working together for the future of faith
(2a) GPet 2:3-5a; 5:15b; 6:21-24
(2b) Mark 15:42-47 = Matt 27:57-61 = Luke 23:50-56
(2c) John 19:(31-37*)38-42
(2d) Acts 13:29*
* not listed in Crossan inventory
(1) 1Cor 15:4a
15:3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Request for the body
/2:1/ Joseph stood there, the friend of Pilate and the Lord, and when he realized that they were about to crucify him, he went to Pilate and asked for the body of the Lord for burial. /2/And Pilate sent to Herod and asked for his body. /3/And Herod replied, "Brother Pilate, even if no one had asked for him, we would have buried him, since the sabbath is drawing near. For it is written in the Law, `The sun must not set upon one who has been executed.'" And he turned him over to the people on the day before the Unleavened Bread, their feast.
/6:1/ And then they pulled the nails from the Lord's hands and set him on the ground. And the whole earth shook and there was great fear. /2/Then the sun came out and it was found to be the ninth hour. /3/Now the Judeans rejoiced and gave his body to Joseph so that he might bury it, since <Joseph> had observed how much good he had done. /4/<Joseph> took the Lord, washed <his body> and wound a linen <shroud> around him, and brought him to his own tomb, called "Joseph's Garden."
Sealing the tomb
/8:1/ When the scholars and the Pharisees and the priests had gathered together, and when they heard that all the people were moaning and beating their breasts, and saying "If his death has produced these overwhelming signs, he must have been entirely innocent!", /2/they became frightened and went to Pilate and begged him, /3/"Give us soldiers so that <we> may guard his tomb for three [days], in case his disciples come and steal his body and the people assume that he is risen from the dead and do us harm." /4/So Pilate gave them the centurion Petronius with soldiers to guard the tomb. And elders and scholars went with them to the tomb. /5/And all who were there <with> the centurion and the soldiers helped roll a large stone against the entrance to the tomb. /6/And they put seven seals on it. Then they pitched a tent there and kept watch. [Complete Gospels]
(2b) Mark 15:42-47 = Matt 27:57-61 = Luke 23:50-56
15:42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 15:44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 15:45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 15:46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
= Matt 27:57-61
27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 27:59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
= Luke 23:50-56
23:50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 23:51 had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 23:52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 23:53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 23:54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 23:55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 23:56 Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
(2c) John 19:31-42
19:31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 19:32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 19:33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 19:35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 19:36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." 19:37 And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced." 19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 19:39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 19:40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 19:41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 19:42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
(2d) Acts 13:29
13:27 Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 13:28 Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 13:29 When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.
John Dominic Crossan
Stratum: I (30-60 CE)
Crossan [Historical Jesus, 391-94] includes a discussion of Jesus' burial in his treatment of the death tradition. After rehearsing the usual Roman practices (see below) and the occasional exceptions that serve only to validate the norm, Crossan continues:
The unspoken hope and the unspoken assumption behind the Cross Gospel is that Jesus would have been buried out of piety, by the Jews who had crucified him. It never actually describes that burial, but it presumes that those who executed Jesus are totally in control of death, burial, and tomb. ... Nobody knew what had happened to Jesus' body. ... by Easter morning, those who cared did not know where it was, and those who knew did not care.
The following voting data is published in Forum new series 1/1 (Spring 1998) which was a special issue devoted to papers and deliberations on the passion narratives at the Fall 1995 session.
Color The third day in early Christian texts derives from mourning rites. 24 12 24 39 0.40 Gray The third day in early Christian texts means before Jesus was irrevocably dead. 17 13 30 40 0.36 Gray The third day tradition was inspired by Hosea 6:2. 55 13 13 19 0.68 Pink "He was raised on the third day" (1 Cor 15:4) suggests that women at least went to look for Jesus' body on the third day to fulfill their traditional cultic duties to the deceased. 3 32 26 39 0.33 Gray Mark's account of the crucifixion is the earliest. 32 32 16 19 0.59 Pink Marks knows that some of Jesus' disciples were women and that these women, especially Mary of Magdala, were associated with the lamenting of his death and burial. 39 42 6 13 0.69 Pink It is likely that some women disciples of Jesus, especially Mary of Magdala, watched and lamented the death of Jesus. 34 47 16 3 0.71 Pink We can assume that the women, and even some of the men, would have tried to watch the crucifixion proceedings, and would have tried to find Jesus' body after he died in spite of the risks that would entail. 17 67 10 7 0.64 Pink It is probable that Jesus was buried in accordance with Deut 21:22, especially since the earliest tradition affirms this (1 Cor 15:4). 9 34 34 22 0.44 Gray Jesus was probably buried in a common graveyard by a Jewish official named Joseph (Mark 15:42-46). 9 13 38 22 0.30 Gray It is doubtful that his grave site was ever found. 34 38 19 9 0.66 Pink Mark 15:40-41 6 28 22 44 0.32 Gray
The commentary in The Acts of Jesus (page 159-61) poses the following question:
The ultimate insult in the ancient world was to let someone go unburied. To honor one's father and mother meant seeing to their proper interment. That is why Jesus' saying was considered so radical: "Leave it to the dead to bury their own dead" (Luke 9:60). For Jesus, it seems, leaving someone without the customary burial rites was a possibility in view of the absolute demands of the kingdom. But what about his followers? Were they as liberated from convention?
The commentary goes on to observe that Roman procedure usually involved a military guard over the victims of crucifixion until they had succumbed to the slow and painful death. This was specifically to preclude family or friends rescuing the victim and nursing them back to health, or even providing a "proper burial." Typically corpses were left to rot on the crosses as a deterrent to others, and if they were buried at all it was in "a shallow open put where crows and dogs could get to them." (Acts of Jesus, 160)
Since a decent burial is so out of place in the context of a crucifixion, the commentary suggests it is possible that the early Christian tradition of Jesus' burial has been inspired by the events in Joshua 10 following the defeat of 5 Canaanite kings:
10:26 Afterward Joshua struck them down and put them to death, and he hung them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. 10:27 At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves; they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.
Luedemann [Jesus, 110f] notes the usual Roman practices described already, but also refers to Philo's description a practice of permitting proper burial to those crucified in proximity to a major feast:
I have heard of those who have been crucified who, because ... feast days were imminent, were taken down from the cross and given to the relatives, so that they received a dignified burial in accordance with custom. For the dead too should benefit from the birthday of the sole ruler, and at the same time the holiness of the festival should be preserved. [Flacc, 83]
While noting that the burial tradition may be simply a postulate—derived from the fact of Jesus' death or knowledge of Jewish purity concerns—rather than the memory of an historical event, Luedemann's own preference, influenced in part by John 19:31-37 and Acts 13:20, is that Jesus was buried by Jews who were not his followers. There was no act of affection or devotion involved in the disposal of his remains. His body was simply removed from the cross and buried in some unknown location by Jewish people wishing to protect the imminent festival from the desecration of a dead body remaining on the cross over night (cf. Deut 21:23):
21:22 When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, 21:23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not defile the land that the LORD your God is giving you for possession.
It is interesting that Paul indicates an awareness of this tradition of the curse befalling anyone hung on a tree, whether left there over night or not, in Galatians 3:13.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"