Sunday, May 27, 2012

My critique of "The Pray Codex," Wikipedia, 1 May 2011

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.


Pray Codex
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 images serve as one of the evidences against the radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin. They do indeed! The 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin claimed:

"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. [1] 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:

  1. Jesus is naked (uniquely in the medieval era);
  2. His hands are crossed over His pelvis;
  3. Jesus' left hand is over His right;
  4. there is a nail bloodstain in His right wrist (Plate IV);
  5. no thumbs are visible;
  6. Jesus' fingers are very long;
  7. there is a mark above Jesus' right eye corresponding to the reversed `3' bloodstain on the Shroud of Turin;
  8. the Shroud is more than double the body's length;
  9. the Shroud has a herringbone weave pattern;
  10. the Shroud has an L-shaped pattern of four `poker holes';
  11. and another pattern of five `poker holes';
  12. 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.[2]

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 highlighting below of the Shroud in the upper Enthronement scene.

[Above: The Shroud highlighted 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. [citation needed] 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.[3] 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'.

References

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 use as a reference in my subsequent update of Wikipedia's "Pray Codex" article.

Posted: 27 May 2012. Updated: 17 December 2017.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

`Or the artist of the fake shroud knew of the Pray Manuscript and incorporated these signs into his forgery?'

Anonymous

A belated thank you for your comment in October 2011 on my post "The Pray Manuscript." At the time I briefly responded that I would

[Above (click image to enlarge): "The Entombment" (upper) and "Visit to the Sepulchre" (lower), Hungarian Pray Manuscript or Pray Codex (1192-1195): Berkovits, I., 1969 , "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," Horn, Z., transl., West, A., rev., Irish University Press: Shannon, Ireland, pl. III]

reply in a separate blog post, but it was only when I replied to a recent comment under that same post that I realised I had not replied to your comment as promised. My apologies. Your words are >bold to distinguish them from mine.

>>"Also, since Pray Manuscript proves that the Shroud of Turin was already in existence before 1195"

>Oh my, oh my... Your attempt to give the impression of your superior knowledge in this matter is noted.

>Or, perhaps, it proves that the artist of the fake shroud knew of the Hungarian prayer manuscript, and incorporated these tell-tale signs into his forgery...? But your "prayer manuscript" reveals that you don't even know the name of what you are commenting on! It is the "Pray Manuscript" (or "Codex") which was named after a Hungarian historian György Pray who discovered it in 1770:
"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. It is the first known example of continuous prose text in Hungarian. The Codex is kept in the National Széchényi Library of Budapest." ("Pray Codex," Wikipedia, 1 May 2011)

And thanks for your tacit admission that the Pray Manuscript and Shroud of Turin share a number of common features that can only be reasonably explained by either the Shroud having being copied from the Pray Manuscript or the Pray Manuscript having been copied from the Shroud. If the latter, because the Pray Manuscript has a confirmed existence since at least 1192-95, the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to AD 1260-1390 has to be wrong.

Those features shared in common between the Shroud and the Pray Manuscript include: 1. Jesus is naked (uniquely in the medieval era); 2. His hands are crossed; 3. right over left; 4. nail mark(s) at the base of the hand (Plate IV); 5. no thumbs are visible; 6. long fingers; 7. double-length shroud; 8. herringbone pattern of shroud; 9. an L-shaped pattern of `poker' holes in the shroud; and 10. a mark above the right eye corresponding to reversed `3' bloodstain on the Shroud.

For the Pray Manuscript having been copied from the Shroud:

  • Artistic evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud has been in existence since at least the 6th century (see my ongoing series on the Vignon markings). That's six centuries before the Pray Manuscript!

  • The `poker holes' are real burn holes on the Shroud, but only ink painted circles on the Pray Manuscript. A forger would be most unlikely (putting it mildly) to thrust a hot poker through four thicknesses of his Shroud forgery, four times, to make four sets of vertically matching four poker-holes in it, based on the ink painted circles on the Pray Manuscript.

  • There are bloodstains which are real blood on the Shroud, but there are no bloodstains on the body of Jesus in the Pray Manuscript's Entombment scene (upper Plate III above). The lack of bloodstains on the Pray Manuscript (there are only three red ink bloodstains on Plate IV and none on Plate II which depicts Jesus being taken down from the Cross) is readily explained by Byzantine and medieval artists being reluctant to show bloodstains on their copies of the Shroud, since they were seeking to depict the resurrected, living Christ. But if the Shroud was copied from the Pray Manuscript, a separate explanation is then required for the bloodstains on the Shroud (which have an anatomically accuracy unknown until Harvey discovered the arterial and venous circulation of human blood in the 17th century).

Against the Shroud having been copied from the Pray Manuscript:

  • That would require a separate explanation for the origin of the Pray Manuscript, with its unique features:
    "Perhaps most compelling of all is a drawing on a page of the Hungarian Pray manuscript preserved in the National Szechenyi Library, Budapest ... [Berkovits, I., "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," 1969, pl.III] Not only do we yet again see the awkward arm crossing, this time, most unusually, Jesus is represented as totally nude, exactly as on the Shroud. Again exactly as in the case of the Shroud, all four fingers on each of Jesus's hands can be seen, but no thumbs. Just over Jesus's right eye there is a single forehead bloodstain. Delineated in red, this is located in exactly the same position as that very distinctive reverse '3'-shaped stain on Jesus's forehead on the Shroud that we noted earlier. Exactly as in the case of the Shroud, the cloth in which Jesus is being wrapped is of double body length type, the second half, as known from other versions of the same scene, extending over Joseph of Arimathea's shoulder. If all this is not enough, the cover of what appears to be the tomb is decorated with a herringbone pattern in which can be seen four holes in an identical arrangement to the so-called 'poker-holes' on the Shroud that we have suggested were sustained during Caliph Mu'awiyah's 'trial by fire' experiment back around 680." (Wilson, I., "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," 2010, pp.183-184).
  • It would be blasphemy, a capital crime in the Middle Ages, for an artist on his own initiative to depict Christ naked, unless He already was naked on the Shroud, which was regarded as acheiropoietos (Greek for "not made with hands").

  • It would require the forger in 14th century France to know about the Pray Manuscript, when it was only discovered in 18th century Hungary by Hungarian historian György Pray.

  • Why would the forger go to so much trouble, to travel from France to Hungary, to copy details from the Pray Manuscript for his Shroud forgery, and return (a round trip of about 2,500 kilometres or 1550 miles), when the gullible public in the 14th century would be satisfied with far less?:
    "Also is it not rather incredible that this unknown individual should have gone to so much trouble and effort to deceive in an age in which, as twentieth-century journalists have reminded us, a large proportion of the populace would have been very easily duped by a feather of the Archangel Gabriel or a phial of the last breath of St Joseph?" (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, pp.59-60).
  • There is only one Vignon Marking on the Pray Manuscript: the `reversed 3' bloodstain on the Shroud image's right forehead, represented as a mark. That is readily explained by the ink painter of the Pray Manuscript working from the Shroud, but choosing to only depict that one Vignon Marking. But if the Shroud was copied from the Pray Manuscript, that would require a separate explanation for the other fourteen Vignon Markings on the Shroud.

  • There is no comprehensive and coherent explanation of how the Shroud was copied from the Pray Manuscript, as part of a comprehensive and coherent explanation of the Shroud itself. Anyone who attempted it would find (or had already found and abandoned it) that it would break down at many points, including those above.

>Oh wait, that makes much more sense... It only `makes sense' to one whose mind has been taken captive by the philosophy (Colossians 2:8) of Naturalism: that nature is all there is-there is no supernatural. But as can be seen above, that the Shroud was copied from the Pray Manuscript makes no sense.

>Lol! As can be seen above, the laugh is actually on you and your Shroud anti-authenticity ilk. The Pray Manuscript is just another piece of the overwhelming evidence that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ, bearing the image of His crucified and resurrected body!:
"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," 1978, p.210).

