Crucifixion of a slave?

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Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:32 pm

This is a little game of what if, in five steps, just exploring various options in the (at least potentially) early epistles.

What if (1) we were to take the Christ hymn in Philippians more literally when it says that Christ took the form of a slave? That is, in early Pauline circles, Jesus was not thought of as the free peasant he appears to be in the gospels, but was regarded as actually in servitude of some kind and as actually having died the kind of death one might die in such servitude. Philippians 2.5-11 NASB:

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant [μορφὴν δούλου], and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross [θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ]. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Martin Hengel writes of this passage on page 62 of Crucifixion in the Ancient World:

This basic theme of the supplicium servile also illuminates the hymn in Philippians 2.6-11. Anyone who was present at the worship of the churches founded by Paul in the course of his mission, in which this hymn was sung, and indeed any reader of Philippians in ancient times, would inevitably have seen a direct connection between the 'emptied himself, taking the form of a slave' (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών) and the disputed end of the first strophe: 'he humbled himself and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross'. Death on the cross was the penalty for slaves, as everyone knew; as such it symbolized extreme humiliation, shame and torture. Thus the θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ is the last bitter consequence of the μορφὴν δούλου λαβών and stands in the most abrupt contrast possible with the beginning of the hymn with its description of the divine essence of the pre-existence of the crucified figure, as with the exaltation surpassing anything that might be conceived (ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν). The one who had died the death of a slave was exalted to be Lord of the whole creation and bearer of the divine name Kyrios. If it did not have θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ at the end of the first strophe, the hymn would lack its most decisive statement. The careful defence of its unity from both poetical and theological criteria by Otfried Hofius can therefore be supported also from its content, the supplicium servile: 'If the climax of the first strophe lies - in terms of both language and content - in the mention of the death of the cross, the assertion that in the pre-Pauline hymn the incarnation was understood as the real saving event and the death merely as its unavoidable consequence can no longer be held to be credible. On the contrary, we are forced to suppose that the hymn already presupposes a firm view of the saving significance of the death of Jesus.

(The phrase supplicium servile means slave's punishment, a common epithet for crucifixion, since crucifixion was a common means of executing rebellious or otherwise troublesome slaves. Hengel makes a case here for μορφὴν δούλου λαβών being original to the Christ hymn, and I have to admit that the hymn has more kick with it than without it, but whether it came to Paul as part of the hymn or Paul added it in himself does not really matter for my purposes here.)

One can easily imagine Roman or other rulers crucifying suspected members of a slave rebellion, so perhaps that is what we find in 1 Corinthians 2.6-8 NASB:

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age [τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου] has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory....

What if (2), however, we also take seriously the apparent tension between Jesus being crucified by human rulers and the seemingly naïve Pauline statement (assuming it is not an interpolation) to the effect that rulers are a source of fear only for wrongdoers? Romans 13.1-7 NASB:

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

For Paul, after all, Jesus was no wrongdoer; 2 Corinthians 5.21 NASB:

21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

What if (3), then, we adopt the view that the rulers in 1 Corinthians 2.6-8 are the demonic powers and then take up the option, the availability of which I have argued for elsewhere, that those demonic powers are standing behind human agents of some kind? Now, it does our attempts to satisfy Romans 13.1-7 no good to replace human rulers with demons standing behind human rulers, since in neither case are human rulers a threat only to wrongdoers. But elsewhere I have laid out evidence that masters held the power of life and death over their slaves in the days of the Roman republic and early empire.

What if (4), in other words, Jesus was imagined in Pauline circles as a slave who was unjustly put to death by his own master(s), with no duly appointed state officials involved in any real way?

