© Stephen E. Jones
This is part #4, "Fourth century," of my "Chronology of the Turin Shroud: AD 30 - present" series. See part #1, "First century" and index, for more information about this series. This installment covers the entire post.
4th century (301-400)
[Above (enlarge): "Detail of a fresco on the catacomb of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Via Labicana, Rome, Italy, 4th century". Although Jesus' face does not have the rigid frontality and Vignon markings of later Byzantine icons, it "shows a very striking similarity to" the image on the Shroud (see "400" below), and is such a radical departure from the "beardless Apollo" depictions of Jesus then current, that the simplest explanation is that the artist had seen the Mandylion (the Shroud "four-doubled" = tetradiplon) and painted this part of the fresco from memory "about 400."]
c. 315 Roman Empress Constantia (c.293-330), the half-sister of Emperor Constantine the Great (c.272–337), wrote to the church historian, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339), asking him to send her an "image of Christ." Constantia's letter is lost but from Eusebius' reply, she seems to be asking for a specific image of Christ, presumably the Mandylion/Shroud. This is supported by Eusebius' reply in which, instead of simply answering Constantia along the lines of, "Sorry, but I don't have an image of Christ to send to you," he gave a long-winded refusal which indicated that Eusebius knew which image Constantia meant, but he needed to find a way to refuse Constantine's half-sister's request without actually saying "no". This is further evidence that the Mandylion/Shroud existed in the fourth century, known in Christian circles, but hidden from those who would seize it. [see also above and "400" below].
325 Eusebius, in his Church History, includes an account of the story of Jesus and Abgar exchanging letters [see "50"]. Eusebius states that he had seen the original letters in Edessa's archives, but significantly he makes no mention of any cloth imprinted with Jesus' likeness.
c. 330 Athanasius (c. 296–373), who was bishop of Alexandria from 328 to 373, affirmed in the times of Constantine the Great (c.272–337), who was Roman Emperor from 306-337, that a sacred Christ-icon, traceable to Jerusalem in the year 68, was then present in Syria, when Syria did not include Edessa.
337 Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor, abolished crucifixion throughout the Roman Empire in 337 out of veneration for Jesus, crucifixion's most famous victim. Crucifixion continued to be banned in the remnants of the Roman Empire which included Europe. Neither the Bible, nor writers in the Roman era, described crucifixion in detail, presumably because everyone then knew those details, and crucifixion was so abhorrent. Therefore a medieval European forger, ~1000 years later, would not know enough about Roman crucifixion to depict it accurately as it is on the Shroud [See future "1389" and "1988"].
c. 375 Composition of the Doctrine of Addai (Syriac for "Thaddeus") in Edessa, based on earlier versions of the Abgar story [see "50"], but incorporating later interpolations, including a story of Abgar's keeper of the archives, Hannan, painting Jesus's portrait "with choice paints". This may be a garbled memory of a likeness of Jesus having once been brought to Edessa.
c. 338 St. Nino (c. 296–340), spent her youth in Jerusalem from c. 308. In 338 she wrote in her memoirs that she had been told that the linen strips (othonia - Lk 24:12; Jn 11:44) had been taken by Pilate's wife, who took them to Pontus, but later they were brought back to Jerusalem. The soudarion - Jn 20:7, Nino had heard, had been taken by Peter, but it was not by then known where it was.
c. 384 Visit to Edessa by the pilgrim nun Egeria who had travelled from Spain in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In her travel diary Egeria describes churches and other landmarks of Edessa,
but significantly Egeria makes no mention of any cloth bearing Jesus' imprinted image. How- ever Egeria does mention a letter purportedly from Jesus to King Abgar V [see "50"], the text of which was displayed on Edessa's main gate.
c. 400 The late German Shroud pro-authenticist scholar, Prof. Werner Bulst (1913-95), dated the "picture in the catacomb of Peter and Marcellinus" (above) to "about 400" and noted that "...the image on the Cloth of Turin ... shows a very striking similarity to ... a picture in the catacomb of Peter and Marcellinus (about 400)". This is additional evidence that the Shroud existed in the fourth century, and so is more evidence against the of the 945 Official History's highly implausible story that the Mandylion/Shroud was bricked up above Edessa's public gate c.60, was completely forgotten, and not rediscovered until 525 [see c. 60 and future "525"].
Continued in part #5, fifth century, of this series.
1. This post is copyright. Permission is granted to quote from any part of this post (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]
2. "File:ChristPeterPaul detail.jpg," Wikimedia, 15 January 2015. [return]
3. Inza, J.G., 2011, "Egeria: the first pilgrimage to the Holy Land," Blogs of religion in freedom, January 23, Google translate. [return]
4. Bulst, W., 1957, "The Shroud of Turin," McKenna, S. & Galvin, J.J., transl., Bruce Publishing Co: Milwaukee WI, p.41. [return]
Posted: 4 October 2016. Updated: 10 November 2016.