17. JOHN THE BAPTIST IS EXECUTED
John was executed in the summer by Herod Antipas (see next note).
Mark's account of his death might be embellished and drawn from latter John's followers, but does not present any incongruity or conflict with the one in Josephus' Antiquities. It also shows the great importance of John, which could not be denied by "Mark":
Mk6:19-28 "So Herodias
[Herod's new wife, presented as ambitious and scheming by Josephus]
` nursed a grudge against John
[because John went public against her marriage with Herod Antipas]
` and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered. At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oath and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother."
John's followers must have been devastated. Some might have despaired and lost interest. But others probably felt the event in Cesarea and the appearance of John were part of a God's plan which had to be fulfilled. And the tremendous expectations raised by John's
message and stature
(Lk3:15 "Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ ["a king" (23:2), "Chosen One" (23:35)] or not,")
were meant to be true and kept alive!
Some of them would be expected to consider Jesus. He was a Galilean but the reports of people attracted to him (the "hysteria") were bound to get them interested. The (healing) "signs", which happened around (or right after) the time of John's execution, could be interpreted as a way for God to make known his Chosen One (opposite to John: Jn10:41
"... John never performed a miraculous sign ...").
Also, there were some similarities between the two: Jesus, like John, lived in poverty and each one preached a message related to the Kingdom being at hand. Both of them were considered to be a prophet:
Mk11:32b "They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet."
Mk6:15b "And still others claimed, "He [Jesus] is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."
John came suddenly from "nowhere"; so was Jesus. Both were "unconventional" and attracted crowds.
But of course, Jesus was alive; John was dead and consequently (with hindsight) could not have been God's choice (the King had to be alive!). And then, what follows might have been known:
- "... [when the Anointed One] comes then He will heal the sick ... and to the poor announce glad tidings [from Isa61:1] ..."
(Dead Sea Scroll, 4Q521, Fragment 1)
- The scion of David who will rise with the Interpreter of the Law (John the Baptist?)
(Dead Sea Scroll, 4QPatBls 1:34)
- The priestly (Aaronic) & royal (Davidic) anointed ones
(Dead Sea Scroll, 1QS 9-11)
Certainly, with Jesus as the new King to be, the kingdom of God (with a human King) being near was still something to believe in and hope for, despite John's death.
And for these reasons, in the mind of some activist Jews, the "man of God" from Galilee was catapulted to the highest status, even if the "ordinary" and uneducated Jesus was rather an unlikely candidate. But the Jews from Jerusalem who hastily selected him as a substitution for John probably never witnessed Jesus and they saw no one else of interest on the horizon.
And "Mark" himself gave the indication Jesus was considered the replacement for John:
Mk6:14 "... Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers
[note: reference to miracles, not preaching]
` are at work in him [Jesus]."" (also in Mt14:1:2 & Lk9:7)
Mk8:27b-28a "He asked His disciples, saying to them, "Who do men say that I am?" So they answered, "John the Baptist; ..."" (also Mt16:13b-14a & Lk9:18b-19a)
What is remarkable here is that "Mark", who belittled John:
Mk1:7-8 "And this was his message: "After me [John the Baptist] will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. ...""
had to admit Jesus was seen by some Jews as just the "new" John (and "Matthew" & "Luke" followed GMark in that regard). Once again, this looks to be "against the grain" evidence (with some embellishments). But "Mark" must have felt it had to be incorporated because heard from eyewitness(es) and considered genuine.
Note: Jesus got noticed for his "signs" from afar (as in Jerusalem) after John was executed. Since the first "hysteria" in Capernaum was very short-lived (because Jesus left immediately: Mk1:35-39), the second hysteria, started by the cured "leper" and lasting probably for weeks, was the one who made Jesus known all over Palestine. Consequently, John's death occurred likely around the time (or even before) Jesus settled back in Capernaum (Mk2:1), having gone in "the nearby villages" (Mk1:38) and hidden in "desert places" (Mk1:45), for up to one or two months because:
a) Jesus is said to have preached in synagogues (Mk1:39). This is likely, according to Mk1:21,6:2. But from those same verses, we gather that Jesus had to wait for the Sabbath gathering to do so. Consequently, preaching in synagogues could have taken many weeks (one synagogue, one week).
b) The recovery of the "leper" (skin disease) is highly suspicious as being instantaneous. The healing probably took weeks (as in Lev13-14 quoted in part in Section 12, "HJ-2a").
c) Relatively few people welcomed back Jesus in Capernaum (Mk2:1-2). The hundreds of those who mobbed him earlier (Mk1:33), or tried to do so (Mk1:37), had time to cool off.
The activist Hellenistic Jews would have referred to him as iesous (rendered as 'Jesus' in English), the Greek name (common at the time: see next Notes) for the late_Hebrew/Aramaic yeshuwa`/yeshua (meaning "to save") and started to "spread the word" and gather up followers in Jerusalem.
Then winter arrived: a time to stay at home, but also to reflect and wait, with great expectations and unspent energy, for the coming of the spring (the end/start of the Jewish sacred year).
1) In GMark, Jesus is never called Jesus/'iesous' by his disciples and followers.
2) Out of the twenty-eight last high priests, Josephus had three of them named Jesus (Greek: 'iesous'):
- "Jesus, the son of Phabet" (Ant., XV, IX, 3)
- "Jesus, the son of Damneus" (Ant., XX, IX, 1)
- "Jesus, the son of Gamaliel [or Gamala(s)?]" (Ant., XX, XI, 7)
Furthermore, in 'Wars', Josephus mentioned four more 'Jesus':
- "Jesus, the son of Sapphias" (II, XX, 4)
- "Jesus, the son of Shaphat" (III, IX, 7)
- "one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman" (VI, V, 3)
- "the son of Thebuthus, whose name was Jesus" (VI, VIII, 3)
Other 'Jesus' in Josephus' works:
- "... upon the death of Onias the high priest [2nd century B.C.E.], they gave the high priesthood to Jesus his brother" (Ant., XII, V, 1)
- "Jesus, the son of Josadek" (Ant., XX, X, 1)
- "a certain Galilean that then sojourned at Jerusalem, whose name was Jesus" (Life, 40)
Furthermore, other "Jesus" (Greek: 'iesous') appear in the N.T.:
Lk3:29 (an alleged ancestor of Joseph), Ac7:45 KJV (Moses' successor) (most other bibles show "Joshua" instead of "Jesus") and Col4:11 (as a Jew & associate of Paul).
Also, the O.T. Apocrypha has a book written by "Jesus son of Sirach", who translated from Hebrew to Greek a work from his grandfather, also named Jesus/'iesous'.
1) In the O.T.:
a) The early_Hebrew name 'yĕhowshuwa`'/'yehoshua' appears 218 times.
b) The late_Hebrew/Aramaic name 'yeshuwa`'/'yeshua' occurs 29 times.
Before the Christian era, 'yehoshua' and 'yeshua' (probably pronounced yay-SHOO-a` by Judeans and yay-SOO-a` by Galileans) were translated as 'iesous' in the LXX (Greek bible). However, the 'yehoshua'/'iesous' and 'yeshua'/'iesous' of the (Hebrew/Greek) O.T. are rendered as "Joshua" or "Jeshua" in English, when the same word ('iesous') in the N.T. is translated as "Jesus".
In the O.T., 'yehoshua'/'iesous' is the name of:
a) son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim and successor to Moses as the leader of the Israelites
b) a resident of Beth-shemesh on whose land the Ark of the Covenant came to a stop after the Philistines returned it
c) son of Jehozadak and high priest after the restoration
d) governor of Jerusalem under king Josiah who gave his name to a gate of the city of Jerusalem
In the O.T., 'yeshua'/'iesous' is the name of:
a) son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim and successor to Moses as the leader of the Israelites (as for 'yehoshua')
b) son of Jehozadak and high priest after the restoration (as for 'yehoshua')
c) a priest in the time of David who had charge of the 9th course
d) a Levite in the reign of Hezekiah
e) head of a Levitical house which returned from captivity in Babylon
f) father of a builder of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah
2) Suggested phonetic progression from early Hebrew to modern English: yehoshua (early_Hebrew) => yeshua (late_Hebrew/Aramaic) => iesous (koine Greek) => iesus (Latin) => jesus (modern English)
Note: how to explain the phonetic variations between 'yeshua' and 'iesous'?
a) The Greek does not have a "sh" sound; it uses "s" instead.
b) The "s" at the end is a grammatical necessity, to make the word declinable.
c) The pharyngeal ayin "`" (a rough breathing guttural sound) is not found in Greek.
d) The "a" of the semitic word may not have been very audible from an Aramaic speaker, who accentuated the middle syllable: yay-SHOO-a`; its exclusion from 'iesous' could be for this reason. Furthermore, its association with the ayin might have contributed to its removal.
Caution: the pronunciation of 'yeshua' is a subject of debates.
18. JESUS' ARRIVAL IN JERUSALEM
The cool rainy late autumn and winter must have calmed things down for Jesus. Then, the long awaited spring (of 28C.E.) finally arrived.
Note: 27-28 (fall to fall in these days) was likely a Sabbatical year for the Jews. If any unusual "religious" event occurred within this special one-year period, its perceived importance and derived expectation were likely enhanced. More info here
And when Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover, at a half day's walk away:
"Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd,
[before Jericho, there is no mention of large crowd accompanying Jesus (Mk10:32)]
` were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the road side begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more. "Son of David, have mercy on me!"" (Mk10:46-48)
Note: in GMark, prior to the Jerusalem trip, there is no allusion whatsoever of Jesus as a "Son of David" or King to be. According to Mk8:28, there is no mention the people of Galilee saw him as Christ and, in the anecdotal material of Jesus' days in Capernaum, nothing in his behavior would suggest anything "royal".
The shouts of "Son of David" are not a way for "Mark" to suggest Jesus was a descendant of David; because, in the same gospel, we read:
Mk:12:35-37 "Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: '[Ps110:1] The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'Therefore David himself calls Him 'Lord'; how is He [the Christ] then his Son [of David]?"
[the founder (father) of the Davidian dynasty, as an illustrious patriarch, could not have acknowledged one of his descendants (son) as superior to him]
` And the common people heard Him gladly."
And of course, for "Mark", Jesus is the Christ:
Mk14:61-62, "Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, "... Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus said, "I am ...""
"Mark" simply denied that Jesus was a descendant of David (in contrast of Ro1:3) and, nowhere else in the gospel, the author commented otherwise.Note: the epistle of Barnabas (written around 97) used the same psalm to "prove" Jesus is Lord, but not Son of David:
12:10-11 "See again Jesus, not as son of man, but as Son of God, but manifested in a type in the flesh. Since therefore they are going to say that the Christ is David's son, David himself prophesies, fearing and understanding the error of the sinners, "The Lord said to my Lord sit thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool."
... See how David calls him Lord and does not say Son."
Also, on his way to, and in Jerusalem, there is no report of Jesus being "mobbed" by the crowd. Here, the people's perspective on Jesus was different of the one back in Capernaum, during the short-lived hysteria of the previous year.
And when Jesus came close to Jerusalem, he got a noticeable enthusiastic "royal" welcome; because when
"he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once." (Lk19:11b)
Expectations were high:
"Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields" (Mk11:8)
"Blessed is he [Jesus] who comes in the name of the Lord [God]" and "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David" (Mk11:9b-10a)
a) In the O.T., people spreading garments in front of a "royal" figure is only mentioned in:
2Ki9:13 "They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, "Jehu is king!""
b) The word "branches" is not accurate:
"The word in Mark is STIBADAS, the fem. accusative plural of STIBAS, which means according to LSJ nothing more than straw, grass, reeds:
sti^bas, ados, hê, (steibô) bed of straw, rushes, or leaves, whether strewn loose (cf. Ev.Marc.11.8), or stuffed into a mattress, Eur. Hel. 798; ...
In support of this, note that the STIBADAS referred to in GMark are things which have been gathered not from trees, but from the fields.
On the mistranslation of the STIBADAS in Mk11:8 as "branches" let alone leafy ones, -- or for that matter -- palms (which is an assimilation to Jn122:13)-- , see Gundry, _Mark_, p. 629." Jeffrey B.Gibson
Soft plant material used to smoothen the road in front of an important figure, as by spreading garments, is not reported in the O.T. or its Apocrypha.
But the wording of the shouts is suspect (one is evidently drawn from Ps118:25-26).
Could "Mark" have stylized them in order to express the accepted knowledge Jesus was acclaimed as a kingly hope (and without using 'king'!)?
In order to examine this hypothesis, let's first consider the story of Jesus riding the colt (Mk11:1-7):
"Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. "And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' and immediately he will send it here."
So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, loosing the colt?" And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.
[implying the bystanders acknowledge Jesus as "the Lord"]
` Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it."
Note: in Mt21:7 "They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them."
Jesus would be riding two animals at the same time! "Matthew" misinterpreted a prophecy in:
Zechariah9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."
For "Matthew", they were two animals, not one, as in his reading of the same prophecy:
Mt21:4-5 "This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'""
Evidently, "Matthew" was more intent to have Jesus fulfill exactly a prophetic passage rather than just refer to Mark's gospel! And "Matthew" did not think Mark's rendition was coming from some trusted eyewitness' account!
In Lk19:35 "They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it."
In Jn12:14-15 "Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, "Do not be afraid, O daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.
[let's notice the differences in the versions of "Matthew" and "John", on the same scripture verse!]"
The story about the colt acquisition & riding is very suspect:
a) Bethany is not on the Mount of Olives, but in a valley behind it and not on the old road of Jericho.
b) The two disciples (as in Mk14:13) and the village from where the colt is borrowed are unnamed.
c) The colt "on which no one has sat": it would have been too dangerous to ride it, especially by someone who, supposedly, wanted to make an impression.
d) The wording "the Lord has need of it ..." and the people's reaction to the disciples' request are very unrealistic.
e) The people would be a lot more likely to soften the (rocky) road for Jesus' feet rather than for the hooves of his alleged mount.
The apparent fulfillment of a (unmentioned) messianic prophecy (Zec9:9, where the "Lord" doing the riding is a king) was probably meant to suggest
"those who went before and those who followed"
to what they saw and interpreted (Jesus posing as a would-be king).
In other words and going one step further, "Mark" tried to explain (with the earlier shouts of "Son of David") why the people suddenly would see Jesus as kingly (in the tradition of David).
the shouts of "Son of David" by a blind man (obviously not a genealogy expert!) are probably meant to account for the belief of later Jewish Christians (see next page "HJ-3b" "The beginning of Christianity"); as already explained, Christ (Jesus) cannot be a "Son of David" according to "Mark" (Mk:12:35-37).
the shouts really happened (likely in circumstances greatly embellished by "Mark") and were later reported by followers.
b) Alternatively, in order to project a kingly status through Zechariah's passage, some activists may have induced Jesus (not necessarily knowing about the implication) to ride a young donkey. Then later "Mark" did some damage control by having Jesus call himself "Lord" (11:3) and by not mentioning any prophecy.
And later, the gospel is addressing the negative impact (on Gentile Christians) of the charge of "king of the Jews" by having Jesus answer "no contest" (therefore explaining the sign on the cross) to the "out of the blue" alleged accusation by Pilate:
Mk15:2 "Then Pilate asked Him, "Are You
["Do you want to become" would be a lot more realistic]
` the King of the Jews?" He answered and said to him, "It is as you say".
[but implied as a no-reply according to the next three verses "... But Jesus still made no reply ..."]"
a) In GMark, this is the first time Jesus is referred as "king".
b) Ten verses later, "Mark" indicated (late and consequently rather reluctantly) where this 'king of the Jews' came from:
Mk15:12 ""What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews ?" Pilate asked them [the crowd]."
c) In this following verse, "Mark" took pain to "demonstrate" "this Christ" (Jesus) was not "this [temporal] King of Israel" (as hoped for by the welcoming Jews):
Mk15:32a "[the chief priests and teachers of the law]
"Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross,
[which he did not, proving them wrong!]
` that we may see and believe."
[but only if Jesus would escape from the cross when still alive!]"
d) The alleged answer of Jesus ("It is as you say") is totally unrealistic. A categoric "NO" would be expected from someone who had never been a (temporal) king; but "Mark" had to explain the charge on the cross! However later on, as already mentioned, he suggested this answer is actually a no-reply ("... But Jesus still made no reply ..."): "Mark" did not want Jesus acknowledging he is a king.
e) Contrary to popular belief, the O.T. has never David riding a donkey or making a grand entry in Jerusalem. The closest association of David with donkey(s) is in:
2Sa16:2 "The king [David] asked Ziba, "Why have you brought these?"
Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the desert.""
Furthermore, "Mark" had Jesus saying (or acknowledging) he is the "Son of man" (2:28,8:31,38,9:9,12,31,10:33,45,14:21,41), the "Son of God" (3:11-12,14:61-62), the "Lord" (2:28,5:19,7:28,11:3) and the "Christ" (14:61-62). But "Mark" never had Jesus saying he is (or will be) a king or has (or will have) a kingdom.
Note: however later on, all the other gospel authors did just that, differently:
- Mt25:31-40 "[as allegedly said by Jesus (Mt26:1)] When the Son of Man [Jesus] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another. ... Then the King will say to those on his right ... The King will reply ..."
- Lk22:29 "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,"
- Jn18:36-37a "Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. ..." "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king ...""
Writing for mainly Gentile Christians (Mk7:3-4,17-19,10:12,12:35-37,13:10) and denying Jesus as "Son of David", "Mark" was certainly not going to "create" Jesus as king (of the Jews!). And then, why have Jesus as specifically "king" (five times) when "Lord" (as in Mk11:3b "[Jesus allegedly saying]
The Lord needs it
[the donkey] ...") or "Christ" would have been more Christian and less worldly.
Furthermore, Paul (and other authors of N.T. epistles) never called Jesus "king" in his letters (addressed to Gentile Christians). Certainly "Mark" did not get "king" from him.
It seems the "royal" shouts (and
welcome mats!) before the entry in Jerusalem
must have been reported and the author felt
obligated to mention them. And then, the
eyewitnesses could not be expected to recall
the shouts, one by one; but
the general idea
could be remembered and was stylized by "Mark" in this clever assemblage, avoiding the word "king":
Mk11:9b-10a "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" and "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David"
And "Mark" included "Hosanna [Hebrew for "Save (us)"]" (Mk11:9) and "Hosanna in the highest ["Save (us) in heaven"]" (Mk11:10) probably in order to instill a much needed Gentile Christian counterpoint.
But who hailed Jesus as the new King? Could it be
"the whole crowd of disciples"
(Lk19:37, written later)?
Very unlikely, according to Mk8:29-30:
"He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ [anointed one]". Then He strictly warned them [the disciples] that they should tell no one about Him
[very similar wording as in:
Mk5:43a "He gave strict orders not to let anyone knows about this, ..."
used there to explain the disciples never talked about the girl's revival (because that did not happen!). See Section 13, "HJ-2a"]"
Very likely, (when he was in Corinth) Peter never said Jesus was the Christ and "Mark" had to "explain" why.
So, it is very improbable the disciples were proclaiming that Jesus was the King (as Christ). And the poor Galileans, who were necessarily travelling "light", were probably not among the "many people" who "spread their cloaks on the road".
Before going any further, let's consider
the following for future reference:
Word search (according to the NKJV), as indicative of the "coloring" of the different gospels:
a) "king": Mk = 11, (Q = 0), Mt = 20, Lk = 8, Jn = 16
b) "Son of David": Mk = 3, (Q = 0), Mt = 10, Lk = 4, Jn = 0
c) "Son of Man": Mk = 14, (Q = 8), Mt-Q = 24, Lk-Q = 16, Jn = 12
- Let's notice the high occurrence of "Son of Man" in the Jewish Christian writings, "Q" and GMatthew.
- In his letters (to Gentile Christians), Paul never called Jesus "Son of Man".
