4 Preparation in:

Steuart Campbell

The Rise and Fall of Jesus, page 59 - 104

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,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
Preparation Early influences If ‘The Child is father of the Man’* we can only understand the events and purpose of Jesus’ life by examining the early influences upon him and the circumstances in which he grew up. Jesus was no less a child of his time than any other historical personality and we must ask what world view and doctrines influenced his thinking. We have already seen how Jesus may not have been legitimate. Psychologists have shown how many notable people suffered some deprivation in their early formative years and that it is attempts to overcome this deficiency that bring them to positions of authority. Such people appear to compensate for the deficiencies of their youth; where illegitimacy is a stigma, an illegitimate child strives hard to prove to the world and to itself that it is as good as anyone else. The effort put into this attempt is often such that the child becomes better than most of those who have no such motivation. Perhaps Jesus rose to prominence because he felt driven to establish his worth to Jewish society; driven to prove that he was indeed a true son of Israel. For if he was Mary’s son but not Joseph’s, then he was not his father’s firstborn. The firstborn of the father was considered ‘the beginning of his strength’ (Gen. 49:3); he carried great authority in the household, ruled in his father’s absence and stood to inherit twice as much as any other son. However the male firstborn of the mother did not have such privileges if he was not, at the same time, the firstborn of the father; he was considered ‘holy to the Lord’ (Exod. 13:2). If Jesus was indeed such a love child, then he was set apart from his siblings. Furthermore, this difference may have been impressed upon him from the earliest age. He could not have been unaware of it. Upon his ‘father’s’ death, he would have received no inheritance and 4 * William Wordsworth in his poem's ‘My Heart Leaps Up’, 1807. 59 would not have become head of the household. Is it likely that, if he had inherited such responsibilities, he would have had time to study the Scriptures and embark upon his mission? The fact that he did undertake this mission surely tells us that he cannot have had domestic responsibilities. If Jesus knew that Joseph was not his real father and that, as his mother’s firstborn, he had been dedicated to God, it would have been natural for him to seek a father-substitute in God himself. Noack, who believed that Jesus was born out of wedlock, claimed that he could early have taken refuge in his own thoughts, above the clouds in the presence of the God of his fathers. Jesus may have decided to dedicate his life to God’s service. Luke records (Luke 2:41–52) that, when he was twelve years old, the age at which a Jewish boy becomes a man, his parents took him for the first time to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, where they lost him. Later he was found talking with the teachers in the Temple. He said, ‘did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?' He was not talking about Joseph; by then he had come to regard God as his father. Perhaps he took the dedication more seriously than other firstborn children and made a virtue out of necessity. The story has a parallel in the story of Prince Siddhartha (Buddha) being lost during an outing with friends; he was later found sitting under a tree, sunk in religious contemplation (Kersten & Gruber 1995:87). Salibi (1988:37) suggested that the story was constructed from I Samuel 2:21, but this seems unlikely. Jesus was probably only six years old when the Romans instituted direct rule in Judaea. Although this change did not directly affect Galilee, still ruled by Herod Antipas, the shock waves must have been felt even in Capernaum. The Holy City was yet again under Gentile control. As we shall see, this was seen as a sign of the times. Nor could the young Jesus have been unaffected by the revolt against Rome instigated by Judas the Galilean. Although the revolt took place in Judaea, Judas came from Jesus’ own province and he may have inspired many young Galileans with the idea that they had to play a part in the future of Israel. Galileans must have been stirred by the prospect of Judas calling Judaeans cowards for paying taxes to Caesar. Here was a Galilean criticizing the superior and allegedly more pious Judaeans. Ju- 4 Preparation 60 das also founded the Zealots who were to have a fatal effect upon the destiny of all Israel and who may have had something to do with Jesus’ public life. If it is true, as Mowinckel claimed, that there was a belief that the Messiah (ben Joseph) would appear in Upper Galilee, then it is not surprising that a revolutionary movement began in that province. This belief may have had not a little to do with Jesus’ subsequent acceptance of the mantle of the Messiah. Other events caused the Jewish people to wonder if great events were imminent. Herod the Great began to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in 16 BC and its main structure was finished by 9 BC. Comets had been seen and interpreted as signs of impending disaster; Halley’s comet appeared in 11 BC and another comet was seen in about 4 BC. It is likely that Jesus’ parents and friends took all these events as an indication that Israel’s destiny was at last about to be fulfilled. Their beliefs must have moulded those of Jesus himself. Jesus’ trade According to English versions of the Gospels (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3), both Jesus and his father Joseph were carpenters.* Klausner (1925) accepted this as a fact and Guignebert (1935) claimed that ‘everyone today knows that Joseph was a carpenter …’. More cautious was Goguel (1933), who suggested that there is no evidence that Jesus followed the trade of his father and that he was known as the ‘son of the carpenter’. Conversely Murry considered that the report that Jesus’ father was a carpenter may be deduced from the fact (sic) that Jesus had been one. Some have challenged the traditional belief. For example Mackinnon called Jesus ‘a builder accustomed to handling heavy material’ and Stauffer wrote that Joseph was in the building trade and a carpenter. Case suggested that Jesus worked in the building trade. In the Greek text, the word translated as ‘carpenter’ is tekton. These are the only two occurrences of this Greek word in the whole New Testament. However it does occur several times in the Septuagint (II * Modern language editions repeat the word. Jesus’ trade 61 Kings 12:11, 22:6; II Chr. 34:11; Zech. 1:20), where it is associated with the building trade. The word appears to be related to the noun techne (art, craft) and the derived noun technites (craftsman, builder). The exact meaning of tekton seems to be ‘artificer’, but we should take note of the meaning of archi-tekton (I Cor. 3:10), which means ‘masterbuilder’. Daniel-Rops claimed that tekton means ‘both carpenter and joiner and in a general sense the builder of houses’, while Craveri noted that tekton means ‘builder of houses’, i.e. a worker in both wood and stone. We must therefore take the meaning of tekton to be ‘a builder’, in the general sense. Indeed, in modern Greek, a tekton is a mason and an altogether different word is used for a carpenter. Wilson made the mistake of believing that tekton attempts to render the Aramaic naggar, which he claimed means either a craftsman or a scholar (in fact it means ‘carpenter’). Consequently he believed that Jesus was a scholar (1992:83). In fact, in the Septuagint, tekton translates the Hebrew charash (craftsman). Salibi considered the possibility that ‘carpenter’ was Jesus’ surname, i.e. ‘Ben Nagara’ and therefore that he was not actually a carpenter (1988:39). In Palestine in the time of Jesus, ordinary dwellings were constructed of sun-dried bricks of mud or clay on a stone foundation. Rough timbers may have been built into the walls to prevent warping during the drying out of the building after construction. Roofs were constructed of timber beams covered with lathing and plaster, usually flat. The foundation consisted of very rough stones, except for the foundation cornerstone, which was hewn square. In important public buildings, the whole corner of a wall would be built of stone and only temples and palaces were constructed entirely of stone. Thus a Palestinian builder was a craftsman who handled various materials: stone, bricks, timber and plaster and he needed to be both a mason and a carpenter. There was no division of trades as in the modern Western construction industry. It appears therefore that Jesus was not a carpenter in the modern sense, certainly not a joiner or a carver or wooden objects. He was a builder. This trade is revealed in his sayings and parables. ‘For which of you’, he asks, ‘wishing to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost, to see whether he has enough money for completion? 4 Preparation 62 In case, when he has laid the foundation he is not able to finish and onlookers mock him.' (Luke 14:28–29). He also told parables about a tower built in a vineyard (Matt. 21:33) and about two houses, one built upon sand and one built on rock (Matt. 7:24–26). Jesus declared that he would build his assembly upon a rock (Matt. 16:18) and that ‘the stone which the builders rejected became the chief corner-stone’ (Matt. 21:42). Jesus’ dictum about motes and beams (Matt. 7:3–5) derives from the building trade. Builders often carried large beams through the streets on their shoulders. Those passers-by who did not keep a careful watch, perhaps because they were blinded by a speck of dust (mote), might receive the end of a beam in their eye. Powell thought the metaphor ‘physically impractical’ and that the ‘beam’ and ‘splinter’ (sic) were used hyperbolically dealing with Jewish/Gentile relations. Kersten & Gruber (1995:128) assumed that the aphorism is derived from a Buddhist text that urges recognition of one’s own faults, rather than those of others, but in which there is no mention of motes, splinters, beams or eyes. Ferguson claimed that metaphors and similes from carpentry ‘came readily’ to Jesus, but there is no evidence for this. Jesus’ sayings betray no knowledge of carpentry; they do betray a knowledge of the building trade. Wilson believed that, because Jesus could speak of a beam ‘sticking out’ of the eye (this is not true), he had no practical knowledge of what it was like to work in a carpenter’s shop and that he was not a practical man. This is a fundamental misunderstanding. How is it then that the AV describes Joseph and Jesus as carpenters? The explanation lies in the nature of domestic construction methods in seventeenth century England, where the translation was made. At that time in that country, nearly all houses were framed in timber and were constructed by carpenters. Since the timber frame was so fundamental and since so little of a house was undertaken by other trades*, the carpenter was the de facto builder. Almost certainly, the seventeenth century translators of the Bible knew that tekton meant a builder. Therefore they translated it into their own equivalent, ‘a carpenter’ (‘one who builds houses’). Unfortunately this word misleads * Separate trades did exist in seventeenth century England. Jesus’ trade 63 modern readers who do not appreciate the socio-economic milieu that prevailed at the time the translation was made and/or do not understand the original meaning of tekton. Modern translations that derive from the AV instead of from the Greek text may also carry this error. What languages did Jesus speak? Jesus’ mother tongue was Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. More precisely he would have been brought up speaking Galilean Aramaic, a dialect that was regarded by Judaeans as coarse. Peter’s manner of speech branded him a Galilean when he spoke to the High Priest’s maidservant (Matt. 26:73). Did Jesus speak any other language? Did he speak Greek, the lingua franca of the Levant? Craveri thought that debate over whether or not Jesus learned Greek is fruitless. Klausner (1925) saw no hint that Jesus spoke Greek and Guignebert (1935) was sure that he was ignorant of it. However Hudson (1960) wrote that Galilee was a bilingual area and that it is very likely that the disciples and Jesus himself were equally at home when speaking in Greek as in Aramaic. He also suggested that they probably knew enough Latin to get along with official business. McCown claimed that Jesus, like the vast majority of Palestinians, spoke Greek. Thiede thought it possible that Jesus or his disciples could have been conversant in three languages from their childhood on, reading, writing, listening and speaking in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek (Thiede 1990:21). In those days almost everyone spoke and understood Koine, the common Greek of the time. It made it possible for people of many different linguistic groups to communicate with each other. Jews in particular had reason to be fluent in Koine. Because they had been dispersed around the Empire, they relied on Koine to keep in touch, especially when those of the Diaspora gathered each year in Jerusalem for Passover. Indeed, so important was Koine to them that the Scriptures were translated into Greek for the benefit of those who did not know Hebrew. This translation is known as the Septuagint (abbreviated as ‘LXX’). 