The picture that would emerge from this game of what if looks like this:

Aggressor(s)
Victim
Heavenly Aspectthe rulers of this agethe Lord of glory
Earthly Aspectmaster(s)?slave/servant

Finally, what if (5) this picture were confirmed in the main in another epistle altogether, one not written by Paul? 1 Peter 2.13-24 NASB:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

18 Servants [οἱ οἰκέται], be submissive to your masters [τοῖς δεσπόταις] with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Notice that the discussion of earthly rulers evinces the same apparent naïveté that we find in Paul: rulers punish evildoers and praise who do right. Notice also that the suffering and crucifixion of Christ is not mentioned in the section about earthly rulers.

No, the crucifixion appears only in the section about masters and servants, only after, in fact, it has been admitted that not all masters are good and gentle; some are unreasonable.

Is it possible that a very early layer of Christianity imagined Jesus as having been an actual slave, crucified by a cruel master (at the behest of demonic powers)? What do you think, pro or con?

Ben.
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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by maryhelena » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:48 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:This is a little game of what if, in five steps, just exploring various options in the (at least potentially) early epistles.

What if (1) we were to take the Christ hymn in Philippians more literally when it says that Christ took the form of a slave? That is, in early Pauline circles, Jesus was not thought of as the free peasant he appears to be in the gospels, but was regarded as actually in servitude of some kind and as actually having died the kind of death one might die in such servitude. Philippians 2.5-11 NASB:

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant [μορφὴν δούλου], and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross [θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ]. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Martin Hengel writes of this passage on page 62 of Crucifixion in the Ancient World:

This basic theme of the supplicium servile also illuminates the hymn in Philippians 2.6-11. Anyone who was present at the worship of the churches founded by Paul in the course of his mission, in which this hymn was sung, and indeed any reader of Philippians in ancient times, would inevitably have seen a direct connection between the 'emptied himself, taking the form of a slave' (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών) and the disputed end of the first strophe: 'he humbled himself and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross'. Death on the cross was the penalty for slaves, as everyone knew; as such it symbolized extreme humiliation, shame and torture. Thus the θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ is the last bitter consequence of the μορφὴν δούλου λαβών and stands in the most abrupt contrast possible with the beginning of the hymn with its description of the divine essence of the pre-existence of the crucified figure, as with the exaltation surpassing anything that might be conceived (ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν). The one who had died the death of a slave was exalted to be Lord of the whole creation and bearer of the divine name Kyrios. If it did not have θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ at the end of the first strophe, the hymn would lack its most decisive statement. The careful defence of its unity from both poetical and theological criteria by Otfried Hofius can therefore be supported also from its content, the supplicium servile: 'If the climax of the first strophe lies - in terms of both language and content - in the mention of the death of the cross, the assertion that in the pre-Pauline hymn the incarnation was understood as the real saving event and the death merely as its unavoidable consequence can no longer be held to be credible. On the contrary, we are forced to suppose that the hymn already presupposes a firm view of the saving significance of the death of Jesus.

(The phrase supplicium servile means slave's punishment, a common epithet for crucifixion, since crucifixion was a common means of executing rebellious or otherwise troublesome slaves. Hengel makes a case here for μορφὴν δούλου λαβών being original to the Christ hymn, and I have to admit that the hymn has more kick with it than without it, but whether it came to Paul as part of the hymn or Paul added it in himself does not really matter for my purposes here.)

One can easily imagine Roman or other rulers crucifying suspected members of a slave rebellion, so perhaps that is what we find in 1 Corinthians 2.6-8 NASB:

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age [τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου] has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory....

What if (2), however, we also take seriously the apparent tension between Jesus being crucified by human rulers and the seemingly naïve Pauline statement to the effect that rulers are a source of fear only for wrongdoers? Romans 13.1-7 NASB:

13 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

For Paul, after all, Jesus was no wrongdoer; 2 Corinthians 5.21 NASB:

21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

What if (3), then, we adopt the view that the rulers in 1 Corinthians 2.6-8 are the demonic powers and then take up the option, the availability of which I have argued for elsewhere, that those demonic powers are standing behind human agents of some kind? Now, it does our attempts to satisfy Romans 13.1-7 no good to replace human rulers with demons standing behind human rulers, since in neither case are human rulers a threat only to wrongdoers. But elsewhere I have laid out evidence that master(s) held the power of life and death over their slaves in the days of the Roman republic and early empire.

What if (4), in other words, Jesus was imagined in Pauline circles as a slave who was unjustly put to death by his own master(s), with no duly appointed state officials involved in any real way?

The picture that would emerge from this game of what if looks like this:

Aggressor(s)
Victim
Heavenly Aspectthe rulers of this agethe Lord of glory
Earthly Aspectmaster(s)?slave/servant

Finally, what if (5) this picture were confirmed in the main in another epistle altogether, one not written by Paul? 1 Peter 2.13-24 NASB:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

18 Servants [οἱ οἰκέται], be submissive to your masters [τοῖς δεσπόταις] with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Notice that the discussion of earthly rulers evinces the same apparent naïveté that we find in Paul: rulers punish evildoers and praise who do right. Notice also that the suffering and crucifixion of Christ is not mentioned in the section about earthly rulers.

No, the crucifixion appears only in the section about masters and servants, only after, in fact, it has been admitted that not all masters are good and gentle; some are unreasonable.

Is it possible that a very early layer of Christianity imagined Jesus as having been an actual slave, crucified by a cruel master (at the behest of demonic powers)? What do you think, pro or con?

Ben.

Interesting exercise, Ben...

My position upholds two contexts, two Jesus stories in the NT. One earthly and one 'heavenly' - or more precisely, one context is historical and the other context is philosophical. Within a historical context, the context in which the gospel Jesus story is set, a crucifixion of a slave would not have the social and political impact a crucifixion of a King would have. (the gospel story running with a 'King of the Jews' scenario). Sure, Philo has the story of the mocking of Carabbas - a madman mocked as a King - but the mocking was related to the visit of Agrippa to Alexandria. Thus, a parallel would be that the mocking of Jesus in the gospel story - and labeling him a King of the Jews - would indicate a connection to a historical figure. In this case a historical figure, a King, who was hung on a cross. (re Cassius Dio).

The second context, the 'heavenly' or philosophical context. It is within this context that the crucifixion of a slave idea can be interpreted. Philosophy deals with ideas. Ideas are our 'slaves' - they do our bidding. However, they can become outdated. We sometimes have to 'kill' them off for our own good. Sometimes old ideas might go quietly and other times have to be dragged off to their netherworld.

What the NT writers have done is combine these two contexts. History; Hasmonean/Jewish history has become the backbone of the gospel story. Philosophical ideas have become the backbone of NT theology/spirituality. Together the two contexts, mind and matter, history and philosophy, produce the NT story.

So - it's not a case of pro or con a 'slave' crucifixion scenario - it is a case of which context one places this 'slave' crucifixion in.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by robert j » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:21 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:This is a little game of what if, in five steps, just exploring various options in the (at least potentially) early epistles.

What if (1) we were to take the Christ hymn in Philippians more literally when it says that Christ took the form of a slave? That is, in early Pauline circles, Jesus was not thought of as the free peasant he appears to be in the gospels, but was regarded as actually in servitude of some kind and as actually having died the kind of death one might die in such servitude. Philippians 2.5-11 NASB:

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant [μορφὴν δούλου], and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross [θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ]. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I think one need look no further than the LXX to understand why Paul would characterize his Jesus Christ as a servant. Isaiah is particularly relevant ---- (Isaiah, LXX, NETS)

Be my witnesses; I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and the servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe and understand that I am. (43:10)

And he said to me, “It is a great thing for you to be called my servant so that you may set up the tribes of Iakob and turn back the dispersion of Israel. See, I have made you a light of nations that you may be for salvation to the end of the earth.” (49:6)

And the Lord shall reveal his holy arm before all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation that comes from God … See, my servant shall understand, and he shall be exalted and glorified exceedingly. (52:10-13)

Isaiah is pregnant with passages that were used by early believers, by means of allegorical readings, to discover --- find, reveal, see, prove, understand --- Jesus Christ. Several aspects of the Philippians’ Christ hymn can be found in Isaiah.

In Philippians 2:7 Paul used the Greek δούλου for servant or slave. In the passages from Isaiah cited above, the Greek term translated as servant is some form of παῖς --- however, the concept is the same ---

--- in Isaiah 49:3 and 5, forms of δούλου --- the same word Paul used --- are used in the same train of thought and to express the same concept as παῖς in verse 6. and,

--- in the Masoretic text for all of these LXX verses, (a form of) the same Hebrew term is used --- a term clearly signifying a servant or slave.
Last edited by robert j on Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:32 pm

robert j wrote:I think one need look no further than the LXX to understand why Paul would characterize his Jesus Christ as a servant. Isaiah is particularly relevant ---- (Isaiah, LXX, NETS)

Be my witnesses; I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and the servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe and understand that I am. (43:10)

And he said to me, “It is a great thing for you to be called my servant so that you may set up the tribes of Iakob and turn back the dispersion of Israel. See, I have made you a light of nations that you may be for salvation to the end of the earth.” (49:6)

And the Lord shall reveal his holy arm before all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation that comes from God … See, my servant shall understand, and he shall be exalted and glorified exceedingly. (52:10-13)

Isaiah is pregnant with passages that were used by early believers to discover --- find, reveal, see, prove, understand --- Jesus Christ. Several aspects of the Philippians’ Christ hymn can be found in Isaiah.
Yes, very good point.
In Philippians 2:7 Paul used the Greek δούλου for servant or slave. In the passages from Isaiah cited above, the Greek term translated as servant is some form of παῖς --- however, the concept is the same ---

--- in Isaiah 49:3 and 5, forms of δούλου --- the same word Paul used --- are used in the same train of thought and to express the same concept as παῖς in verse 6. and,

--- in the Masoretic text for all of these LXX verses, (a form of) the same Hebrew term is used --- a term clearly signifying a servant or slave.
Right. So do you think it possible that Paul and his circle discovered from such passages that Jesus was actually a slave or servant, in a sense literal enough both to prove consonant with crucifixion and to provide a master who might do the crucifying, as opposed to state authorities?

IOW, could this be a layer of tradition, based on scripture, that preceded stories linking Jesus to official figures such as Pilate and Herod Antipas?

Ben.
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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:00 pm

maryhelena wrote:Within a historical context, the context in which the gospel Jesus story is set, a crucifixion of a slave would not have the social and political impact a crucifixion of a King would have.
What if, at the time in which the tradition had Jesus as a crucified slave, the purpose was, not to make a sociopolitical impact, but rather simply to fulfill progressively revealed scripture?

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by outhouse » Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:14 pm

Your whole OP hinges on how one views a hotly contested view of the socioeconomics of Galilee.

Ill stick with the most recent archeologist.
Ben C. Smith wrote: Is it possible that a very early layer of Christianity imagined Jesus as having been an actual slave, crucified by a cruel master



Ben.
Not by a cruel master. Death by a Hellenistic corrupt government running the temple in Jerusalem.


As far as a slave, why not? is the real question. Of course there were some who thought that as Israelites were oppressed by Romans and ran in the ground by Antipas. The diversity of the early communities dictates many different views started at the same time. So different opinion is the norm here. Hellenist should view oppressed cultural Jews as slaves, and under Antipas thumb even more so, who exploited the peasants to the point of servitude.

Martin Hengel writes
Not the best person to use as a source, While his contribution were needed at that time period, much of is views on the permeation of Hellenism in Judaism are outdated and unsubstantiated.

