The presumed Tomb of Jesus in the Holy Sepulchre has recently been discussed again, this time on The Bible and Interpretation website. In this article, which is a follow-up of a previous one, PhD student Eldad Keynan of the Bar Ilan University suggests that the tomb in the Holy Sepulchre was a Sanhedrin tomb that was used for the temporary burial of Jewish felons and that the permanent tomb of Jesus was elsewhere.
The tomb beneath the rotunda was not a “normal” or a “standard” tomb. However, we believe it is indeed the temporary tomb of Jesus. It was significantly smaller than the standard\normal tombs; it was different in structure; it was connected to another tomb nearby.
A newly hewn, but unfinished tomb could have been used for primary burial, as we explained here:
Over 1,000 tombs have been studied around Jerusalem, and we know now that the first stage in tomb construction is the cutting out of a single chamber with benches arranged along the three sides, leaving a pit in the middle, so that the workmen could stand upright while working. A tomb could be left like this for a while, until the other chambers were added.
Such a newly hewn tomb could be used for the first phase of burial, the so-called “primary burial,” where the body was laid out on a bench. A year or so later, when only bones were left, these were placed in “ossuaries” or bone boxes. This was called “secondary burial.”
If the tomb in the Holy Sepulchre was a Sanhedrin tomb, then it could hardly have been a “new sepulchre”, as described in John 19.41. It would also contradict the fact that Jesus was laid in Joseph of Arimathea’s “own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock” (Matthew 27.60; Luke 23.53).
Keynan appears to be a supporter of the Talpiot Tomb as the permanent tomb of Jesus. The fact, however, that Jesus came from Nazareth is often overlooked in the discussion. We believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but if, for the sake of argument, Jesus was buried in a permanent tomb, that would have been his family tomb in Nazareth and not in Jerusalem. It is nevertheless interesting to read about Jewish burial practices, as Jesus was a Jew and must have been buried according to Jewish customs.