Did Roman Law allow the bodies of persons accused of High Treason to be buried?

Think about it:  The accusation against Jesus of Nazareth was that he claimed to be the King of the Jews.  This is the crime for which he was crucified.  This particular crime is treason—High Treason.

Was it the custom of the Romans to release the body to family or friends of a person who had been crucified for High Treason?  Here is an excerpt from Roman Law, known as the Digesta:

The bodies of those who are condemned to death should not be refused their relatives; and the Divine Augustus, in the Tenth Book of his Life said that this rule had been observed.  At present the bodies of those who have been punished are only buried when this has been requested and permission granted; and sometimes it is not permitted, especially where persons have been convicted of high treason.  Even the bodies of those who have been sentenced to be burned can be claimed, in order that their bones and ashes, after having been collected, may be buried.  (Digest 48.24.1)

Some Christian apologists have used this statement as evidence that it was frequently the Roman custom to release the body of one who had been crucified to his family or friends, lending credence to the gospel accounts of Jesus burial by Joseph of Arimethea.  Note, however, that this statement says exactly the opposite.  Yes, some executed criminals were allowed burial, but not those convicted of high treason.

Jesus was convicted and executed for high treason.

Therefore, the likelihood of Jesus’ body being released to family and friends would be extremely unlikely.  If the Romans executed Jesus for being a threat to their rule, as the leader, the King, of the Jews, why would they turn around and allow his body to be buried with dignity in a rich man’s tomb, in a known location, which could very easily become a future shrine for Jewish nationalism and independence??

The overwhelming probability is that Jesus’ body was tossed into an unmarked grave and unceremoniously covered over; and that is where his remains rest today.

That he was buried in a rich man’s first century equivalent of a mausoleum is a highly, highly improbable tall tale, my friends.


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