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by robert j » Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:06 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:Right. So do you think it possible that Paul and his circle discovered from such passages that Jesus was actually a slave or servant in a sense literal enough both to prove consonant with crucifixion and to provide a master who might do the crucifying, as opposed to state authorities?
At least in terms of their allegorical midrash --- a servant in the realm of the scriptures in the FORM of a human servant in order to suffer and die on behalf of mankind. I think associating this with a death at the hands of a slave-master is taking it all too literally.

If Paul had worked it out in any detail beyond what seems to be (IMO) a death in the scriptural past at the hands of humans under the influence of negative spiritual powers --- then those details didn’t survive to our times. I suspect Paul left such details vague because that was the best he could derive --- or found the need to derive --- or wanted to derive --- from his allegorical exegesis.
Ben C. Smith wrote:IOW, could this be a layer of tradition, based on scripture, that preceded stories linking Jesus to official figures such as Pilate and Herod Antipas?
I think it is. IMO, Paul told the story of his Jesus Christ discovered in the Jewish scriptures (kata tas graphas) in some detail when he conducted his in-person evangelizing to his congregations. His letters were never intended to provide a detailed recap, but only to defend his authority in the face of skepticism and opposition and to clarify some issues --- and to procure financial support.

Romans only provides a limited recap of Paul’s doctrines --- and is still shy on details of the date, place, and perpetrators of the death.

IMO, Pilate and Herod come into the picture only when Mark brought Paul’s Christ spirit down to earth, in recent times, in his fictional tale that made Jesus Christ more accessible to all --- accessible with an hours’ read --- without the need to pour over a pile of scrolls for several hours to reveal Jesus Christ.

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:02 pm

It may be significant that the first epistle to Timothy both acknowledges the role of Pontius Pilate (6.13) and also simultaneously sheds some of the abovementioned Pauline and Petrine naïveté concerning rulers; 1 Timothy 2.1-2 NASB:

1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Now one is to pray for rulers so that there may be tranquility.

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:25 pm

robert j wrote:
Ben C. Smith wrote:Right. So do you think it possible that Paul and his circle discovered from such passages that Jesus was actually a slave or servant in a sense literal enough both to prove consonant with crucifixion and to provide a master who might do the crucifying, as opposed to state authorities?
At least in terms of their allegorical midrash --- a servant in the realm of the scriptures in the FORM of a human servant in order to suffer and die on behalf of mankind. I think associating this with a death at the hands of a slave-master is taking it all too literally.
Or possibly too specifically, at least in the case of Paul, who of course does not specify masters as having anything to do with either the servitude or the death of Jesus. My primary point there is that Romans 13.1-7 seems to fit ill with the knowledge that Jesus died at the hands of earthly rulers (like Pilate); secondarily I also wondered what other kind of crucifixion Paul might have had in mind, if any, and execution by a cruel master seemed not unlikely.

In the case of Peter, however, is it not interesting that the author saves his comments on Christ not fighting back for the instructions concerning servants obeying masters? Again, that such comments do not follow the instructions on obeying rulers, instructions which parallel Romans 13.1-7 in intent, seems a fitting complement to Paul; and in this case, at least, masters are squarely in view.

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Re: Crucifixion of a slave?

Post by maryhelena » Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:10 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
maryhelena wrote:Within a historical context, the context in which the gospel Jesus story is set, a crucifixion of a slave would not have the social and political impact a crucifixion of a King would have.
What if, at the time in which the tradition had Jesus as a crucified slave, the purpose was, not to make a sociopolitical impact, but rather simply to fulfill progressively revealed scripture?

Ben.
If to 'fulfill progressively revealed scripture' required no relevance to a 'sociopolitical impact', then one has opted for a purely individual, subjective, interpretation of said 'revealed scripture'. Mind games are all very well and have their place in our intellectual evolution. However, it's how our ideas can translate into humanitarian concerns, hence sociopolitical concerns, that bring our ideas to the benefit of others. Mind and matter work best in cooperation not each to its own or survival of the fittest mode.... especially so when endeavoring to articulate a 'new heaven and new earth' NT philosophy.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

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