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Steuart Campbell

The Rise and Fall of Jesus, page 149 - 166

A Complete Explanation for the Life of Jesus and the Origin of Christianity

3. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4346-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7327-8, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828873278-149

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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Implementation A time to die I now turn to the events of that week when Jesus had an appointment with a dream. No week in the whole history of the world can have stimulated so much debate as the few days that spanned the arrest, trial and crucifixion, and supposed resurrection of this notorious Galilean. Indeed, Cohn has called them ‘the most momentous events in the life of mankind’. Jesus may have believed that 33 was the fateful year, the four-hundred-and-eighty-third year of Daniel’s prophecy and the end of the sixty-ninth ‘week’. It may also have seemed significant to him that Herod’s Temple had been under construction for forty-nine years (seven ‘weeks’ of years). If it was believed that the Messiah-ben-Joseph was to sacrifice his life for Israel, it may have been thought appropriate, even essential, that Jesus should ‘die’ during the Passover feast at the time when the sacrificial lamb was killed, i.e. in the evening of the 14 Nisan (Exod. 12:6). Klausner (1925:426) noted that it was believed that the 14 Nisan would be the first day of redemption in the Messianic age. In 33, 14 Nisan was the day we call 3 April and it fell on the sixth day of the week – what we call Friday. Although there is a record that he was laying down his life ‘for the sheep’ (John 10:15), Jesus seems never to have identified himself with the sacrificial lamb. However, he did identify himself with the unleavened loaf (Luke 22:19). Evidently he associated the Feast of Unleavened Bread (identical with Passover) with his fate. But there was a more important reason for arranging Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. It was during this feast that Pilate made one of his few visits to the city; he brought extra troops to maintain order while the city was swarming with Jews from the Diaspora and perhaps also with rebels. If Jesus had planned 7 149 to commit himself into Roman hands for summary execution according to a strict timetable, then he must do it at a time when the governor, who alone could sentence him to crucifixion, was in Jerusalem. There was also the advantage that considerable publicity could be gained by Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ in the midst of the feast. There could be no better circumstances in which to announce the kingdom and the appearance of the future king (Klausner 1925). From the start, the arrangements betray organization. On previous occasions, Jesus had avoided publicity. Now he enters Jerusalem with great ceremony, creates a disturbance in the Temple and publicly challenges the teaching of the scribes and chief priests. Clearly there was a plan, but evidently it was not known to the evangelists. Countdown to the kingdom Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare a room where they could celebrate the Passover meal (Mark 14:12). The evangelists claim that this instruction was given on the Day of Unleavened Bread (i.e. the first day of the Feast of Passover), but Jesus was crucified on that day. The evangelists must have meant that he gave the instruction ‘as the first day of the feast approached’, i.e. a few days before the first day of the feast. The feast lasted from 14 to 20 Nisan (Exod. 12:18) but Sanders (1993:250f) notes that, to comply with Jewish law, Jesus and his party would have had to enter Jerusalem on Friday (sic) 8 Nisan, one week before Passover (in fact that day was a sabbath). This was to allow time for the obligatory sacrifice, being sprinkled with purifying mixture (on 10 and 14 Nisan) and bathing (see Num. 19). It is well known that, while Jesus and his disciples ate their Passover on the Thursday evening, the chief priests had not eaten theirs by the following morning (John 18:28). This discrepancy is compounded by the curiosity that the day of the Crucifixion is referred to as the ‘day of Preparation’ for the Passover (John 19:14). According to Klausner (1925), the Pharisees declared that, when 15 Nisan fell on the sabbath (Saturday) and 14 Nisan on the eve of sabbath, the Passover was to be sacrificed on the eve of the sabbath, at the moment ‘between the two days’ (i.e. at sunset). Jacobs claimed that, 7 Implementation 150 when 15 Nisan fell on the sabbath, it was the custom of pious Jews (Pharisees?) to antedate the Passover meal by a day and to celebrate it on the Thursday evening in order not to interfere with celebration of the sabbath. Klausner’s interpretation is unclear. However Jacobs’s explanation is consistent with the notion that the priests celebrated the Passover on the 14 Nisan, even though it fell on a sabbath, while Jesus and his disciples (as Pharisees) celebrated it on the Thursday evening, at sunset. Friday remained ‘the Day of Preparation’ for the priests’ Passover. According to modern reckoning, whereby dates change at midnight, the Friday contained not only most of 14 Nisan but also part of 15 Nisan. This may have led to confusion. Since the Pharisaic Passover began at sunset on the Thursday, it would have been during that day (13 Nisan) that the disciples went looking for the Upper Room (see TIMETABLE OF HOLY WEEK in 33 below). Ogg’s claim, that the meal was held on 13 Nisan, would be correct if he thought that the day ended at midnight. For the year of the Crucifixion, see gloss WHEN DID JESUS DIE? on p. 192. TIMETABLE OF HOLY WEEK in 33 Since Jewish days start at sunset, evening events occur on the following day. 6th day Friday 07 Nisan Jesus goes to Bethany and is anointed 7th day Saturday 08 Nisan sabbath 1st day Sunday 09 Nisan Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem 2nd day Monday 10 Nisan purification and sprinkling 3rd day Tuesday 11 Nisan Cleansing of the Temple 4th day Wednesday 12 Nisan 5th day Thursday 13 Nisan Passover meal/arrest (all on 14 Nisan) 6th day Friday 14 Nisan Trial and crucifixion 7th day Saturday 15 Nisan sabbath (Sadducee’s Passover) 1st day Sunday 16 Nisan tomb found empty 2nd day Monday 17 Nisan the ‘third day’ Countdown to the kingdom 151 The Anointing Either six days (John 12:1) or two days (Mark 14:1) before the fateful Passover, Jesus was staying in Bethany when a woman poured some precious ointment over him. He was in the house of a leper called Simon who was, according to Schofield, Judas’ father. Lazarus, Mary and Martha and the disciples were present. Mark did not identify the woman, but, according to John, it was Mary. The ointment (spikenard) was poured onto either Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3) or his feet (John 12:3). When questioned by the disciples or possibly by Judas as treasurer, Jesus appeared to know the reason for this act, as if it had been arranged. It was done, he explained, in preparation for his burial (Mark 14:8) and the woman had done him a good deed (Mark 14:6). Apparently the disciples made to confiscate the remainder of the ointment, so that it could be sold to give money to the poor. But Jesus restrained them, saying ‘leave her alone … let her keep it for the day of my burial … The poor are always around, but I will not always be here’ (John 12:7–8). Thiering (1992) thought that this event occurred during Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene. As we have seen, ‘messiah’ is the Hebrew for ‘anointed-one’, deriving from the practice of anointing the ancient kings of Israel with oil; it represented the outpouring of God’s spirit. Jesus believed that he was the Messiah-ben-Joseph, but even this humble Messiah must be anointed. If he was to ‘die’ as Messiah, Jesus must be anointed beforehand. That the evangelists did not claim that the event fulfilled any prophecy or even that it was recognized as the anointment of the Messiah indicates that it was not invented. Either the evangelists did not understand the event’s political significance or they suppressed the obvious interpretation for fear of Rome. Since Jesus was rarely surprised by events and instead arranged them to conform to the expected life of the Messiah, it must be presumed that this event was not accidental. Mary did not just happen to have an alabaster box of expensive ointment, pouring it over Jesus on impulse. Jesus expected her to pour it over him and was ready with an explanation. That Lazarus’ sister was responsible, suggests that it was arranged by Jesus’ (Nazarene) friends. The Greek text actually states 7 Implementation 152 that Mary ‘did what she had [to do]; she was to anoint my body beforehand for the burial’ (Mark 14:8). In other words, she was told to do it. This was Jesus’ anointment as Messiah. Consequently the ointment must have been poured on his head, the traditional method of anointment and the hair mentioned by John must have been Jesus’ own, not Mary’s. Mary had indeed done him a good turn; she had prepared him for ‘death’. Now that he was anointed, he could face crucifixion as the Messiah. Baigent recognised the significance of this event and commented on the fact that it was performed by a woman, whom he thought could have been Jesus’ wife (2006:119). The triumphal entry We are told that Jesus arranged to enter Jerusalem riding on a young ass (John 12:14). Indeed, we are told that he did so deliberately in order to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah that Jerusalem’s king would arrive in this fashion (Zech. 9:9). The details of the arrangement indicate prior planning by the Nazarenes. The ass was provided by an unnamed person in Bethphage, someone known to Jesus but not known to the disciples (Matt. 21:1–2). The disciples were even given a password (Mark 11:3). Woolston (1721) thought that an impostor had ridden the ass to fulfil the prophecy, but Vickers saw that it was arranged by a Nazarene ‘confederacy’. Schweitzer (1925) understood that Jesus himself made these consciously Messianic arrangements in deliberate fulfilment of the prophecy, a view with which Salibi agreed (1988:116) and to which Sanders was inclined (1993:254). Klausner (1925), who had no interest in the prior arrangements, agreed that the Entry was an intentional fulfilment of prophecy, but thought that Jesus did it to announce his claims. Wells thought the Entry apocryphal and asked why the authorities did not intervene. The Romans, who had probably not heard of Jesus at that time, would hardly have stopped someone riding on an ass into Jerusalem. The priests, who probably had heard of him, held their hand for fear of the people. Helms (1989:103) thought that the story was invented to agree with the Zechariah. The triumphal entry 153 According to John, the people who had witnessed the ‘raising’ of Lazarus (John 12:17) accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, shouted ‘hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the king of Israel’ and scattered palm branches in his path (John 12:13). Matthew and Mark have similar accounts. ‘Hosanna’ is the Greek form of a Hebrew word meaning ‘save now’ or, according to Carmichael (1995:123), it may have been an Aramaic word meaning ‘free us’ (see Ps. 118:25), a common form of wishing safety and prosperity. Robertson (1953) thought that it was a political slogan. Graves and Podro claimed that it was the traditional cry at the Feast of Tabernacles (autumn) and that no palm branches are available in the spring. In fact, the date palm’s ‘branches’ are its very long leaves, which may well survive into the spring. If some greeted Jesus as ‘king of Israel’, it was a dangerous thing to do and they must have been Nazarenes. Jesus had not published this claim. According to Matthew, those who asked who he was were told that he was ‘the prophet Jesus from Nazareth’ (Matt. 21:10–11). More likely, they were told that he was ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ (see chapter 3). Sanders thought the demonstration was ‘quite modest’, a symbolic gesture for insiders, for those who had eyes to see (1993:256). Schweitzer (1925) suggested that the crowd thought they were greeting, not the Messiah, but the Forerunner. Cleansing the Temple It is recorded that Jesus drove the money-changers and dealers in sacrificial animals from the outer court of the Temple (Matt. 21:12–13). According to John, whose account (John 2:13–17) is out of place, he used a small lash of ropes. Such conspicuous behaviour, which prompted the chief priests, scribes, and elders to ask what authority he had to behave in such a fashion (Mark 11:27–28), certainly caught the attention of the authorities. He also openly criticized the scribes, condemning their formalism and greed. Klausner (1925) thought that such actions were intended to attract attention so that he would have an audience for his proclamation. He could see no reason for Jesus to plot against Rome and thought that he 7 Implementation 154 had planned to announce his identity, after which general repentance would establish the kingdom. Both Klausner and Cohn believed that Jesus acted lawfully in ejecting the traders and that the action was popular. Cohn thought that even the Jewish authorities approved. Guignebert (1935) considered it extremely likely that the Cleansing was invented as a Messianic drama, while Joyce believed that the event was really an attempted coup d’état, as did Carmichael. The latter thought the account a remnant of one in which Jesus and his supporters held the Temple, the ‘rebellion’ of Mark 15:7. Sanders (1985:64–6) asked why Jesus would overthrow business arrangements that were necessary if the Mosaic commandments were to be kept and he suggested (1993:257) that the action symbolized destruction of the Temple. Grant (1977) suggested that Jesus’ action was a deliberate attempt to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah, that ‘there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of Hosts on that day’ (Zech. 14:21) and that, motivated by the words of the Psalm, ‘for zeal for thy house has consumed me’ (Ps. 69:9), he intended that the action would cause the authorities to proceed against him. Salibi thought that Jesus ‘had finally overreached himself ’ (1988:117). Vermes thinks that this incident, where Jesus did ‘the wrong thing in the wrong place in the wrong season’, was the reason he was arrested and crucified (2000:262). Jesus may well have had the prophecy in mind but in fact the words quoted in Matthew echo parts of Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 and the words quoted in John, allegedly remembered by the disciples, come from Psalm 69:9. Jesus may well have quoted some Scriptures during this incident, but we cannot be sure what they were. However, it would be typical of Jesus if he masked his intention to draw attention to himself by outwardly justifying the action by an appeal to Scripture. The Tribute Money Apparently in an attempt to trick Jesus into making a seditious statement, some Herodians (a Jewish party that favoured submission to Rome) asked him whether or not it was lawful to give tribute (taxes) to Caesar, i.e. to the Romans (Mark 12:13–17). An affirmative answer would have undermined his platform and brought his zeal for the Law The Tribute Money 155 into question. A negative answer would have been seditious. But Jesus well knew that money for the Temple had to be paid in Jewish coins (mainly bronze), which carried the image of neither man nor beast. This is why there were money-changers in the Temple. Greek and Roman coins could not go to the Temple treasury because they did carry such images. According to Mark, Jesus asked to be shown a denarius, a Roman silver coin (Mark 12:15). It seems more likely that Matthew is correct in recording that he asked to be shown the money (nomisma) of the tribute (Matt. 22:19). He need not have specified the coin, indeed it is more logical that he did not. If a Jewish coin had been produced, he would have declared that it belonged to God and should not be paid to Caesar. In fact Rome did not accept tribute in Jewish coin (Daniel-Rops). It seems that he was shown a denarius. This Roman coin bore the head of the Emperor on its obverse side. Such a coin was minted in Rome and was acceptable for payment of the tribute. Jesus’ answer (‘render to Caesar those things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s’) avoided the question, although it did imply that it was lawful to pay tribute. (Graves and Podro suggested that Jesus said, ‘render not to Caesar that which is God’s, nor unto God that which is Caesar’s’.) However, it also implied that, since the coin was Roman, he wanted nothing to do with it and that it should be returned to its owners, those who made it. Jesus’ answer implied that all Roman coins should be sent back where they came from, along with the Romans themselves. It was an easy way out of a difficult question. He was fortunate that two different species of coins were circulating in Judaea and that their different functions were clearly understood. Klausner (1925) believed that the answer lost Jesus popularity and that this was why the people rejected him at the Crucifixion. Wells thought the episode was invented to settle the question of tax payments for Christians living under Roman rule. The Upper Room Jesus sent his disciples into Jerusalem (at Qumran, according to Thiering, 1992), to meet and to follow a man carrying a water pot (Mark 7 Implementation 156 14:13). They were to follow this man to a certain house where Jesus had arranged for the Passover meal to be eaten. According to Klausner (1925), the Passover had to be eaten in Jerusalem itself. Here we certainly do find evidence that Jesus had other friends or accomplices in Jerusalem. They must have included some wealthy person, whose house this was and whose servant they were to follow. Vickers was sure that this man was part of a Nazarene confederacy. The disciples were to identify this man, in the best spy story tradition, by something he was carrying – a water pot. Such pots were normally carried by women, but, as Joyce