Joseph of Arimathea – recasting a faithless collaborator as a disciple of Jesus

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Updated 8th June with postscript

Dr James McGrath has an interesting take on Joseph of Arimathea in that he interprets his first appearance in the gospel record as one of the many Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus — and his burial. Only in subsequent gospel narratives is his character evolved into that of a disciple of Jesus.

I like this view because it adds some detail to my own understanding of the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Mark, as spelled out in earlier posts:

  1. Jewish Scriptures in Mark
  2. The post-70 c.e. provenance of the tomb metaphor
  3. The mocking of Joseph and Pilate in Mark

James McGrath in The Burial of Jesus: History & Faith is addressing a very different audience from any of my posts. My overall impression is that he is writing for believers who generally have a black and white (fundamentalist) understanding of the Bible and their faith, and is attempting to gently lead them to open their minds to the validity of interpretations of the Bible that (faith-based) scholarship opens up. The “historical methods” he discusses as tools of analyzing the texts of the gospels are, as far as I am aware, methods used almost exclusively among biblical scholars (not among historians per se) and that are expected to carry such heavy weights of “probable proofs” for the occurrence of certain facts. If I am mistaken I would appreciate being better informed.

Those for whom I imagine myself writing, on the other hand, are fellow amateur explorers of the origins and natures of the texts and faith that has been so pivotal in shaping our culture and minds, and to do so with the aid of secular historical and literary tools. And though amateur, I do feel I have advantages that enable me to introduce to general audiences some of the findings found in otherwise hard-to-access scholarly books and journals.

I also see that James McGrath has a new book coming out, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context. I’m still working through notes on Margaret Barker, Charles Talbert and in particular most recently John Ashton (Understanding the Fourth Gospel) and others that flesh out the complexities of Jewish religious beliefs pre 70 c.e. and that our canonical texts attempt to hide. Looking forward to catching up on The Only True God, too.

So back to this particular discussion of Joseph of Arimathea

Mark 15

[42] And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
[43] Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counseller, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
[44] And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
[45] And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
[46] And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
[47] And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Two points here, especially if read casually with the parallel narratives in the other gospels in mind, can lead to the impression Joseph was doing a Good Thing as a would-be disciple of Jesus. Mark describes him as “an honourable counseller” and one who “also waited for the kingdom of God.”

As McGrath points out, though, all “good Jews”, not only followers of Jesus, “waited for the kingdom of God.”

McGrath may have also been implying that one needs only compare Jesus’s hostile debates with other honourable figures in the Jewish community, one of whom he could say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”, to recall that being an honourable pillar in Jerusalem, and not being far from the kingdom, left one as far removed from salvation as the rich man who was also loved by Jesus but who departed very sorrowfully to realize he could not enter. So close, yet so far. (See Mark 10-13)

McGrath points to the reason for the introduction of Joseph at this point. It was to ensure the observance of the sabbath. Thus the reason Mark gives for Joseph’s act has nothing to do with devotion to Jesus, but is all about religious scruples. Compare Josephus’ words in his Jewish War 2.5.2 (2.317):

. . . 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.

(I am increasingly fascinated at how much of the historical background to the earliest gospel is echoed in with as much or as little adornment as found in Josephus. But let’s stick to this topic for now.)

If we read this account within the parameters of the rest of Mark alone (that is, not through the eyepieces of later gospels), then it is a logical exposition to read Joseph acting with the same attention to law-abiding godliness as the Pharisees, the chief priests and other leaders had been diligent throughout the gospel to enforce the strict observance of the sabbath, to avoid a trial and execution during the feast, and the requirement for due process (two or more witnesses). By the time the reader is has followed the narrative up to near the final chapter of this gospel, she is surely expected to know that ritual-law-observance is to be equated with the old wineskins, with blindness, and with enmity against Jesus. This has, after all, been a dominant message from the earliest chapters.

