Also Not Jesus

See my previous posts here and here.

I said that this was leading up to something, so here’s the point:

 

 

Examine the facial features and hair depicted in the Shroud of Turin carefully. It resembles the common depictions of Jesus as a thin white man with long, straight hair and a forked or pointed beard. There are no physical descriptions of Jesus in the gospels, or any other contemporary source, so determining what he looked like for sure is rather difficult.

I think it’s quite telling, though, that there are no descriptions of his appearance. If he looked radically different from those around him, it seems likely that it would have been mentioned. So, what did the people around him look like? Like first-century middle eastern jews, of course. It’s likely that Jesus didn’t look anything like the face depicted in the shroud.

About these ads

Tags: ,

13 responses to “Also Not Jesus”

  1. Gio says :

    “If he looked radically different from those around him, it seems likely that it would have been mentioned.”

    Except for the fact that when you take into account the nature of the Shroud image and events leading to and including the crucifixion and burial, Jesus (as depicted on the Shroud) did not, in fact, look “radically different from those around him”.

    Which brings the claim (paraphrased) “the Gospels don’t mention Jesus’ appearance so the Shroud of Turin can’t be trusted to depict him” back to what it is: An argument from silence.

  2. ignorantianescia says :

    Eh, anybody with an appearance like the Shroud image would look radically different from people around him/her, except if the person would live in a freak show. A tall bloke with a miniscule head is not exactly an everyday sight.

    http://www.sillybeliefs.com/shroud.html

    • Gio says :

      No, the height is only above average by standards of the time, and even then that proves nothing (nothing’s stopping us from saying Jesus was at an above average height and even if something were the person on the Shroud’s height could be attributed in part to rigor mortis).

      The allegedly disproportional head is because the Shroud image doesn’t depict the sides of the body.

      Actually research rather than trying to find the first skeptic site that agrees with your opinion on the issue and dumping it and a vague summary everywhere somebody brings up the issue.

    • Gio says :

      Besides, it’s clear in context that Robert was claiming Jesus as depicted on the Shroud didn’t resemble other first-century Jews ethnically, not anatomically.

  3. Robert says :

    Gio,

    A few thoughts. First, when you look at the shroud, which ethnicity do you see? I actually blew this image up a bit and examined it closely for awhile before I made this blog post; and try as I might, I can’t see anything but the image of Jesus depicted in medieval paintings.

    Second, I guess our analysis of this situation is going to depend upon which epistemic “direction” we go in. We could ask “What did Jesus look like?”, and take the shroud as background evidence; or we could ask “Is the shroud genuine?”, and take the genetics and culture of his society as background evidence.

    I think good argument could be made for taking the latter approach first. We make assumptions about the appearances of historical figures all the time based solely on the societies in which they lived (Socrates likely looked like a Greek, the Buddha likely looked Indian). But never do we come to conclusions about what they looked like if we find depictions of them that contrast with the looks of everyone around them. Consider if we found an urn depicting Socrates as black – we’d probably take this as at least moderately strong evidence that the urn is a forgery; rather than saying “well, maybe he was black!”

    This isn’t to say of course that this conclusively proves that the shroud is a fake; but it should lower our confidence somewhat that it’s genuine.

    (and for the record btw, you’re right about that last point – as far as I can see there are no anatomical problems with the shroud.)

    • Gio says :

      Thanks for your reply Robert.

      “First, when you look at the shroud, which ethnicity do you see?”

      Honestly I can’t say, I’m not experienced enough in anthropology to state based on physical traits (hair, build, etc.) which ethnicity Jesus is on the Shroud, and it gives no indication of skin color.

      I might say he appears European, but this is not because he is objectively European in appearance but rather because he bears many resemblances to depictions of Jesus as European I’ve seen since childhood – more on this presently.

      “I can’t see anything but the image of Jesus depicted in medieval paintings.”

      I can’t see anything different either. But I’d say the conclusions we draw from this fact are very different – while you base your critique of the Shroud on it, I believe this proves the Shroud goes much farther back than the carbon dating indicates. ;) I can expand on this if you want.

      “we could ask “Is the shroud genuine?”, and take the genetics and culture of his society as background evidence.”

      I think this is the right way to go too. The only issue is that many of the “reconstructions” of the face of Jesus are highly speculative.

      For instance, the hairstyle (both head and facial) on the reconstructions you show in the two posts before this is culturally inaccurate – First Century Jews observed a ban on shaving, so most of the would have long facial and head hair, unlike what they depict.

      The point is, many of the aforementioned reconstructions are either
      A) inaccurate
      B) only one of the many possible ways Jesus looked, or
      C) do resemble Jesus on the Shroud (at least when we take into account the features of the Shroud image, e.g. not showing sides).

  4. Robert says :

    “I can’t see anything different either. But I’d say the conclusions we draw from this fact are very different – while you base your critique of the Shroud on it, I believe this proves the Shroud goes much farther back than the carbon dating indicates. ;) I can expand on this if you want.”

    Please do! :)

    • Gio says :

      Sure. There are numerous features on the Shroud image that are either the result of flaws in the linin or the person it depicts being crucified. However, many depictions of Jesus, starting in the 6th century (by the way, depictions of Jesus before the 6th century were even more European than the ones we see today – they essentially depicted Jesus as the Greeks did Apollo), still keep these features, even though they have no theological or historical significance.

      One of the most famous examples of this is “The Christ Pantocrator”. This went above and beyond and literally matches the face of the Shroud near exactly (see http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/pantocrator.htm). However, some features on the Shroud image that are only the result of linin flaws are also depicted here (see http://theshroudofturin.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/four-proofs-that-ad-1260-1390_16.html). This refutes any notion that the Shroud copied this or other icons.

      There are other examples covered in the second link I gave – but all of them are consistently from the 6th and 7th centuries and depict some, but not all, of these traits. The Shroud copying them makes no sense. The best explanation is that the Shroud dates to the 6th century or earlier – far earlier than the Carbon Dating indicates. Ian Wilson gives a detailed outline of how it is historically possible for the Shroud to date to and before the 6th century in almost all of his main works on the Shroud.

      • Robert says :

        You mentioned before the beard length in the reconstructions I provided. So, I’m not an expert on jewish shaving laws, or the genetics of hair length, but this brings up an interesting thought. If the jewish laws prohibit cutting the beard at all (as opposed to just removing it, with shortening being ok), then the pantocrator image doesn’t resemble Jesus – I think it’s very likely that a completely uncut beard would be much longer than that by the time Jesus was in his early 30s.

        If the shroud does resemble the pantocrator image, this means that the shroud doesn’t resemble Jesus. Of course, if trimming one’s beard was allowed, then this isn’t a problem. Are there any resources on this?

  5. Gio says :

    Not sure. I always assumed that it meant “at all” but from various standpoints besides an art history one this would be counterintuitive. I honestly don’t have any sources on it, so yeah. It’s a good point though, maybe I’ll e-mail some (amateur) Shroud researchers I follow later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers

%d bloggers like this: