Skip to comments.The Shroud of Caiaphas
Posted on 07/15/2004 10:04:36 AM PDT by shroudie
His name was Joseph Caiaphas. At the time of Jesus arrest and crucifixion he had been the high priest of the Temple in Jerusalem and, as the Gospels tell us, was instrumental in Jesus arrest. Later, he persecuted some in the early Jerusalem Church before he was dismissed from his post as the high priest by Lucius Vitellius, the consul and governor of Syria under Tiberius.
When he died, though he was no longer the high priest, Caiaphas was still a man of privilege. He had married into the powerful high-priestly family of Annas and he was undoubtedly a man of means. He certainly was among the elite who, when he died, would be buried in one of tombs carved into the outcroppings of limestone on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And so he most certainly was. It was expected that later, several months after entombment, perhaps in a year, after his flesh had rotted away, his family would return to gather his bones and place them in a bone box. The 1990 discovery of his ossuary with the Aramaic inscription, Yehosef bar Kayafa' tells us that, in fact, they did return.
But unknown to everyone, something quite sensational happened shortly after the stone was moved in front of the entranceway to seal his tomb. What happened, happened quietly, in the dark solitude and stillness of his tomb. No one saw it happen. Slowly, two ghostlike images began to take form on his fine linen tachrichim, his burial shroud. Had there been light in the tomb and had someone been able to bear the stench of the amine vapors of cadaverine and putrescine, they might have been able to pull back Caiaphas shroud and witness the slowly forming straw-yellow images. Then again, they might not have seen anything even though images were forming. Because of temperature or humidity or any number of factors, the images might have been still invisible to the human eye. They might have still been latent, not having run the course of a seemingly magical process of turning yellow.
No modern chemist would call it magical. No, its a Maillard reaction, a complex chemical process that produces caramel-like products or Melanoidins. These processes probably happened frequently in the Jerusalem tombs of the late-second temple period as heavy volatile amine vapors reacted with glycoside sugars, that mixed with starch fractions, coated the outermost fibers of linen burial cloths.
We can be confident that such residues were there on the cloths. Thanks to the great Roman encyclopedist, Gaius Plinius Secundus, the man we know as Pliny the Elder (23 77 CE) we know how linen was made in the first century. After hand spinning the fibers of the flax plant into yarn, individual hanks of yarn were bleached and dried. On the loom, the warp threadsthe vertical threadswere lubricated with crude starch to make it easier to pass the weft threads over and under the warp. Doing so lessened the chance of fraying. After a length of linen cloth was woven it was washed in the suds of the Soapwort plant (Saponaria officinalis) to remove the starch. It was then laid out across bushes or hung to dry.
Where Pliny leaves off, the modern chemist picks up. Washing is not perfect. Even with rinsing, soapy residues and small amounts of starch remained in the water soaked cloth. As the cloth dried, moisture wicked its way to the surface to evaporate into the air. As the water made its way to the surface it carried with it dissolved starch fractions and saccharides: glucose, fucose, galactose, arabinose, xylose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid. As the water evaporated into the air these chemicals were deposited as a superthin coating on the crown fibers, the very outmost fibers, what chemists call the evaporation surface of the cloth.
Many things would affect the formed images: ambient temperatures and humidity in the tomb; the deceaseds body chemistry influenced by diet, disease and trauma; the application of different burial spices; and the quantity and evenness of the carbohydrate coating on the cloth. Even the tightness of yarn and the weave of the fabric that affects porosity is a factor. Nonetheless some imaging would take place. The process would continue until the reactants were exhausted or until fluidic decomposition products formed and ravaged the images and the cloth. Soon the cloth would rot away along with the body. There would be no flesh, no cloth and no images when Caiaphas family returned to gather his bones into an ossuary.
Had, at the right moment, the cloth and the body it enshrouded been separated, and had the cloth been preserved, we might very well have something of a picture of Caiaphas today. But that didnt happen.