- In size, "Q" is about one third of GMark, the shortest of the four gospels. More details in "The Q source"
"Son of God": Mk = 3, (Q = 2), Mt-Q = 6, Lk-Q = 4, Jn = 10
e) "Lord": Mk = 18, (Q = 7), Mt-Q = 56, Lk-Q = 77, Jn = 43
f) "Christ": Mk = 7, (Q = 0), Mt = 17, Lk = 13, Jn = 21
g) "kingdom of God/heaven": Mk = 15, (Q = 9), Mt = 5/32, Lk = 33, Jn = 2
Note: in GMark, Jesus is never called by his disciples "king", "Son of David", "Son of Man", "Son of God" (as also in GLuke & 'Acts'), "Lord" or "Christ"/"Messiah" (except once 8:29-30). As additions, the other Synoptics have the followers calling Jesus "Lord" (Mt = 8, Lk = 11) and "Son (of God)" (Mt = 2, Lk = 0). Let's notice the trend from GMark to the other two!
In 'Acts', the Galileans (including Peter & John) use "Lord" and "Christ" for Jesus but never call (& preach) him as "Son" (of God/David/Man), but rather as "servant" (of God), as in 3:13,26,4:27,30 (and for David in 4:25). The Greek word for "servant" is 'pais', which means child or servant; its translation as "Son" (as in 3:13,26 for the KJV) is therefore misleading.
But Paul calls (& preaches) Jesus as "Son of God" in Ac9:20! Here, "Son" is 'huios' in Greek, which is used in all the expressions of "Son of God/David/Man".
"Matthew" stressed Jesus as the King (2:2,16:28,26:34,40), Son of David (from the Davidian dynastic (royal) line, Solomon to Jeconiah: Mt1:6-11), Son of Man & Christ and a kingdom of heaven/God (coming on earth 6:10,26:31).
The emphasis for "Luke" is on Jesus as the Lord (Paul's preferred title for Jesus) and not a king (or rebel). Certainly, "Luke" declared also Jesus to be "Son of David", but not from the royal line (Lk3:31).
"John" presented Jesus mainly as the (pre-existent) Son of God, Christ and king (Jn18:36-37) of a kingdom in heaven but not as "Son of David". The author avoided the issue of the kingdom of God (to come soon).
Now, let's go back on the following point:
From whom came the welcome and the shouts at the "triumphal" entry?
On this delicate but important issue, each one of the other gospel authors reacted differently:
(his gospel was written for Jews & Jewish
"king of the Jews"; Mt5:18-19,10:5-6,23,15:22-24) basically copied Mark's version, and we read:
"As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him" (Mt20:29) and then, close to Jerusalem "a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road ... The crowds that went ahead of him and whose that followed shouted, "... Son of David ..."" (Mt21:8-9)
"Matthew" seemed to acknowledge the "a very large crowd" who spread their cloaks were not all of the "a large crowd" who followed Jesus from Jericho.
"Matthew" might have allowed for an old tradition: the "royal" welcome had been from people who came from Jerusalem.
"Luke", who addressed the gospel to Gentile (and Roman citizen) Christians (but also acknowledging the inroads of Jewish Christianity), was intent to remove any thought that the shouts were uttered by people from Jerusalem (not to have Jesus seen as a would-be king and rebel):
Lk37b-38a "the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they have seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
["king" is "against the grain" for "Luke"]"
And the negative impact of the shouts was reduced by having them as an expression of joy, rather than a proclamation (and above all, not expressed by the welcoming crowd!).
"John" never denied many beliefs of Jewish Christians & Ebionistic believers. His gospel was intended, in part, to bring those (to be born again) into (pre-existent "Son of God" & equal to the Father) Pauline/Apollosine Christianity (1Jn2:19,2:22-23). "John" had no problem into acknowledging Jesus' brothers (2:12,7:3,5,10), his human father (1:45,6:42), and "king of the Jews": 6 times! a record among gospels. However, the author went on some damage control: he pointed out that "king of the Jews" came about because Jesus' claims to be a king in some other world (Jn18:37,19:12,21) and not because the people see him as a king (Jn19:14b-15,21).
a) The last point is in conflict with Jn2:49,12:13 "king of Israel".
b) "John" also avoided the issue of Son (or seed) of David.
According to Jn12:12-13:
"The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!""
Well, at least, "John" was acknowledging the people who welcomed Jesus as a king were not the ones who followed him. Also here, Jesus rides the donkey after the shouts are mentioned.
"Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but
since it was already late, he went out to Bethany
[to spend the night]
Bethany was a village about two miles east of the temple, in a valley behind the Mount of Olives.
This is likely a Sabbatical year (the seventh year),
AND the "King" (for some) is entering Jerusalem --the capital city of the Jews and the (earthly) Kingdom of God--,
AND this Kingdom had been proclaimed to be at hand,
THEREFORE it should not be surprising that "Luke" indicated:
"he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once." (Lk19:11b)
But could the Kingdom descend on earth if God's Temple was "uncleaned"?
19. THE "DISTURBANCE" IN THE TEMPLE
The next day, bolstered by his welcome and upset by the money dealing, buying and selling (and generally any merchant's activity) within the temple court, Jesus did the "disturbance", seemingly on his own.
Mk11:15-16 Darby "And they come to Jerusalem, and entering into the temple, he began to cast out those who sold and who bought in the temple,
[what is "bought and sold" would include animals for sacrifice about atonement (forgiveness) of sins but also regular commercial transaction]
` and he overthrew the tables of the moneychangers
[local or Tyrean money had to be obtained for the annual temple tax or for some guilt/sins offerings. The money changers could only make a meager living. So Jesus' objection was probably against the sight of money (coins).
"... On the 25th day of Adar [the month before Passover], money changers were installed within the temple to help into collecting the half-shekel donation [tax] ..." Talmud, Megillah 29]
` and the seats of the dove-sellers,
[doves were the usual offering of the poor, but the price of birds got outrageous during Jesus' times:
"... It eventually came to pass that the cost of two birds [as sold in the temple for sacrifice] rose startlingly to one gold zuz." Mishna, Kritut 1:7]
` and suffered not that any one should carry any package through the temple.
[the temple court was used as thoroughfare to carry goods, which could be considered as a form of desecration. That would prove Jesus cared about the temple, as his followers (the "Nazarenes" like Peter, John and James) certainly did.
The last verse is more accurately translated as such: "and kept not permitting one to carry vessel through the temple."]"
How could Jesus single-handedly do a "disturbance"
Even if the "triumphal entry" might have involved no more than a few hundreds, that was enough to make Jesus a subject of interest. The next morning in the temple, Jesus would be surrounded by a large crowd (as in Mk12:12b) which very likely included not only his followers and "welcomers" but also many curious onlookers (including sympathizers). When Jesus confronted a merchant, buyer or dealer, this person would not try to oppose him for fear of that crowd. And there is no indication given here that Jesus did (or even tried to) end all occurences of the aforementioned four activities, as thought by some.
Now, let's examine what Jesus would be objecting by doing the "disturbance".
- Could the court of the holy temple be used as a market-place and throughway?
No, if you are concerned about the defilement of the sanctuary, as multitudes of Jews were in these days (Josephus' Wars II, IX, 2-3 & II, X). As indicated also in Jn2:16b "... How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!". Furthermore, many might have thought a defiled & unclean temple, unworthy of God, was delaying the arrival of the Kingdom.
- Could anyone get in the good grace of God with money?
Then the rich could easily enter the Kingdom! That was against Jesus' main message.
- Could the sacred temple be also a place for transaction involving (worldly) money changing hand?
No, if you were a poor and pious Jew.
Some big questions:
- Did Jesus get carried away by the kingly welcome of the day before?
- Did he think, for a while, to have a shot at ruling?
- Did he do the disturbance in order to show what he would accomplish, in order to garner more support? Maybe, considering a "cleansing" of the temple would matter little if short-lived & partial.
- Did he do the disturbance in order to incite his followers to imitate him and achieve an immediate & complete "cleansing" (possibly believed by Jesus and others to be a requisite for the arrival of God's Kingdom on Earth)? Maybe, but it does not look they did that.
And it is likely these commercial transactions were profitable not only to the merchants but also (by way of fees and bribes for example) to the "owners" of the temple, the priests. And the following saying could very well explain the thinking of Jesus, as probably shared by many righteous Jews (including Essenes):
Lk16:13b "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
[or mammon: wealth regarded as source of evil]" Also in Mt6:24
In other words, is the temple about God or money?
"Mark" tried to put a theological spin about Jesus' actions in the temple:
Mk11:17 "... he said, "Is it not written: "`My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,'? But you have made it a `den of robbers.'""
First, the quote comes from two different sources:
"My house [the temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations" is part of Isa56:7. But "den of robbers" is from:
Jer7:11 "Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? ..."
But here, the robbers are not the merchants in the temple, but Jewish sinners who did horrible deeds (including stealing) outside and then felt "safe" because they would visit the temple afterwards:
Jer7:9-10 "Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"--safe to do all these detestable things?
[no mention here of merchant's activities in the temple! No mention in the "Jesus' disturbance" of Jewish criminals/sinners visiting the holy place for atonement!]"
a) Isa56:7/Jer7:9-11 (meaning, wording and "thrust") is so much irrelevant (relative to Mk11:15-16) that it cannot be considered the basis for Mark's narration of Jesus' disturbance. It is rather an awkward justification of Jesus' acts through some "reverse midrashism" (= explaining an embarrassing fact as a re-enactment of a scripture passage or the fulfilment of a prophecy). Strangely enough, a collage of bits from Mal3:1, Hos9:15 & Zec14:21 might have been a better choice, but obviously was "missed" by "Mark".
b) Another argument for embarrassment (from Mark's point of view): in the later "trials" (14:53-15:15), the disturbance is not mentioned.
c) The two other synoptic gospelers "reduced" the disturbance: "Matthew" removed the last clause (21:12), "Luke" kept only the first one (19:45).
These disruptive actions, in the crowded temple court, a very sensitive and potentially explosive place at that time of the year (see note at end of this section), were bound to alarm the priests and the high priest, Caiaphas. For these highest ranking Jews (some of them Sadducees, members of a Jewish sect), the temple was a great source of income (through tax, donations and fees for animal sacrifice). They were allied to the Romans and desirous to maintain the peace & status quo (and keep the money coming!).