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You state that `there is no paint, dye or pigment on the Shroud that forms its image' but it is claimed that `the Shroud contains red ochre and other paint pigments'

Gio

Thanks for you comment on my post "De Wesselow fails to answer the reasons why rational people accept the Shroud is a fake."As I briefly

[Right: Shroud skeptic Joe Nickell, whose "Ph.D. is in English for graduate work focusing on literary investigation and folklore" posing as a white-coated scientist!: Source: joenickell.com. Presumably that is yet another of the "over 200 `personas'" of Joe Nickell, which include "stage magician, carnival pitchman, private detective, blackjack dealer, riverboat manager, university instructor, author, and paranormal investigator" ("Joe Nickell," Wikipedia, 6 May 2012).]

commented in reply, "I will answer it in a separate [this] blog post." Your words are >bold to distinguish them from mine.

>You state here that "there is no paint, dye or pigment on it [the Shroud] that forms its image".

Yes, "that forms its image".

>But here: http://www.skepticblog.org/2011/12/23/shroud-of-turin-redux/ it is claimed that "the Shroud contains red ochre and other paint pigments".

Yes, but they do not form the Shroud's image. They are just random tiny flecks of paint and pigment, which were probably caused by artists' copies of the Shroud being pressed against it to `sanctify' them:

"One of the greatest mysteries about the Shroud is how the image was formed - and this mystery has not been solved. We know how it was not formed. It was definitely not painted, as there are absolutely no traces of any kind of paint, (except for tiny particles left by painted copies when they were pressed to the Shroud in order to `sanctify' the copy) and there is no direction in the outline, which is impossible on a painting." (Guscin, M., "The Oviedo Cloth," 1998, p.33)

"However, the S.T.U.R.P. scientists who examined the cloth directly reported that, while there were some isolated flecks on parts of the cloth, these flecks had nothing to do with the formation of the images. It was pointed out that often in the long history of the Shroud other paintings would be laid over the Shroud to somehow sanctify such paintings and that this process left an occasional microscopic trace of paint or pigment on the cloth." (Iannone, J.C., "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin," 1998, pp.179-180. Emphasis original).

Even Shroud anti-authenticists Picknett & Prince concede that it is "negative" that there are "artificial pigments-inks or dyes-on the image," apart from "microscopic traces of pigment on the Shroud" due to it having "been in contact with painted copies, which were often held against it to `sanctify' them":

"Most of the experiments conducted by the STURP team were designed to detect artificial pigments-inks or dyes-on the image. The results were negative, except in the view of one member of the team, Dr. Walter McCrone. He received a good deal of publicity in the months after the testing by claiming not only that he had found and identified the paint that made up the image, but also that he had worked out the actual method used by the forger. (The qualification `that made up the image' is important: there is no dispute that there are microscopic traces of pigment on the Shroud. It is known to have been in contact with painted copies, which were often held against it to `sanctify' them.)" (Picknett, L. & Prince, C., "The Turin Shroud: How Da Vinci Fooled History," 2007, p.72).

>Is this claim false, or is the author (citing Nickell) aware of something I'm not?

If the claim is "the Shroud contains red ochre and other paint pigments" it is true. But if the claim is that that that "red ochre and other paint pigments" formed the Shroud image, it is false.

You are no doubt referring to the following claims about the Shroud in the blog post, "Shroud of Turin Redux," by Daniel Loxton, Skepticblog, December 23, 2011 (Loxton's words are bold to distinguish them from mine):

The bottom line on the Shroud remains the same: the Shroud continues to fail several key practical tests, as discussed by skeptical investigator Joe Nickell in his classic work on the subject, Looking for a Miracle:

• Provenance: there is no sign that this object existed before the 14th century;

Nickell in the reference Loxton cited states:

"In fact, the shroud's provenance (or historical record) tells against it. The New Testament makes no mention of Jesus's shroud being preserved. (Indeed, John's gospel describes multiple cloths, including a `napkin' over the face-a description that is incompatible with the shroud.) In fact, there is no mention of this particular `shroud' for some thirteen centuries ...'" (Nickell, J., "Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures," Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, 1993, p.25).

