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Your Comments

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I just wanted to thank you for all your dedication and work on keeping the site up and current. Every time you send out an update notice I get a warm feeling that someone actually cares about the world and God's legacy. I believe God gave us brains to think critically, and the source material on your site definitely feeds the grey matter as well as the spirit :-)

Tom Mullins

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I appreciate the sincerity and vivacity of your presentation. I have avidly followed the scientific research that has been done on the Shroud over the years. Never did I imagine that one of the people who had actually stood in the presence of the image and had the opportunity to photograph it would go to the lengths that you have in communicating all that you have derived from the experience. Your generosity is truly awe-inspiring.

Over the years I have found a deep source of consolation in gazing upon the features of the face on the Shroud. I believe that it could be only the face of Jesus.

I want to join in thanking you for your offering. To extend all that you have must have come at a great deal of personal sacrifice. I am reminded of the two Jewish men who came forward to take the body of Jesus down from the cross. They carried him away for burial at their own expense. Little did they realize that one day a kindred soul would share so reverently with the entire world the mysteries of the same cloth they used to enshroud the body of the man, Jesus.

J. Charles McGaa

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You know, I find it fascinating that conservative Christians love to quote those parts of Flavius Josephus' The Antiquities of the Jews that affirm as historically reliable that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, rose from the dead on the third day, etc. But the section where Josephus tells us what Jesus actually looked like, they never quote. Maybe you have never read it either. If not, here you go. It definitely isn't the poor s.o.b. on the shroud.

Editor's Note: Included at this point in the e-mail were a number of illustrations which I have not included here, but the text is reprinted in its entirety. I also regret not mentioning in my reply (below) that there is absolutely no data recorded in the Shroud image that would allow us to scientifically determine hair color, eye color or skin color.

What Did Jesus Really Look Like?

Most everyone is familiar with the blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Jesus that adorns millions of people's fireplaces and bedrooms, as well as thousands of churches. However the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who lived circa 34 A.D., gives an historical account that looks quite different from that beautiful man on the wall:

"Both his nature and his form were human: for he was a man of simple appearance, mature age, short growth, three cubits tall [about 4 and a half feet, based on the Jewish cubit], with scanty hair, but having a line in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Naziraeans, eyebrows meeting above the nose so that the spectators could take fright, with a long face, a long nose, and with an undeveloped beard, dark skin, and hunchbacked." (The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist According to Flavius Josephus, Robert Eisler, Ph.D.; The Dial Press, New York; pp. 425-429)

Keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew, not a Caucasian, and his skin would have been burnt even darker by his constant exposure to the sun during his constant travels. He would have looked like a Bedouin to us. Also keep in mind that archaeological excavations have revealed that the average height of first-century Jewish males was five feet. (Roman males of the period averaged five feet four) At four and a half feet tall, Jesus was definitely undersized even for his time. By modern standards of height, he was a midget. It is important to remember that standards of hygiene were very different as well. First century Jews didn't bathe, except for ceremonial washings of their hands and feet. They didn't use deodorant or have toothbrushes and mouthwash. Jesus was dirty, stank, and had bad breath.

According to Josephus and the Bible, this is what Jesus really looked like: [Artist's sketch of the historical Jesus based on Josephus' account deleted].

It was Victor Hugo who secretly portrayed the real Jesus in his famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the description given by Josephus!

[Two Illustrations Deleted] Victor Hugo's Quasimodo is based on the historical Jesus, rather than the modern-day rendition. The only thing the two pictures above have in common is that they are both cartoons.

Josephus' description and Victor Hugo's portrayal also match up with how the Bible prophesies Jesus:

. . . He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. . . We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. . . He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:2-5,7)

But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads. . . I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;. . . Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet--I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots. (Psalms 22:6,7,14,16-18)

Both of these accounts are prophecies of an individual who was to be rejected, despised, scorned and beaten, who would be ugly, grotesque and ignored by the mass of the people because of the way he looked--just like Quasimodo.

