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Were graveclothes found in the empty tomb?
Clarifying the question
On Sunday, Mary famously discovered "the" tomb empty (and yes, it was Jesus's tomb). Like Jews in general, Jesus would have been buried only after first being wrapped in graveclothes. We mean to ask here whether graveclothes were found in the tomb that Mary and the women discovered on Easter morning?
The locals said so
The public stance of the Jerusalem church was that “Yes, graveclothes were found in the empty tomb.”1
But, so what? Couldn't it simply be that…
- They were lying?2
- The report was a lie that they had themselves fallen for?
- We know this for three reasons:
• In general, the Gospel-history reports from Luke (c. AD 60-80), and from the Jerusalem church, both matched.[Forthcoming] This is relevant because Luke explicitly reported that grave-clothes were found in the empty tomb (v. 24:12).
• In general, the Gospel-history reports from John, and from the Jerusalem church, both matched.[Forthcoming] This is relevant because John explicitely reported that grave-clothes were found in the empty tomb (v. 20:7).
• In general, most Gospel-history reports from most AD 30-70 Christians matched the Jerusalem church's reports[Forthcoming]. This is relevant, because both Lk and Jn were simply and independently relaying pre-existing Christian reports that “Peter saw graveclothes in the empty tomb.”[Forthcoming]
- No, there are two reasons it is unlikely that they were lying:
• In general, the Jerusalem church reported only honest Gospel-history.[Forthcoming]
• The Jerusalem church would not see sufficient reason to invent such a claim. One might argue that the Jerusalem church desired to bolster the argument that “the empty tomb proves he rose” by using this grave-clothes addendum to preempt theft or wrong tomb charges. However, we know early Christians in general would not even be tempted to do this, for two reasons.
◦ They did not much care for empty-grave apologetics
◦ No believer in Jesus's resurrection would have assumed that his resurrection involved vanishing out from under his grave-clothes. The Jewish notion of resurrection normally just meant the corpse in question re-animated on the spot, such that Jesus would still need to be freed from both the bonds of clothe and the sealed tomb. (Emphasizing this fact, Christians would have seen the blocking stone's supernatural removal as an essential part Jesus's physical grave-exiting process―something like that had to happen in order for Jesus to get out.)
[John said so (20:7)]
We read in John 20:7 -- "and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings but folded up in a place by itself."
[Luke said so (24:12)]
We read in Lk 24:12 -- "Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and when he stooped and looked in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened."