Sunday, October 26, 2014

My critique of Charles Freeman's claim that the Turin Shroud was made for a medieval Easter ritual

"Turin shroud was made for medieval Easter ritual, historian says," The Guardian, Charlotte Higgins, 24 October 2014.

I have decided to interrupt my preparing of entry #9 of my Turin Shroud Encyclopedia: "The Servant of the Priest," which is unexpectedly turning out to be both very complex (and also very important), to respond to this news item. The words of the article are in bold to distinguish them from my words.

[Above (enlarge): "Displaying the Shroud in Turin, 1613. Engraving by Antonio Tempesta. AKG Images / De Agostini Picture Library": "The Origins of the Shroud of Turin," Charles Freeman, History Today, Vol. 64, Issue 11, 24 October 2014. See a larger copy at]

Charles Freeman believes relic venerated as Jesus Christ's burial cloth dates from 14th century and was used as a prop As I pointed out in part #10 of my series, "My critique of Charles Freeman's `The Turin Shroud and the Image of Edessa: A Misguided Journey,'" according to his entry in Wikipedia (which presumably he wrote), Freeman is a "freelance historian specializing in the history of ancient Greece and Rome" (not medieval art, nor the Shroud). According to that entry, Freeman has never held an actual historian position in any university, his highest listed history position being head of history at "St. Clare's, Oxford, an international school" (for "Ages 16–18+"):

"Charles P. Freeman is a scholar and freelance historian specializing in the history of ancient Greece and Rome ... He has taught courses on ancient history in Cambridge's Adult Education program and is Historical Consultant to the Blue Guides. He also leads cultural study tours to Italy, Greece, and Turkey ... In 1978 he was appointed head of history at St. Clare's, Oxford, an international school" ("Charles Freeman (historian)," Wikipedia, 3 August 2014).
This should be borne in mind when assessing the headline "... historian says."

Moreover, as I documented in part #1 of the above series, Freeman is evidently an atheist/agnostic having published papers critical of Christianity in the New Humanist online magazine, the subtitle

[Above (enlarge): Charles Freeman's page at New Humanist: Ideas for godless people listing his online papers, critical of Christianity, relics and the miraculous]

of which is "Ideas for godless people", and is "produced by the Rationalist Association ... dedicated to reason, science, secularism and humanism."

Freeman in his review of philosopher James Hannam's book, "God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science" (2009), describes Hannam as "a Catholic convert," in contrast to himself, "(I have passed the other way)":

"Hannam is a Catholic convert (I have passed the other way) and he presents himself as an apologist (in the old sense of the word as "defender") for the positive role of Christianity in Western society."
so presumably Freeman was once a Catholic but is now a non- (or even anti-) Christian. If so, then according to Freeman's presumed personal atheist/agnostic philosophy, there is no supernatural, so Christianity must be false, and the Shroud of Turin must be a fake.

Indeed, so prejudiced is Freeman against the Shroud, that on his own admission, in his book on medieval relics, Freeman left out the Shroud of Turin, on the preposterously false basis that it was "a cult of modern times, not a medieval one":

"When I was researching my book on medieval relics, Holy Bones, Holy Dust, I decided to leave out the Shroud of Turin. It is essentially a cult of modern times, not a medieval one." (Charles Freeman, "The pseudo-history of the Shroud of Turin," Yale Books Blog: Yale University Press London, May 25, 2012).
This also should be borne in mind when assessing Freeman's claims about the Shroud.

I hasten to add that I am a Protestant evangelical Christian and, unlike Freeman who needs the Shroud to be a fake to preserve his atheistic/agnostic worldview, I do not need the Shroud to be authentic to preserve my Christian worldview. As I have previously pointed out, I had been a Christian for nearly 40 years when in 2005 I was persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud of Turin was authentic. So if the Shroud was proven to be not authentic, I would still be the same Christian I have been all along.

