It occurred to me in April 2023, while writing Chapter 7, "Other marks and images," of my book, "Shroud of Turin: Burial Sheet of Jesus!" (see 06Jul17, 03Jun18 & 04Apr22), on the topic of "Writing on the Shroud," that the three Hebrew/Aramaic letters under the Shroudman's chin, revealed by Dr Petrus Soons' hologram of the Shroud face (see 01Nov08), are, from right to left, tsade-'aleph-gimel (the last not waw or nun as I had previously thought), are numbers!
[Above (enlarge): Hologram of the Shroud face by Dr Petrus Soons, showing three Hebrew letters under the beard of the man on the Shroud (best enlarged and viewed through red-green, three-dimensional, anaglyph glasses)[SP08a].]
[Above (enlarge): From right to left, today's shape of the Hebrew letters tsade, 'aleph and gimel. The middle letter in the above hologram is clearly 'aleph. The rightmost letter is closest to tsade. The leftmost letter is the least clear but is closest to gimel.]
The numerical value of tsade is 90, 'aleph is 1, and gimel is 3. "The Hebrew numeric system operates on the additive principle in which the numeric values of the letters are added together to form the total"[HNW], so the number would be 90 + 1 + 3 = 94. It is plausible that the Romans had a criminal and/or capital punishment identification numbering system. And since the Romans used Jews to do their clerical work (e.g. the Jewish tax collectors, Matthew and Zacchaeus - Mt 10:3; Lk 19:2), it is plausible that the numbers were Hebrew, not Latin. If these numbers were on an amulet, why didn't the disciples who buried Jesus (Mt 27:57-60; Mk 15:43-46; Lk 23:50-53; Jn 19:38-50) remove it? They might not have had time since the Sabbath was about to begin (Lk 23:54). It also would likely have been illegal to remove a Roman criminal identification number.
Shroud Scope Enrie negative and Durante positive show a place under the man's chin where an amulet could be, but they do not show an amulet or Hebrew letters. I don't understand holograms, so I have to rely on Dr. Soons' expertise in this:
"My presentation summarizes work connected with digitizing Shroud photographs taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931, enhancing the digitized images to improve details, translating the enhanced images `gray scale data into depth data', generating a sequence of up to 625 images of each of these, and combining these images with a Holoprinter to produce holograms (3D images) of the Shroud. It also summarizes my study of these holograms and discovery of heretofore unseen details, which confirm many previous findings and reveal some surprises"[SP08b, 370].That these three Hebrew letters are numbers, part of a Roman criminal identification system, is more plausible than they are a three-letter word of obsure meaning placed under Jesus' chin by Joseph of Arminathea or Nicodemus.
And, as I wrote in my 2008 post:
"I agree that on the hologram below the beard of the man of the Shroud there are three Hebrew letters, which itself is further evidence that the Shroud is that of Jesus, because why would, or even could, a medieval forger add three Hebrew letters to his forgery, such that they could only be detected by 21st century science?"
1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to extract or quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided the extract or quote includes a reference citing my name, its title, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]
HNW. "Hebrew numerals," Wikipedia, 11 May 2023.
SP08a. Soons, P., 2008, "The Shroud of Turin: The Holographic Experience," Lecture by Dr. Petrus Soons, Shroud Encounter. 9 Aug 2014.
SP08b. Soons, P., 2008, "The Shroud of Turin: The Holographic Experience," in Fanti, G., ed., 2009, "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, 370-375.
Posted 27 May 2023. Updated 3 June 2023.