THE GOSPELS WITH REGARD TO THE ENTOMBMENT cont
But let us more closely study the text of St. John.
The Greek word ἔδησαν signifies primarily "to envelop," and this is also the meaning of the Latin expression "ligaverunt"; why should we then use the word "bound"?
If we took ὀθονίοις in its strict sense, we should translate it as "little bands or strips"; but then we should be ignoring the Shroud, which nevertheless was indispensable for the interment. Also we should be disregarding the fact that a little further on St. John establishes himself a precise distinction between two sorts of linen.
He seems here to give to the word ὀθονίοις a wider sense than "little bands or strips." His meaning would not have been complete if he had used the word "sindon" only, because he goes on to tell us that there were also linen clothes. We are glad of the mention of these linen clothes or cloths, for it will be remembered that the marks on the Shroud indicated that small rolls of linen had been placed between the Shroud and the body, notably on either side of the face. The word ὀθονίοις suits our meaning very well, if taken in its wider sense.
So to take it would accord entirely with the Vulgate, where we find ὀθονίοις fearlessly translated by the word "linteis" a word having a wide meaning. The exact Greek equivalent of linteis would be ὀθονίοις from ὀθον η which means " linen in general." We do not know whether the variant ὀθονίοις is found in any of the Greek manuscripts from which the Vulgate was translated. However that may be, a few verses later this same Vulgate goes on to translate ὀθονίον by "linteamen," signifying in this case "a small band."
The preposition μετὰ, followed by the genitive, expresses the idea of accompaniment and participation ; it is used in this way by St. John (see John xx. 7). It in no wise indicates that the spices and aromatics were used to anoint the body. If, then, we remember that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were in haste, it would seem natural to admit that as they could do no better, they had at least poured the mixture upon the cloth. Presuming that this is what happened, we get the exact meaning of the word μετὰ ; the aromatics would be "in conjunction with" the linen.
In that case we might say that the essentials of Jewish custom had actually been observed, inasmuch as that a shroud had been used, and also a mixture of myrrh and aloes.
Everything considered, the result of our observations is to corroborate the literal meaning of the Vulgate ; the accounts given in the four Gospels harmonize with each other and bear out all that we have said. We are fully able to maintain the ground already gained by our scientific observation of the Shroud.
Let us now turn to what happened on the morning of Easter Day.
The holy women, having come early to the sepulchre to anoint the body, and finding the tomb empty, went at once to tell St. Peter and St. John; St. John is the first to reach the sepulchre, but he does not enter it.
We should like here to refer our readers to our article in the Revue Chretienne of July 1. We find that in this article we unconsciously replied to a work by M. Bouvier published in La Quinzaine of the same date. M. Bouvier's readers will perceive that he actually strengthens our arguments in trying to refute them, inasmuch as he translates St. Mark'
quite incorrectly, thus making three of the Gospels to directly contradict the fourth, as does also M. Piraux.
Let us re-read the seventh verse. The narrator, an eye-witness, marks the distinction between the cloths left in the tomb.