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The folded napkin

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1 The folded napkin on Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:33 pm


Why Did Jesus Fold the Napkin?
This is one I can honestly say I have never seen circulating in the e-mails so; I'll start it, if it touches you and you want to forward it.

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? I never noticed 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 at the head of that stony coffin.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and 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 out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped 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 finished.."

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!"

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2 Re: The folded napkin on Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:10 am


I think that story is a urban legend. It has circulated the internet the past couple of years or so. BUT we know that He is comming back because he told us so.

I looked up John 20:7-8. My Bible doesn't use the work napkin but reads "the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but tolled up in a place by itself" I think it depends which version of the Bible you are reading and how it translates. I found the following:

The article's based on the King James version of John 20:7, and depends a good bit on the English words napkin, and folded.

The word napkin shows up 3 times in the whole KJV:
Luke 19:20
And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
John 11:44
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
John 20:7
And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
It's a translation of σουδάριον, soudarion, a Greek word with the following Bible meanings (per Strong's Concordance):

1) a handkerchief

2) a cloth for wiping perspiration from the face and for cleaning the nose and also used in swathing the head of a corpse

Notice in none of the 3 occasions napkin is used in the KJV does it have anything to do with eating or mealtime (nor do Strong's definitions). Later translations than the KJV (I checked about half a dozen) don't say napkin anywhere, since its use in the KJV is now archaic, and its modern association with mealtime can be confusing.

Now, folded is intended to translate the Greek word ἐντυλίσσω, entylisso, which has the following Bible meaning:

to roll up, wrap together.

In the KJV NT it's used only 3 times:

1. Matt 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth...

2. Luke 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.

3. John 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

In no case does the online KJV I searched substitute the word fold for wrap. About half of the later translations say fold here; the others say wrap or roll up.

The NT KJV does say fold once, by the way, here:

Heb 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The word the KJV is translating is ἑλίσσω, helisso, which isn't really the Greek word for fold, anyway (it's diplomo).

Helisso and entylisso are related, they have the same root meaning of rolling or twisting, which is like our Greek loanword helix. So even the Greek word the KJV translates as fold has rolling or twisting as its base meaning. As it turns out, later translations don't say folded, but rather rolled up. My guess is the KJV team used fold since people in their day (and ours) would fold clothes, not roll them up; but later translators used rolled up to stay closer to the Greek verb.

So the whole business in the email about folding napkins at mealtime and the second coming is made up as far as I can tell.

The only significance I know of regarding the rolled up headcloth is that it shows Jesus' body was not hurriedly snatched by robbers, e.g, see Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708–1710) by Matthew Henry:

"The grave-clothes were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not stolen away while men slept. Robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body; but none ever took away the body and left the clothes, especially when it was fine linen and new. Anyone would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or, if those that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they should find leisure to fold up the linen."


"If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth."--Ronald Reagan
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3 Re: The folded napkin on Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:14 pm


Master Bullshitter
Master Bullshitter
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I guess the only way to know for sure is to ask a Jewish person what their traditions were back then? There must be some history somewhere on this eh?

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respect the lives of your fellow creatures"

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4 Re: The folded napkin on Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:44 pm


Or we could ask Jesus who folded the napkin or if anybody folded it or what he meant by folding it if it was folded. Mercy!!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Esther, Mom, Grandma, Friend, Landlord, or Sister in Christ--you pick.
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