In these days, Jerusalem was booming, about tripling its population in the next forty years (from twenty-thirty thousand inhabitants). And by far, the biggest money maker in the city was the temple: directly or indirectly, almost everyone, here and around, was depending on it for a living; there was little else.
Jesus was detrimental to business, a bad example and a dangerous trouble maker: he had to be dealt with, and as quickly as possible.
And certainly the Sadducees were not well disposed about a kingdom of God being near and the ruckus it generated: their beliefs were based on the Pentateuch (Ant., XIII, X, 6), and there is nothing here of that sort.
They, and the other priests, must have feared any bold preaching, disrespectful attitude and dangerous deeds that the "superstition" might cause, as it did already (and the sacred year had just begun!). A strong deterrent was needed.
They decided to have Jesus put to death:
Mk11:18a "And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy him; for they feared him ..."
But how? The "disturbance" in the temple probably warranted only a public flogging. Prosecution before the Sanhedrin (religious Jewish tribunal, with strict procedures and rules, whose most severe sentence was death by stoning) would be long, probably controversial, unpopular and with no certain outcome. Jesus, the "man of God" from Galilee, could hardly have been considered a heretic (or a bona fide revolutionary): the "Nazarenes", who included some of his followers, managed to live later many years in the shadow of the temple, and in more difficult times.
But the priests knew about the "triumphal entry" and the Jews who believed in Jesus to become the King. That made it easy to brand Jesus as a dangerous rebel, trying to start a revolt, as his actions in the temple could be construed as such.
PS: the Temple during Passover
A) Josephus in Ant., XVIII, II, 2:
"As Coponius, who we told you was sent along with Cyrenius, was exercising his office of procurator [7-23C.E.], and governing Judea, the following accidents happened. As the Jews were celebrating the feast of unleavened bread, which we call the Passover, it was customary for the priests to open the temple-gates just after midnight. When, therefore, those gates were first opened, some of the Samaritans came privately into Jerusalem, and threw about dead men's bodies, in the cloisters; on which account the Jews afterward excluded them out of the temple, which they had not used to do at such festivals; and on other accounts also they watched the temple more carefully than they had formerly done."Notes:
a) In Josephus' works, this is the only reported disturbance in Palestine from 8C.E. to 25C.E. Except for one chief brigand, Tholomy, who operated only in trans-Jordan in the forties (Ant., XX, I, 1), no insurrectionist, Sicarii or Zealot activities are mentioned or suggested up to around 46, when Alexander crucified two sons of Judas of Galilee (Ant., XX, V, 2). However, troubles started in Palestine under Cumanus (48-52). Then, in two connected crises, the later governor, by his harsh reactions, caused almost a general sedition (Ant., XX, V, 3-4; see next paragraph for first one).
b) In 'History of the Jews' (V, IX), Tacitus is not aware of any unrest during Pilate's rule (26-36C.E.):
"Under Tiberius [14-37C.E.] the Jews had rest."
B) Josephus in Wars, II, XII, 1:
"Now after the death of Herod, king of Chalcis, Claudius set Agrippa, the son of Agrippa, over his uncle's kingdom, while Cumanus took upon him the office of procurator [48-52C.E.] of the rest, which was a Roman province, and therein he succeeded Alexander; under which Cumanus began the troubles, and the Jews' ruin came on; for when the multitude were come together to Jerusalem, to the feast of unleavened bread, and a Roman cohort stood over the cloisters of the temple, (for they always were armed, and kept guard at the festivals, to prevent any innovation which the multitude thus gathered together might make,) one of the soldiers pulled back his garment, and cowering down after an indecent manner, turned his breech to the Jews, and spoke such words as you might expect upon such a posture. At this the whole multitude had indignation, and made a clamor to Cumanus, that he would punish the soldier; while the rasher part of the youth, and such as were naturally the most tumultuous, fell to fighting, and caught up stones, and threw them at the soldiers. Upon which Cumanus was afraid lest all the people should make an assault upon him, and sent to call for more armed men, who, when they came in great numbers into the cloisters, the Jews were in a very great consternation; and being beaten out of the temple, they ran into the city; and the violence with which they crowded to get out was so great, that they trod upon each other, and squeezed one another, till ten thousand of them were killed, insomuch that this feast became the cause of mourning to the whole nation, and every family lamented their own relations."
20. PILATE ORDERS JESUS TO BE CRUCIFIED
Each Passover period, the Roman prefect, with his small army of auxiliaries (made up of Roman-trained Gentiles from western Palestine), went to Jerusalem to watch the proceedings; it was a time when as many as hundreds of thousand of Jews congregated.
Pontius Pilate was likely approached about Jesus. Weeding off any potential rebel leader was a preoccupation and duty for any prefect, considering the minimal Roman military presence in Judea. Also, after the failed attempt to defile the temple, an embarrassed Pilate was likely anxious to redeem himself and inclined to accept any reasonable request from the priests. If the possibility of a riot following Jesus' arrest was a concern, Pilate could have been reassured: John the Baptist's seizure did not cause any. Therefore, Pilate agreed to the crucifixion of Jesus. At the time, crucifixion was administered only by the Romans and reserved for non-Roman criminals or rebels.
Someone perceived as a rebel did not have the benefit of a fair trial. Josephus in Ant., XX, V, 2, wrote:
"the sons of [former rebel] Judas of Galilee were now slain; ...The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander [Roman procurator in Judea 46-48C.E.] commanded to be crucified"
Note: Josephus never said the two sons ever rebelled. Also, John the Baptist did not go to trial: Josephus in Ant., XVIII, V, 2, wrote:
"Accordingly he [John] was sent a prisoner ... to Macherus ... and was there put to death."
Also, let's see what happened to Theudas the prophet, hardly a rebel: no trial here either!
Josephus' Ant., XX, V, 1:
"Now it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea [44-46C.E.], that a certain magician whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words.
However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem ..."
Note: it seems that some of the Jews in these days were very gullible: just the promise of a "sign" would have them flocking around a "prophet". And the massacre happened in the same area where huge crowds had been gathering around John the Baptist, unmolested: times had changed!
Josephus told many stories about Roman administration of "justice"; as in Wars, II, IX, 4:
"after this, he [Pilate] raised another disturbance, by expending [spending] that sacred treasure which is called Corban [the temple treasury] upon aqueducts, ... At this the multitude had great indignation; and when Pilate came to Jerusalem, they came about his tribunal, and made a clamour at it.
Now when he was apprised beforehand of this disturbance, he mixed his own soldiers in their armor with the multitude and ordered them to conceal themselves under the habits of private men, and not indeed to use their swords, but with staves to beat those who made the clamour. He then gave the signal from the tribunal. Now the Jews were so sadly beaten, that many of them perished as trodden to death, by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain, and held their peace."
In Josephus' second version in Ant., XVIII, III, 2, we read:
"... and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man,
[these demonstrators were full of unusual temerity]
` as crowds of such people usually do. ... and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not;
[these unfortunate people protesting peacefully may have been among the ones who did the same thing (successfully and unharmed) in Cesarea. At that point, God could not be seen as granting immunity to his "Chosen Ones" in order to have them in the Kingdom to come. Also there, God appears not to protect his temple (here, its sacred Corban) as he was thought doing earlier]
` nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition."
After such a turn of events, doubts were bound to be raised about any involvement of God in the earlier "event of Cesarea". And the Jews must have reconsidered their beliefs about a Kingdom to come soon; many of them probably dismissed the idea. But the ones who did not would be despondent and in search for any hope.
This episode happened likely soon after Jesus' times and not before it. Why?
Right after such a deadly repression, many Jews would not have risked their life into welcoming someone as a king, an obvious act of sedition (and in view of the Antonia fortress, the Roman garrison quarters!). But noticing the audacity of these protesters insulting Pilate, an earlier demonstrative "royal" reception for Jesus would not be out of question.
Evidently, Pilate had learned his lesson (no warning this time). Also there was no discrimination between insulting and respectful protesters. Administrating a deterrent was more important than fairness.
From now on, brutal and bloody repression was enforced against any crowd of protesters or any "prophet" & followers. In the next decades, that became the norm, with one notable exception in 41C.E. (Wars, II, X).
Josephus in Ant., XVIII, IV, 1, wrote:
"But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults [in 36C.E.]. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there.
So they came thither armed,
[the Samaritans claimed later they were trying to escape the violence of Pilate by being armed. But the individual weapons they had were futile against the Roman-trained soldiers. However, after a delegation of Samaritans complained to Vitellius, the Roman president of Syria, Pilate was sent to Rome (in winter! a form a punishment) to explain his action to the emperor]
` and thought the discourse of the man probable; and as they abode at a certain village, which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together;
but Pilate prevented their going up, by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that were gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action, some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain."
No trial here either! What a difference (and evolution) in the reactions of Pilate between this event and the one in Cesarea, ten years before! Later, Philo of Alexandria will write about Pilate:
"and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned" (On the embassy to Gaius, XXXVIII)
Generally speaking, it looks the civil Roman laws were not applied to troublemakers and suspected rebels. For them (the Samaritan prophet, Theudas, the two sons of Judas of Galilee), an expedited execution without trial was the norm. But what about confirmed rebels?
- Simon, the son of Gorias, one of the two main Zealot leaders during the siege of Jerusalem, was executed after the triumphal ceremony in Rome (Wars, VII, V, 6). No mention of any trial, only a condemnation.
- Josephus, the one-time Jewish general in Galilee, surrendered in Jotapata, but not before a fierce fight and inflicting losses to the Romans (Wars, III, VII-VIII). But he charmed his captors, more so Vespasian & Titus, and became a free man. No condemnation here, and certainly no trial!
So, according to the evidence, it is highly probable Jesus did not go through any trial, more so because the trials in the gospels do not make any sense:
- The Sanhedrin assembles in the middle of the night, with no more than a few hours notice.
