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Jewish Burials





The body was laid in a shallow pit or on a shelf for the first year, during which the flesh decayed, while the soul underwent the purifying process. The relatives laid tree branches on the corpse, and it was also customary to leave perfume tools in the tomb or pour perfume directly on the corpse. A year after the burial, the relatives returned to the tomb, collected the bones and put them in stone boxes: ossuaries. It was a celebration: the relatives were assured that the deceased finally arrived at his proper place, under the Seat of Honor and eternal, pure life. Now they collected the bones to the ossuary, and put the ossuary in a niche, carved into the tomb wall.







By Eldad Keynan
Bar Ilan University
Israel
October 2010


Private vs. Public burials: differences and time span.

Private burials were common among Judean Jews during the Second Temple Era (STE). 1 A pre-condition for a private burial was land ownership. Thus, only the well-to-do could afford for private burials, while the others were buried in public cemeteries, in regular trench graves. Land ownership was just one facet of the financial problem: carving a proper space into a rock or building a Mausoleum, were expensive. Researchers usually find tombs since nature and time take their toll on trench graves. Thus, when we discover a tomb, we assume that its interments were mid-upper class or simply rich. The number of rock-cut tombs we find is larger than stone-built tombs; the reasons may be that 1.) Time and nature affect rock-cut tombs less than stone-built tombs and 2.) People preferred rock-cut tombs over stone-built tombs since the latter were expensive compared to the former and harder to control.2 Tombs are scattered throughout other areas in the former, larger province of Judea. Rabbinic Literature (RL) testifies for tombs as a burial practice in the second half of the 3rd century CE in Galilee.3



Structure: "lobby," standing pit, niches, shallow pits, shelves

Tombs' structures basically resemble each other. A narrow, usually square opening leads to a "lobby," mainly square as well. Niches (RL: [plural] Kukhim [single] Kukh) were carved into three of the tomb walls; those were the final place of the ossuaries and their contents. This is the basic structure; however, tombs differ in details. The number of niches in each wall was not a common feature; some tombs have three niches in each wall, while some others have three niches in two walls, and two in the third, or the opposite. Since the height of the tombs was limited, we find standing pits around the lobby, to allow the relatives or workers better activity conditions inside the tombs. Standing pits seem to be important, yet actually not all the tombs present them.

Shallow pits (RL: mahamorot 4, biqa'5 ) were the place for corpses during the first year. In some tombs, we find four shallow pits for adults and one smaller, for children or babies.



Hillel the Elder's tomb, Upper Galilee



The number of shallow pits prevented problems that could arise when a family member died during the first year of a previous death in the family. Another first-year place was a rock-cut shelf, on which the body spent the first year.



A tomb in Meroth, East Upper Galilee



It seems that rock shelves represent an earlier type of tomb, but it has no effect on the practice and concept: shallow pits and stone shelves served the same purpose.



Preliminary burial, secondary burial – connection to the after life

STE Judaism developed a new perception of afterlife. Earlier, the afterlife concept stressed that the deceased is moving to an underground world, both with body and soul.6 However, the new concept stressed that at death the soul departs from the body; while the body goes back to earth, the soul goes to Gehinom (freely translated: hell). During the first year after the burial, the soul has a trial and is purified in the heavenly court, and when it is over, it moves to heaven and is to stay there until the Messiah brings all the dead back to life. The RL states that two processes start with the burial: while the soul is purified of its sins, the bones are purified of the flesh;7 reasonably it also stated that bones are not as defiled as the flesh.8

Changes in burial practices and the afterlife concept were best implemented in tombs. The body is not laid and covered with dust for eternity, like the trench graves practices. Instead, it was laid in a shallow pit or on a shelf for the first year, during which the flesh decayed, while the soul underwent the purifying process. The relatives laid tree branches on the corpse, and it was also customary to leave perfume tools in the tomb or pour perfume directly on the corpse.9 A year after the burial, the relatives returned to the tomb, collected the bones and put them in stone boxes: ossuaries (RL: Gluskema). It was a celebration: the relatives were assured that the deceased finally arrived at his proper place, under the Seat of Honor and eternal, pure life. Now they moved the bones to the ossuary, and put the ossuary in a niche, carved into the tomb wall.10



Interments: who's allowed in?

