posted on Jul, 13 2006 @ 10:17 AM
in responce to Shane
Hi, I don’t live near Glastonbury (I live in the Midlands) but have visited several times.
The idea of Christ forming the first church in England is certainly a new one on me, however the idea of the Celtic Christian church being formed or
at least heavily influenced by Joseph of Arimathea is not. This is somewhat of a controversial claim so lets start at the beginning.
Why did Joseph of Arimathea come to Britain?
A number of sources claim the Talmud states Joseph of Arimathea gained his wealth as an importer in the tin trade, which existed between Cornwall and
Phoenicia. The Cornish Tin mines were known throughout the ancient Mediterranean and European world with solid evidence of trade between Greek and
Roman merchants in addition to Phoenicia merchants. I don’t seem to have a direct quote from the Talmud to this effect but if it can be verified it
rather nicely explains Joseph’s knowledge of Britain.
What evidence of there of Joseph Of Arimathea in Britain?
Leaving aside for a moment the wealth of legends that surround Joseph Of Arimathea, Britain (or more specifically Glastonbury) there are a number of
ancient sources supporting this. As mentioned before the Domesday book has an entry stating These surveys state that Glastonbury contained 12 hides
(160 acre parcels) of land that "have never paid tax." This was because the King Arviragus gave these parcels to Joseph of Arimathea when he arrived
in England in 37 AD . A further source is the Council of Pisa (AD 1409) was the pre-eminence of the British Church challenged. The argument during
the council was that the churches in France and Spain must yield precedent to the British Church because Joseph of Arimathæa founded it not long
after the crucifixion of Christ – which rather neatly brings us round to the next point.
Could Joseph Of Arimathea founded the Celtic Christian Church?
Or more accurately, Could Joseph Of Arimathea founded or heavily influenced the Celtic Christian Church. Standard histories of Christianity say that
missionaries were first sent to evangelize Britain in the 6th century. However The British historian Gildas (AD 516–570) wrote that Christianity
was introduced into Britain in AD 38, during the last year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Another source is Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was Bishop
Elect of St Asaph in Wales, and he states: "When Augustine came to Britain he found in the province of the Angles seven bishoprics and
archbishoprics, all filled with the most devout prelates and also a great number of abbeys." Yet more sources come from Bishop of Caesarea and
father of ecclesiastical history who wrote in Demonstratio Evangelica, that "the Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Britannic
Isles." Saint Hilary of Poitiers (C.E. 300-376) also wrote that the Apostles had built churches and that the Gospel had passed into Britain. This
claim is echoed by Saint John Chrysostom (C.E. 347-407), the Patriarch of Constantinople:
The British Isles which are beyond the sea, and which lie in the ocean, have received virtue of the Word. Churches are there found and altars
erected... Though thou shouldst go to the ocean, to the British Isles, there though shouldst hear all men everywhere discoursing matters out of the
scriptures, with another voice indeed, but not another faith, with a different tongue, but the same judgement.
The recurrent problem with ancient historic sources is accuracy. Bede the historian monk is known not to be completely accurate, probably due to him
simply recording oral histories and traditions, which in themselves may not have been accurate. Due to the number of sources stating Joseph of
Arimethia did travel to Britain and form a church it is hard to dismiss these sources altogether with claims of simple inaccuracy.
In conclusion, it is entirely possible Joseph Of Arimethia formed or heavily influenced the Celtic Christian church, however it is a long way from