McGrath tellingly notes that Joseph acted apart from the followers of Jesus who were present. He presumably had his servants wrap the body and lay it in the tomb while the women who had followed Jesus stood back as bystanders. Such a scene raises very awkward questions if the reader was meant to think of Joseph as having sympathies with Jesus’ followers. Joseph does not involve them at all. And Joseph does nothing more than the bare minimum to get the body down from the cross and into a tomb before sunset in order to comply with the sabbath law.

I like to add another allusion I suspect Mark was directing at his original readers. McGrath sees Joseph’s waiting for the Kingdom of God as saying little more than he was a typically devout Jew of the time. I think Mark meant more than that here. The narrative surrounding Joseph’s request is strongly focussed on the surprising fact of the unexpected suddenness of Jesus’ death. Pilate marvelled at the news from Joseph, and felt compelled to confirm it through his centurion.

Just as the disciples had been caught out unprepared when Jesus was taken in Gethsemane, so do the Roman Pilate and centurion, and the Jewish counsellor Joseph, find themselves having to address the suddenness of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus had warned in his famous Olivet Prophecy that all were to be on guard and watch, for they knew not when the day would come. The only ones who were/are aware of the day of the Lord are the readers, the insiders.  No-one in the narrative knows that Jesus made his “exodus” after the earth had been in supernatural darkness for three hours, and from that time on the old order was overthrown (note the tearing of the temple veil). The women, like Joseph, are just as blind and mindful of the things (the flesh) of this world when they return to the tomb to anoint a dead body.

They were all waiting for the kingdom. But they had all missed it when it was ushered in through the mock Roman Triumph (See Schmidt’s Jesus Triumphal March to Crucifixion).

If Mark did take his imagery for the crucifixion scenes from the Jewish Scriptures, in particular from Isaiah, as is widely believed, then we have further reason to think that all the above was indeed in the forefront of his mind, and that he was deliberately introducing a character to fulfil the following:

And they made his grave with the wicked
But with the rich at his death.  . . .
(Isaiah 53:9)

Similarly, the tomb being described as a hewn rock is a metaphor for the destruction of the Temple for the sins of the nation in an earlier passage in Isaiah

. . . you have hewn a sepulchre here,
as he who hews himself a sepulchre on high,
who carves a tomb for himself in a rock . . . .
(Isaiah 22:16 — same Greek words in both Mark and LXX for ‘carved/hewn’ and ‘tomb’ and ‘rock’)

The texts from which Mark’s gospel drew for his scenes of entombment in a carved out rock are laden with motifs of the wickedness of Jerusalem. This is also surely suggestive of how to interpret Mark, here.

Comparing Matthew

Matthew 27

[57] When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:
[58] He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
[59] And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
[60] And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
[61] And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

McGrath here points out the earliest signs of Josephs’ transformation and a deliberate departure from Mark’s account. Matthew has removed Joseph from the council that condemned Jesus, and describes him rather as a rich man who could afford his own tomb. But more than that, of course, Matthew directly calls him a disciple.

Other noteworthy changes McGrath draws attention to are the emphasis on the cleanliness of the cloth and that fact that the tomb was a new one. The tomb was not only a new one, but it was that of Joseph himself. There can thus be no doubt that it had been used for any other corpse.

McGrath sees historical similitude here. Mark’s narrative could be interpreted as Joseph doing a rush job to get Jesus into a tomb as quickly as possible, with the assumption that he used a tomb large enough for several bodies and that was positioned near the crucifixion site for just this purpose — disposing of crucified bodies quickly when required.

He still has not been able to bring the women into the action, however. McGrath sees this as a clue that Matthew really was not a disciple and that this fact is given away by his omitting to include the women in the act of burial. I think a far simpler explanation is that Matthew still needs to have a good reason to get the women to the tomb the next day after the sabbath, so he is reserving them for that moment. Or if Joseph himself did not actually participate in the burial, but his servants only, as McGrath suggests, then why not also allow for the women to refrain from defiling themselves on the sabbath eve? Or Matthew is taking the trouble to re-write those portions that he feels necessary to present a more favourable picture of Joseph of Arimathea. They women’s turn will come next. To assume historicity machinations at work in the mind of the author seems to me to be adding unfounded complexities upon unfounded assumptions.

