Skip to comments.Jewish believer in the Shroud
Posted on 03/19/2005 6:18:41 AM PST by NYer
Science photographer Barrie Schwortz considers it ironic that he, an Orthodox Jew, is spending much of his time trying to convince Christians that the Turin Shroud may well be an artifact of Jesus. As Christendom is entering the holiest season in the church year, Schwortz joined a group of international scholars Friday appealing to Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, to permit a new carbon dating of the 14-foot cloth bearing the features of a crucified man.
At the last test of this kind in 1988, a majority of scientists concluded that the Shroud was woven between 1260 and 1390 A.D.-- and that the images on it were the work of a medieval artist.
But earlier this year chemist Raymond N.Rogers, a retired fellow of Los Alamos National Laboratory, stated in a scientific paper that the 1988 test was "not valid for determining the age of the Shroud."
Rogers who died of cancer March 9 at the age of 80 was a close friend of Schwortz who runs an elaborate Web site called shroud.com.In a scholarly article in the journal Thermochimica Acta, Rogers explained that in 1988 only a sample the size of a postage stamp was tested.
This sample, he added, turned out to have been taken from a medieval patch that had "completely different chemical properties than the main part of the Shroud relic."
The patch contained cotton and had been dyed to match the rest of the Shroud whose threads were pure linen spun from flax.Rogers, a Protestant who had been involved with the Shroud project for decades, suggested that this cloth is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.
Rogers was the leader of the chemistry group for the Shroud of Turin Research Project, a team of scientists who performed the first in-depth examination of the cloth in 1978.
Schwortz was STURP's "documenting photographer" then."I am still Jewish," he said, "yet I believe the Shroud of Turin is the cloth the man Jesus was wrapped in after he was crucified."
"That is not meant as a religious statement," Schwortz cautioned, "but one based on my privileged position of direct involvement with many of the serious Shroud researchers in the world, and a thorough knowledge of the scientific data, unclouded by media exaggeration and hype."
In an interview with United Press International, Schwortz quipped it was "proof of God's sense of humor" that he as a Jew should have been given this task."But I have no underlying bias.I am simply obligated to the truth."
But then, Schwortz went on, "God always chooses a Jew to be a messenger."
There was no word from Cardinal Poletto's office Friday about the scholars' request to reconsider proposal submitted by Rogers and William Meacham, a Hong Kong-based archaeologist for a new carbon dating of the Shroud.
"After the publication of Rogers' article this year, there has been a great renewal of interest in the Shroud, especially the possibility that it is older than the carbon dating indicates," the scientists' appeal states.
"All the world now wants to know whether the 1988 carbon dating result is in fact erroneous.We urge you, therefore, to grant the very small (amount) of material requested in the Rogers-Meacham proposal, consisting of 60 milligrams (about a spoonful) of carbon dust and fiber bits already removed from the Shroud."
In separate interviews with UPI, both Schwortz and Meacham complained about what Schwortz termed as "Italian stonewalling" of all outside attempts to reopen the case.
"Is it Italian pride?" Schwortz wondered, adding that there has been considerable resentment about the American involvement since 1978. "Americans dominated Shroud science," he said.
Cardinal Poletto could not be reached for comment Friday.
But Rogers and his colleagues were not spared the wrath of fellow Americans.Earlier this week, scientific consultant Steven D.Shafersman accused STRP of "shoddy science."
In a paper issued on The Skeptic World Site, a largely atheist Web publication, Shafersman blasts STURP for its "hopelessly incompetent and unscientific" analyses.
In the meantime though, other astonishing news is coming in about the Shroud.University of Padua researchers have detected a second facial image, though faint, on the back of the cloth.
According to researcher Daniel Porter, the nature of this second face is such that it virtually eliminates artistic methods, while giving credence to the hypothesis that a natural amino/carbonyl chemical reaction formed the Shroud's images.
Italian police experts have, meanwhile, used a computer to create a phantom picture of the young Jesus based on the facial images found on the Shroud.The result was the face of a 12-year-old boy exuding serene cheerfulness.