It is important to note that linen cloth, as typically produced after the twelfth century and into our era, will not produce amine/saccharides images. In Plinys time, each hank of yarn or thread for the cloth was bleached before weaving. Such bleaching did not result in uniformly white yarn. We see this, for instance, in the Turin Shroud. It has a broad variegated appearance where yarn from one hank was spliced into yarn from another during weaving. One place this is particularly noticeable is in the face where darker bands of cloth affect the way we see the image. The darker bands, because of their location, make the face look gaunter than it really is. But bleaching after weaving, as done in the medieval bleaching fields of Europe and in modern mills prevents any reactive coating. It makes for better quality linen but it will not allow an image to form.
It is also especially important to note that there will be two such coatings. The side of the cloth that faces the sun and dries the fastest will have a dominant coating of starch fractions and saccharides from the soap. The other side will have a lesser coating. Both sides will react to the amines since some of the vapors will diffuse through the cloth. Indeed, we should have a more distinct image on one side of the cloth and a less distinct image on the other side. That is the significance of the discovery of a second facial image on the Shroud as recently reported in the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Optics of the Institute of Physics in London (April 14, 2004). From spectral analysis, microscopy and image analysis, we see that this is how the cloth of the Shroud of Turin was manufactured and we can hypothesize how the images were formed on it.
Modern chemistry actually lets us examine the images on the Shroud of Turin, which may be our only known surviving burial shroud. They are conjugated, complex double carbon bonds within a carbohydrate layer of starch fractions and expected saccharides. In many places this layer is clear. It is only in some places that complex carbon structures have formed; structures that absorb the right spectrums of colors so they appear straw-yellow. The layer in which the color resides is as thin as the transparent scratchproof coating on eyeglasses. It is as thin in places as180 nanometers and as thick in other places as 600 nanometers and it coats only the extreme outermost fiber. By comparison, the average diameter of a linen fiber is 15,000 nanometers. The average human hair is 100,000 nanometers thick.
We can imagine that such a natural process occurred on thousands of shrouds of thousands of the wealthy and privileged Jews. From excavations we know that men and women and children were buried this way. In a rare exception, where groundwater had created a sealed environment conducive to some degree of preservation, a carbonized shroud has been found in the Hinnon Valley. And other, non-Jewish, Nabatean burials shrouds made from linen, wool and leather have been found giving evidence that such burial cloths were common in the region among Semitic peoples.
But there are many unsolved puzzles. How is it that such a near perfect image formed? It is as though the very molecules of amine vapors ignored Grahams Law of Diffusion and the contours of the cloth draped across a body. And how is it that the chemical reaction ran long enough to produce a discernible image and yet stopped soon enough to avoid over-saturation. In the parlance of photography we have, surprisingly, a well focused image that is not underexposed or overexposed.
Was Jesus buried this way in a tomb, with a burial shroud, with the intention that family or friends, maybe his followers, would someday return to rebury his remains in an ossuary? Were those plans interrupted, the Shroud separated from the body, and tomb somehow open, that the cloth might be preserved?
Also: "The Shroud of Turin: An Amino-Carbonyl Reaction (Maillard Reaction) May Explain The Image Formation," This paper includes 4 color illustrations and originally appeared in Melanoidins vol. 4, Ames J.M. ed., Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2003, pp.106-113. The paper demonstrates that a complex but well documented, naturally occuring chemical reaction may explain all of the known image chemistry of the Shroud of Turin and provide us with an important clue in determining the actual image formation mechanism. Ray's work is detailed and scientific and necessarily, quite technical in nature. Even if you don't have a degree in chemistry, the points he makes are quite understandable, the papers are well researched and well written and the conclusions are very clear. (Paper is available at http://shroud.com)
One point, though, the title, "The Shroud of Caiaphas" certainly gets attention, but that's somewhat misleading when the essay states that Caiaphas's bones have been found, but of course, no shroud would/could be. After a little comment about his bones, the essay goes into the real subject with a learned disussion about the only known shroud, believed by a great many to be that of Jesus.