No wonder Jesus said:

It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. (John 6:63)

In other words, it doesn't matter that Jesus was an ugly little cuss. What was important was the words that he spoke, his teachings. And if we turn to his teachings, rather than turning to an idol of our imagination, we are led to the Glory of the Father.

Mohave Nate



This was my response:

Thank you for sending me the Flavius Josephus excerpt. You are right. I had never read it before.

As a Jew, I never had any underlying religious motives about the Shroud, and saw it mainly as an object of science. But I have always understood that it represented the faith of many people on this planet and I've always tried to respect that. Remembering that science can never prove who the man on the Shroud is anyway, perhaps its greatest value is that it leads many people to confront their beliefs and consider their personal faith, maybe for the first time. In a world so filled with hate and violence, I consider that a good thing, no matter who the man on the Shroud is.

I am not a theologian or Biblical scholar, nor am I an art historian. I do not know the veracity of Josephus' description as compared to anyone else's. However, in spite of his description, the real answer is that we can never really be certain of Jesus' appearance. In fact, the Shroud itself may be responsible for the modern depiction of Jesus that we are all so familiar with. Many papers have been written on that subject by far more qualified experts than me.

My primary goal is to provide people with the best factual information possible about the Shroud. I do not try and convince anyone of anything, other than to study what we truly know about the cloth before forming any opinion. The only thing I can say for certain about the Shroud, is that it is neither a painting nor a photograph. I cannot explain how the image was formed and I will never be certain who the man was. But the only man who is documented to have ever suffered this specific set of tortures is the historical Jesus. Since they are so perfectly and accurately depicted on the cloth, it is not a stretch in my mind to think we may have an artifact of that man. After all, his influence is still felt today, 2000 years after his death. That means that whoever he was, or claimed to be, he is still one of the most important figures in human history.

In the end however, I agree with you. What Jesus looked like is far less important than what he stood for. The Shroud's value, in my opinion, is that it often serves to remind people of just that.

Thank you for sending me the information. It is truly appreciated.

Barrie Schwortz


Since this comment was first published, a number of viewers sent me additional e-mails on this subject. I am including a few here.

I read the latest email that you received and just felt like commenting; I too am familiar with the descriptions he mentioned, but they originated from latter sources, NOT Josephus.

I have the complete works of Flavius Josephus, and if you are familiar with his writings, nowhere does he describe Jesus (Yeshua) .(Nor for that matter does he describe John the Baptist, or James the brother of Jesus, nor Herod, nor Pilate). People at that time didn't describe in detail people's appearance other than in general terms, I.e. .Esther was 'beautiful' or David was 'ruddy' (whatever that meant).

In fact, Josephus doesn't describe anyone's physical appearance. It's others over the years who, with artistic liberty, comment and add to ancient manuscripts. (Much like commentators add to the scriptures today and taint them). According to these latter writings, they had Jesus everywhere from 6'4" and looking like a Nordic, to Quasimodo.

The same can be said for what we know as the Bible today, there are so-called 'lost books' which were written in the early church age when Gnosticism was breaking out. During this age, (100-300 c.e.), a lot of, can we say, embellishments were added. It's the old adage that the water is less pure the further you go from the source of the stream.

Cathleen E. Mauser
Carney's Point, NJ


The reader comment about Flavius Josephus is somewhat inaccurate.

Yes, there is (was) a Flavius Josephus and his work is considered a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus. However, the particular comment about Jesus' physical appearance is not believed to be the work of Flavius Josephus. Rather it was created and attributed to him in later centuries and - more recently - elaborated upon by Robert Eisler.

The particular comment from your reader appears to have been - in part - taken from one of a number of websites that present the inaccurate account of the work of Josephus.

Specifically, the site http://www.members.aol.com/FlJosephus2/MailAndFAQ.htm#Jesus_appearance presents a good summary of what I was saying.

