Research Topic: The Burial of Jesus in the Canonical Gospels: Perspectives from Ancient Israel and Judah
This project concentrates primarily on the literary portrayal of Jesus’ burial in the canonical Gospels and enters into discussion with several writers who argue that Jesus’ burial was dishonourable according to the burial practices of the time. I point out that these scholars do not pay proper attention to scholarly work on the portrayal of burial in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and go on to graft some of this scholarship into the discussion. This, I hope, will give a bit of depth to elements of the burial narratives that we might, at times, find confusing. For instance, the role of Joseph of Arimaethea, the role of the women at the tomb, why Jesus’ tomb is described as new in various accounts and why is it described as being in a garden in the Gospel of John.
I was interested in looking at the burial of Jesus because it sometimes feels, in the Church as well as universities, like it’s treated as a momentary blip before the story gets back on course.
I was interested in looking at the burial of Jesus because it sometimes feels, in the Church as well as universities, like it’s treated as a momentary blip before the story gets back on course. We acknowledge the importance of the burial in the creeds but don’t focus on it in a sustained way. Someone once told me that they felt the careful structure of the Gospel accounts that are designed to inform readers about Jesus is jolted when it comes to the burial. It was such a moment of suffering and raw emotion for Jesus’ first followers. Crucially, though, that doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of theology, that God isn’t there. The New Testament associates burial with the transformation of baptism, the way God works in us by the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus. Burial says a lot about suffering, but also about life, hope and resurrection. I hope that this project will lead into thinking about these things more in the Church!