As Shroud scholar Joe Marino pointed out, if the Shroud was proven to be authentic it would not affect a Christian's faith, but it would affect an atheist's faith!:

"It is usually stated, and with good reason, that the Shroud is not necessary in Christian faith. ... Skeptics who deny the authenticity of the Shroud are often atheists, and many of these atheists are in the forefront of Shroud opposition. They are not willing to acknowledge the possibility of the supernatural and find it safer to dismiss the Shroud as a forgery, even when it flies in the face of all the evidence. Quite simply, the reality of the Shroud and its possible ramifications scares them. They know that an authentic Shroud of Turin puts their atheism on shaky ground. A comment by a bishop to one such skeptic really puts the whole significance of the Shroud in perspective. The bishop told him, `If the Shroud turned out to be 2,000 years old, it wouldn't really affect my faith, but it might affect yours'. Thus in a real sense, the Shroud is more important for skeptics than it is for Christians. It penetrates to their deepest philosophical levels." (Marino, J.G , 2011, "Wrapped up in the Shroud," p.272).
When it is exhibited next year in Turin, for the first time in five years, 2 million people are expected to pour into the city to venerate a four-metre length of woven cloth as the shroud in which Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion, and on to which was transferred his ghostly image. Instead of the Shroud being "essentially a cult of modern times, not a medieval one," what Freeman should have written is that the Shroud is the only `medieval' relic which still attracts millions of modern people, including not only Roman Catholics and Orthodox, but also Protestants (like me) who have no other reason to be attracted to the Shroud except that the evidence for its authenticity is overwhelming.

Despite the fact that the cloth was radiocarbon-dated to the 14th century in 1988, an array of theories continue to be presented to support its authenticity – including, this year, the idea from scientists at the Politecnico di Torino that an earthquake in AD 33 may have caused a release of neutrons responsible for the formation of the image. See my post, "Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus?" for the flaws in this "earthquake in AD 33" explanation.

The neutron flux argument has the major flaw that for it to convert a first-century shroud to not just any date, but 1260-1390, or 1325 ±65, which `just happens' to be 25-30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in Lirey, France, in the 1350s, would be a miracle (and a deceptive one by God at that)! Such a miracle would even extend to the very part of the Shroud the radiocarbon dating sample was taken from:

"The same issue of Nature [as the carbon-dating of the Shroud-16 February 1989] carried the letter from T J Phillips, High Energy Laboratory, Harvard University, and a letter in reply (solicited by Nature) from Robert Hedges of Oxford. The two letters were headlined 'Shroud irradiated with neutrons?' Phillips' letter opened with, `If the shroud of Turin is in fact the burial cloth of Christ, contrary to its recent carbon-dated age of about 670 years, then according to the Bible it was present at a unique physical event: the resurrection of a dead body. ...' ... The neutrons could have been captured by carbon-13 (a stable isotope present with all the carbon in the shroud) to form carbon-14. This extra production of carbon-14 (radiocarbon) could give the shroud a much later radiocarbon age. He pointed out that this extra radiocarbon would vary in amount from place to place on the shroud. Presumably it would be greater closer to the image where this postulated production of neutrons occurred. ... But the most devastating argument against Phillips' idea was the fact that the samples were taken at just the right spot on the shroud to produce its historic date. A sample taken closer to the image would have produced an even more modern date-even a date into the future!" (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," pp.301-302).
But as I have shown in my post, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #5," the 1989 Nature article, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," which claimed:
"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich ... The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390 ..."
is contradicted by Table 2 of the same Nature paper, which is accompanied by the fatal admission that:
"An initial inspection of Table 2 shows that the agreement among the three laboratories for samples 2, 3 and 4 [non-Shroud controls] is exceptionally good. The spread of the measurements for sample 1 [the Shroud] is somewhat greater than would be expected from the errors quoted" (my emphasis).

[Above (enlarge): Table 2 in the 1989 Nature paper showing that Sample 1 (the Shroud)'s average radiocarbon age for each laboratory was widely different, unlike the non-Shroud samples (2, 3 and 4). This is inexplicable if the Shroud samples' dates were real, because each dating run consisted of the Shroud and control samples all being on the same ~29 mm carousel wheel and rotated through a caesium beam in turn for 10 seconds each, the entire run taking a minute. But it is explicable if the Shroud sample dates were computer-generated. E.g. by a

[Right: Photograph of Linick and report that "He died at the age of forty-two on 4 June 1989, in very unclear circumstances, shortly after the campaign of the Italian press reporting our [Fr. Bruno Bonnet-Eymard's] accusations" (my emphasis).]

computer hacker, whom I have provided evidence in my soon to be completed series, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker," was Arizona Radiocarbon Laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), aided by self-confessed KGB hacker Karl Koch (1965–89), who both died of suspected `suicide' within days of each other, presumably executed by the KGB to ensure their silence.]

