Was Jesus actually given a decent burial the afternoon he was crucified?  Almost every Christian in the known universe, and almost all New Testament scholars, don’t ask the question and if they do they don’t ask it seriously:  of *course* he was.  Just read the Gospels!  Why wouldn’t he be?

For years now I’ve taken a different stand, as pointed out in my recent post on Monty Python’s Life of Brian (see: The Life of Brian and Jesus: Was Jesus Really Buried on the Day of the Crucifixion? – The Bart Ehrman Blog)   After that post, and for years before that, blog readers have asked for a fuller explanation of my views, and for my responses to scholarly rejections of it.  Most everything I talk about on the blog comprises views held either by a majority of scholars or by a respectable minority.  Not this one.  So why do I find it convincing?

My fullest discussion of the matter came not in a scholarly publication but here on the blog, nine years ago.  I’ve decided to re-post the entire thread.   It came in a detailed response to New Testament scholar Craig Evans, who provided the most thorough attempt to discredit my view, in an essay found in a book of essays written by evangelical scholars to refute the wider claims of my book How Jesus Became God.

Here is the first of the series of posts I devoted to the matter back then, slightly edited for now..  And so, from 2014….


As many of you know, when my book How Jesus Became God appeared in March [2014], a response book appeared, simultaneously, in which a group of evangelical Christian scholars provided their contrary views on many of the topics that I dealt with.  They called their book – to no one’s real surprise! – How God Became Jesus.

The five scholars who produced the response each wrote an essay or two on various aspects of my discussion – e.g., Michael Bird on whether Jesus thought that he was God; Simon Gathercole on what the earliest Christians thought about Jesus; Charles Hill on issues related to later debates over Christology on the church.   Also contributing were Chris Tilling (the one of them I don’t know) and Craig Evans.

I thought some of the essays were learned and interesting, though not entirely relevant to the claims or arguments of my book; others I thought were a bit turgid and less than compelling; others were a bit infuriatingly full of rhetoric and short of substance.

I decided long ago not to do a point-by-point response – in part because most people reading the blog haven’t read the book, and in part because I’m not sure there is really much reason to do so.  The weak essays can be seen as weak by anyone who reads them and point-by-point refutations are rarely interesting.   I should remind readers, though, that I did have a two-hour debate with Simon Gathercole, who, as I just indicated, contributed one of the essays, on the Unbelievable radio program here (where I currently am) in the UK.  I posted the two episodes of the show, in case you want to listen to them, here on the blog, back in April [to find the posts just search on “Gathercole”].  They were helpful and friendly discussions, I thought; he’s a smart fellow and a good scholar.

The one essay from the response book that people have repeatedly asked me about is “Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right” by Craig Evans.  It deals with an important issue in my book, the question of whether we can trust the traditions of Jesus’ burial as found in the New Testament, or whether these are legendary.

For my entire life, until about two years ago, I was convinced (even as a solid agnostic) that

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