Nickell's claim that "The New Testament makes no mention of Jesus's shroud being preserved" is an example of the "Argument from Silence fallacy." As I pointed out in my two-part post, "Re: John Calvin on the Shroud," the disciples had a very good reason not to mention that they had Jesus shroud with His image imprinted on it: their much more numerous and powerful enemies, the Romans and Jews would demand they hand it over to them, and torture them to death if they refused. But what is significant is that the New Testament goes out of its way to mention in all four gospels, that Jesus was buried in a "linen" shroud (Mt 27:59; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:40)!

Equally fallacious is Nickell's non sequitur claim that because "John's gospel describes multiple cloths, including a `napkin' over the face," therefore one of those multiple cloths could not be the Shroud! The "`napkin' over the face", i.e. "the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself" (Jn 20:7 KJV) corresponds to the Sudarium of Oviedo the bloodstains of which perfectly match those on the head of the Shroud image.

As for Loxton's claim that "there is no sign that this object existed before the 14th century," this is false. There is a chain of historical references to what can only be the Shroud, dating back to at least the sixth century, but there is no space to mention them here. But what I will mention is the overwhelming "beyond reasonable doubt" artistic evidence that the Shroud existed from the 6th to the 12th century. See my ongoing series of posts on the Vignon markings beginning with, "Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date for the Shroud has to be wrong!: #2 The Vignon markings (1)."

• Art history: the Shroud fits into art history as part of a genre of artistic depictions and recreations of burial cloths of Christ;

This is based on a claim by Nickell:

"It is most suspicious that the shroud should turn up after thirteen centuries with its portrait looking just like more contemporary artistic representations of Jesus. Moreover, the shroud seems the culmination of a lengthy tradition of `not-made-with-hands' portraits ... Thus, from an iconographic point of view, these various traditions coalesce in the Shroud of Turin and suggest it is the work of an artist of the thirteenth century or later." (Nickell, 1993, pp.24-25).

But as the agnostic art historian Thomas De Wesselow admitted of the Shroud, "It's nothing like any other medieval work of art":

"That controversy still rages, but de Wesselow is convinced of the shroud's authenticity from an art history approach. `It's nothing like any other medieval work of art,' de Wesselow said. `There's just nothing like it.' Among the anachronisms, de Wesselow said, is the realistic nature of the body outline. No one was painting that realistically in the 14th century, he said. Similarly, the body image is in negative (light areas are dark and vice versa), a style not seen until the advent of photography centuries later, he said. `From an art historian's point of view, it's completely inexplicable as a work of art of this period,' de Wesselow said.' (Pappas, S., "Did Shroud of Turin Inspire Spread of Christianity?" LiveScience, 5 April 2012).

• Style: the image upon the shroud looks like a manufactured illustration consistent with 14th century religious iconography, not like a real human being;

This is another fallacious claim, that "14th century religious iconography" and depictions of "a real human being" are mutually exclusive. As for the claim that the Shroud image is representative of "14th century religious iconography," being false, see above. Also false is the claim that the Shroud image is "not like a real human being." Suffice it to say that some of the greatest supporters of the Shroud's authenticity are an anatomist (Delage-an agnostic French Professor of anatomy), surgeons (Barbet) and medical doctors (Willis, Lavoie), including medical examiners (Bucklin, Zugibe) whose specialty is dead "real human beings"!

• Circumstance: a 14th century Catholic bishop determined that the Shroud was a "cunningly painted" fraud—and discovered the artist who confessed to creating it;

This refers to the 1389 draft memorandum by the Bishop of Troyes, Pierre d'Arcis, to the Pope claiming that one of his predecessors, Bishop Henri of Poitiers, "thirty-four years or thereabouts" (i.e. about 1355) had, "... discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it ..." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," 1978, pp.67-68). But problems with this include:

1) It is mere hearsay. That d'Arcis had no documented evidence of his claim is indicated by his vague "or thereabouts" and that he does not cite the name of the artist, which would have been well-known if he actually existed only 34 years before and could even have still been alive.

2) The Shroud image is not painted: there is no paint, dye or pigment on it that forms its image (see above). D'Arcis may have been confusing the Shroud with a painted copy of it.

3) There is no other evidence that Bishop Henri of Poitiers had any problem with the Shroud being exhibited at Lirey church in the 1350s.

