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Jesus walked off with his shroud?

November 11, 2014 5 comments

“the risen Jesus took His sindon with Him out of the empty tomb”

imageIn an update yesterday, Stephen Jones zeroes in on an apparent false dilemma to argue the point:

The fallacy is that of the "false dilemma … in which only limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option"[66]. In this case the fallacy is the assumption that, since the Shroud [sindon] must have been there in the empty tomb when Peter and John entered it, and there are only two alternatives, the othonia and the soudarion, but it cannot have been the othonia because that means "linen strips," therefore the soudarion must have been the sindon, even though soudarion means "the small handkerchief" that in this case was "placed on the head of the corpse." Or the othonia must have included the sindon despite their primary meanings. But there is at least one other option, apart from the sindon being there but both Luke (Lk 24:12) and John (John 20:5-7) simply failed to mention it, and that is the risen Jesus took His sindon with Him out of the empty tomb, as Beecher concluded:

"But the fact that St. Luke does not now mention the Sindon, which had occupied his attention previously, but speaks of cloths [othonia] instead, would indicate that the Sindon was not in the tomb. And this is very significant in connection with what St. Jerome tells us, on the authority of the Gospel to the Hebrews (a work from which he often quotes), namely, that Our Lord kept His Sindon with Him when He arose from the dead"[67].

That the soudarion in Jn 20:5-7 was not the sindon in the empty tomb is evident from the following. New Testament Greek lexicons never give the meaning of soudarion as a large sheet but only small cloths, such as: "a handkerchief" (Lk 19:20, Acts 19:12); "a head covering for the dead" (Jn 11:44; 20:7)[68]; a Greek loan word borrowed from the Latin sudarium[69], which in turn is from the Latin sudor, "sweat," hence a "sweat-cloth," "a handkerchief, napkin"[70]; "a cloth for wiping the perspiration from the face," and "also used in swathing the head of a corpse"[71]. The two words sindon and soudarion are never given as synonyms in any Greek lexicon[72].

But, in fact, aren’t only a very limited number of alternatives being considered in this analysis?  Maybe we are taking Luke and John too literally. Maybe Luke and John got it wrong. Maybe . . .

A few paragraphs earlier in his posting, Stephen tells us:

Despite it being by far the largest of Jesus’ graveclothes, John does not mention a sindon at all, either in his account of the raising of Lazarus in (Jn 11:41-44), or in his accounts of Jesus’ burial (Jn 19:38-42) and the discovery of Jesus’ graveclothes in the empty tomb (Jn 20:3-10)[9]. This omission cannot be accidental, because John goes out of his way to provide details of the different cloths in both the raising of Lazarus and in their arrangement in Jesus’ empty tomb[10].

Maybe we are creating a new false dilemma when we assume that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence as in “lexicons never give the meaning,” which means . . .  Or “John does not mention . . .”

Nonetheless, it is an interesting idea. 

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