This question looks redundant: obviously, family members. However, it's not that simple. Suppose a Jew has just started a new family. He had to be rich enough to buy land and clever enough to order a tomb immediately. This act was probably the first thing Jews did when they bought land – you can never know when this need will surprise you. Now our Jew knows that he's got a burial place for him and his wife. He also knows that his sons will be buried here, and so will their sons and a long offspring's line after them. After all – a single niche contains many ossuaries, and a tomb has some niches. Thus many familial generations can dwell in a single-family tomb.

Still, our Jew's daughters were not supposed to be buried in their original family tomb since they were supposed to be buried in their husbands' families' tombs. This makes clear that our Jew's daughters-in-law had a complete right to be buried with their husbands, our Jew's sons. Of course, if this Jew lost a daughter while she was still unmarried, she would be buried in her father's tomb. In sum: Jewish tombs were strictly familial, no doubts.



Inherited burial rights: mothers, grandchildren

As said above, the sons' right to be buried with their father in his tomb was explicit, and so was the wives’ right. But wives had an additional right, one that solved problems stemming from reality. What if a woman died, and her husband and her father are fighting over her burial? Her father wants her in his tomb, just like her husband. This problem is solved as follows: if she has sons from her husband, she is to be buried in her husband's, but if she doesn't have them, she is to be buried in her father's.11

Suppose our Jew's son is now an adult, and he moved to another town, where he bought land and built a new family. Naturally, if he bought land, he ordered a tomb. Where should his mother be buried when her time comes? In her husband's\his father's tomb, or in her son's tomb? The RL puts it this way: she may order to be buried in her son's tomb – unconditionally; only her demand determines the location.12

But a Jewess has another right: if she inherited a tomb, then she can order that every offspring she had, that she saw when she was alive, is allowed to be buried with her.13

Now the interment "span" is wider: not only the original family members, their mother, wives and male offspring are allowed. The last law allows a Jewess who inherited a tomb to have, in fact, every offspring she had and met while she was alive, with her in her tomb! That includes females and grandchildren. The RL is somewhat obscured here regarding gender issues. It doesn't state clearly that the female offspring are allowed, but it doesn't prohibit it clearly either. Perhaps the male grandchildren she met while alive are undoubtedly allowed.

The RL debates the inheritance rights of women: may a Jewess inherit her son, as she may her father and husband? The debates on the issue suggest that Jewesses may inherit and bequeath.14 This source is somewhat obscure indeed, yet we can have no doubts that when it comes to burials, Jewish women could order to be buried in their sons' tombs, and that any offspring they saw while they were alive will be buried with them. Formally, this law has nothing to do with inheritance; practically, it is clear that Jewish women could bequeath their burial rights to their relatives of second, even third degree.



Regular dead practice, executed felons practice, moving bodies prohibition

So far, it seems that we have discussed the rich burials exclusively. One might ask: what about the spiritual rights of the poor, the dwellers of the trench graves? What about their afterlife and the earthly burial practices connected thereto? The RL gives no answer, but we can suggest a simple one: the poor did not lose anything. Jewish burial custom assumed naturally that while the bodies in trench graves were decaying, their former owners, the poor souls, underwent the same process the rich souls did: trial and purification in heavenly court. The relatives would visit the trench grave of the deceased a year after the burial and celebrate his eternal freedom. The technical gap compared to the rich burials meant nothing regarding the spiritual rights.

