Nicolotti, From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Turin Shroud (review)
Data: Marted́, 20 ottobre 2015 @ 23:43:07 CEST

Recensione di Andrea Nicolotti, From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Turin Shroud, Leiden, Brill, 2014.

Tratta da «Annali di storia dell'esegesi» 32/2 (2015), p. 575.

Najeeb Haddad
Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL

From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin is an English translation of Andrea’s Nicolotti’s Dal Mandylion di Edessa alla Sindone di Torino (2011; 20152). This volume examines in incredible detail the theory made by Ian Wilson in 1978 which states that the Shroud of Turin and the Mandylion of Edessa were the same relic (p. 3). Nicolotti argues against this dominant theory by reevaluating the primary sources which stretch over 10-centuries. In essence, the author demonstrates how even the earliest legends surrounding the Edessan image (the Mandylion) has no connection to the Turinese Shroud. What sindologists argue in regards to the Shroud and the Mandylion being the same relic, as Nicolotti masterfully presents, has little to no credence in the primary sources. In his examination of the Wilson’s theory, Nicolotti concludes that the arguments made by “those who argue for the shared identity of the Shroud of Turin and the Mandylion of Edessa have based their arguments on evidence that cannot withstand close scrutiny" (p.202).
This volume is comprised of seven chapters with an introduction and a conclusion. In chapter 1, the shortest chapter of six-pages, Nicolotti introduces the reader to the tradition surrounding the Edessan image and Wilson’s theory. Chapter 2 locates the earliest legends surrounding the Edessan image and in summary, does not locate any instances of the Turinese Shroud in any of the legends surrounding the Edessan image. Instead, he wants to present how the story of the image was created as an appendix to the legend of the correspondence between King Abgar and Jesus and how the story of the image gradually superseded it (p. 26). Chapter 3 demonstrates that even with the growing popularity of the legend of the Edessan image the primary sources argue only for the “face” of Jesus and how later sources, recounting the same legend, only mention the “face” of Jesus without mention of Jesus’ body. The author discusses and rejects the argument of the folds of the tetradiplon, that the Shroud when folded can be mistaken as the Edessan image. Chapter 4 demonstrates how, for Nicolotti, sindologists stretch the evidence to support their claims. This chapter begins by discussing the sermon of Gregory Referndarius, “archdeacon and referandarius of the great church of Constantinople” (p. 53), who speaks of the translation of the Mandylion to Constantinople in 944. In chapter 5, Nicolotti discusses the origins of the name “Mandylion” how the tradition of the Mandylion grew and was preserved, especially in the Byzantine religious traditions. Again, as in each chapter, arguments made by sindologists are refuted. Chapter 6 is an overview of iconography and describes how the tradition of the Mandylion arrived in the West by merging and adapting the story of the Mandylion with local and popular legends (p. 127). Through an overview of iconography, both Eastern and Western, there is a stable typology of the Mandylion developed. Chapter 7 concludes this volume by highlighting sources from the eighteenth-century and the Mandylion’s final journey to France and its ultimate disappearance.
There is much that is commendable in this volume. The translation of this volume is clear and concise, and Nicolotti’s argument is made clear. Thisvolume is belabored with primary sources to demonstrate how many scholars made their arguments on false premises. The author interacts thoroughly with the primary sources. His argument is easy to follow and the chapters and themes are well organized. The author’s work is also prevalent in the highly detailed footnotes which give considerable amounts of beneficial details especially for scholars who are interested in the development of the Mandylion. In general, the presentation of the material flows well and the author’s points are made clear. Even though the Mandylion is highly discussed and how the Mandylion is not the Shroud of Turin, one is left with questions on the origins and the history of the Shroud of Turin. The second volume of Nicolotti’s work discusses at length the Turinese Shroud. If the first volume is any indication to what to look forward to, there are high hopes for his second volume.

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