has pointed out, men might carry them if they belonged to a womanless household such as those of the Essenes. He claimed that the Essenes did have a colony in the southwest of the Upper City. Lehmann believed that the man was an Essene taking the disciples to a secret address where the Essene Passover was celebrated. Whether or not he was an Essene, this man was unusual enough to be distinct, but not unusual enough to have drawn the attention of the authorities. Why did the disciples have to follow this man? Why could they not be told where to go? Tradition tells us that the house of the Upper Room was near the house of Caiaphas in the Upper City (see Fig. 3 overleaf). However, Schonfield (1974) believed that it was in Zion, the ‘nazorean Quarter’. In Jesus’ time, the Upper City was inhabited by the wealthy. Consequently it is unlikely that the disciples would be familiar with it; they would need to have been given directions. But in those days, without house numbering, houses were identified by the name of the owner. Thus Ananias of Damascus was instructed to find the house of Judas in the street called Straight (Acts 9:11). The disciples could not have been given directions without the name of the owner of this house being revealed to them. Clearly the owner wished to remain anonymous. The use of a guide also eliminated the need for the disciples to ask for directions. Such enquiries could have led to the owner’s association with Jesus becoming known. If the owner was not a Nazarene, he was a secret supporter of Jesus. Klausner’s idea (1925), that the pot-carrier owned the house, seems very unlikely; a wealthy man would not be seen carrying a pot. The Upper Room 157 Jerusalem in the time of Jesus (300 yards is about 274 metres). Reproduced with permission from The New Bible Dictionary, 1st ed., edited by J D Douglas et al, IVF, 1962. If the pot was carried on the head, the custom in many tropical and sub-tropical countries, it would have been easy to follow the carrier. The disciples did not have to follow on his heels; they could follow at a discreet distance, seeming to have nothing to do with him. Indeed, they need never have approached him. They must have arranged to meet him at some central place in the city, perhaps the market or the bridge leading from the Temple to the Upper City, where they could Fig. 3: 7 Implementation 158 recognize each other across some open space. Once recognition was established, the guide would lead them to the house of his master. The use of such tactics indicates the existence of some secret organization behind Jesus’ mission. That organisation was the sect of the Nazarenes. Salibi did not believe the story, even though he thought that the Last Supper was held in secret (1988:178/9). Powell thought it ‘a fairy tale’ and that the disciples were told to approach the first person they met. This seems extremely unlikely. The ‘betrayal’ It is now generally agreed that The Last Supper was a normal Jewish Seder, held to celebrate the first night of Passover (Thiering, 1992, dissents). The reclining at table, the distribution of alms (John 13:29) and the use of the ‘sop’ in memory of the Egyptian captivity, all distinguish it as a contemporary paschal feast (Dalman), at which their sacrificed lamb would have been eaten. Klausner (1925) believed that it was the first Seder that Jesus had celebrated in Jerusalem in the disciples’ company. The meal was distinguished by only one thing; the extraordinary revelation by Jesus that one of the disciples would betray him (Mark 14:18; John 13:21). Could Jesus really have done this? If he did not make this announcement, why would an evangelist invent it? Did an evangelist, faced with the ‘fact’ of the Betrayal, wish to show that Jesus always foresaw events, even if they were not to his advantage? Such an evangelist would then have been faced, as Craveri pointed out (1967:370), with no explanation for Jesus’ failure to prevent the Betrayal. Did the evangelist also invent the later instructions that Jesus gave to Judas, for which there is a perfectly innocent explanation? Thiering (1992) translated the Greek word for ‘will betray’ (paradosei) literally, as ‘will give beside me’, meaning ‘will act as assistant minister’. As has been noted (see chapter 2), the Betrayal has been, and still is, a distinct embarrassment to the Church and it seems unlikely that the evangelist would compound his problem by claiming that Jesus condoned Judas’ conduct. Christianity has never been able to explain why it, and Jesus apparently (Mark 14:21), condemn the one man The ‘betrayal’ 159 without whom Jesus could not have made his ultimate sacrifice. As Murry pointed out, Christians should be grateful to Judas. The man who hanged himself in sorrow was more of a man than the disciples who left their master and fled, or than Peter who denied Jesus thrice. Nor have some scholars found the matter any more comprehensible. Cohn thought the affair so unlikely and incongruous as to be unbelievable. Schweitzer (1954) thought it inexplicable and Carmichael (1995:78) that it is ‘inherently senseless’. Wells considered the problem insoluble and thought that the story was invented to explain the ease with which Jesus was captured. Ruling out greed, Renan found Judas’ motives impossible to explain and considered the Betrayal scarcely credible. To Guignebert (1935), the Betrayal appeared wholly useless, inexplicable, purposeless and unintelligible. If the Church and so many distinguished critics cannot explain it, how could it be unhistorical? Keim was so impressed by the unlikelihood of the early Church inventing such an embarrassing and disgusting tale, that he claimed it would ‘lift a very heavy burden from the heart of Christianity if it could be proved that the betrayal of [sic] Judas did not take place, and that it was the product of Christian imagination’ (Cohn). If we accept the historicity of the episode, we are confronted by other problems. If Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, why did he not prevent the Betrayal and why would he announce the Betrayal but not the Betrayer to the disciples? None of the disciples, except Judas, knew to whom he referred or saw anything sinister in his instructions to Judas. It was thought that Judas, as treasurer, was going to buy food, or, as was customary, to give alms to the poor (John 13:29). Judas was not identified by the sop (John 13:26), since all the disciples would have received a similar morsel (Daniel-Rops); Guignebert (1935) recognized that Jesus cannot have singled out Judas as the traitor. Further evidence of the disciples’ ignorance is given by Peter’s later question at the lakeside: ‘lord, who betrayed you?’ (John 21:20). Clearly Jesus wished to reveal the fact that one of his friends would betray him, but he did not wish to identify him. The episode provides a most important clue to understanding Jesus’ purpose and methods; the gospel story barely conceals an intricate web of intrigue and planning that, if examined, will reveal Jesus’ tactics. He was desperate to ensure that he would be delivered into the hands 7 Implementation 160 of the Roman authorities. Even more important, he had to ensure that he was arrested at the right time, neither too soon nor too late, and at a place of his choosing. The only way to ensure that the arrest occurred at the correct time and place was for him to arrange it himself. But how was he to accomplish this? Since Scripture forecast that a friend would betray him (Ps. 41:9), it would have seemed appropriate that one of his own disciples should be the one to deliver him to the Romans. This would both fulfil the Scriptures and ensure the success of his plans. It seems that Jesus had made a prior arrangement with Judas; the latter knew exactly what he had to do when he was dismissed. He was told, ‘go quickly and do what you have to do’ (John 13:27). This apparently innocent command bears a more sinister interpretation if it was an agreed signal. Judas was being told to go and betray Jesus. Perhaps Judas, on Jesus’ instruction, had indeed made an arrangement with the High Priest (Matt. 26:14–15). Jesus would need to have known in advance both that the authorities were eager to arrest him and that they would act on Judas’ information. Consequently Judas’ departure from the Seder was part of the plot to place Jesus on the throne of Israel (Thiering, 1992, claimed that Judas left because he did not drink wine). The Gospel of Judas also concludes that Judas only did as he was told. According to the Gospels, Judas was an instrument of the devil (John 13:2). This raises the interesting speculation that Satan was directly responsible for the very sacrifice (the Crucifixion) that Christians claim has conquered him. Klausner (1925) speculated that Judas thought Jesus was a false Messiah or a false prophet; Strauss that the motive was greed. Thiering (1992) believed that Judas was motivated by Jesus’ marriage to Mary (sic) and by an ambition to be Annas’ levite. Zeitlin considered that the motive was fear that the disciples would proclaim Jesus ‘king of the Jews’. Schonfield (1965) claimed that Judas acted because he believed that Jesus had betrayed him. Others have thought that Judas wanted to precipitate the kingdom or to provoke a clash that would result in victory. But Mackinnon noted the unlikelihood of Judas turning against his respected master. Surprisingly, Schweitzer (1925) showed no interest in Judas’ motive. Some, such as Joyce and Noack, have seen that Judas was an innocent go-between, acting on Jesus’ instructions. Moorcock, while telling an otherwise pre- The ‘betrayal’ 161 posterous tale, does have Judas taking a message from Jesus to the Romans. Murry had a very clear understanding that Jesus himself organized the Betrayal, although he offered no evidence for the hypothesis. Ehrman thought that Judas turned Jesus over to the authorities so that Jesus could be killed and escape the confines of his body. He thought Judas the greatest of all the apostles. Why did Jesus choose Judas? Those who believe that Judas’ motive was greed must explain why he was entrusted with the purse. As Strauss asked, ‘who entrusts a purse to one of whom he knows that he robs it?' Surely to be trusted with money Judas was thought honest and reliable. Perhaps Judas was chosen because he was the most reliable disciple. Klausner (1925) claimed that Judas was the only non-Galilean disciple and that, unlike the others, he was educated. This would be enough to ensure that he was selected. Maccoby thought that Judas was Jesus’ brother, but that is incompatible with him being non- Galilean (Judaean?). Perhaps, as Vickers suggested, he was a Nazarene. Surely Judas would have needed to have known the reason for this extraordinary action. He would hardly have accepted instructions to betray his master without adequate explanation. Thus he must have known the plan that Jesus was following and been shown the Scripture that he was fulfilling. He must have been assured that, if and when it became known that he had betrayed Jesus, the latter would protect him from the wrath of others. It would have been shown how essential his part had been (Murry). Consequently, when Jesus died and his protection vanished, Judas had no means of explaining to others that he had only done what he was told to do. It would not be surprising, in those circumstances, that he preferred to take his own life (Matt. 27:5) rather than face the accusations of his companions. He may have killed himself out of shame and remorse, blaming himself for Jesus’ death. The use of Judas’ name as a synonym for a traitor is totally inappropriate; Judas was perhaps Jesus’ most faithful disciple. Judas takes a message It is usually assumed that Judas hastened that night to the house of Caiaphas the High Priest, whose house is believed also to have been in 7 Implementation 162 the Upper City. Indeed, if the Upper Room was in that quarter, then it was conveniently close to Caiaphas’ house. It may have been chosen for that very reason, to speed Judas’ message. Since Jesus and his disciples had to return to Bethany that night, there was little time to warn the authorities. But if Jesus wanted to put himself into the hands of the Romans, why did he send Judas to Caiaphas? Would that not have led to a Jewish trial and execution? It is most unlikely that any ordinary Jew had direct access to Pilate who, in any case, stayed in the Hasmonean Palace, which was much further away. Caiaphas was a Roman appointee, replacing his father-inlaw Annas, who was still regarded by Jews as the legitimate High Priest. So Caiaphas was dependent upon Rome for his continued position and authority. Furthermore he kept his office for eighteen years under the rule of three Roman governors. That he endured so long tells us that he co-operated with them, making himself useful. As a Sadducee, he believed in maintaining Roman rule. Klausner (1925) called him ‘a wily diplomat who kept in with Procurator and people alike’. Because Caiaphas was prepared to co-operate with the prefects and appease them, although he may have thought that he was acting in the best interests of his country, Zeitlin called him a ‘quisling’. Schofield was sure that Caiaphas did not ‘kow-tow’ to the Roman governors. Nevertheless Caiaphas must have accepted the obvious duty of reporting any signs of rebellion or sedition by his people. Indeed, it may have been his responsibility to arrest political trouble-makers and arraign them before the governor. Jesus must have known that betrayal to Caiaphas was tantamount to betrayal to Pilate. Thiering (1992) claimed that Judas (in Qumran) sent a messenger on horseback to Jerusalem to offer Pilate (sic) the bribe and to tell him where ‘the wanted men’ could be found (in Qumran). But what message did Judas convey? According to Carmichael (1995:107), Judas betrayed the hiding place of the leader of an armed revolt. More likely is Schweitzer’s belief that Judas carried the secret that Jesus believed himself to be the Messiah. Murry agreed. It certainly seems that Jesus kept this a secret as far as possible. If it was not publicly known that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, why did Caiaphas finally ask him outright whether or not this was true (Matt. Judas takes a message 163 26:63)? But how did Caiaphas come to know of this claim? Surely only from Judas. Why was this information so vital? Jesus knew that Caiaphas, who as a Sadducee did not share the Messianic hope, could present the claim to Pilate as a claim to kingship, which in effect it was. Jesus knew that Caiaphas would see his claim as a threat to the security of Judaea and that he would have him arrested and brought before Pilate. The message could not have been conveyed before that night in case Jesus was arrested at a time that did not agree with the plan. Indeed, if Judas told Caiaphas that Jesus was already anointed as Messiah, then the message could not have been passed until after the previous evening, when the anointing probably occurred. Judas must also have told Caiaphas when and where Jesus could be arrested that night, how the party would rest in the Garden of Gethsemane on their way back to Bethany. The Garden was conveniently close to the Fortress of Antonia, where the Roman garrison was installed. But since it was outside the city, it also afforded easy escape for the disciples, whose arrest was not intended. In addition, Judas would have promised to make a personal identification of Jesus with a kiss. Indeed, he had to lead the posse to Jesus, although it cannot have been obvious that he was doing so. We are told that Judas accepted a bribe of thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15), which Powell believes Judas received before Jesus’ arrest. It seems possible, since he arranged everything else, that Jesus set the amount of this bribe, basing it on Scripture (Zech. 11:12). Thirty shekels of silver was the damages to be paid for injury to a servant (Exod. 21:32), which, according to some, is how Jesus regarded himself, The Servant of the Lord (Isa. 42:1). He could have told Judas to name this sum as the price of his betrayal. The money would be a useful addition to funds after his ‘resurrection’. Caiaphas might have been suspicious of Judas’ motives if no bribe was demanded. Numismatists are agreed that the coin used for the bribe was the Greek stater; since a stater was worth four denarii, thirty staters were worth a labourer’s wage for 120 days (Matt. 20:1–16). Consequently it was a considerable bribe. These coins cannot have come out of the Temple treasury; it did not contain non-Jewish coins. Consequently they must have come from other funds, perhaps from a fund that Caiaphas kept to finance 7 Implementation 164 an intelligence network. When Judas tried to return the money, the chief priests appear to have denied that it had anything to do with them (Matt. 27:4). They did not want to admit bribing anyone. Judas takes a message 165

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Abstract

What really happened to Jesus? Did he rise from the dead, and if not why do Christians believe that he did? Did he have a plan and, if so, what was it? Did he accomplish his purpose or did the plan fail? If it failed, what were the consequences?

Steuart Campbell, once a Christian, takes a rationalist look at the problem of Christian origins and shows that no previous writer has completely solved the riddle of Jesus. Here he shows us a new hypothesis, one that explains Jesus‘ curious behaviour.

Here is Jesus in historical context, the leader of an obscure Jewish sect which believed that it was fulfilling a divine plan revealed in the Scriptures. This plan required the Messiah to die and rise again to become the king of Israel, throwing the Romans out of Judaea and even replacing the Emperor as ruler of the known world. Read how Jesus expected to accomplish this.

The author displays immense knowledge of the Bible and the history of the Jews and he explains many mysteries. He builds on the work of many other authors and constructs what is surely the true explanation for the origin of Christianity. This should be the last word on the historical Jesus. It is certainly an excellent review of the many attempts to solve the mystery.