"... Sanhedrin Holding Court on Passover Eve: This was definitely illegal and unnecessary. Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.1k says a conviction can only be given a day after the trial in capital cases (also 5.5a), and for this reason it specifically says no trial of a capital case can occur on the eve of a Sabbath or a Festival (because court cannot go back in session on such a day). Likewise, 4.1j explicitly says that capital cases can only be tried during the day (in explicit contrast with property cases which must begin during the day but can end at night). There is no intelligible reason why these procedures would have been violated for Jesus." Richard Carrier- Next morning, Pilate is the judge of an impromptu public trial, where the crowd ultimately decide of the outcome.
Note: I explained the making of Jesus' trials by "Mark" on this page.
21. THE FIG TREE, THE LAST SUPPER AND THE EMPTY TOMB
The cursing of the fig tree:
Earlier in the same day, as
"they were leaving Bethany"
(Mk11:12) for Jerusalem:
Mk11:13-14 "And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves,
[around Jerusalem, fig trees can have leaves as early as late March but do not ripen their first fruits (taqsh in Arab) before June]
` He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.
[(the cursing), and also the whole Christian community, probably from Peter!]"
Then allegedly, one day later, the next morning:
Mk11:20-21 "Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.""
About two months too early, a fig tree in late March/April near Jerusalem, even in full leaves, do not have edible fruits. However, a story about a fruitless fig tree --which withered some time after being cursed by Jesus-- must have been authentic: even if it was an embarrassment, the Christians in Mark's community heard and accepted it as genuine; and the author had no other choice but to include it in his gospel.
However, "Mark" did try his best to deflate the negative impact of the story by presenting it as an introduction & illustration of some alleged teaching by Jesus:
Mk11:22-23 "So Jesus answered
[Peter's observation about the withered fig tree is not a question!]
` and said to them, "Have faith in God.
[what does that have to do with the unfortunate fig tree? "Mark" was quickly moving away from the initial anecdote towards unrelated preaching]
` For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
[having Jesus miraculously moving a heavy object (or even better, a mountain) would have been a very appropriate introduction for this preaching (but certainly not the cursed & withered fig tree!). And "Mark" was likely inspired by Paul in 1Co13:2 "... if I have a faith that can move mountains, ..."]"
a) I never heard of anyone able to move mountains by faith. However, with a minimal effort, someone can make any tree to wither. It even happens naturally (because of diseases & parasites or lack of water & nutrients).
I know: I have two spruce trees on my front lawn which partly wither, summer after summer; and I have to prevent the spreading of this situation to the whole of the tree. And I certainly did not curse them!
b) Jesus is allegedly preaching about faith able to move mountains. But Jesus was never described to have done just that in the gospels!
The same can be said about Jesus being on the receiving end of:
"... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Mt5:39 also Lk6:29a)
"... If someone take you cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic." (Lk6:29b also Mt5:40)
"take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals ..." (Mt10:10a)
It is most likely that someone, involved in this "extreme" preaching but without practicing it, would be challenged and put to the test. And one cannot imagine asking others for this kind of deeds, without himself showing the proper example, even if it meant a lot of suffering!
Any action in this regard would have been well remembered and related by eyewitnesses. Certainly, the Cynic sages were reported to practice what they were preaching (like walking bare feet, consuming a marriage in public or living in a barrel). However, that's just not the case with the aforementioned Jesus' sayings, which probably are not authentic and added later on to his credit.
c) Could anyone cursing a fig tree because it did not have any fruit, also preached about "love your enemies" (Mt6:44 & Lk6:27)? Once again, Jesus is said to preach something he has not been reported to practice. But in this case, the cursing of the tree seems to deny this "extreme" alleged Jesus' preaching is authentic. Furthermore, this could have been initiated from:
(Paul's) Ro12:14a "Bless those who persecute you"
Let's compare this with:
Mt5:44 "... Love your enemies [do not rebel!] and pray for those who persecute you,"
d) There is no hint anywhere in GMark this fig tree or the one in Mk13:28 represents Israel. Especially for Mk13:28:
"Now learn this lesson about the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near."
Right after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Christians in those days, hoping for the second coming to arrive soon (Mk13:14-27), certainly were not going to wait for Israel to recover as a nation!
However, some scholars insist that the story about the fruitless fig tree, cursed and withered, is drawn from:
Jer8:13 "'I will take away their harvest, declares the LORD [God]. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.'"
Here, the fruitless & withered fig trees are a punishment for the Jews of Israel. However in Mk11:12-13, it is a hungry Jesus who is suffering from the fruitless tree, not the Jews, later described as his enemies wanting his crucifixion (Mk14:55,15:12-15). And the withering in Mk11:20-21 is interpreted as a punishment for the fig tree. In other words, in Jer8:13, the punishment affects the Jews; in Mk11:12-13,20-21, it affects Jesus, and then, after the cursing, the fig tree.
And of course, according to the "explanation" for the withering in Mk11:22-25, there is no hint about any chastening.
Certainly, if "Mark" was inspired by Jer8:13, his story about the fruitless fig tree (and later withering) would have strongly alluded to some future reprisal: not a trace!
And if Mk11:12-14,20-21 was a "historicization" of Jer8:13, why mention a cursing by Jesus? Certainly, the story could have been told without this embarrassing item!
But what about "it was not the season for figs", making Jesus look rather "disconnected" with realities?
As it seems, "Mark" was not too concerned about that:
Mk6:37a "But he [Jesus] answered, "You give them [5000!] something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages!""
But why was the story of the fig tree told, in the first place?
In all likelihood, Peter had been hard pressed to relate any anecdote seemingly proving Jesus had miraculous gifts. Later, this display of negative power (generally attributed to Satan, alias the devil or Beelzebub) may have generated concerns about the true identity of Jesus (Mk3:23-30).
And the cursing and later withering of the fig tree most likely happened the year before, in the proper season (June-September). Peter did not mention the location where it occurred and other details because that would be obvious or superfluous:
a) The location was Galilee, where Jesus and his followers spent the summer.
b) The time between the cursing and when the tree was found withered might have been many days (reduced to "immediately" in GMatthew 21:19).
Later, "Mark", who had to tell this story to lend credibility to his gospel (by including eyewitness(es)' accounts, even if many were "against the grain"), tried to make the best possible use (as we saw already for Mk9:10) in transporting it to Judea, the early spring of the next year (definitively the wrong time), most likely in order to:
a) Bring some badly needed anecdotal material in Jesus' stay in Jerusalem prior to his execution.
b) "Prove" there was a "day after" the "disturbance" when Jesus (as a free man) and his disciples walked again by the fig tree and found it withered.
In all likelihood, "Mark" extended Jesus' stay in Jerusalem for the following reasons:
a) Give many opportunities for Jesus to preach where and to whom he never did before: in a city and to educated & prominent Jews, even priests & teachers of the Law (Mk11:18,27-33,12:1-34).
b) Have the "Last Supper" to coincide with the Jewish Passover feast.
The "Last Supper":
In the 1Corinthians letter, the "Last Supper" setting as a Passover meal might have been inadvertently inspired by Paul:
1Co5:6-8 "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are [if there was no boasting!]. For Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."
Paul's imagery relates to the Passover (one particular day) and the overlapping Festival of the unleavened bread (14 days), when bread without yeast (a symbol of purity "sincerity and truth") is eaten, instead of the leavened bread (symbol of impurity "malice and wickedness"). Naturally, Christ's sacrifice is associated with Passover (the day in the year) as a turning point: before, "malice and wickedness"; then and after "sincerity and truth".
b) If Jesus was known to have been executed during Passover, or the day before (the day of sacrifice of the lambs - Jn18:28,19:14,31), Paul and the author of 'Hebrews' (whose main subject is the sacrifice of the Son of God) would certainly have emphatically proclaimed it and used it in their theological dissertations: they did not.
c) In 'Hebrews', there is no mention of the "Last Supper" and the Eucharist, even if the overall theme of the letter is begging for their insertions. Note: the author knew of eyewitness(es)' accounts (Heb2:3b).
The Eucharist's content of the "Last Supper" seems to have been inspired from Paul in his 1Corinthians epistle:
1Co6:15 "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? ..."
1Co10:15-16 "I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
[these words indicate the following intellectual proposition was new for the Corinthians]
` Is not the cup of Thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
[altogether with 1Co10:18 (see next quote), how could Paul propose such a concept if he knew Jesus originated the Eucharist and the Christians were already told about it (1Co11:23)? Note: I think now that 1Co11:23-28 is an interpolation: see here for more explanations]"
1Co10:18 "Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?"
Note: the practice of eating bread first (in antiquity, the main food) and then after the meal drinking wine, is a Gentile tradition and not a Jewish one:Needless to say, after these observations, I do not trust the Last Supper in GMark to be factual.
"... a two part sequence of eating and drinking, of breaking bread and pouring a libation before drinking wine, or more simply, of bread and wine, summarizes and symbolizes the whole process of a Greco-Roman formal meal"
John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus.
After the extended stay in Jerusalem and
the Passover Supper, "Mark" suddenly went
into an "accelerated mode", as to catch up
for lost time:
a) Right after the supper, Jesus is arrested.
b) "The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin" (Mk14:55a) convene and interrogate Jesus during the same night (???).
c) "Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate" (Mk15:1)
Note: the Sanhedrin was not supposed to be so expeditious and assemble at night. Pilate would not have appreciated to be drawn out of bed, unprepared, for some impromptu (public!) trial.
d) Jesus is crucified around nine A.M. (Mk15:25).
e) Jesus dies on the cross after only six hours (Mk15:33). Usually, it would take two to three days for a crucified one to die.
f) The resurrection happens about forty hours (at most) after Jesus' death, despite Jesus' alleged earlier predictions that he would "rise" after three days (Mk8:31,9:30,10:34).
That brings us to the empty tomb.
The Empty Tomb:
"... Jesus gave them
orders not to tell anyone
what they had seen
until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead
I explained already in "HJ-2b" that Peter and the "Nazarenes" never believed in resurrections.