But, according to research by British scholar and author Charles Freeman, to be published in the journal History Today, the truth is that the shroud is not only medieval, just as the radiocarbon dating suggests, but that it is likely to have been created for medieval Easter rituals – an explanation that flies in the face of what he called "intense and sometimes absurd speculation" that coalesces around it. Freeman simply ignores (and relies on most of his readers not knowing about) the large amount of historical, archaeological and artistic evidence for the Shroud having existed (much of the time as the Edessa Cloth folded in eight-see my "Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin") many centuries before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date (and indeed all the way back to the first century). Even Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Director of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, and who as "C.R. Bronk" was a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper, has admitted, "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests ... that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow":

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." (Ramsey, C.B., 2008, "Shroud of Turin," Version 77, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March).
Freeman is a good (or bad) example of "the blind leading the blind" (Mt 15:14; Lk 6:39). He presents his ignorance of Shroud studies as a problem for the Shroud! For example, in his History Today article Freeman falsely states:
"No one appears to have investigated the kinds of loom, ancient or medieval, on which a cloth of this size may have been woven. Nor has anyone closely examined the many early depictions and descriptions of the Shroud that illustrate features now lost."
But in his 2010 book, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," pp.71-73, Ian Wilson discusses ancient textiles specialist Dr Flury-Lemberg's research on the type of loom which produced the Shroud (presented 14 years ago at the 2000 Shroud conference in Turin and reported in the online BSTS Newsletter, No. 51, June 2000, "News from Around the World"), including a drawing of its extra-wide woven linen sheet output (see below).

[Above: "Reconstruction of the likely size of the bolt of cloth of which the two lengths of the Shroud (shaded) formed part. This wider cloth was very expertly cut lengthwise, then the raw (i.e. non-selvedge) edges of the shaded segments joined together by a very professional seam to form the Shroud we know today." (Wilson, 2010, p.73).]

And as for Freeman's assertion that, "Nor has anyone closely examined the many early depictions and descriptions of the Shroud ...", in issues #12 and #13, September and December 1984, of Shroud Spectrum International, which are online, the late Shroud scholar Don Luigi Fossati (1920-2007), who was regarded "the greatest expert" on "the existing full-size copies" of the Shroud, wrote a two-part paper entitled: "Copies of the Holy Shroud: Part I" and "Copies of the Holy Shroud: Parts II & III." At the start of part I, Fossati wrote:

"Many aspects of Shroud history can be better understood by a study of the copies made in past centuries. Such a study can reveal precious information little known or insufficiently considered by modern researchers, justly concerned with the Object itself. The list of copies presented here is by no means complete, because of the difficulty at present to locate some of the examples. Even less complete is the gallery of illustrations, due to the difficulties of reproduction. Limiting our research to copies in natural size or of particular historical/artistic interest, we do not include the almost incalculable numbers of small-format copies, executed in every conceivable technic. This review is in three parts: Part I lists in chronological order the copies which carry a date upon them. Those which are not dated are listed in Part II in alphabetical order of the localities in which they are conserved. The information acquired in studying the copies can help to clarify particular aspects of the history of the Holy Shroud, and Part III gives a brief synthesis of that new knowledge."
Since these examples are online, readily found by a Google search, there is especially no excuse for such ignorance by Freeman if he purports to be a Shroud scholar. But like most (if not all) Internet Shroud sceptics, Freeman relies on his readers being as ignorant of the Shroud as he is ("the blind leading the blind").

