Sunday, December 27, 2015

Naked #9: The man on the Shroud: The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!

The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!
The man on the Shroud
Copyright © Stephen E. Jones[1]

This is the "The man on the Shroud: Naked," part #9 of my series, "The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!." See the Main index for more information about this series.

[Main index #1] [Previous: The man on the Shroud #8] [Next: Double image #10]

  1. The man on the Shroud #8
    1. Naked #9

Introduction. On the Shroud are the front and back images of a man's naked body[2]. His hands had been crossed modestly over his genitals[3]. The man

[Right (enlarge): Dorsal (back) image of the man on the Shroud[4], showing that he is completely naked[5]. No medieval or earlier Christian artist (as far as I am aware) ever depicted Jesus' full-length naked back. So no medieval or earlier forger would have depicted Jesus' full- length naked back, because a forger wants his work to be accepted as genuine[6].]

is completely naked[7] as shown by the back (dorsal) image[8]. While his hands block the full frontal nudity, his buttocks are in full view[9]. Jesus was crucified naked, His clothes having been taken off Him and divided between His Roman soldier executioners (Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:23-24)[10].

Historical. The Hungarian Pray Codex (or Manuscript), which is dated 1192-95[11], depicts Jesus completely naked[12], when in

[Left (enlarge): "Entombment" (upper) and "Visit to the Sepulchre" (lower), ink drawings in the Hungarian Pray Codex (1192-1195)[13]. As can be seen, Jesus is depicted nude with His hands crossed right over left, crossing awkwardly at the wrists, covering His groin, identical to the Shroud[14].]

medieval art Christ's modesty was almost always preserved by a loincloth or a burial cloth[15]. This is only one of the at least "eight telling correspondences between the Shroud and ... the Pray Codex."[16], 65 years before the earliest possible radiocarbon date of 1260[17].

After the sack of Constantinople in 1204, Nicholas Mesarites, keeper of the Emperor's relics in the Pharos Chapel, Constantinople, recalled that in 1201, in that chapel, was "the sindon [which] wrapped the mysterious, naked dead body [of Christ] after the Passion" (my emphasis)[18]. The Greek word variously translated "mysterious"[19], "indefinable"[20] and "uncircumscribed"[21], is aperilepton[22], which literally means "un-outlined"[23] or "outlineless"[24]. The Shroud-image uniquely has no outline[25], so there could be no stronger proof that the Constantinople shroud is that of Lirey, Chambéry and Turin![26]

Problem for the forgery theory. This is another (see #1, #3, #4, #5, #6 & #7) problem for the medieval forgery theory. In this late antiquity period, Jesus was almost never depicted naked[27] but wearing at least a loincloth[28]. The sole known exception (that proves the rule) is in the "Holkham Bible Picture Book," an Anglo-French, mid-fourteenth century, manuscript[29], which has a depiction of an entirely naked Christ[30]. But in

[Right (enlarge): Crucifixion scene in the Holkham Bible[31]. See also "Digitised Manu-scripts," British Library, f32r]

those scenes where Jesus is depicted naked, e.g. the crucifixion scene [right], Jesus is shown side-on so that His genitals cannot be seen. Or rather, Jesus doesn't have genitals, since they would be seen in that side-on pose! The same is true of other scenes in the Holkham Bible where Jesus is portrayed naked: He is also either side-on and/or doesn't have genitals. So those scenes depicting Christ naked in the Holkham Bible are not realistic but cartoon-like (Wilson likens the Holkham Bible to "modern-day children's horror comics"[32]), unlike the Shroud's photographic realism. The Holkham Bible's words are Norman French, but its illustrations are of 14th-century England[33]. The British Library's description of the book: "Holkham Bible, London?, England, second quarter of the 14th century"[34], indicates that it doesn't know exactly where or when the book originated. According to Ian Wilson the Holkham Bible was "created in northern France ... during the lifetime of Geoffrey de Charny [c. 1300-56], the first known owner of the Shroud"[35] and "there is an argument for the Shroud itself possibly having influenced" the Holkham Bible[36]. According to the British Library, the Holkham Bible was made for a "Dominican friar ... as a teaching aid for the rich and powerful ..."[37], so it may have only existed as one manuscript and never been widely known. And it's cartoon-like, ~265 x 200 mm[38] (10.4 x 7.9 inch), pictures cannot be a forgery of the burial shroud of Christ. No medieval forger (i.e. who intended his work to be accepted as genuine), would have depicted Jesus fully naked[39], when almost all artists who copied the Shroud added a loincloth[40]. The Holkham Bible notwithstanding, a realistic naked image of Jesus, as on the Shroud, would be a violation of the ethics of the medieval era[41]. A realistic depiction of a nude Christ would have been considered offensive in the Middle Ages, lessening, if not destroying, its economic and ceremonial value[42]. Indeed, as Wilcox points out:

".... the portrayal of Jesus on the shroud is non-traditional, non-European ... the nakedness of the loins would not inspire the devotional or artistic sensibilities of fourteenth-century Europe; rather they would have gotten the forger burned at the stake."[43]

Continued in part #10 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. Permission is granted to quote from any part of this post (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this post. [return]
2. Drews, R., 1984, "In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, p.11. [return]
3. Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, pp.vii, 1; Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.1. [return]
4. Latendresse, M., 2010, "Shroud Scope: Enrie Negative Horizontal" (rotated right 90°), [return]
5. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.115. [return]
6. Barbet, P., 1987, "Proof of the Authenticity of the Shroud in the Bloodstains: Part II," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 23, June, pp.3-15, 14. [return]
7. Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.105. [return]
8. Beecher, P.A., 1928, "The Holy Shroud: Reply to the Rev. Herbert Thurston, S.J.," M.H. Gill & Son: Dublin, p.17. [return]
9. Messenger, J., 2002, "More on the `Mysterious' Shroud: In Response," Voice News, June 14 (no longer online). [return]
10. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.52, 314; Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.43. [return]
11. Berkovits, I., 1969, "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," Horn, Z., transl., West, A., rev., Irish University Press: Shannon, Ireland, p.19; Wilson, 1986, pp.114-115; Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.150-151; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, pp.162-163; Scavone, D.C., 1998, "A Hundred Years of Historical Studies on the Turin Shroud," Paper presented at the Third International Congress on the Shroud of Turin, 6 June 1998, Turin, Italy, in Minor, M., Adler, A.D. & Piczek, I., eds., 2002, "The Shroud of Turin: Unraveling the Mystery: Proceedings of the 1998 Dallas Symposium," Alexander Books: Alexander NC, p.64; Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.146; Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.116; ; Guerrera, 2001, p.104; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, pp.178, 180. [return]
12. Wilson, 1986, p.115; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.163; Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, p.154; Wilson, 1998, p.271; Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.105. [return]
13. Berkovits, 1969 , pl. III. [return]
14. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.160; Wilson, 1986, pp.114-115; de Wesselow, 2012, pp.178-179. [return]
15. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.178-179. [return]
16. de Wesselow, 2012, p.180; Guerrera, 2001, p.105. [return]
17. Maloney, P.C., "Researching the Shroud of Turin: 1898 to the Present: A Brief Survey of Findings and Views," in Minor, 2002, p.33. [return]
18. Scavone, D.C., "The History of the Turin Shroud to the 14th C.," in Berard, A., ed., 1991, "History, Science, Theology and the Shroud," Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX, p.196; Wilson, 1998, p.272; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.122; Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, pp.25-26, 29. [return]
19. Wilson, 1979, pp.168, 257; Maher, R.W., 1986, "Science, History, and the Shroud of Turin," Vantage Press: New York NY, p.93; Guerrera, 2001, p.6; Wilson, 2010, p.185. [return]
20. Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, p.89; Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.79. [return]
21. Scavone, D., "The Shroud of Turin in Constantinople: The Documentary Evidence," in Sutton, R.F., Jr., 1989, "Daidalikon: Studies in Memory of Raymond V Schoder," Bolchazy Carducci Publishers: Wauconda IL, p.321; Wilson, 1998, p.272. [return]
22. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.176, 180; Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.321; Wilson, 1991, p.155; Wilson, 1998, p.145. [return]
23. de Wesselow, 2012, p.176. [return]
24. Wilson, 1991, p.155; Wilson, 1998, pp.145, 201. [return]
25. Barnes, A.S., 1934, "The Holy Shroud of Turin," Burns Oates & Washbourne: London, p.14; Iannone, 1998, pp.71, 156, 178; Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.38; de Wesselow, 2012, p.176. [return]
26. Hynek, R.W., 1951, "The True Likeness," [1946], Sheed & Ward: London, p. 31. [return]
27. Drews, 1984, p.29; Scavone, 1989, p.15. [return]
Iannone, 1998, p.70. [return]
28. Hynek, 1951, pp.8, 30; Meacham, W., 1983, "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology," Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 3, June, pp.283; de Wesselow, 2012, p.176. [return]
29. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.54. [return]
30. Wilson, 1986, p.71; Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, pp.54-55. [return]
31. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.54. [return]
32. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.55. [return]
33. "Holkham Bible," British Library, 21 December 2010. [return]
34. Ibid. [return]
35. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, pp.54-55. [return]
36. Wilson, 1998, p.32. [return]
37. "Holkham Bible," British Library, 2010. [return]
38. "Digitised Manuscripts: Add MS 47682," British Library, n.d. [return]
39. Brent, P. & Rolfe, D., 1978, "The Silent Witness: The Mysteries of the Turin Shroud Revealed," Futura Publications: London, p.41. [return]
40. Barbet, 1987, p.14. [return]
41. Bennett, J., 2001, "Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo: New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin," Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, p.89. [return]
42. Meacham, 1983, p.293. return]
43. Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," Macmillan: New York NY, pp.170-171, 188. [return]

