Grandpa Kewl

Book Review – St Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, Lionel Lewis

This is one of the books I picked up as a consequence of reading the book “The Da Vinci Code”. I’ve had a long interest in this general subject and this was a nice addition to the collection.

Joseph of Arimathea has the distinction of being mentioned in all 4 of the New Testament Gospels, something rather unusual and distinctive. Not many events are related in all 4 so there must have been something special about this man to the Apostles. In addition, he is referenced in a wide variety of other early Church writings. From the WikiPedia:


Since the 2nd century a mass of legendary detail has accumulated around the figure of Joseph of Arimathea in addition to the New Testament references. Joseph is referenced in apocryphal and non-canonical accounts such as the Acts of Pilate, given the medieval title Gospel of Nicodemus and The Narrative of Joseph, and in early church historians such as Irenaeus (125 – 189), Hippolytus (170 – 236), Tertullian (155 – 222), and Eusebius (260 – 340), who added details not in the canonical accounts. Hilary of Poitiers (300 – 367) enriched the legend, and Saint John Chrysostom (347 – 407), the Patriarch of Constantinople, was the first to write that Joseph was one of the Seventy Apostles appointed in Luke 10.

There is, obviously, limited evidence to support the ideas that Joseph was in Glastonbury or that he took Jesus there or that he later took his Mother Mary or Mary Magdelene or even perhaps Jesus there after he survived the crucifixion. However, the stories have been around for a long time and there are reasons to attach some significance to them. Those reasons are many and they generally follow the pattern that one finds in myths and old stories. However, for me, the sheer number of references that remain about him and his times and activities and those about him is rather amazing. This is especially significant when one examines the rather slim pickings there are of historical records from England at that time. Their persistance is simply out of proportion to be simple fantasy…some of this is based upon actual events.

For me, while there are certainly things I find not credible (Jesus after the crucifixion or the children of Jesus), some of this is most certainly grounded if truth. From years of studying this material, I’m convinced that these stories are not all fantasy.

In particular I find it convincing that Joseph was personally connected to the Church in Glastonbury. This church is the oldest above ground Catholic church. Without going thru all the evidences presented in the book, sufice it to say that I accept that as a fact. That he was also connected to Jesus is also beyond doubt and that he was there at the death and crucifixion is also beyond doubt.

There are a fair number of references in the book that would be fun to track down:

The Welsh Triads
Lives of the Queens of England
Church History of Brittany
Eusebius – have read this
The Domesday Book
…the list goes on and is inside the book as notes that I took.

An interesting, thought provoking book.


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