The face looked much like the portrayal of the young Jesus by the German Renaissance painter Albrecht Duerer (1471-1528), observed the Milan newspaper, Corriere della Sera.On the other hand, the paper mused, "it would probably also have pleased Tizian (Titian)."
To be perfectly fair, I must say that my hypothesis was greeted with equal dismissiveness by those on the other side of the fence; those whose particular article of faith is that the Shroud must be a painting, and have no desire to see it in any other light. There's faith on both sides of the aisle, equally rabid and equally hostile to anything that doesn't fit the standard perspectives.
A recent article on this subject - - full text at:
Here is an excerpt:
Father Brown Fakes the Shroud
Start with a piece of glass and some white oil paint.
by N. D. Wilson
1. I am not an expert on the Shroud of Turin. But then what would it mean to be an expert on the Shroud? Spending months firing gamma rays at linen? Attempting the discoloration of linen through a controlled release of gases? I have not done these things, nor have I paid too much mind to those who have. I am not a scientist at all. I am not even an expert in hagiography and relics. I have not received a single grant or spent a dime on Shroud research that wasn't taken directly out of my wife's shopping budget. What I am, is an outlier. And, as luck would have it, I was reading the right collection of short stories at the right time. I am as unqualified to work on such a mysterious cloth as any medieval forger. And yet, like that unknown, unwashed villain of the past, I can place an image on linen using such sophisticated tools as glass and sunlight.
Sometime in 2000 I sat in a graduate school classroom at Liberty University and watched an amazing slide show on the Shroud. Dr. Gary Habermas presented what he knew about the sacred clothwhich was a lot. I would have liked to simply brush the issue of the Shroud aside, laugh and wonder why time was being wasted on the subject, but that was impossible. The Shroud was too complex, and there was too much weirdness surrounding it to be casually dismissed.
Habermas was careful to point out that he had not landed on one side or the other of the authenticity debate (nor did he think that he could). No one had ever shown how an image like this could be produced, and yet science had weighed in with carbon dating placing the Shroud firmly in the twelve to thirteen hundreds, a date overwhelmingly considered legitimate until very recently.
The image on the Shroud is of a man of moderate height. He is neither small nor large. The entirety of the man's front and back are shown on the same side of the cloth. The cloth is of a fine herringbone weave and is about 14 ft. 3 in. long by 3 ft. 7 in. wide. The man on the cloth has been crucified and the locations of his wounds are shown with a liberal use of human blood. He bears the stigmata, though the nail holes are not located in his iconic palms, but in his more anatomically correct wrists. His brow bears the blood resultant from the placement of a crown of thorns, there is a spear wound in his side, his face has been beaten, his nose broken (cartilage separated from the bone for Bible-believing Shroud proponents [John 19:36]), and his back has been mercilessly torn and beaten with a flail. The wounds from his whipping run all the way from his heels to the back of his scalp. He is bearded; his countenance is noble and looks much like many medieval icons of Christ.
These are all the details needed to convince some of the faithful. But scientists, never willing to take religion lying down, needed more than this to impress them.
- - - - - - - - -
In one of my touristy books, there is a collection of quotes on the Shroud from various popes. Most are simply statements on the impressiveness of the image, but there is one that is particularly surprising. It is attributed to Pope Pius XI and was reportedly made in 1936 while handing out photos of the Shroud to some Catholic youth.
"These are not pictures of the Blessed Virgin, it is true, but pictures that remind us of her as no other can. Since they are pictures of her Divine Son, and so, we can truly say, the most moving, loveliest, dearest ones that we can imagine."
I have been asked why a baptized Christian would want to undermine claims to the Shroud's authenticity. The answer is simple. Christians are to abhor falsehood. And at the top of the list of falsehoods to abhor should be religious lies and all other forms of Christian hypocrisy. When I first read Pius XI on the Shroud I felt something deep in my spiritual genes speak up under the name of Martin Luther. In certain Shroud circles claims about the unimportance of the Shroud's authenticity are tossed around. "Whether it is genuine or simply the work of an artist does not matter. It is a beautiful and inspiring icon." My hackles will always stand up. If it is not genuine, it is most believably the product of a murder. But even then I pity the forgers. They did not mean their work to be an icon for Mary.
