Tag Archives: Narrative by Joseph of Arimathaea

Support for Skeptics in an Ancient Christian Text? Hell Yes!

7 Mar

According to tradition, all of Jesus’ apostles gather together one last time to be with the virgin Mary before her death. But, since they’re scattered to preach around the world, how do they all reach her in time? They’re caught up in clouds and carried to Mary’s doorstep, of course: “All the disciples […] arrived on clouds and greeted her.” (Magical clouds sound like a lazy deus ex machina, although I guess that’s actually an appropriate plot device for these deus-infused tales.)

In one version of the apostles’ sudden cloud travel (from the Narrative by Joseph of Arimathaea), every apostle is present to pray with Mary at the end of her life, and bury her body as well, except Thomas. Thomas isn’t completely absent from the narrative, however. After the other apostles bury Mary’s girted, sweet smelling (!) corpse in a sepulchre, a bright light surrounds the tomb and brings them all to ground “covering their faces.” Then Thomas makes his appearance: one moment he’s in India saying Mass, and the next, he’s “suddenly brought to the Mount of Olives [watching] the holy body being taken up.” He then cries out to Mary, “‘Make your servant glad by your mercy, for now you go to heaven.'” After this intercessory prayer request, Mary tosses her girdle to him like the rock star she is: “And the girdle with which the apostles had girt the body was thrown down to him.”

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