The man on the Shroud
Copyright © Stephen E. Jones
This is part #18, "The man on the Shroud: Superficial," of my series, "Evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!" See the Main index for more information about this series. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.
- The man on the Shroud #8
- Superficial #18
Introduction. The image of the man on the Shroud is superficial.
[Right (enlarge): STURP's Barrie Schwortz' 1978 transmitted light photograph of the ventral (front) half of the Shroud, in which the light source is behind the suspended cloth so only the light transmitted through it is seen. The scorches and waterstains from the 1532 fire, and the bloodstains, have penetrated the thickness of the cloth and so can be clearly seen. But the body image has almost completely disappeared, demonstrating that the image of the man on the Shroud is superficial, only one fibre deep.]
Superficial By "superficial" is meant that the Shroud image occurs only on the top surface fibrils on the crowns of the linen fibres. The image cannot be seen on the reverse side of the cloth (as we saw above). It is a surface phenomenon with no penetration of the image into the sub-surface fibres (see below).
"The top photo, a closeup of an image area, shows that the image is composed of tiny linen fibrils which are discolored yellow in contrast to the whiter threads of the Shroud itself. The photo beneath is taken from an area containing both bloodstains and image. These photos show that the image is superficial - that is, the yellow fibrils are on the topmost layers of the cloth."]
Extremely superficial Moreover, the body image is extremely superficial, being only one fibre deep. Indeed scientists using the facilities of National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) in Frascati, Italy measured the thickness of the image and found it was that of "the primary cell wall" (see diagram below) of a "single linen fiber" which is about "one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter" (0.0002 mm):
"... the image ... is extremely thin, around 200 nm = 200 billionths of a meter, or one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter, which corresponds to the thickness of the primary cell wall of the so-called single linen fiber. We recall that a single linen thread is made up of about 200 fibrils."See below (enlarge) a diagram of a cotton cellulose fibril and its place within the primary cell wall of a cotton fibre cell. The Shroud image resides on the surface of analogous fibrils of a flax fibre, which had been spun into linen threads and then woven to form the linen cloth which became the Shroud.
Not vaporograph The Vaporograph Theory was proposed by Paul Vignon (1865-1943), that ammonia gases from residual sweat on Jesus' dead body had reacted with the spices (assumed to be myrrh and aloes) that had been bound by strips of linen to the body of Jesus (Jn 19:40) and had stained the linen with its imprint. But in addition to its other problems, ammonia vapours would permeate the cloth and would not imprint an image only on the surface fibrils.
Not Maillard reaction The Mailard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and carbohydrates. It is what causes the browning of food in cooking. STURP chemist Ray Rogers (1927–2005) proposed the theory that the image on the Shroud was the result of a Maillard reaction between a carbohydrate, Saponaria officinalis, or soapwort, which was used by the ancients in the production of linen, and both ammonia and amino acids which were given off by Jesus' (supposedly) decomposing body. However, in addition to the other problems of Rogers' Maillard reaction theory (including that there is no evidence of decomposition on the Shroud man's body) (see "No decomposition #21"), Rogers' admitted that the extreme superficiality of the Shroud image, "the discontinuous distribution of the color on the topmost parts of the weave," was a "perplexing" problem for his theory. That is because, as the agnostic Thomas de Wesselow, a proponent of Rogers' theory, acknowledges, the Mailard reaction theory is an update of Vignon's vaporograph theory, with its same ammonia gas permeation problems, which de Wesselow (perhaps not realising it) concedes. In 2013 Barrie Schwortz experimentally tested Rogers' Maillard reaction theory on a decomposing pig but the theory failed the test!!
"Electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed strongly in air consists of photons in the ultraviolet or soft x-ray region. It happens that these photons are also sufficiently energetic to photochemically modify cellulose. Such photons are strongly absorbed in cellulose over fibril-like distances. Experiments performed by the author have shown that ... shortwave ultraviolet radiation produces a yellow-browned pattern like the Shroud body image composed of chemically altered cellulose. Thus, I posit that radiation from the body initially photosensitized the body image onto the Shroud. This pattern would have appeared, if the radiation was ultraviolet, as a white (bleached) image on a less white cloth. With time, natural aging would have reversed the relative shading of the image to its presently observed state where it appears darker than the surrounding cloth".Significantly the ENEA scientists (see above) found in 2011 that only "a short and intense burst of VUV [vaccuum ultraviolet] ... radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including ... the surface [i.e. "the uppermost fibres of the threads of the cloth"] color of the fibrils":
"Dr Jackson proposed the hypothesis that, at the time that the image on the Shroud was formed, the cloth collapsed into and through the underlying structure of the body in the Shroud. He did admit that, as a physicist, he had his own difficulties with this concept. Based on his observations of the image he further proposed that, as the body became mechanically transparent to its physical surroundings, it emitted radiation from all points within and on the surface of the body. This radiation interacted with the cloth as it fell into the mechanically transparent body, forming the body image. He also suggested that the radiation would have had to have been strongly absorbed in air. This, he suggested, could have been electromagnetic radiation in the shortwave ultraviolet region of the spectrum, which would have caused a chemical alteration of the cellulose in the cloth fibres."