Robert M. Harrison
Rochelle Park, NJ


Jerry Keenehan of Wyndmoor, PA, a long time website viewer, wrote to an expert to get his opinion on the Josephus issue. Here is the reply he received:

...The short answer is that Josephus says nothing of the sort -- about Jesus' appearance. He has one paragraph on Jesus' death, resurrection, and Christian following (Ant. 18.63-64), though virtually every scholar alive today thinks that at least one sentence in it has been adjusted by Christian copyists who transmitted Josephus' writings (recopying them by hand). He mentions Jesus incidentally, also, while speaking about the death of James, Jesus' brother, in Ant. 20.200-202. But he says absolutely nothing about Jesus' appearance. Some of the much, much later texts (from the Middle Ages) that adapted Josephus' narrative said some things about Jesus' appearance, but Josephus did not. I hope that this helps.

Steve Mason
Canada Research Chair
York University, Toronto


***

I am Archbishop Gewargis Sliwa from the Church of the East in Baghdad, Iraq. Our Apostolic Church started in the 1st century from the blessed city of Edessa (Urhai) where the Holy Shroud was kept till 944. We still use the same liturgy written by the Apostles Addai and Mari in Aramaic language, which was spoken by our Saviour Jesus Christ.

I am here in Chicago for a two months visit. I am much interested in the Holy Shroud. During the last twenty two years I gathered much about it. This helped me to start writing a book about this subject in my mother language, Assyrian. Last year l gave eight lectures about the Shroud. Three in Chicago and Turlock and five (for the first time) in Iraq. The full size of the copy of the image that was ordered from you, which you took during 1978 STURP team in Turin, helped me much in my successful lectures which affected those who were far from the Church.

I am here just to say thank you Mr. Schwortz for your efforts to let people know about the Holy Shroud through your web-site. God bless you.

Archbishop Gewargis Sliwa
Archbishop of Baghdad


***

On behalf of my pupils at Stamford School, England, I would like to thank you very much indeed for all the assistance you have given them during their recent project on the Turin Shroud.

Although I have passed on to the boys as much of my own knowledge as possible, there is no doubt that your website has proved invaluable to them whilst undertaking their research, and its excellent presentation has played a major part in firing their interest in the Shroud. We may well have nurtured a number of future sindonologists! I did ask the boys not to bombard you with e-mails unless they had a specialist question to ask you, but I gather that their enthusiasm to contact you has been on a greater scale than expected! I do apologise that your time has been taken up in this way, and express my sincere thanks to you for going to considerable lengths to reply personally to each request

I am delighted with the enthusiasm our study of the Shroud has provoked, and the projects produced by the boys have been of a very high standard. You have become quite a personality among the boys, and they were very pleased to see you "in person" on a new documentary on the Shroud shown in England last week! Their enthusiasm has, in turn, inspired me to go ahead next Easter with a long-planned Shroud trip to Lirey in France.

My thanks to you once again. I will not be undertaking another project on the Shroud until next October, so your e-mail postbag will be a little lighter until then!

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Wilkes


***

I would like to thank you so much for your wonderful memorial to my father on your website. It is such a wonderful tribute to Don (Lynn) and his passion for the work he did, and a great comfort to his family to be able to see the kind things his friends and colleagues have to say about him. I personally visit the site often just to read the memorial and see pictures of my father again. Thank you also for your kind words and loving remembrances; they really mean a lot to me and especially to my children, who miss Grandpa a great deal. (Besides they like to tell their friends that their Grandpa has his picture on the web).

Keep up the good work. The site is amazing. I like to keep up on the research and it is really great to have such a resource available. Thank you again for your work.

Jennifer Lynn Dickinson
San Jose, California


Hello. I just wanted to let you know how much your website has meant to me over the past months. Dad used to fill me in on all the Shroud happenings and now I have a way to keep in touch with the progress of the Shroud. Through the site, I am back in my father's head and heart, exploring something that was very near and dear to him.

