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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Embalming the Dead

in the Christian Church. It was the custom of the early Church to bestow the honor of embalming upon the bodies of martyrs at least. According to an intimation of Tertullian (Apol. cap. 42), the usage appears to have been even generally adopted by Christians in burying their dead. One of the chief ingredients used was myrrh; in imitation of the Jewish custom, which was followed by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who "brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight, and took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (John 19:39). There was supposed to be some mystic meaning in the presents made by the wise men to our Savior at his birth when they offered to him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh: gold as to a king, frankincense as to a God, and myrrh as to a man that must die and be buried. In addition to the Jewish custom and the mode of our Savior's burial, another reason which rendered the use of myrrh important was that the ancient Christians were often compelled to bury their dead in the places in which they assembled for divine worship, and the embalming would tend to preserve them from corruption, and render the burial-places less offensive.-Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 23, chapter 2, 5.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Embalming the Dead'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/e/embalming-the-dead.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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