Shroud Investigation: Part 4

Here is part 4 of my Shroud series. Enjoy, and Happy Resurrection Day! (It's not about the Easter Bunny, you know... ;) )
Disclaimer: Though I believe the Shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Christ (as you shall see), I do not believe it to be an object of worship; only Jesus Himself and God the Father are to be worshipped. However, I do believe that the Shroud provides sufficient evidence of the Resurrection. It is for this reason that I present this material. For more information, visit, hosted by Barrie Schwortz; he presents all views on the Shroud, as well as the latest information.

There is much controversy over the burial of Jesus. The Bible says in John 19:40, “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”[1] This raises two questions. First, what are the burial customs of the Jews? Secondly, Does the statement “wound it in linen clothes” suggest that Jesus’ body was wound up like a mummy? An attempt will be made to answer both of these questions.

Some critics claim that Jesus’ body was mummified, and therefore, the Shroud is not the actual burial cloth of Christ. “Jewish custom did not involve using a single cloth, but rather a number of long strips of linen that were tightly wrapped many times around the body…The burial clothes were never extended to cover the head or face but only wrapped the body...”[2] Wayne Blank supports this idea: “All 4 gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John state that the burial of Jesus Christ was done by Joseph Of Arimathea and Nicodemus by wrapping the body in strips, not a single large sheet. Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53 describe Jesus' body being wrapped ‘in linen cloth,’ not ‘in a linen cloth.’ John 19:40 is much more specific, describing strips of linen cloth, not a single sheet, as is the Shroud of Turin.”[3] However, there are some who believe otherwise. Finklestein, author of two massive volumes about the Jewish customs of burial says that nothing complex should be done to a dead corpse. This would suggest that not even mummifying the corpse would be allowed.[4] This is proved true even more so when we consider the fact that in archeological findings of Essene burials the individuals were “laid out flat, facing upward, elbows bent slightly and hands crossed on the pelvis.”[5] The fact that the elbows of the Man on the Shroud do stick out proves that the body of Jesus was not mummified; because, if it were, the arms would be bound tightly with strips of linen.[6]

An explanation can be found for John’s use of the term, “strips of linen.” “Only St. John uses ‘othonia,’ a plural word sometimes translated as ‘linen cloths’ or, more suggestively (as far as the mummy idea is concerned), ‘strips of linen.’ However, most scholars agree that ‘othonia’ actually ‘refers to all the grave clothes associated with Jesus’ burial – the large ‘sindon’ (the shroud) as well as the smaller strips of linen that bound the jaw’- and/or tied the shroud to the body, clearly seen in a number of icons of the Raising of Lazarus…Such strips would be a necessary part even of a provisional burial. This interpretation of ‘othonia’ is supported by Luke's use of the word. He says (23:53) that Jesus was wrapped in a ‘sindon,’ but that Peter (24:12) saw the ‘othonia’ lying in the tomb after the Resurrection. Luke, then, uses ‘othonia’ as a plural for all of the grave clothes, including the ‘sindon’ or shroud.”[7] “The Synoptic Gospels use the singular Greek word ‘sindon’ for the grave clothes of the Lord. This word means precisely ‘a sheet of linen.’ Sindon can also be used generally to designate a single strip of linen used for any purpose…Among those grave clothes mentioned by St. John is ‘the handkerchief which had been about His head,’ an item mentioned above in connection with our discussion of icons. The Greek word translated here as ‘handkerchief’ is sudarion, and can also be translated as ‘napkin’ or ‘sweat cloth.’ Its ambiguous meaning has given rise to several explanations of just what this ‘sudarion’ represented. Critics who interpret it as ‘face cloth’ say that if the sudarion had been placed over the Lord's face, there could be no facial image imprinted on the Shroud. But since both the Mishnah and the Code of Jewish Law command the binding of the jaw, it has been suggested that the sudarion was not a face cloth at all, but rather the strip of linen used to tie up the sagging chin of a corpse.”[8] Dr. John Robinson agrees with this: “And John also speaks of a napkin or sweat cloth or handkerchief that was over His head...It was...a piece of cloth...which was then simply folded rather like a triangular bandage and then made into a chinband, which would have been functionally necessary before rigor mortise set in, to bind up the jaw...and tie over the top of the crown.”[9] This is seen on the sides of the face of the image on the Shroud: “Three-dimensional projections of the Shroud face have indicated a retraction of beard and hair where a chin band would have been tied.”[10] This bears even more proof of the Shroud’s authenticity.