Comparing Luke

Luke 23

[50] And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counseller; and he was a good man, and a just:
[51] (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them
😉 he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
[52] This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
[53] And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
[54] And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
[55] And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

Luke retains Joseph’s counseller status, but adds the unambiguous “he was a good man and just”, and that he “had not consented to the counsel” to crucify Jesus. Again, like Matthew, however, he stresses the fact that the tomb was not a mass deposit for crucified bodies. It was new, uncorrupted. Like Matthew, Luke was stressing that Jesus was not dumped in a common dug out for crucified criminals.

Comparing John

John 19

[38] And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
[39] And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
[40] Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
[41] Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
[42] There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Now Joseph of Arimathea is not only a disciple, but a secret one. And not only a secret disciple, but a companion of Nicodemus who had also come to Jesus secretly by night.

Not only does John here concede that the tomb was close by the area of crucifixion, and thus otherwise potentially a common grave for criminals, but stresses once again that the sepulchre was both new and that it had never yet contained a body.

And since John is about to rewrite the easter morning narrative by removing the group of women coming to anoint Jesus’ corpse, he has instead both Joseph and Nicodemus wrapping the body of Jesus with a hundred pounds of spices.

So what was wrong with Mark’s narrative?

Why did the subsequent evangelists find so much to change about Mark’s account of Joseph of Arimathea?

McGrath’s explanation is plausible at one level: Mark’s stark account left open the interpretation that the tomb was a common one for crucified criminals, and that Joseph himself was not necessarily any more venerable than any other law-abiding Jewish leader.

Later evangelists might understandably have re-written Mark’s ending in a number of ways to give it a more exultant and joyful finale. This meant adding resurrection appearances to the disciples, and allowing the women to see the resurrected Jesus, too. It also meant reverentially treating the body of Jesus with the hands of a good man and just, those of none other than a secret disciple of Jesus.

The reason they did this was to cover up the embarrassment of Jesus being left to be buried by a non-follower, and possibly even in a common grave for criminals.

McGrath sees at work here the criterion of historical embarrassment, or embarrassment over a fact that could not be denied. The fact that later evangelists attempt to hide the “facts” as suggested by Mark is evidence for the general historicity of Mark’s account.

I have to disagree. First question that the above scenario raises is, Why did the supposed attempts to hide the historical facts only appear to begin with the gospel authors subsequent to Mark?

If the fact was both undeniable and embarrassing, and if there had been decades of oral transmission before the first gospel was penned, surely one would expect the “cover up” or “revisionist versions” to have begun before any of the gospels came to be written.

But what we do find is that with the first evidence of this narrative in Mark’s gospel, we see the possibility of coherently interpreting the details (through the context of earlier narratives and sayings in the same gospel) in such a way as to give the Joseph of Arimathea anecdote a theological function that is consistent with earlier sayings and episodes in that gospel. All the faithless come together at the end: Pilate and the centurion, the Jewish mob and the Jewish leader, the women and reference to the disciples. They have all missed the end of this present age and the ushering in of the new with the paradoxical exaltation of Christ. Only the readers understand the meaning of all these events along with the darkness at noon and the tearing apart of the Temple veil.

What embarrassed later gospel author’s was Mark’s narrative. They were also embarrassed by his Jesus who only became a son of God at his baptism when possessed by the Spirit, and the total failure of his disciples. The embarrassment is not with history, but with the theological messages of the first written gospel.

I thank Dr James McGrath for raising his view of Joseph of Arimathea in an earlier post of mine and giving me the opportunity to read his views. It is nice to read where others have also trodden views that have been similar to mine, and to learn new details, despite differences at other levels of interpretation.

P.S. — added 8th June:

John the Baptist was buried by his disciples. I suspect we have here enough incentive for certain Christian schools or factions to have their leader likewise buried by a devotee, even if necessarily in secret.

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!