Posted: 27 December 2015. Updated: 28 May 2019.


Steve Calovich said...

What strikes me right away, is the powerful build of Jesus' physique. Filmmakers usually portray Jesus with a light build. I can see why the Sanhedrin sent an elite group of soldiers to arrest Him.

Stephen E. Jones said...


>What strikes me right away, is the powerful build of Jesus' physique. Filmmakers usually portray Jesus with a light build.

Yes. It is consistent with Jesus' occupation of carpenter (Mk 6:3; Mt 13:55).

>I can see why the Sanhedrin sent an elite group of soldiers to arrest Him.

The gospels don't say that it was "an elite group." Rather, the Synoptics say it was "a great crowd [armed] with swords and clubs" (Mt 26:47; Mk 14:43; Lk 22:47) and only Jn 18:3 adds that it was (or included) "a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees" (see also Jn 18:12, "the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him."

Still, it seems grossly excessive to arrest one man. But the size of the arresting party was probably more to do with fear of Jesus' miraculous powers than with His physical powers. It is unlikely to have been fear of Jesus' followers because the arresting party was led by Judas, who knew that Jesus only had 11 disciples with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Stephen E. Jones
MY POLICIES Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Except that comments under my latest post can be on any Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm aware there are no medieval paintings or sculptures depicting a naked Jesus Christ,( His genitalia are always concealed by a subligacum) so this peculiar aspect of the image of the Man of the Shroud is no doubt one of the many pieces of evidence pointing towards authenticity.
This is one point I usually highlight in my lectures about the Shroud.

Antero de Frias Moreira
Centro Português de Sindonologia

Stephen E. Jones said...


>As far as I'm aware there are no medieval paintings or sculptures depicting a naked Jesus Christ,

There is a sole exception, the Holkham Bible pictures of Jesus scourged and crucified naked. But apart from it is cartoon-like (unlike the Shroud's photographic realism), in the Holkham Bible pictures I have seen, Jesus is depicted side-on so that His genitals cannot be seen. I will deal with the Holkham Bible in a future installment.

>( His genitalia are always concealed by a subligacum)

Or the depiction is not front on, like the Holkham Bible. And there are, as far as I am aware, NO depictions in medieval art of Jesus' full-length naked BACK, including His buttocks.

>so this peculiar aspect of the image of the Man of the Shroud is no doubt one of the many pieces of evidence pointing towards authenticity.


>This is one point I usually highlight in my lectures about the Shroud.

And the nakedness of Jesus (front and BACK) is only ONE of the OVERWHELMING number of items of evidence that prove, beyond REASONABLE doubt, that the Shroud is authentic!

>de Frias Moreira
Centro Português de Sindonologi

Good to hear from you.

Stephen E. Jones
Reader, if you like this my The Shroud of Turin blog, and you have a website, could you please consider adding a hyperlink to my blog on it? This would help increase its Google PageRank number and so enable those who are Google searching on "the Shroud of Turin" to more readily discover my blog. Thanks.