Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Abgar V: Turin Shroud Encyclopedia

Turin Shroud Encyclopedia
Copyright © Stephen E. Jones

Abgar V #2

This is "Abgar V," part #2 of my new Turin Shroud Encyclopedia. As mentioned in my post of 27Dec18, to save time installments will now be to the whole post and not specifically linked. Except that I have provided a link to these restarted installments. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated, For information about this series, see part #1, "Index A-Z"

[Index #1] [Previous: Index #1] [Next: Abgar VIII #3]

Abgar V Abgar V Ukkama bar Ma'nu (r. 4 BC-AD 7, 13-50), was the

[Above (enlarge): King Abgar V of <Edessa> is depicted in this mid-10th century icon at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, receiving the Image of Edessa (the Shroud "four-doubled" - tetradiplon) from Jesus' disciple <Thaddeus>. Abgar's face is that of Byzantine Emperor <Constantine VII> (r. 913-959), to commemorate the arrival of the <Image of Edessa> / Shroud in <Constantinople> on 15 August <944> [see 13May17].]

King of Osroene, the capital of which was <Edessa>, today Urfa. Abgar V's predecessor was his father Ma'nu III Saphul (r. 23BC –4 BC) and his successor was his son Ma'nu V bar Abgar (AD 50–57). Abgar V's Abgarid dynasty were probably Arabs. Abgar V came to power in 4 BC. He became a Roman client, was deposed in AD 7, but regained his throne in 13, from when he reigned until his death in 50.

Osroene was a semi-independent kingdom under the protection of the Parthian Empire from c. 132 BC until AD 114 when it was absorbed into the Roman Empire as a semiautonomous vassal state, after which it fell under direct Roman rule in c. 242.

The church historian Eusebius (263-339) recorded that he had read in Edessa's archives letters in Syriac between Abgar V and Jesus. Eusebius, a native of Palestine, translated the letters into Greek in his Church History.

In Abgar's letter to Jesus he asked Jesus to come to Edessa to heal him. In Jesus' reply letter to Abgar, He declined Abgar' invitation but promised that after His Ascension He would send a disciple to heal Abgar and convert him and his people to Christianity.

Historians have dismissed the Abgar-Jesus correspondence as a "pious fraud," albeit based on "a substratum of fact". But Mt 4:23-25 records that Jesus' "fame spread throughout all Syria" because of His "healing every disease and every affliction among the people." The Roman province of Syria shared a border with Osroene, so an ill Abgar would surely have heard of Jesus' healings. And it is not unlikely that a king would write an official letter to Jesus to give weight to his request. What does seem unlikely is that Jesus, knowing that He is God the Son (Jn 8:58-59; 10:30-36), would provide a pagan king with a physical letter that could become an object of idolatrous worship. Especially when a verbal reply would have sufficed.

But both Abgar's letter to Jesus and Jesus' reply letter to Abgar contain anachronisms. Abgar's letter to Jesus appears to be based on Jesus' verbal reply to the disciples of John the Baptist (Mt 11:1-3; Lk 7:18-21):

Mt 11:5 "the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them."

Lk 7:22 "And he answered them, `Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them."
And in Jesus reply to Abgar, there is no Old Testament verse resembling the quotation:
"For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved."
but there are New Testament verses that it evidently was based on:
John 6:36 "But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe."

John 20:29 "Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"
Nevertheless, after Jesus Ascension (Acts 1:9-11), one of Jesus' disciples, Thaddeus (Syriac Addai), one of the Seventy-two (Lk 10:1,17), not to be confused with the Apostle Thaddeus (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18), did go to Edessa and lay the foundations of Christianity there. That Thaddeus also did heal Abgar, as stated in an addendum to the Abgar-Jesus letters, is evident in that Abgar V died ~20 years later in AD 50, and if Abgar was never sick and healed via Jesus it would never have been recorded in the Abgar-Jesus correspondence in the first place.

And by the early late second/early third century, under <Abgar VIII> (r. 177-212), Edessa did become the world's first Christian city and Abgar VIII the world's first overtly Christian king!

So a verbal request from Abgar V to Jesus and a verbal reply from Jesus to Abgar, both of which were later transcribed from oral tradition into letters, embellished with relevant New Testament passages, would explain this.

In the late 5th century (c. 490), the Gelasian Decree, attributed to Pope Gelasius I (r.492-496), classified the correspondence between Abgar V and Jesus as apocryphal.

