Shroud of Turin

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The Sign

Thomas de Wesselow, The Sign.

"The Shroud of Turin and Thomas de Wesselow’s ‘The Sign.’"
This article seems to be by Thomas de Wesselow himself--or is an extract from the book. It ends with a copyright notice in de Wesselow's name.
According to the carbon-dating laboratories, the cloth was manufactured between 1260 and 1390 A.D.
The negative photo of the cloth is an unmistakable sign that the Shroud’s famous image could not have been created by a medieval artist. Technically, conceptually, and stylistically the Shroud makes no sense as a medieval artwork.
It is as if a spell has been cast over the Shroud, a spell consisting of the words: "If the Shroud is real, then so is the Resurrection.” This is the unspoken thought that prevents most people from taking the cloth seriously. The way to break the spell is not to find out ever more about the Shroud scientifically and historically; it is to rethink the Resurrection.
Thomas de Wesselow is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at King’s College, Cambridge University. He studied art history at Edinburgh University and at the Courtauld in London, where he worked successfully on the Guidoriccio Problem, one of the great mysteries of Italian art. He was a research scholar at the British School in Rome. He is the author of The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection.
Charlie Rose interview.
"In the old days, people didn't see images the way we see them now. ... Before the modern world, images were special. People understood them and felt them to be alive.
"This is the instinct known as animism. Anthropologists find this everywhere they look. You and I are natural animists. This is the way that people respond to images naturally. The Shroud fell into that category, and would have been perceived as a quasi-living double of Jesus. Because it's found in the tomb after His death, it would have been perceived as a form of Jesus resurrected.
"That's the hypothesis that I then go on to prove from the gospel, especially from St. Paul.
"Fourteen foot long. Vanishingly faint. Within six feet of it, the image fades from view. If you stand back, you can still see the image. Haunting effect. Moves in and out of view. It's about the psychological impact of that image.
"The eyes look as if they are open. They look massive and as if they are glowing with an inner light. It is important to understand the effect of that psychologically, when people had the idea of images as alive and rare.
"I believe you can reconstruct the history of the resurrection. Most ancient Jews were expecting some kind of resurrection. They didn't quite how. This concept they would have used to explain this image is 'resurrection.'
"I'm presenting this as what I think for myself is a convincing theory. I believe the shroud would have been perceived animistically and therefore would have been the cause of belief in the resurrection. I believe it is historically provable, especially through St. Paul.
"This image is far more mysterous, interesting, and influential than has been thought. The fact that it is a negative image is really important, and is an easy thing to grasp. We needed photography to reveal the hidden, realistic image in the shroud. This could not have been conceived in the Middle Ages or represented in its negative form.
"The Maillard reaction is the best explanation for how the image was made. Ray Rogers, 2002. Wrote paper with food chemist. Product of decomposition gases from the dead body reacting with deposits on the surface of the cloth. The Maillard reaction makes bread turn brown. It is a completely natural explanation of the image.
"The Vatican should let scientists examine the cloth again. The last time was 1978. We can't continue relying on old science. Qualified investigators. Extreme importance to everyone. New carbon dating."
Maillard Reaction:
A form of nonenzymatic browning. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat.
Vitally important in the preparation or presentation of many types of food, it is named after chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.
The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly-characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors. This process is accelerated in an alkaline environment, as the amino groups are deprotonated and, hence, have an increased nucleophilicity. The type of the amino acid determines the resulting flavor. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry. At high temperatures, acrylamide can be formed.