"Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world"
"The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of"
(Charles H. Perkhurst)
Bioplastic Coating on the Shroud of Turin
"The DNA of God?"
The Shroud, the Tomb, and DNA
How does the Shroud show that the Man lived?
Brief note on the Resurrection
Dr. Heller's Gedankenexperiment
he Shroud of Turin (see previous page) shows full-length front and back images of what appears to be a crucified man. It is made of fine linen and is 3.5 feet wide and a little over 14 feet long. The markings and the image on the Shroud appear to correspond to Biblical descriptions of the brutal beating and persecution of Jesus Christ. There are many people who believe that the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ. There are others who believe it to be a medieval fraud created by some ingenious individual.
The picture at the top of this
page is generally very well known. That picture is actually the photographic
negative of the image on Shroud of Turin. But when one actually views
the Shroud itself, the image appears very faint, though distinct. So, the negative produced from photographing
the Shroud gives an indication of how the Shroud would have looked to the
human eye before it faded over the centuries. The Shroud is owned by the Catholic
Church. You may read more about the
Shroud of Turin at http://188.8.131.52
, a fascinating site. Another excellent site is the Shroud of Turin Website, managed by Mr. Barry
Schwortz, the photographer responsible for photographing every square centimeter
of the Shroud of Turin during the 1978 STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project)
scientific investigations. You may also wish to check out the site run by
the Council for the Study of the
Shroud of Turin.
What on earth has the Shroud of Turin to do with the theory of Jesus in India? That’s what we’ll examine.
One hypothesis that is constantly propagated by Christians (particularly Catholics) who believe that the Shroud is genuine is that the image on the Shroud proves that Jesus Christ actually resurrected, emitting a burst of light and radiation causing the image to form on the Shroud. It has been claimed that science has not, as yet, discovered how the image was made.
But there are those who believe that the Shroud of Turin might tell another story: that the markings and image on the Shroud prove that Jesus survived the crucifixion. They claim that there is a very natural explanation of how the image on the Shroud was made, although, of course, that explanation is rejected by Christians and by scientists who begin their scientific studies of the Shroud with the assumption that whoever the Shroud covered was dead. Those who believe that the Shroud stands as proof that Christ survived the crucifixion avow that if one begins with the assumption that the body was still alive after the crucifixion, then a natural explanation of how the image was made comes to the fore.
In 1978, the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) scientist, Dr. Ray Rogers, of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, who had been one of the participants of the first thorough scientific studies of the Shroud (conducted in Turin, Italy) hand-delivered 32 sticky-tape slides containing fibers of the Shroud of Turin to Dr. Walter McCrone, a microscopist. Dr. McCrone noticed what he believed to be powdered iron oxide on the fibers that had been taken specifically from body image areas of the Shroud. Iron oxide is a natural pigment that has been used in art for thousands of years.
He also noticed other materials that led him to the conclusion that the Shroud was a medieval forgery produced by a very clever artist. McCrone’s finding was at complete variance with the findings of Dr. Heller, whose research identified the stains on the Shroud as bloodstains. Heller, in his book, Report on the Shroud of Turin, noted the following:
“Thus far, our positive blood tests had included (1) microspectrophotometric scans of crystals and fibrils, (2) reflectance scans on the Shroud, (3) positive hemochromogen tests, (4) positive cyanomethemoglobin tests, (5) positive tests for bile pigments, and (6) characteristic heme porphyrin fluorescence. Any one of these is proof of the presence of blood, and each is acceptable in a court of law. Taken together, they are irrefutable.”
So there now existed two diametrically opposed conclusions regarding the blood on the Shroud, both coming from noted scientists in their fields. In the meantime the scientific community had been urging the Vatican to allow carbon dating of the Shroud as a way to settle the issue. In October of 1987, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, of Turin, Italy, approved a list of three radiocarbon laboratories that would be allowed enough samples of the Shroud to carry out the test. These labs were: The Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s radiocarbon-dating facility at Zurich, and the University of Arizona’s facility at Tucson. The results was performed, and on October 13, 1988 in the British Museum’s Press Room, it was announced that the carbon dating had dated the Shroud to somewhere between the years 1260-1390. The conclusion was that the Shroud was a fake.
But at a conference held in Rome, Italy in June of 1993, and sponsored by the Centre International d’Etudes sur le Linceul de Turin, Dr. Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes rocked the entire Shroud community in a paper he read entitled, “Biogenic Varnish and the Shroud of Turin.”
Valdes discovered that on many
ancient artifacts, there exists a plaque-like coating that accumulates over
centuries. He called this coating a “bioplastic material.” This material accumulates through the activity of
millions of bacteria fungi that build up into a hard casing similar to a coral
reef. Dr. Garza-Valdes explained that this bioplastic coating is invisible
unless a special medium is used to disclose its presence. In April of 1993, Dr.