In 544 the Edessans invoking Jesus' letter failed to lift the siege of Edessa by the Persian king Khosrow I (r. 531-579). But the Shroud brought to Edessa from Ravenna in 540 by fleeing Ostrogoth Arians (according to my Ravenna Theory - see 07Dec16) did cause the Persian siege tower to catch fire and the Persians to abandon their siege. From then on the Shroud folded "four doubled" (<tetradiplon>) became the Image of Edessa and replaced Jesus' letter as Edessa's new palladium (guarantee of a city's Divine protection).

In 944 the Abgar-Jesus letters were, with the Image of Edessa/Shroud, taken to <Constantinople> (as depicted above in the Madrid manuscript of John Skylitzes in the 12th century), where on 15 August <944>, they were received into the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae. The letters were subsequently lost, either in the <1204> Sack of Constantinople or more likely they had before then deteriorated into illegibility.

The story of Abgar V was progressively updated in subsequent centuries to incorporate the growing realisation that under the face-only <Image of Edessa> was the full-length Shroud bearing Jesus' bloodstained, double body image.

Although the earliest surviving account of Abgar V's healing, that of Eusebius in the third century, does not mention a cloth or image, Eusebius does mention that Edessa's archives recorded that Abgar was healed upon seeing "a great vision" when Thaddeus appeared before him:

"And immediately upon his [Thaddeus'] entrance a great vision appeared to Abgarus [Abgar] in the countenance of the apostle Thaddeus ... [and] ... Abgarus was cured of the disease and of the suffering which he had."
The Doctrine of Addai (i.e. Teaching of Thaddeus) was composed in Edessa in the fourth century (c.375-90) and built on the Abgar story that Abgar's keeper of the archives, Hannan, painted Jesus's portrait "with choice paints." This is the earliest mention of a likeness of Jesus associated with Abgar. It also suggests that there was in Edessa's archives a record of Abgar V having been healed and converted by an image of Jesus (i.e. the Shroud) shown to him by Thaddeus (Addai). See above.

See also my post of 07Aug12 and comments under it where St. Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria (c. 328-373), "affirmed that a sacred Christ-icon, traceable to Jerusalem and the year 68, was then present in Syria." And that Emperor Constantine I's half-sister, Flavia Julia Constantia (c.293–c.330), asked Eusebius the whereabouts of that image so she could add it to Constantine's relic collection in Constantinople. And how Eusebius instead of saying there was no image, was evasive and appeared to be covering for that image. So Eusebius would have had a reason to not mention that Edessa's archives recorded that the "great vision" that Abgar saw was a portrait of Jesus, i.e. the Shroud.

In the sixth century (c.590) historian Evagrius Scholasticus (c.536-594), recorded in in his Ecclesiastical History that in Khosrow I's 544 siege of Edessa (see above) it was "the divinely made image not made by the hands of man, which Christ our God sent to King Abgar," which saved the city:

"The mine was completed; but they [the Edessans] failed in attempting to fire the wood, because the fire, having no exit whence it could obtain a supply of air, was unable to take hold of it. In this state of utter perplexity they brought out the divinely made image not made by the hands of man, which Christ our God sent to King Abgar when he desired to see him. Accordingly, having introduced this sacred likeness into the mine and washed it over with water, they sprinkled some upon the timber ... the timber immediately caught the flame, and being in an instant reduced to cinders, communicated with that above, and the fire spread in all directions".
The seventh century Acts of Thaddeus is in Greek and so likely was composed in Edessa when it was under Byzantine rule, i.e. before 639. It is a further update of the Abgar V legend, which described Christ's image as having been imprinted on a tetradiplon ("four-doubled") which was a sindon ("linen sheet"):
"And Ananias [Abgar V's courier], having gone and given the letter, was carefully looking at Christ, but was unable to fix Him in his mind. And He knew as knowing the heart, and asked to wash Himself; and a towel [tetradiplon "doubled in four"] was given Him; and when He had washed Himself, He wiped His face with it. And His image having been imprinted upon the linen [sindon] ... "
And as Ian Wilson experimentally proved, when the Shroud is doubled four times, with the face always uppermost, it results in the face centred in landscape aspect, exactly as it is in early copies of the Image of Edessa! (see below). This is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the

[Above (enlarge): Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin illustrated: The full-length Shroud of Turin (1), is doubled four times (2 through 5), resulting in Jesus' face within a rectangle, in landscape aspect (5), exactly as depicted in the earliest copies of the Image of Edessa, the 11th century Sakli church, Turkey (6) and the 10th century icon of King Abgar V of Edessa holding the Image of Edessa, St. Catherine's monastery, Sinai (7).]

