Monday, March 11, 2013

John Heller and the Shroud of Turin Research Project

Let us now sing the praises of famous men [and women]
                                                                        Ben Sira 44 1

Anyone who is serious about current research on the Shroud, sooner or later, reaches out to Barrie Schwortz, the documentary photographer of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and webmaster of I expect they get referred by Barrie  (as  I was) to Dr. John Heller’s intimate look at STURP in action: “Report on the Shroud of Turin,” Macmillan, New York 1983. It’s available used on Amazon if you can’t locate it anywhere else.

I am concluding that part of my work in progress focusing on the pre-Carbon-14 period of the Shroud and will be moving on from the formal STURP process of 1975-1981. This post is not intended to encapsulate their work, but as I read Dr. Heller’s final tribute to his colleagues I was struck by its beauty and relevance to today, when the Shroud world appears to be split into sometime competing duchies.

 Although on a vastly smaller scale, I am reminded in reading of the STURP collaboration of the collaboration that created the atomic bomb (except that STURP team wasn't paid).. If anyone wants to know how an adventuresome scientific collaboration into new, untested waters ought to work, this book is a place to start. But. enough of my drivel. Here is how the late Dr. Heller put it:

"We do know, however, that there are thousands upon thousands of pieces of funerary linen going back two millennia before Christ and another huge number of linens of Coptic Christian burials. On none of these is there any image of any kind. A few have some blood and stains on them, but no image.

"However, there are some remarkable aspects to this voyage of discovery.

"The team itself – its formation, cohesion, diversity, collaboration, as well as its sacrifice of time, talent and treasure – is unique in scientific annals.

"The role of 'coincidence' is awesome.

"Science undertook its specialty, which is measurement. We were supremely confident that the answers would – indeed must – be forthcoming. And we fail.

"Many team members were ordered or threatened to desist from the project, yet they persevered. Though it was believed that there would be a confrontation between science and religion, none occurred. Rather the relationship was harmonious and synergistic.

"All of us have been changed by the project I believe we have grown.
Some years ago, a friend of mine said to me in exasperation, "Heller, why don't you spend less time in Athens and more in Jerusalem?"

"I find the Acropolis much less interesting these days."

R.I.P. Dr. John H. Heller
This is not a promo for my book "Quantum Christ" but if you are interested:

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