According to the Gospels, Joseph of Arimathea was a man who donated a tomb for the burial of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. A native of Arimathea, probably the Ramah of the Old Testament, he was apparently a man of wealth, and a member of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:50), an "honourable counsellor, who waited for the kingdom of God." As soon as he heard the news of Christ's death, he "went in boldly" (lit. "having summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus."

Pilate, who was reassured by a centurion that the death had really taken place, allowed Joseph's request. Joseph immediately purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46) and proceeded to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There, assisted by Nicodemus, he took down the body and wrapped it in the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39). The body was then conveyed to a new tomb hewn by Joseph himself out of a rock in his garden near by. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women, and rolled a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55).

This was done speedily, "for the Sabbath was drawing on" (compare Isaiah 53:9).

According to medieval legend, Joseph of Arimathea was the uncle of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and a merchant involved in the tin trade with Britain who took Jesus to England at some time in his life. After the Crucifixion, around the year AD 63, he was said to have returned to England as one of the first Christian missionaries to visit the country. He carried the Holy Grail with him, concealing it somewhere in the vicinity of Glastonbury, England for safekeeping when he established the first church in the British Isles. There is little historical substance for this legend.

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