4) D'Arcis' memo is merely an unsigned, undated and unaddressed draft. No original of it has ever been found in either the Troyes diocesan archives or the Vatican's, so presumably it was never sent.

5) The Pope in his reply to d'Arcis (confirming that d'Arcis did make some form of protest to the Pope about the Shroud being again exhibited at Lirey church), actually sided with the de Charnys, who owned and exhibited the Shroud, and ordered Bishop d'Arcis to be "perpetually silent" on the matter. There is evidence that the Pope had inside information that the Shroud was genuine, which would explain why he took the side of the impoverished de Charnys over that of a Bishop.

In fact, though he cites Bishop d'Arcis' claim that the Shroud was "cunningly painted," Nickell himself does not believe the Shroud image was painted. That is because in the same chapter of the same book, Nickell espouses his own "alternative to the painting hypothesis" that the Shroud was forged by "rubbing on powdered pigment" onto a linen cloth over a "a bas-relief":

"As an alternative to the painting hypothesis, some two years before McCrone published his findings, I reported the results of my own successful experiments in creating shroudlike `negative' images. The technique involved wet-molding cloth to a bas-relief (used instead of a fully three-dimensional statue to minimize distortion), allowing it to dry, then rubbing on powdered pigment using a dauber-much as one would make a rubbing from a gravestone. This technique automatically yields `negative' images (or rather, just like the shroud, quasi-negative images, since the hair and beard are the opposite of what would be expected). It also produces numerous other shroudlike features, including minimal depth of penetration into the threads, encoded `3-D' information, and other similarities, some of which specifically pointed to some form of imprinting technique." (Nickell, 1993, pp.27-28).

But Nickell cannot have it both ways. If Bishop d'Arcis was right that the Shroud was "painted" then Nickell's "alternative to the painting hypothesis" is wrong, and vice-versa. It is testimony to the self-deception of the so-called Shroud `skeptics' (i.e. true believers in the Shroud's in-authenticity) that they do not seem to notice this glaring contradiction.

• Chemistry: the Shroud contains red ochre and other paint pigments;

Yes, but they do not form the Shroud's image-see above.

>Most of the rest of the article you or somebody you cite have destroyed before it was written, but that really struck me.

I hope this has helped "destroy" it further!

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Combined Review of: “The Sign” by Thomas de Wesselow and “Resurrected or Revived?” by Helmut Felzmann

Below is a combined book review of two recent books on the Shroud, by Mark Antonacci (of "Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation") and Patrick Byrne, a Shroud colleague of his. Mark emailed the review to me as a Word document attachment, asking me to post it on my blog, which I have now done, after converting it to HTML. I later discovered the review is available in PDF format on the Holy Shroud Guild website. The review includes a compelling refutation of the late Ray Rogers' Maillard reaction image formation theory.


Combined Review of: “The Sign” by Thomas de Wesselow and “Resurrected or Revived?” by Helmut Felzmann

Historical and Religious Aspects

Now that the Easter season has come and gone, the inevitable Resurrection naysayer publications have hit the bookstore shelves and online websites.

Most notably, this year we have The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection by Thomas de Wesselow and Resurrected or Revived? by Helmut Felzmann (2012).

[Right: "Resurrected or Revived - Why the Turin Shroud puts the Core of Pauline Christianity in Question," by Helmut Felzmann: Amazon.com (Kindle Edition).]

De Wesselow, an art historian, researched the Shroud for seven years to tell the reader that the image was caused by some natural process that he or no one else can adequately explain. This image then became the origin for the greatest misunderstanding in the history of mankind. The monumental confusion stems from the theory postulated by de Wesselow that the image on the Shroud is what the first disciples saw, not a physically resurrected Jesus.

According to de Wesselow, the Shroud was retrieved from the body of a dead Christ. Later, Jesus was re-wrapped in new burial garments and his body left to decompose in keeping with traditional Jewish burial customs. The bones then would have been placed in an ossuary and lost to history with the passage of time.