Garza-Valdes traveled to Turin, Italy for the purpose of examining under a
microscope some threads of the Shroud that were in the possession of Giovanni
Riggi. He described his first reaction, upon viewing these threads, as follows:
“‘As soon as I
looked at a segment in the microscope, I knew it was heavily contaminated. I
knew that what had been radiocarbon dated was a mixture of linen and bacteria
and fungi and bioplastic coating that had grown on the fibers for centuries.’”
Walter McCrone raised the
objection that if such a coating existed on the carbon-dated fibers of the
Shroud of Turin, then that
coating would have been removed due to a very stringent pretreatment cleaning
routinely performed by radiocarbon-dating laboratories. This cleaning is
performed specifically to remove any contaminants that might exist on a
specimen and, as a consequence, interfere with the results of the test. All three of the laboratories that dated the
Shroud fibers had used a cleaning agent composed of hydrochloric acid and
sodium hydroxide. So, Dr. Garza-Valdes reproduced this cleaning process, and
“‘When you clean these with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide not simply with the concentration used by the radiocarbon laboratories but with six times the strength of that used in 1988, you don’t do a single thing to the bacteria and the bioplastic coating. The only thing that you do is to dissolve part of the cellulose from the flax, so that you are going to make bigger the contaminant in relation to the cellulose of the flax.’”
But how was it possible that three different radiocarbon-dating laboratories could have missed this coating? Garza-Valdes argued that the bioplastic coating is like clear plastic, and one can look right through it just as one would look through glass. He said:
“‘This is why many people have looked with the microscope and have missed the deposit and said the fibers are clean. A few years ago they could not have understood how the Mayans gave that beautiful polish to the ancient jades. No one could understand the technology they used to give that beautiful luster. But the Mayans didn’t do it. It was the bacteria that deposited this acrylic on the ancient surfaces.’”
Well, despite Heller’s tests demonstrating that blood does exist on the Shroud, and despite Garza-Valdes’s discovery of the bioplastic coating, a debate emerged regarding the color of stains on the Shroud. Dr. Walter McCrone believed that since exposed blood eventually turns a brownish color, then the stains on the Shroud could not be blood because of their deep, red appearance. But Dr. Alan Adler, a STURP member, offered the biological explanation that if the Man of the Shroud had undergone torture, scourging, crucifixion and shock, then in less than 30 seconds, a high amount of billirubin would have been produced.
Under these conditions, when the blood clots, an exudate forms that would remain, minus all the intact cells with haemoglobin, on any cloth with which it might come in contact. So, in the case of the Shroud, this enhanced bilirubin is what would have been left. This substance, which is a yellowish-orange, mixes with something called mehaemoglobin, and the result of this mixture is the very red color of the bloodstains.
But despite these explanations, there still remained people who insisted
that the blood was not blood at all, but paint. Scientists knew that if McCrone were
correct—if the bloodstains were paint—then DNA could not be present. Conversely, if Heller and Adler were
correct, then DNA would be found on the stains. In 1995, threads that had been
taken from the Shroud during the 1978 STURP investigations were examined at Genoa’s Institute of Legal
Medicine. These threads had been taken from the foot area of the Shroud.
Professor Marcello Canale, reported the following:
“‘We have extracted the DNA present on these tiny threads and have amplified this with a chain reaction that allows us, via a particular enzyme, to keep on replicating the DNA an infinite number of times. It is a method that can be used even in the case of a single cell…The DNA chain is very long, and we are able to identify very small sectors representing individual characteristics which can ultimately enable us to identify the individual from whom they derive.’”
Dr. Victor Tyron and his wife, Nancy Mitchell Tyron of Texas University’s Center for Advanced DNA Technologies, performed an independent test for DNA. They first established that the threads contained human blood, and then that DNA was present in the blood.
“…The DNA chain is very long, and we are able to identify very small sectors representing individual characteristics which can ultimately enable us to identify the individual from whom they derive.”
We have no idea how Professor Marcello Canale would “identify the individual from whom they derive,” unless he were able to find a sample of DNA to compare with the Shroud DNA sample.
If the Roza Bal could be searched for remains, and if DNA were to be extracted from those remains, then a comparison of DNA found on the Shroud to DNA found in the Roza Bal could be made. And if this comparison showed a match, then strong circumstantial evidence that would suggest:
Had the Shroud revealed nothing but a smooth image, then even a DNA match would say nothing other than that the “burial” cloth of a man who now lies in the Roza Bal in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, somehow ended up in Turin, Italy. But this cloth bears markings that exactly parallel the descriptions one finds in the Bible of the scourging of Jesus Christ. As Kersten notes in his book, The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth about the Resurrection:
“The distinct details allow us to recognize six of the Stations of the Cross reported in the Gospels. First, expert medical studies have discovered a severe swelling under the right eye and other surface face wounds, which are obviously related to blows to the face inflicted by the soldiers.
“Secondly, a large number of small, very conspicuous, dumbbell-shaped markings are visible on the front and rear of the body—they are particularly distinct on the shoulder and back regions. In total over ninety of these wounds can be counted, and their shape allows a reconstruction of the kind of instrument used to inflict them. The wounds are clustered in groups of three at a certain fixed angle to the body, so one has to assume it was a whip. The characteristic form of the individual wounds points to the Roman flagrum. One often encounters this terrible instrument of torture in stories of the early Christian martyrs. It was especially feared because it was fitted at the ends of the three leather thongs with very small lead dumbbells, called plumbatae, and sometimes bone pieces, which could cause painful wounds.
“Thirdly, in the shoulder region the whip wounds appear smeared with blood. This observation tallies with the custom of making the person sentenced to death on the cross carry the crossbeam (patibulum) to the place of execution himself.
“Fourthly, the irregular course of the streams of blood on the forehead and the back of the head allow us to infer a crowning with thorns. The way these wounds are distributed over the head is interesting. It shows that what the Man of the Shroud wore was not the ring of thorns familiar to us from the whole Christian iconography. It was rather a cap covering the whole head. This corresponds exactly to the oriental crowns which were widespread in those days.
“Fifthly, the nail wounds are striking, especially one of the hand wounds. The course of the larger streams of blood indicates that the arms were stretched out on the cross at an angle of 55-65 [degrees] to the vertical. The hand wounds supply a surprising piece of information: in art it is only the palms of the hands that are pierced, but the blood flows on the cloth clearly show that the nails were actually driven through the wrists—a fact which was to be supported by later investigations.
“The final Station of the Cross is evident from an oval wound on the right side about 4.5 centimeters in length, situated between the fifth and sixth ribs. Quite a lot of blood appears to have flowed from this wound, the dispersal of which is best made out on the rear view. As is well known, the text of John mentions an injury to the side caused by a lance, saying ‘blood and water’ immediately flowed from it. One does not find any sign of major injuries to the upper or lower legs, suggesting that the legs were not broken, again as confirmed by the Bible…
“The anatomically precise representation of the body is similarly inexplicable [were the Shroud a forgery]. Anatomical knowledge up until the sixteenth century was based on the works of the Greek physician Galen (129-201), and was not modified until the pioneering studies of the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesal (1514-64). One only has to glance over the medical codices from the end of the fifteenth century to be confronted in a striking manner with the paucity of the anatomical knowledge then available for iconography. As an example, I can refer you to the manuscript of the famous Monumenta Medica of John of Ketham of 1491, now kept in the National Library in Paris.
“There can be no doubt that the picture on the cloth shows the imprint of a man which really has been impacted on the sheet of fabric. Moreover the evidence of the details proves that it could not have been just any crucified person. The agreement in so many details with the reports of the Gospels about the Passion of Jesus, and with other historical data about his crucifixion, is so impressive that even the Jesuit and historian Herbert Thurston, who considered the linen to be a forgery, wrote in 1903: ‘If this is not the impression of the Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other person since the world began could these details be verified.’”6
Hassnain, attempted to gain permission from the keepers of
the Roza Bal to allow the sarcophagus inside the tomb housing the remains
of Yuz Asaf to be opened. He was refused:
“The question of trial excavations came to my mind several times and in this connection I had many discussions with the caretaker and the managing committee, but none agreed to expose this sacred site for these experiments. The net result of the investigations has been that the tomb has remained closed to any kind of investigations.”
It must be noted that the tomb is not closed totally. But, unfortunately, sectarian tensions (see Preface) are so intense that anyone approaching the tomb these days is badgered away. Hassnain feels that this situation might change in the future.
Incidentally, we’ve been told that a more positive proof using DNA analysis could be established if the DNA of the mother of the Man of the Shroud could be found. The Jesus-in-India proponents assert that he traveled there with three women: Mary, his mother; Mary, his aunt and Mary Magdalene. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have died before reaching Srinagar. Her tomb is called the Mai Mari Da Asthan (Resting place of Mother Mary), and is located about 100 miles west of Srinagar at the summit of a small hill at a place known as Pindi Point, in the city of Murree (named after Mother Mary), Pakistan. More precisely, it is located within protected property behind the fence of a Pakistan television booster. Could a test be done to determine a DNA link between the woman lying in this tomb and the remains of the revered man in the Roza Bal? The idea is exciting.
It has been stated in Shroud research literature that forensic pathologists have already proven that the Man of the Shroud most certainly was dead.
But the first person to theorize that the Shroud markings indicate that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion was a Catholic man named Kurt Berna. He was not a scientist, incidentally, though he obtained strong backing from scientists. Mr. Berna’s book, Christ did not Perish on the Cross (International Foundation for the Holy Shroud, 1975), caused a storm of controversy. It was first published in German in the year 1962 under the title, Jesus nicht am Kreuz gesstorben. It is clear that he considered himself to be a good Christian, who was only attempting to set the record straight. He saw his discovery as confirming Christian teachings, and he cited a verse from the Bible to support his belief that the Shroud of Turin shows that Jesus physically survived the crucifixion:
“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have.” (Bible, Luke 24:39)
Berna stated in his book:
“The Gospels were written in the first century, at a time when a person was considered dead if he had stopped breathing. But it was held by the Apostles and the early Church that the body of Jesus Christ in the tomb was imputrescible [incapable of decay]. We know, two thousand years later, that to be imputrescible a body needs blood circulation.
