uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum -- Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 384 C.E.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jesus, Executed Terrorist

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christians mark the occasion of Jesus’ crucifixion. The precise day and time varies depending on which Gospel you read, but according to the historical methodologies accepted by scholars of the ancient world, there is perhaps no event that more certainly occurred in antiquity.

It is hard to emphasize just how striking a situation early Christians were in, owing to the crucifixion of their founder. The cross today is almost universally recognized as a symbol for Christianity, but that was certainly not the case in the first century, nor even in the first few centuries after Jesus died.

Scholars have long seen the crucifixion of Jesus as highly probable historically, because crucifixion was such a public, shameful, and politically charged method of execution. This is not, as the “criterion of embarrassment” sees it, something that a group of people would make up. As a scholar of ancient Rome, I have to agree: I cannot imagine a scenario more fraught with problems than one in which your chief figurehead had been crucified, and it seems clear from much of Christian literature, from the Gospels themselves onward, that Christians were very concerned about the image this portrayed and significantly invested in making Jesus appear not at all worthy of any such execution.

To read more of this post, please visit the Unfundamentalist Christians Patheos page:

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