But it is, of course, more than ironic to see Caiaphas's bones when Jesus was bodily resurrected and a shroud that may have been wrapped around His body shortly after His death is can also be seen today.
Absolutely fascinating! It reads like a scientific mystery thriller - perhaps, "CSI Jerusalem" ;-D
Kudos on an excellent piece.
Okay, say Rogers' method does result in the same chemistry as on the Shroud. But does it/will it result in the same image features seen on the Shroud? For instance, will the image be vivid? Photo negative like? Encode three dimensional/mathmatical information? And what of the flower images (reliably) reported to be seen on the Shroud? Does Rogers' method account for these too? Please tell Bertha. Thanx.
Bertha, I think the answer is partly yes and partly no. Does Ray Rogers method produce identical results?
In the laboratory, with cloth manufactured from hand-combed, untreated flax, woven with crude starch, washed in Soapwort suds and dried flat, Rogers has been able to create a rough image. Vivid? Yes! Acting in the manner of a negative? Yes! With the rough characteristics of terrain mapping (3D)? Yes! But the image is not focused and it is distorted. Rogers acknowledges that this is a problem and several other researchers working with Rogers agree. In the skunkworks of Shroud research it is sometimes referred to as a profusion of confusion about diffusion and resolution, all without a solution.
As for the flower images, that is an open question? Under the right circumstance, there may be enough surface tension on plants to increase the concentration of amine reactants (in the space between the body and the cloth) long enough for imaging to take place. Keep in mind that whatever images of flowers, leaves and stems are there, they are fainter and less distinct than the body images.
Rogers has suggested that the surface tension from hair, the mustache and the beard works the same way. In fact, this may explain why these the hair, mustache and beard of the head appear so light in a photograph (dark on the Shroud, itself). It creates the illusion that Jesus had white or blond hair. In fact, this suggests that what we have is not really a negative, in the true sense of the word, but something that functions like one. Terrain mapping may also be a misunderstanding as it would really not be a representation of distance but instead chemical concentrations.
Believe me when I say that the chemistry seems right on but the physics is completely wrong. There is something going on that we simply dont grasp. The natural phenomenon disassociates the images from a resurrection event which is a matter of faith. And I dont think faith would want it otherwise. But, if this is all correct, it may well be empirical evidence of the hand of God in ways we never imagined. There is more in these images, I believe, than science will answer.
The ultimate question, as a test of this hypothesis, is how does such a gaseous effusion act in a collimated fashion? What could keep the reaction from acting laterally as well as vertically as shown on the Shroud? Do the chemicals in the Maillard reaction have some physical ability to cohese (Bubble with surface tension, perhaps?) in violation of Boyle's Law?
Is the effusion so much lighter than air that it makes a beeline vertically before diffusion? If so, how then do we explain the dorsal image?
Are the puffs of effusion small and chemically concentrated close to the body, but expanding and losing concentration as they get farther away, until the reaction ceases? Again, why only vertically?
Could there be a thermal jetting of the effusion that only works in the vertical direction? Seems absurd... random directionality would be the simpler expectation.
Why would there not be evidence of concentated reactions near natural body openings (mouth, nose, anus) where one might assume internal pressures would provide more of the reactive chemicals from the interior?
Until the question of vertical collimation can be satisfactorally included in the Maillard Reaction hypothesis, we are still left with the problem the Shroud presents to every researcher: As we probe into the depths of the enigma of the Shroud to find answers, what we find only deepens the mystery. Answers bring more perplexing questions.
Shroud of Turin Ping.
EXCELLENT ARTICLE BY Shroudie.
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It's a good string of ifs. Also, contemporary accounts of the dead Lazarus indicate that people knew that by a few days he'd be stinking, yet these same accounts mention nothing of the stink that would have accompanied the formation of such an image as proposed in the article in the case of Jesus. Not only was there no mention made, there was a specific declaration that no putrefaction was involved following the death of Jesus. Now, some people would say that this assertion provides evidence that Jesus, in fact, never died and that the disciples were inventing something (the lack of decay) as a cover. If Jesus either didn't die at the crucifixion or did die yet was resurrected without having undergone decay, then the process as described above, did not obtain in his case.
