Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Burial of Jesus: Now Available Through Eisenbrauns

The book has been listed on Eisenbrauns.

The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith
by James F. McGrath
BookSurge, 2008
142 pages, English
ISBN: 9781439210178
Your Price: $0.00

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Black Belt Librarian

Brad Matthies carries his discussion of my book a step further at his new blog, Black Belt Librarian.

Aristotle's Feminist Subject

The Burial of Jesus gets a mention on J. K. Gayle's blog Aristotle's Feminist Subject.

Amazon Top 100

The Burial of Jesus made it into the top 100 on Amazon today, hitting #76 in the category
Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > New Testament

How Dishonorable Was Jesus' Burial?

I received a question from someone who is reading my book, asking the following:

I'm just curious if you've read two articles that argue against McCane's thesis of a dishonorable burial. William Lane Craig ("Was Jesus Buried in Shame: Reflections on B. McCane's Proposal," Expository Times, 115, 2004, 404-409 ) argues against McCane directly, and Jodi Magness ("Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James" JBL, 124, 2005) 121-54 argues that if Jesus was buried in a criminal burial area he would have been buried in the ground, and a tomb like Joseph's would only have been a private tomb.
Here's what I wrote in reply:

Having decided to write the book for a general audience and not include footnotes, I ended up not interacting with some of the possible objections that could be (and have been) raised. The point that a dishonorable burial would more likely have constituted burial in a trench/dirt grave is an important one. I'd say we don't know quite as much as we'd like about burial practices, as Raymond Brown points out (it was Brown who persuaded me that Mark depicts a dishonorable burial, even before I encountered McCane's work on the subject).

It is, ultimately, the account in Mark (and what later Gospels do to it) that persuades me that Jesus was not buried with the honor his followers believed he was due. The reference to being anointed beforehand and to women seeking to do so after the fact seems to me to be sufficient indication that, if nothing else, anointing was left undone. And it seems from both Mark and John (albeit in different ways) that this fact troubled at least some Christians.

In short, I think it may be possible that there were even less honorable burials one could be given, but the evidence from the Gospels suggests that Jesus' burial was, at the very least, less honorable and less complete than Christians felt he deserved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faith and History

The discussion of the book has spread to Bill Heroman's Bible/History blog.


The Burial of Jesus (and a recent review of it) have been mentioned on Lingamish. Just for clarification, the post there says:

"his body later dumped in a common grave" - I think that something like this is what happened.

"where the disciples then retrieved it and gave it a proper burial" - I am persuaded that the disciples wanted to do this but am also persuaded that they were unable to. Had they been able to, I think they would have told a different story than the one found in Mark. Indeed, the way that later Gospels rewrote the story in Mark shows how much they wished they could have done this.
At any rate, if there's one thing that both David and I agree on, it is that there is inevitable uncertainty about some things that we wish we could be certain about.

Resurrection and the Gothic Theologian

I joined briefly in a discussion on Theology Web, and one of the other participants has reposted some things I wrote and his reply on his own blog, The Gothic Theologian. Those interested in talking about 1 Corinthians 15, the resurrection, and related subjects, but who may (like me) not be "orthodox" enough for the discussion on Theology Web, may want to pay a visit to the Gothic Theologian instead!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Review by Nelson Moore on Chrisendom

Nelson Moore has done a guest post on Chris Tilling's blog Chrisendom, a review of The Burial of Jesus. Do take a look! I'll just share his conclusion here, but the whole review provides a nice summary of the book's key points.

"The Burial of Jesus by James McGrath is definitely worth purchasing and reading. For those unfamiliar with how historical work is done in Christian academic contexts, McGrath provides a wonderful primer. If you are a biblical scholar, you may find this book very valuable as a resource to share with friends or students who are looking to understand historical scholarship. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this work."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Comparing Prices

The Burial of Jesus is available through a number of online stores, and using services such as BookFinder4U in the United States, or GetTextbooks in the UK, it is possible to compare prices. Assuming one will be paying for shipping, eCampus has the best price at the moment, but if you purchase $25 or more on Amazon you can avoid paying shipping, and that often works out better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lunchtime Discussion at Butler University October 22nd

Pizza Lunch Discussion
Wednesday, October 22nd, 12:00 – 2:00, Jordan Hall 340,
Butler University

What is the relationship between history and faith?
In the rush to get from the story of the crucifixion to the story of the resurrection, have readers tended to miss some important details about what happened in between?
Has contemporary American Christianity become too focused on the afterlife?

Come join us for a discussion of these and other subjects touched on in the new book The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith (BookSurge, 2008) written by Dr. James F. McGrath, associate professor of religion at Butler University.

Dr. McGrath has a limited number of copies available for those wishing to read the book before the discussion. Copies are available for $10 each from Dr. McGrath or $12.99 each on

Pizza and other refreshments will be provided.

New Review on Amazon

There is now another review of The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith on Amazon. I invite you to take a look, and once you've read the book, I hope you'll post your own review there!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now in Worldcat

Thanks to Butler University's quick acquisition of a copy of the book, it is now in Worldcat, which will facilitate its incorporation into the catalogues of any other libraries that acquire a copy, as well as people looking to get it via interlibrary loan.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Leave Out The British

At present, The Burial of Jesus has two reviews on but none on If you've yet to write a review, or have already put one together, please do consider posting it on as well!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mentioned on Debunking Christianity

There's a blog dedicated to "Debunking Christianity", and The Burial of Jesus has received a mention there.

Christians reading this should not be surprised that this book would get a favorable mention on what is, in essence, an atheist blog. Historical study, as John P. Meier puts it and others agree, is about using a set of tools and methods that should allow one to treat the same evidence in the same way, regardless of one's religious affiliation or background. This doesn't mean that, as one engages in the more creative task of developing historical theories and filling in the gaps between what we know with relative certainty, or even looks at some particular piece of evidence, there won't be disagreements that reflect differing assumptions. But there are basic ground rules that everyone engaged in historical research should be able to agree on. And while there are fundamentalists on both sides who try to bypass the critical and painstaking evaluation of data and draw a simplistic conclusion, those who embrace an honest and academically rigorous approach to historical investigation should have much to agree on in principle, if not always on the details.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interview at Pisteuomen

I've been interviewed over at Michael Halcomb's blog Pisteuomen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Resurrection of Jesus and Mass Hallucination

There is a post on this subject at the NT Wrong blog that will be of interest to anyone thinking about the broad subject matter of The Burial of Jesus. The importance of the tradition of a first appearance to Peter, the visionary nature of early Christian experiences, and matters of historical investigation and religious experience in relation to Christian beliefs about resurrection are all discussed in this post as well as my book.

First Amazon Review

My book The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith has received its first review on The review is in mediocre English and gives the book a mediocre rating. :-)

I'm still waiting for copies from the publisher to send to a few people who asked for review copies, as well as to some journals and RBL.

You can now search inside the book at, but their keyword search feature doesn't seem to be working yet. The one at is working now, however, and so you can see what my book says about your favorite topic!

On Friday I'll be talking about the subject of the book at a student-faculty discussion forum at the University of Indianapolis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Search Inside

Although the actual keyword search does not appear to work yet as of my posting this, my book The Burial of Jesus is now part of the Search Inside program, which means that you can see the book from cover to cover and browse it before making a decision about whether to buy it, recommend it to friends, or whatever else.

Take a look. You know you want to!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Burial of Jesus: Now Available in the UK

The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith can now be purchased through!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Shame of Jesus' Burial

Ultimately my view of the burial of Jesus as a dishonorable one was shaped in particular by Raymond Brown's conclusions in his magnificent two-volume study, The Death of the Messiah. But another scholar who has also explored this evidence and drawn a similar conclusion is Byron McCane. His chapter on the subject, "'Where No One Had Yet Been Laid': The Shame of Jesus' Burial", is available online.

If anyone is interested in writing a review of The Burial of Jesus for, their blog or some other print or online venue, and needs a copy of the book, please do get in touch with me by e-mail, providing a mailing address and where the review will appear. BookSurge does not provide copies to reviewers for free, but I am certainly willing to pay for and send out some copies if it will help spread the word and draw more attention to the book. I don't particularly like engaging in promotion myself, but then again, if I didn't think the book was worth reading, I wouldn't have published it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Was Jesus Honorably Buried? Mark vs. John

This is the first installment of a series on my book on YouTube. It addresses the difference between Mark and John about whether Jesus was anointed when he was buried, and thus given an honorable burial.

Debate on the Resurrection: Craig vs. Crossley

There is a debate between William Lane Craig and James Crossley about the resurrection of Jesus, available in video format.

The burial of Jesus is of particular interest because of its relevance to what the Gospels and other ancient sourcess say happened after that, so those interested in my book will presumably also find this debate interesting - and vice versa, those who find this debate interesting will hopefully find The Burial of Jesus interesting, since a number of issues related to the historical character of Jesus' burial are extremely important to any consideration of the rise of Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection.

Available Direct from BookSurge

The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith is available from I am assured that it will be available via within a few weeks. It can also be purchased directly via the BookSurge web site.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Author Proof

I received my proof copy of the book today, and after soliciting some opinions about how it looks (since I obviously can't be objective about this), I approved the book for publication. It should be available within a week or two.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Judging a Book by its Cover

Well, if nothing else, the experience of publishing a book for which I also designed the covers is giving me a new appreciation for this particular task. I was surprised at the strong feelings people expressed regarding the font, the photo, and the cover in general.
Here is a larger image of the cover. Judge away! I nonetheless continue to hope that, whether in spite of or because of the cover, you will take a peek at its contents...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amazon Connect

In preparation for the release of my forthcoming books, I've set up an Amazon Connect Profile for myself. In addition to syndicating my blog's RSS feed and highlighting books I've written, it also collects in one place reviews I've written.

Particularly striking was seeing whether or not readers found my combined review of books Francisco Ayala and Michael Behe helpful. Readers of Ayala liked my review; readers of Behe did not. No real surprise there...

Another Flyer

Here's a link to another flyer, highlighting some of the (I hope) more interesting claims and conclusions of the book. I am not sure whether it might sound too sensationalistic for this flyer to persuade an academic library to buy the book. As always your feedback is welcome!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Promotional Flyer

This blog is dedicated to promoting and discussing my forthcoming book The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith. It will be available from BookSurge in a couple of weeks. If you are interested in finding out more in the mean time, you can download a flyer here.