Skip to comments.The Christ of the Folded Napkin
Posted on 04/09/2010 9:38:50 AM PDT by NYer
My friend and fellow Touchstone senior editor Patrick Henry Reardon wrote something that prompted me to shut down my computer and pray.
In his "Pastoral Ponderings" email, Reardon noted the Apostle John's mention in his resurrection account that the kerchief which had been on Jesus' face "not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself" (John 20:7). Reardon writes:
"That instant of the Resurrection of Jesus was the most decisive moment in the history of the world. It was the event of deepest importance for every human being who ever lived. It was the supreme kairos. The Law and the Prophets were fulfilled in that moment, and the existence of the human race took on an utterly new meaning.
"What, however, was the first thing Jesus did when the Resurrection life came surging into His body? The simplest and plainest thing imaginable: He reached up, pulled the kerchief from His face, folded it, and set it aside, as though it had been a napkin used at breakfast."
Reardon concludes by writing this:
"The universal Christ, the eternal Word in whom all things subsist, was still the same Jesus, to whom an act of elementary neatness came naturally. He spontaneously did what He would likely have done in any case, much as another man might unconsciously scratch his ear, or yet another look around for a stick to whack the weeds with as he walked along.
"The risen Lord was the same Jesus His friends had always known. He had just returned from the realm of hell, where He trampled down death by death. He was on the point of going forth as a giant to run His course. He was about to begin appearing to His disciples, providing them with many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
"Nonetheless, He was still the same person, whose instinctive habits remained identical. First, He took a moment to fold the kerchief He had used, and only then did He stride out to change the direction of history and transform the lives of human beings."
I'm not sure I've ever given any thought to the face kerchief in that empty tomb before. But this word prompted me to pray, and to thank God for a Messiah who is not just Christ but Jesus. He is a Person, with practices and habits. He can be known.
Praise God for the Christ of the folded napkin.
We had an interesting sermon durning Sonrise service; apparently a folded towel was a sign among carpenters of Palestine to their clients that a project was completed. They would wipe their face and arms, then leave the sweaty cloth folded atop the finished work to indicate to the client that the job was finished and their labor complete. Our minister conjectured that, knowing that Jesus was a carpenter’s son and perhaps familiar with the tradition, this might have been a subtle reminder to His disciples that “it is finished”; e.g. that the Messiah’s work in the salvation of lost man that had taken so many thousands of years to set up was indeed finished once and for all with His resurrection.
The folded napkin (soudarion ) is why I pay no attention to the artificial hoopla about the Shroud of Turin. If any man was actually buried in that thing, we can be sure it wasn’t Jesus of Nazareth.
Interesting. I’ve heard that it had to do with eating customs. If you have to leave the table, but are not yet finished, you would fold your napkin as a sign to not clear away your plates.
In other words, it can be interpreted as an “I’ll be back” gesture.
How is that?
"Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place" (John 20: 6-7).
Also, there is the lesser-known Sudarium of Oviedo
the stains on the Shroud totally match the Sudarium. The Sudarium’s history is very well documented. The Sudarium gives the Shroud even more credibility.
The Sudarium of Oviedo has a provenance which goes back to 570 CE, or about 1,000 years before the Shroud of Turin is first reported to be in Italy. But the supposed DNA and blood match between the two tends to disprove any conjecture about the Shroud being the creation of some medieval genius artist (so clever that his work left no paint or pigment but only discolored the fibers a few molecules in depth).
The “napkin” didn’t cover the face, though. It was tied under the chin to keep the mouth closed.
The cloth was not wrapped entirely round the head because the right cheek was almost touching the right shoulder. This suggests that the sudarium was put into place while the body was still on the cross. The second stain was made about an hour later, when the body was taken down. The third stain was made when the body was lifted from the ground about forty five minutes later. The body was lying at the foot of the cross for about forty-five minutes before being buried. The marks (not fingerprints) of the fingers that held the cloth to the nose are also visible.
The experiments with the model head and the study of the stains also show that when the man died his head was tilted seventy degrees forward and twenty degrees to the right. This position further suggests that the man whose face the sudarium covered died crucified.
There are smaller bloodstains at the side of the main group. It would appear that the sudarium was pinned to the back of the dead man's head, and that these spots of blood were from small sharp objects, which would logically be the thorns that caused this type of injury all over Jesus' head.
The medical studies are not the only ones that have been carried out on the sudarium. Dr. Max Frei analysed pollen samples taken from the cloth, and found species typical of Oviedo, Toledo, North Africa and Jerusalem. This confirms the historical route described earlier. There was nothing relating the cloth to Constantinople, France, Italy or any other country in Europe.
