The Burial of Jesus

09 Jul

Richard Carrier left a pretty informative comment in one of his recent blog posts about the hoopla surrounding the Jesus Tomb. Which is a good post in and of itself because it has a pretty nice use of Bayes’ Theorem to demonstrate how probability theory is actually used, and how it can be used validly in historical analysis. Anyway, here is the comment:

The matter is complicated by the fact that Jesus is unlikely to have remained where he was initially buried anyway.

The Gospel accounts collectively depict a temporary warehousing of the body; the actual burial could only be performed a day later (which the Gospels do not mention and thus seem unaware of), and would be elsewhere (in the official graveyard of the condemned reserved for all who were convicted of capital crimes by the Sanhedrin), thus explaining why the tomb he was put in Friday night was empty Sunday morning. See The Empty Tomb, chapter 10.

Or if only Mark is correct, or if all of the Gospels are making up their stories, then Jesus would have been buried in that Sanhedrin graveyard straightaway, which would be a large complex designed to house the corpses of hundreds of criminals at a time. But after about a year, his bones would be collected and cleaned and deposited elsewhere to await resurrection. Probably a mass pauper’s grave; although his family would then have the right to take his bones and bury them with his family (which would most likely be in Nazareth), they might have been too poor, too dead, or too fearful of returning to take on that duty, or the body may have gotten lost for poor marking, deliberate or otherwise [or it may have been stolen: see The Empty Tomb, chapter 9]; or if the family were of a sect that held to the belief the first Christians most likely did, that God did not resurrect a person from their bones but created an entirely new body for them, as some Jews did indeed believe and the first Christians do appear to have believed [see The Empty Tomb, chapter 5], then they would not believe in reburial and thus would not have even wanted to reclaim the body, and thus would have left it for the court to relocate his bones with other unclaimed corpses.

Any of these scenarios already has a higher probability than what Tabor and gang are claiming.

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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in historical jesus


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