I have not proved much. Or, I do not think that I have. Men and women who have believed in the Shroud will continue to believe. There is a fireman somewhere in Italy who risked his life to save the Shroud. I have a great deal of respect for that man. Perhaps I've given those who disbelieve more reason for noses lifted in the air, but I have not proved that the Shroud was faked. What I have done is crudely demonstrate that such an image could easily be produced in a matter of weeks by wicked men with no scruples, a little imagination, and a little more skill. The fact that it could have been faked does not mean that it was, though I believe it to have been. What I have done is close another door on the case for the Shroud. "Modern science has been unable to produce such an image" remains true enough, as I am no scientist. But no longer can it be said, "No one has ever shown how it could have been done."
N.D. Wilson (www.shadowshroud.com) is the managing editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine and a Fellow of Literature at New St. Andrews College, where he listens to the speeches and poetry of freshmen, who are dear to his heart.
[See the full article at the link,
if you would like to see the complete demonstration of the author's claim.]
I hate to be a wet blanket,but even if the shroud turns out to be authentic,who's to say the image is actually Jesus?
That's actually a valid question. The case that the image is of a crucified man is based on the location of several large areas purported to be bloodstains (wrists, feet, side). To the best of my knowledge, these areas aren't part of the image itself. If they're not part of the image, it can always be argued that these bloodstains were added some time after the fact, perhaps simply to turn an artifact representing an ordinary man into one representing Jesus.
Shroud of Turin PING!
If you want on or off the Shroud Ping list, please FreepMail me.
I agree that that is a valid question, one I have asked before. The only two aspects I can think of are these:
1. The regular method for finishing the execution were to break the bones of the condemned person's legs with an iron bar. This caused death by asphyxiation, due to the pressure of hanging for hours by his arms, which only allowed him to exhale. He would push up with his legs to be able to take a breath. Jesus, because of the rush to take the prisoners down (Passover), was pierced with a spear instead.
2. I don't know how often prisoners were forced to wear a crown of thorns, but I suspect that this was rare.
The shroud exhibits both of these events. Those aren't conclusive observations, but I think they limit the possibilities.
The probable reason he dismissed your theory out of hand is that he has access to all of the current research on the Shroud. He has seen and heard everything that has been proposed... and some DO need to be dismissed out of hand because they do not match the known facts. Faith has nothing to do with Barrie's fascination with the Shroud.
Barrie publishes articles both pro and con about the Shroud... when they are scientifically based. Wild conjecture and theories not based in history or science are rejected.
In about 10 minutes, I am leaving to see and talk to Barrie. I know him and he is devout in his Jewish beliefs.
Wilson's attempt does not meet all of the criteria for "duplicating" the image on the Shroud.
They are not part of the image... but they were put on the Shroud before the image was. There is no image under the blood stains. This has been confirmed in independent tests. The blood pre-existed the image.
Incidentally, as I mentioned I am meeting with Barrie in about a half an hour... one of the things I am going to talk to him about is N.D. Wilson's attempt at duplicating the Shroud.
I'll get back to this later and report.
Thanks for the ping!
I read through that long, tedious and boring article to see that this man made a forgery that only the gullible would consider as similar to the Shroud.
He uses panes of glass for the image that people in the 13th century couldnot have gotten. Flat glass is made using a grinding process to get a totally flat surface and was not available till the 17th century.
"Flat glass for windows was still rare during much of the 17th and 18th centuries. Small panes were made by blowing a large glob of glass, removing it from the blowing iron and then rotating the glass quickly so it would spread and flatten. Such glass had a dimple in its center, many air bubbles and a pattern of concentric circles, but it was transparent and effective in keeping out the weather. At the end of the 17th century, the French learned how to grind and polish cast glass to produce plate glass, but only the rich could afford it."
So to suggest that a huge pain of glass big enough for the Shroud was used to forge the image is absurd from a logistical standpoint alone - that amount of flat window glass was not available to make such an image.
And why go to such lengths to make a forgery that would fool people 7 centuries later? What possible gain would a forgerer have for going to such elaborate detail, getting a peice of linen from Palestine, for crying out loud! The author and most of these critics seem to think that the forgerers goal wasnt to cahs in at the time he would have made it but to fool us today, lol!