“And this is exactly the important scientific fact proved by the Holy Shroud: the body was imputrescible in the tomb—the scientific proof, in fact, for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with flesh and bones, as Jesus said in Luke 24:39…”
Berna stated that all the reports about the death of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, were true, considering the definition of death at that time. Berna included a very lengthy quote from one Dr. Theodor Hirt, a professor of a German university, and we will reproduce portions of it here. These quotes appear in Berna’s now out-of-print book between pages 46-69, and any emphasis is mine:
“‘Now, not only medical men but every layman knows that blood in the hair dries quickly, blood and hair together forming a hard crust. As no fabric absorbs dried blood, the traces visible on the Shroud can have originated only from the blood that was flowing from open wounds…
“‘We can take it for granted that the crown of thorns was not moved at all from the time he gave up the ghost and his head fell forward until he was removed from the cross. It is absolutely certain that in the hour or so that passed before the removal from the cross, any blood which remained on the head, the back and the forehead, dried up and was congealed, because this is the natural behavior of blood which leaves the body and is exposed to air…
“‘What happens to a corpse if a crown of thorns is removed, leaving small wounds on the skin at the back of the head? Nothing, absolutely nothing. There is no blood pressure in a dead body, and, as everybody who understands anything about human blood circulation knows, without pressure blood does not flow from a wound…
“‘Once death has ensued, blood circulation in the human body follows the same law. At one moment a person’s skin may still be a reddish flesh-color because the blood penetrates to the capillaries, the hair-thin vessels just below the surface of the skin. But when the heart stops pumping, by the same law of nature that applies to the test with the glass tube, the veins draw the blood back. As a result, the capillaries are the first vessels to be emptied of blood because they are at the extreme end of the circulatory system. As the blood retracts, the skin of the deceased turns white.
“‘This is what happens to a corpse some eight to ten hours after the heart has ceased to beat—not only does no blood flow from open wounds because there is no pressure, but the blood retracts a little in the veins.
“‘But what happens [at the removal of the crown of thorns] if here is blood pressure--that is, if the heart is still beating? The little wounds fill with blood; the blood flows from the head into the hair; and because it keeps flowing, it trickles through the hair onto the Shroud—as we can see on the Shroud of Jesus. That is why it cannot have been a corpse that was in the Shroud—the body was not dead. We can all see the evidence on the Shroud, as revealed by a camera nineteen hundred years later—and the camera does not lie…It is so obvious and easy to understand that I am certain you have followed my reasoning…’”
“‘As we look at it we immediately notice the wounds which would seem to have been caused by scourging. When the body was taken off the cross and carried away, it was inevitably pulled, stretched and bent in the process, with the result that the wounds were ripped open and bleeding started again. Other significant points in the picture are marked with arrows and capital letters. Starting at the top, the letter A denotes the patches of blood from the wounds made by the crown of thorns. Furrows on the forehead are the explanation for the curious shape of the particular patch which looks like figure 3. The fresh blood that flowed from these wounds is further proof that the heart was still active. Every single drop of blood that had earlier been on the forehead must have dried by the time the body was removed. The mark is important because it could have been made only when the crown of thorns was removed and the wounds on the forehead reopened…
“‘Letter C refers to the wound in the side of the body. It is on the right breast in line with the armpits between the fifth and sixth rib, a little below and somewhat to the side of the right nipple. The size of the wound is about two inches by half an inch. Letter D refers to a small wound which, in 1948, was diagnosed as having been caused almost certainly by the point of a lance extruding after it had transfixed the body. We shall return to these two lance wounds later.
“‘Letter E indicates bleeding from the nail wound from which blood flowed in three directions; to this I shall also return later...Letter G refers to the instep of the right foot which also shows traces of blood. All these points emerge because of the novel form of photographic presentation; this also applies to photographs which you will see in due course...’”
“‘Let us now turn to the enlargement of the photograph of the crossed hands (Picture 13). I do not want to take credit that is not due to me and must explain that we owe the next few photographs to the research of a man who reached the same conclusion as I—that it was not a corpse which was placed in the Shroud—but by an entirely different approach...
“‘Let us move on to Pictures 16 and 17, which are enlargements of the nail wound, each showing the three streaks of blood. Let us concentrate first on blood steaks Numbers 1 and 2 (leaving aside for the time being streak Number 3, which the experts, owing to the confusion caused by Barbet’s mistake, were unable to diagnose). Picture 17 shows the spaces between the blood streaks in the correct measurements, and I invite you to read the big caption which will make it easier for you to understand what I have to say. In the meantime I shall get a protractor with which you can check these measurements...’”
