Joseph of ArimatheaGlastonbury

 

 

Joseph of Arimathea features often in the legends and myths associated with Glastonbury. He is mentioned in all four Christian Gospels as the person who took Christ’s body down from the cross and laid it in a tomb. It is unusual for all four Gospels to agree on the facts of a particular event but in this they are in agreement.

From the information provided in the Gospels we know that Joseph was a rich Jewish man from a town in Judea. The town is named as Arimathea but historically there was no town of that exact name during Christ’s time on earth. However, it is possible that the towns of Rentis (20 miles/32 kms from Jerusalem) or Ramanthaim were known as Arimathea.

Joseph was a man of influence and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin council. He was powerful enough to be able to go to Pilate and request the body of Christ for burial. He was also rich enough to have had a tomb carved out of the rock for his future use.

He was a disciple of Christ but knew the dangers of this and kept it quiet. It is also known that he had not agreed to the Sanhedrin’s actions with regard to Jesus.

There is no record of his age or of any relationship to Mary or Jesus. Nor is there any proof that he visited Britain with the young Jesus as a boy. It seems likely that Joseph was a mature man at the time of Christ’s crucifixion having regard to the fact that he was rich, influential and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin – not very likely if he was a young man. The establishment of the first Christian community at Glastonbury was in 63 AD. If Joseph of Arimathea founded this community he would have been a very old man indeed.

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Legends
– Holy Thorn & Holy Grail
There remain the two legends of the Holy Thorn and the Holy Grail. The presence of a Middle Eastern species of thorn bush in Glastonbury is unusual and probably anomalous. It is entirely possible that Joseph could have caught a few drops of blood from the wound in Christ’s side made by the centurion’s spear. He could have kept this in a container and he could have come to England with other disciples to spread the Gospel bringing this relic with him. Again, there is no historical evidence of this.
 
For further reading on this subject, go to the Glastonbury Tor article in this website.