Here, their telling of the "transfiguration" is conditional of Jesus' rising from the dead. But because they did not know what "rising from the dead meant", they never related the "high mountain scene" to anyone. And for good cause: its description has so many incongruities that it could not have come from eyewitness' accounts. And there is more, as explained in the aforementioned page ...
"He said to them
[allegedly], "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed
into the hands of men. They will kill him,
and after three days he will rise." But they did not understand what he meant
and were afraid to ask him about it."
We are reminded the disciples did not understand Jesus saying, among other things, "he will rise". And they are not asking him about it either!
Note: the aforementioned quote also suggests Peter never "understood" the theological (Christian) significance of Jesus' suffering, rejection and death, all of that as part of a God's plan (1Th5:10, 1Co2:6-8)!
It is confirmed in:
Mk8:31-33 "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."Remark:
In 1Co1:11-2:16, written right after Peter's visit to Corinth, Paul seems to be counteracting Peter's lack of a "Christian vision":
1Co1:23 "but we preach Christ crucified [no mention of resurrection]: a stumbling block to Jews ... [Gal2:14 "... [Paul saying to Peter] You are a Jew ..."]"
1Co1:18a "For the message of the cross is foolishness [no explanation on the message] ..."
1Co1:25a "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom ..."
1Co2:6-7a "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age
[Satan is "the god of this age" as suggested by Paul himself:
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers" (2Co4:4a)
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Ro16:20)
That would explain why Peter (as an unbeliever) is accused of being Satan (Mk8:33)!]
` ... No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden ..."
1Co2:10a "but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit [but not to Peter!]"
1Co2:14 "But the natural man
["BDAG 1100 s.v... an unspiritual pers., one who merely functions bodily, without being touched by the Spirit of God." NET Bible]
` does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,
[reminder: "You [Peter] do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Mk8:33]
` for they are foolishness to him ..."
1Co2:16b "But we [Paul and his Christians] have the mind of Christ."
"But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
But then, if the disciples did not know what "risen" meant, they would not be looking for Jesus after his crucifixion!
Except of course, if they would have been reminded about it, after the "rising" was
(also for the benefit of the latter gospel
readers/listeners!) and explained:
Mk15:57 "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid [Jesus' body in the tomb]."
Mk16:5-7 "As they [three women] entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, `He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
The young man does know that without the testimony & message from the women, Peter and the disciples would never be looking for Jesus in Galilee!
Unfortunately, these women do not accomplish their mission!
Mk16:8 "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
If the disciples did not learn about the "rising" of Jesus and were not reminded about some future "vision" of him, they would never interpret something (like dreams) or someone (as in Lk24:15-16) as being an emanation of the resurrected Christ! And that would explain why Peter and the other disciples never said anything about the empty tomb and, above all, the "rising", because they (or anyone else) had not been told!
But how could someone know about the empty tomb and the women's experience? And be so sure that anyone of those, at any time, did not divulge the 'empty tomb' event?
The only solution appears to be that the 'empty tomb' story was not known before, and therefore generated for the gospel.
Here ends GMark, the earliest gospel written. Later on,
post-mortem apparitions (when Jesus says
will pick up snakes in their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it
will not hurt them
at all") and other oddities (some conflicting with Mk14:27-28,16:7-8) were added to it:
A) Answering Marinus, Eusebius (around 310) wrote:
"The accurate ones of the copies, at least, circumscribe the end of the history according to Mark in the words of the young man seen by the women, who said to them: Do not fear. You seek Jesus the Nazarene, and those that follow, to which it further says: And having heard they fled, and said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. For in this [manner] the ending of the gospel according to Mark is circumscribed almost in all the copies."
B) "the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20"
"[Mk16:9-20 verses] are absent from important early manuscripts [such as Vaticanus and Sinaticus] and display certain particularities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark. His gospel probably ended at 16:8 ..."
(The NIV Study Bible)
"It [Mk16:9-20] is in a different style, and is little more than a summary of the appearances of the risen Christ, all of which could be derived from other NT writings. One MS gives indeed a shorter ending after v. 8: 'they reported briefly to Peter's companions what they have been told. Then Jesus himself through their agency broadcast from east to west the sacred and incorruptible message of eternal salvation.' Four MSS give the shorter ending and add the longer to it. One MS has the longer ending with the following insertion between vv. 14 and 15: ..."
(The New Jerusalem Bible)
See also the most complete rebuttal here.
Let's note the likely inspiration for the statements about snakes and deadly poison:
In 'Acts' (published around 90C.E.) we have:
"But when Paul [in Malta, late 60C.E.] had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand ... But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm." (Ac28:3-5)
And in Eusebius, 'History of the Church', 2, 39, the following is written:
"He [Papias, around 120] also mentions another miracle relating to Justus, surnamed Barsabas, how he swallowed a deadly poison, and received no harm, on account of the grace of the Lord."
Another version from Philippus Sidetes, Hist. Eccl. fragm. in Cod. Barocc. 142, (5th century):
"Papias reported as he received from the daughters of Philip that Barsabas who is also Justus, [a member of the church of Jerusalem (Ac1:23)] challenged by unbelievers, drank the venom of a viper in the name of Christ and was protected unharmed."
A) 'Empty tomb' and (some) reappearances discrepancies:
a) In Mt28:8-10, two (not three!) women meet the resurrected Jesus after they leave the tomb and tell the disciples. Then the apostles see the risen Jesus in Galilee (28:16-20) for the first time, as told by Jesus (twice! 26:32,28:10) and an angel (not a young man!) in the tomb (28:7).
Mt26:32 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."
Mt28:10 "Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."
Mt28:7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. ..."
b) In Luke's gospel, there is no mention of any apparition to the women:
Lk24:9-10 "When they came back from the tomb [where they had met "two [not one!] men in clothes that gleamed like lightning" (Lk24:4)], they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others [at least five women!] with them who told this to the apostles."
Then Jesus appears to his (eleven) disciples (& other followers) in Jerusalem (24:33-49) for the first time, in the evening, about fifteen hours after the alleged resurrection: NOT enough time to go to Galilee (3-4 days walk away) & back, according to GMatthew!
c) In Jn20:10-18, (only) Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ close to the tomb, but it is during a second visit!
d) In Jn20:2-9, Peter himself witnesses the empty tomb, after (only he & another disciple) were told by (only) Mary Magdalene!
B) "After three days" and resurrection:
Apologists contend than "after three days" is the same than "on the third day". I disagree even if I think the later does not conflict with the (about) 40 hours of Jesus' death maximum duration. This time period is spread over three different calendar days (Roman --sunrise to sunrise-- as implied in Mk15:33-34) from around 3 PM (Mk15:34) on the day before the Sabbath (Mk15:42) up to early morning of the day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week (Mk16:1-2).
1) Evidence about "after three days" is the fourth day and "the third day" is "after two days":
1.1) The fourth day (and NOT the third) immediately follows a period of three days, according to ancient customs:
a) Jdg19:4-5a "Now his father-in-law, the young woman's father, detained him; and he stayed with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there.
Then it came to pass on the fourth day that they arose early in the morning, and he stood to depart ..."
b) 2Ch20:25b-26a "... and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much.
And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, ..."
c) Josephus' Wars, V, VIII, 2 "Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus"
d) Josephus' Ant., IX, I, 3 "He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemy's camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance ..."
1.2) And the third day is the next one after two (NOT three) days (as the seventh day follows six days):
a) 2Sa1:1-2a YNG "And it cometh to pass, after the death of Saul, that David hath returned from smiting the Amalekite, and David dwelleth in Ziklag two days,
and it cometh to pass, on the third day, that lo, a man hath come in out of the camp from Saul ..."
b) Ex16:26 "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none."
c) Ex20:11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day."
d) Lev23:3 "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day [is] a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work"
e) Jos6:3-4 " ... you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. ... But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times"Note: in the O.T., there is only one clear-cut exception of that rule:
After Jeroboam says "Depart for three days, then come back to me." (12:5c)
1Ki12:12 "So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, "Come back to me the third day."" (12:12)
Let's notice the words in italics are not what the king says in 12:5 and appear to be an attempt to cover a mistake in the narration at 12:12a. In other words, it looks 12:12b says emphatically "no, this is not an error" and may have been added by an interpolator.
The same verses got copied in 2Ch10:5,12.
g) Josephus' Wars, III, VIII, 1 "Thus he concealed himself two days; but on the third day, when they had taken a woman who had been with them, he was discovered."
h) Josephus' Wars, IV, VIII, 1 "... Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages."
i)Josephus' Ant., I, XIII, 2 "Now the two servants went along with him two days; but on the third day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those servants that were with him till then in the plain, and, having his son alone with him, he came to the mountain." 2) How to explain "after three days"?
In Mk8:31,9:31,10:34, "Mark" had Jesus predicting (thrice) his "rising" after three days (according to the Alexandrian text, deemed the earliest by most scholars). However, even with the forty hours of death (maximum) being distributed over three consecutive calendar days, the last moment of these forty hours cannot be considered after three days, because the third day is not over yet. Let's note also there is no indication, in the 'empty tomb' passage, on when the resurrection occurs: it could have happened very early on!
But then, why "after three days", rather than the more appropriate "on the third day", as "corrected" in GMatthew (Mt16:21,17:23,20:19) and GLuke (Lk9:22,13:32,18:33,24:7)?
It appears that more than three days of death before becoming alive again is required for a (true) resurrection:
Jn11:23-25a "Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again [but Martha thinks that will happen later, and not now from Jesus]." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day". [but Jesus is intent to demonstrate he can perform resurrection!] Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life [which he proves next, in the case of Lazarus!]."
Jn11:39 ""But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man [Lazarus], "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there [in the tomb. For Jews, it is the custom to bury soon after death, usually the same day] four days""
Jn12:17 "... he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead ..."
Let's note, that according to:
Jn12:6-7 "So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again.""
Jesus delays inexplicably his return, preventing him to resurrect Lazarus some two to three days after death!
After three days, it seems the body is considered irremediably corrupted and beyond a mere revival. So getting alive after being dead more than three days is an act of God!
Jn11:4 "When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness [of Lazarus] is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
Rev11:11 "But after the three and a half days breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them."
More evidence from later Jewish sources:3) Notes:
a) Midrash Genesis Rabbah 100.7 "Bar Kappara taught: Until three days [after death] the soul keeps on returning to the grave, thinking that it will go back [into the body]; but when it sees that the facial features have become disfigured, it departs and abandons it [the body]. Thus it says, `But his flesh grieveth for him, and his soul mourneth over him' [Job14:22]"
b) Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 18:1 "For three days [after death] the soul hovers over the body, intending to re-enter it, but as soon as it sees its appearance change, it departs, as it is written, `When his flesh that is on him is distorted, his soul will mourn over him.' [Job14:22]"
3.1) Considering 1Co15:3-11 as an interpolation (see here for explanation), then "Mark" would be the one who first mentioned a delay between Jesus' death and rising (& specified "after three days" as for a true resurrection). Why?
Probably in order to "prove" the resurrection of dead Christians (an area of great concern for the Corinthians, as seen through 1Co15:1-2,12-58 & 2Co5:1-10); because earlier, in several occasions, Paul drew a close parallel between Christ's rising and the future ones of the deceased believers:
1Th4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."
1Co15:15-18 "Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished."
1Co15:20 "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits [first & example, forerunner] of those who have fallen asleep." 3.2) How "Matthew" and "Luke" handled the problem: differently!
a) "Matthew" pretended that 'after three days' and 'until the third day' have the same meaning:
Mt27:63-64a "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day ...""
And "Matthew", in order to have Jesus provide a sign, introduced an error: there is no third night in the alleged period of Jesus' death (about forty hours), from Friday afternoon (Mt27:46) to Sunday at dawn (Mt28:1):
Mt12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man [Jesus] will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
[Hades (Mt16:18), into which dead people's souls were thought to inhabit (Hellenistic belief)]"
b) Carefully avoiding the issue, "Luke" removed all "after three days" and replaced them with "on the third day" (9:22,13:32,18:33).
PS: did "Mark" "arrange" to have Jesus resurrected on Sunday?
First, we have to investigate if Sunday (the
first day of the week) was a day of celebration
for Christians, before the writing of GMark.
Let's examine any clues from Christian texts
either written before or referring to the
period prior to 70-71C.E. (when the gospel
was written). There are only two:
a) Written 55C.E., Paul in 1Co16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."
There is no indication here of Christian gathering on this particular day. Paul's command is about setting some money aside from the earnings of the preceding week, (logically) right after it ended.
b) Written around 90C.E., Ac20:6-7 "But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread [58C.E.], and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight."
Let's note Ac20:7 is part of one of the "we" passages, which include many details of trivial & anecdotal nature. Here, "the first day of the week" seems incidental and not necessarily an indication Paul & companions were observing a "Christian" Sunday. Rather, the cause of Paul's (long) message to his companions, probably located after supper (with its ritual breaking of the bread -- see Ac2:46), is very obvious: after a restful stay of several days in Troas, the meeting place for Paul & his disciples, time had come to begin, on the next day, the dangerous journey to Jerusalem; therefore Paul felt obligated to address his companions the evening before.
Let's also notice 'Acts' was written about twenty years after GMark and consequently Sunday might have already become by then a special day in Luke's community!
Furthermore, neither Paul, nor GMark (or any other canonical books) asked the Christians not to observe the Sabbath. In Mark's gospel (& the other Synoptics), Jesus is shown not fanatical about the Sabbath (causing disapproval from Pharisees & teachers of the Law), but certainly not against it ("And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man but not man for the Sabbath."" Mk2:27a, but not reproduced in GMatthew & GLuke).
Therefore, there is no evidence Sunday was observed in any ways by Christians before 70-71C.E.
Note: later, Sunday will become progressively the day of celebration (and rest) for Gentile mainstream Christians:
a) Written around 97C.E., epistle of Barnabas (15): "Wherefore also we keep the eight day [the day next to Sabbath, the seventh day of the week] for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead ..."
b) Written around 135C.E., the Ignatian letter to the Magnesians (9): "... no longer keeping the Sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord's day, on which day also our life rose through him ..."
c) Written around 155C.E., Justin Martyr's 1Apology (67): "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits ... But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because ... Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead"
But if the resurrection was not "rushed" in order to have it fall
on a Sunday, why place it forty hours (max) after
death, and not "after three days"
as allegedly prophesied by Jesus?
The answer may be it was thought the only reason for any followers to go back to the tomb (and witness the corpse's disappearance) would be "to anoint Jesus' body" (Mk16:1b). But how to explain a long delay between the burial and the next visit?
According to GMark (16:1), by way of a Sabbath day with its following night, occurring right after the burial.
Remark: the Sabbath and following night might also have been selected because of the improbability Joseph of Arimathea or/and the disciples moved Jesus' body to a new burial place during that time period.
That fits the interpolator writing the "empty tomb" as if it was an unbiased detailed factual report, explaining many things (& preventing adverse suppositions), such as:
- Why female followers were in Jerusalem then.
- "Proving" Jesus' death on the cross was very short.
- Making sure the women know about where is Jesus' tomb.
- Indicating why the women would want to go to the tomb.
- Mentioning the women concern about opening the tomb.
- Seeing a young man rather than interpreting him as an angel.
- The women being told by the young man/angel the body is missing because "He has risen".
- The young man/angel giving instructions to the women.
- Why the empty tomb story was not known (prior to the gospel).
Note: besides above remark, why would the women not visit the tomb every day, until they find it empty (after three days)?
They were thought not able to open the tomb by themselves (this detail not mentioned in GLuke & GJohn):
Mk15b:46b,16:1-4 "... in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb ... Now when the Sabbath was past ... [three women] bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him ... they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was very large."
Consequently, finding the tomb opened but not empty, at the first visit (in order for the women to go inside), would have looked very odd. And the writer probably did not want to suggest the tomb could be opened easily by people (and the body removed!). That's why he stressed the stone "was very large" as a deterrent against its displacement (by human means).Remark: that was not enough for "Matthew": the tomb is sealed & guarded, then the stone is rolled out by an angel during "a violent earthquake" (Mt27:66-28:2).
PS: who wrote the 'empty tomb' passage?
Here is a list of the clues suggesting Mk15:40-16:8 as being an early interpolation:
A) "After three days" not matching the forty hours (as explained earlier)
B) Peter as not one of the disciples:
Mk16:7 "But go, tell His disciples--and Peter-- that He is going before you into Galilee; ..."
Here Peter is seen as an outsider relative to the disciples. But that's never the case in the rest of Mark's gospel, where Peter is always treated as one of the disciples, such as in:
Mk8:33 "But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, ..."
C) Jesus is already anointed for burial (prior to his arrest):
Mk14:8-9 "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. ... what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."
It does not look another "anointing" is required. And with Jesus' resurrection only forty hours later (maximum), then the earlier anointment in Bethany would not be necessary!
Remark: let's notice how odd and unrealistic (even ridiculous) is that anointment for burial (14:3-9):
- It happens day(s) before the crucifixion! But normally that is performed on a corpse.
- It is done by pouring the "pure nard" (an entire jar!) on the head! However the "perfume" should be rubbed on the whole body.
- The anointing would render Jesus highly fragrant when still alive!Notes: it seems that "Mark" "forced" a fictitious anointment for burial on a living Jesus. Why? Probably because he knew none could have been done after Jesus' death (conflicting with Jn19:39b-40). Also the anointment of Jesus looks suspiciously very similar to the one in 1Samuel10:1a: "Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head ...".Seemingly aware of the "problems",
- "Matthew" copied from GMark, almost word by word, the anointment for burial in Bethany (26:6-13) and, apparently thinking that was enough, had the women go back to the tomb with NO mention of any intended "anointing" (28:1).
- "Luke" removed altogether the anointment (for burial) in Bethany (but kept the later attempt by the women).
- "John" skillfully never mentioned the whole perfume was poured on Jesus (Jn12:3) (but "Mark" implied it! 14:3-4) and wrote: "But Jesus said, "Let her alone; *she has kept this for the day of My burial [to come!]."" (Jn12:7). Therefore there is no anointment for burial then; it is done later, at the proper time (when Jesus is dead!): his body is given the full treatment at burial ("in accordance with Jewish burial custom") by two men (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) (Jn19:38-42).
D) The 'empty tomb' passage starts by "retroactive" "data":
The three women who cared after Jesus all over Galilee, and with many other female followers, came with Jesus to Jerusalem & witnessed the cross (15:40-41), and which day was the one of the trial & crucifixion (15:42): why are these women with their past endeaviours not introduced before (contrary to Lk8:1-4 and, partly, to Mt20:20,27:56) and the day of execution mentioned after the facts (contrary to Jn19:14)? Likely because "Mark" had no plan to use them!
E) Naming of women:
"Mark" was not prone to name women (and to mention them!), that is prior to the 'empty tomb' passage. Before Mk15:40-16:8, only two women are named: Mary (6:3), Jesus' mother and Herodias (6:17,19,22), wife of tetrarch Herod Antipas (4 namings within 649 verses). And, as quoted earlier, the anointing women (14:3-9), despite her act being qualified as momentous, is glaringly anonymous (other women not named: Jesus' sisters --but the brothers are!--(6:3), the bleeding one (5:25-34), Herodias' daughter (6:22-28) and the Syrophoenician (7:25-30)). But, suddenly, at 15:40, three women are named (their names appear again in 15:47 (minus one) and 16:1) (8 namings within 16 verses).
I doubt that abrupt change of pattern could come from a same writer.
F) The parable of the tenants does not foresee Jesus' "honorable" burial:
Mk12:8 Darby "And they took him and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard." (parable of the tenants)
If, as commonly accepted (including myself), the "they" stands for the chief priests, "him" for Jesus (the Son) and the "vineyard" for Jerusalem, then the parable (a disguised (alleged) prophecy) appears not to anticipate Joseph of Arimathea (not "they", as the ones who killed Jesus) to carry and lay (not "cast forth") the body of Jesus into a tomb. Seemingly aware of the problem, "Luke" (20:15) and "Matthew" (21:39) had the son thrown out from the vineyard before he is killed.
