Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's in the details

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. - St. John 20:6-9

There are those who question the gospel accounts of the Resurrection. How on earth would a man who was executed outside the city wall as a common criminal be allocated a burial place? Some say that his body would have been left on the cross. Others say that he was buried in a shallow grave unmarked and unknown by all. The problem with most of these accounts is that they are merely speculative and use as evidence that this is simply how the bodies of criminals executed in first century Palestine were treated.

Here is the problem with this circumstantial evidence: the gospels say otherwise. Jesus was not unknown to the people of Jerusalem, and even gospels say that Jesus had followers amongst the Jewish authorities. Two that are mentioned are Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and it is documented in all four canonical gospels (written at different times and for different communities) that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus. The gospels go on to say that Joseph laid the body in his own new tomb.

But aside from that I find the detail with which St. John describes the tomb striking. He describes Peter going into the tomb first, and then himself entering the tomb. He sees the burial cloths separated from the napkin which covered the head of the Lord. The napkin is described as rolled up and in a place by itself. How people can brush this off as mere fantasy is mind-boggling.

Yet, what I find most saddening is that those who go to great lengths to speculate what happened to the body of Jesus discount these written accounts altogether as unreliable mainly because they were written by men of faith for the Church.

They seem to forget that this Jesus who was executed as a common criminal is also the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Son of God. And they seem to forget that he is risen from the dead. Alleluia.

Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus, alleluia: itaque epulemur in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.


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