Jesus, The Final Days: Dishonorable Burial

I’ve been reading mainly the second chapter of the recent book by Craig Evans and Tom Wright, Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. One chapter each is devoted to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. While the volume is not without its shortcomings, I am appreciateive of Evans’ articulation of a persuasive argument for the likelihood of Jesus having been buried (with appropriate citation of evidence for the importance of burial in the Judaism of this time), and the likelihood that the burial was in a tomb reserved for executed criminals, i.e. a place of dishonorable burial (p.64). I make a similar argument in my book The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16623045145691355028 Reformed Baptist

    Is your thesis similar to Richard Carrier’s?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I understand that Carrier finds Brown and McCane persuasive about the dishonorable burial, as do I and, apparently, as does Craig Evans. But I suspect that Richard Carrier’s thesis in its details is probably different in at least some respects. Do ask me about specifics and I’ll be able to answer – I’ve read a few things by Carrier on this topic, but I don’t recall all the details off hand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    So Joseph of Arimathea kept a tomb handy, ready to bury executed criminals?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    No, the Jewish authorities maintained tombs for dishonorable burial of criminals. It is only subsequent Gospels, trying to make Jesus’ burial more honorable, that claim the tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, that the tomb was previously unused, that Joseph was a disciple, or that the linen sheet was clean. And of course, by the time we get to the Gospel of John, Jesus is anointed for burial, something that Mark’s Gospel, our earliest account, denies when it has a woman anoint him beforehand and women go to the tomb to do it afterwards.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    I didn’t think the story of Joseph of Arimathea (where?) was historical.Evans says ”We probably should assume that the evangelist has referred to the custodian, whose placement in the vicinity of tombs set aside for executed criminals was to see that burial laws were not violated’Were these tombs routinely guarded by a custodian?I assume they did not have a gardener, as well as a custodian…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Evans seems to want to cling to at least a historical core to Matthew’s guards. But given that they aren’t in any other Gospel, that Matthew’s introduction of the guards requires him to rewrite why the women went to the tomb, and also requires the Jewish authorities to have understood things about Jesus that the disciples themselves did not, it is far preferable to simply discard the Matthean guards as an apologetic creation with no historical basis.


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