More ancient inhumation

The following is another little chunk out of my senior thesis. I had to add the citations because they didn’t carry over from my paper in Microsoft word. They were given as footnotes in my actual paper:

Although those involved with traditional Roman religions buried their dead, the Christian practice of burial became a point of contention between Christian apologists and their critics. In his Octavius, Minucius Felix has his imaginary interlocutor, Caecilius, critique the Christian rejection of cremation. Caecilius is convinced it is because of their belief in the resurrection, though he points out that even bodies buried in the ground are “reduced to dust” and are thus equally as unsuitable for resurrection. (Octavius, 11.4) Octavius, the defender of Christianity within Minucius’ dialogue, states that the resurrection is not predicated upon the condition of the body, but that the Christians simply practice the “old and better practice of burial.”(Ibid 38.10) The real reason Christians almost universally chose to bury instead of cremate the bodies of their deceased is that they inherited the custom from the Jews. Even Jews in the Diaspora buried, as Tacitus indicates along with pre-Christian Jewish catacombs in Rome and other cities throughout the Empire (Tacitus, Historia 5.5). Christian authors seem to give two explicit reasons to prefer burials over cremation, reasons which were certainly given to counter the reasons non-Christian Romans gave for burials. The first is that Jesus himself was buried and thus it was appropriate for Christians to be buried in like manner. The second reason was out of a respect for the “workmanship of God”, which Lactantius says is not worthy to “lie as prey for animals” but should instead be returned to the earth “from whence it came.”

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