To the first Christians, the Shroud became the “risen Christ” according to de Wesselow. De Wesselow explains this by introducing “animism” (the attribution of life to inanimate things) and “anthropomorphism” (to credit with human-like thoughts and emotions) to his conjecture. These two concepts, coupled with the superstitions of an unsophisticated people, leave “no reason to doubt” that the Shroud figure would have been viewed “as a living presence” in the first century.

So the reader must now accept that Paul’s dramatic conversion was due to viewing the Shroud; and the 500 in Corinthians described by Paul as having seen the risen Christ was nothing but the display of a cloth. Further straining credulity, is de Wesselow’s notion that the apostles, by viewing a cloth, could have launched the teachings of Christianity in the face of extreme hardship and the most horrific deaths.

However, most implausible may be de Wesselow’s belief that thousands of Jews steeped in centuries of Jewish tradition, who took no notice of Christ’s teachings during his lifetime, now cast all that aside post Crucifixion merely by viewing an image on a cloth.

De Wesselow explains the Shroud’s disappearance in Edessa in modern day Turkey as the final step in creating the great misunderstanding. With the cloth gone from sight and the passage of time, the Shroud displays following the Crucifixion morph into a body and blood resurrection. According to de Wesselow, this myth becomes the prevailing basis for today’s Christianity.

Felzmann takes another approach and proposes that Christ survived His Crucifixion; then almost immediately set out visiting the apostles and wanting to preach again in public. All of this supposedly occurs with the aid and protection of the Essenes, a controversial group of holy men and women of which little is reliably known.

First, however it is necessary for Felzmann to prove that Christ survived the Crucifixion. He supports this theory by referring to the work of the late Prof. Wolfgang Bonte, a credentialed forensic scientist. Bonte proposed that the blood stain patterns on the Shroud and other indicators show that Christ was alive when wrapped in his burial garments. It should be noted that this conclusion is shared by only a few in the field and is contrary to all mainstream research conducted by numerous eminently qualified forensic scientists.

Felzmann asserts that Christ was alive when taken from the cross, which enhanced the possibility for natural body encoding to occur (similar to de Wesselow’s natural process causing the image) and create the unique image on the Shroud. Here Felzmann introduces an unproven methodology described as the reaction of a warm body (necessarily alive) and body enzymes acting on cloth to produce an image.

Felzmann speculates that a living Christ is rescued from the tomb by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea because both men are Essenes and essential to this grand hoax. The Essene writings on which Felzmann relies describe a post Crucifixion Christ in a weakened state, desperately wanting to be with his disciples while being hotly pursued by Caiaphas (a Jewish high priest) and his underlings.

After several meetings with his followers, including the well-known “doubting Thomas” encounter, Christ retreats to safety at an Essene community near the Dead Sea and dies only days later. These accounts by Felzmann’s admission are in “reasonable doubt.” Most scholars disregard these texts finding it totally implausible that Jesus, ravaged by crucifixion and succumbing to death from those wounds, could have possibly inspired the apostles to go forth and spread the message of Christianity.

Felzmann also takes us through the flawed process of the Shroud carbon 14 dating. His work is thorough and uncovers many of the shortcomings surrounding the 1988 attempt by three prestigious labs to accurately date the age of the Shroud.

Unfortunately, much of this fine work is overshadowed by rather blatantly accusing the Church of perpetrating a fraud. This fraud or conspiracy surrounds the 1988 Shroud test samples being “replaced by bogus ones.” Felzmann further asserts, “the motives of the Church are to devalue the Shroud and to make it seem unauthentic,” presumably to discourage further research that would verify his theory that Christ was alive post Crucifixion. Consequently, “the magical salvation and resurrection story is thrown into the theological trash heap of history.”

After mind numbing research, both authors apparently arrive at Christ’s tomb with no clear explanations for the Easter mystery. At this point, as all confirmed nonbelievers must do, they develop a theory - no matter how dubious - that allows them to continue with their preconceived notions. They each took a different approach using the Shroud as their path to a “reasoned” answer to the Resurrection miracle. Both authors should take note of a comment from the common sense mind of G. K. Chesterton, “reason is fine until it becomes unreasonable.”