And it doesnt work anyway in imitating the Shrouds composition of color. Look at any close up photos of the discoloration fo the threads and it is plain to even the most casual observer that the image was made directly and not by fading everything else around it as the 'pixels' are very sharp edged and rectangular in their shape and barely penetrate into the fibers.
This is not to mention the chemical analysis done earlier this year that dates the Shroud to way before the 13th century and to at least the third century AD, IIRC.
It is amazing to see to what leaps of fantasy and elaborate processes the skeptical dive into in order to convince themselves that the Shroud is faked, when any amount of common sense should tell them otherwise.
The image has evidence of pennies on the eyes the were coined in the time of Pilate. So we are talking about a man crucified, flagelated severely, forced to wear a crown of thorns (because He was called a king), and Who had a punctured side (to see if He were already dead so soon).
Doubt anyone one else in that time just happened to have all those things done to them.
Good points M.Thanks for the response.From what i've read the wounds present on the shroud do correlate with the wounds suffered by Jesus.But will we ever know for sure the impression of is Jesus?Maybe a little mystery won't hurt?A "Doubting Thomas"
I generally don't bother trying to explain my hypothesis to people unfamiliar with the details of the Shroud controversy, because to understand it requires quite a bit of background information, inaccessible to most. But you seem to be one of the more informed sort, so I don't mind giving you the essence of it.
If you understand the postulated relationship between the Shroud and the Holy Mandylion, you're no doubt aware of the Byzantine history (or histories, because there were two separate accounts) that attempted to account for the origin of the latter. Those histories were somewhat disparate in nature, but the one element that each had in common was the assertion that the Mandylion was associated with a so-called "tile" (keramion, in Greek) that contained an exact duplicate of the image on the Shroud. In one of those histories, the cloth was found outside the city of Hierapolis inside a collection of tiles, one of which contained the exact likeness of the cloth. In the other, the cloth was discovered inside a niche in the walls of Edessa, in the company of the tile, which was later given to the city of Hierapolis. The tile is associated in both accounts with the cloth, and the city of Hierapolis.
Wilson postulated that King Abgar V of Edessa had caused the holy (cloth) image to be placed above the city gates in the place of the pagan image that had existed there previously. He postulated that, following Abgar's death, the city reverted to paganism, and the cloth was bricked up inside the wall for protection, not to resurface for several hundred years, when it was accidentally discovered, along with the tile.
My hypothesis (not "theory") is that Wilson's idea is partially correct--only, it was not the cloth that was placed above the gates, but a piece of statuary. When it came time to cover up the image (for whatever reason) a cloth was hung in front of it, and over a period of several hundred years the three-dimensional image from the "hard" prototype became transferred to the cloth through the agency of ionizing radiation originating from radioactive elements that are present to varying degrees in all sedimentary rocks ... the extent to which such ionizing radiation would affect the cloth being a function of its distance from the prototype.
I'll leave it to you as to whether this hypothesis is worthy of consideration, but it's interesting to note that in Ray Rogers's recent paper he mentions the effects of background ionizing radiation on linen and its role in the linen aging process.
It's interesting, too, to note that these shroud "researchers," are willing to embrace any theory, no matter how far-fetched (see Schwortz's website for the past five years) that tends to uphold the idea of the Shroud as a genuine relic, but refuse to deal with any thought that might hold it up to a different light. People like Schwortz and Wilson can probably be forgiven for this, because they're not scientists, nor do they pretend to be (unless the constant repetition of the words "peer reviewed" qualify to lend that distinction) but others, like Jackson and Rogers, should give up any claim to the title, at least as regards the object of their adoration.
Unlike one of the authors above, I have studied and written on the subject of medieval Christian relics. The church has its own well-established criteria and procedures for authenticating them. It is not hostile to the science, but that is not the primary consideration. It is interesting to me that noone here offers any of the evidence of miracles and intercession which are the real basis for preserving and venerating relics.
Your theory seems to suggest this tile would have only had the image transfered from covering one face of the tile.
That would have to be one big tile, wouldnt it?
The Shroud image is the length of two adult male bodies plus more.
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