Thursday, November 02, 2006

Read: shabbat shalom 02.11.06...I had a peculiar experience

Hola Doctor Linda ~ I have thought about this for a long time as if Jesus Christ was beamed up through the shroud. I will blog it to the CASA Blog so it does not get lost in Yahoo Group archives. ~Peta

Linda Whittaker
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Hi everyone,

I had a peculiar experience on Wednesday afternoon. Stopped in the grocery store around the corner from my office on the way home, and bumped into a colleague I have known for nearly 30 years. His name is Prof. Avinoam Danin, and because he is the best field botanist in Israel, he was asked many years ago to do an inventory of the plant remains on the Shroud of Turin, to determine species and location as far as possible. He was part of the team of scientific experts who assessed the shroud for authenticity. If you remember, the team came to the conclusion that there is no evidence disproving the belief of the Catholic Church that this is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.

Well, we bumped into each other in the vegetable section and the shroud was not on my mind. We exchanged some professional gossip and jokes, and since my sister is coming to visit Israel, he shyly suggested we see the display about the Shroud over in Notre Dame, which includes a summary of his botanical work. I love archeology and haven't seen this yet, so I was very curious, and we got onto the topic of the shroud.

What astounded me was the firm conviction Danin has now that the shroud is indeed the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Danin is a secular Jew and has no stake in the theology of the Church. He's very deliberately never read the New Testament, even while working on the shroud, in order not to have any infuence on his objective scientific study of the artifact. Yet his own research has convinced him that some man was wrapped in the shroud 2,000 years ago, the plant remains place the event in springtime in the Judean Mountains, and something extremely weird happened after that.

He told me that the kind of negative image formed on the shroud most likely happened by a massive electrical discharge. This way of making a negative copy has in fact been tested on plant material, he says, and produced images much like what he sees of plants (not to mention the body) on the shroud. And of course, nobody knew about either electrical discharge or negative images at the time the shroud was first documented in the Middle Ages. Well, lots has been written about the shroud so I needn't repeat it.

As a fellow scientist and knowing Danin is not religious, I asked him what he made of all this. "Well, I think that Jesus was buried in that shroud", he said matter of factly. (Now this is a guy I know is totally honest and almost totally lacking in imagination, a very dry and skeptical scientist.)

"So you think this is not a fake?" I asked? "No", he answered, "it is definitely not a fake."

"So something pretty weird happened in history?" (He nodded.) "Well, Avinoam", I said, "I know you are not religious, but you probably have more solid information that most believers have. I'm sure you are going to be thinking about this the rest of your life".

Danin gave one of his rare grins and headed off to the dairy section. "Yeah, me and a lot of other people too", was his parting shot.

Hmm. The plant remains fit Jerusalem in springtime. A negative image formed in a century when nobody knew about negative images--and a three dimensional image at that. Which was probably formed by a massive electrical discharge, in a century when the only such discharge might be lightening, and lightening doesn't happen in a burial cave. It is the image of a crucified man, accurately depicted (and no medieval artist knew the nails went through wrists rather than hands, to support the weight).
And this dry, unimaginative Jewish scientist is completely convinced, as casually as he is convinced of gravity, that this object is exactly what the Catholic Church has always claimed it is, the burial shroud of Christ. Electrical discharge, eh? Something pretty weird happened in history. I know what I make of it, but I'm astounded that this Jewish scientist also accepts it firmly, and will not go one step further than his facts will carry him.

But maybe someday he may meet a man with a face that looks very, very familiar......

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