S. G. F. Brandon on how the Jewish revolt of 66-70 A.D. shaped Christianity. Peter Myers, August 8, 2002; update October 4, 2012. My comments are shown {thus}; write to me at contact.html.

You are at http://mailstar.net/jewish-revolt.html.

Brandon depicts Jesus as a Jewish Zealot, not at all a pacifist. He agues that the Pacifist Christ was an invention, after Rome's suppression of the Jewish revolt of 66-70 A.D., by which Christians could dis-associate themselves from that revolt.

This "Jewish Jesus" is similar to the accounts of Jewish Zionists such as Hyam Maccoby and Robert Eisenman: maccoby.html.

Maccoby and Eisenman target Paul as the "inventor" of Christianity. What such Jewish apologists especially resent, is Paul's "Universalism", his opposition to Jewish "Particularism".

(1) S. G. F. Brandon, The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (2) S. G. F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots

(1) S. G. F. Brandon, The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth, B. T. Batsford Ltd., London 1968.

{p. 60} One of the long-neglected mysteries of Christian Origins has been the effect of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 on the Gentile or non-Jewish Christians. The reason for the neglect was doubtless the fact that, since scarcely any reference is made to the Jewish catastrophe in the New Testament, scholars concluded that there had been no significant effect. Such a conclusion, moreover, was in line with their theological presuppositions: Christianity was God's plan for mankind's salvation, and so could not have been conditioned by Roman-Jewish politics. It never seemed to have occurred to them, at least on a priori grounds, that it was strange that a religious movement, which had been directed and organised from Jerusalem for forty years, should have been unaffected by the sudden obliteration of its original source of faith and authority. Yet, when the matter is considered as a historical phenomenon, it is indeed seen to be exceedingly strange and demanding of investigation. For our particular concern, the issue is also one of basic importance for understanding the factors that operated in the formation of the Gospel version of trial of Jesus.

If we reflect on what is known of the Christian movement in the decade preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, it quickly becomes apparent that the non-Jewish Christians must have found themselves in a dangerous and difficult position as a result of the Jewish revolt against Rome. First, there is the obvious problem of their suddenly being cut off from the Mother Church of Jerusalem by its extinction after AD 70. In the thirty years after the Crucifixion, Christian communities had been established in Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, including Rome, according to the Acts of the Apostles. The Acts also represents Paul as being chiefly responsible for thus propagating the new faith in these places; and Paul's own writings witness to his activity in many of the places mentioned. This spread of Christianity is represented as a movement outwards from Jerusalem, which remained its venerated home and focal point. The Acts and Paul's Epistles

{p. 61} show a strange silence about the spread of Christianity to Egypt, particularly to Alexandria, the second greatest city of the Roman Empire. However, there is reason for thinking that a flourishing church existed in Alexandria, having been founded by the Jerusalem Christians and being, consequently, un-Pauline in its form of Christianity. All these daughter churches had been taught to regard the Mother Church of Jerusalem as the original source of tradition and authority, and to the maintenance of its members they were instructed to contribute financially.

The nature of the relations between the Gentile churches and the Church of Jerusalem was profoundly conditioned by Paul's relations with the latter. As we have already seen, Paul had imparted to his Gentile converts that version of the faith which he maintained had been specially revealed to him by God for the evangelisation of the Gentiles; it was a version which differed seriously from that taught by the Jerusalem Church. However, Paul was obliged, himself, to recognise the authority of the Jerusalem leaders, and to see that his Gentile converts duly contributed to the Mother Church. But the Jerusalem authorities were not satisfied with this situation, and Paul's writings reveal that emissaries from Jerusalem operated among his converts, repudiating his claim to be an apostle and seeking to bring their faith into line with the Jerusalem 'gospel'. The disastrous defeat of Paul's attempt finally to effect some modus vivendi with James and the elders at Jerusalem {see Galatians 2: 11-14} resulted in his effective removal from personal contact with his churches.

The author of the Acts of the Apostles, who knew the sequel to Paul's imprisonment in Rome, reveals, doubtless unintentionally in view of his apologetic concern, what happened in Paul's churches after his arrest at Jerusalem. The disclosure is made in the farewell speech which he attributes to Paul, when en route for his fatal last visit to Jerusalem. The speech is addressed to the elders of the church at Ephesus, who had come to meet him at Miletus; towards its end Paul warns them:

{quote} And now, behold, I know that all of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. ... Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. {end quote; Acts 20: 25-30}

Whether Paul did utter these words or whether they represent a prophecy post eventum, they clearly indicate that Paul's work suffered seriously, after his

{p. 62} removal, from external interference and internal disloyalty. And the situation depicted here is wholly intelligible in terms of what had gone before. Paul's communities would have heard that their champion had been obliged in Jerusalem to prove his Jewish orthodoxy by the Jerusalem Christians, and thut he had been arrested in the Temple while so doing. Such reports would doubtless have been puzzling and disturbing, and the disquiet of the Gentile Christians would soon have been increased as the Jerusalem leaders, in Paul's absence, stepped up their endeavour to eradicate his 'gospel' and replace it by their own doctrine as the true version of the faith.

A period of bewilderment and perplexity must have followed for the Gentile Christians. They had no leaders capable of resisting the Jerusalem claims, and many doubtless submitted, accepting a version of Christianity that was essentially Jewish in its ideas and outlook. A version, too, that assumed the spiritual superiority of Israel; for part of the offence of Paul's 'gospel', for the Jerusalem Christians, was its equation of Jew and Gentile in a common need of salvation. The consequent eclipse of Paul's reputation and teaching is significantly reflected in what is called the Corpus Paulinum, i.e. the body of Paul's writings preserved in the New Testament. Whereas some of his Episdes, such as those addressed to the Christians of Rome, Galatia, Corinth (First Epistle), Philippi, Thessalonica and Colossae appear to be intact, what is known as the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is a mosaic of fragments of three letters; further, while the brief personal note sent to Philemon has been preserved, the letter which Paul addressed to Laodicaea has not survived. Such evidence of damage and loss suggests that there was a period when Paul's writings were not treasured by his churches: later, when they were again valued, some had been completely lost or irreparably damaged.

This period of Paul's eclipse probably lasted for about a decade, from AD 55 to 66; it was terminated, in turn, by the eclipse of Jewish Christianity which ensued from Israel's defeat by Rome. Doubtless from the year 66, when the standard of Jewish revolt was raised, communication between the Jerusalem Church and the Gentile Christians outside Palestine ceased. As the war continued, and hatred of the Jews increased as reports circulated of their massacre of the Roman garrisons in Judaea and of the Gentile inhabitants of various places, and of their fanatical resistance to the Roman armies, the Gentile Christians became increasingly alarmed about the Jewish connections of their faith. Neither their neighbours nor the authorities were likely to distinguish carefully between Jewish nationals and those who worshipped a Jewish messiah, whom a Roman governor had executed some years before for sedition. Indeed, it requires but little effort to imagine the danger and

{p. 63} perplexity that must have been experienced by non-Jewish Christians, in different parts of the Roman Empire, during the fierce war of 66-70. The final and catastrophic defeat of Israel, with the destruction of Jerusalem and its famous Temple, would have done little to lessen the danger of the Gentile Christians; but it probably did cause them to recall Paul's teaching about the inadequacy of the Jewish ritual Law. The destruction of the Temple, and the cessation of its cultus, had so signally confirmed his doctrine of the obsolescence of the Old Covenant of God with Israel. Freed from the domination of the Jerusalem Christians, and with their faith in Paul's 'gospel' renewed, the Gentile Christians were doubtless eager to dissociate their religion from its Jewish origins. But, above all other considerations, that which must, most sorely, have troubled and embarrassed the Gentile Christians at this time was the fact of the Roman execution of Jesus for sedition; for such a charge was politically dangerous and had nothing to do with religion. How the Romans would have regarded Christianity in this connection finds significant expression in the statement of the historian Tacitus. Describing the Emperor Nero's persecution of 'a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd style Christians', Tacitus briefly explains the origin of the movement for his readers:

{quote} Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease (originem eius mali), but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. {end quote}

{like New York today?}

This contemptuous evaluation of Christianity was made by an educated Roman, with official connections, early in the second century, some eighty years after the crucifixion of Jesus. It was contemptuous, and for Christians at that time it was also dangerous; for it meant that the ruling class then in Rome were mindful of the fact that Jesus had been executed by a Roman governor, and that the movement stemmed from Judaea, a land associated in the Roman mind with fanatical rebellion. How much more disturbing, therefore, must the realisation have been for Gentile Christians in AD 70, that their rulers held a similar view of their faith. For the Roman execution of their Lord for sedition was essentially a disturbing and dangerous fact, but one which the recent Jewish rebellion had then made even more disturbing and dangerous. Hence the urgent question that then faced them: how could the problem be explained and its danger removed?

{p. 64} These a priori considerations are reasonable and legitimate. They point to a predicament of the Gentile Christians, resulting from the Jewish war of 66-70, fraught with both danger and perplexity. But why, it must be asked, since this is so, is there no obvious evidence in the New Testament of Christian reaction to that war and its consequences? The answer seems to be that search has hitherto been made for the wrong things: 'obvious evidence' of reaction has been expected to take the form of clearly stated references and comments upon those notable events which are so vividly described by Josephus. Attention has not been given to the possibility that the effect of the Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem on the infant Christian Church may have been so profound that it produced such a transformation that, after AD 70, Christianity became almost a completely new movement. Further, the possibility has not been explored that Christian writings after that date are really the products of this transformation, and present a new interpretation of Jesus and his mission.

{If Brandon is correct, it follows that the rebuilding of the Temple today might also have a profound impact on Christianity, perhaps involving a move of spiritual centre from Rome to Jerusalem. Do not the Christian Zionists portend such a change?}

In New Testament research the principle of what is called the Sitz im Leben has long been established. This means the recognition of the fact that the formation of the tradition about Jesus reflects the needs of the original Christian communities in Palestine. But this principle has also to be applied in interpreting each Gospel, which embodies a selection of this tradition, as the product of the specific Christian community for which it was written. In other words, proper consideration must be given to the fact that a Gospel was not written as a piece of literature, namely as a biography of Jesus, for general publication, as biographies are written today. Instead, it was an interpretation of the life and teaching of Jesus, drawn from traditional material and designed to meet the needs of the community of which the author was a member. Moreover, these communities were situated outside Palestine after AD 70, and their needs were consequently different from the primitive Jewish Christians of Palestine, among whom the traditions about Jesus originated.

It is, therefore, the task of the historian of Christian Origins to seek in the Gospels for clues to the situation of the communities for which the documents were written. He is naturally helped in his task, if he can locate the community of any Gospel with which he is concerned. Now, of the four Gospels it is fortunate that there is a strong tradition, which has never been seriously challenged, for regarding the Gospel of Mark as a product of the Christian community at Rome. The fact is fortunate, because the Markan Gospel is the earliest Gospel of which we have any knowledge, and its pattern was followed by the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The Markan Gospel has, accordingly, the unique distinction of representing

{p. 65} a new departure in Christian practice; no one had hitherto produced such an interpretation of Jesus set forth in narrative form. Now, in view of the fact that the Gospels were, each, written to serve the needs of a specific community, we must ask what new, and evidently urgent, need had arisen among the Christians of Rome which the Gospel of Mark was thus designed to meet? The Gospel itself provides some very significant clues.

What is probably the most remarkable of these clues occurs in the list which Mark gives of the twelve apostles, whom Jesus appointed 'that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach the Gospel, and to have authority to cast out demons'. Mark, in naming them, designates one 'Simon, the Kananaios'. No explanation is given of the strange title of this apostle, although 'the Kananaios' would have been wholly unintelligible to Mark's Greek-speaking readers. This failure to explain a term of Jewish origin is strange, because Mark regularly explains Hebrew or Aramaic words and Jewish customs to the Gentile Christians, for whom he wrote; indeed, just before mentioning Simon in his list of the apostles, he had explained the sobriquet 'Boanerges' given to James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Why, then, this silence about the meaning of 'Kananaios'? The reason is not far to seek. If Mark had translated the Aramaic word, which he transliterates as 'Kananaios', into Greek, he would have been obliged to write Zelotes, thus revealing that one of Jesus' apostles was a Zealot, a member of the Jewish national 'resistance' against Rome. Rather than do this, he chose to depart from his practice of helping his Gentile readers in such matters, thus leaving them with the unintelligible title of 'the Kananaios' for the apotle Simon. His suppression of the fact that Jesus chose a Zealot for an apostle can surely have but one explanation. When Mark wrote in Rome, the disclosure of this fact was too dangerous or too embarrassing to be made. He must, accordingly, have written when the Zealots were 'in the news', which means a date about the year 70.

The significance of Mark's suppression of the fact that one of Jesus' apostles was a Zealot is further confirmed by another episode in his narrative. For among the issues which he selected for dealing with as matters of special concern to his fellow-Christians in Rome, was that of Jesus' attitude to the Jews' obligation to pay tribute to Rome. The choice is remarkable; for the subject had no obvious spiritual significance. Indeed, it is possible to think of many other truly religious topics about which it might be supposed that the Roman Christians would rather have wanted to know the mind of Jesus. That Mark in his comparatively short Gospel, therefore, chose to devote space to the question of the Jewish tribute must mean that for the Christians of Rome it constituted an urgent and important issue. The fact, in itself, thus

{p. 66} provides an important index to the situation of the Roman Christians. For it points, like the suppressing of information about the Zealotism of the apostle Simon, to a time when the Jewish payment of tribute and Zealotism were both questions of current concern for the Christians of Rome.

Mark's account of Jesus' ruling about the Jewish tribute also reveals in what way the issue did concern the Christian community at Rome. For it is found, on examination, to be so slanted as to present Jesus as endorsing the obligation of the Jews to pay tribute to Rome. Thus Jesus' ruling is tendentiously introduced as being given in answer to a question maliciously designed to compromise him with the Roman authorities: 'And they [the Jewish leaders] sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk.' Mark's Roman readers had already been given a bad impression of the Pharisees and Herodians earlier in his narrative: it is possible also that the Herodians were known in Rome, and disliked as the followers of the Jewish prince Agrippa II; for the liaison of his sister Berenice with the Emperor's son Titus had caused much scandal in the capital.

Mark's concern, in introducing the episode, to emphasise the malicious intent of the question which was to be put to Jesus, anticipates the nature of Jesus' reply. The intent of his malevolent interrogators was obviously to entrap Jesus into some statement that could be construed as forbidding the payment of tribute to Rome. Mark's comment, therefore, thus assures his readers that Jesus avoided the trap of making an anti-Roman declaration on this vital issue. His account of the incident must, however, be quoted in full, in order that its significance for our understanding of the situation of the Roman Christians, to which it relates, may be properly appreciated:

{quote} And when they [the Pharisees and Herodians] were come, they said unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest not for any one: for thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the way of God: Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny [denarius], that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. And they marvelled greatly at him. {end quote}

This passage has provoked much involved discussion down the ages concerning the meaning both of Jesus' action and statement; for the former is puzzling, and the latter ambiguous. But we are concerned here with the significance of the passage in the context of Mark's Gospel: for it is there that

{p. 67} this presentation of Jesus' ruling on the tribute first appears, and its meaning is surely to be sought there in terms of the situation in Rome which had provided the raison d'etre of the Gospel.

Isolated from whatever was its original context, Jesus' pronouncement: 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's', is ambiguous. Its meaning requires definition of what are the things of Caesar and what the things of God. If the pronouncement was indeed made by Jesus (it has an air of authenticity), its meaning must have been clear to those to whom it was originally addressed. To argue, as some scholars have done, that Jesus intentionally made his answer ambiguous, to avoid involvement with a dangerous political issue, is neither realistic nor does it do credit to Jesus. It is not realistic, because such an evasion would at once have been detected, and Jesus would have been pressed to define the contrasted 'things' of God and Caesar. Moreover, one who claimed to be, or was regarded as the Messiah, could not have hedged on an issue so fundamental for his fellow-countrymen. To assume that Jesus would have evaded such an issue stems from theological presupposition, not from historical probability: for the conception of Jesus as the Son of God, incarnated to save mankind, presupposes that he would not have involved himself with issues of current Roman-Jewish politics.

Such considerations require, therefore, that the saying must originally have been clear and definitive. Now, in the context of contemporary Judaea, there would have been no doubt what were the things of God, as opposed to the things of Caesar. As we have seen, the Zealot objection to the Roman tribute was religious: for it meant giving of the resources of the Holy Land, the 'things of God', to a heathen lord. Jesus' pronouncement, therefore, was wholly in line with Zealot teaching, and so it must have been understood by those to whom it was originally addressed. In other words, Jesus ruled decisively against the payment of tribute. Caesar could, ironically, have what was his; but the Holy Land of Judaea, and its resources, were emphatically not his but God's.

{Brandon supposes that Jesus' aim was to set up an earthly Kingdom - the Jewish aim - in contradiction to the gospel view that his Kindom was "not of this world". Thus Brandon's view resembles that of Jewish writers like Hyam Maccoby and Robert Eisenman}

That this was Jesus' ruling on the issue is further confirmed by the Lukan Gospel in its report that the Jewish authorities charged Jesus before Pilate, saying: 'We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.' The evidence, accordingly, builds up to a conclusion, which is consistent with the fact that the Romans executed Jesus for sedition: Jesus had ruled that the tribute was wrong on religious grounds, as did the Zealots. Into the significance of this conclusion we shall have to enter at length later; for the moment we are concerned to evaluate Mark's presentation of the Tribute episode.

{p. 68} As we have seen, Mark carefully introduces the incident that leads up to the quotation of Jesus' ruling about the tribute, so that his readers will understand that ruling as endorsing the Jews' obligation to pay tribute to Rome. It is an astute move; but the fact that he has to make it has a twofold significance for us. First, it indicates that a saying of Jesus about the tribute ('Render unto Caesar ...') was too well known among the Roman Christians for Mark to ignore it in his Gospel. Fortunately, isolated from its original context, the meaning was ambiguous to Gentiles, who had no exact knowledge of Jewish affairs some forty years before in Judaea. To Mark, however, it was obviously important that the saying should not cause perplexity to his fellow Christians in Rome; for its existence inevitably connected Jesus with this dangerous political question about the Jewish tribute. Consequently, he introduces it into his narrative, but in such a manner that it appears as attesting Jesus' loyalty to Rome. The other aspect of its significance is the evidence which the episode affords about the date of the Markan Gospel. Quite clearly a time is indicated when the question of the Jewish tribute was a lively and urgent topic in Rome. Such a time would seem to be the decade from AD 66, for one of the issues of the Jewish revolt that year was the tribute. However, as we shall next see, it is possible to narrow down the period to about the year 71.

The reason for focussing on this year is that it was the year in which the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus celebrated in Rome their triumph over rebel Judaea. The Roman triumph was essentially a ritual act, solemnly decreed by the Senate and People of Rome. It took the form of a procession through the streets of Rome, in which the victorious troops paraded with their trophies and prisoners. Their general, wreathed with the laurels of victory, was acclaimed as he made his majestic way, in this procession, to the Capitol, to offer sacrifice to Jupiter Capitolinus in his great temple there: this act of sacrifice was preceded by the execution of the enemy commander in the Mamertine prison, below the Capitoline Hill.

Such an occasion was one of impressive display, designed to thank both Rome's patron deity and her general for the victory, and to commemorate the city's imperial destiny. But the triumph celebrated in 71 had a further significance. The Jewish revolt had badly shaken the Roman people. It had started disastrously with the signal defeat of a Roman army, and it had dragged on for four years, marked by savage fighting. It had also had dangerous possibilities. Within two years of its start, the Empire itself had been convulsed by civil war and there were revolts in Gaul, Moesia and on the Rhine. Rebel Judaea, moreover, lay athwart the lines of communication between Egypt and Syria, and the opportunity might have been seized by

{p;. 69} Rome's perennial enemy, the Parthians, to invade the eastern provinces in support of the Jewish insurgents. Consequently, Rome was grateful to Vespasian and his son for both bringing the civil war to an end and finally defeating the rebel Jews. But the triumph also afforded a unique opportunity to Vespasian who was founding a new imperial dynasty, following the death of Nero, to impress the Roman people with the achievements of his family. Consequently the victory over Judaea was given great publicity in a new coinage; but it was in the pageantry of triumph that special effort was made to demonstrate how great had been the achievement of the Flavii, as the imperial family was known.

It is fortunate that Josephus, who had returned to Rome in the retinue of Titus, has described in detail this Flavian triumph of AD 71. He tells how, besides the prisoners and spoils of victory that were paraded through the streets of the city, specially constructed cars (pegmata) presented vivid tableaux of incidents of the war, so that it seemed to the onlookers 'as though they were happening before their eyes'. Among the spoils were the treasures of the Temple: the magnificent Menorah or seven-branched lampstand, the golden table of shewbread, the silver trumpets, a great Torah scroll, and the purple curtains that veiled the sanctuary. The Arch of Titus, in the Roman Forum, still preserves on its sculptured panels scenes of that triumph and the exaltation of Titus.

In a world lacking our modern means of publicity, foreign events would normally have been little known to ordinary people. But the carefully mounted triumph of Vespasian and Titus, in the year 71, must have given the Roman people a most graphic impression of the Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. Josephus tells us that 'no one remained at home of Rome's countless population', and that every vantage point was taken from which to watch the mighty pageant of Roman victory over rebel Judaea. In the streets of the city, on that day, many Christians also doubtless watched the spectacle; but it would have been with other feelings than those that animated their pagan neighbours. They would surely have gazed with a curious interest at the treasures of the Temple, symbols of a cult with which their own faith was linked, and now carried in the Roman triumph as tokens of Israel's overthrow and the Temple's destruction. But the scenes of fierce warfare and the Jewish captives, execrated by the Roman crowd, would have been disturbing reminders that their own religion had stemmed from a Jew whom a Roman governor had executed as a rebel. And the word 'Zealot' must have been on many lips, a well-known term of abuse for those fierce fanatics ho had refused to pay the tribute due to Rome from all subject peoples.

