Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

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Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

I have no claims about the historicity of an episode that appears in what isn't a historical treatise in the first place. A conspicuous theme of gMark is the variety of interpretations that different people (or demons) have of Jesus. Mark's Pilate's signature idea is Jesus as "King of the Jews."

In a short work (11-12 thousand words) with about 100 distinct identifiable characters (about 60 speaking, another 40 or so special business parts), the author needs to move right along sketching each new character. Mark is hardly the only writer that hits upon the device of having the first words out of a character's mouth define a distinguishing attribute of the character.

For example, the first words out of Antipas's mouth are “John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in [Jesus].” That's startlingly different from what we've heard before. If we are somehow worried about where Antipas might get that idea about Jesus, the Narrator anticipates and sets the concern aside, "King Herod heard [the success of the Twelve], for [Jesus's] name had become known." (6:14-16).

The first words out of Pilate's mouth are "You are the king of the Jews." As Kunigunde points out, that is not necessarily a question, although it is often rendered as such. Antipas isn't widely assumed to be asking a question, why should we assume Pilate is? Yes, the Narrator says Pilate questionned him, but Pilate isn't required to conform to the Narrator's perspective on the action - two characters, two viewpoints. Pilate was there, the Narrator wasn't.

(It is a staple actor's exercise to take a short sentence and ring the changes of all the ways it might be intoned. For example, the stage picture is a beaten, bloodied, and bound man who's had a rough night and is now being hustled into Pilate's presence by a gaggle of big hats. "You are the king of the Jews." or indeed "You are the king of the Jews?" or perhaps "You are the king of the Jews!" - and all the rest, all defensible readings, some more revealing of Pilate's character than others.)

As to how Pilate would conceive of such a thing ... an assembly of armed men. some of them Roman reservists, undertook a mission for the Temple last night, managing to scatter rather than apprehend about a dozen insurgents. Perhaps, parallel to Antipas, Pilate heard about this success of the Twelve because Jesus's name had become known. In both cases, Antipas and Pilate, knowing what is going on in their jurisdiction is their job.

Although initially heard only on the lips of Antipas, the "risen John the Baptist" theory of Jesus has or comes to have some other supporters (8:28). So, too, does Pilate's theory, at least among those under his authority, and in Pliate's opinion it is a view shared by the Jewish crowd (15:12).

Now, would there have been a titulus and where would it have been displayed are fine questions. But there is simply no question about why, if there was a titulus, it would comport with the commander's view of the situation.
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maryhelena
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by maryhelena »

Ken Olson wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:52 am
maryhelena wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:44 am My first history book - after realizing that the gospel Jesus is a literary - hence not a historical figure:

Israelite and Judaean History by Hayes and Miller 1977.

A new version of 2012.

From my bookcase:

Reading the First Century by Daniel Schwartz
Turbulent Times by James S. McLaren
The Herodian Dynasty by Nikos Kokkinos
Oh, dear - these are secondary sources. What are the primary sources (ancient documents) on which your knowledge of the later Hasmonean history depends?
I'm pretty sure that the scholars referenced above know full well the ancient documents on which they construct their historical analysis. I don't know Greek - which I'm sure you are fully aware. Hence I find your response to my post an attempted scholarly put down. Unnecessary, Ken, and does no credit to your profession.
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Giuseppe »

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:21 amand actually comes across as a pretty naive conspiracy theory.
yes, the price to pay to be historicist is the assumption of a conspiracy theory while reading the gospels. And only that particular conspiracy theory (the Seditious Jesus Hypothesis) can explain the Conspiracy of the Silence in Paul about the historical Jesus, by calling it just as Earl Doherty called it: Conspiracy of the Silence.

Really, if you read Reimarus, you realize that he was the first conspiracy theorist on the subject.
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maryhelena
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by maryhelena »

Giuseppe wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:25 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:21 amand actually comes across as a pretty naive conspiracy theory.
yes, the price to pay to be historicist is the assumption of a conspiracy theory while reading the gospels. And only that particular conspiracy theory (the Seditious Jesus Hypothesis) can explain the Conspiracy of the Silence in Paul about the historical Jesus, by calling it just as Earl Doherty called it: Conspiracy of the Silence.

Really, if you read Reimarus, you realize that he was the first conspiracy theorist.
Bermejo-Rubio goes back prior to Reimarus...

In the present book I am carrying out a historical reconstruction, not surveying a history of research. Nevertheless, in such a key aspect as that of Jesus’ royal claim I think it is interesting to take a brief look at what quite a few critical scholars have said on this topic along the centuries in a convergent way. This outline could be helpful for us to perceive how sound the foundations of the hypothesis set forth in this chapter are.

