This article is about burials that are lacking in dignity and care, either intentionally or due to adverse circumstances. The impact of such a burial on family and friends is also explored. Two case studies feature in this study, namely the burial of Jesus of Nazareth in the first century CE and the burials of Covid-19 victims today. In both cases, the inability to bestow the respect and compassion considered fitting leads to damage control. The article interprets the burial accounts in the Gospels with the help of the tradition-versus-redaction model whilst not ruling out oral traditioning and the role of social memory. The continuing burial tradition in the Gospels progressively rids Jesus’s burial of disgrace, thereby admitting to a distressing past event. It (re)presents Joseph of Arimathea, whose status is raised to that of a friend, as capable and willing to provide Jesus with a respectable burial. Those experiencing loss today due to the Covid-19 pandemic likewise mitigate the negative effects resulting from the interruption of traditional funeral rituals, in order to honour a loved one and allow grief and mourning processes to continue. It is the contention of this article that the selected method of comparing two exempla enhances our understanding of this study’s subject matter; moreover, today’s Covid-19 victims and bereaved can take comfort from the fact that in terms of the pain of inadequate burial someone has gone before, namely Jesus.


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pp. 239-274
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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