Most leading historians, archaeologists and linguists don’t believe that the four official Christian Gospels can be relied upon as accurate records of historical fact. The Christmas stories, for instance, are known to be complete fabrications based on stories passed down from other traditions, edited to make them appear consistent with ancient Hebrew prophecies. The Easter stories too are highly dubious as factual accounts.
Easter is unquestionably the most important day of the Christian calendar. On Easter Day Christians believe their saviour Yeshua came back to life and was seen in corporeal form for several weeks before ascending on a cloud to ‘heaven’. This is the very basis of their religion.
They believe it because the gospels say it happened, or so they think. But most Christians aren’t aware of the inconsistencies in the scriptures. The Gospels are riddled with factual errors, contradictions and unsupported statements that challenge the very basis of the religion.
This series presents ten myths about the Easter stories drawing on Gospel sources and historical records from the period.
Myth #4: Yeshua was given a decent burial
While Yeshua’s crucifixion is referred to in other sources, the circumstances of his burial are vigorously contested.
It was unheard of for a crucified person to receive a decent burial; this was part of the punishment. It was normal practice to leave crucified bodies on the crosses until the vultures had torn off the flesh, then remove the bones and take them to the sulphur pits outside Jerusalem which were used as a crematorium. Alternatively the naked body would be left on the cross so that vultures could attack, which was considered an excellent deterrent to other would-be insurrectionists. Any remains would then be placed in a shallow grave or eaten by dogs.
To say this, of course, would not have suited the gospel writers. Instead they wrote that Pilate gave permission for Yeshua’s body to be taken by an influential admirer, Joseph of Arimithea, and placed in a tomb that he had constructed for himself. With Mary Magdalene and another Mary looking on, a large stone was rolled across the entrance and an armed guard positioned close by.
Quite why Pilate would have given permission for the body of this particular troublemaker to be given this special treatment is unclear, except it set the scene for what followed next.
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Balboa Press, 2015