What intrigued these men and what hooked me into the pursuit of this study was that there was something very unusual about the photographs of this cloth. Barbet studied the official photos of the shroud taken in 1931, which are known as the Enrie photographs. However, as I later learned, the first official photographs of the shroud were taken in 1898 by Secondo Pia, an Italian lawyer and amateur photographer. It was during the development of Pia’s photographs, in the quiet of his darkroom, that he saw something on his negative plate that not only astounded him, but changed forever the understanding of the shroud image. The image on the photographic negative plate was not the negative image that he expected. Rather, it was the positive image of a man. Realizing that his negative plate held the positive image of a man brought him to another realization: the shroud image is a negative. How and why would a 14th-century artists paint a negative image?
It was then that the last piece of the puzzle became obvious. The clotted blood on the back of the upper arm represents a prior blood flow that follows force of gravity. The origin of the blood flow likely started at a wrist wound, which is not visible, and flowed down the forearm, past the elbow, and around the back of the upper arm collecting into a round pool of blood on the underside of the arm. From this pool, I could imagine that excess blood dripped off the body onto the ground. It reminded me of the description found in the Mishnah of the blood coming from a crucified man: “ . . . but if beneath a corpse [of crucified man], whose blood drips out, . . .” Indeed, this blood mark is consistent with what was seen at a crucifixion. Furthermore, the path that this blood flow took is real, as real as it is to me every morning after I wet my hand and razor and begin to shave, as real as it would be to any of us who have experienced holding up wet hands while waiting for someone to hand us a towel. In conclusion, the off-image blood mark indicates that the man of the shroud had been in the position of crucifixion.
I had thought about it since 1986 when I did my paper on the blood marks of the face. However, I had never put my thoughts down in writing until now. It was just three weeks before the 1989 Paris International Shroud Symposium when I was preparing my presentation. As I held up to the light a transparency of the shroud face, I was reminded that the image and the blood marks were telling their own story. It was all so logical, and it seemed as if it had all been planned for the human mind to contemplate. All the directions were contained in the face of the image. Not the magic that I had once imagined, but logical, reproducible, simple answers to profound questions.
After entering the tomb, John “saw” something that moved him to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. John had to have seen something awesome in that tomb to have him come to such a conclusion. Considering his emphasis on the linen cloths prior to his moment of understanding, it would seem reasonable to postulate that the linen had something to do with what John “saw.” In chapter 20, John tells us why Mary Magdalene, the disciples, and Thomas believed---because they saw the resurrected Jesus. However, throughout chapter 20, John never tells us what he saw in the tomb to cause him to believe. What did he see?