The man on the Shroud
Copyright © Stephen E. Jones
This is part #11, "The man on the Shroud: Faint," of my series, "The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!" See the Main index for more information about this series.
- The man on the Shroud #8
- Faint #11
Faint. The image is so faint that it appears ghostlike, like a shadow cast on the cloth. Since the image lacks boundaries and is so faint, the eye and brain cannot compose a picture of it until the observer moves some distance away. The faintness of the image is due to it being extremely superficial, residing only on the peaks of the linen fibres and does not consist of artists' pigments.
Historical. When the Mandylion / Image of Edessa was brought to Constantinople from Edessa in August 944, Byzantine historian Symeon Metaphrastes, who was present, recorded that the sons of the Emperor Romanus Lecapenus (c.870-948) were only able to distinguish a faint image of a face on the cloth, not the eyes and ears, indicating that the image was faint and indistinct. This is a common reaction of those seeing the Shroud for the first time. The future Emperor, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (905-59), who also saw the Mandylion up close at that time, was able to see faint facial details, including the eyes and ears, and described it as a "moist secretion without colors or the art of a painting. This also precisely describes the extremely faint image on the Shroud. Nicholas Mesarites (c. 1163-1216) was the overseer of the imperial relic collection in Constantinople's Pharos Chapel. In 1201 Nicholas described the "funerary sheets [sindones] of Christ" that were then in the Chapel as having "wrapped the un-outlined [aperilepton], dead, naked" dead body of Jesus "after the Passion". The descriptors "naked" and "un-outlined" can only refer to the image of the man on the Shroud which uniquely is fully naked and has no outline. And this was in Constantinople 59 years before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud! Moreover, the Greek word aperilepton, which can also be translated "indefinable", or "uncircumscribed", implies that the image was very faint.
Problem for the forgery theory. (see previous three: #7, #9 & #10) Paul Vignon (1865-1943), who was an artist before he became a biologist, tried to paint an image on linen as faint as that on the Shroud, first with oil paints and then with water colours, but he found it to be almost impossible to paint even the crudest approximation of the Shroud's image and when he had done so, when the cloth was folded, the image peeled away. Because the Shroud image is so faint it cannot be seen close up (see above), and at touching distance the image "melts away like mist", an artist would have had to stand 2 metres (~6.6 feet) or more from the cloth to see what he was doing. STURP chemist Alan D. Adler (1931-2000) and biophysicist John H. Heller (1921-95) conducted a gedankenexperiment (thought experiment) to think through how an artist could paint the Shroud's extremely faint image:
"... Adler and I began a gedankenexperiment to see what would be required of an artist. As mentioned earlier, you cannot see the man in the Shroud unless you are one or two meters away. An artist cannot paint if he cannot see what effect his brush is producing. Our putative artist, then, must have had a paintbrush one to two meters long. It must have consisted of a single bristle, since it painted single fibrils that were 10 to 15 microns in diameter. The finest paintbrush bristles I know of are sable, and a sable hair is vast in diameter compared with a linen fibril. In addition, the artist would have had to figure out a paint medium that had no oil or water, because there were no indications of capillarity. Now, to see what he was painting he would have needed a microscope with an enormous focal length that would permit the brush to operate under it. The physics of optics preclude such a device, unless it is attached to a television set. In this case, it would have had to be a color TV, for the straw-yellow is too faint to register on black and white. Another constraint the artist must have-dealt with is the limit of the human nervous system. No one can hold so long a brush steady enough to paint the top of a fibril. One would need a twentieth-century micromanipulator, which would have to work hydraulically at a distance of one to two meters. It would have to be rigged to a device called a waldo, which is an invention of the atomic era. Also, the artist would have to know how many fibrils to paint quantitatively, and do the whole thing in reverse, like a negative."Conclusion. From the above, an artist-forger could not have created the extremely faint image on the Shroud. And even if he could have, he would not have created an image that was so faint, it could not be seen close-up. As the Irish theologian Alfred O'Rahilly (1884-1969) pointed out:
"Even forgery, being a business, must supply in accordance with demand, it must give customers what they want ..."An artist would know that a forgery of Jesus' dead body on His burial Shroud, that was so faint it could not be seen close-up, would fetch a far lower price than one on which Jesus' body that could be clearly seen. So even the extreme faintness of the image of the man on the Shroud is part of the overwhelming evidence that the Turin Shroud is authentic!
