Reason to Doubt – shroud art, history, and pollen

The third episode on Reason to Doubt discusses shroud art, history, and pollen.

The Shroud of Turin is NOT Authentic | Debunking the Shroud ep.3 (Art, Pollen, & Patterns)

The first thing they discuss is the Hungarian Pray codex.

For our purposes 1190 circa is perfect because that would put it outside the lower bound of the radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating the oldest age was 1260. If this was indeed the Shroud and it was there in 1190 that is another ding against that radiocarbon dating. That is probably the biggest reason that the Hungarian Pray codex comes into the conversation for the Shroud.

They point out some of the unique features of the Pray codex.

So we have no thumbs on Jesus’s hand.

He’s also naked which is important because Jesus is naked in the Shroud so and it’s unusual.

A lot of times people Christians are very modest so they would cover Jesus up with either a loincloth or some sort of either he’d be in the burial cloth itself. A couple other key features on this is the zigzag pattern in the uh circles and the burn holes.

They explain the lack of thumbs as a Byzantine motif.

Pray Codex – No thumbs
Byzantine artists and this would have been painted in the Byzantine Empire from the area they often in this period didn’t show thumbs it was just kind of an artistic choice.

But they offer no explanation why the Byzantines would have this motif. If the shroud is genuine, it explains it since the shroud is the archetype that influenced the motif.

Also note there are several people on the Pray codex that do have thumbs. So it’s not like everyone depicted do not have thumbs.

Next they talk about a naked body. And they concede this is unusual.

Pray Codex – Jesus is naked
Jesus is naked now as we point out art historian Thomas de Wesselow makes a lot of this. It’s uncommon for pictures of the time to show that Jesus was naked. Both the Shroud and codex do, so that is true and it is a point of crossover they have that is rare. So this is probably the best point that they have.

They explain the hands crossed over the groins as the only possibility to depict it since the body is naked.

I think they also want to put the hands being crossed over the groin as a separate point. So Jesus is naked they’ll say it’s one point of agreement, hands crossed over the groin is another point of agreement. In my mind those are both the same point. Where are you gonna put his hands?

This is not a good argument because we have other Medieval depictions of naked people from the Bible and both of their hands are not over their pubic region, even though they are completely nude.

See: … s&tbm=isch

So, a nude body and hands crossed over the groin are two separate points, not a single point as they claim.

Next they discuss the herringbone weave.

Pray Codex – Weave pattern & burns
If we actually take a look at the supposed weave patterns here this is a picture where you’ve actually seen the the shroud of a close-up of the Shroud weave pattern.

They posit what is depicted is not a cloth, but a sarcophagus.

Maybe this isn’t the Shroud at all maybe what this is our sarcophagus. And that’s the lid on an angle.

They point to Medieval paintings that depict Jesus coming out of a boxlike coffin.

Which is just like all the other representations that we saw through so why is it covered with this herringbone diagonal pattern because it’s decorated just like the other ones are decorated.

This explanation doesn’t quite stack up. The depictions of boxes they show have an interior to reveal either a body of Jesus coming out of it or a missing body. On the Pray codex, there is no depiction like a box that is empty.

They note there is a small cloth depicted on top.

There’s something on there I think it’s worth looking at you see that see that thing the thing I’ve outlined in red there I don’t know about you Jared that looks kind of like a cloth to me.

Yes, it’s a cloth also. That would be head cloth (napkin) that is described in the gospel of John.

[Jhn 20:7 KJV] And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Then they explain away the poker burn holes by saying the artist “loved him some circles”.

Because there’s a lot of circles I tell you what this artist loved him some circles it is a circle palooza in this in this manuscript.

This rebuttal doesn’t hold water either but is just dismissing the evidence. The issue is not just a bunch of circles are depicted, but a specific pattern of circles that is shaped like a 7 which matches the shroud.


Then they dismiss it as pareidolia. I don’t know about that. Just looking at the pattern from both, I don’t think I’m imaging the similarity.

I mean this this seems to me like pareidolia in action where the brain will look for patterns that aren’t really there.

They mention there is no beard.

Pray Codex – No beard
Dude doesn’t have a beard like he doesn’t look anything like the Jesus on the shroud of turian like that dude beard.

I’m not so sure about that either. On a larger image, a faint beard can be seen.

There are many other similarities that they have not covered. I’ve gone in more detail on the Pray codex at:

They argue there is a lack of peer-reviewed articles on the history of the shroud and then claim this makes the history of the shroud suspicious. They also note their hard drive is filling up with (scientific) papers on the shroud.

It’s not like oh it’s on the Shroud of Turin they wouldn’t publish it. My hard drive is fast filling up with Shroud of Turin research. Like this thing is piling up. Journals would love to have this published they’re just not publishing it. Okay and maybe maybe the reason they’re not publishing it is because historians aren’t convinced.

Their argument is actually evidence the shroud is not medieval artwork since nobody is really publishing anything in art journals about the shroud.

And it would only make sense that it can fill up a hard drive with scientific papers if it was a genuine artifact, not a work of art.

As to why there’s little from historians on the provenance of the shroud, are there many peer-reviewed articles on the provenance of any artifact? If there’s a bunch of peer-reviewed papers on the historical trail of artifacts and there’s none on the TS, then their argument would have some weight.

Next they go through art in history.

Images throughout history

There are thousands of pictures of Jesus through that history, like every. It was Christianity was the dominant religion in Europe. He’s probably the most depicted dude in history. Since the fourth Century he’s everywhere.

Yes, I’d agree Jesus is the most depicted person in history.

Next they mention coins over the eyes.

