Monday, July 15, 2013

The Shroud of Turin: 3.3. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were scourged

This is "3.3. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were scourged" being part 21 of my series, "The Shroud of Turin." The previous post in this series was part 20, "3.2 The Man the Shroud." For more information about this series, see part 1, Contents.

© Stephen E. Jones

Scourging Scourging was a Roman punishment for serious offenses by non-Roman citizens(Acts 22:25-29)[1].The victim was stripped naked, forced to bend over[2] and tied to a stake or column[3]. He or she then flogged with a flagrum,

[Right: A reconstruction of a Roman flagrum by Paul Vignon [4]. One similar to this was recovered from the Roman city of Herculaneum which, with its neighbour Pompeii[5], was buried in the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD 79[6].]

a uniquely Roman[7] whip which comprised a handle[8] to which were attached two or three thongs of rope or leather tipped or interwoven with small, sharp pieces of wood, bone[9] or metal [10]. This was designed to rip out pieces of flesh with each blow[11] so as to inflict maximum pain on the victim[12]. Scourging was the usual preliminary to Roman crucifixion[13] and some died of the scourging alone[14].

The man on the Shroud was scourged The imprints on the Shroud show that the man was scourged with a Roman flagrum[15]. All blows were to the man's back, including his legs, and the end of

[Above: Enhanced National Geographic photograph of the Shroud[16], showing bloodstains and wounds on the man of the Shroud, including those from scourging with a Roman flagrum, which are consistent with the Gospels' description of Jesus' suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection!]

the lash whipped around to the front of his body and legs[17]. The head, neck, and arms were spared[18]. There are tiny marks of over a 100 dumbbell shaped scourge wounds[19]. That they are in groups of two or three indicates they were inflicted by a two- or three-thonged lash tipped with dumbbell-shaped[20] lead pellets called plumbatae[22], the same as on the flagrum found in the excavations of Herculaneum[21] (see above). The scourge wounds on the Shroud were originally thought to be contusions, or hematomas, in which bleeding occurs under the skin without necessarily breaking it[23]. But more recent analysis suggests that the scourge marks on Shroud are of blood from within the breaks in the skin caused by the dumbbell-shaped objects[24]. From a horizontal axis across the middle of the body the scourge wounds fan out upward over the upper back, criss-cross over at the shoulders, and fan downward on the thighs and calves[25]. Using goniometry, the science of calculating angles[26], it has been deduced that there were two scourgers, the one on the right being slightly taller than the one on the left[27]. There are also tiny scratches[28] which may indicate that an additional scourging instrument was used[29], probably the "reeds" which were long, slender sticks or rods[30] (cf. Acts 16:22; 2Cor 11:25) and may be the Roman scuticae[31].

[Above (click to enlarge): Back of the man on the Shroud, showing the criss-cross pattern of scourge wounds, meaning that there were scourge blows over existing scourge wounds[32].]

Jesus was scourged The Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15) record that Jesus was "scourged" (Gk. phragelloosas)[33], a Latin loan-word which specifically means to be flogged with a Roman flagrum[34]. The Gospels of Luke and John (Lk 23:16 & Jn 19:1) use the general terms "chastise" (paideusas) and "flog" (emastigoosen), respectively[35]. The scourging of Jesus was evidently carried out by Roman soldiers (Mt 27:27; Mk 15:16; Lk 23:11; Jn 19:2)[36]. While the Law of Moses limited a judicial whipping to no more than "forty stripes" (Dt 25:3), in practice the Jews administered only thirty-nine lashes (2Cor 11:24), to avoid inadvertently exceeding the legal limit[37]. But the Romans had no such legal limit and so were free to administer as many lashes of the flagrum as they pleased[38]. However, the Romans did not want crucifixion victims to die too early[39] and 39 strokes of a three-thonged flagrum is 117 lash marks[40].

[Above: "Reconstruction of the flagellation" (Ricci, 1976)[41]. Except that Jesus would not have been wearing a loincloth because, as can be seen in the National Geographic photograph above, there are scourge marks on the Shroud man's buttocks[42] which wrap around to his hips and would presumably be also on his pubic region but for that not being in contact with the Shroud[43] due to his crossed arms.]