“‘You will have noticed that Dr. Barbet estimated the angle between the two streaks of blood at five degrees. Knowing that the arms of a crucified person were so far extended, and that it was virtually impossible for the body to be lowered and raised, Dr. Barbet judged the flow of blood (as in streaks 1 and 2) on the assumption that the person on the cross was in the position typical for a man in his predicament. As far as he was concerned, the case was quite clear, particularly since an injury to the heart caused by the lance was accepted as fact.
“‘Had Dr. Barbet determined the direction of the two blood streaks with a protractor, he would have realized at once that they could not have occurred at such an angle while the body was nailed to the cross. One of the streaks must have originated when blood later came from the nail wound, which is the only feasible scientific explanation. Had research concentrated on the reconstructions which were made twenty years after, it would have been found, either in 1935 or later, that it was not a corpse that had reposed in the Turin Shroud of Jesus. Because of Barbet’s lapse, it took thirty years longer to draw the correct conclusions from the evidence on the Shroud.
“‘Looking at Picture 18 and the following photographs, need I remind you that water does not get to the top of a mountain unless it is pumped. The same principle applies to blood circulation in the human body. Whether the body is in an upright or a horizontal position the flow of blood above the heart depends on pressure. Whilst we must not forget that a corpse does not bleed, we need to be reminded that ‘active bleeding’ is caused by heart pressure, which means that the heart must pump the blood to the point where pressure causes it to exude from the wound.
“‘As you observe the many blood streaks in the following pictures, you should remember this principle; such streaks could only be the result of pressure from the heart. Had the heart stood still for thirty minutes or an hour, blood on the skin would have dried up and could not have left stains on the Shroud. But, as there are bloodstains on the Shroud which indicate that the blood on the skin was still fresh and liquid, the heart must have been active.
“‘The other reconstructions show the position of the body and of the arm at the time of active bleeding. They enable us to observe the activity of the heart at every stage--while the position of the body changed shortly before and during the removal from the cross, and when it was placed in the Shroud.
“‘Pictures 19 and 20 are reconstructions in the same category...’”
“‘In support of my criticism I can point to page 156 of his book where it says: ‘Looking closely at the left wrist on the Shroud one sees two rivulets of blood originating in the same central zone, the nail wound. They diverge slightly at an angle of approximately five degrees.’ You will note...that he speaks of an estimated five degrees. If he had measured the exact proportions he would have referred to thirty-four and twenty degrees, respectively...’”
“‘Let us now turn from Barbet...to the most interesting scientific implication of the third streak of blood. Evidence on the Shroud proving activity of the heart during the body’s removal from the cross was bound to lead scientists to look for traces of even later bleeding. One instance is the blood from the back of the head with which we dealt this morning. The next photograph (Picture 21) provides further proof of heart activity while the body was in the Shroud. It shows the hands crossed; it also shows the direction of blood streak 3, which comes from the nail wound. Bearing in mind the position of the body in the Shroud, it becomes obvious that only pressure from the heart could force blood to come from the wound. The left hand was at the highest point of the prone body and blood does not flow upward in the body without pressure (see also the following photographs). There can be no possible doubt that blood streak 3 came into being when the body was laying flat, because careful and extensive reconstructions of the angles and the respective distances of the blood streaks from each other prove that this bleeding could not have occurred earlier.
“‘Reconstruction of blood streak 3, though comparatively simple, became possible only when the body, correctly positioned, could be depicted in natural color. A sketch was made of the approximate position of the body in the Shroud (picture 22) with an arrow pointing to the wound made by the nail and showing where the blood emerged from this wound when the body was in this position.
“‘As we have already said, blood cannot flow upward in the human body, anymore than water can flow uphill, without a pump. Moreover, blood does not circulate in a corpse. Without the pumping of the heart, blood could not have flowed from the nail wound.
“‘Another arrow in the photograph points to the forehead and to the curious shape, almost like a figure 3 drawn in the blood (Picture 23). Is it possible that this bleeding occurred on the cross? How could blood, which had been on the surface of the body, (i.e., on the skin) for sixty minutes or more, remain so fresh and liquid that it was soaked up by the Shroud? Depending on the temperature outside, blood on the human skin congeals within fifteen or twenty minutes and forms a hard crust which cannot be absorbed by cloth, as you can easily test for yourself...Since only the heart’s activity forces blood to the surface, this means blood flows from the wound only if there is no interference. In the case of the Shroud, which is what we are concerned with, the continued flow of blood indicates that there was activity of the heart...
“‘We can therefore assume with certainty that the blood forming the figure 3 on the forehead emerged from the wound when a thorn of the crown of thorns was removed--that is, after the execution. As with the blood from the back of the head, the figure 3 on the forehead proves that the heart in the body of Jesus was still active at this stage.
“‘Let us look more closely at the curious shape of this blood crust. Tests have shown that it could not have formed in this way while the head was upright, but only when the body was lying flat. Flowing slowly, the blood was held up by the first furrow on the brow, where it widened a little. As more blood came, it flowed on to the next furrow; this is how the figure 3 came about. This was only possible while the body was in the lap of the mother—if the crown of thorns had been removed by that time; or, more likely, when the mother helped to remove the crown of thorns and put the body in the Shroud. At this point a cushion may have been placed under the Shroud raising the head obliquely—the measurements taken by Professor L. Ferri, the Italian scientist, would seem to bear this out.
