Christian Urban Legends

I interrupt my regular movie review for a rant. As you know it is that time of year again where silly and down right blasphemous statements about Jesus are being made by so called experts in their field, and you can get the most ridiculous assertions broadcast to your home via the idiot box or even on the radio. In fact it is around this time that I take extra blood pressure medication and block the history/discovery/learning channel as they are known to make me scream incoherent statements at that big screen in front of my sofa.

But I am not here to bury liberal scholarship, as much as it really needs staked through the heart and buried head down in the dirt, no I am here to take on you guys! You know who you are you flood my Facebook account with most inane and just plain false statements about Jesus’ resurrection! Take this one for instance:

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? I never noticed this…SOOOO GLAD I TOOK THE TIME TO READ THIS!

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes.
Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb an…d found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’ Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see.. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.
Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.
Was that important? Absolutely!
Is it really significant? Yes!
In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.
When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it..
The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now, if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table.
The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, ‘I’m done’.
But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table,
because……….. The folded napkin meant,
‘I’m coming back!’

Isn’t that nice, gets the emotions stirring and almost guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye. Except for one thing it is totally false!

Lets take a look at one word, napkin, or σουδάριον (soudarion) only the KJV, ASV, and RSV calls it napkin.  The NIV, calls it a burial cloth, face cloth (NASB) the greek word means the cloth that you use to wipe the sweat off your face aka a towel or cloth.

Second the story assumes that the Jewish people at that time had the same table manners as modern people.  There is really nothing to suggest that is true.  And frankly do you really think that the Jews of the time of Christ would use a towel for wiping sweat off your face as a something they would place on a table where they eat?  (source1) (source2)

So what is the point? It is too easy to use urban legends like this instead of exegeting text and really understanding what the word teaches.  Not only that but error is mixed into truth and then you have a corruption of the word of God.  And it is very annoying.  Come on this is a rant.

If you want to look at a short list of Christian Urban Legends (CUL) take a look at this:

Urban Legends the preacher’s edition

Remember folks check your sources (ad fontes) don’t spread this stuff around and point it out when your Facebook friends do they may not thank you for it but it is for the best.


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