4 Preparation 64 The epistles of Peter indicate that their author (Peter?) was familiar with the Septuagint. Would Jesus be more ignorant of Greek than his disciples? Jesus was literate, perhaps more so than most of his contemporaries. It can have been little trouble for him to learn Koine; he may have been brought up to speak it as a second language. Who knows therefore, how many of Jesus’ sayings may be recorded in the Greek text of the Gospels in the language in which they were originally spoken? When Jesus spoke to Gentiles, it can only have been in Koine. Although there is reason to doubt the historicity of the story, it appears that Jesus was able to speak directly to a Roman centurion, a person unlikely to understand Aramaic (Matt. 8:5–13). If Jesus and Pilate spoke directly to each other at the trial, then the conversation must have been conducted in Greek. Stauffer, Bouquet and Daniel-Rops all agreed with this conclusion. Pilate would not have bothered to learn Aramaic. A Vatican historian claimed that an interpreter must have been present*, but the absence of any mention of this in the Gospels makes it unlikely. According to the evangelists, Jesus was addressed by the soldiers responsible for his crucifixion. They mocked him in the praetorium (John 19:2–3) and on the cross (Luke 23:36–37). It seems obvious that this mocking must have been in a language that Jesus understood and that language can only have been Koine. The evidence is that Jesus was as fluent in Greek as in Aramaic. Jesus’ Scriptures If Jesus felt that he was dedicated to God, his very name reminding him of the fact, then it would have been natural for him to study the holy books (scrolls) of Israel. Although he worked as a builder, he cannot have had the responsibilities of his father or of his eldest (step) brother. He must have had time to study the Scriptures in depth. All Jewish children were taught to memorize the Scriptures; in fact this was all they were taught. But Jesus had reason to study them and it is recorded that he discussed the Scriptures with the teachers in the temple. Every year at Passover he would have had the same opportu- * Guardian 24 October 1968. Jesus’ Scriptures 65 nity to test his knowledge and understanding against theirs. The accounts we have of his encounters with the masters of the law and religion lead us to suppose that he was unusually intelligent for his time. Many times in debate he got the better of his adversaries and he seems to have been able to quote endlessly from the Scriptures. All Jews recognized three component parts of their Scriptures; ‘the law … the prophets, and … the psalms’ (Luke 24:44). ‘The law’ was the so-called Pentateuch, the five books of Moses (see table JESUS’ SCRIP- TURES on p. 68). It may be that the Law was not then divided into the five books; Jesus referred to ‘the roll of Moses’ (Mark 12:26). ‘The prophets’ included ‘the former prophets’, which described the dealings of God with his chosen people and ‘the latter prophets’. ‘The psalms’ signified not just Psalms, but all those books called ‘the writings’. The Old Testament canon also included some books that we call collectively the Apocrypha (hidden). These were not approved for public use in the synagogue, but were valued for private study and edification. Some have been added and some have been altered since Jesus’ time. In addition, there were some Jewish writings that, although excluded from the Old Testament canon, played an important role during the inter-Testamental period; some would have been familiar to Jesus. These works are today known as the Pseudepigrapha, i.e. writings published under assumed names. Again some have been added and/or altered since Jesus’ time. If Jesus knew all these books, he was well read indeed. When the Gospels attribute to Jesus a quotation from one of these books, we may take it that Jesus had read the book in question. Alternatively we may conclude that the evangelist has attributed the quotation to Jesus because he (the evangelist) thought it appropriate. It would be naive to imagine that the evangelists invented all the quotations. Here I have concluded that all the quotations are those of Jesus unless there is some good reason not to do so. We may certainly conclude that where allusion is evident, but the evangelist does not draw attention to it, then Jesus himself must have been responsible. For example, it is clear that the ‘birth pangs’ (odinon) of Matthew 24:8 comes from Enoch, a book that was not mentioned by the evangelists, but was used by the early Church (Jude 14). Other Enochian phrases in the Gospels are 4 Preparation 66 those that compare Israel to sheep (Matt. 10:6; 15:24) and the sinister phrase ‘it would have been better for that man if he had not been born’ (Matt. 26:24). Charles noted that Enoch had influenced the phraseology not only of Matthew but that of Luke/Acts, John, I John, Revelation, most of the epistles attributed to Paul and Hebrews. Of the Pseudepigraphic books, Enoch was probably the most influential upon Jesus’ thinking. Indeed, since the Jews, like the Greeks, thought that truth is proportional to antiquity (Russell), Enoch must have been seen as more important than Genesis. Klausner (1925) called this book, written about 110 to 68 BC, (third century BC, according to Thiering) ‘the Messianic book par excellence of Judaism in the period of the Second Temple’. Schweitzer (1968) noted that it incorporated Zoroastrian ideas such as an underworld of spirits and supernatural events. It has five main divisions, the second of which, known as the ‘similitudes of Enoch’, consists of three parables dealing mainly with the theme of judgement upon the world, but with assurances to the righteous through the Messianic hope.* The fifth division is a miscellaneous collection of exhortations and other material, of which the most notable is the ‘apocalypse of Weeks’. This divides world history into ten ‘weeks’, the last three being apocalyptic (see ENOCH’S APOCALYPSE OF WEEKS on p. 69). The author of this work saw his own generation as ‘apostate’ and expected that the seventh ‘week’ would end with the election of the Messiah, followed in the eighth Week by the kingdom of heaven. Renan drew attention to the importance of Enoch to understanding the thinking and beliefs of Jesus’ time and he noted that the term ‘son of Man’ comes from this work. According to Margaret Barker (Bammel), Enoch is thought to have originated in Galilee. Thiering drew attention to the importance of Enoch to the Essenes and their belief that heaven sent the great events at significant dates of the calendar. * Scholars are divided over the authenticity of this division. Jesus’ Scriptures 67 JESUS’ SCRIPTURES (The books that the Gospels claim Jesus to have known are shown in bold type) The Law The Books of Moses: Genesis/Exodus/Leviticus/ Numbers/Deuteronomy The Prophets The former prophets Joshua/Judges/Samuel/Kings The latter prophets: Isaiah/Jeremiah/Ezekiel The minor prophets: Hosea/Joel/Amos/Obadiah/ Jonah/Micah/Nahum/Habakkuk/ Zephaniah/Haggai/Zechariah/ Malachi The Writings Psalms/Song of Solomon/ Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/ Job/Chronicles/Ruth/ Lamentations/Esther/Daniel/ Ezra-Nehemiah Apocrypha I Esdras/Tobit/Judith/ Additions to Daniel/ Additions to Esther/ The Prayer of Manasses/ The Epistle of Jeremiah/ The Book of Baruch/ Ecclesiasticus/ The Wisdom of Solomon/ I Maccabees/ II Maccabees Pseudepigrapha Psalms of Solomon/ Psalms of Joshua/ Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs/ Book of Jubilees/ Testament of Job/ Paralipomena of Jeremiah the Prophet/ Book of Enoch/ Aristeas/ Sibylline Oracles/ III Maccabees/ IV Maccabees 4 Preparation 68 ENOCH’S APOCALYPSE OF WEEKS And Enoch began to recount from the books and said: ‘I was born the seventh [from Adam] in the first week, While judgement and righteousness still endured. And after me there shall arise in the second week a great wickedness, And deceit shall have sprung up; And in it a man [Noah] shall be saved. And after it is ended righteousness shall grow up, And a Law shall be made for the sinners. And after that in the third week at its close A man [Abraham] shall be elected as the plant of righteous judgement, And his posterity [Messiah] shall become the plant of righteousness for evermore. And after that in the fourth week, at its close, Visions of the holy and righteous shall be seen [in Sinai] And a law for all generations and an enclosure [Canaan] shall be made for them. And after that in the fifth week, at its close, The house of glory and dominion [Temple] shall be built for ever [in one form or another]. And after that in the sixth week all who live in it shall be blinded, And the hearts of all of them shall godlessly forsake wisdom. And in it a man [Nebuchadnezzar?] shall ascend; And at its close the house of dominion shall be burnt with fire, And the whole race of the chosen root shall be dispersed [Captivity]. And after that in the seventh week shall an apostate generation arise, And many shall be its deeds, And its deeds shall be apostate. And at its close shall be elected The elect righteous of the eternal plant of righteousness [Messiah], To receive sevenfold instruction concerning all His creation. And after that there shall be another, the eighth week, that of righteousness And a sword shall be given to it that a righteous judgement may be executed on the oppressors, And sinners shall be delivered into the hands of the righteous. And at its close they shall acquire houses through their righteousness, And a house [New Jerusalem] shall be built for the Great King in glory for evermore, And all mankind shall look to the path of righteousness. And after that, in the ninth week, the righteous judgement shall be revealed to the whole world, And all the works of the godless shall vanish from the Earth, And the world shall be written down for destruction. And after this, in the tenth week in the seventh part, There shall be the great eternal judgement, In which He will execute vengeance amongst the angels. And the first heaven shall depart and pass away, And a new heaven shall appear, And all the powers of the heavens shall give sevenfold light. And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever, And all shall be in goodness and righteousness, And sin shall be no more mentioned for ever.’ From Book of Enoch (I Enoch) 91:12–17; 93:1–10 (Charles 1913:II) Jesus’ Scriptures 69 Jesus and the Nazarene sect We cannot proceed to understand the influence of the Scriptures upon Jesus’ mind without tackling the problem from another direction. Few Jews were familiar with all the books of the Jewish Scriptures. Indeed, one would not expect a family of builders to possess any of the books. Consequently, if Jesus knew these books as well as indicated by the evangelists, he was unusual. Furthermore, we have to ask how he obtained access to the books. Who supplied the books and what did this person or persons teach him about them? We return to the problem of what was meant by calling Jesus ‘the Nazarene’. According to Luke, Paul was accused of belonging to ‘the sect of the Nazarenes’ (Acts 24:5). The use here of the plural indicates that this was not merely another way of saying that Paul was a follower of ‘the Nazarene’. It is possible that it indicates the existence of a sect that was so labelled quite independently of Jesus. In that case, we may assume that, if Paul belonged to the sect, then so did Jesus. Some scholars have suggested that the correct interpretation of ‘nazorene’ is that it is connected with an elite religious group such as the Nasoreans, an alternative name for the Mandeans (Borsch). Epiphanius claimed that a sect of the ‘nasareans’ existed in Syria and Palestine, that they were Jews who recognized a Messiah and that they used the same sacred book as the Ossaeans (Essenes). According to Gruber, the Nazarenes were a branch of the Essenes, led by John the Baptist (Kersten & Gruber 1994:238). Robertson (1953) suggested that Nasarean (sic) means ‘keeper’, of secrets or of some rules or usages, from natzar (to watch, guard or keep). He pointed out that a pre- Christian sect cannot have been so-called after Jesus the Nazoran (sic), but that Jesus may well have been so-called as a member of the sect. According to Schonfield (1974), ‘nazorean’ is, in Hebrew, notsrim, which means ‘keepers’ or ‘preservers’, i.e. those who maintain the true teaching and tradition or who cherish certain secrets that they did not divulge to others. It has nothing to do with Nazirites. The Hebrew root nazar means ‘to separate’ (Lev. 15:31), ‘to become separated’ (Lev. 22:2) or ‘to consecrate’ (Num. 6:12) and is the origin of the word Nazarite (Num. 6:2). Graves and Podro believed that Jesus belonged to a small apocalyptic sect known as Zophim or ‘watchers for the king- 4 Preparation 70 dom’, organized on Free Essene lines. However they derived ‘nazorarean’ (sic) from nozrim, ‘the guardians’ who preserved the oral tradition of Jesus’ acts and sayings. They also thought that there was a pun on n’sar, which they claimed is the Aramaic for a saw, which a carpenter uses. If Jesus was not a carpenter, no pun can have been intended (n’sar is not the Hebrew for a saw). Kersten & Gruber (1995:204) claimed that ‘nazorean’ goes back to the ancient Babylonian nararu (or nasiru), meaning ‘keeper of divine secrets’ and they concluded that the term appeared to have been brought back to Palestine with the return from exile. If it is true that the word Nazarene derives from a pre-Christian sect, then it seems that Jesus was a member of that sect. Consequently an understanding of his world view can only come from an examination of the nature and teachings of this sect. The Nazoreans were a Mandean gnostic sect that some regard as the forerunner of Christianity. Bultmann believed that Christianity appropriated and reinterpreted a basic gnostic Redeemer-myth and there is evidence for a pre-Christian Nazarene cult adapted to the Jewish milieu. Black showed the suitability of ‘nazarenes’ as a title for the followers of John the Baptist, whose rites the Mandeans claimed to preserve. He suggested that the name Nazarene became applied to the Jesus-movement that arose in the wake of John’s. The basis of gnosis is knowledge of spiritual mysteries that leads to salvation for those who understand the secrets. In a Jewish context, it must have developed into a more intense form of the hope for the Messiah and the changes that his coming would bring. Therefore one can presume that Nazarenes claimed to hold secret knowledge of the Messiah and/or of his coming and the state of the world after his appearance. Vickers informs us that the Nazarenes were a kindred sect of the Essenes who, in order to prepare more effectively for the promised heavenly kingdom, went so far as to organize its government. The sect included rich people who retained their wealth only so as to render the community valuable services. Among their beliefs was the notion that those who would be called to sit on the thrones of the kingdom and rule the twelve tribes (of Israel) must necessarily be men of the poorest and humblest condition. Vickers suggested that Jesus and his disciples, Jesus and the Nazarene sect 71 whom he described as ‘galilean peasants’, might reasonably aspire to an elevation in the future world. Certainly there was every reason why poor Galilean Jews should want political change, particularly if they believed that God had promised it and that it was imminent. On the evidence of II Cor. 8:9, Salibi (1988:11) claimed that Jesus was actually rich. He also noted how Jesus referred to the poor (e.g., Mark 14:7) as if he was not one of them. The idea that the social order would be reversed in the new age may have come from the Persian and Babylonian solstitial ceremony of sacaea. During the celebrations, masters and slaves exchanged roles. For one day, the slaves were allowed to command and masters obeyed (Carter). It may have been thought natural that what occurred temporarily at the turn of the year would become permanent at the turn of the age. This fundamental Nazarene ‘law of Reversal’ is plainly evident in the Gospels: ‘but many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first’ (Matt. 19:30, see also Matt. 20:16 and Luke 13:30). The Sermonon-the-Mount itself appears to be a manifesto promising that those who are poor, meek, hungry and persecuted will become the rulers in the kingdom; they shall ‘inherit the land [of Israel]' and the kingdom of God (of the Messiah) shall be theirs (Carmichael, 1995:71, saw the Sermon as predicting social turmoil). It is evident from Matthew 19:28 that Jesus and those around him believed that they would rule the kingdom. Zebedee’s sons believed that they could become Jesus’ right-hand men in the kingdom (Matt. 20:20–24). The Law of Reversal also explains Jesus’ association with slaves, paupers and down-and-outs. He thought that these people would be the rulers of the age to come. Sanders (1993:196f) misunderstood this Law. He described it as a ‘reversal of values’ and thought that the kingdom would be one where values are quite different for those that prevailed. On the contrary, Jesus made it quite plain that the kingdom’s rulers would hold the same values as the present age. Only the personnel would change; status, not values, would be inverted. Powell also misunderstood the Law; he thought that Matt. 20:16 should read ‘so the last shall be as the first and the first as the last’ and that Matt. 19:30 meant that the last follower will be equal with the first follower. 4 Preparation 72 Vickers deduced that the Nazarenes would have believed, encouraged by certain Scriptures, that the highest person in the kingdom, the Messiah, must necessarily have been the humblest person beforehand and that he must have been ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief ’. He suggested that, believing this, Jesus consciously calculated on suffering, either in the way of martyrdom or penance, ‘so as to gain his place in the kingdom’. In order to receive the greatest exaltation in the kingdom, the Messiah should suffer greatest abasement. Jesus said, ‘it is written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be set at nothing’ (Mark 9:12). The ultimate suffering is death. It was the belief of the Jews that, at the coming of the Messiah, at the commencement of the kingdom, the living would be translated into the new age by changing their mortal forms for imperishable bodies. At the same time, the righteous dead would be resurrected to join them. However orthodox Jews did not believe that the Messiah himself would have to die before he too was resurrected into the kingdom. Guignebert noted that, despite the claim of the Gospel (Mark 9:12), the Old Testament knows nothing of a suffering Messiah. We shall see that this is not true. Reimarus explained that the Jews had two different systems of their Messiah. Most expected a worldly sovereign, splendid and glorious. But some said that he would come twice, the first time in misery and suffering, resulting in his death; the second time in glory with unlimited power. According to Reimarus, the Jew Trypho, in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue, acknowledged this two-fold Messiah and it is found in the Talmud and other Jewish writings. He went on to claim that most of the Jews of his own time had developed a belief in two Messiahs, one from the tribe of Joseph who was to suffer and die, the other from the tribe of Judah who would reign. This dichotomy arose from a need to resolve conflicting Old Testament passages that appeared to speak of the Messiah. Klausner (1956) agreed that the conflict was gradually resolved by the emergence of the concept of two Messiahs. The first, Messiah-ben-Joseph of the house of Ephraim, was to be slain as forecast by Zechariah (Zech. 12:10). The second, Messiah-ben-David of the house of Judah, was to be the eternal ruler, the great judge and final king of Israel. The latter would claim all authority and power, but not forgetting the exploits and sacrifice of his predecessor. Klausner be- Jesus and the Nazarene sect 73 lieved this dichotomy to be quite late in Jewish theological development, i.e. later than the time of Jesus, but admitted that no one is certain when it first arose. Arnheim stated that it was precisely in Jesus’ time that the idea of two Messiahs was current, at least in certain Jewish circles. It may have developed first secretly among the Nazarenes; it is known that the Essenes believed that there would be two Messiahs (of Aaron and Israel), preceded by a prophet (Grant 1973). Mowinckel noted Torrey’s idea that the concept of Messiah-ben-Joseph arose from the Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53; because a dying Messiah could not be a true Messiah-ben-David he must be an antecedent Messiah, coming from Joseph, a tribe that ranked next after Judah. It is curious therefore that Jesus’ father’s name is given as Joseph; this may be a relic of a belief that Jesus was the Messiah-ben-Joseph (Machovec 1976). According to Mowinckel, Judaism borrowed from the beliefs of other Near Eastern religions, all of which are based on the Babylonian religion. Central to these religions was the concept of creation and of a ‘divine king’, the ‘god’ of fertility. At new year, there was a ceremony of humiliation, even death and ‘resurrection’, after which the king remade the world. Originally the king was killed. Later someone was killed in his place and later still the ‘death’ was merely symbolized. Mowickel noted that, in the Egyptian religion, the dying king (Osiris) became the new king (Horus). ‘Osiris transmits to Horus his entire divine power and sovereignty.' Vawter drew attention to ‘the criterion of dissimilarity’, i.e. a given teaching is more likely to point to the person of Jesus when it can be shown not to have been extracted from contemporary Judaism nor to correspond with the inventive interests of early Christianity. Thus if the evangelists have attributed to Jesus beliefs that do not agree with those of the orthodox Judaism of Jesus’ time, it does not follow that the beliefs do not originate with Jesus. On the contrary, the lack of agreement points to their origin with Jesus. The early Church had no interest in propagating a belief in two Messiahs; consequently, if the Gospels reveal such a belief, it can only have a foundation in Jesus’ own beliefs. That Jesus expected another Messiah to follow him is evident from John. According to the evangelist, God would send ‘another Com- 4 Preparation 74 forter’ (parakletos) that he may be with you unto the age, eis ton aiona, i.e. ‘For ever’ (John 14:16; see also John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7). The Church regards this as a reference to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity; indeed this interpretation has evidently been inserted into the text in some places to make that interpretation certain. It was natural that, following the failure of the second Comforter to appear, the Church should interpret the reference in such a spiritual manner. But Judaism knows nothing of such a spiritual being. The ‘spirit of the Lord’ found in the Old Testament was God’s breath (Hebrew ruah). The Church’s interpretation is not only mistaken; it is illogical. If one Comforter (Jesus) was a man, why should the other not also be a man? The use of the word ‘another’ implies that the second will be similar to the first. Jesus appears to have spoken of the second