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Joseph of ArimatheaA Study in Reception History$
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William John Lyons

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695911.001.0001

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The Twentieth-Century Joseph

The Twentieth-Century Joseph

(p.132) 6 The Twentieth-Century Joseph
Joseph of Arimathea

William John Lyons

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Joseph's appearances in wider twentieth- and twenty-first-century Western culture. These include his place in church-related institutions and practices, including his role as a patron saint for tin miners, tin workers, and funeral workers; fictional retellings of Joseph's own story, which reveal adjustments in both pre- and post-crucifixion Joseph lore; and two contrasting images of Joseph presented by author Phil Rickman in his The Chalice: A Glastonbury Ghost Story (1997). Joseph's appearances in cinema is examined through Brian Gilbert's The Gathering (2003), alongside the works of Pasolini and Zeffirelli, and the adventures of Indiana Jones. The development of a significant Joseph tradition as a spirit guide channelled by contemporary mediums in England is then considered. Finally, the chapter discusses recent scholarly exchanges about the possibility that Joseph never existed; and comments on the nature of the ‘real Joseph’, a shadowy historical figure who fades into insignificance when compared with his many vital presentations in reception history and who is powerless to force even all of biblical scholarship to acknowledge his presence.

Keywords:   Western culture, patron saint, Phil Rickman, Brian Gilbert, Piero Paolo Pasolini, Franco Zeffirelli

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