Ccontinued in part #12 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. Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, p.6; Scavone, D.C., "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.311-329, 314; Scavone, D.C., 2002, "Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and the Edessa Icon," Collegamento pro Sindone, October, pp.1-25, p.2; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.13. [return]
3. Wilson, I., 1974, "The Shroud in history," The Tablet, 13th April, p.12. [return]
4. Faccini, B., "Scourge bloodstains on the Turin Shroud: an evidence for different instruments used," in Fanti, G., ed., 2009, "The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma," Proceedings of the 2008 Columbus Ohio International Conference, August 14-17, 2008, Progetto Libreria: Padua, Italy, pp.228-245, p.228). [return]
5. "Image of Full 2002 Restored Shroud," High Resolution Imagery, Shroud University, 2014. [return]
6. Cruz, J.C., 1984, "Relics: The Shroud of Turin, the True Cross, the Blood of Januarius ..: History, Mysticism, and the Catholic Church," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.48. [return]
7. Scavone, 1989, p.20. [return]
8. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, pp.4-5; Oxley, M., 2010, "The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin," AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.3. [return]
9. Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.37. [return]
10. Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, p.114. [return]
11. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," , Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, pp.116, 151; Maher, R.W., 1986, "Science, History, and the Shroud of Turin," Vantage Press: New York NY, p.92; 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, pp.171-204, 190; Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.314; Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.148-149; Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, pp.4-5; Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, pp.24-25; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.167. [return]
12. Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.316; Guerrera, 2001, p.5. [return]
13. Wilson, 1979, p.116. [return]
14. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.48-49. [return]
15. Wilson, 1979, p.116. [return]
16. Ruffin, C.B., 1999, "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.58. [return]
17. Scavone, 1989, p.86. [return]
18. Ruffin, 1999, p.58; Guerrera, 2001, p.5; Scavone, 2002, p.2; de Wesselow, 2012, p.185. [return]
19. Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.314. [return]
20. Scavone, 1989, p.105. [return]
21. de Wesselow, 2012, p.176. [return]
22. de Wesselow, 2012, p.176. [return]
23. Wilson, 1998, p.145; de Wesselow, 2012, p.181. [return]
24. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.3; Wilson, 1998, p.141. [return]
25. Scavone, 1989, p.89. [return]
26. Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.321; Wilson, 1991, p.155. [return]
27. Schwalbe, L.A. & Rogers, R.N., 1982, "Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin: Summary of the 1978 Investigation," Reprinted from Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 135, No. 1, pp.3-49, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co: Amsterdam, 1982, p.6; Scavone, in Sutton, 1989, p.321; Whanger, M. & Whanger, A.D., 1998, "The Shroud of Turin: An Adventure of Discovery," Providence House Publishers: Franklin TN, p.8. [return]
28. Shepard, L., "New Foreword," Vignon, P., 1902, "The Shroud of Christ," University Books: New York NY, Reprinted, 1970, p.vii. [return]
29. Brent, P. & Rolfe, D., 1978, "The Silent Witness: The Mysteries of the Turin Shroud Revealed," Futura Publications: London, pp.36-37. [return]
30. Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.2. [return]
31. Wilson, 1979, p.21; Wilson, 1998, p.4; Wilson, 2010, p.7. [return]
32. Schwalbe & Rogers, 1982, p.6; Scavone, 1989, p.85. [return]
33. Heller, 1983, p.202; Schwalbe & Rogers, 1982, p.6; Antonacci, 2000, p.37. [return]
34. Heller, 1983, p.203. [return]
35. O'Rahilly, A. & Gaughan, J.A., ed., 1985, "The Crucified," Kingdom Books: Dublin, p.52. [return]
Posted: 8 March 2016. Updated: 29 October 2016.