The question of the anatomical perfection of the body on the Shroud has become successively more awkward to those who stand by it. To early observers, such as Pierre Barbet, there was no difficulty. The man lay supine on a slab with the Shroud laid out below and draped over the top, and the resulting image, miraculously or otherwise, reflects that configuration. This was also John Jackson’s finding from the early 1970s. In a film made in 2008 (the “Rageh Omaar” BBC programme), he describes how the exact position of the body and Shroud was obtained. He found a volunteer who:
“was CAT-scanned, and then the X-rays from the CAT-scan, in sequential slices, were cut out, after being digitised, and assembled to make this three dimensional model. So this is actually a real person, laying in the attitude implied by the man in the Shroud.”
Jackson goes on to show, in very precise detail, exactly how the Shroud must have covered a flat, supine body in order to receive the blood-stains. He is so convincing that it comes as quite a shock to discover that other scientists, notably, very recently, Giulio Fanti, have produced equally scientific, equally detailed, and equally convincing body shapes which have raised heads and bent legs (which Fanti attributes to rigor mortis). One of them must be wrong.
How the monumental stained glass window maker Isobel Piczek first entered the story is not clear. She has been adopted as an authority on everything from anatomy to quantum physics by some authenticist factions, when in fact she was neither. It attempting to reconstruct the body shape of the man in the Shroud she had to assume that the cloth was suspended horizontally above the body, so that what she saw as the rather short dimensions of the legs bones could be accounted for by foreshortening. Neither of the former two scientists saw anything of the kind.
In this respect she differed quite dramatically from New York Pathologist Fred Zugibe, who was so disturbed by the unnaturally long dimensions of the leg bones that he wondered if Christ hadn’t suffered from Marfan’s syndrome, which is typified by abnormally long and slender limbs.
The fact is, of course, that convinced authenticists begin with the ‘knowledge’ that the Shroud shows a real body, with absolute anatomical accuracy, and all come to very different ideas as to how that image can have come about. Certainly nearly all of them must wrong, as the ideas are mutually contradictory. To go on to say that no artist could have got the dimensions as correct is therefore unjustified.