Freeman, the author of Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe, studied early descriptions and illustrations of the shroud. None predates 1355, the year of its first documented appearance in a chapel in Lirey near Troyes in France, before it was acquired by the House of Savoy in 1453 and "converted into a high-prestige relic" to shore up the power base of the insecure Alpine dukedom. See above that by his own admission, Freeman "... decided to leave out the Shroud of Turin" in his book Holy Bones, Holy Dust! By his "None predates 1355..." Freeman ignores the Hungarian Pray Codex (or Manuscript) which is dated 1192-95 and yet clearly is a depiction of the Shroud, at least 160 years before 1355.

[Above: "The Entombment" (top) and "The Visit to the Sepulchre" (bottom), "The Pray Manuscript," Berkovits, I., 1969, "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," plate III).]

The agnostic but pro-authenticist art historian, Thomas de Wesselow, after reviewing the similarities between the Pray Codex and the Shroud, concluded:

"We have now identified eight telling correspondences between the Shroud and the drawings on a single page of the Pray Codex. The first five, found in the scene of the Anointing, are sufficient on their own to indicate that the artist of the Pray Codex knew the Shroud. Conclusive proof is provided by the three correspondences in the lower scene: the stepped-pyramid pattern in the upper rectangle, evoking the distinctive herringbone weave of the Shroud; the folding of the object in two halves; and the small circle formations, which match the pattern of the poker-holes. It is inconceivable that all these detailed links with the Shroud, several of which are found nowhere else, could have occurred on a single manuscript page by chance. The only reasonable conclusion is that the artist of the Pray Codex was aware of the Shroud. The Shroud existed and was already damaged, then, by 1192-5, when the illustrations in the Pray Codex were drawn. Given the close links at the time between Hungary and Byzantium, it can hardly be doubted that the artist saw the relic in Constantinople. ... The Shroud of Turin, then, was once the Sindon of Constantinople."(de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," pp.180-181. My emphasis).
Leaving aside whether Freeman's pejorative claim that "the House of Savoy ... `converted [the Shroud] into a high-prestige relic' to shore up the power base of the insecure Alpine dukedom" is even true, it is irrelevant to the question of the Shroud's authenticity. But from what I have read the Savoy dukedom in the 15th century was anything but "shaky" and they were a genuinely devout and pious Catholic family. Besides, would they (not to mention the millions of modern-day people who queue to see the Shroud) be fooled by what Freeman claims is a "crude and limited" painting of the 14th century (see below)?

In particular, he turned up a little-known engraving by Antonio Tempesta, an artist attached to the Savoyard court, who made a meticulously detailed image of one of the ceremonial displays of the cloth to pilgrims in 1613. First, this is just an "engraving," not a full-size copy of the Shroud, of which there are at least 52 (see below). And it measures only 25 x 18 inches (see below), or about 64 x 46 cms, compared to the Shroud's 437 x 111 cms. So it seems that Freeman has `cherry-picked' the copy of the Shroud that best supports his argument and ignored all the rest which don't. If so, it is the very antithesis of scholarship.

It is also false that the engraving by Antonio Tempesta of the 1613 exhibition of the Shroud is "little known" in the sense that Shroud scholars are unaware of it. I have the following four mentions of Tempesta's 1613 exhibition engraving on my system which shows that they are well aware of it (my emphasis below):

"However one speaker totally new to me whose talk I did happen to hear and found particularly fascinating was Professor John Beldon Scott, head of the department of Art History at the University of Iowa. The title of his talk `Ostension of the Shroud. Architecture and ritual in Piazza Castello' might not sound world-beating stuff. However, by homing-in close-up on details from old prints depicting historic showings of the Shroud, Professor Scott explained aspects of the 16th and 17th century Shroud expositions that were certainly completely new to me. In particular, studying the Antonio Tempesta engraving of 1613 depicting the Shroud being exhibited in Turin's Piazza Castello, he explained how rosary-like strings of beads called `corona di Cristo' were thrown up to the bishops holding up the Shroud, in order that they should press these against the cloth, then throw them back down to their owners, the corona now being sanctified by direct contact with the Shroud." (Wilson, I., 1998, "The 3rd International Shroud Studies Congress, Turin, 5-7 June, 1998: Report by the Editor," BSTS Newsletter, No. 48, December).

La Sindone Nei Secoli nella Collezione di Umberto II, Palazzo Barolo, 18 aprile-14 giugno, Gribaudo, Turin, 1998, 224 A4 size pages, profusely illustrated throughout, several in full colour, softback. Published to accompany an exhibition of old prints and similar depicting historic showings of the Shroud and ancillary materials, as shown at Turin's Palazzo Barolo from 18 April to 14 June of this year, this superbly produced book includes excellent depictions of each print, and is an invaluable resource for the Shroud's history from its arrival in Turin in 1578, through to the age of photography. Only in the case of certain prints, such as the Tempesta engraving of 1613, is the original print so large and detailed that the small scale reproduction fails to do it justice." (Wilson, I., 1998, "Recent Publications," BSTS Newsletter, No. 48, December).

"In 1613, the engraver Antonio Tempesta produced an ambitious twenty-five-inch-by-eighteen-inch souvenir engraving that was the first properly to depict the sheer spectacle of these occasions (fig. 36). In the engraving, a sea of people can be seen filling every possible vantage point. Servants perch precariously on rooftops. Every balcony is filled to capacity, the one on the Castello, at the top centre of the picture, brimming with the leading ladies of the Savoy court. At the sides of the square, temporary 'corporate boxes' provide a high vantage point for those willing to pay for this privilege, while at ground level thousands of the humbler folk fill the square, surrounded by the ducal cavalry. In the foreground, in what seems to be the first of two separate moments that the artist has conflated into one, we see musketeers and halberdiers struggling to open a path for the procession of torchbearers who accompany the high square canopy beneath which the Shroud is being carried by mitred Church dignitaries. This procession leads our eye to the second moment the print encapsulates: the showing of the Shroud from a high platform that has been erected in the middle of the square. At a height that is comfortably beyond the crowd's reach, eight mitred bishops and archbishops hold out the Shroud to the populace. Below them, members of the crowd throw up corone di Cristo, rosary-like strings of beads, for the bishops to press against the Shroud then return duly sanctified to their owners. Behind the bishops can just be glimpsed the faces of Savoy's duke and duchess. In the sky above, a banner reads 'Happy House of Savoy, which, endowed by so great a pledge [i.e. to keep and protect the Shroud] is glorified by this sacred gift'." (Wilson, 2010, p.265).

"When in 1684 Charles Emmanuel II's son Victor Amadeus II married his first wife, Anna d'Orleans, a particularly lavish public showing of the Shroud was staged in the Piazza Castello. To supplement the usual souvenir prints, Dutch artist Pieter Bolckmann was commissioned to create a huge commemorative oil painting, which today hangs in Turin's Castello di Racconigi (pl. 31a). In the distance, beneath a large red canopy, the usual line of bishops and archbishops can be seen unfurling the Shroud's red silk cover to display the cloth to the crowds, which are even more extensive than in the Tempesta engraving of seven decades earlier, with every rooftop filled. And just behind the Royal Palace in the background can be seen the spire of Guarino Guarini's chapel showing that externally it was complete." (Wilson, 2010, p.270).
Indeed, Wilson has a two-pages `centrefold" photograph of Tempesta's engraving on pages 266-267 of his 2010 book!

"Astonishingly," he writes, "few researchers appear to have grasped that the shroud looked very different in the 16th and 17th centuries from the object we see today." What is truly astonishing, is that Freeman does not consider that the Shroud was the same all along, but artistic styles and abilities of the artists who copied the Shroud have varied!

By an amazing coincidence, this morning (25 October) I scanned and word-processed the following in my daily work of helping to put Shroud Spectrum International progressively online. As can be seen, in it Fossatti mentions that there are 52 full-sized copies of the Shroud, but "not one copy comes anywhere near a resemblance" of the Original:

"Based on the 52 copies [of the Shroud] located and catalogued, a few points should be emphasized: 1. Twenty-seven have the date written on the cloth. 2. All 52 show the frontal and dorsal imprints and are approximately the same dimensions as the Original. 3. The principal motive was to have a relic like the Original and for this reason the copy was laid in contact with the Shroud. 4. Some accompanying documents declare that the copy is "exactly equal" to the Original. 5. The copies do not show the characteristics of a true negative, proof that the artists did not understand negativity, even though it is often claimed that Byzantine iconographers were able to interpret the negative image. The copies confirm that the Shroud is an unicum inimitabile, a proof, even though indirect, of its authenticity. 6. A comparison of these copies with the Original eloquently refutes a manual production of the Shroud; not one copy comes anywhere near a resemblance."(Fossati, L., 1990, "The Shroud: from Object of Devotion to Object of Discussion," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 37, December, pp.9-19, p.16. My emphasis)
The Tempesta engraving, as well as a number of 15th- and 16th-century first-hand descriptions, emphasise a feature that is much less obvious now – that the figure was covered in blood and scourge marks, relating to Christ's flagellation.

This is fallacious. Working with only a 25 x 18 inch engraving, the thinnest flagellation mark would necessarily be much thicker relative to the whole body of the Man on the Shroud.

[Left: Extracted and vertically rotated copy of the Shroud in Tempesta's engraving found on Compare this with a positive photo of the Shroud on Shroud Scope and it can be seen there are a lot more, but thinner, flagellation marks on the 437 x 111 cm Shroud itself than on Tempesta's 64 x 46 cms engraving, where the flagellation marks are necessarily thicker but fewer.]

Looking at the close-up of Tempesta's engraving on the left, and making allowances for the differences in scale, it does not appear to be particularly more "bloody" than the Shroud itself. Indeed, it does not even show the major bloodstain of the spear-wound in the Man's side, which if Freeman's thesis that this engraving represents "a focus on blood in depictions of the crucifixion that emerged in the 14th century" (see below) it would surely depict it!

These extensive markings can be explicitly related, argues Freeman, to a focus on blood in depictions of the crucifixion that emerged in the 14th century – a "dramatic" change in iconography that sharply differentiates depictions of the crucified Christ from those of earlier centuries, and which reflects revelations of a bloody, wounded Christ reported by mystics such as Julian of Norwich in the 14th century. Apart from the Pray Manuscript (and a few other similar artworks) there were no Shroud-based depictions of the crucified Christ from earlier than the 14th century, after the Shroud was first publicly displayed in European history at Lirey, France in about 1355. Clearly it is no problem for the Shroud's authenticity, indeed the opposite, if there was "a focus on blood in depictions of the crucifixion that emerged in the 14th century"!

The original purpose of the shroud, argues Freeman, is likely to have been as a prop in a kind of medieval, theatrical ceremony that took place at Easter – the Quem quaeritis? or "whom do you seek?" "On Easter morning the gospel accounts of the resurrection would be re-enacted with `disciples' acting out a presentation in which they would enter a makeshift tomb and bring out the grave clothes to show that Christ had indeed risen," he said. This is mere idle speculation by Freeman, which is not even worth responding to. As I have previously written, with words to the effect:

`What Shroud anti-authenticists (like Freeman) need to do is propose a comprehensive and internally coherent Shroud anti-authenticist theory that plausibly: 1) Positively accounts for all the major features of the entire full-length, front and back, Shroud image (including photographic negativity, three-dimensionality, extreme superficiality, etc), with technology that was indisputably in use before the 1350s. Such an account should include a reproduction of the Shroud and its image that has all the major features of the entire Shroud, with that same pre-1350s technology. And 2) Negatively explains away all the historical, archaeological and artistic evidence for the Shroud having been in existence from the 14th century, all the way back to the first century. No such comprehensive and coherent Shroud anti-authenticity theory exists, which suggests that if anti-authenticists have attempted to propose one, they quietly gave up, because they realised the difficulties of such a theory!'
Freeman's idea was shored up by his study of the earliest illustration of the shroud – on a pilgrim badge of the 1350s found in the Seine in 1855. On it, two clerics hold up the shroud, and beneath is an empty tomb. Freeman's idea certainly needs all the shoring up it can get! But the Cluny Museum pilgrim's

