Two Claims on Christ's Tomb


“The bodies were intentionally left on display after death.” This was indeed apparently the case in other places, but not in Judaea, because of that law in Deuteronomy about burying people executed by hanging on the very same day after death.

But the rage of the Idumeans was not satiated by these slaughters; but they now betook themselves to the city, and plundered every house, and slew every one they met; and for the other multitude, they esteemed it needless to go on with killing them, but they sought for the high priests, and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus [son of Ananus] with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.

“The Jewish custom is to bury as soon as possible.” This is correct, Father, but there is also the so-called ‘secondary burial’, practiced by those who owned burial caves: when the flesh of the deceased - who was interred in a shelf or niche inside the tomb for the ‘primary burial’ - has completely rotted away and only the bones remain (usually in the space of a year), the bones were gathered and placed in an ossuary or bone box, which is then places somewhere inside the burial cave. (Obviously this custom is out of the question for trench graves.)

Jesus’ burial was a ‘primary burial’: His body was laid on a shelf inside the newly-hewn tomb. Had the Resurrection not occurred (thankfully it did), His bones would have been taken, put in a box and reburied in the tomb or (admittedly it’s a little ‘eh’ but not completely impossible) transported the bones to Nazareth or Capernaum if the family owned any burial cave there, since the Jews were traditionally big about being buried together with their relatives and their ancestors.


I’ll just add, Father.

In many cases, the locations of many sacred places shifted with time (for example: King David’s tomb, Mount Zion, the Upper Room, Mount Sinai, the place where St. Stephen was stoned). The Holy Sepulchre is an exception to this in that early Christians proposed no other place. While the ‘locations’ of the high priest’s house or the Upper Room or the Praetorium shifted with time, the same thing did not happen with Golgotha and Jesus’ tomb, until people like Major-General ‘Chinese’ Gordon proposed other spots.

(Granted, some people do doubt whether Jesus and the two criminals were literally crucified on top of what we now call the Rock of Calvary, given that it is too steep to climb and too narrow at the top. It’s not so much a hill, much less a ‘mountain’, it’s literally a tall column of rock. So they think the actual spot where the cross stood historically might be somewhere else in or near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - maybe in the sanctuary of the Katholikon (aka Greek Choir, the Basilica in Constantine’s day), perhaps? But even so, Constantine most likely got the general area right.)



This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit