Whether the Turin Shroud image is meant to be seen as the actual imprint of Jesus or a miracle image from Medieval times, it would fall into the relic tradition of "holy likeness not made by human hands."  If so, that would explain why sketching and brushmarks had to be avoided.

Let this source talk to us. 

How was the Shroud image formed?

Question: How do you think the image on the Shroud was formed? This is from

To be honest I don't know. But if I had to pick the most promising method, I would say it could have been constructed using a rubbing technique on a bas-relief model. According to my dictionary 'bas-relief' means: a sculptural relief that projects very little from the background. Also called low-relief'. Joe Nickell, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI, formerly CSICOP) and author of Inquest on the Shroud of Turin and Detecting Forgery, demonstrated this technique using a bas-relief and the pigments and tools available in the Middle Ages. "After experimenting with various techniques, the shroud artist would have prepared a suitable mixture of pigments and tempera binder, moulded a wet linen sheet over the bas-relief he had constructed, and using a dauber (also termed a pounce or tamper) apply the mixture to the surface of the linen. Methods for creating similar images are known and these methods were widely known in the Middle Ages. Faux-negative images are automatically produced by an artistic rubbing technique." The July 2005 issue of Science & Vie (Science and Life) magazine also documented the making of a shroud by these medieval techniques. STURP scientists have conceded that it is possible to create the image using this method, but have also said there is no evidence to suggest that such a technique was ever used prior to the 19th century. Joe Nickell on the other hand, claims the technique dates back to at least the 12th century.

Question: There is so much detail in the Shroud when it comes to the wounds and blood flow of the man on the Shroud. Do you think that a man in this time period (1260-1390) could have possibly created this cloth when at this time so little was known about medical things?

This question needs to be examined in two parts. First it's misleading in that it states "as fact" that there is a lot of detail regarding wounds and blood flow on the image that needs to be explained. I would debate this.

The blood flows may look realistic when we compare them to someone bleeding on the TV news, but we need to remember that this body was dead. When you die your heart stops and no more blood flows from your body. A corpse does not bleed. Obviously Jesus would have bled while being crucified, but once dead the bleeding would have stopped and the exposed blood would have dried. Dried blood should not have transferred to the shroud. If the blood hadn't dried by the time Jesus was wrapped in the cloth (unlikely), then this means that while he was being removed from the cross and carried to the tomb, it would have been very difficult for those handling his body not to have smudged and rubbed the blood flows. If you've seen Mel Gibson's sadistic movie 'Passion of the Christ', which the Catholic Church assures us is an accurate portrayal of Jesus' final hours, then you'll remember that Jesus was naked and literally swimming in blood. Carrying a naked, heavy, slippery dead body without touching the blood flows would be impossible. And strangely enough, the shroud image is not covered in blood. Just a little blood to indicate the wounds described in the Bible. Even if by some 'miracle' the blood flows were still wet and not disturbed, as soon as you wrapped the body in an absorbent linen cloth, the blood would spread into the material. The detail that is supposedly seen in the image would be lost. Same with the blood from the scalp wound, it should mat the hair, not run in rivulets. Far from being accurate, the blood flows are more like an artist's representation of blood.

The only wound that possibly conveys unexpected detail is the one in the wrist. And I say unexpected for someone living in the 21st century, not necessarily unknown detail for someone in the 14th century. The Bible clearly states that on the cross nails were driven though the hands. Most historical literature and paintings have continued with this tradition. Yet we have since re-discovered that nails through the hands will not support the weight of a crucified body. However historical documents have also revealed that many of the victims were actually tied to the crossbar rather than nailed, so perhaps if nails were used as well, they could still go through the hands. Anyway, since we haven't crucified people for centuries, we have forgotten the practical details and simply assumed that the Bible was accurate about the hands. We also arrogantly assume that since we didn't know the true details, then ignorant peasants in the Middle Ages wouldn't have known either. But they lived a lot closer to crucifixion times than we did, so it's quite possible that some people still remembered how it was really done. We need to stop assuming that man in times gone by was intellectually inferior to 21st century man. A similar argument is used for the fact that the image is naked. Paintings from the Middle Ages always show Jesus with some sort of loin cloth, thus, just as with the bit about the nails, it's suggested that medieval artists obviously didn't know he was really naked. However I think you have to be pretty naïve to believe that regardless of how they normally painted him, they didn't know he would have been naked. Crucifixion was a brutal punishment designed to act as an example to others. The Romans had just tortured him and were now killing him, are we expected to believe that they would be concerned about his nudity embarrassing him? His public nakedness would have been part of the punishment. Likewise, just because they normally painted him with nails through the hands didn't mean that they didn't know they should really go through the wrist. The shroud artist may simply have decided to forgo tradition and create a more realistic image, naked and with wounds in the wrist.

Of course if you still accept the argument that there is a lot of unexpected detail in the image, you then have to explain why a lot of detail you would expect is actually missing. For example the navel is missing. The body's buttocks, chest and toes "are defined poorly or not at all". The ears are missing. The top of the head is missing. The genitals are not visible. One pro-shroud website article explains this item away with the following: 'The genitalia are not visible because they are covered by a folded modesty cloth by Jewish custom'. What Jewish custom, and why would the body need a 'modesty cloth'? It was wrapped from head to toe in an opaque cloth. Also why did the radiation or whatever it was that created the image not penetrate the modesty cloth? The missing genitalia, whether covered by an unnatural posture, magic underwear or simply missing would suggest an artist trying to maintain Jesus Christ's modesty rather than portraying a naked body in a natural posture.