"...a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence"Cloth collapse theory The extreme superficiality of the Shroud man's image (amongst all its other major features) is explained by Prof. John P. Jackson's "cloth collapse theory":
"Superficial Penetration of Image. Once the cloth enters the body region, radiation emitted from within the body volume interacts with each cloth fibril throughout the bulk of the cloth from all directions. However, fibrils on both surfaces of the cloth receive a greater dose than those inside because they are unobstructed by overlying fibril layers. These fibrils would probably be highly absorbing to the radiation because the air, which is less dense by nearly three orders of magnitude than cellulose, is assumed to be highly absorbing to account for image resolution ... The net result is an exaggerated dose accumulation of the surface fibrils over those inside the cloth.".Problem for the forgery theory (see previous three: #15, #16 & #17). That the Shroud body image is extremely superficial alone (but it is not alone - see also "No paint, etc. #15"), proves that it is not a painting. A paint, pigment, dye, or other liquid colouring medium would not remain on the topmost fibrils of the Shroud but would, and did in tests, soak down through the cloth. Neither can the image be a dry powder rubbing as proposed by Joe Nickell. A powder would, and did in tests, work its way down from the surface of the cloth (but there is no powder even on the surface of the Shroud-see again "No paint, etc. #15") through the spaces in the weave. Nor is the image a scorch from the cloth having been draped over a heated statue or bas-relief, as first demonstrated in 1966 by British historian Geoffrey Ashe (1923-), that a damp linen cloth placed over a heated brass bas-relief of a horse ornament for a few seconds did scorch a negative image of the horse on the cloth. However, Ashe is a Christian and a Shroud pro-authenticist, so he was not proposing that the Shroud man's image was forged using a heated statue or bas-relief. Rather, Ashe proposed that the resurrection of Jesus "released a brief and violent burst of some other radiation than heat ... which scorched the cloth" and imprinted on it "a quasi-photograph of Christ returning to life"!:
"According to Jackson, this hypothesis would explain each of the image characteristics of the Shroud. Because radiation effects on the cloth cannot begin until it intersects with the body surface, one-to-one mapping between a given point on the body with a point on the cloth is achieved; in other words, the image is well resolved. As the cloth enters the body region, the fibrils on the surfaces of the cloth receive a greater dose of radiation than those inside, leading to a superficial body image. Also as the cloth collapses, internal stresses cause it to bulge away from the sides of the body and at the top of the head; hence, no image. is visible there. The effect of the radiation thus described would explain the chemical nature of the image. The blood, however, would have been transferred naturally to the Shroud by direct contact, during the initial draping of the body covered with blood. Finally, as the Shroud collapses into the body region, each cloth point falls vertically downwards, explaining why the image features tend to align vertically over their corresponding body part."
"The Shroud is explicable if it once enwrapped a human body to which something extraordinary happened. It is not explicable otherwise. The Christian Creed has always affirmed that Our Lord underwent an unparalleled transformation in the tomb. His case is exceptional and perhaps here is the key. It is at least intelligible (and has been suggested several times) that the physical change of the body at the Resurrection may have released a brief and violent burst of some other radiation than heat, perhaps scientifically identifiable, perhaps not, which scorched the cloth. In this case the Shroud image is a quasi-photograph of Christ returning to life, produced by a kind of radiance or `incandescence' partially analogous to heat in its effects.".But an actual scorch from a cloth draped over hot statue or bas-relief, as well as its other problems, would discolour not only the surface of the cloth, but did in tests, continue discolouring the cloth down through its thickness. And as we saw in "Medieval photography: Nicholas Allen," the Shroud image is not a medieval photograph.
So the extreme superficiality of the Shroud body image, alone "very clearly refutes the hypothesis that the Shroud of Turin might be the work of a medieval forger"!
Conclusion. The Shroud is either a forgery (i.e. a work of human art that purports to be of Jesus' burial shroud, bearing the image of His crucified body) or it is authentic. This was pointed out in 1963 by pro-authenticist John E. Walsh (1927-2015):
"Only this much is certain: The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence-showing us in its dark simplicity how He appeared to men-or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground."But that had already been conceded sixty years earlier in 1903, by then leading Shroud anti-authenticist, English Roman Catholic priest Fr. Herbert Thurston (1856–1939), who admitted, "If this is not the impression of the Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression":
"As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head, can still be clearly distinguished ... If this is not the impression of the Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other person since the world began could these details be verified"More recently, leading Shroud sceptic Steven Schafersman (quoted approvingly by Joe Nickell) admitted that either the Shroud is "a product of human artifice" or "the image is that of Jesus" and there is no "possible third hypothesis":
"As the (red ochre) dust settles briefly over Sindondom, it becomes clear there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic (naturally or supernaturally produced by the body of Jesus) or it is a product of human artifice. Asks Steven Schafersman: `Is there a possible third hypothesis? No, and here's why. Both Wilson and Stevenson and Habermas go to great lengths to demonstrate that the man imaged on the shroud must be Jesus Christ and not someone else. After all, the man on this shroud was flogged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, did not have his legs broken, was nailed to the cross, had his side pierced, and so on. Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ (and they consider this a very conservative estimate). I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus.'"Therefore, since the extreme superficiality of the Shroud man's image alone refutes all forgery theories, the only alternative, as admitted by leading Shroud anti-authenticists Thurston, Schafersman and Nickell, is that the Shroud is authentic! And that the Man on the Shroud is Jesus!!
"`Were those the lips that spoke the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Rich Fool?'; `Is this the Face that is to be my judge on the Last Day?'".]
Continued in the next part #19 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. 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.66; 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, 31; Habermas G.R., "Discussion: Antony G. N. Flew, Gary R. Habermas, Terry L. Miethe, and W. David Beck," in Habermas G.R., Flew A.G.N. & Miethe T.L., ed., 1987, "Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?: The Resurrection Debate," Harper & Row: San Francisco CA, p.119; Jackson, J.P., "An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image," 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.325-344, 332; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.216; Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, p.114; Adler, A.D., 2000a, "The Shroud Fabric and the Body Image: Chemical and Physical Characteristics," in Adler, A.D. & Crispino, D., ed., 2002, "The Orphaned Manuscript: A Gathering of Publications on the Shroud of Turin," Effatà Editrice: Cantalupa, Italy, pp.113-127, 113; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.36; Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.74. [return]
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4. Adler, 2000a, p.116; Adler, A.D., 2000c, "Chemical and Physical Aspects of the Sindonic Images," in Adler & Crispino, 2002, pp.11-27, 16-17. [return]
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8. Adler, 2000c, pp.16-17. [return]
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10. Schwalbe & Rogers, 1982, p.32. [return]
11. Jumper, E.J., "Considerations of Molecular Diffusion and Radiation as an Image Formation Process on the 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.183; Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, p.4. [return]
12. Lavoie, G.R., 2000, "Resurrected: Tangible Evidence That Jesus Rose from the Dead," , Thomas More: Allen TX, pp.57-58. [return]
13. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.76J. [return]
14. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.217; Danin, et al., 1999, p.8; Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.74. [return]
15. Adler, 2000c, pp.16-17. [return]
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19. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, pp.60,70; Schwalbe & Rogers, 1982, p.35; Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.125; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.218; Antonacci, 2000, p.61. [return]
20. Rogers, R.N., 2008, "A Chemist's Perspective on the Shroud of Turin," Lulu Press: Raleigh, NC, p.100; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.155. [return]
21. Rogers, 2008, pp.100-101; de Wesselow, 2012, p.155. [return]
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23. Rogers, 2008, pp.100-102; de Wesselow, 2012, pp.155-156. [return]
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27. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.156-157. [return]
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31. "Events: Advances in the Turin Shroud investigation," 4 & 5 September, Bari, Italy, in British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter No. 80, December 2014. [return]
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33. Jackson, 1991, p.340. [return]
34. 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.167. [return]
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36. Habermas, 1987, p.119; Antonacci, 2000, p.36; Lavoie, 2000, p.64. [return]
37. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.106; Schwalbe & Rogers, 1982, p.30; Nickell, J., 1987, "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," , Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, Reprinted, 2000, pp.102-103; Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.122; Antonacci, 2000, p.75; Zugibe, F.T., 2005, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," M. Evans & Co.: New York NY, p.255; de Wesselow, 2012, p.137. [return]
38. Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.31; Antonacci, 2000, pp.74-75; de Wesselow, 2012, p.138. [return]
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42. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.217; Antonacci, 2000, pp.78-79. [return]
43. Tosatti, 2011. [return]
44. Walsh, J.E., 1963, "The Shroud," Random House: New York NY, pp.x-xii. [return]
45. Thurston, H., 1903, "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," The Month, CI, p.19, in Wilson, 1979, p.52. [return]
46. Wilson, 1979, pp.51-53. [return]
47. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, pp.121-129. [return]
48. Stevenson. & Habermas, 1981, p.128. [return]
49. Schafersman, S.D., 1982, "Science, the public, and the Shroud of Turin," The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 6, No. 3, Spring, pp.37-56, p.42; in Nickell, J., 1987, "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," , Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, Reprinted, 2000, p.141. [return]
50. "Shroud University - Exploring the Mystery Since 33 A.D.," Shroud of Turin Education Project, Inc., Peachtree City, GA. [return]
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Posted: 11 November 2016. Updated: 20 March 2017.