 There is also the possibility that Jesus’ body was not mummified, but rather wrapped in the Shroud, because the Sabbath was rapidly approaching. Luke 23:54 states, “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.” It is interesting to note that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea “wound it [Jesus’ body] in linen clothes with the spices [about an hundred pound weight]” (John 19:39-40). Then in Luke 23:55, it adds that the women “beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.” If the woman beheld “how his body was laid,” they would have observed the incomplete burial of Jesus; we know that Jesus’ body was hastily taken down from the cross precisely because the Sabbath was approaching. So the woman would have observed this hasty burial, and they wanted to complete it in honor of Christ. But more specifically, it seems that the woman wanted to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). In fact, the very next verse states, “And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” But Jesus knew that there would be no time for anointing His body; Jesus said of the woman who came with the alabaster flask of perfume, “For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial” (Matthew 26:12). Anointing the body was a custom of Jewish burial, but it is to accompany spices. Interestingly, the Scriptures say that Joseph and Nicodemus only brought spices; it does not say that they anointed Jesus. Perhaps they did, but it would seem that they did not, because the women wanted to do so (unless the woman felt that to honor Him was to apply more). This would seem to suggest further, that it was a hasty burial; but for hasty, it is still very accurate in terms of the burial customs of the Jews.

 Another of the burial customs is to wash a body before burial. A good example of this is seen in Acts 9:37 -- when Dorcas died, her body was washed. If Jesus was buried “according to the custom of the Jews” why then do we see blood streaks and marks on the Shroud? I believe that this is further support for the hasty burial of Jesus; there would have been no time for the washing the body, because the Sabbath was rapidly approaching. (And whose to say that the disciples weren’t planning on coming back to wash the body after the Sabbath? After all, the women came back afterward with their spices and ointments. This would seem to support the one-piece Shroud as opposed to the mummification procedure; should the disciples want to come back and complete the burial customs, the body could not be bound round about in mummy fashion, or they would not have been able to obtain His body without first cutting through the wrappings somehow.) This was a different burial, a “makeshift” burial of sorts; this was a different situation. In today’s world, if a deadline is coming up and you don’t have enough time to finish it, you do your very best to be as accurate to your assignment as possible and still complete it on time; but sometimes, shortcuts are necessary, sometimes reassessments are necessary. I believe that was the case here; time failed them – but they did the best they could to prepare Jesus’ body. Even so, scholars and supporters of the Shroud still believe that the burial of Christ was quite accurate according to the Jewish burial customs of the time. “Scholars are in agreement that there is no evidence for mummiform burials among the Jews at the time of Christ, and considering the questionable historical accuracy of icons that show this type of burial, we must suggest that these arguments from iconography and scriptural terminology really cannot be used to discredit the Shroud of Turin.”[11] The discussion as to whether or not Jesus’ body was buried according to the Jewish customs can be best summed up in this way: “The burial is consistent with ancient Jewish burial customs in all respects, including the...types of burial cloths. The Sindon (Shroud) enveloped the body. The Sudarium was a face-cloth used to cover the face out of respect, from removal from the cross to entombment. It was then removed and placed to one side. There was also a chin-band holding the mouth closed. The Othonia were bandages used to bind the wrists and legs. All are mentioned in the New Testament and evidenced on the Cloth.”[12] Stay tuned for Part 5!
[1] Power BibleCD 2.5, KJV [2] [3] [4] [5] ibid [6] ibid [7] ibid, emphasis mine [8] ibid [9] The Silent Witness, 1978, Dr. John Robinson [10] [11] [12]


  1. Reading above it suggests you want the scripture to fit the Shroud evidence.
    Joseph was a rich Jew! and a follower of Jesus secretly.
    It was a new tomb.
    75lbs of sticky stff and linen clothes(Mummy maker)
    Jesus was mummified and placed in the tomb and it was sealed by the Romans
    The sticky stuff they wrapped the lined cloth strips around Jesus goes hard enough to the shape of his dead body.
    Only and apature for the face wold be left.
    Notice peter and Johns reaction when they looked in the tomb.
    They knew he was risen because the mummy was there unwrapped in the shape of a body with the neatly folded face cloth placed where the Lord had placed it uon his resurrection.
    The mumy was not torn apart and this is common sence for the Apostles reaction.Thet knew he has supernaturally come out of his Mummy wrap and they automaticall themselves dismissed the fact that his body had not been stolen and with confidence could believe in the resurrection.
    Think about these facts.
    I would love the Shroud to be authentic but my observation above according to scipture is realistic according to the facts scripture.

    Hope this helps you a lot.

  2. Good post and Smart Blog
    Thanks for your good information and i hope to subscribe and visit my blog Ancient Greece and more Blank Maps of Ancient Greece thanks again admin


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