as if he were a man, one who talks with the disciples just as he does. The term ‘comforter’ comes from Lamentations 1:16 and refers to the Messiah himself (Klausner 1956). Evidently Jesus regarded himself as the first Messiah and expected another to follow him. An associated problem is the ambiguous way in which, according to John, Jesus refers to the second Messiah. He claimed that the disciples already knew the man and that he would remind them of all the things that he (Jesus) had said, implying that it is another person but not explaining how they would know him. On the other hand, he declared that he himself would return to comfort them and that they would see him again after a short time. For some reason he would have to go away before the other could come (John 14:17–18,26; 16:7,16). Few have found a rational explanation for these apparent contradictions. It is special pleading to argue that it results from the fusion of two independent traditions. The best that Strauss could offer was that Jesus’ person had to be removed before the material ideas of the disciples became spiritual. If Jesus’ forecast of his return was fulfilled when he appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection, what becomes of the belief that the coming of the Holy Spirit represents his return? Why must he first depart? How is it that the disciples already knew the second Comforter before his arrival? The matter is too complex to have been invented by some redactor; they must be genuine sayings of Jesus. But what do they mean? Jesus and the Nazarene sect 75 Only Machovec has seen the obvious explanation. Jesus saw himself returning as the second Messiah. This is why he had to go away; he had to depart so that he could arrive as the second Comforter. The disciples knew the second Messiah because it was Jesus himself. Evidently he imagined that, after his death, he would be translated into this second Messiah; he would return and become the ruler of Israel. This was the ultimate Nazarene secret. Nazarene organization The Nazarene sect must surely have been organized like any other sect. In Palestine at that time the leadership of sects and parties was dynastic; it was inherited by blood relatives, usually the son of the previous leader. At the time, the Zealots were led by sons of their founder, Judas the Galilean. Brandon drew attention to the rapid rise to power and authority in the primitive Church of James, the brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55), a phenomenon that was not explained by Luke. James took Jesus’ place almost immediately, despite the fact that he was not, apparently, among the twelve disciples (Tabor claims that he was one of the Twelve) and Paul claimed that there was a last minute meeting between Jesus and James (I Cor. 15:7). This transfer of leadership to Jesus’ closest blood relative implies the existence of an organization that linked both of them and demanded such a transfer. Clearly James inherited leadership of the Jerusalem Church from Jesus. He must also have inherited the leadership of the Nazarenes. After James’ death, the leadership passed to another relative, Jesus’ cousin Symeon (Eusebius 3:11:1).* If James inherited this leadership from the dying Jesus, then Jesus must have been the leader of the Nazarenes. If he had been leader, did he found the sect or did he inherit the leadership from some other person? There is no doubt that Jesus received his instruction and authority from John the Baptist; he often praised him and even claimed that John was the greatest man who ever lived (Matt. 11:11). Were John and Jesus related to each other? Luke claimed that Elizabeth, * Tabor claims that this was Jesus’ brother Simon, son of Clophas (Jn 19:25), whom Mary married after the death of Joseph, his brother. 4 Preparation 76 John’s mother, was Jesus’ mother’s cousin (sungenis, kindred). Not only were they related, but we also know that John was the only child of elderly parents. It is quite likely that, after the death of his father, John’s nearest male relative was a cousin. Jesus was the eldest sibling of his family and could have been the natural inheritor of whatever authority was vested in John. In fact, it seems likely that John created the sect and passed its leadership to Jesus. Jesus began to preach only after John had been imprisoned (Mark 1:14–15) and so closely did Jesus’ message resemble that of John after John was killed that Herod thought that Jesus was John resurrected (Mark 6:14–16). Wilson suggested that Jesus’ family led the movement he represented and he recognized that Jesus was in touch with people other than the disciples. He also saw that Jesus planned something that the disciples did not fully understand and that he was involved in a series of actions in which his death was seen as inevitable. Evidently John the Baptist had been leader of the Nazarenes and Jesus inherited the leadership on John’s death. Jesus must have acted as leader while John was imprisoned. Jesus did not found a new religion, nor even a new sect; he merely built on the foundation of John. Craveri declared that, unquestionably, Jesus was a follower of John, rather than the converse and quoted Schoeps (I grandi fondatori di religioni) to the effect that Christianity was born as a ‘splinter from the sect of John’. Despite Gospel silence on this matter, we can conclude that Jesus’ close relatives, especially his brothers, were intimately involved in the Nazarene movement; Jesus’ family ruled the Nazarenes. Nazarene interpretation of Scripture It is evident from the Gospels that the Jewish scriptures were supremely important to Jesus and the Nazarenes. Many times Jesus quoted or referred to them, chiding his audience for their ignorance or for what he regarded as their mistaken interpretations (Mark 12:24; Matt. 21:42). Most of all, he referred to them as a plan of action, a plan that must be fulfilled (Mark 14:49). The Nazarenes had blind faith in their Scriptures, believing that they were authoritative, accurate and infallible. The same blind faith is demonstrated today by modern fundamentalist Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 77 Christians. The further a sect is from the mainstream of its religion, the more fanatical and literal is its interpretation of the same scriptures that are interpreted liberally by their more moderate brethren. The Nazarenes were not only fundamentalist and fanatical, they were gnostic, confident that they alone had the true interpretation of Scripture and determined to keep it secret. This attitude is evident in the Gospels. Many have observed that the idea of a Messiah who must suffer and die in order to accomplish the redemption of the people of Israel was totally alien to the Jews. Borsch noted that the mainstream of Judaism at this time had no real place for a suffering Messianic figure. ‘A crucified Messiah was a scandal to most Jews … and a leader who had to suffer could never have been a popular idea during this particular era.' Strauss observed that the question of whether or not the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah was already diffused among the Jews in the time of Jesus was one of the most difficult points of discussion among theologians and one concerning which they are least agreed. He should have realized that, while it may not have been diffused, it might have been concentrated in one sect or a few sects. It could have formed part of the beliefs of the Nazarenes. These beliefs did not have to be popular or even understood by the public; gnostic beliefs were secret. It was the belief in a suffering Messiah that drove Jesus and the Nazarenes; through them the whole world has adopted their beliefs. Renan claimed that the Scriptures contain no prophecies declaring exactly what the Messiah should accomplish. However Mowinckel found twenty-two ‘authentic Messianic prophecies’ in the Old Testament and showed that Isaiah 53 speaks of the exceptional resurrection of the Suffering Servant and his vindication by God. He noted that, because, from a Jewish perspective, a suffering Messiah is a contradiction in terms, mainstream Judaism could not see this Servant as the Messiah. Consequently the Nazarenes saw the life of the Messiah revealed in Scriptures that carried no such message for the orthodox. This belief, that Scripture contains secrets that only a chosen few can understand, has persisted through the ages and is not extinct. Even today some Christian sects believe that the Bible contains a message that is only for them. To understand the Nazarenes and Jesus’ plan we 4 Preparation 78 must examine those Scriptures which they thought showed the future and the Messiah’s fate. We have already seen that Enoch contains an apocalypse built on a chronology of ‘weeks’. The Book of Daniel also contains such an apocalypse (Dan. 7–12), the seventh chapter of which describes a vision seen by Nebuchadnezzar. It portrays the future in the form of four great beasts that, according to Koch (Schultz 1971) and Klausner (1925), represent, in chronological order, the Neo-Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks as successive rulers of the Holy Land. Later the last beast was identified with the Roman Empire, so that, by the time of Jesus, it was thought that the period described by the vision was reaching its culmination. The vision went on to describe how this last beast was defeated and killed by the Messiah. Consequently it was expected that the Messiah would shortly appear to defeat the Romans and save Israel. This much was general knowledge and accepted by orthodox Jews. However, in the ninth chapter (Dan. 9:24–27) there is a quite specific chronology of ‘weeks’. An angel prophesied that seventy ‘weeks’ remained until Jerusalem saw the coming of the kingdom. These prophetic ‘weeks’ were each of seven years. Consequently the prophecy covered a period of 490 years from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It consisted of three distinct periods. The first, forty-nine years long, covered the period during which the city would be rebuilt. The second period lasted for 434 years, terminating with the death of the Messiah. The final seven years were to be a period of desolation before final triumph. The Messiah is described as ‘an anointed-one’ who would be ‘cut off’ and have nothing, literally ‘but [with] no sign of anything for himself ’ (Dan. 9:26, but the Septuagint has ‘there is no judgement in him’). This prophecy finds an echo in Jesus’ remark that the Son of Man (the Messiah) would be ‘set at nothing’ (Mark 9:12). Jesus certainly knew this prophecy; he quoted from it (Matt. 24:15), adding the mysterious injunction ‘let the reader understand’, a phrase that implies secret meaning. Evangelical Christians have long displayed Daniel’s prophecy as one fulfilled in Jesus’ death. However orthodox Christianity takes as Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 79 little notice as did orthodox Jewry in Jesus’ time.* Jesus’ own disciples did not appear to know of this forecast of their master’s death. Perhaps only the Nazarenes saw here a forecast that the first Messiah would die and at a specific time (at the end of the sixty-ninth ‘week’). The prophecy has considerable importance for Jesus’ mission and it deserves further study. The Book of Daniel was not written by the ancient prophet who claimed to have been carried captive to Babylon. It was written pseudepigraphically about 165 BC, shortly after the rape of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes and it is certain that the ‘prophecies’ are based on events that occurred during that terrible time. This Seleucid king invaded Jerusalem in 169 BC, robbed the Temple of its treasures, stopped the daily sacrifice (167 BC), ravaged the city, burned its finest buildings, built an idol-altar on the Jewish altar and sacrificed swine on it. Severe and hideous sacrileges were perpetrated on the citizens (Josephus, Antiq. 