{p. 70} It takes but little imagination, as one reads Joscphus' account of the Flavian triumph or looks at the sculptured scenes on the Arch of Titus, to see how exactly the Markan Gospel reflects the situation of the Christians of Rome at this time. The concealment of the Zealot profession of one of Jesus' apostles, and the concern to show that Jesus had endorsed the Jews' obligation to pay tribute to Caesar are eloquent. But that is not all that so testifies. There is other evidence of Mark's preoccupation with the consequences of the Jewish war, and with its vivid presentation in the Flavian triumph.

Thus a significant reaction to the triumph is to be discerned in a curious incident recorded by Mark at the moment of Jesus' death. The incident has often puzzled commentators, because it seems to be a legendary addition designed to present the death of Jesus as marking the end of the Temple cultus. According to Mark, as Jesus died, 'the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom'. The narrative continues: 'And when the centurion, who stood facing him (Jesus), saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"' The two events appear to be connected in their significance; but it is evident that whatever that significance was, it must have been apparent to Mark's readers, since no explanation is given. Now, it may well be asked how would Gentile Christians, living in Rome, and doubtless poorly educated and untravelled, have known that the Temple in far-off Jerusalem had a special veil or curtain, and, moreover, how would they have understood its significance? The answer to this obvious question is surely to be found in Josephus' account of the Flavian triumph. For he records that the Temple curtains were among the spoils of the Temple, and that they were deposited afterwards, with other objects, in the imperial palace. He does not inform us how these curtains were displayed in the triumph; but we may reasonably conclude, in view of the effort made to inform the Roman populace of the magnitude of the victory, that some explanatory description was given of the function of the curtains in veiling the Holy of Holies. Hence, the Christians of Rome would have known about the Temple veil, and thus have understood the significance of its rending at the death of Jesus, as Mark now related in his Gospel. Indeed, it would not be too imaginative to suppose that the evidence seen in the Flavian triumph of the desecration of the Temple, and of the end of its cultus, had caused much discussion among the Roman Christians. Being acquainted with both the teaching of Paul and the Jerusalem Church, for them that evidence would have been invested with a peculiar significance. For, seeing such proofs of the overthrow of Judaism, they would doubtless have recalled Paul's doctrine that the death of Christ had marked the ending of the Old and the institution of a New Covenant. What the Roman victory had thus

{p. 71} rendered an historical fact, Mark now showed in his Gospel to have been divinely proclaimed by a rending of the Temple veil at the final moment of the Crucifixion.

Mark's connecting of this signal demonstration of the abrogation of cultic Judaism with the Roman centurion's recognition of the divinity of the dying Jesus was a masterly stroke. For it assured his Gentile readers that it was a Gentile, not a Jew, who first perceived Jesus to be the Son of God. It was, moreover, a Roman soldier who had this insight at the very moment that the miraculous rending of the Temple veil had proclaimed the ending of the Temple cultus, which the Roman army, under Titus, had now rendered an accomplished fact. Thus the Roman Christians were encouraged to see in the Flavian triumph not a disturbing reminder that they worshipped a Jew executed for sedition against Rome, but inspiring evidence that Rome had fulfilled God's purpose, adumbrated in the rending of the Temple veil and the centurion's confession.

There is another indication of Mark's preoccupation with the destruction of the Temple, which the triumph had undoubtedly emphasised. It has a special significance for us, since it helps to solve a problem of Mark's account of the trial of Jesus. We have already seen that Mark represents the charge brought against Jesus at the Sanhedrin trial, that he would destroy the Temple, as 'false witness'; yet, earlier in his narrative, he records how Jesus had foretold the Temple's destruction. In our previous discussion of this apparent contradiction, we concluded that Mark followed an original Jewish Christian account of the Sanhedrin trial, which was specially concerned to rebut the charge that Jesus had threatened the Temple. We come now to consider why Mark was thus led into making this apparent contradiction of statement in his Gospel.

The clue to the problem is given in certain words, in parenthesis, which Mark curiously adds to the Abomination of Desolation passage in the so-called Little Apocalypse. We have already discussed the passage in another connection, and found reason for believing that it relates to the reaction of the Jerusalem Christians to the attempt of the Emperor Gaius to desecrate the Temple. The particular verse which concerns us now needs to be quoted, so that its curious construction may be appreciated: 'But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains.' Mark thus represents Jesus as foretelling, about the year 30, a coming desecration of the Temple in terms of Daniel's reference to the desecration perpetrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BC.

On analysis, the verse contains, besides the words in parenthesis, a small,

{p. 72} but significant, alteration which Mark must also have added to the original form of the statement. This alteration is best appreciated in the original Greek. The word 'abomination' (bdelygma) is a neuter noun, so that its dependent participle 'standing' should also be neuter. Consequently the verse should read: 'When ye see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not. ...' But Mark has made the participle masculine, so that it reads: 'standing where he ought not ...'. In other words, Mark has identified the Abomination of Desolation, which originally referred to an altar or statue, with a man. But who was this man? The words that follow in parenthesis are of the greatest significance: '(let him that readeth understand)'. Quite clearly Mark thought it indiscreet to make an exact identification in his Gospel; but he had given a sufficient hint for his readers to enable them to make the identification for themselves.

We perceive, then, a most interesting and revealing situation. Mark represents Jesus as foretelling the desecration of the Temple by a man whom the Christians of Rome would easily be able to identify, but whom he preferred not to name. Now, we know of only one desecration of the Temple to which the alleged prophecy of Jesus could apply. It occurred in AD 70, when the Romans captured the Temple, and it is recorded by Josephus. According to his account, while the sanctuary (naos) itself was in flames, the victorious legionaries erected their standards in the Temple court, opposite the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them and hailed Titus as 'imperator' (autokrator). Both acts had religious significance, but the latter specially concerns us. The original religious element in the Roman title of imperator had become greatly enhanced by its association with the Emperor-cult, so that the legionaries' salutation was tantamount to a recognition of the divinity of Titus. Thus, in the year 70, the Temple was not only desecrated by the act of sacrifice made to the military standards, but by the presence of a man, in Christian eyes impiously regarded as divine, who stood 'where he ought not'. It is very probable that this cultic gesture of the victorious legionaries had been portrayed in one of the tableaux, which Josephus so enthusiastically describes in his account of the Flavian triumph. Thus the Roman Christians would have known that the Temple had not only been destroyed, but that it had also been signally desecrated. Now, it is evident that these portentous events had also greatly excited the apocalyptic hopes of the Roman Christians. They were seen as the culmination of a series of portents heralding the Return of Christ and the end of the world. In the thirteenth chapter of his Gospel, Mark deals with this situation of expectancy among his fellow-Christians, being intent on both confirming their belief and controlling their excitement. His treatment of the subject is of great importance to us.

{p. 73} It would seem that the impression left on Mark by the Flavian triumph was too strong to be denied, despite his acceptance of the Jerusalem Christians' account of the Sanhedrin trial which maintained that Jesus had not spoken about the Temple's destruction. For Mark the catastrophic overthrow of cultic Judaism must surely have been foretold by Jesus; so he set about adapting the 'Little Apocalypse', originally inspired by the attempt of Gaius in AD 39-40, to suit the current situation. His mise en scene to the prophecy is striking in its vivid detail, and we may well wonder whether it had not been inspired by one of those graphic tableaux which, according to Josephus, portrayed 'walls of surpassing compass demolished by engines:

{quote} And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, 'Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!' And Jesus said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.' {end quote}

The sequel, which is located on the Mount of Olives, significantly reveals how the destruction of the Temple was connected, in the mind of Mark, with the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. Although Jesus had spoken only of the destruction of the Temple, the disciples are represented as asking:

{quote} 'Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?' And Jesus began to say to them, 'Take heed that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying "I am he!" and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet! {end quote}

Jesus then goes on to recount various trials which the disciples must undergo, and which probably represent the experience of the Roman Christians during the Neronian persecution in 66. This recital leads on to the Abomination of Desolation passage, which, as we have seen, so strikingly relates to the desecration of the Temple in AD 70. The chapter continues in an ambivalent vein: on one hand, endorsing belief that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent, while, on the other, warning that no one can tell the exact time and that the disciples' duty is unceasing vigilance: 'Take heed, watch; for you know not when the time will come.'

The situation of the Roman Christians thus becomes clear and intelligible, and with it the Gospel of Mark was intended to cope. Under the impact of the Flavian triumph, the Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem became

{p. 74} realities that caused these Christians both danger and perplexity; but the end of the Temple cultus also reminded them of Paul's teaching and stimulated their apocalyptic hopes. Mark, suppressing the awkward fact of Simon's Zealotism, had adroitly presented Jesus to them as endorsing the Jewish obligation to pay tribute to Rome. He exploited the evidence of the triumph to prove the obsolescence of cultic Judaism, and he discreetly identified the Temple's desecration with the presence of Titus there. But there were other problems, caused by the Jewish revolt, for which he had to find other answers.

First and foremost, and to which all other considerations were ancillary, was the problem of the Roman execution of Jesus for sedition. As we have already seen, the Roman historian Tacitus traced what he regarded as the pernicious character of Christianity to its founder, whom Pontius Pilate had executed -  the implication being that he merited the penalty. It is unlikely that Tacitus was alone among Romans in his view of Jesus; for, as the Neronian persecution shows, the Christians were obvious scapegoats because they were popularly regarded as subversive in their attitude to the established order. Their connection with Judaism was also well known, though misunderstood. Consequently, in Rome, excited by the Flavian triumph, the knowledge that Jesus had been executed as a rebel against the Roman government of Judaea, was both embarrassing and dangerous to the Christian community. Hence, Mark's chief task was to explain, or, rather perhaps, to explain away, how Jesus had come to be so condemned by Pontius Pilate. He seeks to achieve this in his account of the trial of Jesus, which he so presents as to make Pilate testify to Jesus' innocence. This presentation we must duly subject to a searching analysis; but, in order to be in a position to do this properly, there are still certain other aspects of his Gospel that we must first evaluate.

When the Gospel of Mark is considered as a narrative account of the career of Jesus, it exhibits some curious traits. Although, as we have already noted, it claims to be 'the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God', its theological presuppositions do not appear to lessen its concern to present Jesus in his contemporary Palestinian environment. This preoccupation with what may be described as the 'historical Jesus', as opposed to Paul's repudiation of 'Christ according to the flesh', must derive, as we saw, from the tradition of the Jerusalem Church. However, this dependence upon the Mother Church is not matched by any sign of appreciation for its leaders. Indeed, far to the contrary, a distinct denigration of them characterises the Gospel. Thus the apostles are presented as a dull vacillating band, who are only able to recognise Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, and fail dismally to perceive that he is the

{p. 75} divine saviour - in fact, it is the Roman centurion who is the first human being to discern the divinity of Jesus. The apostles, moreover, do not only fail to comprehend the true nature of their Master, but one of them betrays him to his enemies, their leader, Peter, denies knowledge of him, and they all desert him in Gethsemane. It is, indeed, a shocking record, and we may well wonder why these men, who had until recently been the leaders of the original movement, are so cruelly presented by Mark. But that is not all. There is also the parallel denigration of the family of Jesus, which we have previously noticed. Again our curiosity is legitimately excited, especially when we recall that James, the brother of Jesus, had presided over the Jerusalem Church, and, on his death, had been succeeded by another member of Jesus' family.

What, then, can have been the cause of this strange animus against persons whom we might naturally expect Mark and his fellow-Christians to have revered? For an answer, it is necessary to recall that, when Mark wrote, the Jerusalem Church was no more, having disappeared in the holocaust of AD 70. The fact is surely significant; and it may be that we are seeing in the Markan Gospel a reaction, inspired by an intelligible resentment, against the control which the Mother Church had exerted over the Gentile communities. It is a legitimate inference: and such animus, moreover, would have had further cause, if the Christians of Rome had also known, which seems likely, that the Jerusalem Christians were strongly nationalist and had perished in the revolt against Rome.

This hostile presentation of members of the Mother Church has the effect, in Mark's Gospel, of isolating Jesus from his Jewish origins: his Jewish disciples cannot understand him, and his family think him to be mad. A similar effect is also produced in the accounts of Jesus' relations with the leaders and people of Israel. The Pharisees, the Herodians, and the 'chief priests' are depicted as opposed to Jesus and plotting to destroy him from the very beginning of his ministry. It is the Jewish leaders who arrest him, condemn him, and force a reluctant Pilate to crucify him. The Jewish people reject him, and call forth from Jesus the bitter comment: 'A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own people, and in his own house.' And, finally, comes the amazing contrast. On Golgotha, while the Jewish leaders and people deride their dying victim, it is the Roman centurion who testifies to his divinity.

In other words, a definite anti-Jewish theme can be traced through Mark's Gospel, and it has the effect of presenting Jesus as rejected by, and in turn rejecting, all those natural ties that connected him with the Jewish nation. Thus the lineaments of an apologetic emerge, of basic importance for our

{p. 76} evaluation of Mark's account of the trial of Jesus, which, as we have noted, provided the pattern for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It was an apologetic designed to cope with the dangerous and perplexing situation in which the Christian community at Rome was placed by the Jewish revolt and the publicity given to it at the Flavian triumph. Mark wrote his Gospel with a twofold intent: to explain away the problem of the Roman execution of Jesus and present him as loyal to Rome; and to show that Jesus, though born a Jew, had no essential connection with the Jewish people and their religion, and that a Gentile was the first to perceive the truth, to which the Jews were blind, that Jesus was the Son of God.

The Markan Gospel is, accordingly, to be evaluated as the product of the reaction of the Roman Christians to the Jewish revolt against Rome and the catastrophe that followed. It was too involved with the consequences of those events to assume the detached interest towards them expected by some scholars. And the fact of this involvement is the foundational datum for any proper investigation of the trial of Jesus. For Mark's account is the earliest we have of the trial, and it has been followed in its essential pattern by the other Gospels. Why this has been so, and the immense effect it has had on the formation of the Christian conception of Jesus, must now be considered before we pass on to examine the Markan presentation of the trial.

The fact that Christianity was suspect to the Roman government as a subversive movement provides one of the major themes of Early Church history. It caused outbreaks of persecution for nearly three centuries, until Constantine's 'Edict of Milan' in 313 announced the Church's victory over the Roman Empire. In the early decades of its existence, Christianity's Jewish origins inevitably prompted suspicion, as we have seen. And this suspicion continued for some time, even after the instinct to regard the Christians as 'fellow-travellers' with Jewish nationalism gradually faded as the strong emotions caused by the events of AD 66-70 subsided. Tacitus' view of Christianity was most probably representative of Roman opinion in the early second century. Consciousness of this view, and the desire to remove it, are evident in many New Testament writings. The Acts of the Apostles is clearly designed to show that opposition to Christianity, both in Judaea and other places in the Empire, came from the Jews, who sought to misrepresent the new faith to Roman magistrates. The authors of the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John were similarly concerned to show that Jesus' execution for sedition was due to Jewish malice. They followed Mark's lead; but, whereas he was primarily concerned to show Jesus as pro-Roman, they developed the theme of his pacifism.

{p. 77} It is unfortunate that tradition does not associate these other Gospels with specific Christian churches, as it does Mark with the church at Rome. Scholars have sought to find evidence of locations, and various suggestions have been advanced. A strong case, however, can be made out for locating the Gospel of Matthew at Alexandria, the great city on the Egyptian coast. On grounds of internal evidence, the Gospel of Matthew appears to have been written for a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian community. And nowhere else, after AD 70, did such a flourishing community exist than in Alexandria; moreover, there is much reason for thinking that the church there had been founded by the Jerusalem Church, with which it had strong ties until the destruction of Jerusalem. That catastrophe evidently had serious repercussions for the Alexandrian Christians, which found refiection in Matthew's Gospel.

Important evidence of the current situation in Alexandria comes from Josephus, who tells how a body of the Sicarii, the extremist wing of the Zealots, escaped from doomed Jerusalem to Alexandria, and tried to incite the Jews in Egypt to revolt against Rome. A serious situation was created, and it would seem that the Jewish temple at Leontopolis was in danger of becoming the focus of a revolt. But the Jewish leaders in Alexandria had been sufficiently warned by the disasters in Judaea not to allow such a desperate attempt in Egypt, and they cooperated with the Roman authorities in rounding up and exterminating the Sicarii. Significant signs of the reaction of the Alexandrian Christians to this situation may be discerned in the Gospel of Matthew. The most notable, from our point of view, occurs in additions which Matthew makes to Mark's account of the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane. Mark, for reasons which we can now well appreciate, found it prudent to conceal the fact that the disciples of Jesus were armed and that his arrest had been violently resisted. Consequently, he vaguely mentions that 'one of those who stood by (ton parestekoton) drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear'. He makes no comment on Jesus' reaction to this act, which, significantly, was inflicted on a Jew and not on a Roman. Matthew, however, expands Mark's account of the incident so that it becomes a carefully presented reproof by Jesus of Christians who resort to armed conflict:

{quote} And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus (heis ton meta Iesou) stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send

{p. 78} me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scripture be fulfilled, that it must be so?' {end quote}

To appreciate the full significance of Matthew's expansion of Mark's rccord here, we must bear in mind that the Jewish Christians of Alexandria, to whom the Gospel is addressed, would have understood the reference to those who had taken the sword and perished by it. For from the refugees from Judaea, some probably being Jewish Christians, they would have learned what had been the penalty of seeking to establish the kingdom of God by war. They are, accordingly, reminded here by Matthew that Jesus, when on earth, could have opposed the legions of Rome by legions of angels; but he would not. Thus, instead of the martial Messiah of current apocalyptic, Jesus is presented by Matthew as the pacific Messiah who forbids his followers to resort to violence on his behalf.

Other aspects of Matthew's Gospel of similar significance, relating specifically to his presentation of the trial of Jesus, we shall consider later. From his depiction of a pacifist Jesus we must now turn to assess Luke's version. Luke evidently wrote at a place where, unlike Mark at Rome and Matthew in Alexandria, he could safely record that one of Jesus' disciples was a Zealot. There are other indications also, which we shall presently note, that he could write with a certain detached interest about the destruction of Jerusalem. It is significant also that he, imprudently, reveals that the disciples of Jesus were accustomed to carry swords. However, he depicts the birth of Jesus as inaugurating an era of peace - the 'herald angels' sing: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.' This note characterises Luke's portrait of Jesus, and it finds significant expression in his presentation of Jesus mourning over the obduracy of Jerusalem and its coming destruction. Thus, in a poignant scene unparalleled in the other Gospels:

{quote} And when he (Jesus) drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, 'Would that even today you knew the things that make for thy peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies shall cast a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.' {end quote}

So Luke sets Jesus over against rebel Jerusalem, which had gone down in blood and flame, as one who had vainly sought her peace. In his subsequent work, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke imputes the crucifixion of Jesus wholly

{p. 79} to the Jews, in accordance with his anti-Jewish apologetic theme. For the apostles are represented as boldly accusing the Sanhedrin: 'The God of our fathers raised Jesus again whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.' Pilate's decisive part in the execution is ignored, thus attesting the success of Mark's transference of responsibility for the Crucifixion from Pilate to the Jewish leaders, a transaction that we have yet to evaluate.

The Gospel of John, although it presents a strikingly different portrait of Jesus and his teaching from those of the other Gospels, constitutes a further stage in the same apologetic theme: it represents Jesus as the victim of Jewish malignity, while heightening his transcendental character. Moreover, consistent also with the concept of the incarnate Logos in the prologue, a definitive repudiation of involvement in contemporary politics is attributed to Jesus. Thus, instead of remaining silent or very reticent before Pilate, as in other Gospels, the Johannine Jesus carefully explains to the Roman governor the spiritual or other-worldly character of his claims: 'My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.' This is both an amazing and a significant statement. Although it is assumed to bc madc byJcsus at his trial before Pilate, the Jews are represented as cncmics to whom in some unexplained way he had bcen handed over (paradotho). And it is imagined that, if his purpose had lain in this world, Jesus would have enlisted his servants (huperetai) to repulse the Jews by arms. These extraordinary statements were made byJohn, despite his awareness of a credible political aspect to Jesus' career, as we shall see. However, for him the death of Jesus really represented the (temporary) victory of the Devil and his offspring, the Jews. So shocking an interpretation doubtless reflects the increasing antipathy of Christians towards the Jews, which gradually hardened into that hatred which later inspired their persecution as the murderers of Christ.

Our investigation of the Christian situation resulting from the Jewish catastrophe of AD 70 has inevitably been long and intricate; but it now enables us properly to evaluate the only evidence concerning the trial ofJesus that has come down to us. We now see that the Gospel of Mark, which is the fundamental document of our enquiry, was the product of the dangerous and perplexing predicament of the Christian community in Rome about the year 71. Designed to meet that predicament, the Markan Gospel is essentially an apologia. Far from giving an objective account of the career of Jesus, it was composed to assure the Roman Christians that Jesus, though born a Jew, had no essential connection with Judaism, that he had endorsed the Roman

{p. 80} rule in Judaea, and that Pilate had recognised his innocence but had been forced by the Jews to crucify him. The fact of the Roman execution of Jesus for sedition was, of course, the basic problem, and to it Mark had to devote particular attention. How he dealt with the evidence at his disposal, to achieve his apologetical purpose, will be our next task of investigation.

Our enquiry into the Christian situation after AD 70 has also helped us to understand how the conception of a pacific Christ was formed, and became the established tradition. This conception was originally both politically and doctrinally necessary. It has remained doctrinally necessary for Christian orthodoxy, since it is impossible to believe that the Divine Saviour of mankind could have become implicated in Jewish-Roman politics in first-century Judaea. But the conception has also great emotive power, especially today. Although there have been periods of Christian history when Christ has been regarded more as the implacable Judge at the Last Judgment, during the present century the tendency has been increasingly to see Jesus as the divine representative of ideals which we treasure but fail to achieve - preeminently peace and the brotherhood of mankind. Consequently, most of us experience an instinctive reluctance to contemplate the possibility that the historical Jesus may have been other than our idealised portrait of him. But, if we truly seek the historical reality, we must resist that reluctance and consider the evidence with critical objectivity. Hence, it is important that we should have seen how the concept of the pacific Christ grew up during the latter decades of the first century, and found embodiment in the Gospels. And it is important that, as we now come to consider the earliest account we have of the trial of Jesus, we also bear in mind the motives that led Mark to compose it. To discern these motives and appraise them, is not to accuse the Evangelist of conscious deceit. Mark was not writing history as we know it. He wrote from his conviction that Jesus was the Son of God, incarnated to accomplish mankind's salvation. His execution by the Romans must, therefore, have some other explanation than that he was guilty of sedition. Accordingly, Mark's apologia was the fulfilment of a religious obligation. Truth for him was truth about the divine nature and mission of Jesus: in composing his account of the trial of Jesus, he was not writing as a legal historian but as a Christian teacher, concerned to defend the faith and help his fellow-Christians in their danger and perplexity. It is in this light, therefore, that we must sympathetically, but critically, evaluate what he has written about the transaction that resulted in the condemnation of Jesus for sedition.

{p. 147} That Jesus planned his entry into Jerusalem as a Messianic demonstration is clearly implied in Mark's account of the event. In so doing, he must have realised the political seriousness of his action. To enter Jerusa!em, riding on the Messianic animal, acclaimed by his followers and the crowd as the 'King of Israel', was virtually a proclamation of rebellion, and a direct public challenge to the authorities, both Jewish and Roman. Matthew records that the whole city was 'shaken' (eseisthe) by the demonstration. But more drastic action was to follow. Either on that day, directly following on his triumphal entry into the city, or on the next day, Jesus attacked the establishment of the Temple. As we have already seen, this action was far more serious than the Gospel records represent it, and it was probably an attempt, made in force, to seize the Temple and reform its hierarchy as was done by the Zealots in 66.

These actions, it must be appreciated, were planned and initiated by Jesus himself, and supported by his followers and the people, who believed him to be the Messiah, the Son of David, and the divinely designated King of Israel. It was dynamic political action of a revolutionary kind, and it constituted a direct challenge to the Roman government of Judaea, and to the Jewish authorites responible for domestic affairs. In undertaking such action, Jesus must have reckoned with its consequences: that it meant armed revolt and that it would provoke armed reaction to suppress it. The fact that it was undertaken about the same time as the insurrection led by Barabbas, and perhaps coincided with it, is also very significant. For, it would be passing strange, if two such disturbances in Jerusalem at this time were wholly unconnected with each other. The fact, which we have noted, that Jesus' fate became involved with that of Barabbas, and that Pilate ordered two lestai (Zealots) to be crucified with Jesus, suggests that, in the minds of the authorities, the two operations were regarded as connected.

That a concerted attack on the Temple and the Roman positions in the Upper City or the Antollia would be a good tactical move is obvious. That Jesus should have cooperated with the Zealots in such an operation is not, as we can now see, surprising. Their joint aim would doubtless have been that so movingly proclaimed on the Zealot coins issued during the revolt of AD

{p. 148} 66-70 - the 'Deliverance of Zion'. But both attacks failed. The Romans were evidently successful in suppressing the Zealot assault and capturing its leader, Barabbas, though at the cost of casualties to themselves. The operations in the Temple appear to have been less decisive. Jesus and his followers failed to seize the Temple; but they were too strong to be routed and captured.

The events of the next few days are obscure. Jesus was apparently able to enter the city, and even the Temple, during the day-time, being too strongly supported by the crowd to be arrested openly. But the impetus of the movement had obviously been lost, and Jesus was perplexed as to his future action. He seems to have stayed on until the day of the Passover, probably having arranged a secret rendezvous with his intimate disciples for eating the Passover meal within the Holy City. After the meal, they withdrew in the darkness from Jerusalem, across the Kedron valley, to Gethsemane. There Jesus seems to have been sorely tried in coming to a decision about the future of his movement. He evidently realised by now that he had failed in his original intention, and that, if he stayed in Jerusalem, his enemies would eventually seize and punish him. Mark attributes to Jesus that night the statement: 'I will go before you to Galilee', which he interprets as referring to his subsequent post-Resurrection appearance there. The statement could, however, very reasonably indicate his actual intention then. From the dangers that now threatened him in Jerusalem he would withdraw, probably alone to avoid detection, to the comparative safety of Galilee, where his followers were to rejoin him. One fact, in this connection, which is quite evident, is that Jesus did not intend to surrender himself to his enemies. Luke reveals that he had specially checked, to see that his disciples were armed, before going to Gethsemane. This precaution can have only one meaning: Jesus intended to resist clandestine arrest.

But, during these last days of disillusionment and perplexity, the enemies of Jesus had also been making their plans. Unable to seize him openly, because of the attitude of the people, the Jewish leaders were suddenly given the chance of making a clandestine arrest by the defection of one of Jesus' disciples. The act of betrayal then made by Judas Iscariot has earned him undying infamy, and his motive has long perplexed scholars, unconvinced by the Gospel record that he did it for thirty pieces of silver. Many have sought a clue in his name 'Iscariot'. In its extant form it is meaningless; but there is reason for thinking that it is a corruption of the original form, and much ingenuity has been expended in trying to reconstruct this. Among the more suggestive reconstructions is that which derives 'Iscariot' from sicarius, the name given to the Zealot extremists who, armed with a con-

{p. 149} cealed sica or curved dagger, secretly assassinated Jewish collaborators with the Roman govermnent. There are, however, several objections to this interpretation, which, though not insurmountable, would make it unwise to conclude that this disciple was a sicarius. If he were, the fact would, of course, be of the highest significance, both because of Jesus' choice of such a political terrorist for an apostle and his betrayal of Jesus. As it is, we can only speculate why one of Jesus' apostles did so betray him to his enemies. Greed seems an inadequate motive for such a crime. From our reconstruction of the last fatal days in Jerusalem several more intelligible motives suggest themselves: disillusionment at the failure of Jesus to effect the expected Messianic coup d'etat; fear of coming retribution for all involved in his attempt; even, perhaps, to force Jcsus to use the supernatural power attributed to him by placing him in a desperate position.

Whatever the motives of Judas Iscariot, he gave the Jewish authorities the opportunity they needed. For he revealed the secret rendezvous of Jesus in Gethsemane, where he might be seized, with his chief lieutenants, without the interference of the crowd. It is evident from the Gospel accounts that the Jewish leaders took no chances in arresting Jesus. They sent a strong, well-armed party to Gcthsemane; if the record of John is to be trusted, it was a combined Roman-Jewish operation.The function of Judas was to identify Jesus among the shadowy figures of his followers in the garden. The arrest met with armed resistance; but the force sent by the authorities was too strong. They succeeded in seizing Jesus; but in the darkness and confused fighting they failed to arrest the disciplcs, who made good their escape.

Having at last secured the person of this dangerous revolutionary, for such Jesus surely was in their eyes, the Jewish leaders evidently felt that they had to act swiftly that night. Doubtless they still feared the temper of the people when the arrest of Jesus became known, and so demed it advisable to deliver him to Pilate for execution early the next morning. Their task that night, therefore, was to discover the full dimensions of the attempted coup, particularly thc identities of the chief followers of Jesus, who had escaped thcm. Hence the interrogation by either the ex-high priest Annas, or the Sanhedrin, about the assault in the Temple and Jesus' Messianic claims. Enough was leamed from these enquiries, and probably from other sources, to enable an indictment to be drawn up, ready for the handing over of the prisoner to Pilate in the morning. From our investigation of the Gospel accounts, it would seem that the main charge was that of the assumption of royal power as the 'King of the Jews', with subsidiary charges of inciting the people to revolt and not to pay the Roman tribute. Further, Jesus was presented as the real leader of the insurrection, and not Barabbas.

{p. 150} These charges, relating to matters about which Pilate would doubtless already have had some acquaintance, were accepted by him after he had formally questioned Jesus on them. The execution of the consequent sentence for seditious action was ordered forthwith. After the customary scourging, Jesus was crucified, with the titulus of his condemnation placed on his cross: the King of the Jews. To complete this warning against rebellion, Pilate also ordered two Zealots, taken during the insurrection, to be crucified on either side of Jesus. Thus was Jesus executed as the leader of the revolt which occurred in Jerusalem, at that historic Passover of the year 30.

In the context of Jewish-Roman relations in Judaea, during the first six decades of the first century, the activity and execution of Jesus of Nazareth constituted one of a number of similar incidents. Josephus describes many Messianic daimants, reputedly endowed with miraculous power, who promised 'signs of deliverance', but whom the Romans promptly suppressed. Their deaths ended their Messianic reputations, even though they were regarded as martyrs for the cause of Israel's freedom. Why, then, should Jesus, who shared a like fate, have become the founder, or rather the deity, of a new religion? To answer this question would require another volume, larger than this. Some indications of the main form of that answer have already been given, incidentally, in the course of our study here. Suffice it to say that the disciples' subsequent conviction, that Jesus had been raised from the dead, caused them to believe that he would shortly return, with supernatural power, to complete his Messianic role. This original form of Christianity was essentially a Messianic movement, intelligible only within the terms of contemporary Judaism. According to the insight of its members, it had continued faithful to the teaching and purpose of Jecsus. But it was virtually wiped out when the Jerusalem Church perished in the Jewish catastrophe of AD 70. That Christianity did not disappear then, but survived to become a universal salvation-religion, was due to the transforming genius of Paul. Though defeated in his own lifetime, Paul's interpretation of the death of Christ as a divinely planned event, transcending time and place, was rehabilitated after AD 70 and became the foundational doctrine of Catholic Christianity. Hence, as we have seen, the later Gospel writers were not really describing the trial of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, despite the apparent historical setting of their accounts. They were explaining away an embarrassing involvement of the incarnate Son of God with the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate.

{end quotes}

(2) S. G. F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1967.

{p. 294} There is another important inference about the Church in Alexandria at this time which may legitimately be made from what Josephus tells of the situation of the Jews there after A.D. 70. That a large body of the Sicarii should have sought refuge in Egypt, after the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, is not surprising. Egypt was the traditional place of asylum for Jews whose safety was threatened in their own land; it was relatively easy to access from Judaea, and it contained long-established Jewish communities. In A.D. 70 it was also logical for refugees to flee southwards from Judaea, since the Roman army had entered the country from the north and gradually closed in on Jerusalem. The Sicarii sought both refuge in Egypt, and the opportunity of continuing their holy war against Rome by stirring the Alexandrian Jews to revolt. But other Jews also undoubtedly fled to Egypt for safety from Roman vengeance in conquered Judaea. Among them, it would be reasonable to think, there might have been Jewish Christians, possibly some survivors of the Jerusalem Chureh. If this had indeed been so, we might

{p. 295} fairly expect to find some reflection of the memory of this flight in the literature of the Alexandrian Christians.

It will be well to pause at this point and summarise the result of our enquiry . We have noted that a priori considerations indicate a strong possibility that the Gospel of Matthew originated in Alexandria. We have also seen something of the probable situation and attitude of the Christian community there in the critical period following the Jewish disaster in A.D. 70. Consequently, we are in a position to evaluate whatever evidence there may be in the Gospel of Matthew of what we may reasonably suppose the Sitz im Leben of the Alexandrian Christians to have been at this time, i.e. during the decade that is commonly thought to have elapsed from the destruction of Jerusalem to the composition of Matthew.

There is one unique feature of the Gospel of Malthew that immediaiately commands our attention, if we contemplate the possibility that the Gospel was produced in Alexandria. It is the fact that Matthew, alone among the Evangelists, records that Jesus as a child was taken by his parents for shelter to Egypt, and that he remained there for some time. Now not only is this story of the flight into Egypt peculiar to Matthew, but it also constitutes a kind of contradiction to the Jewish exclusiveness which characterises the document. This is particularly evident if we examine Matthew's version of the episode of the Syro-Phoenician woman, which he evidently derived from the Markan Gospel. Matthew carefully corrects the impression given by Mark's account that Jesus had crossed over the border into the district of Tyre and Sidon and had entered a

{p. 296} Gentile house. He, accordingly, makes it quite clear in his version that it was the Gentile woman who came over the border (apo ton horion ekeinon) into Palestine, to solicit Jesus to heal her child. Matthew's motive in making this correction is plain: Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, could not have left the holy land of Israel and soujourned among Gentiles. Yet, despite his meticulous emendation of the Markan narrative in this matter, it is Matthew who alone records the Flight into Egypt. It is, however, to be noted that the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt is not depicted as a sudden spontaneous retreat to the nearest place of reluge. Matthew presents it as a divinely directed journey. The angel of the Lord commands Joseph: 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you... Moreover, according to Matthew, the flight and the soujourn in the land of the Nile vere divinely ordained, in order to fulfil an ancient prophecy: 'Out of Egypt have I called my son.'

The Matthaean Gospel, therefore, represents Egypt as the land selected by God to shelter the infant Messiah of Israel from those who, in his own land, sought to kill him. This evaluation of Egypt

{p. 297} is truly both remarkable and significant; for no other Gentile land could claim so unique a privilege. It is well to reflect that, if some other Gentile country had been accorded a comparable status by one of the Gospel writers, the fact would surely have been interpreted as indicating a close connection between that Gospel and the country concerned. This predilection which Matthew thus shows for Egypt is, therefore, rightly to be interpreted as attesting some special relationship, and it provides a remarkable confirmation of the a priori case for Matthew's being the Gospel of the Church of Alexandria.

But the story of the Flight into Egypt may also fairly be seen as bearing witness to another likely happening which affected the life of the Alexandrian Church at this time. We have noted the probability that the flight of a body of the Sicarii into Egypt, which Josephus records, was not an isolated phenomenon, and that many other Jews were likely also to have sought refuge in Egypt fron war-devastated Judaea. If among these refugees there had been survivors of the Jerusalem Church or of other Judaean churches, the story of the Flight into Egypt acquires a great poignancy. For such a tradilion, that their Lord, when a child, had found refuge in Egypt from his enemies, would surely have been treasurcd by refugees who had also been forced to flee hither for shelter from the furious heathen.

This evidence of the Egyptian, or rather the Alexandrian, origin of the Gospel of Matthew is reinforced by other testimony. The most notable of this is constituted by the remarkable exaltation or Peter which characterises the writing. In the list of the apostles he

{p. 298} is definitively denominated the 'primus' (protos), and his unique status is clearly proclaimed in Matthew's significant emendation and elaboration of the Markan version of the Caesarea Philippi incident. Whereas Mark, as we have seen, used the incident to denigrate Peter, by representing him as failing to perceive the true nature and role of his Master, Matthew disguises this by softening the harshness of Jesus' condemnation. And in the previous part of the passage he ascribes to Peter the very insight which he lacked according to Mark. Thus, not only is Peter represented as recognising in Jesus the Messiah, but he also perceives his divinity: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And in the place of Mark's silence about the reaction of Jesus to Peter's recognition of his Messiahship only, Jesus is made to testify to Peter's divinely inspired vision: 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has nol reveaed this to you, but my father who is in heaven.' But even this is not enough, and these gracious words are followed in Mattthew's version by the famous declaration that confers on Peter a status and authority which are unique and of fundamental significance: 'And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'

{p. 299} In other words, the author of the Matthaean Gospel presents Peter to those for whom he wrote as the 'foundation apostle' of the Church, whose divine commission extended beyond this world. In view of Peter's traditional association with the See of Rome, it is indeed surprising that this stupendous claim does not appear in Mark, which was the Gospel of the primitive Christian community at Rome, nor in a Gospel that can be reasonably located at Antioch which later claimed Peter as its first bishop. That this presentation of Peter as the 'foundation apostle' should have been made in a Gospel which we have found reason for locating at Alexandria is, howevcr, not surprising. For it is consistent with Peter's role as the Apostle of 'the circumcision', which Paul recognised, and it is in accord both will the evidence which we have noted of a close association between the Mother Church of Jerusalcm and the Church in Alcxandria and with the probability that Alexandria was the 'other place', to which Peter went and about which the author of Acts is so strangely reticent. To this internal evidence, attesting the Alexandrian origin of the Matthaean Gospel, may be added the testimony of the fact that two early documents which seem to be of Alexandrian origin, namely, the Episle of arnabas and the so-called Second Epistle of Clement, appear to quote from Matthew as being the Gospel best known lo them, while the evidence of papyri-finds appears to indicate that

{p. 300} more copies of Matthew circulated in Egypt than of any other Gospel. And the Gospel of Thomas, found recently at Nag-Hamadi in Upper Egypt, which probably dates in its original form from the second century, also reveals a close knowledge of the Matthaean Gospel. In this connection, too, we may notice that the Gospel of Thomas, which evidently circulated in Egypt, emanated from a Jewish Christian community which preserved the memory of the leadership of James, the Lord's brother, attributing his pre-eminence in the Church to the command of Jesus. The memory of James would doubtless have been reverenced in the Church of Alexandria, the daughter church of Jreusalem.

If Matthew is thus seen as the Gospel of the Church of Alexandria, having been written somewhere about A.D. 80-5, it constitutes a document of the highest importance for evaluating the reaction of an essentially Jewish Cristian community, in fact a daughter church of the Church of Jerusalem, to the disaster that befell Israel in A.D. 70, and in which the Mother Church had been involved. In seeking to understand this reaction, we have also to bear in mind that these Alexandrian Christians were part of the Jewish population of Alexandria and doubtless shared in the dangers and anxieties that distressed that community during the critical decade that followed the destruction of Jerusalem. The desire of that community to keep itself uninvolved in Zealotism, taking warning from the catasrlrophe which had overwhelmed their brethren in Judaea, found practical expression, as Josephus records, in their rejection of the Sicarii refugees who sought to continue the struggle against Rome in Egypt. If, in turn, we are right in interpreting Matthew's story of the Flight into Egypt as evidence of the presence of refugees from Judaea in the Alexandrian Church, we may assume that these unfortunates had been accepted and succoured by the Christians of Alexandria because they sought shelter only and not a further endeavour to restore the kingdom to Israel, as did the Sicarii.

{p. 301} It would be helpful if we could determine the occasion of the writing of the Matthaean Gospel. That it was produced in response to some need of the community of which the author was a member is a safe inference to make; and, if that community is to be located at Alexandria, it was designed, therefore, to assist the Alexandrian Christians in some specific way during the period concerned. Now, since these Christians were mostly of Jewish birth, it would be reasonable to conclude that the aftermath of A.D. 70 would have faced them with some different problems from those which confronted the Gentile Christians of Rome, for whom Mark wrote his Gospel. Some clue to the general nature of those problems would seem to be provided by the fact that Matthew knows the Markan Gospel and follows the framework of the Markan narrative. Did Mark, then, provide the stimulus for the composition of Matthew? It would seem reasonable to suppose that Mark did at least provide the author of Matthew with the idea of a Gospel, i.e. a narrative account of the career of Jesus which would embody its author's interpretation of Jesus in relation to the Sitz im Leben of the Christian community whose life he shared and for whose members he wrote. But, if Mark provided the idea, the fact that Matthew felt moved to amend and elaborate the Markan record proves that he was not wholly content with it. We have already noted how he changed Mark's account of the Caesarea Philippi episode, so that, from being a derogatory evaluation of Peter, it became a categorical proclamation of Peter's unique status and authority in the Church. ...

{p. 308} He therefore represents Jesus as assuring the disciple who drew the sword in his defence, that he had at his own disposal all the supernatural power that Jewish apocalyptic ascribed to the Messiah. Against the legions of Caesar, tht terrible military machine that had now destroyed Israel, Christ could summon, if he so chose, twelve legions of angels. But Christ, according to Matthew, had not chosen to invoke force then, nor should his disciples have resorted to its use later - the consequences had been fatal: those who had taken the sword had indeed perished by it.

Thus, motivated by the Sitz im Leben of the Christian community in Alexandria in the critical years following the fall of Jerusalem, Matthew was led to develop the Markan thesis, that Jesus had been innocent of sedition against Rome, into one more suited to the needs of his own church, namely, that of the pacific Christ who renounced all resort to armed force, whether human or angelic.

{The question arises, whether in depicting this Pacific Christ, Matthew drew on Buddhist literature. Christian Lindtner claims strong parallels with the Lotus sutra (Buddhist Studies Review, 18/2 (2001). Was there a Buddhist colony in Alexandria? If not, how might Buddhist documents have come to be in the hands of these Christian authors? Who brought them from India? And when? What were the dates of their original composition in India?}

This portrait of the pacific Christ, which is most dramatically presented in Matthew's account of the arrest in Gethsemane, is anticipated in the Beatitudes, which form part of the Sermon on the Mount. Whatever the origin of the material drawn upon here, Matthew has clearly formulated his own version of the teaching which he ascribes to Jesus. Most significant are the pronouncements that open this Dominical discourse, in which Jesus appears as the New Moses delivering the New Law to the New Israel: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' ... 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth' ... 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.' The relevance of these statements to the situation in the Christian community at Alexandria in the decade following the catastrophe of A.D. 70 is manifest. For these Jewish Christians, shocked by the disaster in Judaea and fearful of an outbreak of Zealot fanaticism in Egypt, the need to counter that in-

{p. 309} transigent spirit that the Sicarii had shown, even in defeat and under torture, was paramount. {footnote 1: Even after their suppression in Egypt, remnants of the Sicarii caused trouble in Cyrene (Jos. War, VII 437 ff.). Hence Jesus, as the true Messiah of Israel, is portrayed as blessing those who exhibit a contrary spirit, in being ptochos to pneumati and praeis. {see footnote 2} And, instead of martial zeal, a peaceable disposition is commended - the followers of the pacific Christ become 'sons of God' by being eirenopoioi. The situation in Alexandria at this time is also reflected in other Beatitudes. The refugees, bereft of home and many of families, are remembered in 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.' And resentment against the Roman military is checked, in a practical manner, by representing Jesus as commanding his disciples to render more service than the statutory requirement, while the Levitical injunction that Israelites were to hate foreigners (tov echron sou) is changed into a command: 'Love your enemies (tous

{footnote 2} The 'poor in spirit' {Hebrew script} appears in the Qumran War Scroll (XIV. 7) in a mililant context: "Through the poor in spirit [there shall be gnaw]ed a hard heart, and through them that are upright in the way shall all wicked nations come to an end, and their mighty men shall not be able to resist' (trans. Y. Yadin, Scroll of the War, pp. 326, 327; cf. A. Dupont-Sommer, Les ecrits esseniens, p. 205). ... Surely in placing the 'poor in spirit' together with the 'meek' and the 'peacemakers', Matthew was reinterpreting a well-known militaristic term. ... {end footnote}

{p. 310} echthrous umon) and pray for those who persecute you ...' Thus, Matthew, moved by the dangers which threatened the Church in Alexandria during these difficult years, not only presented Jesus to his fellow-Christians as the Messiah who rejected armed violence to promote his cause, but he represents him as commanding his followers to show themselves similarly pacific in their conduct. Those who had taken the sword in Judaea had perished by the sword: hence, Zealot virtues and Zealot action must be repudiated and replaced by the idea of the 'poor in spirit', the 'meek', and the 'peacemaker'.

The Matthaean Gospel, like the Lukan, elaborates Mark's passing reference to the Temptation of Jesus by Satan, after his baptism, into a dramatic episode that includes what appears to be a definitive renunciation of world-empire by Jesus. Such a presentation, at the beginning of his account of the ministry of Jesus, might be inter- preted as an announcement by Matthew of his theme of the peaceable nature and intent of Jesus, who was the true Messiah of Israel. However, the fact that Matthew's version does not differ significantly from that of Luke suggests that the story of the Temptation was derived by these writers from a common source, possibly Q. If this be so, the question naturally follows whether we have, therefore, evidence that, prior to the writing of Matthew and Luke, and perhaps Mark, there already existed a tradition of Jesus as the Messiah who did not seek an earthly kingdom and its acquisition by force of arms.

Such a possibility appears unlikely on examination of the passages concerned. For it must be recognised in the first place that it is

{p. 311} 'all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them', not lordship over Israel only, that Satan is represented as offering to Jesus. Then, to suggest that acceptance of this offer was meant to signify resort to war, and that this was the Satanic temptation, is to assume that a considerable degree of sophistication underlies the Temptation tradition in its original form. Moreover, it must not be overlooked that Jesus is not described as rerusing dominioll over te world as such; what he vehemently repudiates is the Devil's suggestion that he should worship him. However, the real nature of the Temptation story is not likely to be understood by considering one part of it only; it includes three acts of temptation, so that the story must be evaluated as a whole, for the three forms of temptation are undoubtedly related to eaeh other in some way.

It is reasonable to suppose that a tradition, carefully artieulated in structure and clearly constituting an apologetical theme such as the Temptation story embodies, was composed to meet some specific need in the primitive Jewish Christian community in Judaea. Further, the fact that the story amounts to an assertion that Jesus rejected three specific actions as being demonically inspired suggests that it had been found necessary thus to refute corresponding charges that he had been guilty of such actions. Now, the three temptations which Jesus is described as resisting are significant; for they can each be identified with some aspect of current Messianic belief and the practice of Messianic claimants. The idea of turning stones into bread would surely derive from those thaumaturgic acts which the 'wonder-workers' (gontes), of whom Josephus writes, claimed to perform as evidence of their Messianic powers. The temptation to

{p. 312} force God's intervention by precipitating a dangerous situation is reminiscent of the conduct of that Messianic pretender who gathered a crowd on the Mount of Olives, promising to cause the walls of Jerusalem to fall and to slaughter the Roman garrison. The temptation to strive for world-dominion recalls the ancient oracle concerning the coming of a world-ruler from Israel, which Josephus adroitly interpreted as being fulfilled by Vespasian's elevation to the imperial power while resident in Palestine.

That Jesus should have repudiated the course of action that each of these temptations represents would seem consistent with what has become the traditional view of his nature and character. However, on reflection it has to be recognised that the first temptation, namely, to turn stones into bread, is very similar to many miracles that are ascribed to Jesus by the Evangelists. Further, it could be reasonably argued that such an act as Jesus' attack on the Temple trading system was calculated to produce the situation implied by the second temptation, namely, by provoking enemies to take action against him, thus deliberately to place himself in great jeopardy.

In the light of these considerations it would appear, therefore, that the Temptation story was not composed to deny that Jesus did

{p. 313} perform miracles or claim world-dominion; what it was intended to refute was the accusation that such action was inspired by the Devil. This conclusion is consistent with other evidence, and it throws light upon an interesting development of Jewish Christian apologetic. As we have seen, the performance of miracles was regarded as evidence of Messianic character and authority: Joscphus tells of many gontes or Messianic pretenders who were credited with miraculous power. The miracles of Jesus were similarly regarded as 'signs' attesting his Messiahship, and they were cited by his followers in their teaching and apologetic as they sought to win their compatriots to acceptance of Jesus as the promised Messiah or to meet the objections of opponents. Now, as the Beelzebub accusation shows, those who refused to accept the Messiahship of Jesus did not deny his ability to perform miracles; instead, they controverted the testimony of his miracles by attributing them to demonic agency. The Temptation story, accordingly, represents a piece of traditional apologetic directed against such accusations concerning what were evidently considered three major aspects of Jesus' Messianic activity. The three issues involved are significant: performance of miracles; the precipitation of a crisis; ambition for world-dominion.

The identity of those who made such accusations is clearly a matter of considerable concern for our evaluation of the issue involved here. According to Mark, it was scribes from Jerusalem who accused Jesus of casting out demons by the aid of Beelzebul ...

{p. 334} it could, however, also indicate that the action of Jesus was so powerfully supported by his followers that the Temple police either dared not intervene or were swept aside. It is curious, too, that the Roman troops in the Antonia, who must have observed the fracas, did not intervene to restore order, as they did when Paul was being lynched in the Temple courts. The fact that Mark and Luke mention, in another connection, that there was an insurrection in the city about this time, which involved bloodshed, makes it legitimate to wonder whether this attack by Jesus on the Temple trading system, which was tantamount to an attack on the sacerdotal aristocracy, was a far more serious affair than the Gospels show and whether it caused those authorities to plan his arrest, and thus forestall Roman action.

If the revolutionary action initiated by Jesus in the Temple thus caused the Jewish leaders to seize him, which they were apparently enabled to do only by the defection of one of his disciples, certain aspects of his subsequent examination before the high priest bccome intelligible. As we have seen, Mark states that the chief evidence laid against Jesus was that he had declared that he would destroy the Temple and in three days build another 'made without hands'. Mark describes these witnesses as 'false', and says that their testimony failed through lack of mutual corroboration. Now, as we also found reason for believing, Mark was here drawing upon a tradition of the Jerusalem Church which repudiated as 'false witness' an accusation that Jesus had threatened to destroy the Temple. However, the accusation had not been completely withoul foundation, and it had probably arisen out of some utterance of Jesus, made on the occasion of his attack on the Temple trading system, which had been misunderstood by those who heard it and who were produced as witnesses at his trial.

That Jesus was thus accused of uttering some such threat against

{p. 335} the Temple, and that it was the initial charge when he was examined by the high priest, are understandable in the light of his action in the Temple and what we also know of Zealot policy. By attacking the system which the sacerdotal aristocracy authorised and from which it drew a considerable revenue, and by making some pronouncemcnt on his intention to destroy the present ordering of the Temple and replace it by another more pure and holy, Jesus anticipated what the Zealots achieved in A.D. 66. For, when they then gained control of the Temple, these patriots appointed a new high priest by the ancient method of drawing lots instead of appointment by the secular power, whether Roman or Herodian. In this connection we may also wonder what was the attitude of Jesus towards the sacrifices which were offered daily in the Temple for the well-being of the Roman emperor and the Roman people. According to Josephus, the sacerdotal aristocracy were greatly concerned with the maintenance of this pledge of loyalty to Rome, but the lower priests, who were infected by Zealotism, finally refused, in A.D. 66, to offer these sacrifices as being offensive to the God of Israel. We may fairly ask whether Jesus would have endorsed these sacrifices which betokened Israel's subjection to the heathen power of Rome, or whether, in attacking the sacerdotal aristocracy, like the Zealots, he also condemned as impious their use of the Temple cultus to recommend them to their Roman patrons.

If we are right in thinking that the 'Cleansing of the Temple' led to Jesus' arrest by the Jewish authorities, and that his action had this revolutionary significance, we can understand the otherwise puzzling fact that, whereas his trial before the Sanhedrin appears to have been concerned with Jewish issues, he was delivered to Pilate charged with sedition against Rome. According to Mark and Matthew, besides his alleged threat to destroy the Temple, Jesus was also interrogated on his Messianic claims or those made about him by his followers. John also supplies an illuminating detail: that the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Accordingly, tendentious and unreliable as the Gospel

{p. 336} accounls of the Jewish trial are, they indicate an intelligible sequence of events when considered in connection wilh the 'Cleansing of the Temple'. Alarmed by Jesus' action in the Temple, and probably unable to proceed against him openly owing to the popular support he enjoyed, the Jewish authorities, when they succeeded in capturing him, were concerned to discover the exact nature of his aims and the identity of his main supporters. From what they leaned, they were able to prepare a charge of sedition and hand him over to Pilale, thus discharging their obligation to cooperate in the maintenance of the Roman government in their land, as well as removing a threat to themselves.

It would appear, therefore, that Jesus' execution by the Romans resulted not from any overt and direct revolutionary act against them, but from his attack on the authority of the Jewish sacerdotal aristocracy, which was construed as dangerous to the structure of government on which Roman rule was built in Judaea. This conclusion now faces us with a twofold question: why did Jesus thus attack the Jewish hierarchy, and what was his attitude to the Roman power that lay behind the rule of the Jewish hierarchy?

