significant difference"! Indeed this faint `negative' image is what the PM's artist would have seen, only fainter because photography tends to enhance the Shroud's image. So far from it being a problem, the lightness of the PM's beard and no moustache is actually more evidence that the PM was copied directly from the Shroud!
[Above: The Shroud Man's face (left) compared with that of the PM. The PM's artist did give his Jesus a light beard, but no moustache. Note the faintly tinged red mark on the PM's right forehead, exactly where the `reversed 3' bloodstain is on the Shroud and, like it, slightly angled in a `northeast-southwest' direction! This actually is a Vignon Marking, the only one found on the PM, which is evidence that the Shroud was not copied from the PM. There also appear to be crown of thorns bloodstains in the PM Jesus' hair, corresponding with some on the Shroud. It is these positive unique similarities between the PM and the Shroud which are of far greater significance than negative minor differences like the PM having no moustache, which can readily be accounted for by cultural filters, artistic license or human error.]
Also, in the Shroud of Turin image, the right palm is over the base of the left hand, while in the Pray codex, the arms intersect above the wrists. This is an example of "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" (Mt 23:24). Ignoring all the major similarities between the PM and the Shroud (e.g. Jesus is nude in both; He has his hands crossed over His pelvic area in both; His left hand is over His right in both, etc), this anonymous Wikipedia critic focuses on a minor difference, the arms are crossed over in the PM, but only the hands are crossed over on the Shroud! However, it should be remembered that the PM is a work of Christian art, not a photograph, and the artist will have inevitably depicted how he saw the Shroud, through his prevailing cultural and religious filters. One might as well object that Jesus in the PM has a halo, but the Man on the Shroud doesn't have one!
Additionally, the shroud of turin is some 14 feet long, significantly larger than the small shroud depicted in codex. This anonymous Wikipedia contributor's prejudice against the Shroud is evident by him refusing to use good English in capitalising the proper noun, "Shroud of Turin." And also it is wrong, as can be seen in my green outline below of the Shroud in the upper Enthronement scene.
[Above: The Shroud outlined in green in the upper Entombment scene in Berkovits Plate III. As can be seen, it is long, about 3.0 times Jesus' body, compared to the Shroud of Turin's about 2.4 times the length of Jesus' body (see below).]
Jesus is about to be laid, not on the Shroud but on an item of clothing, consisting of two parts, joined in the middle, with a gap for the wearer's head. This item of clothing is wider than the narrow Shroud and its upper edge is obscured by Jesus' body. The Shroud itself begins under Jesus' head, on the same level as the foot end. The Shroud then goes around the back of Joseph of Arimathea's neck, and is being held in his left hand. It then goes behind Jesus and Nicodemus and emerges leading to John's left hand, where it goes under the descending shroud, up over John's left shoulder, around the back of his neck, where John may be holding it with his right hand against his cheek. The Shroud then comes around the back of John's neck again, down over itself and under John's left arm, under Jesus' feet and down to finish with a ragged end below Jesus' feet on the same level it started. I acknowledge with thanks to commenter The Deuce who pointed this out to me (although he does not agree with every detail of my subsequent interpretation).
I measured the length of the PM's Shroud along this circuitous route, on Berkovits' Plate III (upper), using a piece of plastic coated flexible thin wire, and its length was about 410 mm. The length of Jesus in that same scene is about 135 mm, which makes this depiction of the Shroud about 410/135 = about 3.0 times Jesus' body. So Wikipedia's "small shroud" criticism is clearly wrong. If Jesus' body length on the Shroud of Turin is about 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and the Shroud's length is 437 cm (14 feet 4 inches), then the Shroud is 437/180 = about 2.4 times the length of Jesus' body. So it is evident that the PM's artist used "artistic license" to make the Shroud go around Joseph, Nicodemus and John, so as to depict them each being involved in Jesus' burial. That this made his depiction of the Shroud longer than the actual Shroud he was copying, might be the reason why the artist added another piece of cloth under Jesus to shorten his too-long Shroud? This is supported by the Shroud in the lower scene on Plate III, being 275 mm. Using the same 135 mm length of Jesus' body, that makes the lower scene Shroud 275/135 = 2.0 times Jesus' body, which is closer to the actual 2.4 ratio. So again Wikipedia's "small shroud" criticism is simply wrong!
