As I have indicated in earlier posts, some years ago now, New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan, one of the leading scholars today discussing the historical Jesus, made the argument that rather than being properly buried, Jesus’ body may have been eaten by scavenging dogs. You can see his discussion in his popular book, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. (Crossan does not believe that Jesus was physically raised from the dead; but he does consider himself to be a Christian.)

At the time I thought that it was an outrageous view, and that Jesus was almost certainly buried by Joseph of Arimathea immediately upon his death. In some of my posts I have raised some reasons for doubting the Joseph of Arimathea tradition. Recently I finally got around to doing some actual research on the question. It turns out that it was widely known and accepted in antiquity that to be crucified meant to be food for scavengers. This was part of the torture (while living) and humiliation (after death). The crucified person was unable to move hands or feet, obviously. I used to think how awful that might be not to be able to brush flies off one’s face. But that’s not the beginning of it. What can you do if a crow goes for your eye? Or for your bleeding wounds (from being flogged)? Not a damn thing.

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