Thanks for the ping!
In regard to your comment about the color of Jesus' hair, that perhaps it's an illusion that He has blond or white hair, it is my opinion that a glorified Jesus may indeed have hair that was white in color. Gilbert R. Lavoie, M.D. gives much food for thought in his book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Shroud. Chapter nine goes into the hair and face in great detail.
I completely agree that science may never be able to explain the Shroud completely, nor would faith allow it. If we understood God completely, then He wouldn't be God after all. Keep up the good work in finding these fascinating articles!
Aruanan, I agree that it is a string of ifs. And that may just be the point. We should not deny the fact that a coating of starch fractions and saccharides coats the outermost fibers on the Shroud. That has been demonstrated. Nor can we really ignore that in places a double-double carbon bond exists which appears from spectrograph analysis to be a Melanoidin, a caramel product which forms the images we see on the Shroud. There are only two ways known to science to form this product within the carbohydrate coating that is there: heat or chemical reaction Let me stress known to science.
Jesus was a man, fully human. The scientist, by the criteria of his craft, must ignore non-scientific input when explaining a process, even one that is hypothetical, as this one is. Thus he must not consider scripture, creedal or faith-based affirmations, or the possibilities of miracles. This doesnt mean he denies such possibilities but that they may not be introduced into the mix. Since Jesus was fully human it is certain, in scientific terms, that after death his body would give off both ammonia gases from the lungs and heavy amine vapors. This is not purification of flesh. This is not decay. Decomposition takes place later, often starting in about 30 hours time. This may vary widely depending on many factors. What the scientists are saying (Rogers in particular) is that some imaging can be expected with Pliny-linen. Where molecules of amines contact a saccharide molecule a chemical reaction will take place and the products we see will be produced.
But here, science trips all over itself. There is no reason to expect the molecules to arrive at the right place in the right quantities at the right time to form a focused, highly resolved, properly proportioned image that is devoid of saturation peaks. Something extraordinary had to take place.
And the most crucial thing of all is that the cloth had to become separated from the body and the tomb had to be open so the cloth might be retrieved.
Now, the unscientific possibility is that there is clearly a miracle involved here. If God is to leave an image miraculously he must either create something immaterial but visible, apply a material such as a pigment or change the state of existing matter. There is no pigment applied to the cloth. The only matter that can be changed is the cellulous fiber or the coating that is on it. To change the cellulous fiber would mean changing the crystalline structure. Such change does not produce the color we see. Any such change would be visible as ablations that are simply not there. Furthermore, we know that the change is visible in the coating.
I dont doubt at all that the Resurrection happened. But I am not convinced that the images are directly related to that more-than-miraculous event where science cannot go. I am primarily convinced, however, that this is when the cloth became separated from the body.
The string of ifs is really a string of questions and in the end we must fall back on faith. The Shroud, in the end, may be the best indicator beyond scripture, quite indirectly, of the Resurrection.
Of one thing I am quite certain: no faker of relics produced this complex product.
No, what he is explaining is how you get a vague yellowish stain on a burial shroud. That a dead body stains a shroud doesn't surprise me. What he says there is noexplanation for is how you get not a stain, but a photographic likeness.
Sorry for the late reply, I have been cruising Shroud of Turin posts and just ran across this!
I agree in large measure with what you say, but there is another reason the scientist excludes miracles from consideration: by definition, they are not regular (they are, by definition, exceptions), and neither can they be controlled for.
Allowing for them in one's models is therefore well-nigh maddening.
This is not to imply that miracles are impossible--but trying to allow for them (assuming God would be kind enough to inform you of upcoming miracles in advance) is outside the realm of "controllable"--and, on the whole, they are rare enough that neglecting them still allows one to make generally useful, generally testable models and predictions about the natural world one studies.
Freepmail me back if you want a couple of scientist jokes and a quote from a C.S. Lewis novel which further illustrate these points.
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