The Three Byzantine Burial Cloths of Jesus

imageMUST READ:  O.K. sent along this PDF, Evidence for the presence of THREE distinct Christ burial linens in Constantinople.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

We have several documents indicating the presence of the relics of burial linens in Constantinople. Partial list of them is available in Daniel Scavone’s article.

The problem is that those descriptions are usually very brief and vague, so the confusion appears. The burial cloth are described in various documents as sindon (syndon), sudarium (plural sudaria), linteum, spargana, fasciae, othonia, entaphia, just to name a few. The Mandylion, considered by some as identical to the Shroud of Turin, Has also some own specific terms, like mantile, himation or tetradiplon.

So with very mention of a burial cloth in a  letter or document, we must stop and wonder: Is this the cloth that is now in Turin? What have we maybe assumed wrongly in trying to prove the shroud’s authenticity with history?

A man I used to work for kept a piece of paper, a pair of scissors and a rock on his desk. A wooden sign read, “Go back and study the problem some more. I want a different conclusion next time.”

12 thoughts on “The Three Byzantine Burial Cloths of Jesus”

  1. O.K. You did some good work. As we know, both Mesarites and de Clari refer to the cloth as a burial cloth, the problem arises when the former refers to a “cheap cloth”. What was cheap in his view? Perhaps what he meant to say was that the linen was like sackcloth when compared to the luxurious fabrics used by the rich Byzantines, taking silk brocade as an example.

  2. The Latin phrase Mesarites used is linum usitatissimum, which don’t mean “cheap cloth” but “common flax”.

  3. Typo: The Greek phrase Mesarites used reads like a loan translation from Latin linum usitatissimum.

  4. At the end of Mesarites quote “In this place He rises again and the sudarium and the burial
    sindons can prove it”. It sounds quite possibly as though he is alluding to an image/blood, otherwise how could the cloths prove it? The problem then is that the cloths are described as having a common weave, which would appear to exclude the TS.

    1. ChrisB, don’t you mistake linum usitatissimum, “common flax/rough linen”, for “common weave”.

  5. There could have been another piece of the same cloth that had been cut into about three smaller pieces to make the bands and these were lost during the looting.

  6. There is an ancient community of Christians in the south of India. They are known as the “Nasranis”, which is a variation of “Nazarenes”, and are mostly Jewish in origin. The Portuguese called them “Judaizers” in the 16th century and tried to suppress their Jewish customs, which are still maintained today although they are Christians.
    Their site http://www.nasrani.net
    has something about a letter sent by the apostle Thomas from India to Edessa, with reference to Adai. When Thomas went to Syria on the way to India(?) he mentioned no image in Edessa, which means that he may travelled before our Image of Edessa/TS arrived in Edessa.
    http://www.nasrani.net/2008/09/20/letter-of-st-thomas-the-apostle-to-edessa-from-india/

    1. Their site http://www.nasrani.net
      has something about a letter sent by the apostle Thomas from India to Edessa, with reference to Adai. When Thomas went to Syria on the way to India(?) he mentioned no image in Edessa, which means that he may travelled before our Image of Edessa/TS arrived in Edessa.
      http://www.nasrani.net/2008/09/20/letter-of-st-thomas-the-apostle-to-edessa-from-india/

      Slow down, Louis. The Syriac Doctrine of Apostles was probably written in the 4th-5th century, and like all apocrypha, should be taken with care. It provides just some basic information about Apostles, known either from the New Testament, or other well known sources on Christian tradition. There is, in fact, nothing new in it.The major corpus of the work is the list of canons, each starting with the phrase “Next Apostles established that…” which in fact, reflects more the situation in contemporary Syriac Chruch, than Apostolic Age.

      The phrase that interest us most, cited in the article is:

      They [successors of the Apostles], again, at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them every thing which they had received from the apostles; also what James had written from Jerusalem, and Simon from the city of Rome, and John from Ephesus, and Mark from the great Alexandria, and Andrew from Phrygia, and Luke from Macedonia, and Judas Thomas from India:

      Look that it is general list, not proving by any means that there were some actual letter of Thomas (as well as Andrew, for example, the rest of the mentoned characters wrote books that are in the NT). It may as well refer to the semi-gnostic Acts of Thomas.
      Besides, in the whole text of the Syriac Doctrine of Apostles, there is no direct link between him and Edessa. While listing parts of the world where Apostles preached the Gospel, Thomas is linked with India and surrounding countries, instead the apostle of Edessa is Addai.

      The article is in my opinion, just a very wild speculation. I don’t deny that Thomas might have sent some letter, but there is no evidence of this.

  7. Hi O.K. I was slow when writing. Did you see the question mark in my comment above? I see no hard evidence, only pointed out that there are traditions that are ancient. Thomas was said to have been beheaded in India, but his remains are said to be in Syria.

    1. I didn’t dispute Thomas travel to India, which almost certainly took place (although little detail of it is available). I just pointed that claims that he wrote some letter, furthermore to the particular Christian community in Edess, are just speculations well beyond the scope of the sources available to us -not to say about its alleged relation (or lack of it) to the Image of Edessa.

      Acts of Thomas are here: http://www.gnosis.org/library/actthom.htm But there is very little about Thomas history, majority of it are some fables and sermons.

  8. Every second Christian in the region is named “Thomas”. The gnostics place a lot of value on spurious writings linked to Thomas because of the “Gospel of Thomas”. However American scholar Luke Timothy Johnson, who is a heavyweight, has argued convincingly why it is based on the canonical gospels.
    One group has argued that Thomas could not have preached Jesus in India because the gospels were written after his arrival there. This is pure ignorance and I have argued more than once that the written gospels were preceded by an oral tradition prevailing among the Jesus movement communities. “Q”, “Quelle” or “source” in German is just a hypothesis, the communities did not all rely on one source, they themselves were several sources, therefore the differences in the narratives we read in the gospels, which nonetheless provide a message that is on the whole uniform and coherent.
    Jesus did not go to India, as the group has claimed:

    http://holyshroudguild.org/uploads/2/7/1/7/2717873/the_quest_for_jesus_in_shroud_research.pdf.pdf

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