Since most of the evidence derived from the Shroud is scientific, a focus on the authors’ scientific bases is essential in understanding their overall positions.

Scientific and Contemporary Aspects

Both Felzmann and de Wesselow rely prominently on the scientific research of Raymond Rogers in formulating their respective views that either the live or decomposing body of Jesus naturally caused his images on the Shroud. Both also rely on Rogers’ scientific research to suggest that either a foreign repair piece was unwittingly carbon dated in 1988 or that foreign samples were intentionally switched with the Shroud samples by the Church and their supporters. For this reason, it is important to review some of the underlying scientific methods and findings relied upon by the authors.

According to Felzmann, Rogers claims that during the Shroud’s production its spun fibers were individually moistened with a paste of crude starch as other ancient linen supposedly received. The complete or woven Shroud was then washed in saponaria officinalis or soapwort, a soap-like solution, and then laid out to dry. De Wesselow explains that when the water thus evaporated a thin layer of carbohydrates containing starch or sugar then resulted throughout the surface of the entire Shroud. Rogers claims as Jesus’ corpse decomposed and putrefied that it gave off amines or amino acids in a gas diffusion that would have reacted with a reducing sugar as a form of non-enzymatic browning or carmelization that resulted in the unique body images on the Shroud of Turin. While such a series of events has never occurred in history, there are a number of reasons why they could not have occurred with the Shroud.

There is no evidence on the Shroud’s body images of a decomposing body, yet by definition the body in this image forming hypothesis would have been decomposing. Furthermore, there is no evidence or any decomposition stains at any location on the Shroud, nor is there any evidence of sugar on the Shroud or the distribution of starch as hypothesized by Rogers. At orifices like the mouth, the stains would be the most visible by this method; but some of the best resolution is actually found at this location on the Shroud image. The corpse’s temperatures would also vary from its dorsal to its frontal side and its extremities, yet no such correlations are found on the Shroud’s body images. The chemical reaction within the Maillard reaction will not even occur unless the corpse’s temperature is 104°F (40°C) or more. Since the dead body in the Shroud first went into rigor mortis while it was in the vertical crucifixion position, it is extremely unlikely any part of this coldblooded corpse would have been at such a high temperature when it was subsequently buried in a cool tomb, as in the case of Jesus.

Even assuming every undocumented reaction of this hypothesis, it would not produce uniform coloring on all the individually colored image fibers found throughout the length and width of the full-length frontal and dorsal body images. This necessarily means it could not encode the three-dimensional and vertically directional information also found throughout the full-length Shroud body image. Nor would this method produce negative images that contain highly-resolved, detailed images of a man when they are photographed. The Shroud’s body image fibers are also uniformly encoded 360° around each individual fiber. This method cannot encode individual fibers in such a manner. The same shortcomings in this paragraph, as well as others, apply to Felzmann’s live body method.

The lack of scientific understanding and rigor on the part of both authors is very apparent. They only focus on a few of the Shroud’s many features when discussing their naturalistic methods, while failing to notice the multitude of body image and blood mark features their methods fail to encode. The authors also ignore many other image forming methods that account for or duplicate far more of the Shroud’s features than their methods. They fail to recognize that all sorts of diffusion, vapograph, direct contact and various combinations of these and other naturalistic methods have been tested over the course of a hundred years, but all have noticeably failed. Millions of people have also died and been covered with burial shrouds, sheets, blankets, jackets etc. over their bodies. None have left images that approach the unique and unfakable human body images and blood marks found on the Shroud. Many millions more have been similarly covered under many circumstances while alive without leaving body images or blood stains approaching those of the Shroud. Yet, despite the repeated failures of all naturalistic methods by experiments and by natural design, both authors confidentially assert that their naturalistic methods would work.

Both authors also emphasize Rogers’ claim that the Shroud samples he studied had a different chemical composition than other Shroud samples; however, the “other” Shroud samples referenced by Rogers came from the edges of water stains, where chemicals are typically deposited by the flow of water. Moreover, when 13 threads taken from the same area as Rogers’ samples were examined by STURP using X-ray fluorescence analysis they showed the same relative concentrations of calcium, strontium and iron that were measured throughout the entire Shroud cloth. Due to physical limitations these were the only chemical elements that could be measured in 1978; however, these three elements are distributed throughout the entire Shroud linen. This chemical comparison not only makes a medieval or 16th century repair hypotheses extremely remote, but it completely outweighs the non-elemental findings in Rogers’ 2005 Thermochimica Acta publication that was clearly relied upon by the authors.

