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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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The interment of a deceased person. The rites of burial have been looked upon in all countries as a debt so sacred, that such as neglected to discharge them were thought accursed. Among the Jews, the privilege of burial was denied only to self-murderers, who were thrown out to putrefy upon the ground. In the Christian church, though good men always desired the privilege of interment, yet they were not, like the heathens, so concerned for their bodies, as to think it any detriment to them if either the barbarity of an enemy, or some other accident, deprived them of this privilege. The primitive church denied the more solemn rites of burial only to unbaptized persons, self-murderers, and excommunicated persons, who continued obstinate and impenitent in a manifest contempt of the church's censures. The place of burial among the Jews was never particularly determined. We find they had graves in the town and country, upon the highway or gardens, and upon mountains.

Among the Greeks, the temples were made repositories for the dead, in the primitive ages; yet, in the latter ages, the Greeks as well as the Romans buried the dead without the cities, and chiefly by the highways. Among the primitive Christians, burying in cities was not allowed for the first three hundred years, nor in churches for many ages after; the dead bodies being first deposited in the atrium or church-yard, and porches and porticos of the church: hereditary burying-places were forbidden till the twelfth century.

See FUNERAL RITES. As to burying in churches, we find a difference of opinion: some have thought it improper that dead bodies should be interred in the church. Sir Matthew Hale used to say, that churches were for the living, and church-yards for the dead. In the famous Bishop Hall's will we find this passage: after desiring a private funeral, he says, "I do not hold God's house a meet repository for the dead bodies of the greatest saints." Mr. Hervey, on the contrary, defends it, and supposes that it tends to render our assembles more awful; and that, as the bodies of the saints are the Lord's property, they should be reposed in his house.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Burial'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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