More Evidence that the Sanhedrin Buried Jesus, Not One of his Disciples

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Joseph of Arimathea

This post is an ongoing discussion on the topic of Joseph of Arimathea.  Was he a (secret?) disciple of Jesus or was he simply a devout Jew desperately attempting to do whatever it took to prevent a corpse from being unburied after sunset, on a Passover Sabbath, in violation of Moses’ Law?  Mainstream New Testament scholar Raymond Brown does not believe that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus due to an obvious embellishment in Joseph’s role in the burial of Jesus from the simple account in Mark to the elaborate account in John (and the Gospel of Peter).

Brown continues on this subject in his book, The Death of the Messiah, p. 1219:  [The] wording [of the following passages] favors a burial of Jesus by Jews condemnatory of Jesus rather than by his disciples.  (With effort all the following are capable of being explained in another way, but their wording favors the above interpretation.)

Those who lived in Jerusalem and their rulers [the Jews]…requested Pilate to have him killed; and when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb.  –a sermon in Acts 13:27-29

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Descent from the Cross by Jean Jouvenet

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.   –John 19:31

NT scholar Raymond Brown:  A variant reading at the end of this entire passage, John 19:38, continues the story:

So they came and took away his body.”

Similarly, in the non-canonical Gospel of Peter written in the second century:  And then they [the Jews] drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord and placed him on the earth.”  –Gospel of Peter 6:21

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The Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens

Justin Martyr (Dialogue 97. 1) phrases the burial thus:

For the Lord too remained on the tree almost until evening [hespera], and towards evening they buried him” —in a chapter where the context suggests that the “they” may be the Jewish opponents of Jesus rather than his disciples.  The plural may be simply a generalization of the memory of Joseph who was one of “the Jews,” i.e., not a disciple of Jesus at this time but a pious Sanhedrist responsible for sentencing Jesus and acting in fidelity to the deuteronomic law of burying before sunset those hanged (crucified) on a tree.

Image result for image the burial of Jesus


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