Burial in Ancient Israel Part 6: Ossuaries

Jewish-Ossuaries

This is an ongoing series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here. Since rock-cut tombs were reused over many generations, an issue arose: what to do with the bones? Two approaches have been found. There is evidence that, for [Read More...]

Burial in Ancient Israel Part 5: Rock Cut Tombs

Rock cut tomb, Talpiot

This is an ongoing series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here. During the Late First Temple Period (8th to 6th century BC), we begin to see the creation of multichamber rock-cut tombs. Reached by rock-cut stairs leading to [Read More...]

Burial in Ancient Israel Part 4: A Biblical Interlude

Dore used just about the only method of burial NOT practiced by the Israelites for his "Burial of Sarah"

This is an ongoing series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here. I want to pause at this point and turn from the archaeological record to the Biblical record to see what evidence we have for burial and [Read More...]

Burial in Ancient Israel Part 3: The Bronze Age

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This is an ongoing series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here. The Intermediate Bronze Age is so heavily marked by a rise in lavish burials that it’s one of the central features of the age. One of [Read More...]

Burial in Ancient Israel Part 2: Early Ossuaries and Shaft Tombs

Ossuary of the Chalcolithic Period, designed to resembled a home

This is an ongoing series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here. During the Chalcolithic Period (the “Copper Age”), a new kind of burial started appearing along the coastal plain, at sites like Azor, Bene-Berak, and Hedera. This [Read More...]

Burial in Ancient Israel Part 1: The First Graves

Human remains from es-Skhul

Rather than just leaving you postless and bereft as I work on an essay, I decided to share little slices of it over the course of the week. The essay concerns burial practices in the Levant, from the earliest evidence up to the time of Christ. The way we handle our dead is of immense cultural significance, [Read More...]

The Gnostic Noise Machine and the “Wife” of Jesus UPDATED

papyrus_front_text_500

I was going to let the whole “Jesus had a wife” thing pass by in silence, since the discovery of a minor fragmentary unprovenanced 4th century papyrus of a probable Gnostic text is about as relevant to actual Christianity as an episode of Scooby Doo. If it turns out to be authentic (big if) it [Read More...]

“Lord, what about this man?”

The Brick Testament, John 21:22, c. Brendan Powell Smith

Raphael, Christ’s Charge to Peter During class Sunday night, I went through the resurrection accounts with my students, and spent some time on the three appearances of Christ to the apostles in John. These are enigmatic passages which some consider late additions, and one of the most unusual is this exchange between St. Peter and the risen [Read More...]


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