12:5:4). The most significant element in this catalogue of crime is the sacrifice of swine. Because a pig is an abominable animal to Jews (Deut. 15:8), the sacrilege of Antiochus was described in the Septuagint as an ‘abomination of desolation’ (I Macc. 1:54). Jews could hardly imagine a worse sacrilege; the sacrifice of an animal that their religion abhorred on the altar of their god’s temple. The author of Daniel turned this sacrilege into the climax of his prophecy, warning his readers that ‘on the temple [shall be] the abomination of desolations;' (Dan. 9:27, LXX). Jesus himself drew attention to this event as a sign of the end (Mark 13:14; Matt. 24:15). Few scholars have been able to explain the ‘abomination’ to which Jesus referred. Sanders thought that it probably refers to the threat (in 40 or 41) by Gaius (Caligula) to have a statue of himself erected in the Temple (1993:256). But the reference must be, as Jesus explained, to Daniel and swine. Did the Nazarenes expect that swine would be sacrificed in the Temple? Perhaps they foresaw that something representing a pig would stand in the holy place. It is curious that one of the emblems of the Roman Tenth Legion (Fretensis), which was stationed in Syria in 20 and was in Judaea in 68, was a wild boar (Parker 1958:263). This * This may have been because the Septuagint translation is inaccurate. 4 Preparation 80 represented the Sabine god Quirinus (see plate 1 below). If the troops that Rome used to control Judaea (from 6) were seconded from the Tenth, then they could have marched under a banner carrying the image of a boar. This could have caused the Roman troops in Judaea to be known as swine. Indeed this is confirmed by the story of the Gadarene swine (Mark 5:1–17). The story is an allegory portraying the hope that the Romans would be swept into the sea by a Jewish army (Robertson 1953:144f). The name of the demoniac was ‘legion’ and the number of his demons (2000) was about that of the number of Roman troops in Judaea. Sanders (1993:23) gives the number of troops as 3000. There seems to be no extant relic showing the emblems of the Tenth Legion, but the Twentieth Legion also used the boar. This antefix showing the Twentieth’s boar was discovered in Britain and is in the British Museum in London. (British Museum) Thiering saw that the pigs stand for ‘a class of men’, but she could not identify them and Powell, who saw allegories everywhere else, failed to Plate 1: Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 81 see this one. Jewish listeners would have understood the symbolism. The man was Judaea and the demons were the Roman army, whose presence in Judaea was driving the Jews to a frenzy of self-destruction. The Romans could only be removed by the Messiah who could command them to depart (Mark 5:10). The Romans, who were identified on their standards by the image of a pig, turned into pigs. The Nazarenes may have interpreted Daniel’s prophecy as a forecast that the Romans, with their ‘abominable’ standards, would destroy the sanctuary and stand in the holy place. They had good reason. The boar was long regarded as a symbol of the enemies of Israel, moreover the symbol of those who would destroy it. The Hebrew word for a boar appears only once in the Old Testament, in a context (Ps. 80:13) where the land of Israel is compared to a vineyard, with the vines representing the Jews. The vineyard is ravaged by ‘the boar from the forest’. Cansdale (1962) noted that the wild boar’s main habitat is forest or reed beds and that it is likely that ‘the beast that dwells among the reeds’ (Ps. 68:30, LXX) is the boar. In fact, the conventional interpretation of the latter verse is that it describes either the crocodile or the hippopotamus, representing Egypt, Israel’s ancient enemy. It is curious therefore that the Hebrew version of the same phrase reads ‘the company of spearmen’ (the original text is obscure). If these spearmen carried a banner (vexillum) bearing the representation of a boar among the spears, they may have seemed to the Nazarenes to be a perfect fulfilment of Scripture: Rome signalling that it was the power that would destroy Israel (see plate 2 opposite). Some Nazarenes may have seen signs of the times in 6 when Rome took control of Judaea and held a census. The patronymic of the supervising officer, the Imperial legate, was Quirinius (sometimes called ‘quirinus’), easily associated with the boar god Quirinus. To the initiates, Rome early announced its identification as the power that would ravage the holy land. The terminus a quo of the prophetic ‘weeks’ is a commandment by the Persian king to rebuild Jerusalem and to allow the Jews to return from their captivity. It is not clear which king is indicated. Klausner (1925) thought it was Cyrus, who made such an edict in 537 BC. However according to Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1), the release was made in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. This may have been 445 BC, when Ne- 4 Preparation 82 hemiah was permitted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (the prophecy mentions the rebuilding of streets and walls). If the prophecy was dated from 445 BC, it would terminate in 38. Schonfield (1974), while recognizing the uncertainty there is regarding reckoning at that time, calculated that it would terminate in 48 BC, the year Pompey was killed in Egypt. Tabor calculated that it terminated in 33, but his chronology was skewed by his belief that Jesus was born in 5 BC. A terminus ad quem before Jesus’ time makes nonsense of his mission. Plainly the Nazarenes must have believed that the period of the prophecy had not yet expired. The year in which Jesus probably died (33) is only five years away from the terminus ad quem calculated above (38) and only two years away from the end of the sixty-ninth ‘week’ (31). The Ermine Street Guard marching with the vexillum of the Twentieth Legion. The boar among the reeds? We cannot be certain what year the Nazarenes took as the terminus a quo, but we can be confident that they believed that the death of the Messiah was imminent. If they believed that Jesus had to die at the end Plate 2: Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 83 of the sixty-ninth ‘week’, then they must have taken the terminus a quo as 450 BC, not an unreasonable guess at the time. The prophecy claimed that a coming ruler would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, creating seven years of desolation. He would abolish the daily sacrifice after three-and-a-half years (Dan. 9:26b–27a) and establish the ‘abomination’. If Matthew 24 records the words of Jesus, then he understood Daniel’s prophecy to describe a disaster that was about to overtake Jerusalem. If the ‘abomination’ was yet to come, then Jesus could not have understood any previous action as fulfilment. It has been suggested that Pilate’s action in 26 was regarded as the ‘abomination’. However, at that time, the standards had not been taken into the Temple court. Jesus seems to have believed that the final desolation would occur in the ‘holy place’ (topos hagios), i.e. the altar (Matt. 24:15). Indeed, such a violation did occur when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70. It was believed that the Temple would be desecrated and under Gentile control for the remaining three-and-a-half years (‘a time, times and a half ’; Dan. 12:7). A year was taken to be 360 days. Consequently three-and-a-half years was equivalent to 1260 days. The extra 30 days constituted an intercalary month in which to cleanse the sanctuary and, possibly, to build the New Jerusalem. The report that Jesus claimed that he would replace the Temple by its heavenly counterpart in only three (Hebrew sheloshah) days (Mark 14:58) may have been a misunderstanding of thirty (sheloshim) days. An extra 45 days (Dan. 12:12) was then added to allow preparation for the celebrations that would inaugurate the kingdom. At the end of the 1335 days, there would be a general resurrection (Dan. 12:12–13). The choice of a period of three-and-a-half years requires explanation. It may derive from the fact that, at that time, there was a prominent comet with a synodic period of about 3.3 years (Clube). See the gloss on THE JUBILEE PROBLEM opposite. 4 Preparation 84 THE JUBILEE PROBLEM Seven sabbatical years (49 years) were to culminate in a Jubilee (trumpet), which Leviticus calls the ‘fiftieth year’. This was also to be a fallow year. It seems very unlikely that the Israelites could have tolerated two fallow years in succession, even though they believed that Yahveh had promised that the sixth year would provide enough food for three years (Lev. 25:20f). They were told that they should sow in the eighth year. If this applied at the Jubilee, then the fiftieth year would be the first year of the next cycle. Alternatively, if they observed the fiftieth year as a fallow year, the sequence of sabbatical years would have been broken. A system based on seven would have been replaced by one based on ten times five. It seems likely that the intention was that the forty-ninth year was to be the Jubilee, an especially sacred sabbatical year and that this was loosely referred to as the fiftieth year. There was a tendency to use numbers, especially large ones, in an approximate sense. It is not known whether or not the Jews kept to this system, although the prophecy of Daniel suggests that they did. We may ask why the Jews instituted the Jubilee; what was its origin? Only recently has a possible answer emerged. Clube and Napier suggest that in ancient times comets were more plentiful and that one particular comet, which was very prominent and associated with devastation of the Earth, had a close encounter period of 52 years. This is sufficiently close to 49 years to allow the possibility that the Jubilee is derived from some rite associated with this comet. Matthew 24 makes it clear that Jesus was looking towards the seven troubled years of Daniel 9:26; he warned of the war and strife that marked the beginning of the ‘birth pangs’ (Matt. 24:8). The ‘sorrows’ of the AV hides the Greek word odinon (birth pangs), which is a reference to the ‘birth pangs of the Messiah’ found in Enoch. This time of trouble, which was expected to herald the manifestation of the Messiah, was to bring abandonment of children, miscarriages, separation of families in violence and the slaughter of sons by fathers. This picture of the misery caused by civil war is closely echoed in Matthew 24. Jesus urges the faithful to take heed of the warning given by the ‘abomination’. They should flee Jerusalem and wait for the Messiah to return and destroy the desolators. The analogy with childbirth shows that the coming of the Messiah would not be without pain for Israel. Another matter that may have had an influence upon the Nazarene chronology is the cycle of sabbatical years. The Law demanded that every seventh year the land was to be left fallow and that, after seven such cycles, a special ‘jubilee’ was to be declared (Lev. 25:2–13). See the gloss on THE JUBILEE PROBLEM above. The Nazarenes may have seen the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy as a span of ten Jubilees and that the ‘prophetic weeks’ coincided with the sabbatical cycle. In fact the prophecy must have been interpreted so that its termini coincided with years of Jubilee. If the prophetic period Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 85 terminated in a Jubilee, then Messiah-ben-Joseph must die in the sabbatical year preceding a Jubilee. There is doubt that the Jews strictly observed the sabbatical system. But whether or not it was observed publicly, it could have been recorded and remembered privately by minority religious sects such as the Nazarenes. There seems to be no record telling which years were known as Jubilee years. However, although for him it was not the year of the Crucifixion, Schonfield (1958) identified 33/34 as a sabbatical year. If Jesus was crucified in a sabbatical year, it may have been because the Nazarenes thought that year to be one that marked the end of the sixty-ninth ‘week’ of the prophecy. It would mean that they expected the final Jubilee and the appearance of the kingdom in 40. Guignebert (1939) noted that the common people widely accepted calculations that claimed to establish a date for the inauguration of the long-desired kingdom and that one such estimate fixed the Great Day about the year 30. Previous sabbatical years (see the COMPARATIVE CHRONOLOGY OF THE TIMES OF JESUS on p. 58) may have been seen as significant. Herod the Great is thought to have died in 4 BC. But what if he had died in the sabbatical year 3/2 BC? In the sabbatical year 5/6 Judaea was put under direct Roman rule. In the sabbatical year 19/20 