Bible and the Shroud
Jesus and the Man on the Shroud:
© Stephen E. Jones
This is the "Bible and the Shroud: Jesus and the man on the Shroud: Were scourged" page in my Shroud of Turin quotes series. For more
[Above (enlarge): Scourge marks on the left shoulder blade of the man on the Shroud. Note that they are in dumbbell-shaped pairs, matching the pair of lead balls on one of the three thongs of a Roman flagrum (see photo in my recent post), and they are criss-crossed indicating two scourgers. Can any Shroud sceptic really believe that a medieval forger would: 1) know such fine details about a Roman flagrum? 2) have the ability to recreate with mathematical precision (see below) over 100 such scourge marks without making even one mistake? and 3) go to so much effort when his medieval contemporaries would be satisfied with far less?]
information about this series, see the Main Index.
"If, however, the shape of these marks be considered curious, their general distribution and direction in relation to the body are not less interesting. The wounds on the back may be divided into two series. Some, and these are the more numerous, are obliquely marked from top to bottom and from left to right ... They correspond to the direction in which the weapon of the scourger would have descended upon the body were he standing on the left and in the rear of the sufferer. The other series, visible especially on the left shoulder and left side of the back, point in an opposite direction, as if the wielder of the scourge had been standing behind, and on the right of his victim. The general disposition of the wounds visible on the fleshy parts is also remarkable. They group themselves in a sort of sheaf having a horizontal axis, on each side of which the marks spread outwards. Blows leaving such marks as these would have been inflicted by a short stick, furnished with a number of thongs, to the ends of which were attached metal buttons. With such a weapon the thongs themselves would not cut the skin, as they would have done without the metal buttons; for these metal buttons would strike the flesh before the thongs could reach it, and immediately after the stroke the scourger would draw back his arm, and lift the thongs in so doing. It may also be noticed that the marks on the back are in an upward direction, while those on the calves are the reverse, as if the scourge had struck the back obliquely from below, upwards; the fleshy parts are marked horizontally, and the calves obliquely, but the strokes in this case are from above, downwards ... It is hardly worth while to emphasize how very unlikely it is that any artist having to reproduce the marks of scourging on a human body could have imagined a system of scars so complicated as that which we have here indicated; each kind of mark would have required special attention, special invention, and we all know how difficult it is to repeat over and over again a representation which, while preserving the same general form, should show infinite variety in detail." (Vignon, P., 1902, "The Shroud of Christ," University Books: New York NY, Reprinted, 1970, pp.36-37)
"The Scourging It was Pilate who ordered Christ to be scourged, and the sentence was carried out by Roman soldiers (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). This made a great difference. The Mosaic Law limited a judicial scourging to forty lashes (Deut. 25:3). In practice only thirty-nine were administered, lest the legal limit be inadvertently exceeded (2 Cor. 11:24). With the Romans, however, the executioners were free to administer as many strokes as they pleased. Christ was surely not spared if Pilate could hope that the sight of Him might move the multitude to pity: `Behold the Man.' The Man of the Shroud received a merciless scourging that spared only the face and the extremities. The long thongs left stripes across the shoulders and the back. They encircled the legs and cut the flesh. The chest, the abdomen and the back were struck many times with the weighted ends of the thongs, which left deep bruises in the form of a dumbbell. From the form, the position and the grouping of the wounds we can reconstruct the scourge-long, thin thongs, apparently two, each weighted with two round pieces of bone or metal about an inch and a half apart. With many of the blows the end of the thong joining the two weights left its mark, causing bruises with that peculiar shape of a dumbbell. From archaeological data it is known that such a scourge was in use among the ancient Romans. The Shroud shows very little blood from the wounds of the scourging. At first sight a discrepancy, this turns out to be in perfect harmony with Matthew (27:31) and Mark (15:20), who relate that after the scourging Christ was again clad in His own garments. There followed the journey to Calvary, during which much of the blood must have been absorbed by the garments, the absorption no doubt being facilitated by the perspiration." (Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.40. Italics original)
"Then the scourging: `So Pilate, in his desire to satisfy the mob, released Barabbas to them; and he had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified' ([Mk] 15:15). It is a brief, harsh word, `flogged', but horrifying to think of what it means. He would have been stripped, and his wrists tied to a low post little more than two feet high, so that he was unprotected from the cruel lashes of the flagellae of the soldier on each side. They would have given no mercy, those men. Victims sometimes died, their skins flayed from their backs." (Hoare, R., 1978, "Testimony of the Shroud," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, pp.40-41. Verse corrected)
"Jesus and the Shroud It is revealing to compare the wounds inflicted on the man buried in the Shroud with the witness of the New Testament concerning the crucifixion procedure used with Jesus. The correlation is, simply stated, quite remarkable. Before he was crucified, Jesus was subjected to a variety of punishments. The Roman soldiers scourged him (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). The man of the Shroud was beaten very severely. Ricci counts more than 220 scourge wounds on his body, located on almost every area with the exception of the head, feet, and arms. [Ricci, G., "Historical, Medical, and Physical Study of the Holy Shroud," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., 1977, "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Bronx NY, p.60] Wilson records somewhat fewer scourge wounds, but still enough to constitute a very severe beating. [Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin," Doubleday: New York NY, p.38] We have seen how these marks were most likely inflicted by the Roman flagrum, a feared instrument of torture which inflicted great pain by sometimes even ripping out small pieces of flesh with each blow." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.122. Italics original).