Image of Edessa was the Shroud, doubled four times, mounted on a board and framed, so that only Jesus' face was visible in landscape aspect. And therefore that the Shroud already existed in the seventh century!

In the eighth century, St. John of Damascus (c.675–749), in his De Fide Orthodoxa (The Orthodox Faith), updated the Abgar story by referring to the cloth that Jesus' face was imprinted upon as a himation:

"Abgar, king of the city of Edessa, sent an artist to paint the Lord's image but could not do so because of the shining brilliance of his face. The Lord therefore placed a large cloth [himation] on his divine and life-giving face and wiped his own imprint onto it. He sent this to Abgar in answer to his request"[2]
A "himation" was "an outer garment worn by the ancient Greeks over the left shoulder and under the right." See

[Left (enlarge): A "himation was with the ancient Greeks ... a loose robe ... worn over [clothes] ... alike for both sexes"[3].]

Mt 5:40; 9:20-21; 14:36; Mk 5:27-30; Jn 19:2 and Acts 12:8 where the Greek "himation" is translated "coat," "cloak" and "robe." So in the seventh century, when the Image of Edessa/Shroud was still at Edessa, it was known to be, under the face-only Image of Edessa, the full-length Shroud!

Also in the eighth century, Pope Stephen III (r. 768–772), in 769 delivered a sermon in which he referred to the Abgar V story, where he paraphrased Jesus' reply to Abgar:

"Since you wish to look upon my physical face, I am sending you a likeness of my face on a cloth"
See below an early twelfth century interpolation of Jesus' "whole body ... divinely transformed" into Stephen's sermon.

In the mid-tenth century, soon after he became sole Emperor in 945, Constantine VII (r. 913-959), commissioned an icon, now at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai (see above), which visually told the Abgar story, with Thaddeus handing the Edessa Cloth (with Jesus' face in landscape aspect as it is when the Shroud is "four-doubled" tetradiplon) to Abgar V.

At about the same time, Constantine VII commissioned an official history of the Image of Edessa, the Narratio de imagine Edessena (Story of the Image of Edessa). This "Official History," which may have been written by the scholarly Constantine VII himself, gives two alternative, mutually exclusive, versions of the origin of the Image. The first is the traditional explanation that Jesus washed his face in water, wiped it on a towel, and his likeness was impressed on the towel, which he then gave to Abgar V's servant Ananias, who in turn gave it to Abgar V. The second version is that the image was formed during Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when His "sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Lk 22:44), This second version can only be explained by drops of blood being seen on the face of the Image of Edessa, as they are seen on the Shroud face!

The Official History claimed that when Abgar V was healed by "a likeness of the Lord's appearance," there was a a statue of one of the Greek gods standing before the public gate of Edessa and "everyone wishing to enter the city had to offer worship and customary prayers":

"Henceforward the ruler [Abgar V] totally honored and reverenced such a likeness of the Lord's appearance and added this to the other marks of honor. A statue of one of the notable Greek gods has been erected before the public gate of the city by the ancient citizens and settlers of Edessa to which everyone wishing to enter the city had to offer worship and customary prayers. Only then could he enter into the roads and streets of the city"[4].
But Osroene, of which Edessa was it's capital, had long ceased being under Greek rule with the collapse of the Greek Seleucid Empire a century before in 136 BC. So it seems unlikely that there would still be a statue of a Greek god at Edessa's main gate in Abgar V's day. But if there was, it would seem even more unlikely that in Abgar V's day "everyone" entering Edessa had to offer "worship and ... prayers" to this unnamed Greek idol. Edessa was then effectively under Parthian rule, and the Parthians had conquered that part of the Seleucid Empire. So it seems unlikely that Parthians would submit to forced worship of a Greek god to enter Edessa. Nor would Jews, including Thaddeus, a Jewish Christian, have entered Edessa to heal Abgar V under that condition.

The Official History further claimed that Abgar V "destroyed this statue ... and in its place set up the" Image of Edessa/Shroud:

"Abgar then destroyed this statue and consigned it to oblivion, and in its place set up this likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ not made by hand, fastening it to a board and embellishing it with the gold which is now to be seen, inscribing these words on the gold: "Christ the God, he who hopes in thee is never disappointed"[5]
This contains the core assumption, which is extremely unlikely, that the disciple Thaddeus handed over the Shroud to a former pagan king, Abgar V, upon his becoming a Christian.