[Above: A pilgrim's medallion made of lead, found in the mud of Paris' Seine River in 1855, and today held in Paris' Cluny Museum. The 4.5 cms high by 6.2 cms wide medallion has front and back images, head to head, of the Shroud, being held by two clergymen, as well as the coats of arms of the first recorded owners of the Shroud, the 14th century French Knight Geoffrey I de Charny (left) and his wife Jeanne de Vergy (right). It had probably been worn by a pilgrim to an exhibition of the Shroud at Geoffrey's church in Lirey, France in 1355, since he was killed in battle in 1356 and according to a memorandum by Bishop d'Arcis of nearby Troyes, Geoffrey was exhibiting the Shroud at Lirey, "thirty-four years or thereabouts" before 1389, in the time of his predecessor, Bishop Henri of Poitiers, who only arrived at Troyes in 1354: "A Souvenir from Lirey." See also my "The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud #1: Introduction" for references.]

badge, is an item of evidence for the existence of the Shroud in the 1350s that all Shroud theories, pro- and anti-authenticity, must conform to. And again Freeman is seeking support for his position, not from the over 50 full-size copies of the Shroud, but from another miniature copy of the Shroud, this one even smaller at only 4.5 x 6.2 cms!

The church officially regards the shroud with an open mind: as a object to be venerated as a reminder of Christ's passion, rather than, necessarily, the physical imprint of his body. As I have stated before, the Vatican is dishonest in this. From its actions in spending the equivalent of millions of dollars preserving the Shroud and holding exhibitions for millions of people to see it, clearly the Vatican regards the Shroud as authentic. So presumably the reason it refuses to confirm or deny that the Shroud is authentic is that the Vatican would then have to say which of its other relics were authentic or fakes, and most of them would be the latter. It might be good church politics to suppress the truth in this matter but it is not Christian (Rom 1:18; 2Cor 4:2; 13:8; Eph 4:15, 25; 6:14).

Next year, millions of pilgrims will beg to disagree – as they will with Freeman's argument that places the shroud at the birth of northern European drama rather than at the dawn of Christianity, and that identifies the images on it as traces of a "crude and limited" painting of the 14th century. Well put! Freeman had actually claimed in his History Today article that the Shroud is a "painting" that is "crude and limited":

"What can we say about the painting on the Shroud? The images are crude and limited in tone. They show none of the expertise of the great painters of the 14th century, who, even on linen, were capable of mixing a variety of pigments into rich colours. The join of the head and the shoulders on the frontal image is particularly inept. Although the artist did try to reproduce images that might have touched a crucified body and left a mark, the two images are not even simultaneous representations of the same body. This can be seen from the arms as they are shown in the early depictions. If you lie on the ground and place your elbows in the same position as those on the back image of the Shroud, you can quickly see that it is impossible to hold the position of the crossed arms in the front. There is a difference of seven centimetres between the lengths of the two bodies. Then again the heads do not meet, suggesting that this was not a cloth that was ever folded over an actual head. A cloth laid on a body would pick up its contours, but there is no sign of this. Again, the hair of the body would have fallen back if the figure had been lying down but the blood is as if it is trickling down the hair of a standing figure. In short, it appears to be a painting made by an artist whose only concession to his subject is to imagine that this is a negative impression of the body (as shown by the wound on the chest being on the left of the image in contrast to the conventional right, as seen in the Holkham crucifixion scene) that had been transferred to the cloth."

But in this Freeman displays further ignorance of Shroud literature. One thing that STURP did show in 1978 and its aftermath is that the Shroud's image is NOT a painting, because "No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils" that make up the image (there are random spots of paint, pigment and dye on the Shroud from artists pressing their copies against the Shroud to `bless' them):
"After years of exhaustive study and evaluation of the data, STURP issued its Final Report in 1981. The following official summary of their conclusions was distributed at the press conference held after their final meeting in October 1981: `No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils [i.e. that make up the image]. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography.'" ("A Summary of STURP's Conclusions," October 1981, My emphasis).
And all the above objections have been fully answered in Shroud literature, of which (again) Freeman seems to be (presumably because he wants to be) ignorant. "There are none so blind as those who will not see!"

Posted 26 October 2014. Updated 29 January 2024.