Here is my response to Dan Porter's latest post about me. Porter evidently cannot restrain himself from attacking my posts publicly on his blog, but at least he is not attacking me personally! This time Porter attacks one of the Vignon markings and by extension all of them. This is further confirmation of what I wrote in a previous post:
My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it.If Porter keeps up attacking what I write in my blog, instead of doing original research of his own, I may just have to ignore him, because I have better things to do with my time than continually respond to Porter. Again Porter's words and quoted words of mine are in bold.Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2" post: Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Vertical (auto-corrected). As can be seen, the `topless square' is actually part of a flaw in the weave on the Shroud, which extends up to the hairline (and indeed along the entire length of the Shroud, front and back (see below).]
I suggest that you only focus on the Shroud of Turin content on Stephen Jones’ site. Ignore what he says about you or your blog.Better advice would be for Porter to do his own original research on the Shroud instead of being a scavenger of the original work of others.
Okay, here goes. On April 14, Stephen wrote:
Vignon paid particular attention to a topless square (Vignon marking 2 above) on the 8th-century Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome Artistically it made no sense, yet it appears on other Byzantine Christ portraits, including the 11th century Daphni Pantocrator, the 10th century Sant’Angelo in Formis fresco, the 10th century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and the 11th century "Christ the Merciful" mosaic in Berlin. And at the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there is exactly the same feature where it is merely a flaw in the weave.
I disagree. Artistically, a topless square, or at least the right and left vertical lines of one, are quite common. Porter is using the word "vertical" loosely. My (following Wilson's) claim is that the `topless square' on the Shroud, and in some artists' depiction of it (e.g. the catacomb of St. Pontianus face) is "starkly geometrical". Clearly Paul Vignon, an artist, and Ian Wilson, with artistic training, were not claiming the "common" brow furrows of the human face are a unique marking found only on the face of the Shroud and in some Byzantine artists' depiction of Christ's face. Porter should give credit to them (and me) for having some intelligence!
It makes perfect artistic sense as some of the pictures, below, show. Maybe the artist copied the lines from the faint lines on the shroud or from a statue of Aristotle. Maybe he simply introduced it artistically. "Maybe ... Maybe." Porter has joined the ranks of the negative sceptics who tear everything down with their doubts and build nothing up to take its place. But as can be seen, there is a topless square on the face on the Shroud, which is just a flaw in the weave.
And as the late paleontologist Prof. Colin Patterson pointed out, copyright courts rule that it is "proof `beyond reasonable doubt'" of plagiarism if two or more works share the same error, and also that the original is the work in which the shared error is a physical flaw in the text:
"An interesting argument is that in the law courts (where proof `beyond reasonable doubt' is required), cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that the text (or whatever) is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original. Similarly, in tracing the texts of ancient authors, the best evidence that two versions are copies one from another or from the same original is when both contain the same errors. A charming example is an intrusive colon within a phrase in two fourteenth-century texts of Euripides: one colon turned out to be a scrap of straw embedded in the paper, proving that the other text was a later copy." (Patterson, C., "Evolution," 1999, p.117. My emphasis).
Moreover there are fourteen other Vignon markings, so Porter would have to have an ad hoc pagan art explanation of each one of them. But according to Ockham's Razor, the simplest explanation which accounts for all the facts is that which is to be preferred, and that simplest explanation is that the Byzantine artists were copying the Shroud which has all 15 of the Vignon markings, including some of which, for example the topless square, are physical features of the Shroud.
There is no reason to bring in pagan statues as the source of the inspiration of Byzantine Christian artists from the sixth century onwards. It is Wilson's point that before the Shroud was re-discovered in the sixth century, the pagan art that the Christians followed showed Jesus as a youthful, beardlesss Apollo.
In fairness to Stephen, he is only saying what many before him have said. Porter is patronising me (and indeed all those, like Wilson, who have been persuaded that Vignon's iconographic theory was correct). I am not "only saying what many before [me] have said." Like everything about the Shroud, I have examined the claims for the Vignon markings for myself and am persuaded by the evidence that they are true. That is, Byzantine artists in the sixth to the 11th century had the Shroud as their model. Or in some cases they painted their Christ's face from a copy which was painted from from the Shroud.
