Negativity and the Shroud

M. Sue Benford, R.N., M.A

Copyright 1997
All Rights Reserved
Reprinted by Permission

The following presentation was previously published in The Holy Shroud Guild Newsletter, December 1997, pp. 4-5.

Although a newcomer to the topic of the Shroud of Turin, I have given the phenomenon quite a bit of thought and analysis as it directly relates to the research I am conducting with top nuclear physicists, engineers, and other scientists at The Ohio State University. I would like to share a couple significant observations that I have made regarding the Shroud image.

According to several theories, e.g., those of N. Allen, Picknett and Prince, etc., the image is a photographic negative made by some camera obscura technique at the hands of a medieval forger. If one examines the Shroud image and cross-references it to well-known theology regarding the crucifixion of Christ, it is easy to see that this hypothesis is flawed. The actual image on the Shroud could not be a photographic negative if the wound was on Jesus' right side as history reports and accepts.

A photographic negative does not create a "mirror image" causing the reflected object to appear directly across from the actual object. Rather, it "moves" the reflected object to the opposite side from the original. Subsequently, in a photographic negative, the reflected "twin" doesn't switch sides, e.g., puts a watch on the other arm or wound on the other side as it would appear to be if looking into a mirror.

To demonstrate this concept, take a picture of someone who has a watch on their left wrist. The "real" negative as originally created by the camera, indicates the watch is on the person's left wrist from their perspective, thus, appearing on the viewer's right hand side. When the "mirror image" of the negative is created (on the flip side or by holding it up to a mirror), the watch is now on the person's right wrist, thus, appearing on the viewer's left hand side.

The side-wound bloodstain appears on the image's left side; thus, if it were a photographic negative, the wound in Christ's side would have also had to be on his left side. Skeptics might argue that the blood was placed on the Shroud independently of the image's creation, which would make sense according to the scientific analysis, which reveals the lack of any image underneath the bloodstains. However, this line of thinking is also flawed if one considers that by the medieval era, in which the Shroud was supposedly forged, the common and accepted line of thinking was that the wound had been inflicted to Jesus' right side. Why would a forger who was obviously attempting to accurately depict Christ's passion make such an obvious error?

Another argument by the proponents of the photographic negative theory might be that the forger anticipated the futuristic thinking that the Shroud image was caused by a "fall through" effect as described in Dr. John Jackson's hypothesis of the image's creation. Thus, they could argue that the forger purposely placed the blood wound on the image's left side to represent a right-sided mirror image wound. Any medieval forger with this much insight and audacity regarding a still-unexplainable phenomenon would have done better to market himself as a prophet rather than a one-time photographic sensation.

I have outlined my other theories as they relate to the Shroud and the resurrection in a paper that was previously distributed by Joseph Marino to those on his email mailing list. I think everyone will find it thought- provoking especially since the theories link directly with experiments currently planned.

Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me:
M. Sue Benford, R.N., M.A., email:

Thaddeus Trenn teaches in the science and religion program, Victoria College, University of Toronto. He has had an article on the Shroud published in Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies: An International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Interfaith Dialogue, Vol. IX No. 1/2, 1997, pp. 121-144. The title of the article is "The Shroud of Turin: A Parable For Modern Times?" He can be contacted via email at:, Internet

He had the following comments on the article by Sue Benford regarding the negativity of the Shroud. It was published along with the article in The Holy Shroud Guild Newsletter, December 1997, pg. 5. The comments are as follows:

....She is correct that a lens would reverse left and right. The cloth original was not dependent upon any lens since the image pixels were the result of direct impact from object to cloth. While her observation is very valuable at excluding the sort of photography Leonardo allegedly conducted, the image on the cloth is like a photographic negative in the light/dark reversal effect. One only needs to compare the negative of the cloth image with the photographic positive of this negative to see the left-right reversal. So the positive becomes the left/right corrective, returning the side wound to the right side as on the cloth.

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