“‘Whatever happened, it is clear that the body did not lie flat in the Shroud. The interval between the removal of the loincloth and the placing of the Shroud over the body, thus soaking up all the blood, was sufficient for the figure 3 on the forehead and streak 3 coming from the nail wound to be formed. To recapitulate: the warmth of the body in conjunction with other chemico-physical reactions due to the aloe impregnation produced a negative imprint of the body—the ‘snapshot’ which has preserved the details of Jesus’ crucifixion for posterity.’”
Reading Dr. Hirt’s excerpt causes us to ask a question: Could the reason that scientists remain baffled (except for Vignon, Dr. Hirt, Dr. Garza Valdes [more later], and writer Holger Kersten) over how the image was made be because they are beginning their research with the assumption that the Man of the Shroud was dead? Let us continue with Dr. Hirt’s narrative:
“‘I should like to sum up by emphasizing that we have so much evidence and so many testimonials about the activity of the heart in Jesus’ body during and after his removal from the cross that it can never be disproved...’”
“‘But the whole Bible contains not a single word about a lance [actually] piercing the heart. It speaks only of ‘a stab in the side,’ as the clergymen among you will confirm...’”
[Dr. Hirt’s assistant, Dr. Ernst, took over]:
“‘For the same reason we must take serious account of Picture 27, which shows the organs in the human chest. The position of the wound in the side, which is generally accepted to have been between the fifth and sixth rib, makes an injury to the heart unlikely... ’
“‘But you must not think that we relied on these illustrations. On the contrary, control X-ray pictures were made; and, in some cases, in order to guard against prejudice, the people concerned were not told the purpose for which the photographs were taken. The results showed that only an approximately horizontal incision or stab could have injured the heart. Pictures 28 and 29 are X-ray photographs of a human chest, upon which a lance of equivalent size has been superimposed so as to give a clear idea of the direction of the stab, and to the nature of the wound caused by the extrusion of the lance. But, irrespective of the small extrusion wound, the supposition that the stab was vertical is scientifically invalid and no more than an unproved assumption. It is time the assertion that the body in the Shroud of Turin had suffered an injury to the heart was officially retracted because it is based not on scientific research but on an artificially constructed hypothesis based on faith.
“‘However much one may sympathize with the pro-church sentiments which inspired it, the clear and incontrovertible evidence produced by Professor Hirt by means of the Shroud shows that the highly publicized accounts of this injury do not accord with the facts.
“‘Of the last two illustrations appertaining to the lance wound, Picture 30 is another control picture of the chest with the front ribs painted in or made clearer. The stab is shown between the fifth and sixth ribs, which is what the investigation leads one to assume. As we can see, the stab with the lance does not injure the heart.
“‘Picture 31 has been withheld until now because it refers to an aspect which has so far not attracted any attention. In our view it was not an important piece of evidence, because the activity of the heart is sufficiently proved by the bleeding which occurred after the removal from the cross. And this, in turn, rules out any injury to the heart”
[Dr. Ernst went on to explain that further study showed that the lance entered the heart not between the fifth and sixth ribs, but between the fourth and fifth. But in this case also, the lance would have missed the heart, according to Dr. Ernst]:
“‘Not one of these persons mentioned have done their own research in this special blood case; they are all repeaters of a more than seventy-year-old meaning. In scientific fact, no post-mortem bleedings are on the Holy Shroud, because the position of the marks and the blood serum borders around the ‘identified human blood’ prove active bleeding as a result of heart activity. The existence of serum borders requires the existence of activity of fibrin in blood outflow. Post-mortem blood does not have this active fibrin. An excellent view of these serum borders appears in Picture 24, the photograph of the original footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Shroud. On the heel, notice the big blood pool with the serum borders. It can be seen very clearly how the blood flowed from the nail wound down to the heel and collected there, and was forced to flow in the body which lay in the Holy Shroud of Turin. The fact that ‘no refutation is scientifically possible’ is noted by the Vatican and recorded by the Apostolic Nunciature in Germany.
“‘Back to the false meaning of ‘dried clots of blood changed again to liquidity.’ Marks of such blood cannot have serum borders because fibrin does not exist in dry blood; it is chemically destroyed. Fact one: no serum borders without the existence of fibrin. Fact two: serum borders around blood marks prove with absolute certainty that the marks are due to fresh blood flowing from open wounds. Fact three: if a heart stands still, open wounds do not bleed, for there is no blood pressure. Scientific conclusion: the heart was pumping!”
