Mark 15:43

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there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. (ASV)


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Per The Legendary Peter (Kirby)

"Concerning the first, there is a plausible significance to the name Arimathea. Richard Carrier speculates, "Is the word a pun on 'best disciple,' ari[stos] mathe[tes]? Matheia means 'disciple town' in Greek; Ari- is a common prefix for superiority."[99] Since commentators have seen the burial by the outsider Joseph of Arimathea as a contrast to the failure of the disciples and intimates of Jesus, the coincidence that Arimathea can be read as "best disciple town" is staggering. Indeed, it is good evidence that Joseph of Arimathea is a fictional character and that the tomb burial story in the Gospel of Mark is also fictional."

The argument is that "Arimathea" is a fictional name. To rise above the level of speculation two qualities are needed:

1) The figurative use would be recognizable to the audience.
2) Figurative use of a name would fit the author's style.

Recognizable could be reading or hearing. In Carrier's breakout the sound would be about the same:


Ari = prefix for "superior"----matheia = "disciple town"

2) is easily demonstrated here: Mark's DiualCritical Marks. Presentation Of Names As Evidence Of Fiction

The author may have intended "best disciple town" but changed it a little to make it sound like a town (he may very well have had "Ramoth" in mind). I use that style all the time.

I hereby unleash my heretofore unknown criteria for figurative use of names (I really should be charging you guys for this):

Wallack's criteria for Figurative use of names:

1) Recognition through reading or sound. Demonstrated above.
2) Demonstrated style of the author. Demonstrated above.
3) Contextual fit. A character sympathetic to Jesus accepts his body just as John's disciples accepted his body.
4) Thematic fit. Action expected of Jesus' disciples, accepting his body (really "accepting" his death. Understand dear Reader?), replaced by stranger to Jesus.
5) Lack of known literal fit. The cruncher as the Brits say. No one has any idea where the hell "Arimathea" is.
6) Fictional story. The overall Empty Tomb story is likely fiction which means the default for any individual piece is fiction.

--JoeWallack 13:55, 29 August 2009 (EDT)

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