This chapter analyses the complex themes now associated with Joseph of Arimathea, along with the myriad strands of the tradition grouped together under two broad headings: Joseph as an active man, looking at examples of his bravery, his wealth and influence, his masculinity, his sanctification, and his dominance over others; and Joseph as a passive man, looking at examples of his guilt, his fear, his secretiveness, his malleability, and his submissiveness to those who have appropriated him. Such a variety of developments of the minimalist Gospel accounts of Joseph into the grand figures of later tradition showcase the many available mechanisms by which multiple interpretations may become clustered around a biblical figure with any degree of depth, a process of growth which no amount of forethought by the Evangelists could have forestalled, and which no amount of effort by biblical scholars will ever be able to control.
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