Josephus and the Burial of the Crucified

Josephus and the Burial of the Crucified March 9, 2016

I had a wonderful conversation recently, which lasted for hours and only ended because of concern about severe weather. It was with Matt Kovacs and Arick Mittler, formerly of Miami Valley Skeptics, now working on another project. We talked about a number of points which I cover in my book The Burial of Jesus, but one point that I don’t recall making there, and which I only mentioned after we stopped recording, seemed interesting enough to Matt and Arick that I thought I’d also mention it here.

In his The Jewish War, Josephus criticizes the Idumeans sharply for not burying their dead. He also contrasts this with Jewish concern to bury even the crucified. Would Josephus have written what he did, if the criticism of the Idumeans applied equally to his Roman patrons’ prohibition of burial of the crucified in Judaea? It seems unlikely.

Does this make it more likely that Ehrman is incorrect in his argument that we should assume that usual Roman practice, of preventing the burial of crucifixion victims, was imposed in Roman-governed Judaea? Does it increase the likelihood that, as even our earliest source says, Jesus was buried? It would not have been an honorable burial, to be sure, as I have explained elsewhere. But it would have been a burial, as required by the Torah.


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