Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shroud News - July 2007

I have decided to start here a monthly `newsletter' to post newsworthy items about the Shroud of Turin. Usually I will post the first item of significant current Shroud news for that month as I become aware of it, and then continue to add to that post with further Shroud-related news items through that month.

Leonardo: The man behind the Shroud? As I have already blogged about, starting here, on Sunday 1 July, the ABC (Australia's national public broadcaster) showed a National Geographic `documentary', "Leonardo: The Man Behind the Shroud," which claimed that Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519) forged the Shroud (which has a documented European history since at least 1357, i.e. ~100 years before he was born)! [Right: Sydney Morning Herald] Unfortunately I was unaware it was being shown until the day after, although I have only just found out that it was 6 years old, having been produced in 2001. The show was promoted in The Sydney Morning Herald:

".... this documentary looks at the possibility that the Shroud of Turin was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by cheeky Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci. It points out that there was once a thriving trade in religious artefacts: at one stage, six churches claimed to have Jesus's foreskin. Another place of worship claimed to hold St Joseph's last breath in a jar. Someone must have been turning prophets into profits. An argument is made via experts and artwork, carbon dating, scientific analysis and historical details ..."

However, as historian Ian Wilson pointed out, that the 14th century was so credulous that many (if not most) accepted as genuine such relics as, "St Joseph's last breath in a jar," is actually evidence in favour of the Shroud being genuine:

"Also is it not rather incredible that this unknown individual should have gone to so much trouble and effort to deceive in an age in which, as twentieth-century journalists have reminded us, a large proportion of the populace would have been very easily duped by a feather of the Archangel Gabriel or a phial of the last breath of St Joseph?" (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," Simon & Schuster: New York, 1998, pp.59-60)!

Shroud exhibition in the Phillipines As per the following news articles: SM Pampanga unveils 'Shroud of Turin', 'Shroud of Turin' scholar arrives for RP exhibit, and [Left: Main exhibit, a life-size Shroud replica,] `Shroud of Turin' awes Pampanga, a travelling exhibition of the Shroud was displayed in the Phillipines city of Pampanga. It features:

"a replica of the Shroud, together with over 80 other exhibit items from the collection of Barrie Schwortz, the official documenting photographer commissioned by King Umberto II of Savoy, the Shroud's previous monarch-owner."

The exhibition had previously toured New Zealand and will continue to tour the Philippines until April 2008.

President Reagan's thoughts about the Shroud makes post-moderns cringe! Book Review: The Reagan Diaries - The White House from 1981 to 1989, Blogcritics [Right:] magazine, Alessandro Nicolo, July 27, 2007. The reviewer notes that the late President Reagan:

"... thought the `Shroud of Turin' was proof of the bodily ascension. ... Indeed, this sort of ... thinking would make most post-modern individuals cringe, but to Reagan it made perfect sense."

It never seems to occur to such "post-modern individuals" that those of us, like President Reagan, who consider the Shroud of Turin to be extra-Biblical "proof of the bodily ascension" of Jesus could actually be right!

New National Geographic Shroud documentary A new Shroud documentary [Left: "Secrets of the Shroud" video trailer] is now showing in the USA. The blurb says:

Is it Real? Secrets of the Shroud [TV-PG] Monday, July 23, 2007, at 09P Believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is one of Christendoms most priceless treasures. But little is known about the mysterious origin of this precious relic or priceless work of art. Could it perhaps be the work of a cunning 14th century forger or was it really the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb? Now, with a team of scientists from both sides of the debate, NGC investigates the forensic and evidence connected to the mysterious Shroud of Turin.

The above blurb, and the trailer which is only about Kersten & Gruber's conspiracy theory, does not sound very promising. However Barrie Schwortz gives some grounds for hope that it may have some good points:

New Shroud Documentary to Air on the National Geographic Channel I am posting this special website update to let you know that a new television documentary, titled, "Is It Real? Secrets of the Shroud," will premiere on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) here in the U.S. on Monday, July 23, 2007 ... Tuesday, July 24, 2007 at 12:00am EDT and Sunday, July 29, 2007 at 2:00pm EDT. ... The program includes interviews with Ian Wilson, Dr. Frederick Zugibe and Barrie Schwortz presenting pro-authenticity arguments, Steve Schaffersman [sic] and Joe Nickell advocating their Shroud-is-a-forgery theory and Holger Kersten presenting his own Shroud-is-real theory.