G) The verse before the 'empty tomb' seems well-suited for a gospel ending, more so relative to a Gentile audience under Roman rule:
Mk15:39 "So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God [or "was a son of God". In GMark, this is the only time Jesus is declared "Son/son of God" by a sane person]!"
This is a very positive & cheerful final note, much better than "They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.", inviting doubts & questions.
Note: Dominic Crossan, in 'the Historical Jesus', pages 415-416, also suspects the original gospel ended at 15:39.
In conclusion, in view of the aforementioned points (foremost the first one), I think there is more than enough for claiming "Mark" did not write the 'empty tomb' passage. Then considering, in order to "prove" Jesus' resurrection, the gospel author relied only on:
a) the (alleged) prophecies about it by Jesus himself (as in 8:31,9:31,10:34), combined with he being an excellent prophet (even predicting the fall of Jerusalem!).
b) the alleged prior resurrection of a biblical notable: Moses' one, "proven" in 9:2-8.
c) little else, except for the testimony of Paul (1Co9:1) and likely other "apostles in Christ", claiming to have "seen" the heavenly Jesus in some way.
it makes sense an early editor/interpolator (probably the first one) felt more was needed, more so in term of physical direct "evidence".
However, a bodily reappearance was not dared going for: that will be done later by others.
Note: Discontinuities with Mk14:28 and Mk16:7:
Mk14:27-29 "You will all fall away, Jesus told them, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
[28=>] But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.
[29=>] Peter declared, Even if all fall away, I will not."
Would Mk14:28 be also an interpolation?
a) Peter's answer (14:29) ignores totally 14:28.
b) In 14:28, no reason is stated about why would Jesus go to Galilee before his disciples. But it will be done later, at the empty tomb, to the women (16:7 "... tell his disciples and Peter, "he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him ...""). Then why was it NOT stated (by Jesus himself) directly to the disciples in 14:28 (more so because the women never relay the message!)?
Also in 14:28, there is no mention of a future Jesus' sighting, but should have been said then, as per 16:7 ("... There you will see him, just as he told you").
It is unlikely a same person wrote 16:7 and also 14:28, because of the discontinuities! And 14:28 may have been interpolated as an abbreviated "evidence" for 16:7.
22. JESUS' DAY IN THE TEMPLE
In the temple, the crowd around Jesus was his protection. No arrest was made there but it may have been considered:
Mk12:12 "then they look for a way to arrest him [Jesus] ... But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away."
Probably, the priests feared an outright riot which, regardless of the outcome, would be detrimental. For this reason, the intervention of the Roman army in the temple court had to be considered inappropriate and likely to backfire. Taking in account the risks involved and the puny nature of the infraction (the "disturbance"), their involvement was not likely to be authorized by the Roman commander (or Pilate). Also, the authorities might have been anxious to avoid a situation like the one which happened in Cesarea.
From this, Jesus and his followers likely felt a false sense of security and believed God gave them immunity.
As the day progressed, it is probable the interest in Jesus started to vane away: Jesus' lack of education, combined with his objectionable, unexpected and "foolish" behavior (the "disturbance") were prone to disconcert the curious onlookers. His Galilean accent was likely to turn off the Judeans. They did not rally around Jesus, who certainly did not look like the King in waiting, as many had been led to believe.
23. JESUS' ARREST
At the end of the day, the temple emptied. Then,
"When evening came, they [Jesus and company] went out of the city." (Mk11:19)
Probably when Jesus and followers were settling for the night, near Bethany and in the countryside, Jesus was arrested by "... a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests ..." (Mk14:43)
Mk14:46-47 "The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword
[travelers were allowed to carry weapons as protection against bandits. Even the Essenes did that:
Josephus' Wars, II, VIII, 4 "... they [Essenes] carry nothing with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves."]
` and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear"
Confronted by a well armed and numerous "police", Jesus' companions had no choice:
Mk14:50 "Then everyone deserted him [Jesus] and fled."
Being outnumbered, with any resistance deemed futile, they took the opportunity given to them to flee: certainly a very logical and understandable move which does not have to be explained by some midrashic consideration.
Note: the fellows around Jesus certainly did not defend him fanatically. But stubborn resistance against all odds could be expected for protecting a charismatic cult/movement (Christ-like) leader, suggesting this Jesus was not considered one of those.
His Galilean followers eventually went back
to their home as indicated in:
Mk14:28 (also Mt26:32) "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Mk16:7 (also Mt28:7) "[the young man/angel at the empty tomb to the women]
` But go, tell his disciples and Peter, "he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.""
They disowned him and dispersed:
Mk14:27 (also Mt26:31) ""You will all fall away" Jesus told them, for it is written: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.""
Mark's obvious reference of Zec13:7 is likely a dignified way to explain why the followers abandoned Jesus (in body and soul), an embarrassing fact. This looks also to be another good case for reverse midrashism.
Note: contrary to Mk14:27-28,16:7 and Mt26:31-32,28:7 and
Jn16:32a: "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone.",
GLuke removes from GMark any prophecies about the disciples going to Galilee, dispersing and disowning Jesus. Furthermore, the disciples and the other Galilean followers stay together (Lk24:33).
24. JESUS' CRUCIFIXION
Note: it is often told (such as in movies like 'The God Who Wasn't There', 'Zeitgeist' and 'Religulous') there were many believed "crucified saviors or gods" in antiquity. However, for each case, any testimony in that regard (if ever existing!) is very dubious. And the ancient evidence either deny some of these deities ever died, or, for the ones who died, specify by other ways than crucifixion!
It seems the whole disinformation started from a book by Kersey Graves 'The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Or Christianity Before Christ' (published 1875).
Richard Carrier, an atheist and scholar, wrote: "[the aforementioned book] is unreliable, but no comprehensive critique exists. Most scholars immediately recognize many of his findings as unsupported and dismiss Graves as useless. After all, a scholar who rarely cites a source isn't useful to have as a reference even if he is right... In general, even when the evidence is real, it often only appears many years after Christianity began, and thus might be evidence of diffusion in the other direction." (Richard Carrier, Kersey Graves and the World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors)
However Carrier did find one "crucified" god (the Sumerian Inanna, likely forgotten in the Roman world many centuries later), but admitted she was believed killed first, then nailed on a stack (not exactly crucified!).
In 1Apology, ch.54, Justin Martyr (150-160) acknowledged some pagan myths imitated "things" attributed to Christ, and existed prior to Christianity. He explained "They have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race". These aforementioned myths include
a) being a son of god (for Bacchus, son of Jupiter)
b) going to heaven (for Bacchus, Bellerophon and Perseus)
c) born of a virgin (for Perseus)
d) "heal every sickness and raise the dead" (for Aesculapius)
But at the beginning of the next chapter, Justin declared: "But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified".
Jesus was delivered to the Romans and, in the morning, crucified, abandoned by all. "Jesus ... endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame ..." (Heb12:2 Darby)
"The written notice of the charge against him
read: THE KING OF THE JEWS"
(Mk15:26, also (with elaborations) in Mt27:37, Lk23:28 and Jn19:19)
This was not a claim by some followers: it was an official statement! And "Many of the Jews read this sign ..." (Jn19:20a).
"whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect." Quintilian, Roman rhetorician, (35-95C.E.), Decl 274
Note: the arrest by the high priest's people and later crucifixion by the Romans seem to confirm that Jesus' "disposal" was the result of a deal between the priests and Pilate ('you arrest him, we crucify him').
king of the Jews
(Mk15:2,9,12,18,26; Mt2:2,27:11,29,37; Lk23:3,37,38;
Jn18:33,39,19:3,19,21,21) was being crucified (1Co1:23,2:2,8; 2Co13:4;
The derisive words ("THE KING OF THE JEWS") were meant to cool off any expectation (and associated unruly behavior) about the coming of a kingdom of God and persuade people not to look for any "Messiah" (or pretend to be one): see what's happening to your "King", he is on a cross in "disgrace" (Heb13:13)!
a) In Josephus' Wars (published 78 or 79C.E.), the expression "king of the Jews" is used for:
- Herod the Great, the Herodian king: I, XIV, 4 and I, XX, 1
- Jeconiah, the Davidian king: VI, II, 1
- Alexander Janneus, the Hasmonean king: VII, VI, 2
b) The gospels, starting by Mark's one (15:16-20,41-42), have Jesus, because of the charge of "king of the Jews", mocked during the Passion. That would be understandable and may have a historical basis.
The priests must have been appeased.
After his early blunder, the smartened Pilate was encouraged (Paul in 2Co13:4a "For to be sure, he [Jesus] was crucified in weakness ...") to reassert his authority (which he did!).
Most Jews were probably losing faith in the Kingdom and for many, the Jesus' incident had been plainly embarrassing:
Lk24:20-21a "and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we [Cleopas (a Greek name!) and others] were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel."
Opened in Cesarea one year and a few months ago, the short lived "window" of hope was closing, and later on, its very existence would be forgotten.
And the activist Jews, who kept believing in the Kingdom being near and with Jesus as its King, were likely devastated and utterly confused: soon after his "triumphal entry" in Jerusalem, their Jesus got officially confirmed as the King and, at the same time, put to death!
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, died on the cross (1Th5:9-10; 1Co8:11,11:26; 2Co4:10,14,5:14-15; Php2:8; Gal2:21; Ro5:6,8,6:10,8:34,14:9,15; Heb2:9,14,9:15). Eventually, his corpse had to be disposed of, but no tomb was known later to contain his remains.
Note: in contrast, "Mark" supplied this seemingly superfluous detail:
"... John's disciples came and took his body [John's] and laid it in a tomb." (Mk6:29)
likely in order to make the following point:
With an accounted dead body,
(unlike the one of Elijah (2Ki2:1,11), "proven" to be alive: Mk9:4)
and a known tomb
(unlike the one of Moses (Dt34:6), also "proven" to be alive: Mk9:4)
John the Baptist could not have risen (and therefore be Christ!).
=> Next: HJ-3b, Sections 25 to 27 "The beginning of Christianity"