I Call It Bold and Brash: Medieval art and the Classical Era Lost

Pax Christi, everybody!

Regarding the "Medieval Christianity Stifling Progress " debate, I recently heard a unique argument in favor of this position centered around Classical Art. The proponent compared the Medieval drawings of scribes and iconographers with the statues of Ancient Greece and Rome, noting the decline in realism and later “return to form” come the Renaissance, or once Europe started to go back to its roots and slowly embrace Secular views, and how it ultimately shows that Christianity’s whole worldview is not grounded in reality nor progress.

I don’t know about this one; I mean, Medieval people did produce The Shroud of Turin after all. Your thoughts?


Do you have an authority for that claim?

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We can start with WIKI:

First mentioned in 1354, the shroud was denounced in 1389 by the local bishop of Troyes as a fake. Currently the Catholic Church neither formally endorses nor rejects the shroud, and in 2013 Pope Francis referred to it as an “icon of a man scourged and crucified”.[4] The shroud has been kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Turin, in northern Italy, since 1578.[2]

In 1988, radiocarbon dating established that the shroud was from the Middle Ages, between the years 1260 and 1390.[1] All hypotheses put forward to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[5] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[6][7][8] the bio-contamination hypothesis[9] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[10]


Although I reject the opinion that confidence in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is necessary to orthodox faith and salvation, neither have I yet been persuaded that the Shroud is the product of one or more talented medieval artists. I am content to consider the Shroud to be an inspirational artifact that promotes the Gospel.

The Shroud of Turin Website

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Reminds me of statements of faith on inerrancy in conservative circles: “While belief in inerrancy is not necessary for salvation denying it…blah blah blah blah.” Is the Shroud so strongly regarded in orthodoxy that you were compelled to write, “I reject the opinion that confidence in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is necessary to orthodox faith and salvation”? I honestly had no idea this was a significant belief.

And many things can promote the Gospel. As Karl Barth told us, God is sovereign. If he wants to speak to us through a dead dog (or even a forged artifact), that is His divine prerogative.


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Producing fake religious relics is the second oldest profession.


That is assuming “realism” is the aim of art. Note with the rise of photography a lot of art went away from realism (impressionism, Picasso, etc.).

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