Valerius Gratus became governor of Judaea and in the sabbatical year 26/27 Pilate took his place. Watchers for the kingdom may have seen these coincidences as significant signs of the times. The Nazarenes might also have made calculations concerning the time that had elapsed since the creation of the world. If Archbishop Ussher could calculate from the Bible that creation occurred in 4004 BC, then the Nazarenes could have made a similar calculation. The modern Jewish calendar places creation in the year 3760 BC, although it is not clear how this date is determined. The Talmud forecast that the world would be destroyed after 4291 years (from creation) and quoted Elijah as saying that the Messiah would appear after a period of 85 Jubilees (Arnheim). A Nazarene world chronology would surely have taken account of Enoch’s Apocalypse of Weeks. Although Charles was convinced that the ten ‘weeks’ are not definite and equal periods, we need not attribute such scepticism to the Nazarenes. They may have seen the Apocalypse as a revelation of a divine plan, moreover a plan to a sys- 4 Preparation 86 tematic timetable. It can hardly be coincidental that both Daniel and Enoch describe prophetic ‘weeks’, even though the periods of time represented cannot be identical. Can we determine the ‘week’ of Enoch? Enoch’s seventh ‘week’ covers the period from the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC) to the coming of the Messiah, very similar to the period covered by Daniel’s seventy ‘weeks’. Could it be that Daniel’s seventy ‘weeks’ are one of Enoch’s ‘weeks’? It is possible that the author of Daniel chose 490 years for the reason that it was already believed to be a significant period of time. The fact that the period’s factors are two sevens and a ten justifies the view that it held spiritual significance for the Jews. Seven was the number of spiritual perfection and ten the number of ordinal perfection. Based on the above assumption, a chronological table can be constructed as follows. A CHRONOLOGY OF THE WORLD BASED ON ENOCH’S APOCALYPSE Christian era date age of Earth factors of Earth’s age Event 3390 BC 0 Creation 2900 0490 72 x 10 Enoch’s birth 2410 0980 72 x 20 Flood 1920 1470 72 x 30 Abraham 1430 1960 72 x 40 Exodus 0940 2450 72 x 50 kingdom 0450 2940 72 x 60 Edict of Artaxerxes 0040 CE 3430 72 x 70 Messiah 0530 3920 72 x 80 Resurrection 1020 4410 72 x 90 Judgement on Earth 1510 4900 72 x 100 Judgement in heaven The whole of the Earth’s history, past and future, occupies 4900 years, that period containing one hundred Jubilees. Note that spiritually significant numbers are associated with the principle events in the Chronology. Two, the number of opposition, enmity and division, is associated with the period before the Flood. Four, the number of the Earth, is associated with the inheritance of the Promised Land and six, Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 87 the human number, is associated with those, like Nebuchadnezzar, who defied the god of the Jews. But the seventh Week ends in 3430 (factors 73 x 10), when the Messiah brings spiritual perfection. That year is the seventieth Jubilee. Note also that eight is the number of renewal and resurrection and that, according to Daniel if not according to Enoch, resurrection occurs in the eighth Week. Nine is the number of judgement. Does this plan show a ‘realistic’ chronology from a Nazarene point of view? According to Bullinger, the Old Testament reveals that the Flood occurred in 2348 BC (sixty-two years after the end of the second ‘week’), Abraham was born about 1996 BC (seventy-six years before the end of the third ‘week’), the Exodus occurred about 1491 BC (sixty-one years before the end of the fourth ‘week’), the kingdom began in 1000 BC (sixty years before the end of the fifth ‘week’) and the Captivities ended in 426 BC (only twenty-four years after the end of the sixth ‘week’). Clearly the chronology is compatible with a literal interpretation of events as recorded in Scripture. In fact, apart from the Creation, the chronology is surprisingly accurate. Archaeology dates the Flood (a local Sumerian disaster) to sometime before 2000 BC (Clube and Napier put it at 2100 BC), it dates the span of Abraham’s life to the twentieth to nineteenth centuries before Christ, the Exodus to about 1280 BC (Clube and Napier; 1369 BC) and the kingdom to about 1000 BC. Thus the Nazarenes may have believed that Enoch’s ‘weeks’ did show the plan on which world history was drawn and that it must follow in the future. In particular they could have had confidence that Daniel’s seventy ‘weeks’ were an integral part of the plan and that they ended in the almost magical year 3430 (40 CE). With three '7' factors, it must have seemed the most perfect year, the end of the age. If the Nazarenes calculated that Messiah-ben-Joseph would die in 33, they could also calculate that sometime in 36/37 (33 + 3.5) Rome would violate the Temple’s inner precincts and bring about Israel’s time of trouble, as follows: 4 Preparation 88 Seventieth 33 First Messiah killed Week 34 of Daniel’s 35 prophecy 36 ‘abomination’ appears 37 ‘birth pangs’ 38 39 40 Second Messiah appears It is ironic that a catastrophe very similar to that envisaged by the Nazarenes did befall Jerusalem, but much later, in the Jewish War, the war with Rome. The sanctuary was invaded by the Romans with their standards, but in 70 not 40. Evidently it is easier to foresee events than to foresee when they will occur. Some claim that Jesus’ forecast regarding the fate of Jerusalem and its people is the work of the evangelists writing with the benefit of hindsight. This is known as post eventum prophecy; as in Daniel’s ‘prophecy’, past events are described as future events and it is pretended that the ‘forecast’ was written long before the event. Klausner (1925) thought that Jesus’ forecasts for Jerusalem and the great tribulation were impossible in Jesus’ mouth and Goguel (1933), while he considered that Jesus did expect some natural catastrophe to overtake the city, saw Jesus’ prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem as inexplicable in terms of his political foresight. However Jesus’ forecast included that of the end of the world-age and the cataclysmic coming of the Messiah-ben- David. Sanders (1985:71) pointed out that, since the Temple was destroyed by Rome, Christians could not later have composed a threat by Jesus that he would destroy it; nor could they have turned an existing prophecy that the Temple would be destroyed into such a threat. He also asked (1993:182) how the prophecy could be the work of the evangelists when the kingdom Jesus forecast failed to appear? Why would an evangelist invent a prophecy that had plainly proved false? ‘an unfulfilled prophecy is much more likely to be authentic than one that corresponds precisely to what actually happened, since few people would make up something that did not happen and then attribute it to Jesus’ (ibid.). Sanders claimed that not even Jesus’ prophecy about the stones of the Temple has been fulfilled. Many stones still stand as they Nazarene interpretation of Scripture 89 were constructed and can be seen today as The Wailing Wall.* Furthermore a ‘prediction’ written after 70 would have described the Temple being destroyed by fire (Sanders 1993:257). Jesus’ prophecies are greatly revered by evangelical Christians as evidence of Jesus’ rightful claim to be who he claimed to be.† However, as a Nazarene initiate, Jesus possessed what he thought was a sure forecast of the future. This included destruction of the sanctuary, to which he specifically referred (Matt. 24:2). He expected that the Temple would be destroyed a mere three-and-a-half years after his death. Apparently his disciples were ignorant, not only of the prophecy of Daniel, but of the forecast of the death of the Messiah. It seems that they were not initiated into the Nazarene sect. Jesus could be sure that the destroying power would be that of Rome, even then in direct control of Judaea, and he must have known how Rome dealt with rebellious cities. Carthage had been razed to the ground and its site ploughed. Thus he could be sure that, in the case of Jerusalem, not one stone would be left on another (Matt. 24:2). This was not the result of prophetic vision, inspired by God; it was the result of careful study of Scripture and intelligent application to the times in which he lived. Nazarenes may have been misguided or deluded, but they were not stupid. It took intellectual power to take the Scriptural prophecies and apply them to contemporary circumstances. Mackinnon thought that Jesus’ foreboding was not at all unlikely and that he had insight into the tendencies of the time. Murry was sure that Jesus’ forecast was not anticipation of Titus’ demolition of Jerusalem and that it was just his interpretation of eschatology as it was seen to affect Palestine. Wilson also saw no reason why Jesus should not have foretold the destruction of the city. Sanders could not completely rule out ‘political sagacity’ on the part of Jesus (1993:256). Jesus must also have been sure that all the prophecies would be fulfilled within the lifetimes of his contemporaries (Matt. 24:34), indeed within his own lifetime. The Son of Man would come to claim his kingdom before they died (Matt. 16:28). Indeed, he expected this to occur only seven years after his death. He was convinced that great * It could be argued that these stones, which support the Temple platform, were not the stones to which Jesus referred. † Indeed, Christians believe that he was more than he claimed to be. 4 Preparation 90 events were imminent and that he and his disciples would live to see them. There is absolutely no justification for the modern Christian understanding that these prophecies are suspended for thousands of years or that they have been fulfilled in some spiritual manner. Jesus fully expected an imminent change in the state of the world. Murry claimed that, to Jesus, the world was ever on the brink of a plunge into timelessness. Klausner (1925) observed that Jesus’ ethical teaching was conditioned upon the imminent end of the world. Speaking at the Last Supper, Jesus declared that he would not drink wine again until he did so in the kingdom of God (Mark 14:25). As Wood noted, this remark might have been made by one who was expecting not death but a miraculous transformation. In fact Jesus may have declared a vow of abstinence: that he would abstain from drinking wine until the kingdom came. However, he could neither drink nor abstain from drinking if he were dead. Neither Jesus nor the Nazarenes can have realized that Daniel was pseudepigraphic, although it is not in the Pseudepigrapha. They thought that it really had been written by Daniel in Babylon some 500 years before. That is why a prophecy covering a period of 490 years was acceptable. They did not know that the events forecast by the anonymous author actually took place some 200 years before their time. The events that Jesus supposed were yet to come all occurred before he was born and he was following a false trail. Jesus’ philosophy Josephus tells us that, in Jesus’ time, there were three main philosophical sects: Essenes, Sadducees and Pharisees, with the Zealots regarded as a possible fourth. These ‘sects’ were really politico-religious parties. However, so as not to offend his Roman masters, Josephus concealed their political purpose. Jesus’ philosophy 91 Essene philosophy According to Josephus, the Essenes were an ascetic sect that was found throughout Judaea. They were celibate and observed rituals, especially ritual washing. Essenes believed in the immortality of the soul and that it was ‘imprisoned’ in the body. After death the soul is released and flies upward to live in a pleasant land beyond the ocean. Wicked souls were thought to be condemned to a ‘dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments’ (Josephus; War 2:8:11). Josephus also noted the similarity of Essene philosophy to that of the Greeks. Essenes were fatalistic: fate (or God) controls all things and nothing happens unless it is predetermined. Man has no opportunity to control his destiny. It is thought that only the fully initiated Essenes lived in communities, but not necessarily at Qumran. There is debate, not only as to whether or not there was an Essene community in Qumran, but