The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

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Secret Alias
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The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:54 pm

I think most of us (or at least most of the reasonable people at the forum) agree that the gospel was written shortly after the defeat of Jewish rebels c. 70 CE. My question is - assuming that the crucifixion of Jesus was not a historical event, the meaning of the crucifixion is to be found in the mass crucifixion of Jews by Roman armies in the lead up to the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 CE:
Josephus Jewish Wars 5.11

So now Titus’s banks were advanced a great way, notwithstanding his soldiers had been very much distressed from the wall. He then sent a party of horsemen, and ordered they should lay ambushes for those that went out into the valleys to gather food. Some of these were indeed fighting men, who were not contented with what they got by rapine; but the greater part of them were poor people, who were deterred from deserting by the concern they were under for their own relations; for they could not hope to escape away, together with their wives and children, without the knowledge of the seditious; nor could they think of leaving these relations to be slain by the robbers on their account; nay, the severity of the famine made them bold in thus going out; so nothing remained but that, when they were concealed from the robbers, they should be taken by the enemy; and when they were going to be taken, they were forced to defend themselves for fear of being punished; as after they had fought, they thought it too late to make any supplications for mercy; so they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.
In other words, do most of us agree that the crucifixion of Jesus was connected with this historical crucifixion of thousands of Jews around the walls of Jerusalem?
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:58 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:54 pm
In other words, do most of us agree that the crucifixion of Jesus was connected with this historical crucifixion of thousands of Jews around the walls of Jerusalem?
I would hazard a guess that many/most do not, because many/most do not date the crucifixion references in Paul later than the fall of Jerusalem.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:44 pm

But the Marcionites knew that Paul wrote the original gospel and Paul references the Jews getting their just deserts for crucifying Jesus
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:54 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:44 pm
But the Marcionites knew that Paul wrote the original gospel and Paul references the Jews getting their just deserts for crucifying Jesus
Few on this forum, I suspect, think that Paul wrote any kind of a gospel text. Many/most, on the other hand, regard that passage in 1 Thessalonians as an interpolation.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:26 pm

But the Marcionites were more knowledgeable than people at this forum.

So the upshot is even though the gospel was composed in 70 CE as a reaction to the destruction of the temple by the Romans, Titus's mass crucifixion of Jews did not shape the story of Jesus. I'm just asking to have another voice in my head.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:31 pm

There were thousands of Jews crucified facing in the direction of 1000000 Jews captured in the city. Certainly sounds very Daniel chapter nine-ish. But the allusion slipped Mark's mind completely when writing the "karma-based" narrative about the Jews crucifying Jesus. Again not asking confrontationally. Just trying to see what I am missing.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:39 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:26 pm
But the Marcionites were more knowledgeable than people at this forum.
Your OP asked about "most of us," not about the Marcionites. I am interpreting your question about "most of us" as relating to the people on this forum ("us") and trying to give you my best appraisal of where "most of us" stand on the issues you mention.

Assuming that the Marcionites did claim that Paul wrote the/a gospel text, that claim ought to be evaluated in the same way that claims of Peter or Thomas or Mary writing gospel texts are, and it hardly seems likely a priori.
So the upshot is even though the gospel was composed in 70 CE as a reaction to the destruction of the temple by the Romans, Titus's mass crucifixion of Jews did not shape the story of Jesus. I'm just asking to have another voice in my head.
If Paul wrote (in his extant epistles) about the crucifixion of Jesus before 70, then the crucifixions under Titus cannot have been constitutive; they can still, of course, have played a role in how the crucifixion of Jesus was interpreted after 70. If, however, Paul did not write about the crucifixion of Jesus before 70, then the crucifixions under Titus are a good place to start looking for the origins of the notion.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:11 pm

Your OP asked about "most of us," not about the Marcionites.
You're right. I won't pursue the other statements you made about the Marcionites because I was wrong to distract from the OP.
If Paul wrote (in his extant epistles) about the crucifixion of Jesus before 70
Is it possible to push Paul out of the way for a second? I am just asking that because it would seem that Paul is the only obstacle to the OP. Is that agreed?
Last edited by Secret Alias on Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:26 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:11 pm
Your OP asked about "most of us," not about the Marcionites.
You're right. I won't pursue the other statements you made about the Marcionites because I was wrong to distract from the OP.
If Paul wrote (in his extant epistles) about the crucifixion of Jesus before 70
Is it possible to push Paul out of the way for a second? I am just asking that because it would seem that Paul is the only obstacle to the OP. Is that agreed?
I would agree that Paul is the main obstacle, for sure. It may be possible to argue that the crucifixion is better explained on other grounds (for example, that it proceeds from interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures). Once the direct evidence is off the table, there may be numerous indirect evidences which are left competing with one another.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:32 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:54 pm
... assuming that the crucifixion of Jesus was not a historical event, the meaning of the crucifixion is to be found in the mass crucifixion of Jews by Roman armies in the lead up to the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 CE:
Josephus Jewish Wars 5.11

So now Titus’s banks were advanced a great way, notwithstanding his soldiers had been very much distressed from the wall. He then sent a party of horsemen, and ordered they should lay ambushes for those that went out into the valleys to gather food. Some of these were indeed fighting men, who were not contented with what they got by rapine; but the greater part of them were poor people, who were deterred from deserting by the concern they were under for their own relations; for they could not hope to escape away, together with their wives and children, without the knowledge of the seditious; nor could they think of leaving these relations to be slain by the robbers on their account; nay, the severity of the famine made them bold in thus going out; so nothing remained but that, when they were concealed from the robbers, they should be taken by the enemy; and when they were going to be taken, they were forced to defend themselves for fear of being punished; as after they had fought, they thought it too late to make any supplications for mercy; so they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him [Titus] to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that [/b]he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight[/b], out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.
[-] do most of us agree that [the narrative of] the crucifixion of Jesus was connected with [ / based on] this historical crucifixion of thousands of Jews around the walls of Jerusalem?
I think that is a reasonable proposition (given, for example, other propositions Jesus may be the personification of Israel).

(nb. I have bolded the Jewish Wars 5.11 passage differently to the way you did in the OP)

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:26 pm
... It may be possible to argue that the crucifixion is better explained on other grounds (for example, that it proceeds from interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures).
It could be both: Jesus crucifixion could have been based on interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures in light of accounts such as J.W. 5.11.

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