All these were applied to every Jew in the STE, and actually ever since. Jews are buried, until today, according to burial practices and concepts created in the STE. Still one small group had to be treated differently: Jewish felons, sentenced to death by Jewish courts. The "manual" of Jewish courts practice did not neglect the spiritual rights every such felon was entitled to. Since the court issued a death penalty, and was responsible for the execution, it was also responsible for the felon's burial and spiritual rights. For that duty, the Jewish court had two tombs under its authority. In those tombs, burial practices were strictly implemented, but only for preliminary burial. That is, executed felons' bodies were kept in the court tombs for a year, and then the felons' relatives came to the court and collected the bones, to rebury them (quote) "in their proper place,"15 The only meaning of "their proper place" is – the felons' ancestral burial site. By definition, court tombs did not have niches for ossuaries since those were meant for secondary, eternal burials. Jewish courts had a sort of local authority: if a Jew committed a crime in a place other than his own town\village, those courts now have the authority to bring him to trial. This could cause a severe problem in terms of Jewish laws: the proper place for the felon's bones is another place, geographically. The problem is that Jewish law strictly prohibits moving bodies and\or remains from one place to another in the Land of Israel. For most – bodies and bones might be "on the road" from sunrise to sunset, and then they must be buried for good. The problem seems unsolved, in cases when a felon's family lived in a place more than one day's distance from the court. Actually, although the Mishna testifies for the court tombs in Jerusalem, we know that Jews were not allowed to execute condemned felons under Roman rule, and the Romans conquered the Land in 63 BCE.16 Practically – Jewish courts could issue death sentences, but they could not and did not execute anyone, unless the judges had a death wish. We may suggest that the problem was solved by the non-existence of the practice. It should be stated here that there no evidence of actual execution by a Jewish court in RL.

Only a short note here: archaeologists noted that the tomb beneath the Holy Sepulcher has no niches but only a shelf, and it is smaller compared to regular family tombs. I believe that the tomb beneath the Holy Sepulcher was the Jerusalem court tomb, as described by the Mishna, thus meant only for preliminary burial, which had no niches and only a shelf.17



Burials as land ownership designators; tombs for sale and rent; not recommended but existing practice

The Hebrew Bible testifies clearly that burials designated land ownership; it does so by the expressions: Nakhalat Avot (ancestors' property); Vayishkav i'm Avotav (he is laid with his ancestors). The RL went further; not only that it stressed the importance of familial burials, it also stressed that a Jew who carved a tomb for his father, and then buried his father elsewhere, will lose his right to be buried in the tomb he carved.18 This rule's meaning is much more than merely religious; it exemplifies the concept of announcing family estate ownership through burials. No private object lasts longer than a tomb; keeping a family property under its control was extremely important in ancient Judaism. Reliance upon well-saved documents required reliance upon the quality of materials. On the other hand, when the relatives of a deceased inscribed on his ossuary X son of Y, they could well be sure that in the visible future, none will question his (nor theirs) identity and ownership of the tomb and the land it is on. As we have seen above, tombs were familial assets explicitly; a piece of family real estate that proves the family ownership and designates it. Accordingly, we would not expect to find any ancient law that deals with tombs ownership transfer. One might even claim, logically, that there is no such law, since the sheer possibility did not exist. As much as this sounds logical and practical, the RL testifies, again, for living reality against pure theory. It discusses the practical (yet negative) implications of a tomb sale!19

Obviously, this legal treatment meant to warn Jews: keep your tombs’ ownership strictly and tightly. The natural conclusion is that Jewish burial customs did not recommend the practice of selling niches in tombs or the entire tombs. But no Jewish law ever prohibited, directly or indirectly, explicitly or obscurely, the transfer of tomb ownership.


Notes

1 J. Magness, "What Did Jesus’ Tomb Look Like?" The Burial of Jesus, Eds. K. E. Miller et al. http://jesustomb.bib-arch.org. (2007) 1-8, p. 4. A. Kloner, "Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb?" The Burial of Jesus. Eds. K. E. Miller et al. http://jesustomb.bib-arch.org (2007): 9-13, generally discusses the gaps between simple burials and the wealthy Jews' tombs; Magness "Tomb", p. 2;

J. Magness, "The Burial of Jesus in Light of Archaeology and the Gospels," ErIsr, Vol. 28 (2007): 1-7, p. 1, agrees with Kloner.

2 Henceforth the term "tomb" will designate rock-cut tombs.

3 Gen. Raba, (Eds. Theodor-Albeck, p. 1087), Mikets 89. J. Talmud, Av. Zar. 1:9, 40a, testifies for tomb burials even as late as mid-4th century CE (see below).

4 J. Talmud, Mo. Kat. 1; 5, 80c, J. Talmud, Sanh. 6:10, 23d.

5 Mas. Qet. Semakhot, 12:9.

6 Sheol: Ezekiel 32:27, Hoshea' 13:14, Psalms 30:4: Shakhat: Ezekiel 28:8, Psalms 55:24, Dumah: Psalms 115:17.

7 B. Talmud, Shabat, 152a. See also Kloner, "Stone" p. 9; Magness, Tomb, p. 2 - the familial nature of tombs in STE. For the decaying flesh process: Kloner, "Stone," p. 10.

8 Mishna Eduyot, 6:3.

9 Mas. Qet. Semakhot, 12:9.

10 J. Talmud, Mo. Kat. 1:5, 80d; J. Talmud, Sanh. 6:10, 23d.

11 Mas. Qet. Semakhot, 14:6.

12 Mas. Qet. Semakhot, 14:6.

13 Mas. Qet, Semakhot, 3:16.

14 B. Talmud, Ba. Bat. 114b.

15 m. sanh. 6; 5-6; parallels: y. sanh. 6; 9, 23b. b. sanh. 46a.

16 I. L. Levine, "The Face of the Era: Erets Israel as a Part of the Roman Empire and the Great Revolt,” the History of Erets Israel. (Hebrew) Vol. 4. Ed. M. Stern. Jerusalem (1990): 11-280, p. 95. See also John 18:3; when Pilate told the Jews to judge Jesus by the Torah, they replied: "we have no authority to execute any person".

17 Kloner, "Stone", p. 12.

18 Mas. Qet, Semakhot, 5:14.

19 J. Talmud, B. Bat. 3; 4,13d; in J. Talmud, Av. Zar. 1:9, 40a, a mid 4th century sage, R. Yosey son of R. Bon, instructs not even to rent a tomb to gentiles. This prohibition testifies for actual practice and excludes tomb rent to Jews. It is a part of a discussion of the ways to keep the Land of Israel under Jewish ownership and control. It does stress the role tombs played as land ownership designators.


Comments (15)


Great essay. To have more complete picture of Second Temple Jewish burials, I would add "Shrouds for the deceased in Talmudic literature" that can be read here:
http://biu.academia.edu/NahumBenYehuda/Papers/181160/Shrouds-for-the-Deceased---in-Talmudic-Literature
After all this evidence, I don't think that people can keep on saying the Shroud of Turin may be an authentic Jewish burial cloth.
#1 - Antonio Lombatti - 10/07/2010 - 12:16



Eldad,

Thanks for this most interesting contribution. I had one question. I have gotten the impression from reading in this field that burial practices, at least in the Herodian or late 2nd Temple period, might be weighted differently in Jerusalem than in other parts of the country, including Galilee. For example, the point is often made in the literature that the use of ossuaries, and limestone cave burials, in and around Jerusalem, is much more common and seems to represent an anomaly for the country as a whole. Thus of the 987 specimens in the Israeli collection catalogued by Rahmani (1994) the vast majority are from the Jerusalem area (with Jericho included), and particularly those that are inscribed. Rahmani suggests that the use of limestone ossuaries was introduced primarily in Jerusalem ca. 20 BCE and thus spread over the next generation to other areas but remained primarily concentrated in Jerusalem. I believe Boaz Zissu, Amos Kloner, Shimon Gibson and others have made the point that trench graves are rare to non-existent in the Jerusalem area, with the exception of the "sectarian" cemetery at Beit Safafa, not merely that they are less likely to be preserved. I am wondering how these geographical and chronological factors might figure into your overall general analysis here. This might indicate that more is going on in terms of cave/ossuary vs. trench graves, at least in Jerusalem, than rich and poor. Many of the burial caves are quite modest, as you know, though I suppose, other than in public areas (Mt. of Olives--Dominus Flevit, Sanhedria, etc.) one must presume some individual land ownership.
#2 - James Tabor - 10/08/2010 - 08:58



James,
I suppose Rahmani (and others) are right when we focus on Jerusalem and its close vicinity, and on the upper time limit - the destruction. This event was a desaster to the Jewish people, but today it's almost a celebration to archaeologists and other scholars: the jews have been expelled from the city, thus no new graves and tombs needed after the year 70' CE; a complete time capsul, well preserved (when we disregard tombs robers). But the fact is that there are many tombs in the Galilee, some of them older than the others; well back to BCE times, some of them "primitive" - older, some "younger".
As for ordinary trench graves in Jerusalem: Prof. Bahat contended that the area around the Golgotha and the Holy Sepulkher was (quote) "honeycombed" with trench graves. Thus we may confidently assume that it was a public burial area, meant mainly for the poor. Naturally, trench graves "fade away" across the centuries. The same phenomenon occures in the Galilee: dozens of tombs, almost no trench graves. Should we assume, then, that almost the entire Galilean Jewish population were rich?
Generally, burials designate social status in the first place, almost to the point of clear cut: tombs - rich, trench graves - poor. However: since every society has more than one or two clear separation lines, it is possible that even some of the upper- middle class could afford for land ownership and tombs. It must be noted that land ownership was a precondition for tombs. The same is true regarding the degree of ornamentation. Modest tombs, ossuaries and ornamentation could also mark personal preference, not only social status.
If we follow the archaeological finds strictly, there are hundreds of tombs in and around Jerusalem, and almost no trench graves. That could be a moral lesson: the poor never die in Jerusalem. It's nice, of course. Is it real?
#3 - Eldad Keynan - 10/08/2010 - 11:16



The Brown University archive of the inscriptions of Israel and Palestine has a collection of 241 ossuaries, the great majority of which they locate to the Jerusalem area and date to or near to the Herodian second second Temple period. Some they say may be as late as 135. I wouldn't have thought that this meant that the poor of the area never died but in this area and for this span of time - and hardly at all in other relevant times and places - rich people were attracted on quite a large scale to ossuarism, the poor never having that option.
Was this demonstration of worldly inequality also a demonstration of spiritual equality - that all or most souls are purified within a year and that rich families were proclaiming this good news to all families? But are we sure that the assumption of spiritual equality is natural to all human beings, natural to the people of that time and place, or attested by their contemporaries?
#4 - Martin Hughes - 10/08/2010 - 13:15



Martin,

Some of the Jerusalem and its vicinity ossuaries are later than 70' CE. My focus was, as a historian, on the majority, the generalisation.
As for ossuaries as social status designators - you are right, of course. Still, poor Jews of the relevant times were not "deprived" of their spiritual rights of after life. There is no written evidence, as much as I know the sources, that trench-graves burials deprived interments of their spiritual rights and after life. Their souls underwent, assumingly, the same process the rich souls did.
The mishna Sanhedrin 10;1 states clearly: "every Jew is entitled to the world to come" (with five exceptions). That is: equality did exist, religiously and culturally, when spiritual rights and after life are under discussion;. The poor did not have ossuaries, but they did have the same soul-purifying process the rich had.
#5 - Eldad Keynan - 10/08/2010 - 14:44



Thanks for kind and prompt reply!
I would never have expected a total denial that people on the wrong side of a class barrier would make it to the hereafter. But that's not to say that everyone makes it on equal terms - is there no question of some analogy, mutatis mutandis, to medieval Christian beliefs about purgatory?
The New Testament picture of rich and privileged people in Jerusalem does not suggest that they had a natural belief in spiritual equality. This is a highly critical, some say distinctly unfair, source but it is part of the historical witness of which we have to make a critical assessment.
#6 - Martin Hughes - 10/08/2010 - 15:44



Mr. Keynan, I'm curious if any of the information you've given has anything to tell us about the burial of Jesus? If so, what? Also, what does this data "say" about the Talpiot tomb? I'm also curious about what this data can tell us, if anything, as to Joseph of Arimathea, since he was a member of the Sanhedrin, was a follower of Jesus, and had legal access to the Sanhedrin tomb? (The tomb that is now beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher)
#7 - Rev. Nathaniel J. Merritt - 10/08/2010 - 15:49



Martin,
I have to admit - medieval Christian beliefs are not my field of experties to the degree of giving a well informed answer; sorry. Yet I can recommend the Cambridge History relevant volume, or Blackwell Companion and the like.
The Jerusalem rich in Jesus' times: some of them were Zadukees; this sect totally denied the after life, yet probably had tombs and ossuaries. All in all - every society has it's own exceptions. I guess tombs burial method was considered sort of prestigious, more elegant, comparing to other methods of the time. By the way: one of the exceptions the Mishna Sanhedrin 10;1 defines is "those who deny the unniversal resurrection". It reafirms your suggestion: this belief, as common as it was, was not all-embracing.

Dear Rev. Merritt, I'm not sure that the info is meant to be a "meeting point" of so much different subjects. I'll do my best to answer, anyway, but I leave the implications to the readers.
so: the info tells us that Jesus was buried according to Jewish law since he was a Jew. He ought to be buried in the Sanhedrin tomb, where ever this tomb was, as a Jewish felon worthy of death penalty. Since the court under question was in Jerusalem, and had local authority - Jesus must have been buried in Jerusalem. This court was also responsible for Jesus spiritual rights - and it did what ever it had to to meet this requirement.
Joseph of Arimathea (Hebrew: Yosef ish Haramataim) was, if we follow the NT, a Sanhedrin member, and thus could have also free access to the body and the Sanhedrin tombs. I believe he was also a follower of Jesus (seemmingly a secret one); that is - he had all the good reasons and options to take care of the body. We also know for sure that he was not a priest, since Jewish law does not allow priests to be defiled by human bodies. So his status within the Sanhedrin was lower than the priestly members'.
The Talpiot tomb: I wish to stay out of this "hot pot". You may assume, suggest, or deny every detail connected to the Talpiot Tomb, whether you rely on the info I posted or not. Besides: I believe we still lack a lot of info regarding the Talpiot tomb; like many of us, I wish the authorities will allow for further study on that subject.
#8 - Eldad Keynan - 10/08/2010 - 17:36



Eldad,

What attracts me the most in your contribution is the mention of the Sanhedrin Tomb and how one can apply its existence and use to the so called "Talpiot Tomb" controversy. For instance can we list other examples of felons buried in the Sanhedrin tomb and then moved to a family tomb?
Another avenue for advancing the research at this point should be in my judgment, to compare halachic practices, especially related to burials in Jerusalem and Jericho versus Galilee at the time of Jesus. In other words, how can we define Judean Judaism and Galilean Judaism in early Roman Palestine? Moreover once a Galilean moved to Jerusalem was he/her supposed to comply to the different halachic practices?
Then it should be interesting to revisit the "Talpiot Tomb" controversy.
#9 - Claude Cohen-Matlofsky - 10/09/2010 - 09:23



To Claude's question:
Leaving the controversy aside, we don't have evidence that the Sanhedrin sentenced any Jew to death. We do know that ever since the Roman conquered the Land (63 BCE) - Jewish courts could no longer put felons to death. Interestingly, the NT reports describe exactly this situation: a tomb that has never been used before; in Jesus' times the court tomb was indeed "out of use" for almost a hundred years. This explains why we don't have evidence to the situation you described. It also enhances the credibility of both the NT and early rabbinic literature. Still, the Jewish law is very strict at that point: a year in the court tomb, then back to the family for reburial.
Your second question: we do know that Judean and Galilean Judaism were not one and the same. A prominent gap was in marital affairs, especially in marital contracts (Ketuba [Sing.] Ketubot [Plur.]). Yet it is reasonable that when a Galilean visited Jerusalem he was allowed to keep his traditions - except for when he entered the Temple. According to Jeiwsh law, every court has local authority; that is: if a Galilean Jew commited a crime in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem court judged him. Further - I don't think there was a visible gap between Judea and the Galilee when criminal Jewish law is discussed.
What do all these have to do with the so-called Talpiot Tomb? At least, we have now more possibilities on the table.
#10 - Eldad Keynan - 10/09/2010 - 13:50



Hello Mr Keynan. My area of expertise is the NT, especially the gospels, and as such, I am aware of their numerous and gross inconsistencies, historical blunders, and outright contradictions. They contain very little actual historical information. They're religious tracts, not biographies. (Yes, I think you are as well aware of all this as am I)

The interest for me in both this article and in the Talpiot tomb is that, if genuine (and from all my reading of the arguments on both sides of the controversy I am convinced it is the tomb of Jesus called Christ), then its the first SOLID, empirical, PROOF that Jesus Christ is an actual historical person. No such empirical proof exists except for the Talpiot tomb and its ossuaries. Hence, my excitement over your article that sheds much light on a very jumbled subject in the Gospels.

You are probably also aware of the growing "mythicist" nonsense that places Jesus Christ in the same category as Hercules, Horus, etc. I see the Talpiot tomb as the final SILENCER of these misguided zealots. The fact that the bones of Jesus were found inside the TT does nothing to harm my faith in His Resurrection, because the earliest canonical NT texts we have are the authentic Pauline corpus. The authentic Paul knows nothing of a bodily resurrection. To Paul, the Resurrection is a glorious spiritual event, not the gruesome reanimation of a corpse.

Anyway, hence my excitement over the Talpiot tomb. FINALLY His historical reality is established on a firm empirical basis! Not from mere oblique references in ancient historical works written by people who knew not modern principles of historiography.

Anything you have that can help establish the historical credibility of the TT would be much appreciated.
#11 - Rev. Nathaniel J. Merritt - 10/09/2010 - 14:48



Dear Rev. Merritt,

As I said above, the sources might imply that the TT is somehow connected to Jesus' burial. Yet the TT study (if we may put it that way) needs more facts, finds and opinions to continue. However, before that happens, a clear line must be drawn between all fields of dtudy (on the TT) and theology. You have, indeed, suggested a solution; but to many humans, drawing this line is almost impossible emotionally; we have to consider their position as well.
The other problem is, of course, the relevant authorities in charge. They, too, have stand and "say".
#12 - Eldad Keynan - 10/10/2010 - 03:03



To all,

My article here is meant to present the link between Jewish (criminals) burial law and custom of Jesus' time and the tomb Beneath the Holy Sepulcher rotunda. I see this particular Jewish law as a generalization and the Holy Sepulcher tomb as the perfect implication of that law.
At this point I can only add that while the HS tomb demonstrate Jewish felons burial law, the Talpiot Tomb is just another example of Jewish family burial of the time, and that it is different comparing to public, regular trench graves.
#13 - Eldad Keynan - 10/10/2010 - 04:03



I would like, initially, to make the observation that the Jewish idea of the afterlife in the STE is the most edifying and appealing view I have ever read in connection with the three great Theistic world religions. How edifying! How attractive as a belief! No eternal hellfire or other such infinite consequences for the actions of a finite being. If this is still the conviction of the Jewish people, I find this view to be very humane, commendable, and worthy.

Namaste,

Venerable Tam Luc Do

Chua Tu Hieu Buddhist Temple
Buffalo, New York
#14 - Venerable Tamn Luc Do - 12/14/2010 - 17:36



To Antonio Lombatti:

It is my understanding--and please correct me immediately if I am mistaken--that Jewish males in the STE averaged five feet in height. Roman males averaged five feet four inches.

The "man of the shroud" was anywhere from five feet eleven inches tall to six feet one inches tall. If the man of the shroud is Jesus, then Jesus was a giant for his time. Judas would not have found it necessary to kiss Jesus to point him out.

In addition, the Old Slavonic version of the writings of Josephus says that Jesus was four and a half feet tall (very short for even his time period, and a midget by modern standards), a hunchback with a unibrow, balding, with a patchy beard. This sounds more likely in view of a description of the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible (a description that Christians take as a prophecy about the Messiah, though no one else does to my knowledge) that says something to the effect (if my memory is correct) that he is not good looking, there is nothing about him that would make anyone desire him.

Thank you for the link!

Namaste,

Venerable Tam Luc Do
Chua Tu Hieu Buddhist Temple
Buffalo, New York
#15 - Venerable Tam Luc Do - 12/31/2010 - 15:46






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