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Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

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  • Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

    Source: Newsweek


    Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale University, says that this aspect of stories about Jesus, as told in the gospels, has received too little attention, but could alone explain Jesus’s execution and also show that the man from Nazareth was not the pacifist he’s usually made out to be.

    The biblical books of Mark and Luke both state that at least one (and probably two or more) of Jesus’s followers was carrying a sword when Jesus was arrested shortly after the Last Supper, at the time of the Jewish festival of Passover. One disciple, Simon Peter, even used his sword to cut off the ear of one of those arresting Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.

    This militant behavior almost certainly wouldn’t have been tolerated by the Romans, led by the prefect Pontius Pilate, Martin tells Newsweek. For example, historical documents show that it was illegal at the time to walk about armed in Rome and in some other Roman cities. Although no legal records survive from Jerusalem, it stands to reason, based on a knowledge of Roman history, that the region’s rulers would have frowned upon the carrying of swords, and especially wouldn’t have tolerated an armed band of Jews roaming the city during Passover, an often turbulent festival, Martin says.

    “Just as you could be arrested in Rome for even having a dagger, if Jesus’s followers were armed, that would be reason enough to crucify him,” says Martin, whose analysis was published this month in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament.

    Harold Attridge, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School who wasn’t involved with the paper, tells Newsweek that Martin’s analysis is sound and that “likely the Romans would have been severe against someone seen as a political threat,” as almost certainly would have been the case with Jesus.

    The paper “reminds us that the early followers of Jesus and perhaps Jesus himself were inevitably thrown into conflict with arbitrary state terrorism by the Roman Empire [in which] Romans practiced both random and intentional violence against populations they had conquered, killing tens of thousands by crucifixion,” says New Testament scholar Hal Taussig, who is with the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

    Martin’s paper addresses an even more important question, says Bart Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina: Why were Jesus’s followers armed at all, especially during a religious festival?

    Martin makes the case that Jesus and his followers were likely expecting that an apocalyptic showdown was on the horizon, one in which divine forces (in the form of angels) would destroy Rome and Herod’s temple and usher in a holy reign. And this might require some fighting by Jesus’s disciples, he adds.

    It sounds pretty far-out, but a similar scenario is described in parts of the Book of Revelation. And this scenario of “heavenly forces joined by human forces...was an expectation in a central document of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a group of texts that shed light on the thinking of various Jewish peoples around the time of Jesus, Martin adds.

    Indeed, many academics who study the historicity of the Bible believe “that Jesus was an apocalyptic Jewish prophet who was expecting an imminent arrival of the kingdom of God on Earth,” Martin says.

    The paper also suggests that Jesus may have been in favor of fighting, at least in this apocalyptic instance, Ehrman tells Newsweek.

    “It’s making me rethink my view that Jesus was a complete pacifist,” he says. “And it takes a lot for me to change my views about Jesus.”

    But not everybody agreed with Martin’s points. While the paper is an “extraordinary contribution,” Taussig says, it’s “almost impossible for us to know many of the things professor Martin proposes—whether they are historically valid or not.”

    Establishing the real history behind the books of the Bible is what this branch of scholarship is all about, and it’s no easy task, considering that the Gospels were written 40 to 60 years after the life of Jesus, by people who didn’t witness the events firsthand. And as you might imagine, there is much disagreement amongst scholars.

    Paula Fredriksen, a historian of ancient Christianity at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says Martin’s paper has several holes “that you could drive trucks through.”

    For one, she doesn’t think it’s legitimate to assume that since carrying arms was illegal in the city of Rome, the same laws necessarily applied in Jerusalem. Control of the city wasn’t too tight, she argues, and the Roman prefect visited only during Passover, to help keep the peace. And during this time it probably would’ve been impossible to police the thousands of Jews that spilled into Jerusalem.

    “I can’t even imagine what a mess it was,” she says.

    Furthermore, she says, the Greek word used in the Gospels that Martin interprets as sword really means something more akin to knife. And these could be easily concealed, she adds. “Only professionals,” like soldiers, “carried swords,” she says.

    But she appreciates Martin for “working his argument,” as that’s what people who study the history of the Bible do. The inevitable controversy and argument is “fun,” Fredriksen says. “It’s a contact sport.”

    Source

    © Copyright Original Source


    Well this is certainly an interesting way of looking at things. I do disagree with Paula Fredriksen on one thing. The word machaira can be used for both "knife" and "sword". They probably were more akin to daggers.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

  • #2
    A 'machaira' can be a whole lot of different kinds of swords and knives, not necesarily a dagger, although that is certainly an option.

    Brian Pounds had a good response:

    http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...ssay-part.html

    http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...snt-essay.html

    I especially liked Dale Allison's response: http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...flects-on.html
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by robrecht View Post
      A 'machaira' can be a whole lot of different kinds of swords and knives, not necesarily a dagger, although that is certainly an option.