as to whether or not the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered nearby, were Essene documents. Sadducean philosophy The Sadducees were the priestly party, small in numbers and located almost entirely in Jerusalem, although some may have possessed estates in the country. They had no popular support and were represented by the richest class. They denied the authority of all Scripture except the Book of Moses (Pentateuch) and they did not believe in an independent soul, afterlife, rewards and retribution, angels or demons. They considered the idea of resurrection ‘a dangerous novelty’ (Daniel- Rops). They did not believe in fate and thought that mankind was free to choose good or evil, prosperity and adversity being the outcome of mankind’s own actions. They thought that the main purpose of the Law was the observation of ceremonial worship in the Temple. They were the spiritual heirs of the Hellenists (Klausner 1925) and the ancestors of both the Pelagian heretics and rationalists (Daniel- Rops). Lightley noted that they were conservative in religion, maintaining the faith of their fathers while being prepared to coquette with Hel- 4 Preparation 92 lenic ideas, that they looked for a Messiah from the House of Levi and that they never prayed. They were not in the extreme position where Josephus placed them. Pharisaic philosophy Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed that Yahveh’s authority was to be found in all the Scriptures and that the Law was to be fulfilled in a way of life not necessarily centred on Temple worship. Pharisees believed that, while souls are incorruptible, the souls of the good are transferred to other bodies and that the souls of the wicked are subjected to eternal punishment (Josephus; War 2:8:14). After death, the disembodied souls of all men and women are taken into a subterranean world (Josephus gave it the Greek name of Hades) where angels guard certain separated places. The righteous are taken to a desirable place called ‘abraham’s Bosom’, where they await eventual resurrection into the kingdom of God. The wicked are taken to a place of punishment, where they are tortured with the prospect of future judgement and from where they can see the righteous across a deep and wide abyss. In this underworld there is a ‘lake of unquenchable fire’ (Gehenna), ready and waiting for the wicked. At the judgement, the Messiah will cast all the wicked into Gehenna, where they will receive everlasting punishment, without sleep or death. The righteous are resurrected to inherit God’s kingdom (Josephus: Discourse on Hades). These notions of an underworld and separation between the just and the unjust are unknown in the Jewish (Old Testament) Scriptures. The ancient teaching was that there was no consciousness after death (Eccles. 9:5) and that the dead go to their graves (sheol). Nor did the ancient scriptures mention belief in resurrection. The beliefs of the Pharisees developed in the centuries immediately before Jesus’ time. Belief in resurrection came into Jewish eschatological expectations under the influence of the religion of Zarathustra, the reformer of the Iranian religion (Schweitzer 1968). Although he had personal experience of all the sects, Josephus was a Pharisee. He gives us the following description of the future age in which his sect believed: Jesus’ philosophy 93 … the heavenly kingdom, in which there is no sleep, no sorrow, no corruption, no care, no night, no day measured by time, no sun driven in his course along the circle of heaven by necessity, and measuring out the bounds and conversions of the seasons, for the better illumination of the life of men; no moon decreasing and increasing, or introducing a variety of seasons, nor will she then moisten the Earth; no burning sun, no Bear turning round, no Orion to rise, no wandering of innumerable stars. The Earth will not then be difficult to be passed over, nor will it be hard to find out the court of Paradise, nor will there be any fearful roaring of the sea, forbidding the passengers to walk on it, even that will be made passable to the just, though it will not be void of moisture. Heaven will not then be uninhabitable by men; and it will not be impossible to discover the way of ascending thither. The Earth will not be uncultivated, nor require too much labour of men, but will bring forth its fruits of its own accord, and will be well adorned with them. There will be no more generations of wild beasts, nor will the substance of the rest of the animals shoot out any more; for it will not produce men, but the number of the righteous will continue, and never fail, together with righteous angels, and spirits, and with his word, as a choir of righteous men and women that never grow old, and continue in an incorruptible state, singing hymns to God, who has advanced them to that happiness, by means of a regular institution of life; with whom the whole creation also will lift up a perpetual hymn from corruption to incorruption, as glorified by a splendid and pure spirit. It will not then be restrained by a bond of necessity, but with a lively freedom shall offer up a voluntary hymn, and shall praise him that made them, together with the angels and spirits and men now freed from all bondage [Discourse on Hades]. Pharisees believed that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate (Providence) and that some are under human control, although ‘liable to fate’. They believed that although fate determines everything, men have freedom to act for good or evil. As Josephus puts it: Although they postulate that everything is brought about by fate, still they do not deprive the human will of the pursuit of what is in man’s power, since it was God’s good pleasure that there should be a fusion and that the will of man with his virtue and vice should be admitted to the council-chamber of fate [Antiq. 18:1:3]. 4 Preparation 94 Elsewhere he explained that ‘to act rightly, or otherwise, rests indeed, for the most part, with men, but in each action fate co-operates’ (War 2:8:14). Zealot philosophy It is clear from Josephus (Antiq. 18:1:6) that the Zealots were the militant wing of the Pharisaic party. They were philosophically identical, but with a determination to free Israel from Gentile rule. However this view clashed somewhat with that of the Pharisees, who preferred Roman to Herodian rule. The Zealots were a Jewish political party, but were inactive and quiescent in the time of Jesus (Lightley). One of Jesus’ disciples was called a Zealot (Luke 6:15), although that may refer to his temperament. According to Zeitlin, there was a group called ‘the Apocalypse Pharisees’ (a fifth philosophy), to which he thought Theudas and the Egyptian belonged, who were opposed to violence and believed in divine intervention. They believed that, although the Messiah would be a supernatural being, he would be a scion of the family of David and they called him ‘the Son of Man’. Because his purpose and actions must be determined by his philosophy, it is important to know to which of these parties Jesus belonged. Evidently he was not a Sadducee. Not only did he not come from the priestly class, he accepted more than just the Books of Moses, he did not regard Temple worship as supremely important and he believed in resurrection, a matter he disputed with the Sadducees (Mark 12:18f). An association with the Essenes seems possible. Lehmann proposed that, after the Baptism, Jesus became a novice, living in a cave supervised by the Essenes at Qumran. Gruber also believed that Jesus was associated with or even belonged to a sect of the Essenes (Kersten & Gruber 1994:238). Although Jesus’ prohibition against swearing oaths (Matt. 5:34) is an Essene rule, that does not justify calling him an Essene. Borsch (1967:220) was sure that Qumran could not have been the source of any influence on Jesus, Guignebert (1935) claimed that it is impossible for Jesus to have belonged to the Essenes and Stauffer wrote that it is quite impossible for the historian to think of Jesus as a Jesus’ philosophy 95 hanger-on of the Qumran movement. Freedman concluded that Christianity did not originate among the Essenes (Hoffmann & Larue 1986:102). Some have claimed that Jesus stood apart from the three parties of his day (Klausner 1925). This is very unlikely if not impossible; Jews expressed their Jewishness through one or other of the parties. To which party, therefore, did Jesus belong? This is not a difficult question to answer, although the answer may surprise some. There is much evidence that Jesus was a member of the Pharisaic party (Winter). Khvol’son showed that, in his habits, Jesus was a Pharisee and Klausner (1925) acknowledged that more than once Jesus stood on the side of the Pharisees. Guignebert (1939) noted that the religion of Jesus appeared to be consistent with the general beliefs and even the spirit of Pharisaic religion, though not with its outward form. Jesus’ Pharisaic beliefs can be seen in the record of his statements on the unseen world and the future age. His parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) contains all the essentials of the Pharisaic underworld: angels, Abraham’s Bosom, torment and a great chasm across which Dives and Lazarus could see each other. Jesus also spoke of the unquenchable fire of hell (Mark 9:43) and declared that hell’s gates would not prevent the release of his chosen ones (Matt. 16:18), the ‘other sheep … not of this fold’ (John 10:16). Jesus’ eschatological views were at one with those of the Pharisees. He confirmed the belief that, in the kingdom, the resurrected would be like angels; if the purpose of marriage is to produce children, then no marriage is needed in a world where no one dies (Matt. 22:30). Murry thought that Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees meant that he did not believe in bodily resurrection (1926:218); on the contrary, the reply confirmed this belief. Furthermore, his forecast of the loss of the sun moon and stars and his prophecy that heaven would be opened and that angels would be seen going up and down (John 1:51) conform to the picture drawn by Josephus. Jesus also spoke of Paradise, the court in the centre of New Jerusalem, telling one of his companions in crucifixion that he would join him there after resurrection at the judgement (Luke 23:43). Most of all, Jesus was a Pharisee because he believed in resurrection, the central theme of Pharisaism. 4 Preparation 96 The Gospels give the impression that Jesus was opposed mainly by the Pharisees. However Lightley has proposed that this opposition has been exaggerated to demonstrate the irreconcilable divorce between the Church and Judaism. In fact the Gospels hardly mention the Pharisees without, at the same time, coupling them with the scribes, legalists who claimed that the oral law was more important than the written law. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the scribes (Mark 12:38). Mainly they belonged to the Pharisaic party and they were sometimes known as ‘the scribes of the Pharisees’ (Mark 2:16), which may be the meaning of ‘scribes and Pharisees’. Khvol’son suggested that ‘scribes’ has been mistranslated as ‘pharisees’ when it meant ‘scribes of the Sadducees’ (Klausner 1925). Doctrinally Jesus must have been opposed to the Sadducees, although, in matters of practice, he may also have opposed the Pharisees. That he accepted an invitation to dine with a Pharisee (Luke 7:36–50) indicates that he had something in common with them. At heart, Jesus was a Pharisee and an understanding of his mission can only come from an examination of it from a Pharisaic viewpoint. This world and the next To understand Jesus’ life, it is also essential to understand his view of the world, his cosmic view. Certainly it was primitive. He lived in a society that was ignorant of the true shape of the Earth and its place and movement in space. In fact there is no evidence that the Jews showed any interest in exploration or objective examination of the world around them. The Jews inherited their cosmology from the Babylonians, who thought of the Earth as a ‘world Mountain’, completely surrounded by sea. The sea was thought to be confined by a great circular embankment that supported the great vault of the heavens. Below the Earth there was a lower vault, the underworld. The Jewish version of this world, conforming with the description of Genesis (Gen. 1:6–10), is shown in Fig. 1 overleaf. This world and the next 97 Jesus’ universe: a disc-shaped Earth under a hemispherical heaven. From a drawing by S H Hooke in Bible Today: The Jerusalem Version (Marshall Cavendish, 1970). The Jews believed that the Earth was round and flat and surrounded by water. Jerusalem was at the centre of this world (Ezek. 5:5), which contained seven seas and seven rivers. There were seven heavens above and the Earth was formed of seven successive layers (Daniel-Rops). Paul spoke of the ‘third heaven’ (II Cor. 12:2). The heavenly bodies were thought to be mere lights or lamps set in one or more crystal spheres that covered the whole sky and hid Yahveh from human sight. According to Enoch, the heavenly bodies and the winds emerged from windows or doors set in the firmament. According to Josephus, the moon was responsible for rain. The Jewish concept of the Earth may have resembled that illustrated by the Mappa Mundi (see Fig. 2 on p. 103), a thirteenth century map of the world kept in Hereford Cathedral (England). This was drawn as a defence against ‘heretics’ who said that the Earth was spherical and that there might be invisible lands over the sea. Among Fig. 1: 4 Preparation 98 the arguments advanced for the flat Earth was that, at the Second Coming, everyone should see the glorified Christ. Only on a flat Earth could all its inhabitants simultaneously see Christ return (Moir 1955:20). It is believed that the Mappa Mundi was copied from an older map that was, as it were, a descendant of a Roman map drawn in the fourth century or possibly in the first century. Its margin attributes a survey of the known world to the emperor Augustus. In older versions of the map, the centre was in the Eastern Mediterranean and the area allocated to Palestine was not so large nor so detailed (Crone). The Jewish cosmology explains how, at the day of judgement, the sun would be darkened, the moon’s light would fail and the stars would fall from heaven (Matt. 24:29). The heavenly spheres would roll up like a scroll (Rev. 6:14) or melt away (II Pet. 3:12) to reveal the Son of Man waiting in heaven. The lid of the world was to be lifted, allowing heaven and Earth to communicate with each other and giving the Earth a completely new sky, heaven itself. It was believed that, at certain times, the heavens opened to allow rare views of God and his throne (Acts 7:56) or to allow special divine actions (Mark 1:10). Heaven was not another world; it was imagined as an ethereal realm inhabited only by Yahveh and his angels and where the holy city, New Jerusalem, was prepared ready for its descent to the Earth (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10). Unlike Christians, Jews do not believe in ‘going to heaven’ after death. They believe that they will be resurrected into a kingdom of the heavens, i.e. a kingdom on Earth but ruled from heaven or by heavenly power. The future world-age is to be a kingdom ruled by the Messiah on Earth from New Jerusalem, the new capital of the world at its political as well as its geographical centre. Guignebert (1935) pointed out that the kingdom was to be an external and material change. It involved a cosmic upheaval and a fundamental rearrangement of the Earth and the laws that controlled it and its inhabitants. The laws of nature themselves would be changed. Consequently, not only was there to be a new heaven, there was to be a new Earth (II Pet. 3:13). Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the establishment of this kingdom: ‘let your kingdom come [to the Earth]' (Luke 11:2). Although the Earth and its laws would be altered, it would still be a real physical world, inhabited by real people. This is why the Pharisees placed so much importance on resurrection. They could not con- This world and the next 99 ceive of life without a body. Consequently they concluded that, if there was life after death, it must be in a new body. Resurrection was a process that gave a soul a new body and the afterlife was nothing if it was not to be enjoyed corporeally. Job wrote of his certainty that he would stand again on the Earth in his own body, seeing God with his own eyes (Job 19:25–27). To enter the kingdom it was necessary to be ‘born again’ (John 3:3), to be given a new ‘spiritual body’ (I Cor. 15:44) that would be incorruptible and immortal (ibid. 15:53). Josephus made it clear that God would resurrect those ‘very bodies’ that were ‘dissolved’ by death. He thought that the particles of which each body was composed would lie in the earth until God caused them to ‘sprout up’ into a glorious new body (Discourse on Hades). Paul, also a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), used identical language to describe resurrection and the resurrected bodies were to be a new type, as different from existing bodies as the bodies of men are from the bodies of beasts (I Cor. 15:35–44).* Clearly all Pharisees saw the growth of seeds, where, although the seed appears to die, a new plant germinates, as a model of resurrection; Jesus himself referred to the model (John 12:24). Jesus thought that there would be a great gathering of the faithful in the kingdom and that they would feast (Matt. 8:11) drinking wine (Matt. 26:29). Apparently the new bodies would enjoy food and drink, even if they did not need nourishment. He would be joined there by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba (Mark 12:26–27, Matt 12:41–42). The Messiah would judge and reward the just (Matt. 13). He would rule Israel through the twelve disciples, one for each tribe (Matt. 19:28). The faithful would be rewarded by being given control of whole cities, the number proportional to their faithfulness (Luke 19:17–19). Like any dictator, Jesus would hand power to his friends; there was no question of democracy, which was unknown to the Jews. A river would rise in the centre of the new capital city, which itself would be about eight miles (13 km) square (Ezek. 48:30–35). This river would irrigate all the surrounding land (Zech. 14:8) and cover the Dead Sea (Hab. 2:14), filling the Jordan valley. ‘David my servant’, i.e. Messiah-ben-David the ruling prince, would live in the city (Ezek. * In fact human bodies are not substantially different from the bodies of animals. 4 Preparation 100 37:24). This city is the ‘house’ in which there were many ‘dwelling places’ (John 14:2) and the ‘temple’ that was not made by hands (Mark 14:58). Arguments have raged over whether or not Jesus accepted the apocalyptic views current in his time. Sanders (1993:169) found it ‘harder to say positively what Jesus meant by "the kingdom of God"‘. However, as Guignebert observed (1935), the general Gospel silence on this question is hard to explain except on the hypothesis that Jesus held contemporary views. It has been difficult for modern theologians to accept that Jesus held false views on cosmology and some have been very timid in their acceptance (Weinel). This world and the next 101 PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM Jesus often spoke in parables. But why did he do so? When the disciples asked him to explain one, he told them that, although they were privileged to understand the secret of the kingdom of God, the people were to be kept ignorant ‘in case they turn [from sin] and they should be forgiven’ (Mark 4:10–12). This remark has puzzled commentators who have not understood that Nazarene secrets could not be revealed to everyone. Gnostics typically talk in riddles and invite people to guess at their secret meaning; ‘who has ears to hear [the means to understand] let him hear [understand]' (Mark 4:9). A Nazarene might then blame the crowd for its failure to understand and see its failure, for which he is responsible, as fulfilment of prophecy (Matt. 13:14–15). Many of Jesus’ parables are concerned with some aspect of the kingdom of heaven. Robertson (1958) noted that parable after parable tells us what the kingdom of God is like, but that nowhere in the Gospels are we told what it is. The reason, he claimed, is that the Jews already knew what it was (to be) like and it would have been unsafe to be too explicit. They already knew that the kingdom of heaven was to be a glorious new age in which the Messiah would rule Israel and the world. Nor did they really need to be told what it would be like; they assumed that it would be very pleasant. What they wanted to know was when and how it would come and whether they would gain entry. Some parables deal with the speed with which the kingdom would arrive, catching some unprepared (‘for in fact the kingdom of God is [suddenly] in your midst’; Luke 17:21). Some deal with the belief that the kingdom will also bring judgement, separation of good from bad. The kingdom was to have an insignificant, almost invisible beginning (Jesus himself), but it would grow rapidly to fill the whole world (The Mustard Seed: Matt. 13:31–32; The Leaven: Matt. 13:33). Powell noted that a mustard seed is not particularly small and that it does not grow into a large tree; he thought that a mistake had been made and that the seed referred to was that of the cedar. Carpenter (1980:80) suggested that the latter parable also compared the kingdom’s miraculous appearance with the inexplicable and miraculous action of yeast; no one knew how it worked. The kingdom was also valuable and worth sacrifice (The Treasure Hid in a Field: Matt. 13:44; The Valuable Pearl: Matt. 13:45–46) and would involve judgement and punishment (The Wheat and Tares: Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43; The Drag-net: Matt. 13:47–50). The parable of The Sower does not describe the kingdom, only the process by which the news is spread and people’s reaction to it. The simile of The Householder (Matt. 13:52) exemplifies those who instruct about the kingdom; they use all kinds of parables to explain it. Several parables concern the great celebrations that Jesus believed would take place in Jerusalem at the commencement of the kingdom. Some, who thought that they would gain entrance, would find themselves excluded and would be caught unprepared for its arrival (The Ten Virgins: Matt. 25:1–13, although Powell thought the parable concerned conversion). Indeed, those originally invited would refuse to come (an insult) and (other) common folk would be invited instead (The Marriage Feast: Matt. 22:1–14). But some guests would be found to have come in the wrong spirit (Matt. 22:11–12) and would be ejected. As for rewards, while one parable teaches that all will received the same reward, regardless of the amount of their labour (Labourers in the Vineyard: Matt. 20:1–16), another teaches that rewards will be proportional to faithfulness or good works (The Nobleman: Luke 19:12–25; The Talents: Matt. 25:14–30). These three parables may have been intended to teach that, although all who enter the kingdom will receive eternal life (as a gift from God, Rom. 6:23), their place in the kingdom hierarchy would depend on their activity in working to bring it about. Those who had earned authority would be given it, but those who had not earned it would be stripped of what authority they already had (Luke 19:26; Matt. 13:12). Powell thought the latter verse an interpolation. Thiering thought that the parable of the talents was a cryptic reference to a Herodian scheme selling initiation into a new form of Judaism and that Jesus, as a descendant of one of the founders of the scheme, tried to overthrow it. Powell thought it concerned the propagation of the gospel and he thought that, in the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, those who were hired ‘at the eleventh hour’ represent the Gentiles reached by the gospel at a late stage in salvation history; ‘the missionaries sent to convert the Gentile world deserve equal reward with those who were sent earlier to Israel’. 4 Preparation 102 How Jesus might have seen the Earth? An English translation of the Mappa Mundi drawn by P G Goodman (copyright Hereford Cathedral). The footnote describes the size and material of the map, its author and the date at which he probably drew it (c. 1300). It also describes the condition of the map and where it is kept. Fig. 2: This world and the next 103

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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.