These discrepancies call into question the assertion that the Pray Codex is an illustration of the Shroud of Turin.  As can be seen above, these claimed "discrepancies" between the Shroud of Turin and the Pray Codex are comparatively minor, and readily explained as "artistic license" (and even human error) in what is after all, a work of 12th century Hungarian Christian art, not a photograph. That leaves the overwhelming weight of the at least twelve major similarities between the PM and the Shroud, which prove beyond reasonable doubt that the PM's "The Entombment" and "Visit to the Sepulchre" (Berkovits, Plate III), as well as "The Deposition" (Plate II) and "Christ Enthroned" (Plate IV) were copied from the Shroud, before 1192-95, probably before the Shroud disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204.
Italian Shroud researcher Gian Marco Rinaldi interprets the item that is sometimes identified as the Shroud as a probable rectangular tombstone as seen on other sacred images. Presumably this is referring to the lower, "Visit to the Sepulchre" scene. Why would there be a "tombstone" in a cave tomb? And why would the "tombstone" `just happen' to have herringbone weave as the Shroud has? And why would the "tombstone" have an L-shaped pattern of 4 tiny circles as well as a pattern of five tiny circles, corresponding to the `poker holes' on the Shroud? There is definitely a shroud in the upper, "Entombment" scene. So where is it in the lower scene, if the "tombstone" is not the Shroud? And where is the "tombstone" in the upper scene? Clearly the "tombstone" in the lower scene is the same Shroud as in the upper scene.
The alleged holes may just be decorative elements, as seen, for example, on the angel's wing. That there are circular "decorative elements" in the angel's wings and in Mary the mother of James' dress, is irrelevant. They are not on the depicted Shroud, nor are any of them in a distinctive four L-shaped pattern, matching those on the Shroud of Turin. Also, if they were merely "decorative elements" on the PM's depicted Shroud, why are there only one set of four L-shaped and one set of five on it? Instead the artist has repeated what definitely is a decorative element: the Shroud's herringbone weave on the lower part of the Shroud he has depicted as red crosses. If the group of five tiny circles were "decorative elements" the artist would have repeated them in between the red crosses throughout the lower part of his depicted Shroud. The PM's L-shaped pattern of four tiny circles, plus a pattern of five tiny circles, is together with the other ten (10) unique similarities between the Shroud and the PM, proof beyond reasonable doubt that the PM was based on the Shroud.
Moreover, the alleged shroud in the Pray codex does not contain any image. As pointed out at the beginning, in the lower "Visit to the Sepulchre" scene the artist is depicting Mark 16:1-6 where the angel is telling the three women who had come to finish the anointing of Jesus body, that He had risen and was not there, pointing to the place where He had been laid. The angel does not say anything about Jesus' burial clothes, let alone point them to His image on the Shroud. Therefore the artist does not depict Jesus' image on the Shroud. But indirectly he does depict it by the head in profile behind Mary Magdalene's right hand, which can only be Jesus'.
1 Daniel C. Scavone. "Book Review of `The Turin Shroud: In Whose Image?'". Shroud.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05.
2 E. Poulle, "Les sources de l'histoire du linceul de Turin, Revue Critique", Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, 104, 3-4, 2009, pp. 772-773.
3 G.M.Rinaldi, "Il Codice Pray", http://sindone.weebly.com/pray.html
This page was last modified on 1 May 2011 at 13:06.
Again that the Pray Manuscript has these at least twelve unique features which are also on the Shroud of Turin, proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Pray Manuscript was copied from the Shroud of Turin. Also, that the Pray Manuscript is reliably dated between 1192-95, is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud of Turin existed before 1192-95, probably long before it. And therefore that the 1998 "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" radiocarbon date of the Shroud, has to be wrong!
Which also means that Bishop d'Arcis 1389 "cunningly painted" memorandum is wrong, except that it confirms the Shroud did appear in Lirey, France about 1355. And also, the further back in time the Shroud is pushed back, the more and more implausible do all forgery theories become, because of the lack of required artistic ability even in the 14th century, let alone at least two centuries before that.
Wikipedia's "Pray Codex" article illustrates the strength and weakness of its open editing policy. It seems that anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, even if they know little or nothing about the topic. I will attempt to edit the Wikipedia "Pray Codex" article, and then I will immediately post here on my blog that proposed revision. This will be in case my revision is not approved, or if it is, in case it is later changed, to again "muddy the waters" with false and/or irrelevant claims about the Pray Manuscript's relationship to the Shroud of Turin.
I may also write an article for the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, on the Pray Manuscript, which I can then uses as a reference in my subsequent update of Wikipedia's "Pray Codex" article.
Posted: 27 May 2012. Updated: 17 May 2016.