"`On the back and on the front there are lesions which appear to be scourge marks. Historians have indicated that Romans used a whip called a flagrum. This whip had two or three thongs, and at their ends there were pieces of metal or bone which look like small dumbbells. These were designed to gouge out flesh. The thongs and metal end-pieces from a Roman flagrum fit precisely into the anterior and posterior scourge lesions on the body. The victim was whipped from both sides by two men, one of whom was taller than the other, as demonstrated by the angle of the thongs.'" (Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.3. Italics original)
"A second group of injuries, of less variegation but much greater extensiveness, is to be seen all over the back of the body in the form of more than a hundred dumbbell-shaped marks that can only be interpreted as from a severe whipping. Individually the marks have been identified as contusions, or hematomas; that is, wellings of blood into the flesh tissues without necessarily breaking the skin. They occur in groups of two and three, and would appear to have been inflicted by a two- or three-thonged lash tipped with dumbbell-shaped metal pellets. If these are the work of a forger, it is, again, the thinking behind them that has so impressed pathologists. Goniometry is the science of calculating angles, that is, for instance, enabling the direction of fire of a rifle to be calculated from the path of a bullet through a victim's body. The Shroud whip marks spread from the tops of the shoulders to the lower reaches of the calves, in places extending to the front of the body, in an astonishingly convincing-looking distribution pattern. From horizontal across the loins they fan upward over the upper back, crisscross over the shoulders, and fan downward on the thighs and calves. If the work of a forger, he has taken the care to think out exactly how the whipmaster swung this way and that, how he placed himself behind his victim, how high he held his hand, yet all so subtly conveyed that the marks are hardly visible on the Shroud itself, and can only properly be followed on the photographic negative." (Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.20)
"Only during the Renaissance did there begin even the glimmerings of a serious interest in archaeology. In the Middle Ages, artists usually had so little historical sense that they unhesitatingly clothed biblical characters in the costume of the artists' own time and set them amid Gothic architecture. ... It is therefore yet another fascinating feature of the Shroud that if its image is the work of an artist, he made no such normal artists' mistakes. As will be recalled from the discussion in the previous chapter concerning the whip injuries, each of these exhibits a specific, characteristic shape best described as like a dumbbell. So precise are these markings that where they fell true they even have identical dimensions, enabling a reconstruction of the device that theoretically originally caused them. They match the twin pellets of metal (or sometimes bone) typically affixed to the ends of the thongs of the Roman scourge, or flagrum, a particularly brutal, two- or three-thonged whip, of which examples have been excavated at Herculaneum. The Gospels, of course, specifically state a scourging was carried out on Jesus. If the Shroud image is the work of an artist, his archaeology was faultless." (Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.31)
"A medieval forger would also need to have been the only human being between the time of the emperor Constantine and our own to have been completely conversant with the details of Roman crucifixion. Before his crucifixion, the man on the Shroud was stripped naked and scourged over his whole body, the scourge marks especially visible on chest and back. The scourging was performed by two men of unequal height, standing in front and in back of the prisoner, and was effected by whips, which the Romans called flagri, to the ends of which were affixed small metal dumbbells." (Cahill, T., 1999, "Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World before and after Jesus," Nan A. Talese/Doubleday: New York NY, p.292)
"Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him (John 19:1; see also Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15). Jesus was scourged by the Romans; as such, there would have been no limitation on the number of strokes he received. The man on the Shroud received a severe scourging by the Romans, and scourge marks cover the front and back of his body, from head to feet." (Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.119. Italics original)
" Jesus was scourged by Roman soldiers prior to His Crucifixion (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). The Shroud shows evidence of about 120 scourge marks, some visible only under ultraviolet light. The instrument used to cause these marks was likely the Roman flagrum, which was a whip constructed from two or three leather strips with two small balls made of lead or bone tied at each end. When a flagrum was used to whip a person, it would tear off pieces of flesh. The scourge marks on the man on the Shroud are `nearly always in clusters of twos or threes.' [Rinaldi, P.M., 1973, "It Is the Lord," Warner Books: New York NY, p.28] According to the Mosaic Law, 40 lashes were the maximum number of strokes allowed (cf. Deut. 25:3). Oftentimes the victim died from the scourging alone. To insure that they did not exceed the legal limit, the tormentors would give only 39 lashes (cf. 2 Cor. 11:24). Roman executioners, however, were free to administer as many lashes as they wished since they did not adhere to the Mosaic law. [Wuenschel, E.A., 1957, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, p.49] According to Dr. Pierre Barbet, who wrote his comprehensive work, A Doctor at Calvary, `there must have been two executioners. It is possible that they were not of the same height, for the obliqueness of the blows is not the same on each side.' [Barbet, P., 1963, "A Doctor at Calvary," Image Books: New York NY, pp.10-11]" (Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, pp.37-38. Italics original)
1. This post is copyright. Permission is granted to extract or quote from any quote, one at a time (but not the whole post), provided the extract or quote includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this post. [return]
2. Extract from Latendresse, M., 2010, "Shroud Scope: Durante 2002: Vertical.," Sindonology.org. [return]
Posted: 14 October 2015. Updated: 14 November 2015.