Bermejo-Rubio, Fernando. They Suffered under Pontius Pilate: Jewish Anti-Roman Resistance and the Crosses at Golgotha (p. 236). Lexington Books. Kindle Edition. [/quote]

Our first case is Martin Seidel, a Silesian Latin teacher who, in the second half of the sixteenth century, wrote a work entitled Origo et fundamenta religionis Christianae (Origin and Foundations of the Christian Religion). Seidel realized that the biblical prophets did not promise a heavenly realm, but rather a worldly kingdom, with the figure of an earthly king who would release Israel’s people from the captivity of foreign empires. In the light of Josephus, he argued that it is the age under Roman rule when the messianic longings were exacerbated. In this context of messianic fervor “there arose some people who passed themselves off as that promised king and who tried to release the Jews from the Romans’ rule.” According to Seidel, the figure becomes understandable in this light: “[Jesus] also said that he was that promised king. He said indeed he was the Christ, what means ‘anointed,’ since ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew, ‘Christ’ in Greek, ‘Anointed’ in Latin, means ‘king’ in the Hebrew language.” To support his contention, the Silesian thinker cites the different elements in the Passion accounts that point in the direction of a royal claim; he also remarked that the disciples “deemed him that promised king, hoping and thinking that they were going to be princes and satraps in his kingdom,”39 thereby coming to the conclusion that “Jesus was crucified because he posed as king of the Jews.”40 Such clear statements reveal a realistic and critical approach to the Galilean preacher, and a full awareness of the political dimension in his self-consciousness and in his message.

We do not know if the German savant Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768), traditionally considered a pioneer of Jesus research, read Seidel or not. But several ideas contained in his important study On the Goal of Jesus and His Disciples—published by Lessing in 1778 as a fragment of a more comprehensive work—recall those of Seidel. Reimarus clearly stated that, despite the Gospel writers’ attempt to spiritualize and depoliticize the Galilean’s goal, a key aspect of his preaching is that he made kingly claims, and that he and his followers entertained hopes that the Messiah would establish a Davidic kingdom on earth,

Bermejo-Rubio, Fernando. They Suffered under Pontius Pilate: Jewish Anti-Roman Resistance and the Crosses at Golgotha (pp. 237-238). Lexington Books. Kindle Edition.


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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Giuseppe wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:25 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:21 amand actually comes across as a pretty naive conspiracy theory.
yes, the price to pay to be historicist is the assumption of a conspiracy theory while reading the gospels. And only that particular conspiracy theory (the Seditious Jesus Hypothesis) can explain the Conspiracy of the Silence in Paul about the historical Jesus, by calling it just as Earl Doherty called it: Conspiracy of the Silence.
It doesn't bother me at all that it's a conspiracy theory. I just think that the way it is presented doesn't work and is therefore poorly made.

There is also an alternative theory if one takes the traditional dating of the NT as a basis: before the Jewish War (Paul) terms like Christ were completely unproblematic, after the war Mark commented on it against the background of the events and inserted all the political material. Does anyone know whether Bermejo-Rubio has ever looked into this? This theory deals with the same problems but is in "direct opposition" to his own theory.
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Ken Olson
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Ken Olson »

maryhelena wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:03 am
Ken Olson wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:52 am
maryhelena wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:44 am My first history book - after realizing that the gospel Jesus is a literary - hence not a historical figure:

Israelite and Judaean History by Hayes and Miller 1977.

A new version of 2012.

From my bookcase:

Reading the First Century by Daniel Schwartz
Turbulent Times by James S. McLaren
The Herodian Dynasty by Nikos Kokkinos
Oh, dear - these are secondary sources. What are the primary sources (ancient documents) on which your knowledge of the later Hasmonean history depends?
I'm pretty sure that the scholars referenced above know full well the ancient documents on which they construct their historical analysis. I don't know Greek - which I'm sure you are fully aware. Hence I find your response to my post an attempted scholarly put down. Unnecessary, Ken, and does no credit to your profession.
Dear, oh, dear. You do a lot of pearl clutching. You reframe substantive criticism as though it was a personal attack. Substantive criticism is well within the bonds of the forum. One might even say it is the point of the forum. Asking someone for the sources for the claims they make is pretty much standard operating procedure on this forum and elsewhere.

In fact, you have misinterpreted my point in asking the question. It was not about Greek, though I do have a problem with the false dichotomy you have proposed between analysis of Greek and doing history. Almost all history departments (every one I know of) have a language requirement for history majors and advanced degrees in classical history or New Testament often require four or more (so one can read both original languages and modern scholarship). The ability to read a text in the original language is considered part of doing history, not some irrelevant auxiliary to it.

What I was actually asking was where our knowledge of the later Hasmoneans comes from. The major source is Josephus. You consider him to be relating history for the Hasmoneans and then helping to create myth for the early Christians without ever justifying your decision or explaining how you can tell when Josephus is relating history and when he's making myths.

It is bizarre that you should think you are in a position to tell the members of the list they should pick up a history book (as though people like me or Stephen Goranson have not done this). I have not read all of the books you cite, though I've certainly read James MacLaren and Daniel Schwartz, as well as discussed the James and Jesus traditions in Josephus with them. I haven't read the Miller and Hayes collection, though I have read other material from most of the contributors.

You seem to have ruled out books on the Historical Jesus and the history of early Christianity from the category of history books. Even stranger, James MacLaren and Daniel Schwartz, whom you acknowledge as writing history books, seem to accept the existence of a historical Jesus, as do at least most of the scholars you name (possibly not Thomas Thompson, who was a contributor to the Miller and Hayes volume). To the best of my knowledge, none of them argue that Jesus tradition are allegories based on Hasmonean history.

You make claims, and when asked for evidence, back up your claims with more claims, and when confronted with counter-arguments you just say things like "I dance to the beat of a different drum'. Now, of course you have the right to think what you like, but in these discussions you seem to expect that other people ought to take your speculations seriously. I cannot see why anyone would. They are simply personal opinions stated as facts and unsupported by logical arguments and evidence. As Daniel Moynihan put it: 'You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'

You may now clutch the pearls some more.
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maryhelena
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by maryhelena »

Ken Olson wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 7:23 am
maryhelena wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:03 am
Ken Olson wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:52 am
maryhelena wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:44 am My first history book - after realizing that the gospel Jesus is a literary - hence not a historical figure:

Israelite and Judaean History by Hayes and Miller 1977.

A new version of 2012.

From my bookcase:

Reading the First Century by Daniel Schwartz
Turbulent Times by James S. McLaren
The Herodian Dynasty by Nikos Kokkinos
Oh, dear - these are secondary sources. What are the primary sources (ancient documents) on which your knowledge of the later Hasmonean history depends?
I'm pretty sure that the scholars referenced above know full well the ancient documents on which they construct their historical analysis. I don't know Greek - which I'm sure you are fully aware. Hence I find your response to my post an attempted scholarly put down. Unnecessary, Ken, and does no credit to your profession.
Dear, oh, dear. You do a lot of pearl clutching. You reframe substantive criticism as though it was a personal attack. Substantive criticism is well within the bonds of the forum. One might even say it is the point of the forum. Asking someone for the sources for the claims they make is pretty much standard operating procedure on this forum and elsewhere.

In fact, you have misinterpreted my point in asking the question. It was not about Greek, though I do have a problem with the false dichotomy you have proposed between analysis of Greek and doing history. Almost all history departments (every one I know of) have a language requirement for history majors and advanced degrees in classical history or New Testament often require four or more (so one can read both original languages and modern scholarship). The ability to read a text in the original language is considered part of doing history, not some irrelevant auxiliary to it.

What I was actually asking was where our knowledge of the later Hasmoneans comes from. The major source is Josephus. You consider him to be relating history for the Hasmoneans and then helping to create myth for the early Christians without ever justifying your decision or explaining how you can tell when Josephus is relating history and when he's making myths.

It is bizarre that you should think you are in a position to tell the members of the list they should pick up a history book (as though people like me or Stephen Goranson have not done this). I have not read all of the books you cite, though I've certainly read James MacLaren and Daniel Schwartz, as well as discussed the James and Jesus traditions in Josephus with them. I haven't read the Miller and Hayes collection, though I have read other material from most of the contributors.

You seem to have ruled out books on the Historical Jesus and the history of early Christianity from the category of history books. Even stranger, James MacLaren and Daniel Schwartz, whom you acknowledge as writing history books, seem to accept the existence of a historical Jesus, as do at least most of the scholars you name (possibly not Thomas Thompson, who was a contributor to the Miller and Hayes volume). To the best of my knowledge, none of them argue that Jesus tradition are allegories based on Hasmonean history.

You make claims, and when asked for evidence, back up your claims with more claims, and when confronted with counter-arguments you just say things like "I dance to the beat of a different drum'. Now, of course you have the right to think what you like, but in these discussions you seem to expect that other people ought to take your speculations seriously. I cannot see why anyone would. They are simply personal opinions stated as facts and unsupported by logical arguments and evidence. As Daniel Moynihan put it: 'You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'

You may now clutch the pearls some more.
Wow....what can I say. I've obviously touched a nerve with mentioning Greek words. Ken, I've no interest in a tit-for-tat with you. Greek words are not my focus. All the Greek does is relay a story. There are ample scholars out there able to check one another re how these Greek words are translated. The result is the gospel story. That is my primary interest - as it is with the million of christians out there who have no knowledge of the Greek words that have delivered the story. Once the Greek words have delivered the gospel story - then it's open season how any one of us interpret that story. This forum, as far as I'm aware - allows for those different interpretations to be discussed. I will continue with my views on that gospel story and the necessity of considering Hasmonean/Jewish history in it's interpretation.

As for facts - the only facts I'm interested in are those historians can establish.
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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Paul the Uncertain wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:17 am The first words out of Pilate's mouth are "You are the king of the Jews." As Kunigunde points out, that is not necessarily a question, although it is often rendered as such. Antipas isn't widely assumed to be asking a question, why should we assume Pilate is? Yes, the Narrator says Pilate questionned him, but Pilate isn't required to conform to the Narrator's perspective on the action - two characters, two viewpoints. Pilate was there, the Narrator wasn't.
Very nice comment.

What's funny is that in the following scene it's exactly the other way around. The narrator explains that Pilate is “answering” the people, but Pilate is obviously asking (rhetorical?) questions.

9 But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you wish that I should release to you the King of the Jews?”
...
12 And Pilate answering was saying to them again, “Then what do you wish that I should do to Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”

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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

.
Bermejo-Rubio next examines the pericope of the mocking of the Roman soldiers.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2024 6:10 am google-translation
A second context in which, in the story of the passion, the motif of royalty appears is the scene before the soldiers. According to Mark 15:16-20 (cf. Jn 19:1-5), Jesus is the object of a parody of royal epiphany by the Roman soldiers. The parody includes putting on him a purple garment (πορφύραν) and a crown of thorns, acclamation (χαῖρε, βα σιλεῦ τῶν ’Ιουδαίων) and prostration before him as a burlesque act of vassalage. This indicates that, to the troops, Jesus had pretended to be a king: the mockery was intended to highlight the vacuity of his pretensions, and perhaps also to take revenge for the behavior of his group, which was armed and had resorted to violence. If the episode deserves credit - which is not certain, since it cannot be ruled out that the scene has been excogitated to present Jesus as the victim of a general scorn - the probability would increase that Jesus' royal claim reflected a historical fact.
Bermejo-Rubio sees the following alternative: Either the report is historical - in this case the soldiers react to Jesus' royal claims - or the report is fictional and only wants to portray Jesus as a victim of scorn and mockery.

- It seems to me that Bermejo-Rubio once again fails to consider obvious possible interpretations and suggests a false choice. If the account is historical, the soldiers could still only be acting out of mockery. Although the famous mockery of Carabbas in Philo's Against Flaccus 36 is cited by all scholars as a possible parallel, Bermejo-Rubio does not consider it. Even if the account were fictional, the author might want to punish his character for royal claims in the story. All is possible.

- Bermejo-Rubio does not undertake any analysis of the pericope and does not decide which interpretation option he wants to follow. He only presents options to strengthen his case and then simply claims that Jesus made a royal claim in GMark. In the account of Mark 15:16-27, Jesus is portrayed as completely powerless and treated like a puppet. It seems to recall Jesus' statement about Elijah in Mark 9:13 („… and they did to him whatever they pleased“) and in any case presents itself as a fulfillment of Mark 10:33f („… and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him“). The last-mentioned prophecy in particular should actually encourage to look more closely at the historical content of the mocking scene.

- Although it seems obvious, there is also no general consideration by Bermejo-Rubio as to how this pericope fits into his conspiracy theory. He likes to build his case out of small, seemingly incidental details, but in this pericope the issue takes center stage. The pericope is exactly about Jesus being proclaimed king, just as Bermejo-Rubio suspects. Unfortunately for him, it's a mocking scene. How does this fit with his claim that the evangelists covered everything up when Mark is focusing on the issue here?


Just as side notes: Fernando Belo („A materialist reading of the Gospel of Mark“) once pointed out the fact that soldiers or police officers who are subject to strict discipline can - in individual cases - harass political prisoners in particular. Given the parallel structure of the interrogation before the high priest and the interrogation before Pilate in GMark, and the subsequent scenes with lower-ranking subordinates, it may seem quite possible that this was precisely Mark's point.

Mark 14:65 Mark 15:16ff
65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows. 16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

For those of us who believe it is possible that Paul's letters were one of Mark's sources, I would like to point out the following. The verbal speech of the subordinates is limited to very short statements. After the Jewish trial it is “Prophesy!” and after the Roman trial it is a mockery “Hail, King of the Jews!”. One might therefore consider the possibility that Mark consulted 1 Corinthians 1:22-31 in this case.

22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles
...
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are ...

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Re: Bermejo-Rubio and the Titulus Crucis ("King of the Jews")

Post by Giuseppe »

What surprises me is that BR is ready to see embarrassment in the fact that Jesus was tortured by Romans as the parody of a king, while he doesn't see that the presence of the Romans in the role of torturers is not the embarrassment, but the solution to it: in the Mark's source (*Ev) it were the Herodians who worked as torturers.
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