Monday, December 12, 2005

thou shalt not bear false witness


hey, Jesus, we've already got the t-shirts printed - whad'ya reckon?





Mel's thing - Simon the Cyrene lends a hand, but Jesus is doing the leg-work: more than a half-lie.

The occasional techical problem seems to be making it difficult, from time to time, to post to my own blog.


I’m continuing to read Testament, and have just completed the most famous and probably contested section of the new testament, apart from the resurrection maybe. That’s to say, the ‘trial’, such as it was, and the crucifixion. I’m talking about the who killed Christ hoo-ha. The bible, or Testament at least, definitely puts the responsibility onto the Jews, with Pilate clearly washing his hands of the issue. Of course, ‘the Jews’ therein named are only the crowd that happened to be hanging around at the time, and we have no way of knowing how many were there or how representative they were.

More interesting to me were these lines: As they led him away to execution they took hold of a man called Simon, from Cyrene, on his way from the country; putting the cross on his back they made him carry it behind Jesus.

Now nothing could be clearer than these lines, so why is Jesus shown so often carrying his own cross? It's something of a revelation to me, and it casts a very different light on the old adage that we all have our own cross to bear. Apparently not, it can be given to some other bunny, and we can just sit back, relax and wait to be crucified.


It might be that these lines are taken from one of the gospellers who is contradicted by one of the others, but it doesn’t seem likely that Testament, which is obviously the work of a full-on believer, would’ve missed the opportunity to write that Jesus carried his own cross, adding to his suffering and humiliation. It seems more likely that there was no biblical sanction for him to claim this. Anyway, I’ll soon be checking it all up in the Sceptic’s Annotated.

If, as seems likely, there's no mention of Jesus carrying his own cross in the gospels, what then is the name given to those (believers or non-believers) who lie about what's written or not written in the 'inerrant' bible to promote a particular message? Are they blasphemers or what? Whatever, tsk tsk.

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2 Comments:

At 8:52 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Stewart,
Jesus carried his own cross for a bit until Simon the Cyrene was co-opted to do so (Have a look. From what we know from archaeology and historical research, most likely he would have just been dragging the cross bar, the vertical post would have been in place. Oh and the nails would have likely been through his wrists, not the palms of his hands (Greek does not have a separate word for hand or arm).

As to the trial. The Jews (a term only really used in the Gospel of John to refer to the Jewishleadership) could not have killed Jesus because only the Roman courts were able to divy out capital punishment. So while the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to court in the hope of getting him charged (the gospels make reference to the Pharisees and Herodians plotting to 'destroy' Jesus) and while at first the court edit was that this was just a religious dispute and not the domain of the court, eventually Jesus was sentenced by the Romans on a charge of sedition.

Hence above his cross the crime: King of the Jews (of course there was no king but Caesar in first century Palestine, and insurrectionists were crucified with depressing regularity. However that they didn't round up his disciples of followers suggests that they thought him to be just another two bit bandit).

Having said all that, despite the confluence of Jews and Romans conspiring to kill him and even disciples abandoning him, a close reading of the gospels would indicate that Jesus went to Jerusalem in his own time and lay down his life in his own time. After all, Jesus came to die.

Yep it's easy to go for myths or to get one's conceptions from anywhere but the gospels themselves. Bit like the three wise men.

Enjoy.

And happy Christmas to you.

--saint

 
At 12:02 pm , Anonymous Rachel K said...

With reference to this statement, "Of course, ‘the Jews’ therein named are only the crowd that happened to be hanging around at the time, and we have no way of knowing how many were there or how representative they were" you are right, we can't be certain of numbers. What we do know is that Pilate presented Christ to the Jews during the Preparation of Passover Week, the biggest feast of the Jewish calendar. Mark's gospel reads, Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot" (Mark 14:1-2). There are repeated references to "crowds" and "assemblies" being present, probably because it was customary to release a prisoner during the Passover Feast (in this case it was Barabbas). The priests arrested Jesus but could not decide what to do with him, and that is why they turned him over to Pilate. Pilate asks the crowd if Jesus is the prisoner they wish to have released, but the Sanhedrin whip up the crowds, inciting them to demand that Barabbas be released instead. If you count the fact that the Sanhedrin were there, and there was a crowd there due to the Passover, you could say that the Jews were both "many and representative". Early Christian texts such as those from Josephus lay the blame for Christ's death at the feet of Pilate, rather than the Jews. Ultimately if Christ was who he said he was then there is no blame anyway; he came to fulfil a purpose already laid out for him.

With regard to this question, "More interesting to me were these lines: As they led him away to execution they took hold of a man called Simon, from Cyrene, on his way from the country; putting the cross on his back they made him carry it behind Jesus. Now nothing could be clearer than these lines, so why is Jesus shown so often carrying his own cross?" the Synoptic gospels all make reference to a man by the name of Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry the cross of Jesus, that he was "in from the country" (probably due to the Feast of the Passover - Jewish belief was that God only made His presence known within the "Holy of Holies" (central place of the temple in Jerusalem) once a year during Passover so it would have been important for practicing Jews from outlying regions to make the pilgrimage to the temple during Passover Week, because at that point it was the only time they could "apply" to have their sins forgiven through burnt offerings and sacrifices), and the Gospel of Mark even mentions the names of Simon's sons (Alexander and Rufus - the Jews were big on recording family names and lineages). This makes the synoptic account of the journey to Golgotha seem quite probable, if only due to the details provided about this otherwise unknown person. It also bears witness in a literal sense to some words of Jesus to his disciples and to the crowd, also related by the Synoptic Gospels: Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
John's Gospel however states otherwise: Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (John 19:17-18).

And then, "If, as seems likely, there's no mention of Jesus carrying his own cross in the gospels, what then is the name given to those (believers or non-believers) who lie about what's written or not written in the 'inerrant' bible to promote a particular message? Are they blasphemers or what? Whatever, tsk tsk."

It is interesting to note that John's gospel not only gives a different account, it uses the words "carrying his own cross" as if to emphasise that point to the reader. It is known that the Gospel of John was written after 70A.D, so it's probable that the writer referred to the synoptics as well as writing his own account. I think it's possible that John saw that the previous gospels may have been misleading when mentioning Simon of Cyrene having to carry the cross - after all they didn't use the words "all the way to Golgotha", "part of the way to Golgotha" or some such, as a clarifying statement. The synoptics give similar accounts but all with slightly different wording (even within the one translation). Perhaps John wanted to clarify that Jesus did carry the cross for at least part of the way, and that's why he prefaced his statement with "carrying his own cross". Certainly tradition favours an account where both Simon and Jesus carried the cross.

I am by no means an expert; this is just my opinion and understanding of the issues.

Hope that helps...sorry if there are any spelling errors; this was written in a hurry.

Cheers
Rachel

 

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