I also wanted to thank you for the picture of Dad you sent for each of us. Mine is mounted with a picture of Jesus' face on the Shroud.

Thank you again. Please know that we all think of you and remember how much Dad loved his conversations with you. Keep up the good work and I will keep enjoying it.

Kind Regards,
Liz Lynn Wood (proud daughter of Don Lynn)


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Like most people, I suppose, when the carbon dating came out, I accepted that the Shroud was a 14th century icon. At that time I was just finishing my BS in Microbiology and the carbon dating was, to me, the final word. The other night however I chanced on a TV program about the Shroud. I didn't realize that so many other tests had been done or the nature of the evidence for authenticity until I watched that program. So, here's me, hitting the Internet for more information and it is my great good luck to hit your site first. I need to have that unbiased, scientific background which you provide so well - in other words, if your site had been a purely belief oriented one (as I have seen in other cases since), I would not have stayed long or trusted much of what I saw on your site. The idea itself of the Shroud is so fascinating. How lucky you are to have actually worked on it! Thanks again for your time and trouble.

Kenyon Charboneaux


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I have been a fan of your site for a while now, and haven't gotten around to sending you a message of my sincerest THANKS for your wonderful and definitive site on such a controversial subject.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keep you and yours always in the "Hollow of His Hand".

Michael McLoughlin


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Regarding your Shroud of Turin home page, I have seen no mention of Joe Nickell's convincing simulations of the Shroud of Turin negative images without the use of photography. Nickell used commonly available materials in a simple "rubbing technique". The images were negatives as with the Shroud of Turin. This was the subject of an article in Popular Photography, November 1979 (it may have been October or December).

I remember the date because I had invited Dr. Father Robert Dinegar of the STURP committee as a speaker for the December 1979 meeting of the Phoenix Chapter of the American Society for Quality Control. The Popular Photography article had been just issued and Dr. Dinegar allowed me to present Nickell's work after his presentation.

Dr. Dinegar was, at the time, a specialist in carbon dating at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories and an Episcopal minister. He bravely returned as speaker for our December 1995 meeting of ASQC for an update after the carbon dating results had been announced.

Joe Nickell is currently a senior research fellow with CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

Mike Johnson
Past Program Chairman, ASQC Phoenix

Editor's Note: You might wish to read an Online Critique of the CSICOP Organization. Below is my response to Mr. Johnson's letter:

Thank you for your recent e-mail. There are a number of references to Joe Nickell's work on the website. These are primarily through the links to the Skeptic's Dictionary and the Skeptical Inquirer found on the "Links To More Information" page of my site at http://www.shroud.com/infolink.htm. There is also a listing for his book, "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," found in the Books section of the "Website Store" at http://www.shroud.com/obtain.htm, where viewers can purchase it directly from Amazon.com, and also on the "Shroud Booklist" page at http://www.shroud.com/booklist.htm.

I do recall Mr. Nickell's article in Popular Photography and am familiar with the results of his imaging experiments, although apparently, I find them far less "convincing" than you do. Unfortunately, his experiments resulted in an image far different from the image on the Shroud of Turin. The negative properties you discuss are only one of the properties that makes the Shroud image unique. No one is arguing that it is impossible to create an image on linen. But an image with the specific physical and chemical properties of the Shroud is unique. For example, there is spatial data encoded in the Shroud image which cannot be produced by painting, rubbings or photography. This was clearly evidenced by the VP-8 Image Analyzer, a device used for certain types of image mapping. You might wish to visit the page of my website that discusses these properties in detail: http://www.shroud.com/78strp10.htm

Among other things, Mr. Nickell's theories do not take into account the bloodstains on the cloth and the fact that there is no image beneath them. He was unable to explain how an artist could have put the bloodstains onto the cloth in correct pathological position prior to "creating" the image around them. Also, Mr. Nickell's results have been evaluated and discounted by serious experts in art, chemistry, photography and other disciplines. He may reject their criticisms, but their qualifications far exceed his in these areas.

