Monday, August 29, 2011

The Argument From the Shroud Index


Part 1: It's Characteristics
A) The Shroud Itself
B) The Image's Characteristics
C) The Anatomy of the Man
D) Further Reading

Part 2: It's History
A) The Carbon Dating

Part 3: Pascha
A) 'O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?'

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Argument From the Shroud - The Image's Characteristics (Part 1-B)

Please read the post not on the home page (where you can see multiple posts at once) but only on its own page (you can only see the post). If you choose to read it with other posts available the hyperlinks for the footnotes won't work correctly.

This post will move on to the properties of the body image. When I mean properties, I'm referring to UV waves, chemical tests, etc; any kind of anatomical analysis will be saved for another post.

Note: Supposedly Joe Nickell, infamous Shroud skeptic, has been able to manually reproduce such an image using available painting techniques (see his book), however comments alone already start to show that his claims are false (he is also not well regarded in the area of Shroud Research), though at the same time others seem to defend his claims. The problem with Nickell, though, is that he relies off of Walter McCrone's non-peer-reviewed research which has been thoroughly debunked -- but I'm getting off topic now (just remember, continue to research for yourself!).

Photographic Negative

The first thing we should notice is that the Shroud is a photographic negative. This was discovered by Secondo Pia , an amateur photographer, when he was developing pictures of the Shroud that were commissioned by the Vatican.1 What this means is while one can see the image of a man on the Shroud, the image's lifelike qualities do not show up until one sees the negative of the image. We already need to ask: how could a painter do this when the concept of photographic negativity did not come until well after the middle ages?2 If a relic-forger really wanted to stump people it would make far more sense to paint it as a positive, something that people would identify with.3

However, this alone doesn't prove anything as people did indeed believe that the Shroud was the genuine burial cloth of Christ long before Secondo's discovery. Even still, the sheer amount of detail, as we'll see more in the anatomical section, would be incredibly hard for an artist to replicate in the form of a negative, let alone both the front and the back body images as well as hundreds of years before photography.

Second Face

Another startling discovery about the Shroud is the 'second face' discovered by Fanti and Maggiolo.4 On the backside of the Shroud which was not able to be accessed for some time, actually contains the face of the man on the front side in a much fainter image which can be seen with “Gaussian filters, Fourier transforms and template matching”.5 Furthermore, the properties of the image on the back, specifically the superficiality of the image (discussed below) is exactly the same on the front's, meaning that both images were produced by the same unknown process.6


The image on the Shroud is superficial; in other words, the image only colors the top of the threads.7 This is opposed to paintings in where paint would seep through multiple levels of the fibers when applied8 Furthermore, the image-bearing fibers:

“do not penetrate the cloth, nor do they exhibit any capillarity or absorptive properties. They are more brittle than their non-image counterparts, as if whatever formed them lightly corroded them. They are uniform in coloration. They are not cemented together, neither are they ‘diffused’ as they would be if they derived from some dye or stain. They do not ‘fluoresce’ or reflect back any light. Most emphatically, they are not made by any pigment.”9

Furthermore, “biophysicist John Heller (d. 13 December 1995) and chemist Alan Adler (d. 11 June 2000) concluded that the body image consisted simply of prematurely-aged linen” and not of any kind of paint pigment.10 Also, wherever there was blood, the fibers lacked these very characteristics – in other words the painter would have had to put the blood on first and then paint the negative11.


The image also exhibits 3D-image properties when analyzed by a VP-8 Image Analyzer, a device that uses levels of white and black to make “a vertical relief”.12 However, photographs usually do not encode this information since they only record shades of light and nothing about distance.13 Hence when photographs are normally put into a VP-8 image analyzer they come out “almost invariably collapsed and distorted” since “the VP-8” was not “designed or intended to produce any ‘true’ 3D display, only a semblance of it”.14 When the Shroud was put through though, a “consistent ‘true’ 3D effect was produced”, one whose very contours were visible.15 The inventor of the VP-8 Image Analyzer, Peter Schumacher, said:

“‘A “true three-dimensional image” appeared on the monitor . . . The nose ramped in relief. The facial features were contoured properly. Body shapes of the arms, legs and chest and the basic human form . . . I had never heard of the Shroud of Turin before that moment. I had no idea what I was looking at. However, the results are unlike anything I have processed through the VP-8 Image Analyzer, before or since. Only the Shroud of Turin has [ever] produced these results from a VP-8 Image Analyzer.’”16

The Painting Hypothesis

So our medieval forger now not only has produced a photographic negative without using paint, was able to create a “ghost” image that mirrored the front side of the Shroud, was able to paint both the front and the back of the man without any visible mistakes, was able to do all of this after blood had been put down on the Shroud, but he was also able to encode 3-Dimensional properties into the Shroud that are not found in other works and would not have been able to be appreciated for another 650 years.17 Furthermore, this man would have had to paint the Shroud without any signs of brush strokes18 as well as at a distance, for the man on the Shroud can only be seen when viewed from afar; up close, the image is not visible19.