And of course, as I've already mentioned, there are evidently serious anatomical problems with the image — "Jesus' face, body, arms, and fingers were unnaturally thin and elongated, one forearm was longer than the other, and his right hand is too long. The man is improbably tall, between 5' 11½" and 6' 2" tall. Jews who lived in the 1st century were much shorter than this." (As someone has commented, if Jesus was really this tall he would have really stood out and there would have been no need for Judas to point him out to the Romans). "The head is disproportionately small for the body, the face unnaturally narrow and the forehead foreshortened, and ears lost. The front and back images, in particular of the head, do not match up precisely, and the back image is longer than the front. The back of the head is wider than the front of the head. The hair is hanging straight down, as if the man was sitting."

So there are in fact no medical details revealed in the image that hadn't already been discovered by the Middle Ages. It is simply an attempt to portray a wounded and bleeding body, a rather poor attempt. Rather than describe things that they couldn't have known, they actually got many details wrong. Details that they would have known well. After all, humans have been exposed to the sight of wounded, bleeding and dead bodies for thousands of years. We may be relatively shielded from that today, but in medieval times artisans would have been extremely familiar with blood and dead bodies. History details numerous wars involving close combat with sharp implements, the Inquisition with its judicial torture had already begun and remember also that the Black Death occurred during the 14th century so blood and death would have surrounded those living during this time. They may not have known why blood flowed but they would have been depressing familiar with all manners of horrific wounds and bleeding bodies.

So now that we've established the real problems with the image, we move to the second part of the question: 'Do you think that a man in this time period (1260-1390) could have possibly created this cloth when at this time so little was known about medical things?'

Since the image is actually quite inaccurate regarding 'medical things', the question now becomes: 'Could a man in this time period have possibly created a cloth displaying a 'medically inaccurate image?' Obviously the answer is yes. Any fool can create an image that doesn't accurately reflect reality. Since the image displays many details that don't occur naturally, the shroud image can't have formed by being wrapped around a real dead body.

The Shroud is a 14th-century forgery and is one of many such deliberately created relics produced in the same period, all designed to attract pilgrims to specific shrines to enhance and increase the status and financial income of the local church. There were countless crucifixion nails, crowns of thorns, and lances. And there were burial shrouds. There were between 26 and 40 'authentic' burial shrouds scattered throughout the abbeys of Europe, of which the Shroud of Turin is just one. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, fragments supposedly cut from the True Cross were available in almost every church in Europe. A church in St. Omer claimed to have bits of the True Cross, of the Lance that pierced Christ, of his Cradle, and the original stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments had been traced by the very finger of God! Three churches in France each professed to have a complete corpse of Mary Magdalene. Jesus' foreskin was preserved in at least six churches. Vials of Jesus' tears, vials of Jesus' mother's milk. One catalogue from that time includes the following: "A fragment of St. Stephen's rib; Rusted remains of the gridiron on which St. Lawrence died; A Lock of Mary's hair; A small piece of her robe; A piece of the Manger; Part of one of Our Lord's Sandals; A piece of the sponge that had been filled with vinegar and handed up to Him; A fragment of bread He had shared with His disciples; A tuft of St. Peter's beard; Drops of St. John the Baptist's Blood." Many churches vied to become known for the number and importance of their relics. As early as 1071 the cathedral at Eichstatt possessed 683 relics, while by the 1520s the Schlosskirche at Wittenburg had 19,013 and the Schlosskirche at Halle boasted more than 21,000 such objects. "About 1200, Constantinople was so crammed with relics that one may speak of a veritable industry with its own factories". Blinzler (a Catholic New Testament scholar) lists, as examples: "letters in Jesus' own hand, the gold brought to the baby Jesus by the wise men, the twelve baskets of bread collected after the miraculous feeding of the 5000, the throne of David, the trumpets of Jericho, the axe with which Noah made the Ark, and so on. . . " During the Middle Ages particularly, relic-mongering was rampant; and of course, there were no scientific means to test things, so all manner of things were sold as authentic. Including shrouds of Jesus.

It is likely that the Shroud was constructed using a rubbing technique on a bas-relief model. Joe Nickell demonstrated this using a bas-relief and the pigments and tools available in the Middle Ages (image on right). "After experimenting with various techniques, the Shroud artist prepared a suitable mixture of pigments and tempera binder, moulded a wet linen sheet over the bas-relief he had constructed, and used a dauber (also termed a pounce or tamper) to apply the mixture to the surface of the linen. Methods for creating similar images are known and these methods were widely known in the Middle Ages." The statement that we cannot make such an image is simply false propaganda. Faux-negative images are automatically produced by an artistic rubbing technique. The July 2005 issue of Science & Vie (Science and Life) magazine documents the making of a shroud by these medieval techniques. ...scientist Luigi Garlaschelli made a very convincing reproduction of the shroud in 2009.

by John L Ateo and Rachel C 

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