Now some Shroudies would note that the above “tests” were performed chiefly through observation, as opposed to the kinds of hands-on experiments conducted years later by the STURP team in 1978. But Dr. Hirt’s observations seem soundly valid, even if made by pure visual observation, for the following. The examples he gave surround two very simple issues: gravity and pressure. It takes no great deal of scientific sophistication to understand, for instance, that if a stain appears to be flowing in a certain direction on a piece of cloth, that it could not flow in that direction unless it were forced that way through some kind of pumping action, and that in the case of the Shroud of Turin, that pump would have been the heart. Kersten also echoes Dr. Hirt’s observations.
The reader is encouraged to attempt to obtain Berna's book, though now difficult to find, as the above is just one excerpt. Also, Holger Kersten repeats some of these arguments in a more modern work, The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth about the Resurrection. Some now believe that Kersten went overboard on his charges of a Catholic-sponsored conspiracy surrounding the carbon-dating (see Ian Wilson’s, The Blood and the Shroud). But Kersten’s remarks on the Shroud itself are fascinating and enlightening.
Let me make here a brief statement in Kersten’s defense. Kersten is a sharp scholar and a good detective (and we believe he is somewhat feared). While he is accused of offering an analysis of the Shroud while lacking the credentials of a trained scientist, the revelations regarding alternative views of the Crucifixion cannot be expected to come from Christian scientists who, by the very nature of their belief, cannot help but be biased in their view that the Shroud represents a proof of Christian doctrines. For instance, are we expected to accept—without question—the findings of Christian scholars, when Tom D’Muhala, a leading member of STURP, did not hesitate to confess the following?
“I think that in our hearts we all tend to believe that the Shroud is authentic, regardless of what the dating showed, and that the Shroud is the vehicle for the message of Jesus Christ”
“I think this is a wonderful tool for fulfilling part of that commission of those that preach the gospel.”
“And there are people out there who will listen, and it is sometimes an analytical mind that just needs to touch something tangible to enable it to take the step of faith”
“It is the same with this tool the Lord has given us.” (http://www.shroud.com/dmuhala.htm)
Now, in the face of the above—which we find to be absolutely astonishing—there is no way that we are going to dismiss the views of a Dr. Hirt , or Kersten or Berna or Dr. Trevor Davies, former physician to the Queen of England, or his wife, Margaret Davies, a theologian, or the well-respected Dr. Garza Valdes and his bioplastic theory, or Vignon or any alternative view, and nor should anyone seriously looking for the truth of the matter. Kersten ’s views are unpopular to Christians. As such, the issue of “scientific credibility” will be used as a tool against him and anyone who has insight in this matter that contradicts the findings of others. Of course, the opinions of Dr. Trevor Davies and Dr. Hirt , for instance, cannot be dismissed for lack of credentials.
In his recent book, The DNA of God, Dr. Garza-Valdes, a staunch Catholic, disputes the idea that the image on the Shroud of Turin was caused by a burst of radiation, emanating from the body of Jesus Christ at the moment of his resurrection. This idea, of course, has been depicted throughout the centuries in artistic representations of the resurrection of Jesus. This burst of radiation is said to have released thermal neutrons, causing the image.
Dr. Garza-Valdes says that a very natural process produced the image. He
states that the image was made by “a relative deposit of bioplastic coating.” The
science is fully explained on pages 55 to 59 of his book. In short, the darker
areas on the image contained more natural deposits of bioplastic coating.
As such, the bacteria in those areas grew faster than the bacteria in the
areas that had less contact with the body of Jesus. The concentrations of
“sweat, salt, oils, blood, and urea” would be higher in areas of the Shroud
that had touched the body, and lower in areas that the Shroud had not come
in contact with (assuming the Shroud to have been laid over the body, rather
than tightly wrapped). As he states, “I am stating that the Shroud has a contact
image.” Garza-Valdes insists that “those who say it is not a contact image
are just guessing,” and cautions that such speculation has nothing to do with
Interestingly, Garza-Valdes’s modern analysis sounds similar to the findings of Paul Vignon, who studied the Shroud of Turin in the early 1900s. Vignon also believed that the image was made through some type of contact.
In addition to the meticulous and extensive scientific experiments conducted by the entire STURP team, Dr. Heller and Dr. Adler conducted what is called a gedankenexperiment, or a thought experiment. It is a device, as Heller noted in his book, Report on the Shroud of Turin, which was often used by one of his teachers, the great Albert Einstein. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if it were physically possible for a medieval forger to have created the Shroud of Turin. The excerpt is self-explanatory. Keep firmly in mind that Heller is talking about an artist of the Middle Ages, long before the invention of modern scientific equipment:
“We sat down and began to brainstorm. What would have been the constraints on an artist who decided to paint the Shroud? During the 120 hours that the team examined the Shroud, they observed that the straw-yellow of the images was confined to the surface fibrils only. In no circumstances did the color penetrate more than two or three fibrils. And it was confined to their crests...”
“With all this in mind, Adler and I began a gedankenexperiment to see what would be required of an artist. As mentioned earlier, you cannot see the man in the Shroud unless you are one or two meters away. An artist cannot paint if he cannot see what effect his brush is producing. Our putative artist, then, must have had a paintbrush one or two meters long. It must have consisted of a single bristle, since it painted single fibrils that were 10 to 15 microns in diameter. The finest paintbrush bristles I know of are sable, and a sable hair is vast in diameter compared with a linen fibril. In addition, the artist would have had to figure out a paint medium that had no oil or water, because there were no indications of capillarity. Now, to see what he was painting he would have needed a microscope with an enormous focal length that would permit the brush to operate under it. The physics of optics preclude such a device, unless it is attached to a television set. In this case, it would have had to be a color TV, for the straw-yellow is too faint to register on black and white.
“Another constraint the artist must have dealt with is the limit of the human nervous system. No one can hold so long a brush steady enough to paint the top of a fibril. One would need a twentieth-century micromanipulator, which would have to work hydraulically at a distance of one to two meters. It would have to be rigged to a device called a waldo, which is an invention of the atomic era. Also, the artist would have to know how many fibrils to paint quantitatively, and do the whole thing in reverse, like a negative.
“Our hypothetical artist obviously must have used blood—both pre-mortem and post-mortem. And he had to paint with serum albumin alongside the edges of the scourge marks. Since serum albumin is visible only under ultraviolet, not white light, he had to paint with an invisible medium...’”
[Note: I was personally told by Mr. Barry Schwortz, the photographer for the STURP team of scientists who worked with Dr. Heller, that Dr. Adler informed Mr. Schwortz that no gas chromatography test was performed that would have determined pre or post-mortem blood. Yet Heller makes the above reference to “post-mortem” blood. Was Heller assuming a dead body, thereby assuming that the bloodstains were both pre and post-mortem blood? Maybe this will be resolved in the future].
“Finally, I told Adler that, ignoring whatever artistic method might have been used, the artist would have had to crucify somebody to get the pathophysiology just right. Emperor Constantine had outlawed crucifixion in the fourth century. Western and Byzantine art depictions of crucifixions are medically incorrect. Our presumptive artist, however, knew what was correct, and outside of crucifying a few people to get the anatomy and pathophysiology right, he could hardly have come by this arcane knowledge.
“I recognize that human capability can incise a page of text on the head of a pin, that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, probably on his back by candlelight, and that man can accomplish extraordinary works of genius. But these works have to be within the limits set by the laws of physics and chemistry. How could a man create reversed, monochrome images with numerical data encoded with acid or heat?”
One wonders what message, if any lies behind this eerie relic. In spite of countless hours of scientific investigations on the Shroud of Turin, scientists claim that they still do not know how the image was made or whether the Shroud is a medieval forgery. No sooner has it been “concluded” that the Shroud is a fake then a scientist emerges—with hard evidence—to “prove” that it is genuine. Some say the Shroud proves that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and resurrected. Others swear that the Shroud proves just the opposite.
Whether the Shroud is a forgery or is genuine, what may be more important, perhaps, is its message. If we assume the Shroud to be a forgery, what was the intent of the forgerer? Was it to establish the divinity of Christ by masterfully creating an image on that Shroud that, to this day, scientists cannot agree about, fueling the belief that the image was made from a “burst of energy” coming from Jesus’ body when he rose? Or, could this master forgerer be telling us something quite the opposite: that the markings, blood stains, etc., on the Santa Sindone reveal not that Jesus Christ died, but, rather, that he lived. And the same question arises if the Shroud is genuine—what does it mean? Forgery or not, people on both sides of the argument now feel that the Shroud carries some kind of message. So perhaps its authenticity or lack thereof is not the issue. The question is: Does the Shroud, authentic or otherwise, tell us that Jesus conquered death in a miraculous and supernatural manner? Or does it tell us that he survived the crucifixion by ordinary means? Is it possible that a medieval forgerer could have had the same suspicions about the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion as did Dr. Hirt, Kurt Berna, Kersten, Gruber and Davies? Or is the Shroud the true Shroud of Jesus Christ that miraculously recorded his natural survival of the crucifixion?
While the scientists involved, as we have been assured by Mr. Barry Schwortz, claim to have conducted their studies with the highest degree of objectivity in mind, one cannot help but marvel at the content of a speech given by Tom D’Muhala, a founding member of STURP, entitled, “Where do we go from here?” The emphasis is mine:
“I think that in our hearts we all tend to believe that the Shroud is authentic, regardless of what the dating showed, and that the Shroud is the vehicle for the message of Jesus Christ…”
“When somebody asked me my opinion I said my opinion was irrelevant. I couldn’t afford the luxury of opinion, and I just stuck to the facts. Despite that inside I was just screaming to say ‘Jesus Christ - crucified…’
“I think this is a wonderful tool for fulfilling part of that commission of those that preach the gospel…And there are people out there who will listen, and it is sometimes an analytical mind that just needs to touch something tangible to enable it to take the step of faith…”
“It is the same with this tool
the Lord has given us. It is a marvelous instrument that he has
provided...” So, was STURP