According to my genealogy I am descended of Joseph of Arimathaea. Yes, he is the man, the Sadducee, who begged Pontius Pilate for the body of the Savior and laid Him to rest in the tomb he’d prepared for himself.
Was Joseph a follower of Jesus Christ? Certainly. According to the Talmud, he was the younger brother of the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was her uncle and the Savior’s great-uncle. Joseph, like many of early Christian history, have been sainted by the Catholic Church. Then He was rumored to have brought the Holy Grail from the holy city of Jerusalem and was then written into the Arthurian legends. Much of his life has been mixed with legend until it is difficult to know what is truth and what is legend.
Decades ago George F. Jowett wrote The Drama of the Lost Disciples. In it, he claims to have been granted access to the journals of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea which are carefully preserved in the archives and catacombs under the Vatican.
Joseph of Arimathaea was a man of refinement, well educated, and one who possessed many talents. He had extraordinary political and business ability and was reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in the world of that time. (George F. Jowett, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publishing, London, 1980 17)
Jowett goes on to say that Joseph controlled the tin trade in the Roman empire and therefore was the Carnegie of his day. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish religious body that ruled Jews within the Roman empire as well as a legislative member of a provincial Roman senate. In other words, he was a man of great power and wealth.
We know that Joseph never forsook his nephew [Jesus Christ.] He stood beside Him as a bold, fearless defender at the notorious trial, and defied the Sanhedrin by going to Pilate and boldly claiming the body when all others feared to do so. His arms were the first to cradle the broken corpse when taken from the cross and place it in the tomb. After death he continued to protect the mutilated body of Jesus from the conspiring minds of the Sadducees. He risked his all, wealth, power and position in those crucial years fulfilling his obligation as guardian of Jesus and of the family of Mary. (George F. Jowett, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publishing, London, 1980 18)
Much of this knowledge was drawn from the journal of Nicodemus. As things became quite precarious for Christians in the Roman Empire, Joseph began using his ships to give Christians safe passage to the British isles where he had large holdings. Ship after ship carried those who would leave and the last ship carried Joseph, Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
The rest of the history of Joseph is shrouded in mystery, shadow and legend. Sufficeth to say, he took his familial responsibility and duties seriously and protected those who followed the Savior until his last day on the earth.
He was a man of honor, strength, courage and integrity and I am very proud to be a descendant of this great man.