The theory that the Shroud is a painting is less credulous the more we pour into the science; when the Shroud underwent it's first detailed examination by Paul Vignon, he concluded that “The impressions on the Holy Shroud are produced by chemical action, largely without absolute contact between the body and the cloth. Of this we have no doubt.”20 What Vignon, an amateur artist himself, failed to find was any signs of paint21. Furthermore, Vignon tried making a replica himself, but found that whenever he tried to simulate the wear and tear that the Shroud had gone through, the paint would fall off, leaving his image significantly different than that of the Shroud's, let alone the vast information the Shroud contains in its image22 (more on this in later sections). Yves Delage, professor of Vignon, would go on to give his presentation on the Shroud “to the French Academy of Sciences” stating that there were no signs of paint or artistic preparation23, and that the Shroud was the genuine Shroud of Christ.24 He personally believed that the vaporograph theory was what made the image on the Shroud.25

A further problem for the painting hypothesis is that linen is a tough substance to paint on, especially because it is water resistant.26 To consider what we have learned thus far as well as all the anatomical information that is to come and to then say it was all painted on such a difficult substance seems highly unlikely. Furthermore, the darker colored “lines” which make up the image are roughly “1/100th the width of a human hair”, something that is impossible to have been painted by an artist manually.27 There is also a lack of definite edges and an artistic style, something that we'd expect to see if the Shroud was a painting28 as well as foreshortening, an artistic concept which was not used until the Renaissance.29

1 Robert K. Wilcox The Truth About The Shroud of Turin, 2010. pp 3
2 The concept of negativity did exist prior to the medieval ages, but it was different than today's. Cf. Izabel Piczek The Concept of Negativity Through the Ages vs. The Negative Image on the Shroud
3 Wilcox pp. 11
4 citing Fanti & Maggiolo 2004
5 Ibid
6 Wilcox pp. 229-230
7 Ian Wilson The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved, 2010. Kindle Locations 1252-1253; Evidences citing Evans 1978; Pellicori 1981, p. 4
8 Personal discussion with Dr. Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, associate Director, Institute of Materials Science Professor, Chemistry at the University of Connecticut
9 Wilson, Kindle Locations 1253-1256
10 David Ford, The Shroud of Turin's 'Blood' Images: Blood, or Paint? A History of Science Inquiry, 2000. pp. 2 citing Jumper et al., 456; Murphy, 65; Lavoie, 58-9; Heller (1983), 200.
11 Wilson, Kindle Locations 1261-1262
12 Ibid, Kindle Locations 533-534
13 Ibid, Kindle Locations 534-535
14 Ibid, Kindle Locations 536-537
15 Ibid, Kindle Location 538
16 Ibid, Kindle Locations 545-550, citing Schumacher, 1999
17 Ibid, Kindle Locations 553-554
18 Fanti, G. et al, Evidences for Testing Hypotheses About the Body Image Formation of the Turin Shroud , citing Lorre 1977, pp. 9
19 Kilmon, J., The Shroud of Turin: Genuine artifact or manufactured relic?, The Glyph, the journal of The Archaeological Institute of America, San Diego, Vol 1, No. 10 (Sept 1997); No. 11 (Dec 1977); No. 12 (March 1998). Reproduced at
20 Schneider, R. The Shroud of Turin: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma – Shroud Science, Slide 12 The Shroud of Christ by Paul Vignon, 1902. pp. 154 English Version
21 Wilcox, 11
22 Ibid
23 Schneider, R. Slide 13
24 Wilcox, 28. Interestingly enough, Delage experienced a giant backlash for his conclusion and reprimanded the Academy, feeling that if it were not Christ that was in question, no one would bother to challenge his conclusion (Delage himself was not a Christian).
25 Schneider,R. Slide 13. A brief explanation of this theory is on Slide 14 of the same presentation.
26 Sorensen,R. Summary of Challenges to the Authenticity of the Shroud, pp.3
27 Ibid for the lack of artistic style
28 Ibid
29 Ibid, citing Is the Shroud of Turin a Painting?,

Labels: , ,


For the negative percentage of the population that have ever heard of this blog or, even more startling, read anything from it,

As one can see I've been quite absent, which is the opposite of what I promised, and for which I do apologize. Work has this nasty way of cutting into things (and a dose of lethargy never helps, either). As of recent I've moved so I could accept a job offer for the next 10 months. As such I have no plans to stop my work on the Shroud: full steam ahead, so to speak (and by 'full steam' I mean the little train who thought he could).

I also just want to remind all that this project is not aiming for academic quality: I simply do not have the time to pour that far into all the peer reviewed (and non-peer-reviewed) material. I highly suggest that if I peak your interest you continue to research the Shroud for yourself. I suggest both Ian Wilson and Rober K Wilcox's books (links below).

Expect the next part up in a matter of days.

Ian Wilson's book

Robert K. Wilcox's book