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate had originally intended that Jesus be scourged and then released (Lk 23:16)[44]. He had hoped that the Jewish religious leaders would regard the scourging of Jesus as sufficient punishment for their charge of blasphemy and Pilate tried unsuccessfully to reason with them to let Jesus go (Jn 19:1-16)[45]. So Jesus unusually received both an extreme scourging and then was crucified, and this unusual double punishment was also inflicted on the man in the Shroud[46]. The repeated impacts on Jesus' chest of four or six lead balls (depending on whether a two or three-thonged flagrum was used) with each lash of a flagrum would have caused a slow accumulation of fluid (pleural effusion) in the pleural sac (pleura) around each lung[47]. This pleural fluid, and blood from the right attrium of Jesus' heart as the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus' right side with a spear withdrew it, is the likely cause of the "blood and water" which the Apostle John records in Jn 19:34[48]. Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died after a comparatively short time on the cross (Mk 15:42-45), so it was probably the unusually severe scourging that Jesus received which was hastened His death[49].

After His scourging the soldiers put Jesus' clothes back on him (Mt 27:31; Mk 15:20) which may partly explain why the scourge marks on the Shroud are accompanied by such little blood, it having been mostly absorbed by Jesus' clothes[50].

Problems for the forgery theory The scourge marks on the Shroud are physiologically accurate[51]. When examined under a microscope, each scourge mark reveals a slightly depressed center and raised edges[52]. Under ultraviolet light each scourge mark can be seen to have a "halo" of lighter colour surrounding it[53]. These halos were chemically tested and found to be blood serum which is left behind after a blood clot forms and then retracts inwards as it dries, a process called syneresis[54]. These scourge mark indented centres and raised edges on the Shroud are not visible to the naked eye, but can only be seen when examined under a microscope and the serum halos can only be seen under ultraviolet light[55]. This is further evidence that the Shroud could not have been created by an artist in the Middle Ages, or earlier, because that knowledge about blood clot structure[§18], let alone a microscope and an ultraviolet light source to see it[§19], did not then exist for many centuries into the future [56].

Each one of the over 100 scourge wounds on the Shroud matches exactly what would have been caused by a type of Roman flagrum[57] buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 (see above). So a fourteenth century or earlier forger would have had to possess a faultless archaeological knowledge of a first century Roman scourging with a flagrum as well as make no normal artists' mistakes since each one of the over 100 scourge marks has identical dimensions [58]. Only from the Middle Ages did artists depict the scourging of Jesus and even the best of them were vague about the details[59]. But the scourge-marks on the Shroud are depicted with a realism that is unknown to the art of any period[60]. Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow states:

"Once again, though, it [the Shroud] differs dramatically from anything envisaged in the Middle Ages. The vast majority of medieval images of the dead or dying Christ fail to depict any scourge marks at all ... Christ is sometimes shown bleeding in depictions of the flagellation, but the effect is always rather crude. In Duccio's rendering of the scene, for example, the scourge marks are represented as red dribbles all over the body, including the arms but not the legs ...The artist displays no knowledge of the Roman flagrum, nor any conception of how it was wielded. Even a fifteenth-century artist as accomplished as Jean Colombe, who definitely knew the Shroud, was unable to reproduce its convincing pattern of scourge marks ... To attribute the marks on the Shroud to a provincial unknown working in the mid-fourteenth century is therefore ridiculous"[61].

[Above (enlarge): Extract from "Flagellation of Christ" by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255-1319). "The scourge marks are represented as red dribbles all over the body, including the arms but not the legs".]

[Above (click to enlarge): "Man of Sorrows" by Jean Colombe (c. 1430-1493). "Colombe, who definitely knew the Shroud, was unable to reproduce its ... pattern of scourge marks."]

Moreover, the medieval or earlier forger would have had to use goniometry, the science of calculating angles[62](see above), to correctly work out the angle of each one of the over 100 scourge marks on the Shroud, but the first goniometer was not invented until 1780[63, §9].