I had believed it was important. It was something that helped me believe that the shroud was real. Then, one day I was shaving. (I still believe it is real but I’ve discounted this at least.) I wish Porter would be more precise and not use American slang. Of course the Shroud is "real"! What Porter presumably means is that he once believed the Shroud was authentic based on this Vignon marking and others.
Porter claims that he still believes that the Shroud is "real," i.e. authentic, but if he applied the same piecemeal negative scepticism to the remaining reasons why he still claims to believe in the Shroud's authenticity, that he applies to this topless square Vignon marking, Porter would discount those also and inevitably complete his slide into full Shroud anti-authenticity.And if Porter really did still believe the Shroud was authentic, then why would he discount this topless square Vignon marking having been (like the 14 others) copied from the authentic Shroud of Turin, which has this same topless square, exactly where the artists depicted it?
Thoughts? Should other Vignon markings be questioned as well? Should the whole concept be reconsidered? Or, am I mistaken? Porter is indeed "mistaken" as we shall see. And what's worse is that he is happy to publicly undermine individuals' belief in the authenticity of the Shroud, so that he can have more debate and more readers on his blog for him to boast about.
Bridge of Nose on Shroud of Turin See my Shroud Scope photo above. The topless square on the Shroud extends from the level of the eyes up to the middle forehead (and indeed its two parallel sides continue down the face and even down the entire length of the Shroud, front and back). There is no human feature which does that, as can be seen on the photos that Porter himself posted as evidence of his argument.
[Right (click to enlarge): Front of the Shroud showing that the two parallel lines which form the two sides of the topless square are actually flaws or characteristics of the Shroud's weave, which extend down the entire length of the Shroud, both front and back (not shown): Shroud Scope, Durante 2002 Horizontal (cropped and rotated vertical)].
Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome As can be seen in my enlarged and cropped face-only copy of the icon below, the topless square on the Christ Pantocrator painting from the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome, is as Wilson described it, "starkly geometrical"
[Above: Face only of Christ Pantocrator from the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome: Catacomba di Ponziano, Wikipedia, 2 August 2013. Note the geometrical three-sided square above where a human brow is usually furrowed, but exactly matching where there is an apparent geometrical three-sided square on the Shroud face.]
"The seventh century saw another wave of Pantocrator-type depictions of Christ, which we have shown to be based on the Image of Edessa. One of these can be found in the little-visited St Ponziano catacomb in Rome's Transtevere district ... on the forehead between the eyebrows there is a starkly geometrical shape resembling a topless square. Artistically it does not seem to make much sense. If it was intended to be a furrowed brow, it is depicted most unnaturally in comparison with the rest of the face. But if we look at the equivalent point on the shroud face ... we find exactly the same feature, equally as geometric and equally as unnatural, probably just a flaw in the weave. The only possible deduction is that fourteen centuries ago an artist saw this feature on the cloth that he knew as the Image of Edessa and applied it to his Christ Pantocrator portrait of Jesus. In so doing he provided a tell-tale clue that the likeness of Jesus from which he was working was that on the cloth we today know as the Shroud." (Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved,"p.142. My emphasis).
Drawing of Hugh Laurie by Gary Wood Thanks again to Porter for proving my point! Hugh Laurie's brow furrow begins further down, is more square than Porter's (but still not geometrically square) and it does not extend up as far as the sides of the topless square on the Shroud, or the St. Pontianus' depiction of it.
Drawing of Clint Eastwood by Giacomo Burattini Nothing like a square and barely extending beyond the eyebrows!
Aristotle Ditto as per Clint Eastwood.
Plato Not a square but extending further up than the others.
Unknown Russian Peasant Ditto as per Clint Eastwood and Aristotle.
"The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part)." ("Fallacy of composition," Wikipedia, 21 March 2014)for Porter to claim that because one Vignon marking might be able to be explained away (which hasn't happened in this case), therefore all fifteen Vignon markings have been explained away. The Vignon markings are a whole package, and must be understood and/or explained away as a whole package.
And again if Porter offers 15 different ad hoc explanations for the 15 diferent Vignon markings, then Ockham's Razor applies, and the single explanation by Vignon, that the 6th-11th century Byzantine artists based their portraits of Christ on the Shroud, is to be preferred.
Posted: 27 April 2014. Updated: 1 May 2014