Although Mr. Nickell has been publicly vocal in "debunking" the Shroud over the years, he, like so many others who claim to "know how it was made," has never even seen the cloth, except in photographs. Also, most of Mr. Nickell's work has been published in the popular press and not in peer reviewed scientific journals. I prefer to stick with the known science. Remember, I did spend five days and nights in the room with the cloth in 1978 and have studied it for almost 22 years. If Mr. Nickell were to consider all of the known science rather than just selecting those parts of it that support his theory and dismissing everything that does not as the "rantings of believers," he would undoubtedly get more space on my website. Manipulating the data to fit one's point of view is just not good science, no matter which side of the authenticity issue one takes.

Without question, the Shroud of Turin is controversial and sparks heated debate. We will never be able to prove scientifically who the man on the Shroud is. Yet, whether one believes in its authenticity or not, it still remains a symbol of faith to many people and as such, should be shown a level of respect. I personally find Mr. Nickell's attitude towards the cloth and those who disagree with him to be condescending and rather offensive. Each individual has the right to believe whatever he wants about the Shroud, but we all have an obligation to do so without disrespecting each other or the millions who view it as a symbol of their faith. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts with me.


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Greetings, I've truly enjoyed this website and the way in which it's been maintained and expanded. In response to a comment (made by another viewer) about faith not requiring any explanation, I respectfully disagree. I'm a 24 year old believing Christian (you know, the kind that doesn't just celebrate Christmas) and am the son of an agnostic Engineer. Although I have a BA in Interpersonal Communication (essentially the psychology of human communication) and a minor in Russian (representing more of the social sciences), I revere the practice of hard science. I watch, listen, and read as much as I can understand intently, and always engage in discussions relating to the principals of practicing science, as well as the practice of historical analysis, archeology, and so forth. I've been raised to believe that one of the most important indicators of truth or fact, is the ability to analyze evidence and the methodology one uses to do so.

The Bible records Jesus of Nazareth instructing people to believe with all heart, soul, and mind. There is a difference between faith, and blind faith. For me, this website and discussion is key to the informed layman's (oh yes, and the scientist's too) personal conclusions about Jesus' probing question "who do you say that I am?" As long as it's done in an intellectually honest and open fashion without undue skepticism or jumping to conclusions before their due time, then everything is to be gained (or lost) for believer and non believer alike. Bring it on and keep the papers rolling!

Mike Monroe


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I just wanted to thank you for the incredible job you have done with this website. I was doing research on the Shroud, and this was the first website I visited. It will also be the last. I found everything I needed here. Bravo!

Thanks again,
Aaron Koury


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I just want to send you this note letting you know how delighted I am to have "stumbled" across your website tonight! I'm presently reading two books by Ian Wilson about the Shroud of Turin and am totally captivated by the story of this incredible relic. It's great that you have dedicated an entire web site to this subject and to share your experience and insights with the rest of us who have never been lucky to see the Shroud with our own eyes.

Many thanks for your enthusiasm and dedication in bringing the images of the Shroud out into cyberspace for us all to experience for ourselves. I'm definitely going to be a regular visitor - especially when I have finished Mr Wilson's books....

Kindest regards,
Jutta Schonsiegel
Dublin, Ireland


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Just a quick line to thank you for your truthfulness not only in presenting the research that has been done on the shroud, with no bias (this from a Jewish man of the Jewish faith) but also for your personal honesty. For years it has been extremely difficult to find reliable information about the shroud. I myself am a Christian, however I don't find the shroud vital to my faith. The fact that, as far as I know, no one has been able to duplicate the shroud or conclusively prove the shroud a fraud certainly is of a great encouragement to me. God bless you and the work that you are doing.

Again thank you for your courage,
Robert Shorkey, Jr.


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