070 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 070 Burial of Jesus in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

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John Dominic Crossabn

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.

Jesus Seminar

  • The third day in early Christian texts derives from mourning rites.
  • The third day in early Christian texts means before Jesus was irrevocably dead.
  • The third day tradition was inspired by Hosea 6:2.
  • "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.
  • Mark's account of the crucifixion is the earliest.
  • 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.
  • It is likely that some women disciples of Jesus, especially Mary of Magdala, watched and lamented the death of Jesus.
  • 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.
  • It is probable that Jesus was buried in accordance with Deut 21:22, especially since the earliest tradition affirms this (1 Cor 15:4).
  • Jesus was probably buried in a common graveyard by a Jewish official named Joseph (Mark 15:42-46).
  • It is doubtful that his grave site was ever found.
  • Mark 15:40-41

Gerd Ludemann

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.