Arimathea

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Arimathea (Ancient Greek: Ἁριμαθαία), according to the Gospel of Luke (xxiii. 51), was "a city of Judea". It was reportedly the home town of Joseph of Arimathea, who appears in all four Gospel accounts of the Passion for having donated his new tomb outside Jerusalem to receive the body of Jesus. Apart from the Bible, there is no record of a place called Arimathea existing.

In the Koine Greek New Testament texts, the Greek word for Arimathea has a rough breathing mark ( ῾ ) and this indicates aspiration (the presence of an /h/ sound) on the first alpha of Arimathea. Consequently, the place of Joseph's origin should be pronounced "Harimathea". That would correspond to Hebrew ha-ramathaim, with the initial he (ה) forming the definite Hebrew article ha-. The Aramaic Syriac translation of John 19:38 literally reads, "Ramtha" which when anglicized comes to "Ramath."

Some have hypothesized that it was another name for Ramathaim-Zophim in Ephraim, the birthplace of Samuel, where David came to him (1 Samuel 1:1, 19). Others identify it with Ramlah in Dan, or Ramah in Benjamin (Matt. 2:18).

Joseph is given more extensive attention in the Acts of Pilate, but that work is considered late fiction. The Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, asserts that "the additional details which are found concerning Joseph in the apocryphal Acta Pilati, are unworthy of credence."

Some writers[who?] say that Joseph was a tin merchant and that the young Jesus accompanied him to Britain to obtain the metal. As the poem And did those feet in ancient time, which is sung to the tune "Jerusalem," goes, "And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen?" William Blake penned these lines in Milton a Poem which was published in 1804. Since then the poem, later put to music in 1916 by Sir Hubert Parry, has proved an enduring alternative national anthem for England. Its melody has been immensely popular and contributed much to its longstanding appeal.

The poem has also become an unofficial anthem of those British who believe Joseph raised the first above-ground church edifice in Christendom when Roman Christians were still meeting in catacombs. In fact, the first building erected for the purposes of worship is unknown. While there is no archaeological evidence of a first-century church building in England, some legends place a wattle church in Glastonbury dedicated to Mary the Mother of Jesus. The legends also say that Joseph planted his staff in the ground at Glastonbury and that it flowered every Christmas. The Glastonbury Thorn, destroyed during the English Civil War, was replaced by a cutting that still stands today. According to some legends, Joseph returned to Glastonbury after the Resurrection of Jesus to spread the Gospel.

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