23 thoughts on “Joseph of Arimathea – recasting a faithless collaborator as a disciple of Jesus”

  1. Thanks for this detailed interaction! I’ll try to offer something more substantial than “Thank you” in response at some point, but I didn’t want to wait until I had time to do that in order to express appreciation for your detailed interaction with what I’ve written!

  2. Another interesting post. I’m inventorying “Mark’s” possible uses of Josephus as a source here:


    which you have already seen except maybe for the later entries. I think your excerpt from Josephus above regarding removing the bodies before the sun goes down can be added to the list.

    Not much doubt that “Mark” played up the sun/son rising/falling contrast/comparison. The pun also works in the Greek (helios/huios).


    1. Other details I find curious in this respect are that the limits of Mark’s knowledge of Pharisees and Sadducees are confined to what we read in Josephus; and Mark’s portrayal of the character of Herod (and not from his John the Baptist narrative, which I doubt was original to Josephus), his propensity to yield against his better judgment to his wife’s commands to the point of his own shame, also could have come straight from Josephus.

  3. I find myself agreeing with Steven: the criterion of embarrassment can as easily detect a false positive, say when the embarrassment is with an extant myth, as detect genuine embarrassment in relation to some inconvenient truth.

    1. Historical records generally disclose outright fabrication and forgery to get around uncomfortable facts (or absence of facts) getting in the way of agendas: the Donation of Constantine, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, forged letters (ancient and modern) and the colorful stereotypical feats of great kings inscribed in stone.

      But where the uncomfortable fact lies first and last within the boundaries of a well-known text of enormous cultural significance, then it is the text that gets doctored, as when the likes of Solon were suspected of adding lines to Homer’s Iliad in order “to establish” for contemporary generations that the great bard had even tickled Athenian pride by giving pride of place to Athens — a city probably not even known in the original.

  4. “Pure And Undefiled Religion”

    “Pure religion and undefiled before G-D The Father is this, to visit the fatherless (those children who know not The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL) and widows(those who have not “experienced The Messiah and The Power that raised Him from among the dead”) in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world…….” (James 1:27)

    Simply, all other religion is impure and defiled…….

    And notice that “pure and undefiled” religion is for the individual, a Brother or Sister doing The Will of Our Father, led of The Holy, Set Apart, Spirit…….

    And “Brothers and Sisters” is not “religion”, for what are Brothers and Sisters if not Family? Would not The Family of The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, “The Body of The Messiah”, be much closer than a natural, fleshly family?

    What is declared to be “religion” today is truly the devil’s playground…….

    And Faith will not create a system of religion…….

    Hope is there would be those who take heed unto The Call of The Only True G-D to “Come Out of her, MY people”!

    For they will “Come Out” of this wicked world(babylon) and it’s systems of religion, into “the glorious Liberty of The Children of The Only True G-D”.

    They will no longer be of those who are destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures)” and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Truth, Life, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, Mercy, Grace, Miracles, etc.).

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(religion) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one” (1John5:19) indeed and Truth…….

    Truth is never ending…….

    1. And “Brothers and Sisters” is not “religion”, for what are Brothers and Sisters if not Family? Would not The Family of The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, “The Body of The Messiah”, be much closer than a natural, fleshly family?

      I am sure you mean well, but so do I. This is the sort of thinking that has given permission through the ages to cause untold suffering on family members and others, and for perpetrators to excuse themselves by thinking they are acting in “love” and that it is only sinners who are paying their natural penalty.

      It is the sort of thinking that makes atrocities possible, without an ounce of guilt or doubt felt by those acting in “God’s love”.

      1. And “Brothers and Sisters” is not “religion”, for what are Brothers and Sisters if not Family? Would not The Family of The Only True G-D, father(Creator) of ALL, “The Body of The Messiah”, be much closer than a natural, fleshly family?”

        That’s the sort of thinking that causes one to: “Love Your Enemies”

        Question? Are you a disciple?

        (Matthew 5:44-45a)

        Hope is your desire is to be a Child of “your Father, HE WHO is in Heaven”? Hope is you have chosen to follow the teachings of The Messiah, He Who is “The Prince of Peace”.

        (John 14:24)

        (Matthew 5:38-48)

        (Luke 6:46)

        (John14:15, also read verses 16-24)

        (Matthew 7:21-27)

        (Luke 18:7b)

        (Romans 12:17-21)

        (I Peter 3:9-13)

        (II Corinthians10:3-5)

        (Romans 12:1-2)

        (I Peter 4:1-2)

        (Matt 6:24a)

        (Matthew 7:13-14)

        (Matthew 23:27-29)

        (Jude 22-23)

        (Luke 6:27a)

        (Matthew 13:50)

        That which The Messiah taught was of The Only True GOD, for The Messiah spoke The Words of GOD, and GOD’s Word is HIS Will! And The Messiah testified, “Love Your Enemies”! Do you “Love Your Enemies”? And the religious systems that are of this world? Do they follow The Messiah, He Who is “The Prince of Peace”? Do they exhort their “members” to “Love Your Enemies” in deed, or in word only? Seems the fruit of death is born of religion’s way, for life is but a pawn in the wicked game they play ;-( Seems religious systems are but the legacy of the pharisee’s ;-( The Messiah testified, “Whoever lives and believes in Me(My Testimony and My example of The Life) shall Never die!” And then The Messiah questioned. “Do you believe this?” YES! And you? Do you believe? Or do you believe in death? Those who believe in death can not “Love Their Enemies” ;-(

        If you do believe in The Life, then you will “Love Your Enemies” for you know victory over death is assured! And The Victor, The Messiah, desired above all else, “Father, not My will, But THY Will Be Done”! And those who seek to follow Him, those who would be His disciples, will have the same desire.

        Simply, the desire for “Father, not my will, But THY Will Be Done” is “The Way to The Truth of The Life”. So simple that “a child will understand”!

        An adopted child of “The One GOD, Father of All” that is. Such “children” will no longer deny and defy The Father that created them, for they know that The Life is Their Father’s Will 😉 HIS “children” will no longer be of those “GOD will destroy because they are destroying(and perverting) HIS Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Peace, Love, Hope, Life, .etc.) ;-( (Rev 11:18)

        Lest there be confusion, be aware of the fact that The Messiah testified of “a wicked world” and that “those of this wicked world hated Him”. The Messiah also testified that those of this wicked world “would also hate His disciples”! And John testified, “love not the world or its things”, and “if any man loves this world, the Love of The Father is not in him”, for “the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one”!

        And James testified, “whoever is a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”!

        “Love Your Enemies” refers to mankind. Disciples of The Messiah are not to love this “world”, for this “wicked world” is but the product of “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” that fuels mankind’s “imag”ination. And mankind’s “imag”ination, “evil inventions” and self-centered
        ways are destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Peace, Love, .etc.) ;-( And “the god of this world”, he who is “the father
        of lies, is “d”evil spirit that dominates and provides the fuel for mankind’s “imag”ination. The children of The Only True GOD are to resist that evil, lying spirit which is leading those who are of this wicked world along the broad way to destruction ;-(

        You can not use the religious systems that call themselves “catholic”, or “christian”, or “pentecostal”, or “mormon”, or “jehovah witnesses”, or any other system of religion as an excuse for not believing and seeking to follow the teachings of The Messiah, because “religions” do not follow The Messiah, religions follow and believe the lies that are of mankind’s “imag”ination.

        One such lie is the “imag”ined name, “jesus christ”, a name they gave to one head of an “imag”ined three-headed pagan “god” some 500, or so, years
        ago ;-( And because of such “imag”ination and other “catholic/christian” theo(ry)logical lies, “The Way of Truth is evil spoken of” ;-( (2 Pter 2:2) Yet, There Is Hope! Hope! Not for that which is of mankind’s “imag”ination and which is destroying and perverting Creation ;-( But There Is Hope for that which is of The Only True GOD, that which is Light, Truth and Life. Hope! For Miracles do happen! Hope is there be will those who experience The Miracle that is receiving “a love of The Truth”. Those who receive “a love of The Truth” will “Love Their Enemies”, and they will experience: Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked world for “the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth……. francisco

    2. Francisco, it is simply bad manners to attempt to take over another’s space with literally many many pages of your own text and quotations from the bible, which anyone can read for themselves elsewhere and that I am sure anyone reading this blog is already familiar with. I have deleted the lengthy scriptural quotations you posted, but left the citations for interested parties to read at will.

      You might also be surprised, or incredulous, that even atheists and evolutionists and other naturalists can even have real human compassion and — yes, “love” — for their enemies. It is a matter of understanding our common human condition.

      1. “You might also be surprised, or incredulous, that even atheists and evolutionists and other naturalists can even have real human compassion and — yes, “love” — for their enemies. It is a matter of understanding our common human condition.”


        What you mean is a perversion of The Spirit that is Love and so it is that the earth is being destroyed by those who pervert that which is Spirit…….

        Simply, “progress”, so-called, is destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Miracles, Faith, etc.) ;-(

        Postings have been made at TheDestructionOfTheEarth.Wordpress.com concerning such destruction and perversion and also concerning The Creator’s(G-D, Father) promise that HE will “destroy those who destroy the earth(HIS Creation)!” (Rev11:18c)

        Yet there is a Living, Lively Hope!

        However, such Hope is not for that which is of the earth, earthly and fleshly, but there is a Living, Lively Hope for that which is Spirit, Heavenly and Spiritual.

        Hope for that which is Spirit is Alive because “progress”, which is the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, can pervert, yet not destroy that which is Spirit! For that which is Spirit is Real, and that which is Real is Forever!

        So no matter how perverse this world’s systems of religion become, that which is Spirit can only be abused and perverted, not destroyed!

        That which is Spirit is Eternal…….

        As for that which is called “religion”.

        “Pure religion and undefiled before G-D The Father(Creator) is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world.” (James 1:27)

        Simply, every other religion is impure and defiled!

        As stated previously, “that which is called “”progress” is of mankind’s “imag”ination and can pervert, yet not destroy, that which is Spirit”, and so it is that this world, and it’s systems of religion, have their version of “Light”, which can be turned on and off;

        Their version of “Truth”, which is of the “imag”ination;

        Their version of “Love”, which should be called lust;

        Their version of “Peace”, which needs be enforced;

        Their version of “Hope”, which is but a desire for temporal “things”;

        Their version of “Faith”, which is powerless;

        Their version of “Grace”, which is the liberty to “do your own thing”;

        And sadly, the favorite color of this world’s religion is gray ;-(

        So come out of the shadows! And as is said by many, “Get Real”!

        Once again, “only that which is Spirit is Real, and only that which is Real is Forever”!

        Hope is there would be those who “see” that The Life is in and of The Spirit. Those who “see” will no longer have their portion with the multitudes who are destroying the earth(and, air, water, creatures, vegetation) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, Grace, etc.) ;-(

        Simply, each breath(Spirit) you take is a revelation of The Source of Life.

        And “A Simple and Spiritual Life is the only Life that will survive!”


        So “set your affections on Heavenly things” and be not of those “whose god is their bellies because they mind earthly things”. Be not of those who “love this world and it’s things” and who are “progress”ively destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, Grace, etc.)…….

        Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “The WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one” (1John5:19) indeed and Truth…….

        Truth is never ending…….

  5. Very insightful, especially pointing out that the embarrassment is really theological.
    Not entirely sure about the psalm mining in this case, but it’s feasible enough.
    I think the JºA character was needed as consequence of the simple misunderstanding of the metaphor of “resurrection” having taken hold. A physical resurrection requires a burial, which would have been unlikely in Jesus’ case had it not been for the benevolence of someone influential (i.e. rich) enough to make Pilate grant such a habeas corpus request. In fact, the structure of the narrative, ending with the casual mention that the weeping women saw from a distance where they had laid him, kills two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking. One the one hand, it solves the problem of how Jesus could have been buried, and on the other it ensures that his followers knew where. We think of Mark as the crudest of gospels, and linguistically it is, but as a composer, Mark was very clever. His invention of JºA to solve this problem and his use of chiasmi speaks to his abilities as a narrator.



    1. Don’t know what to make of Mark sometimes, many times. I kind of like the idea of Denis MacDonald’s that his crude and idiomatic Greek was a deliberate attempt to create an anti-epic narrative, but that’s because I see so much literary and motif integration within the gospel. What if one day I wake up and find I’ve just been seeing shapes in the clouds? I do think there is more to that in Mark’s composition, but at the same time I’m keeping half an eye on the exit door throughout all my explorations of this gospel.

  6. JW:
    Another reMarkable thing about the name “Joseph” is that it completes the REPLACEMENT of the supposed brother’s of “Mark’s” Jesus:


    “Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him.”

    James = Disciple James

    Joses = Joseph AriMathea

    Judas = Disciple Judas (betrayer – ouch!)

    Simon = Disciple Simon

    Note that the author deliberately replaces everyone once except for Simon. Simon the Disciple is replaced by Simon of Cyrene. This fits the literary style that Simon the Disciple is singled out for formulaic discrediting.

    Note especially that we don’t need to speculate as to whether the same names are a coincidence as the author Explicitly tells us that the replacement of family is a priMary theme of his.


    1. Interesting. I had earlier seen the Mary as mother of two namesakes of Jesus’ brothers as Mark’s way of denying the physical family of Jesus:

      From my old essay, Notes on the Fictive and Parabolic Character of Mark’s Gospel at http://vridar.info

      (It may also be significant that among the women is the mother of Jesus but no longer identified as such, thus inviting recall of Jesus’ earlier renunciation of her as his true mother, along with his brothers, in 3:31-35. This is all in keeping with Jesus naming his chief denier Satan

      I suggest that Simon is replaced not once but twice. Simon the Leper’s house is a throwback to the first time Jesus entered Simon’ house at the beginning of the gospel. There, too, he was served by an unnamed woman. The difference was that there the accompanying disciples were starting out famously; by the end Simon is a leper and the disciples plot against Jesus and he is anointed for his death. Finally Simon is dragooned to assist with the execution of Jesus — a violent parody of the command to carry one’s own cross.

    2. “Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him.”

      Joseph, if we are to reinterpret the brothers of Jesus as being his disciples, why would Joses be Joseph of Arimathea and not just a corruption for John? Why would James, Judas, and Simon not be “James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,” (Mark 3:18), that is, “James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James” (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) ? And if that were the case, why not identify James here as the same as James the son of Zebedee and thus make Joses into John? Or assume that “Levi the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 2:14) is really Joses Matthew Levi the son of Alphaeus? Oh, because this would require a cover-up change in character prior to the writing of the gospel rather than a literary trick?

  7. JW:
    “Mark” equates illness = demons. Note that the first house Jesus enters during the Teaching & Healing Ministry is Simon’s. There is illness in Simon’s house = demons. Simon does not ASK Jesus to cure the sickness. The last house Jesus enters during his Teaching & Healing Ministry is Simon’s. Now Simon himself has the illness. Again note that he does not ask Jesus to cure him. This is followed by the anointing of the sinful woman (a pro), an ironic inversion from a righteous male prophet. The anointing for death signifies the end of the Teaching & Healing Ministry and the start of the Passion. The teaching at Passover is Passion teaching.

    The next time that Jesus addresses Simon, he calls him “Simon” (instead of “Peter”) because Simon has lost his status for the Passion.

    Regarding the house of Simon at the beginning and end of the Teaching & Healing Ministry this type of word repetition is a typical literary technique of “Mark”. Again, we don’t need to speculate as to whether this is just a coincidence because “Mark’s” Jesus has Explicitly explained replacement theology to us.


  8. Interesting. I had always wondered why it mattered whether anyone else had been buried in the tomb or not. Seemed like a pointless detail. Now I know what that detail is in there for.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Vridar

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading