Joseph of Arimathea

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Joseph of Arimathea was, according to the Gospels, the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' Crucifixion. He is mentioned in all four Gospels.

Contents

Gospel references

A native of Arimathea, in Judea, Joseph was apparently a man of wealth—and probably a member of the Sanhedrin, which is the way bouleutēs, literally "counsellor", in Matthew 27:57 and Luke 23:50 is most often interpreted. According to Mark 15:43, Joseph was an "honourable counsellor, who waited (or "was searching") for the kingdom of God". In John 19:38 he was secretly a disciple of Jesus: as soon as he heard the news of Jesus' death, he "went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus." R.J. Miller[1] notes this act as "unexpected… Is Joseph in effect bringing Jesus into his family?"

Pilate, reassured by a centurion that the death had taken place, allowed Joseph's request. Joseph immediately purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46) and proceeded to Golgotha to take the body of Jesus down from the cross. There, assisted by Nicodemus, Joseph took the body and wrapped it in the fine linen and applied myrrh and aloes (these are substances which Nicodemus had brought, according to John 19:39). Jesus's body then was conveyed to the place that had been prepared for Joseph's own body, a man-made cave hewn from rock in the garden of his house nearby.

This was done speedily, "for the Sabbath was drawing on".

Veneration

Joseph of Arimathea is venerated as a saint by the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and some Anglican churches. His feast-day is March 17 in the West, July 31 in the East. The Orthodox also commemorate him on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers—the third Sunday of Pascha (second Sunday after Easter)—as well as on July 31. He appears in some early New Testament apocrypha, and a series of legends grew around him during the Middle Ages, which tied him to Britain and the Holy Grail.

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