Significantly, when scientists at the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon laboratory examined samples remaining from their 1988 dating of the Shroud by UV fluorescence and photomicrographic analysis they found no evidence of any coatings or dyes as indicated by Rogers. They also found no evidence to support Rogers’ or the author’s position that their radiocarbon sample did not derive from the main part of the Shroud. When Italian scientists examined Shroud samples removed from the same area as Rogers’ samples, they too found the samples resembled those taken from the rest of the Shroud. Similarly, the detailed, close-up inspections of the front and back sides of the Shroud by textile and other experts also refute the views of Rogers, the authors and others who suggest the Shroud samples tested in 1988 came from an invisibly repaired region or were not taken from the main part of the cloth.

The authors also overlook the scientific evidence indicating that the body images on the Shroud resulted from a dehydration and oxidation process that develops over time. The Shroud’s body images were probably not visible for centuries. This simple fact, as opposed to the authors’ outrageous 1st century conspiracies, best explains why no Shroud-like image is mentioned in the first several centuries after Jesus burial. No description of an image like the one on the Shroud is found anywhere in history until the sixth century, when the image either developed or was found after having been hidden away for centuries. If Christ left his image on his burial cloth, it would have clearly been mentioned. Yet no biblical, apostolic or other writings mention such a unique image until the sixth century. The scientific, biblical and historical evidence all refute the authors’ assumption of an immediate image (as well as many of De Wesselow’s and Felzmann’s other positions).

In summary, what distinguishes the above books from most other Shroud books are the authors’ conclusions regarding

  1. How the Shroud’s images were formed,
  2. The conspiratorial actions of the Church and their colleagues regarding the Shroud’s radiocarbon samples and Jesus’ resurrection,
  3. The physical condition and actions of Jesus following his crucifixion,
  4. The actions of the apostles and Jesus’ followers following the events of Easter.

Unfortunately, all of the authors’ above contentions are based on little, if any, scientific or other credible evidence. Instead they are largely, if not completely, based on conjecture and illogical interpretations.

Felzmann and de Wesselow also erroneously claim or imply that their unsupported contentions will or should have enormous effects on the public’s religious beliefs. These conclusions are not only based on speculative and undocumented evidence, but they understate or ignore the nature and extent of the objective and independent evidence that has been documented from decades of scientific and medical examination of the Shroud. As their own failed methods confirm, most of this extensive evidence is not only unfakable, but is consistent with the Shroud’s authenticity as the burial garment of the historical Jesus Christ. Moreover, the documented evidence is actually consistent with every element of the passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as these events are described in the Gospels.

The realization that Christianity has hundreds of unfakable items of scientific and medical evidence to confirm the central tenets of Christianity and the most critical events in all of history, which are contained in the most reliable and textually attested sources of antiquity, could have unprecedented consequences throughout the world. No other religion has any objective evidence to confirm the central tenets or critical events of their religion, let alone an exhaustive amount of such evidence. Overwhelming, objective evidence ― along the lines of a 150 – 0 shutout when compared to any contrary religious or other view ― would impress the listener whether agnostic, atheist or a member of any other religion.

Unfortunately, religion causes, contributes to or is an underlying element in numerous wars and conflicts that are occurring throughout the world. While such wars and conflicts have always occurred throughout history, their numbers are increasing. Furthermore, the means of destruction by the combatants have become alarming. These underlying religious differences and conflicts go back centuries. Wars and conflicts have not and cannot eliminate these differences. Worse yet, they have perpetuated and deepened the differences and hostilities among the combating religions. Overwhelming, objective, and independent evidence for one religion, with the lack of any such evidence for other religions, would allow sectarian combatants throughout the world to end these unnecessary wars and conflicts.

Mark Antonacci
Patrick Byrne


Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!