Radiocarbon sample too tiny (~0.02%!) to represent entire Shroud PS: Regarding Barrie Schwortz's comment in the `tagline' quote below, that for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud in 1988:

"They only took one sample, from one little corner and divided that in thirds. Good science requires multiple samples from multiple sites" (my emphasis)

he is right! Since the Shroud measures ~4.4 x 1.1 m = ~4.84 m2, and only an "Approx 1.2cm x 8cm sample [was] removed for radiocarbon dating," (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.189), the

[Giovanni Riggi cutting the sample, Left: BSTS Newsletter, No. 43, June/July 1996. Note its size compared with the cutting man's fingers and thumb]

sample area was only 1.2 x 8 cm = 9.6 cm2 or 0.012 x 0.08 m = 0.00096 m2. This means that the sample was only 0.00096*100/4.84 = ~0.02% (or ~1 fiftieth of 1 percent), of the Shroud's total area. And since that 1.2 x 8 cm sample was then divided into three for each of the laboratories, each test was actually done on at most (in fact it was even less because, as the Nature paper admits, "all three laboratories subdivided the samples" for multiple tests) only ~0.02%/3 = ~0.007% (or ~7 thousandths of 1 percent), of the Shroud's total area! It is simply not "good science" (to put it mildly) for those radiocarbon laboratories (and their supporters) to claim that one sample of ~7 thousandths of 1 percent (or even combined ~1 fiftieth of 1 percent) is a statistically valid representation of the whole Shroud.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biol).
My other blog: CreationEvolutionDesign

"It is fitting that the daddy of all reputed religious relics is a shroud. For the Shroud of Turin is itself enveloped - in eternal controversy over its authenticity. And if you think it odd that the man who has become the shroud's modern advocate is Jewish - well so does he. American photographer Barrie Schwortz ... is a believer. But he wasn't always - he was raised in an orthodox Jewish family, and Jews don't believe Jesus was the son of God. In 1978 he was invited to photograph the investigations of a non-partisan group of scientists embarking on an unprecedented five-day study of the shroud, in its home in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. `I was convinced that I was going to get to Turin and take a close look and see the paint and the brushstrokes and come home,' Schwortz says. He and the scientists assembled in Turin and the shroud was brought in and laid on a table. `And I leaned over it, probably with my nose just a few centimetres from the cloth, and I looked at it. And after about a minute or so I stood up and I thought, "well, I'm going to have to rethink my thinking on this, because it's obviously not a painting". `Up close it's almost invisible. One needs to stand back probably 3m before you can get a sense of where the image is and it becomes coherent to you because it is so subtle.' ... `And yet, the irony of my life is how much time I spend, as a Jew, trying to educate Christians that this could well be a relic of Jesus.' Schwortz runs a website - - that has become an international focal point for the debate over the shroud's authenticity. He also lectures on the topic ... The History and Science of The Shroud of Turin. Its centrepiece is an actual-size replica of the shroud, from the photographs he took in 1978. ... Schwortz ... doesn't accept the results of radiocarbon dating of a small section of the shroud in 1988 in which three scientific laboratories independently concluded the cloth was created in medieval times. `They only took one sample, from one little corner and divided that in thirds. Good science requires multiple samples from multiple sites. That's no way to date anything.' `I mean, if someone wanted to date a vehicle, and they took the paint from one fender, what if that fender had been repaired from a crash, and would be newer paint - would that tell us how old the vehicle was? No. That's the best analogy I can think of for what happened with the shroud.'" (Sell, B., "Doubt about shroud turns to faith," The New Zealand Herald, May 07, 2005)

Updated: 21 June 2015.

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