And also since only a tiny minority of Edessa's population would then have been Christians, it is very doubtful that Abgar V would have had the political power to destroy a statue of a Greek god that the majority of Edessa's pagan population had long worshipped, and replace it with a new "likeness of ... Christ the God" whom most Edessans would have known little about and would not have accepted. According to the Official History (see below), after Abgar V died in the year 50, he was succeeded by his Christian son Ma'nu V bar Abgar (r. 50–57), but he only reigned 7 years before he in turn was succeeded by his pagan son Ma'nu VI bar Abgar (57–71), and then Edessa reverted to paganism.

According to the Official History, Abgar V then substituted pagan idolatry with `Christian' (so-called) idolatry, by decreeing that "everyone" who wished to enter Edessa must "worship" that "image of Christ":

"And he laid down that everyone who intended to come through that gate, should-in place of that former worthless and useless statue-pay fitting reverence and due worship and honor to the very wondrous miracle-working image of Christ, and only then enter the city of Edessa"[6].
Even if it were argued that, since the Image of Edessa/Shroud really is the image of Christ, it wouldn't be idolatry for Christians to worship it, I have never heard of anyone who argues that, and I certainly don't. But requiring non-Christians to worship the Image of Edessa/Shroud would definitely be idolatry. And there is no way that Jewish Christians like Thaddeus would have condoned that.

The Official History claimed that the Image of Edessa/Shroud remained in the place where that Greek god statue had been outside the main gate of Edessa, until the reign of Abgar V's pagan grandson Ma'nu VI bar Abgar (57–71):

"And such a monument to and offering of his piety was preserved as long as Abgar and his son were alive, his son succeeding to his father's kingdom and his piety. But their son and grandson succeeded to his father's and grandfather's kingdom but did not inherit their piety, but spurned their piety and deserted to demons and idols. Therefore, as intending to pay their due to demons, he wished just as his grandfather had consigned that idolatrous statue to oblivion so he would bring the same condemnation on the image of the Lord also"[7].
But assuming (for the sake of the Official History's argument), that Thaddeus healed Abgar V in the year 31, given that Jesus' Ascension was in 30, that Abgar V set up the Image/Shroud in the place of the Greek god statue in 32, and that the Image/Shroud was hidden by the unnamed bishop (see below) when Abgar V's grandson Ma'nu VI bar Abgar (r. 57–71) became king of Edessa, in 57. That would be 57-32 = 25 years that, according to the Official History the Image/Shroud remained outside Edessa's main gate, continually exposed to Edessa's weather, which varied from freezing snow in Winter to 40°C heat in Summer! Clearly the Shroud would not have survived under those conditions.

The Official History then claimed that an unnamed "bishop of the region" hid the Image/Shroud in "the place where the image lay."

"But this treacherous move was balked of his prey. For the bishop of the region, perceiving this beforehand, showed as much forethought as possible, and, since the place where the image lay had the appearance of a semispherical cylinder, he lit a lamp in front of the image, and placed a tile on top. Then he blocked the approach from the outside with mortar and baked bricks and reduced the wall to a level in appearance. And because the hated image was not seen, this impious man desisted from his attempt. For the following reason, I think the priest decided to place the tile in front of the image namely that there might be no rot from the dampness of the building or the wetness of the mortar in the receptacle of the image which might increase the damage done by lapse of time"[8].
The above has the following problems: ■ This unnamed bishop who saved the Image of Edessa/Shroud from destruction would have been a hero and his name would have been remembered. ■ This is self-contradictory: previously the Image/Shroud was set up "in its place" of "A statue of one of the ... Greek gods ... erected before the public gate of the city." Now it is in "the place where the image lay." ■ This "lit ... lamp in front of the image" was still alight after a mere 544-57 = 487 years (see below)! And the oil from this lamp would "fall onto the Persians who were in the tunnel" and "killed them all" (see below)! ■ On the "tile" which was "placed on top" and "in front of the image" (which was it?) after ~487 years, it was "found that there had been engraved another likeness of the image" (see below)! ■ It is most implausible (to put it mildly) that no one would have noticed, including "this impious man" (King Ma'nu VI bar Abgar) or any of his officials, nor even the guards on the wall that night), that "the place where the image lay" was now "blocked ... from the outside with mortar and baked bricks" and that part of "the wall" at Edessa's main gate had been "reduced to a level in appearance," with still "wet... mortar"! ■ The "priest" (who was a "bishop" originally), "place[d] the tile in front of the image... that there might be no rot from the dampness of the building or the wetness of the mortar ... which might increase the damage done by lapse of time," when the Image had already been exposed to the open air (whether in the place of the statue of the Greek god, and/or in this previously open "receptacle" high in the gate part of the city wall) for at least 25 years (see above)! Besides, how would a mere "tile" prevent such "damage done by [the] lapse of time" of 487 years to the image?

