Focus on the Shroud

Focus on the Shroud (Dr. Hussain M. Sajid) [the substance of a letter addressed to the Editor of the Biblical Archaeological Review] The article “New Evidence May Explain Image on Shroud of Turin” by Joseph A. Kohlbeck and Eugenia L. Nitowski, in BAR July/August 1986 is thought-provoking. It is another significant step towards establishing the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin to be the burial cloth of Jesus. The authors have intelligently formalised their theory, based upon the scientific evidence about the formation of the image on the shroud. I agree with the authors that the body-heat and mercerization was instrumental in producing these images, but, I disagree with the source of this body-heat, as proposed by the authors. The events surrounding the Passion and Resurrection has been an enigma for centuries. This enigma of the crucifixion of Jesus was solved by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, ninety years ago when he convincingly expounded his original thesis in his well-known work, ‘Jesus in India’ and stated that though Jesus was put on the cross, suffered the trauma of crucifixion, went through the agony of dehydration, lack of sleep and extreme physical exertion which produced sweating but Jesus did not die on the cross. He was taken down from the cross in a semi-conscious state, his heart still beating and causing the blood to extravasate around the edges of the wounds. STURP Scientists also believe that the stains around ‘wound’ images on the shroud are serum, the thin liquid that separates out from blood during coagulation. The coagulation of the blood is a specific property of the living blood and ceases to be after death. Dr. Pierre Barbets’ observations at Dachau that the prisoners hung by their hands produced a profuse sweat all over the body falls short of the observation as to this process of sweating continued or not, after the prisoners were pronounced dead. It is feasible that the sweating occurred during the state of agony and stopped when the prisoner died.’ The study of heat-stroke victim’s cldaifly indicates that heat-stroke is not a universally fatal disease as the evidence quoted states that nine deaths FOCUS ON THE SHROUD 21 occurred in a group of thirty-six patients, a mortality rate of twenty-five percent. Jesus too survived death by heat-stroke and when he was taken down by his friends and tended to, he revived. He was wrapped in the shroud, laid upon the cold stone bench in the tomb and the body-heat produced the image on the shroud by the interaction with the mildly alkaline cloth, by the living body by the mercerisation process. The authors further propose that the body was in rigor mortis. This claim is not supported by any medical evidence. After the rigor-mortis sets in, the body becomes stiff and cold and thus could not have produced the images by mercerization. The images of the shroud clearly show that the arms of the body are placed in the lap over the lower abdomen, one upon- another, a position which would have been impossible had the rigor-mortis set in before the body was wrapped in the shroud. If Jesus had died on the cross the position of the arms would have corresponded to the position on the cross, i.e., arms abducted to ninety degree or more, and an external force of considerable degree would have been necessary to keep the arms down and folded on to the abdomen. There is not an iota of evidence that any rope or cord of any sort was used to sustain this position. Father Wilde, in BAR Vol. X No. 5 Sept/Oct criticises the advocates of rigor-mortis and poses another question: “The hands of Jesus on the Shroud are not bound or fastened with cloth or with a. cord so as to hold them in place. Apparently rigor-mortis is taken to be the sole agent retaining the body in what Dr. Jackson tells us was a quite unnatural and relaxed position. A very convenient type ofRigor-Mortis, I would note, not yet so advanced as to prevent those who were burying Jesus from arranging his hands and arms freely in this fashion but just enough, supposedly, to permit Jesus’s body to retain this awkward and strained posture once placed in it. Since Jesus’s burial attendants knew as well as we do . . . it is puzzling that they none-the-less made no effort to bind Jesus’s wrists so that they might remain in the desired position.” To me, the modern science has not deepened, rather it has allayed the mystery and has strengthened my belief that Jesus did not die on the cross. It is a simple answer to the riddle, simple and easy which is going to make millions uneasy but it demands consideration without any pre-conceived ideas. The evidence that Jesus was alive when taken down from the cross has been shrouded by faith in mystery for centuries and the shroud is unfolding it gradually and convincingly. Yours truly, (H. M. Sajid, M.D.) 1603-Georgetown Lane Murfreesboro TN 37132