f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Were You There When They Took the Nails Out?

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Were You There When They Took the Nails Out?

I won’t even pretend to have read even close to the entirety of today’s book of mention, A Love Divine by Alexandra Ripley. It’s a historical account based on the life of Joseph of Arimathea. He’s the guy in the Bible whose tomb is used for Jesus’ burial so they can bury him before Passover. Apparently there’s an entire legend based on Joseph that includes him being the disciple to first bring the Gospel to England. There his staff grew into a tree called the Glastonbury Thorn that blooms not only in spring but around Christmas as well. This page details some more specifics of the legend.

Anyway, it’s a legend of the same cloth as the Holy Grail, interesting so far as it goes, but not nearly as illuminating perhaps as one might think. Ripley’s book is pure historical fiction. What I read seemed well-researched if a tad too modern in thought/syntax/etc. There’s a ton of dialogue which drive me insane and in the various sections I read there seemed to be a fine balance of romance, tragedy, to keep the pages turning. I think it might be the ABA equivalent of a Thoene book, perhaps.

We don’t actually see the crucifixion as J of A wasn’t in Jerusalem to witness it. Instead we see the aftermath as he barters with Pilate for custody of the body and helps the various Marys of the story get the body prepared for burial.

Ripley’s actually chosen a part of the story that’s usually skipped over and it’s an interesting glimpse. The one detail that sticks out at me is one of Pilate’s men, after being ordered by J of A to take down the body, saying, “Ladder…and pry-bar.”

How does one take a body off the cross? Do you actually pry the nails out? Mel’s film showed the Roman’s hammering them flat against the wood, which means you’d have to pull so even the head of the nail passed through the wound. I’m not sure about this. What a weird and disturbing detail.


I don’t have too much else today, sorry. The writing isn’t worth quoting. The book probably isn’t worth reading. It just happened to be handy.

If any of you have seen The Passion and have a thought about my question below it’d be great to hear. Even if you don’t think Pilate said such a thing, I’d like to know. I think he said something, but I can’t remember what that might be and I’m not all that excited about the notion of seeing the film again for simply that reason.