The Official History jumps ahead "a long interval of time" to the 544 siege of Edessa by "Chosroes, king of the Persians," aka Khosrow I (r. 531-579). See above the account of the siege by historian Evagrius Scholasticus (c.536-594).

"16. Then a long interval of time elapsed and the erection of this sacred image and its concealment both disappeared from men's memories. When then Chosroes, king of the Persians, in his time was ravaging the cities of Asia and hurried to Edessa too and in front of it fixed a rampart and moved up every sort of machine and prepared every suitable instrument for the taking of the city and constructed every kind of machine for heaving missiles, violently shaking walls, and breaking through gates ... And so it was in the course of that night there appeared to the bishop (Eulalius it was) a well-dressed, awe-inspiring figure of a woman, larger than human, who advised him to take the divinely created image of Christ, and with it to entreat that the Lord would give a complete demonstration of his marvelous acts. The bishop replied that he had no idea whether the image existed at all, or, if so, whether they or anyone else had it. Then the apparition in woman's form said that such an image lay hidden in the place above the city gates in a way which she described"[9].
This has the following problems: ■ It is highly implausible (to put it mildly) that "the erection of this sacred image" the Image of Edessa/Shroud in the place of a statue of a Greek god (see above) "and its concealment" (see above) "both disappeared from men's memories." Indeed, it is self-refuting. How did the Official History or its source know this history if that were the case? Or, as Classics Professor Robert Drews (1936-) put it:
"How, one will immediately ask, could a story of the icon's concealment have survived from the first century to the sixth, when the fact of the concealment had disappeared from men's memories?" (Drews' emphasis)[10].
■ No bishop named "Eulalius" is known in the history of Edessa[11]. The name of the bishop of Edessa in 544 is known and it was "Jacob bar Addai"[12]. ■ As for this "woman, larger than human, who advised" the bishop where to find the long-concealed and forgotten Image, see next that this 944 Official History story closely parallels, and therefore presumably was derived from, a pre-787 Caesarea in Cappadocia story of a cloth bearing Jesus' image having been concealed in that city's wall and long-forgotten until its existence and location was supernaturally revealed.

The Official History's account of the discovery of the concealed and forgotten for ~487 years Image of Edessa/Shroud continued:

"17. The bishop was convinced by the clearness of the vision which appeared to him, and therefore at dawn he went prayerfully to the spot, made a thorough search, and found this sacred image intact, and the lamp which had not been put out over so many years. On the piece of tile which had been placed in front of the lamp to protect it he found that there had been engraved another likeness of the image which has by chance been kept safe at Edessa up to the present time. And so he took in his hands the sacred likeness of Christ, God in human form, and with rising hopes he walked over that place where, because of the rattling of the copperware, the Persians had been detected by the noise of the bronze vessels in the act of trying to dig their way. The citizens began to dig from inside, and when the two sides came within a short distance of each other they dripped oil from that lamp into the fire which they had prepared for use against the enemy, and by letting it fall onto the Persians who were in the tunnel, killed them all. Next, after their deliverance from this stratagem, they tried a similar form of attack against the siege equipment outside the walls, and at one stroke burned them down, killing many of the enemy who manned them ..."[13].
Problems with this include: ■ The oil lamp was still burning after ~487 years! Apart from this being impossible, absent a great miracle from God, the smoke and smell of burning oil would have long since betrayed the concealed Image. ■ The tile now has on it "engraved another likeness of the image". ■ The story about the oil from the lamp killing the Persians and lifting their siege contradicts the historian Evagrius Scholasticus above account. ■ As previously mentioned, this part of the Official History's Abgar V story has close parallels with a pre-787 Caesarea in Cappadocia story, and is presumably derived from it:
"A more complete tale attached itself to another cloth, the icon of Cappadocian Caesarea (present-day Keyseri, about a hundred miles southeast of Ankara). Its imprint was advertised as an acheiropoietos image of Jesus at least as early as 574 in the little town of Camulia, not far from Caesarea, a woman named Bassa lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). Although she wished to be baptized into the Church, her husband, Camulus, who was toparch of the district, persecuted the Christians in conformity with Diocletian's command. Bassa prayed that Christ would give her a sign by appearing to her, and in response to her prayer a divine voice ordered her to place on a table a glass bowl filled with water, and a clean, white cloth. As Bassa knelt outside the room, Jesus appeared at the table, washed his face in the bowl, and dried his face with the cloth. When Bassa inspected the cloth, she found to her amazement that Jesus had miraculously imprinted his image upon it. For the rest of her life Bassa — who now changed her name to Aquilina — treasured the cloth. But as she neared the end of her life, she decided that she must preserve the cloth from the enemies of the Church. Accordingly, Aquilina wrote out the full story of the image and sealed up the story, along with the cloth itself, a thurible of incense, and a lighted votive lamp, in the exterior wall of her house. Many years later, in the days of the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great (378-395), Bishop Gregory of Nyssa [r. 372-378 ] (the most famous bishop the area produced) was moved by the Holy Spirit to open the wall. There he found the cloth, the account that Aquilina had written, the thurible with its incense, and the votive lamp, still burning. He fetched the cloth with its acheiropoietos image to the metropolis, Caesarea, where it performed many miracles of healing. This story of the Caesarea icon, which so closely parallels the Festival Sources' [Official History] story of the Edessan Icon's concealment and rediscovery, was composed before 787, since it was quoted at an Ecumenical Council in that year"[14].
Prof. Drews pointed out that there is no evidence of the above part of the Official History before 944[15]. He also noted that the Greek name, Eulalius, of the bishop (above) indicates that the story originated in Greek rather than in Syriac circles[16]. Presumably that was in Edessa before the Muslim conquest of 639, when it was still under Byzantine control.

