Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Earlier issues of the BSTS Newsletter now online

I have been scanning old issues of the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter (from issues #54, then #42 backwards) which Ian Wilson loaned me for that purpose.

[Right (click to enlarge): My scan of the front cover of the BSTS Newsletter, issue 42, January 1996.]

And then, with Wilson supplying photos and art-work from his original copy masters, sending them to Barrie Schwortz for his final editing, conversion to PDF, and adding them to his The Shroud of Turin website.

In his latest update, Schwortz writes:

"Earlier Issues of the BSTS Newsletter Now Online
As most of you know, we have been reprinting the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter on this website since we first went online in 1996. Of course, we only reprinted each current issue once it was published, so the 42 earlier issues of the newsletter previous to 1996 were not available online. However, that is all changing thanks to Stephen E. Jones, BSTS member living in Australia. Stephen has begun the major task of scanning and using optical character recognition to archive the earlier issues and is working backwards from Issues #42 through #1. By using optical character recognition after scanning, the resulting pdf files that we publish are completely searchable by the individual reader as well as by major search engines. In today's update, we are including Issue #54, which was previously not on the site, along with Issues #42, 41 and 40. My thanks not only to Stephen, but also to Ian Wilson, former BSTS Newsletter editor, who has helped in reviewing the earlier issues and making high quality cover art available to us.

In the next website update we will include at least five more back issues (#35-39) and will continue to do so until the entire archive is completed and online (or Stephen throws in the towel). You will also notice some other changes to the BSTS page, including the addition of a Pick an Issue navigator bar, which allows you to quickly pick the specific issue you wish to view by issue number. My sincerest thanks to Stephen and Ian for their willingness to take up this time consuming but important work, from which we will all benefit. Of course, we will continue to publish the latest issues as we always have, so watch for Issue #74 in our January 21, 2012 update."

I emailed Barrie Schwortz (cc. Ian Wilson) yesterday:

"It's great to see the `missing' BSTS Newsletters finally being webbed! Thanks for doing it.

I have been reading Ian's old Newsletters from #1 forward and am up to #24 of January 1990. I have `lived through' the BSTS' dark days following the 1988-89 carbon-dating of the Shroud as `medieval'. It is fascinating reading and I am looking forward to the day when those immediately pre- and post-carbon dating issues are webbed."

Having read those old post-carbon dating BSTS Newsletters, I feel I must pay tribute to Ian Wilson, who like a good Captain, remained at the helm of the apparently sinking (or even sunk) ship Shroud, first leading the damage control, and then spearheaded the counter-attack, so that today, all but the `true believers' in the Shroud's inauthenticity and the blissfully ignorant, at least doubt, if not reject, the 1989 claim in Nature that:

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. As Controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated. The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval." (Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, No. 6208, 16th February, 1989, pp.611-615. My emphasis).

Here is a quote from a 1988 BSTS Newsletter, in response to pervasive leaks that the Shroud had been carbon-dated to the 14th century, where Wilson coined the brilliant metaphor of "the captain of an Atlantic-crossing jumbo Jet" who does not, having "spotting that his fuel gauges suddenly read empty, immediately ... ditch his aircraft in the sea without a few further checks":

"But if there was one feature of the British Museum press conference that particularly astonished, and frankly annoyed me, it was Professor Hall's flat assertion, on the basis merely of the averaged `1260-1390 AD' dates quoted (scientific publication of details will follow in another few months), that the carbon dates have overwhelmingly proved the Shroud's fraudulence. Effectively we are supposed to believe that on the basis of one single branch of science, nuclear physics (and all involved with the carbon dating, including Gonella and Tite, were physicists), every other scientific and historical contribution to the subject must now be tossed aside as totally worthless. As Hall admitted, it did not matter to him that there remained no clear explanation for how some hypothetical forger created the Shroud's image. The laboratories' instruments had spoken, and that was it. Now although a mere arts graduate, I have always understood that to be truly scientific, any hypothesis needs to be checked from at least two different directions. For instance we do not expect the captain of an Atlantic-crossing jumbo Jet, spotting that his fuel gauges suddenly read empty, immediately to ditch his aircraft in the sea without a few further checks. In the case of the Shroud it may be argued that just such further checks were provided by the `blind' control samples supplied by the British Museum. The fact that the laboratories agreed on the datings of these latter as well as on the Shroud samples has seemed to the media effectively the final proof positive that the Shroud really does date from the fourteenth century. To plead anything else is, as BBC Science Correspondent James Wilkinson put it to me, `clutching at straws'." (Ian Wilson, "The Carbon Dating Results: Is this the End?", BSTS Newsletter 20, October 1988, pp.2-10, p.4).

There are rich veins of gold in those old BSTS Newsletters, which are well worth reading. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to serve in this way the One whose image He graciously had imprinted on His burial shroud, and then preserved it for us these past ~2,000 years.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

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