For a discussion of the type of rolling stone that sealed the tomb in which Jesus’ body was placed, see Amos Kloner, “Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb?” BAR 25:05.


See Leen Ritmeyer and Kathleen Ritmeyer, “Akeldma—Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb?” BAR 20:06.



Andrea M. Berlin, “Power and Its Afterlife, Tombs in Hellenistic Palestine,” Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA), June 2002, p. 145.


See Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), p. 64.


Levy Y. Rahmani, “Jason’s Tomb,” Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) 17, no. 2 (1967), pp. 61-100.


See Nahman Avigad, “Aramaic Inscriptions in the Tomb of Jason,” IEJ 17, no. 2 (1967), pp. 101-111; Rahmani, “Ancient Jerusalem’s Funerary Customs and Tombs, Part Three,” Biblical Archaeologist, Summer 1981, p. 45.


For a discussion of the differences in the Gospel accounts of this episode, see Byron R. McCane, Roll Back the Stone, Death and Burial in the World of Jesus (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2003), pp. 101-102. Here I focus on the accounts of Mark and Matthew, which are generally considered to be earlier and more accurate than Luke. The differences between Mark and Matthew include that Joseph is described as a member of the council/Sanhedrin (Mark) or as a rich man (Matthew) (these two statements are complementary, not contradictory), and Matthew states explicitly that this was Joseph’s family tomb, whereas Mark does not (these statements likewise are complementary, not contradictory). Since rock-cut tombs belonged to families, I believe that Matthew is accurate in this detail.


Martin Hengel, Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), pp. 19, 83, 90. See for example Craig A. Evans, Jesus and the Ossuaries, What Jewish Burial Practices Reveal about the Beginning of Christianity (Waco: Baylor University, 2003), p. 101; McCane, Roll Back the Stone, p. 89; John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), pp. 160-163; Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah from Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels, volume two (New York: Doubleday, 1994), p. 947.


McCane, Roll Back the Stone, pp. 90, 105; Brown, The Death of the Messiah, p. 1207; contra Crossan, Who Killed Jesus, pp. 160-161.


The exact manner in which the body was affixed to the cross is debated; for two different reconstructions see Vassilios Tzaferis, “Crucifixion—the Archaeological Evidence,” BAR, January/February 1985; Joseph Zias and Eliezer Sekeles, “The Crucified Man from Giv’at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal,” IEJ 35 (1985), p. 27. Zias and Sekeles note that death resulted from asphyxiation and not from the trauma caused by nailing the body to the cross.


As McCane, Roll Back the Stone, pp. 100-101 notes, contrary to Crossan. Also see Tzaferis, “Crucifixion—the Archaeological Evidence”; Rahmani, “Ancient Jerusalem’s Funerary Customs,” p. 51; Rahmani, A Catalog of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 1994), p. 131, no. 218. As McCane, Roll Back the Stone, p. 99, notes: “Dishonorable burial was reserved for those who had been condemned by the people of Israel” (McCane’s emphasis). Despite this, McCane concurs that Jesus was buried in shame. The prominence of Yohanan’s family is indicated by the fact that another ossuary from this tomb was inscribed “Simon, the builder of the Temple,” apparently someone who had participated in the reconstruction of the Temple under Herod; see Tzaferis, “Crucifixion—the Archaeological Evidence,” pp. 47, 50; Brown, The Death of the Messiah from Gethsemane to the Grave, p. 1210.


Crossan, Who Killed Jesus, p. 168; and The Historical Jesus, The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant (New York: Harper San Francisco, 1991), p. 391.


See citations in previous note.


Tzaferis, “Crucifixion—the Archaeological Evidence,” p. 50; my emphasis. In their reexamination of this skeleton, Zias and Sekeles, “The Crucified Man from Giv’at ha-Mivtar,” p. 24, found no evidence for amputation, but confirmed that the nail could not be removed from the heel bone because it was bent: “Once the body was removed from the cross, albeit with some difficulty in removing the right leg, the condemned man’s family would now find it impossible to remove the bent nail without completely destroying the heel bone” (p. 27).


See Joseph Patrich, “Graves and Burial Practices in Talmudic Sources,” in Itamar Singer, ed., Graves and Burial Practices in Israel in the Ancient Period (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1994), pp. 191-192 (in Hebrew). In Rome, too, the poor were buried in simple holes dug into the ground; see Jon Davies, Death, Burial and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity (New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 148. The corpses of paupers and criminals were disposed of in mass graves; see John Bodel, “Graveyards and Groves, A Study of the Lex Lucerina,” American Journal of Ancient History 11 (1994), p. 38.


See Jodi Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), pp. 168-175.


Konstantinos D. Politis, “The Nabataean Cemetery at Khirbet Qazone,” NEA, June 1999, p. 128.


See Brown, The Death of the Messiah, pp. 1247–1248.


Crossan, Who Killed Jesus?, p. 159; also see his The Historical Jesus, p. 393.