It is clear from the above that that part of the 944 Official History is a fabrication, presumably by someone in Edessa to provide an explanation of how the Image/Shroud came to be in Edessa in 544, for it to have repelled the Persian siege of that year. The story of the Image/Shroud's replacement of the Greek statue, its long forgotten concealment in Edessa's gate in c.57, and its discovery ~487 years later in 544, may have come with the Image/Shroud when it was transferred in 944 from Edessa to Constantinople), and Emperor Constantine VII, accepted it at face value.

Evidence that the Image/Shroud was not hidden and forgotten in Edessa's main gate for ~487 years from c.57 to 544, includes: ■ A 4th century fresco in the catacomb of Saints Marcellinus and Peter (not the Apostle), in Rome [Right (enlarge)]. Although Jesus' face does not have the Vignon markings of later Byzantine icons, it "shows a very striking similarity to" the image on the Shroud and is such a radical departure from the "beardless Apollo" depictions of Jesus then current, that the simplest explanation is that the artist had seen the Shroud and painted this part of the fresco from memory, in the 4th century [04Oct16], when according to the Official History, the Image/Shroud was hidden, long forgotten, in Edessa's main gate!

■ The c.526 "Christ Enthroned" mosaic in the Sant'Apollinare Nuovo church, Ravenna, Italy [Left enlarge]. By my count, this has thirteen of the fifteen Vignon markings! [I no longer maintain this and therefore my Ravenna theory is incorrect-see 16Feb12] And since this is a mosaic, created in situ, not a portable painting, it is evidence that the Shroud was in Ravenna in the early sixth century (not hidden in Edessa's gate until the mid-sixth century)! [08Oct16 & 07Dec16] This is evidence for my Ravenna theory (see also above).

I will now critique Ian Wilson's speculation that the Image of Edessa/Shroud was discovered inside Edessa's main gate during repairs to damage caused by Edessa's catastrophic river flood in 525 (see below).

Wilson evidently realised that the Image/Shroud could not have been exposed to Edessa's open air weather extremes at its main gate for ~25 years (see above), so he makes it the tile (not the Image/Shroud) that was erected in place of the Greek god before Edessa's gate:

"It was common practice in the Parthian empire to display stone or clay heads of gods and gorgons over gateways. There are still examples to be seen at Parthian Hatra. Almost certainly the Keramion [tile] was one of these made in the likeness of the Christ head on the Mandylion and displayed on the city gate at the time that Christianity was tolerated by Abgar V. When persecution set in, it had to be removed. The real surprise is that, in stowing it away in a niche behind, the Mandylion was concealed there too"[17]
But this contradicts what the Official History actually says (see also above), that it was the "likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ" fastened "to a board" and embellished with gold "which is now to be seen" in Constantinople (i.e. the Image/Shroud) that replaced the Greek god statue "before the public gate" of Edessa:
"A statue of one of the notable Greek gods has been erected before the public gate of the city by the ancient citizens and settlers of Edessa to which everyone wishing to enter the city had to offer worship and customary prayers ... Abgar then destroyed this statue ... and in its place set up this likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ not made by hand, fastening it to a board and embellishing it with the gold which is now to be seen ... And he laid down that everyone who intended to come through that gate, should-in place of that former worthless and useless statue-pay fitting reverence and due worship and honor to the very wondrous miracle-working image of Christ, and only then enter the city of Edessa"[18]
As footnote [18] shows, Wilson repeated his patently false tile explanation in his 1998 and 2010 books The Blood and the Shroud and The Shroud, presumably rather than to admit that the Official History was self-evidently wrong that the Image/Shroud would have survived ~25 years in the open air before Edessa's gate.

Wilson did admit that the Official History's account of the lamp still burning (after ~487 years) and the Image/Shroud's role in repelling the Persian siege of Edessa in 544 were both "fanciful" (i.e. false)[19]. Wilson nevertheless maintained (and I agree) that the latter was when and where the Image/Shroud entered history as a real historical object[20].

However, surprisingly for an Oxford University trained historian, Wilson illogically assumed that because the Official History was correct about the Image/Shroud entering history during the 544 Persian siege of Edessa, it must have been correct about it having been hidden in Edessa's gate and completely forgotten for ~487 years (see above):

"Carefully the Mandylion [Image/Shroud] was laid underneath the tile likeness for protection. As a mark of respect the lamp also was left. The niche was then sealed with plain bricks to render the surface once again neat and tidy. The person who hid the Mandylion seems not to have had the opportunity to return to the hiding place, or to pass the knowledge of it on to surviving Christians. Whoever he was, he did his job well. He provided hermetically sealed conditions for the preservation of the Mandylion, something for which posterity would be more grateful than he could ever know. He had no way of knowing that it would be nearly five hundred years, in a totally different political and religious climate, before his place of concealment would come to light"[21].

Wilson does admit that if the Image/Shroud had been discovered in Edessa's gate during the 544 siege, historian Evagrius Scholasticus (c.536-594), who wrote about the Image/Shroud's role in repelling the Persian siege, would have mentioned it[22] (but see below). And if the Image/Shroud had been discovered in Edessa's gate before 521 then Edessan author Jacob of Serug (c. 451–521) also would surely have mentioned it[23].

So Wilson assumed that the Image/Shroud must have been discovered inside Edessa's gate between 520 and 544:

"So one can be reasonably certain that this discovery took place sometime between 520 and 544"[24].
Wilson then assumes, without any evidence, that the Image/Shroud must have been discovered by workmen repairing the damage to Edessa's main gate after its River Daisan's catastrophic flood in 525:

"It is not too difficult to determine during which incident of Edessa's history in those years it might have taken place. The year 525 was a particularly black one in Edessa's history ... Through the city, and past some of these churches ran the river Daisan, normally an unspectacular stream. But every so often, as already noted, rains could cause it to rise dramatically and burst its banks, bringing about widespread destruction in the low-lying areas of the city. In 525 the scale of the damage was the most serious ever. Many of Edessa's citizens were asleep in their beds when the river rose to an extraordinary height ... levelled to the ground a large part of the outworks and of the circuit-wall, and covered practically the whole city, doing irreparable damage... and caused the death of one third of the population ... emperor-to-be Justinian, who subsequently reigned from 527 to 565 ... dispatched engineers to Edessa to begin the work of reconstruction ... among Justinian's engineers' activities was their work on the walls ... In such circumstances we might expect the old Parthian gateway containing the Mandylion to have been dismantled and its intriguing contents brought to light. The news of the discovery does not seem to have been received with rapture in Edessa" (my emphasis)[25].
Note Wilson's disguised admission that there was no news of the discovery of the Image/Shroud in Edessa following the 525 flood!

And Wilson overlooked that just because historian Evagrius Scholasticus (c.536-594) was not yet born in 525 (see above), he would have written about the discovery of the Image/Shroud in Edessa's gate following the great flood of 525, if it had happened. Moreover, according to Google Books, Evagrius in his Ecclesiastical History did mention Edessa's flood of 525, calling the river the Skirtus (presumably its Latin name):

"About the same time Edessa. a large and flourishing city of Osroene, was inundated by the waters of the Skirtus, AD 525 [margin] which runs close by it so that most of the buildings were swept away, and countless multitudes that were carried down by the stream, perished. Accordingly, the names of Edessa and Anazarbus were changed by Justin, and each of them was called, after himself. Justinopolis"[26]
And as can be seen, Evagrius did not mention the discovery of the Image/Shroud, which Wilson himself admits Evagrius would have, if it he was aware of it (see above)!