An international congress was held in Oviedo in 1994, where various papers were presented about the sudarium. Dr. Frei's work with pollen was confirmed, and enlarged on. Species of pollen called "quercus caliprimus" were found, both of which are limited to the area of Palestine.
Residues of what is most probably myrrh and aloe have also been discovered, mentioned directly in the gospel of john, 19:39-40, "Nicodemus came as well...and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes...They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom."
The stains were also studied from the point of view of anthropology. The conclusion was that the face that had been in contact with the sudarium had typically Jewish features, a prominent nose and pronounced cheekbones.
Finally, the very fact that the cloth was kept at all is a sign of its authenticity, as it has no artistic or monetary value at all. All the studies carried out so far point in one direction, with nothing to suggest the contrary the sudarium was used to cover the head of the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth from when he was taken down from the cross until he was buried.
3: Coincidence with the Shroud
The sudarium alone has revealed sufficient information to suggest that it was in contact with the face of Jesus after the crucifixion. However, the really fascinating evidence comes to light when this cloth is compared to the Shroud of Turin.
The first and most obvious coincidence is that the blood on both cloths belongs to the same group, namely AB.
The length of the nose through which the pleural oedema fluid came onto the sudarium has been calculated at eight centimetres, just over three inches. This is exactly the same length as the nose on the image of the Shroud.
Joh 20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
Joh 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
The word translated "wrapped together" is Strongs:
From G1722 andτυλίσσω tulissō (to twist; probably akin to G1507); to entwine, that is, wind up in: - wrap in (together).
It's used two other places in the new testament:
Mat 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
Luk 23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
So the sense of the word isn't that it was neatly folded by Christ, but rather that it was WRAPPED as if around his head, but by itself...in other words, as if it WERE wrapped around his head and then the body disappeared, leaving the cloth wrapped by itself.
This makes sense, since the glorification of Christ's body went from a physical body to a spiritual body.
1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
In other words, in the twinkling of an eye, this happened:
1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
I would consider that fact as having the exact opposite meaning. The disciples, finding the burial clothes lying empty in the tomb, were more concerned with the question of where the body had gone. It was several hours yet before they saw Jesus alive, and after that, they forgot all about the tomb and everything in it.
In fact, the tomb itself was lost for years, because, as an empty hole, it was simply not sufficiently interesting to be marked. It was just a place where Jesus had spent a few hours, like so many others.
Ah, you forget Mary Magdalen was there too. She was a woman who loved Our Lord very much. I doubt she forgot about anything that had touched His body. She and her friends probably gathered up the linen keepsakes out of love and reverence. It’s something women do.
Feeling as they all did about Christ, after having heard His words about His blood, they probably regarded the burial linens with His blood all over them as sacred from the very first moments.
He must have been an Episcopalian.
I forget no such thing.
...they probably regarded the burial linens with His blood all over them as sacred from the very first moments.
Practically the first thing that Joseph and Nicodemus did with the body after getting it from the Romans would have been to wash it completely. I don't suppose that the body had been completely exsanguinated, but the fact that "blood and water" issued from the spear wound (inflicted after death) showed that the blood had already started to coagulate and settle. There would be no blood on the graveclothes.
Between Calvary and Ascension Day, the disciples saw Jesus repeatedly. I doubt very much that they bothered at all with either the tomb or anything in it, after they had seen the Lord Himself alive again. Mary Magdalene grabbed Him by the ankles on their first meeting after the Resurrection, as if never to let Him go. She, of all people, would be the last to concern herself with a bundle of discarded textile products — at least, until it was too late for going back to look for them. Especially ones that had been on a dead body, which would make them ritually unclean.
As to what the disciples understood about the meaning of Christ's blood, they heard him talk about it, but it was over 50 years before John wrote most of it down. It took years for the disciples to understand it. At the time, they understood practically nothing, as we can see from the Synoptic Gospels. They were completely blindsided by the Crucifixion, despite repeated assertions by Jesus that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. The Resurrection caught them no less "on the hop", again despite repeated statements from the Master. Ironically, it was the authorities who took more note of those predictions than the disciples did, since it was they who posted a security detail on the tomb.
The Apostles understood all about Christ’s body and blood as soon as they experienced the Pentecost, not years later.
Everything about Christ was against the common thinking of the day; the women loved Him and would have gathered the garments with any trace of His touch. Remember that people were healed simply by touching the hem of His garment in their presence; it makes perfect sense that they would treasure any article Christ had contact with.
They had to hurriedly inter Christ because of the Sabbath, so they didn’t get to prepare His body the way it was usually done. That’s why they went back later: to finish the job properly. They saw something miraculous had happened; wouldn’t it be logical to gather up the evidence of something miraculous to them? I think so.
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