Luke 23.50->

Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deeds; and he was looking for the Kingdom of God.
This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Then he took it down and wrapped it in  a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid.

It was the day of preparation; and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath day, they rested according to the commandment.


4 responses

  1. who had not consented to their purpose and deeds: so he did as he thought for himself what was the right thing to do
    he was looking for the Kingdom of God: why was he looking for the kingdom of god, did he want to make a difference? Did he dislike some ways of the world, or many ways of the world? Had his children grown up, and did he have time now for politics (in the council – which council?) and religion.
    Jewish town: where there also Roman Towns, or Palestinian Towns?
    How much courage would it cost to ask Pilate the body of a ‘terrorist’.
    Where did that grave come from? Did he own it?
    And then there are the women from Galilee – his mother, the girl from Magdala, his sisters, his sisters in law, …
    Just some loose thoughts.

  2. The council is, presumably, the Sanhedrin (since they were the ones who condemned Jesus and Joseph “did not consent…”). We do tend to paint the Judean authorities with a very broad brush, which is unfortunate. There were those on the council, like Joseph (and Nicodemus?) who were, at the least, interested in Jesus, and others, like Gamaliel, who, while not pro Jesus at least counselled fairness and tolerance. Indeed, many of the early Christians came from the Pharisees.

    The phrase “who had not consented to their purpose and deeds” seems to be an expansion/explanation for the foregoing “a good and righteous man”, that is, it seems to imply that he was good because he didn’t consent, though it could be the other way round: “A good and righteous man who (therefore) did not consent…”. The Greek would, I think, allow either reading.

    “Looking for the Kingdom of God” is a description that is used of devout Israelites. It may imply that he was expecting the Messiah, but I don’t know that that is needed. He was a man who knew things were not “right” and was looking to God to bring the solution rather than seeking a political solution, as the Zealots did.

    I do wish that translators would stop using “Jewish” as a translation for “Ἰουδαίων”! The terms “Jew” and “Jewish” are much later than these texts. The term should be translated “Judean”, which is pretty obvious from its etymology. To call the first century Judeans Jewish is akin to calling the pre-Roman British tribesmen “English”. Not that calling Arimathea a Judean town tells us much, since there were Judeans far from Judea, and, in fact, the location of Arimathea is unknown, although there are various theories as to where it might have been.

    I find it interesting that Joseph is mentioned in all four gospels as doing this, it appears to have been a well-known fact, as, presumably, was Joseph himself. Matthew adds that he was, in fact,a disciple of Jesus. John tells us that Nicodemus also came to the burial.

    The tombs actual owner appears to have been a less well-known fact. In Luke and Mark it is just “an unused tomb”, in Matthew it belongs to Joseph, but in John it is used simply because it is nearby. Perhaps all are correct.

    Of course, the presence of the women is vital. They saw it all and were sure of the location. This is mentioned to prevent the accusation that their announcement of the resurrection is wrong because they had simply gone to the wrong tomb.

  3. Yes, “Council” probably == “Sanhedrin”.

    It’s unlikely that these are “the ones who condemned Jesus”; this seems to have been the High Priest and some of his cronies. They are the ones who should have been consulted, but it isn’t their rules (as described by later rabbis) that are followed in the process. Probably they aren’t even called in for the occasion.

    If this happened, Joseph is one gutsy mensch! But Pilate probably would have said, “Ohho! More Jewish infighting! In a huff because they left him out of the loop! Well, the more contention between them, the better! Sure, give him the body!”

    Paul, writing well before any of the gospel writers, talks very definitely about Jesus having been resurrected — and this story of the tomb would have suited his purposes quite well. Paul doesn’t seem to know it.

    What we do know about the customary treatment of crucified bodies: left out for dogs & crows. If they treated Jesus the way while living, would God have intervened to protect his corpse? All that seems fishy, but could have happened.

    1. True, the Sanhedrin proper probably wasn’t involved, but I expect that to the early Christians the difference between “the High Priest and his cronies” and the Sanhedrin might have been a bit blurred.

      Interesting thought about Paul, but I wonder if there isn’t another reason for why Paul doesn’t mention the empty tomb thing: He had an encounter with the risen Christ himself, he based a lot on that and wouldn’t need to rely on an empty tomb. I don’t recall that Paul gives us any details about Jesus’ death (other than referring to the cross): To him such details are beside the point.

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