      Brian Pounds had a good response:

      http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...ssay-part.html

      http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...snt-essay.html

      I especially liked Dale Allison's response: http://historicaljesusresearch.blogs...flects-on.html
      Oh. Thank you for those links robrecht.
      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree that he wasn't a pacifist. But the Bible makes it clear that the Romans didn't even want to kill him, and never charged him with anything.

        Comment


        • #5
          Isn't one standard pacifist argument that Jesus's commandment to carry swords (or whatever we want to call the weapons) was solely to provoke his arrest and execution?
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
            Isn't one standard pacifist argument that Jesus's commandment to carry swords (or whatever we want to call the weapons) was solely to provoke his arrest and execution?
            I am not sure. I do not know much about the pacifist argument for his arrest. Though Christ's commandment to carry swords wouldn't have provoked the Romans because it was legal for citizens to be armed.
            "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jesse View Post
              I am not sure. I do not know much about the pacifist argument for his arrest. Though Christ's commandment to carry swords wouldn't have provoked the Romans because it was legal for citizens to be armed.
              One aspect of the confrontation on Jesus' arrest that seems to be largely ignored, is the fact, that when Peter drew his sword and cut off the high priest's (Annas') servant, Malchus', ear, Jesus healed the temple guard!!!! And told Peter to put away his sword.... (John 18:10-11).

              Of interest to me is why there are so many protestant ministers coming out of American seminaries who in pursuing their "qualifications" ignore what is plainly written in scripture and pursue absolute bull excrement????

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                Of interest to me is why there are so many protestant ministers coming out of American seminaries who in pursuing their "qualifications" ignore what is plainly written in scripture and pursue absolute bull excrement????
                What?
                "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                  What?
                  I think what he means is that why make up theories about why Jesus was killed when it's told to us in the gospels? Nothing about his disciples being armed was brought up as a charge, therefore we have to disregard historical reliability of scripture and make up theories outside of scripture.
                  "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by seanD View Post
                    I think what he means is that why make up theories about why Jesus was killed when it's told to us in the gospels? Nothing about his disciples being armed was brought up as a charge, therefore we have to disregard historical reliability of scripture and make up theories outside of scripture.
                    It's a good question. I think it stems from the fact that Dale Martin is so heavily invested in his "Apocalyptic Jesus" hypothesis that he tries to hold onto any strand he can think of. Even if it is something as bizarre as trying to push that Christ and his disciples were trying to start an armed revolution against the Romans.
                    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by seanD View Post
                      I think what he means is that why make up theories about why Jesus was killed when it's told to us in the gospels? Nothing about his disciples being armed was brought up as a charge, therefore we have to disregard historical reliability of scripture and make up theories outside of scripture.
                      An interesting observation: At Mt 56:52 we learn that on commanding Peter to put away his sword Jesus decreed "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword".

                      A more interesting observation: The same fellow that drew his sword (Peter) to supposedly defend Jesus, was prone to deny Jesus when his own existence was threatened. Possibly why Jesus at one time chastised Peter saying "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Mt 16:23).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                        An interesting observation: At Mt 56:52 we learn ...
                        Very interesting indeed! My Bible is missing some 30 chapters of the gospel of Matthew!
                        βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                        ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                        אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                          Very interesting indeed! My Bible is missing some 30 chapters of the gospel of Matthew!
                          Oops on my part. A grand typo on my part!!!!. But if you or KingsGambit had any Biblical sensibility (intelligence), you would have corrected me and pointed me to the correct chapter for the verse I directly quoted as opposed to your desire/s to grandstand!!! The text is Mt 26:52, but I'd point out that in your interrogation you missed the point of Jesus' comment...and my comment.
                          Last edited by apostoli; 10-29-2014, 11:37 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                            Oops on my part. A grand typo on my part!!!!. But if you had any Biblical sensibility (intelligence), you would have corrected me to the correct chapter for the verse I directly quoted as opposed to your desire to grandstand!!! The text is Mt 26:52, but I'd point out that in your interrogation you missed the point of Jesus' comment...and my comment.
                            What interrogation of mine are you referring to? I don't think I have interrogated anyone here. But, who knows, maybe I do not have intelligence to understand this? You do realize I was only joking around, right?
                            Last edited by robrecht; 10-29-2014, 11:57 AM.
                            βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                            ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                            אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                              Of interest to me is why there are so many protestant ministers coming out of American seminaries who in pursuing their "qualifications" ignore what is plainly written in scripture and pursue absolute bull excrement????
                              "Religious Studies" =/= "seminary"

                              I'd lay odds that most people who pursue a Religious Studies degree are not Christians, let alone aspiring ministers.
                              Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                              Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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                              I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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