Are there other interpretations of the Hymn of the Pearl?
Scholars who have studied the Hymn of Pearl over the past several decades have offered interpretations that don't relate to the Shroud of Turin. The notion that the two image segment, and indeed some of the other text in the poem, relates to the Shroud is relatively new. Older interpretation must be seen in that light. And indeed many scholars now think the poem pertains, in large measure, to the Shroud.
The Hymn of the Pearl, is sometimes also called the Hymn of the Soul or the Hymn of the Robe of Glory.
- There is no direct evidence that the first-person speaker is Jesus.
- The speaker, in some translations is “the son of the king of kings.” That is somewhat ambiguous.
- It is rich with the Gnostic idea that mankind can be saved from the tragedy of the human conditions by a secret message delivered by a savior.
- Arguably, since this hymn was supposedly sung or spoken by the Apostle Thomas as he awaited his martyrdom in a prison in India, it can be argued that these are Thomas’ words.
The point, however, is that the two images segment of the “Hymn of the Pearl” seems to describe the shroud that is now in Turin. It is hard to imagine what else, even in a metaphorical sense, these words describe.
What is lacking in the poetic description is any mention of the photographic-like negativity. Perhaps, given that such a concept was not realized during this era, it wasn’t addressed.
- What is the Hymn of the Pearl?
- Translation by Quaker scholar Hugh McGregor Ross
- Translation by William Wright
- Translation by M. R. James
- Translation by Hans Jonas
- Popular Anonymous Translation