Finally, Wilson does not consider that the source of the Official History would have mentioned that the Image/Shroud was found in Edessa's main gate during repairs following the flood of 525. if it really happened.

So in conclusion, the Official History's account of the Image/Shroud having been displayed in the open air before Edessa's main gate for ~25 years, hidden and completely forgotten for ~487 years, and discovered during the 544 Persian siege of Edessa (or Wilson's after the 525 flood), is PATENTLY FALSE!

An early twelfth century Vatican Library codex, No. 5696, Fol. 35 (pre-1130), contains an update of Pope Stephen III's eighth century sermon (above, which paraphrased Jesus reply to Abgar, that: "I am sending you a likeness of my face on a cloth.". The twelfth century version added that Jesus was sending Abgar a cloth on which was the image of His "whole body ... divinely transformed":

"If indeed you desire to look bodily upon my face, I send you a cloth on which the image not only of my face, but of my whole body had been divinely transformed."
Also in the early twelfth century, about 1130, an English-born Normandy monk Ordericus Vitalis (1075–c.1142), in his History of the Church, retold the Abgar story, but with an update - Jesus had wiped the sweat from His face with "a linen cloth" and His "image ... was miraculously imprinted" on it displaying "the form and size of the Lord's body":
"Abgar the ruler reigned at Edessa; the Lord Jesus sent him a sacred letter and a beautiful linen cloth He had wiped the sweat from His face with. The image of the Saviour was miraculously imprinted on to it and shines out, displaying the form and size of the Lord's body to all who look on it."
In these two early twelfth century updates of the Abgar story, this can only be the Shroud, in Constantinople, ~130 years before its earliest 1260 radiocarbon date!

In the early thirteenth century (c. 1212), Gervase of Tilbury (c.1150 – c.1228), an English born but Rome-educated lawyer, referring in his Otia Imperialia to the Abgar story in which Jesus had impressed an image of His face on a cloth and sent it to King Abgar V, added that Jesus had prostrated himself full length on a linen cloth and the likeness ... of the whole body of the Lord was impressed upon the cloth":

"... it is handed down from archives of ancient authority that the Lord prostrated himself full length on most white linen, and so by divine power the most beautiful likeness not only of the face, but also of the whole body of the Lord was impressed upon the cloth".
This is another (see Vatican Library codex, No. 5696 and Ordericus Vitalis above) altered versions of the Abgar V story which substituted for the miracle of Jesus' pressing his face onto a cloth to explain His face on the Image of Edessa, with Jesus lying full length on a cloth to imprint a likeness of His whole body on it!

Again, this can only be an early 13th century reference to the Shroud, nearly a half-century before the earliest radiocarbon date of 1260, and mentioned in archives which were "ancient" even then!

Continued in the next part #3 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission 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 page. [return]
2. Guscin, M., 2009, "The Image of Edessa," Brill: Leiden, Netherlands & Boston MA, pp.151-152. [return]
3. "Himation," Wikipedia (Danish), 30 November 2014. [return]
4. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.280. [return]
5. Ibid. [return]
6. Ibid. [return]
7. Wilson, 1979, pp.280-281. [return]
8. Wilson, 1979, p.281. [return]
9. Wilson, 1979, pp.281-282. [return]
10. Drews, R., 1984, "In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, p.70. [return]
11. Guscin, M., 2009, "The Image of Edessa," Brill: Leiden, Netherlands & Boston MA, p.77). [return]
12. Drews, 1984, p.71. [return]
13. Wilson, 1979, p.282. [return]
14. Drews, 1984, p.71. Footnote omitted. [return]
15. Ibid. [return]
16. Ibid. [return]
17. Wilson, 1979, p.132; 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.174; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.132-133. [return]
18. Wilson, 1979, p.280. [return]
19. Wilson, 1979, pp.132, 137. [return]
20. Wilson, 1979, pp.137-138. [return]
21. Wilson, 1979, p.135. [return]
22. Wilson, 1979, p.138. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. Ibid. [return]
25. Wilson, 1979, pp.138-139. [return]
26. "The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius: A History of the Church from AD 431 ..." By Evagrius (Scholasticus), Google Books, p.143. [return]

Posted 8 January 2019. Updated 3 February 2024.

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