Gary Habermas talking about like if you look really closely you can see like coins, like on the eyes of Jesus. And like an imprint of something like those Pontius Pilate symbol on there. like I don’t see that in the Shroud but if you see that great. I don’t think the shroud’s resolution like it is fine but it’s not like yeah I don’t know that you can like read inscriptions on this thing. That seems like really reaching uh because it’s fuzzy and it’s hard to see anyway.

I agree the resolution of the image is not likely to capture ridges on a coin’s surface. I don’t even mention coins in my list of evidence for the shroud.

Then they discuss Ian Wilson’s theory.

Ian Wilson’s amazing theory

Just in brief his theory is that the Shroud of Turin is the same as the image of Odessa.

They note there are claims that seem to depict these as separate objects.

Pilgrims to Constantinople list relics that were kept there that they kind of saw or heard about and they list burial shrouds of Jesus no image and then they also separately list artifacts that bear the image of Jesus. So in the minds of these tourists these pilgrims to Constantinople these are not the same thing.

Sure, there can exist multiple renditions of an object. Even today, we have multiple copies of the shroud on display scattered across museums around the world. But it doesn’t mean an authentic one does not exist.

Okay so he tries to play he puts on his Warner Wallace hat and plays Detective for a second. He says okay so who could have done this. Let’s let’s work up a profile. This had to be kept secret for 150 years that suggests it couldn’t have been an individual because they die. So it had to have been a group. This group had to be well disciplined in order to keep a secret of this magnitude. They also had to be very wealthy strongly religious or both because they have this priceless artifact, but they didn’t sell it. They kept it hidden right so that means either they didn’t need the money or they had religious convictions against selling it or both. And they had to lastly they had to have some connection to the French nobility because it ends up in the hands of a French night in 1355.

None other than the Knights Templar.

They don’t argue why it couldn’t be the Templars, but simply just hand wave it off.

I discussed about Shroud and the Templars here:

Next they talk about the pollen. They note Frey was a pioneer in using pollen as evidence.

Pollen on the Shroud
So let’s talk about it there’s pollen on the Shroud of Turin. This pollen tests were done by Swiss criminologist uh his name was Max Frey Solzer I believe.

He had a PhD but he’s a criminologist. He apparently was like part of pioneering this tape collection method.

They criticize him for claiming to identify pollen at the species level, which no modern biologists can claim.

He said that he identified all the way down to the specific species of pollen and that these species were plants that are now extinct. They grew exclusively in Palestine during the time of Christ.

I’m not so sure Frey claimed they were exclusively in Palestine. He never even completed and published his work before he died. But if he did state that, then I would agree that claim would be an overstatement. It would also be an overstatement to claim there is a species match.

I’m just wondering how a criminologist was able to identify this

He could identify it because he traveled to the Middle East to collect pollen samples. Since he was a pioneer in this field, there was not a database of worldwide pollen that existed at this time.

Boyce said that the possibility of being able to pinpoint the geographical origin of the Shroud it has been ruled out.

I’d agree the pollen evidence cannot pinpoint the geographic origin of the shroud. But it can be evidence that the Palestine origin is compatible with the shroud. It’s like if Dogwood pollen is found on my car, it can’t be argued the car originated in Georgia, but it is compatible with the car once was in Georgia.

Next they talk about the herringbone weave.

Weave pattern on the Shroud
This weave is only used in the first century in Judea. These are claims I’m not making these claims by the way but these are the claims that you will hear.

If someone is making this claim (which I have not actually heard any shroud scholar make this claim), then the claim is wrong. Obviously the herringbone weave was also used elsewhere.

I want to shout out to Hugh Farey … because he does something that I wish more people did which is cite his sources.

I also wish more would cite their sources. I appreciate Reasons to Doubt also cite their sources.

Next they talk about body distortions.

Body proportions

I heard some people talk about how the arms are kind of an unnatural spot for a body that’s like laying on the ground uh they’re covering his genitals.

Another claim that the arms are significantly out of whack on Turin man on this Jesus.

I saw this claim I saw it on rational Wiki which immediately makes me extremely suspicious because rational Wiki is a terrible source that nobody should ever use.

Theses body distortions can be explained by the shoulder dislocation, body position and image projection distortion.

He disputes the skeptical claim that the arm and body length dimension is unnatural.

I measured the length along the body to get his true height from ankles to top of the forehead or top of the top of the head rather that ratio is 1.12. I did some math and if you scale with that scrunched up body then the arm wingspan is about the same as his height. So it doesn’t appear that that claim actually holds up.

So, what is their conclusion? It boils down to “I don’t know, but it sure ain’t Jesus.”

While we can’t say for sure how the image was formed, that’s a big question mark. It doesn’t seem like it’s authentic and even if we could prove that the shrouded turn was from the first century and it originated in judea-palestine, that tells us nothing about whether or not the dude on this shroud is Jesus and that is the result of a flipping miracle. I mean there were other crucified people a lot of crucified people in fact in the first century. Now I will give them this though it is a crucified man from the first century all beaten up and everything so that is at least more than nothing. It’s not, it’s not, it is not nothing.

I’ll concede that certainly like the case for Jesus resurrection is better off having an authentic shroud than not sure you know I’ll give him that for sure.

They readily admit there is no plausible explanation for the body image.

For me the the thing that stuck out the most that I still trying to wrap my head around was how was the image made. What surprised us think I’d understand why the Shroud is so alluring to people. It’s because it’s a mystery people. I agree that the image I don’t know how it was made.

Again, they make a non sequitur argument.

Unless and until though we could definitively prove that the Shroud was miraculous the image, I don’t know does not equal God did it so and as skeptics we are fine saying I don’t know.

If they stop with just saying “I don’t know”, then that would be intellectually honest. But they don’t stop there. The title of their video is “The Shroud of Turin is NOT Authentic”. So after three videos on the TS, there really is no conclusion from their arguments besides “I don’t know.”