To seek an answer to the first of these questions leads us back inevitably to facing the profounder issue of what was Jesus' aim that it eventually induced him to attack the sacerdotal aristocracy which governed Israel, under the aegis of Rome. Here we meet an apparent impasse, well known to New Testament scholars, that we have no certain record of Jesus' teaching, preserved in his own words and accurately describing the context in which it was given. We have to content ourselves with what appears to be a reliable concise summary statement of Jesus' message in the Markan Gospel. There it is recorded that, after his baptism and the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at

{p. 337} hand; repent!' The statement has an authentic ring, and it is intelligible in terms of current Jewish apocalyptic. The meaning of the 'kingdom of God' is admittedly undefined, and it is capable of some variety of interpretation in view of the fluidity of contemporary eschatological expectation. However, if the saying was indeed addressed by Jesus to a Jewish audience, it must have involved the destiny of Israel. In other words, the coming of the kingdom of God must have meant the achievement of the prophetic tradition of Israel as the Holy People of Yahweh, vindicated for its faithrulness before the nations of the world, and freed from all mundane hindrance to devote itself wholly to the service of its God. Whether the achievement of this ideal state was located in this world or implied some cosmic cataclysm is not clear; but it would certainly involve a complete change of the existing world-order, whereby Israel was in bondage to the heathen power of Rome.

The action which Jesus is represented as urging on his hearers, namely, repentance, is also understandable in terms of contemporary apocalyptic belief. It was held by many Jewish teachers at this time that Israel's state of servitude to the heathen was due to unfaithfulness, and that repentance of evil and zealous observance of the sacred Torah would prepare the way for God's deliverance. The aim of Jesus, therefore, would seem to have been that of bringing his fellow-Jews to a state of moral and spiritual readiness for the near advent of the kingdom of God. How he conceived of his own role in this is not clear. An interminable discussion revolves around the meaning of the expression 'Son of man' and Jesus' use of it, and no certain answer can be given to the question whether he considered himself to be the Messiah; that his followers so regarded him is, however, beyond serious doubt.

{end quotes}

A stream of Jewish writers argue a similar case.

Karl Kautsky blamed Paul for the Church's rejection of the Jews, and attributes the move of spiritual centre to Rome, to the failure of the Jewish uprising of 70AD: kautsky.html.

A similar "Jewish" view can be found in Frederick Engels' writings on early Christianity, eg. Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1882baue.htm;
and On the History of Early Christianity: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894chri/index.htm,

Joel Carmichael, Hyam Maccoby and Robert Eisenman put a similar anti-Paul case.
Hillel Halkin noted that Maccoby draws much from Carmichael and Brandon, with scant acknowledgment:


Jesus and the Jews
Reader Letters

Commentary Magazine, January 1982

Hillel Halkin writes: ...

1. ... If Mr. Maccoby is right about Jesus having led an anti-Roman uprising in Jerusalem, there must still have been living, at the time the synoptic Gospels were composed, many hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian Jews who were eyewitnesses to the event‹at least some of whom would have sought to make known their recollections of it as members of the Jerusalem Nazarene church. According to Mr. Maccoby, either the authors of the Gospels were unaware that such eyewitness reports existed, or else, being aware of them, they conveniently ³forgot² them and ³unconsciously² replaced them with an imaginary account of their own. Neither of these two alternatives strikes me as being particularly likely.

2. I am cognizant of the fact that Jesus is mentioned by Josephus. Had Mr. Maccoby read my review with more care, he would have realized that the question asked in it is not, Why is Jesus not mentioned by Josephus?, but rather, Why, if an anti-Roman mob seized the Temple Mount during Jesus' last days in Jerusalem, is such an uprising not mentioned by Josephus?

3. It is simply not true that I said in my review that the belief that Jesus' career had ³an anti-Roman political aspect² originated with Joel Carmichael and S.G.F. Brandon; in fact, I explicitly stated that such a belief goes at least as far back as the 18th-century work of Hermann Samuel Reimarus. What was, to the best of my knowledge, new about Carmichael's book was its claim that Jesus was the leader of an armed rebellion‹an argument that Brandon took up and sought to document by an exhaustive analysis of New Testament sources that anticipates Mr. Maccoby's at numerous points.

Beyond this, Mr. Maccoby is right about Joel Carmichael: he does refer to him in his book‹once, in a one-line footnote to Chapter 15. As for S.G.F. Brandon (in whose Jesus and the Zealots and The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth I am at a loss to detect the slightest trace of Bultmannism), the ³frequent references² to him in Revolution in Judea consist of eight lines of actual text and nine more lines of footnotes. Nowhere does Mr. Maccoby so much as hint that the central themes of his book were articulated before him by these two men, and, while I preferred to treat this as an oversight in my review, his letter now rules out such an assumption. It is sad to see a scholar so keen to be thought original that he cannot permit himself the gesture of acknowledging a debt to his predecessors.

About one thing Hyam Maccoby does have a just grievance: in speaking in my review of a ³Carmichael-Brandon-Maccoby hypothesis,² I did not point out, as I should have done, that Mr. Maccoby's conception of Jesus differs somewhat from that of Carmichael and Brandon, and that, unlike the latter, the author of Revolution in Judea attributes to Jesus' supposed anti-Roman insurgency, a purely apocalyptic-symbolic, as opposed to a pragmatic-military, significance. Yet Mr. Maccoby is far from consistent here. Thus, while disclaiming serious logistical planning on Jesus' part, he believes that Jesus and a mob of his followers were able to occupy and hold the Temple Mount for several days (no mean task in a heavily garrisoned town like Jerusalem). And, in practically one breath, he writes that ³Jesus was not a Zealot² (p. 120) and that ³there was no fundamental disparity between Jesus' aims and those of the militant Zealots² (p. 121). If there was no fundamental disparity, how unlike the Zealots could Jesus have been?

4. While I admired Mr. Maccoby's elegant interpretation of the Barabbas incident, I did not find it ³necessarily convincing² for the simple reason that, since Jesus (Yeshu or Yeshu'a in Hebrew) was a common name in late Second Temple times, there is nothing inherently implausible about two Jesuses having come up for judgment before Pilate at the same time. (And if they did, the incident can be understood in a manner that is fully consistent with the text of the Gospels and opposed to Mr. Maccoby's theory, i.e., by assuming that the mob wanted Jesus Barabbas freed because he was an anti-Roman leader, and was willing to sacrifice Jesus of Nazareth because he was not.) This does not mean that Mr. Maccoby's version of the Barabbas story is wrong; neither, however, can it be proved right, since once more we are in the realm of ³educated guesses² rather than of ³reliable conclusions.²

In sum, I should like to say that, whatever my reservations about it, I tried to write a careful and by no means hostile assessment of Revolution in Judea, which, along with the work of Joel Carmichael and S.G.F. Brandon, offers a novel and interesting interpretation of Jesus' life and death. I am sorry that in his letter to COMMENTARY Hyam Maccoby could not bring himself to treat my review in the same spirit as I treated his book, and that, instead of dealing seriously with the questions that I raised, chose either to ³fend them off with a straw,² as the old rabbinic saying goes, or to ignore them entirely.

Problems about Brandon's Jesus:

1. If Jesus and his Jewish disciples were Zealots, Paul would have had no chance of persuading any of them to adopt a pacifist ethnic, because they would have seen it as a betrayal - complicity in Roman rule; the Zealots of Masada preferred suicide to surrender. The depiction of a pacifist Jesus in the Gospels and other early NT literature (eg Q) would have drawn the ire of all who had first-hand knowledge that he was a firebrand.

The Book of Revelation is quite different. It's Jewish rather than Christian, depicting the vengeance of God and Jesus ("the Lamb") against Rome. That would have been the tenor of the whole New Testament if the Brandon or Eisenman were right. But there would have been no New Testament, and no Christians.

2. Jesus was executed by the Romans, at the behest of Jewish authorities. If Jesus and Barabbas were both Zealots with a similar agenda, why execute Jesus but not Barabbas?

3. Why the extensive Cynic parallels in the New Testament, if Jesus was a Zealot?

The Gospels emphasise that the goals of Jesus were other-worldly; many have noted Buddhist parallels to Jesus' life and words. F. Gerald Downing, in his book Christ and the Cynics, stresses the Cynic parallels to Jesus and his disciples; the Cynics were wandering philosophers advocating a simple life, conquest of the self rather than of others.
"Maybe Matthew would better be seen as a deliberate combination of Cynic with Jewish strands, for a mixed Christian community":  downing.html.

Mark Vs. Q

To study the debate about Q among New Testament scholars, refer to

Here are some samples:


"Burton Mack, a professor of Claremont School of Theology ... In 1988, Mack published Mark: A Myth of Innocence; here Mack argues that Mark is a thoroughly unreliable source, an example of early Christian mythmaking, and that to the extent that the historical Jesus can be recovered, he looks like a Cynic wisdom teacher ...  This argument was continued in Mack's The Lost Gospel: the Book of Q and Christian Origins in 1993. Mack defended Q as the most reliable source for the reconstruction of the historical Jesus. Q in turn was believed to have gone through three different revisions or redactions before it was used as a source for Matthew and Luke. Mack here was relying on the brilliantly argued work of John Kloppenborg who believed that Q originally consisted of a collection of wisdom sayings ..."

(ii) The Search for a No-Frills Jesus, by CHARLOTTE ALLEN, Atlantic Monthly, December
1996   http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/96dec/jesus/jesus.htm

(iii) David Seeley, JESUS' DEATH IN Q {This article first appeared in New Testament
Studies 38 (1992) 222-34 ...] http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l/jdeath.htm

(iv) Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic
Problem http://www.ntgateway.com/Q/

The Role of Philo of Alexandria in fusing Judaism with Hellenism, thus creating Christianity and "Western Civilization": philo.html.

Karl Kautsky, a German Jewish Marxist, on  how the Christian Church developed hostility to the Jews:

"The growth of the Jews' fanatical hatred for the nations of their oppressors was matched by the growth of aversion and contempt for the Jews among the masses of those nations. This in turn led the Gentile Christians and those who were carrying on agitation among them not merely to demand freedom from the Jewish law for themselves, but to criticize these precepts more and more sharply. The opposition between Jewish and Gentile Christians became, among the latter, more and more an opposition to Judaism itself." kautsky.html.

What Jewish apologists especially resent, is Paul's "Universalism", his opposition to Jewish "Particularism". Might Stalin's "gentile takeover" of Communism be compared to Paul's "gentile takeover" of Christianity? death-of-stalin.html.

If Christianity (as we know it) emerged from Rome's defeat of the Jewish revolt, how might a triumphant Zion in our time - having defeated Islam and built the Third Temple - seek to reshape Christianity?  tmf.html.

S. G. F. Brandon on the derivation of the story of Adam and Eve, from the Epic of Gilgamesh: adam-and-eve.html.

S. G. F. Brandon on the development of ideas of the Judgment of the Dead (including Karma) in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman Culture, Hinduism and Buddhism: judgment.html.

The religion of the First Persian Empire (559-330 BC) was Zoroastrianism; it has shaped Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism and Radical Feminism: zoroaster-judaism.html.

Did Judaism once have a Goddess? jewish-taoist.html.

S. G. F. Brandon's books are out of print.

To purchase S. G. F. Brandon's books second-hand via Abebooks:

Write to me at contact.html.