Conclusion In conclusion, the pattern of scourge wounds on the Shroud correlates remarkably closely with the Gospels' description of the scourging of Jesus[64] and with what has, since the fourteenth century, been discovered by modern archaeology about first century Roman scourging[65].

1. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.225. [return]
2. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.85. [return]
3. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.225. [return]
4. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.56; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.144O. [return]
5. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.48. [return]
6. "Herculaneum," Wikipedia, 10 June 2013. [return]
7. Wilson, 1979, p.48. [return]
8. Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.84. [return]
9. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.225. [return]
10. Bulst, W., 1957, "The Shroud of Turin," McKenna, S. & Galvin, J.J., transl., Bruce Publishing Co: Milwaukee WI, p.48. [return]
11. 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.44. [return]
12. Wilson, 1979, p.38. [return]
13. Bulst, 1957, p.48. [return]
14. Ibid. [return]
15. Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," Macmillan: New York NY, p.170. [return]
16. Weaver, K.F., 1980, "Science Seeks to Solve...The Mystery of the Shroud," National Geographic, Vol. 157, June, p.740. [return]
17. Wilson, 1979, p.38. [return]
18. Zugibe, F.T., 2005, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," M. Evans & Co.: New York NY, p.22. [return]
19. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.20. [return]
20. Ibid. [return]
21. Ibid. [return]
22. Wilson, 1979, p.48. [return]
23. Wilson, 1986, p.20. [return]
24. Zugibe, 2005, p.24. [return]
25. Ibid. [return]
26. Ibid. [return]
27. Wilson, 1979, p.38. [return]
28. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.66. [return]
29. Faccini, B., 2008, "Scourge bloodstains on the Turin Shroud: an evidence for different instruments used," in Fanti, G., ed., "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, 2009, pp.228-245, p.228. [return]
30. Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.151. [return]
31. Faccini, 2008, pp.230, 243. [return]
32. Shroud Scope, Durante 2002: Vertical. [return]
33. Marshall, A., 1966, "The Interlinear Greek - English New Testament," Samuel Bagster & Sons: London, pp.129 & 211. [return]
34. Bauer, W., Arndt, W.F., Gingrich, F.W. & Danker, F.W., 1979, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, Second edition, p.865. [return]
35. Marshall, 1966, pp.345 & 448. [return]
36. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.41. [return]
37. Ibid. [return]
38. Ibid. [return]
39. Zugibe, 2005, p.19. [return]
40. Zugibe, 2005, p.22. [return]
41. Ricci, G., 1981, "The Holy Shroud," Center for the Study of the Passion of Christ and the Holy Shroud: Milwaukee WI, p.76. [return]
42. 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.32. [return]
43. Faccini, 2008, p.231. [return]
44. Bulst, 1957, p.48. [return]
45. Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.85. [return]
46. Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.90. [return]
47. Zugibe, 2005, pp.21,22, 139. [return]
48. Zugibe, 2005, pp.136-140. [return]
49. Ibid. [return]
50. Wuenschel, 1954, p.41. [return]
51. Wilson, 1979, p.38. [return]
52. Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.26. [return]
53. Ibid. [return]
54. Antonacci, 2000, pp.26-27. [return]
55. Antonacci, 2000, p.27. [return]
56. Ibid. [return]
57. Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.3. [return]
58. Wilson, 1986, p.31. [return]
59. Wilson, 1979, p.47. [return]
60. O'Rahilly, A. & Gaughan, J.A., ed., 1985, "The Crucified," Kingdom Books: Dublin, p.53. [return]
61. de Wesselow, 2012, p.123. [return]
62. Wilson, 1986, p.20. [return]
63. Prudchenko, K., nd., "The History of Goniometers," eHOW. [return]
64. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.122. [return]
65. Wilson, 1998, p.42. [return]
§9, §18, §19. To be further examined under "9. Problems of the forgery theory". [return]

Continued in part 22, "3.4. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were beaten."

Posted 15 July 2013. Updated 23 January 2024.