What attitude did the peoples have towards the dead body until the adopting the funeral ceremony?
Excavations have shown that funeral was more applied. Cremation probably was used only by some peoples, as in this case, more appropriate ash accumulation would exist which have not been found. Jews, unlike Armenians or other peoples, had ground burials, as well as burial caves. But they, like Egyptians, used mummification of the body, too.
The Bible says that Abraham and his wife Sarah, Isaac and his wife Rebecca, Jacob and his wife Leah were buried in the land of Canaan, in the cave before the oak of Mamre which Abraham had bought as his own burial place (Gen. 49:28-32). Joseph, who became the ruler of Egypt, ordered to embalm the patriarch Jacob, according to Egyptian custom. Then the Jews moved Jacob’s body to bury in the cave which was the tomb of Abraham, before the oak of Mamre (Gen. 50:26, 13).
The disciples of Christ also buried the Lord in a cave the door of which was closed with a big stone (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43, 45-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42). This type of burial was used also in the case of Lazarus (John 11:38), whom Christ raised from the dead, and Lazarus came out of the cave wrapped in linen used during similar funerals (John 11.43-44).
In the past, the Jews practiced cave burials. After some time of cave burial, they used to bring out the bones and to bury in the ground. They used to do this under the belief that as long as there are bones of the dead man, his soul, ruah in Hebrew, will be reinforced.
Orthodox Churches used cave burials and funerals and ground burials parallelly, reserving cave burials especially for the clergy. In many medieval Orthodox monasteries, bones of the dead were placed on the lower floors of monasteries, as well as the skulls or bones of pious monks or priests were kept in special vessels. This tradition still continues in orthodoxy.
Also in the Catholic Church, the members of the order of Capuchin used to embalm the high-ranking clergy, to dress up them with clerical dresses and to put in special niches in the lower floors of the church or monastery. Today also one can see these embalmed bodies.
The tradition not to bury some saints and the custom to show their bodies still is real in the Catholic Church; for example, the body of Bernadette in the church of Lourdes in the south of France or the remains of Pope John 23rd in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. In Indian reality, the cremation was the most popular, for Egyptians – embalming bodies and cave burials.
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