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How a Non-Historical Account Can Be Meaningful: The Death of Jesus in Mark

I am now at a point where I can explain how I read the Bible when I was a committed Christian who was not, however, a conservative evangelical convinced that the Bible was a completely inerrant revelation from God without any discrepancies or differences in it.  As I have already indicated, my new way of reading of the Bible did not denigrate the Bible at all, as often happens when people realize there are mistakes in it and come away saying something like:  “It’s worthless, just a pile of contradictions!”  That wasn’t my view at all.

On the contrary, the differences revealed the true richness of the Christian tradition.  The Gospels, rather than simply being completely accurate accounts of what really happened were theological reflections on the significance of Jesus.  Different reflections, by different authors, all of whom had something to teach me as someone who was himself wrestling with the significance of Jesus.  One way to see the true depth of these different reflections is to compare them carefully with one another.  I explain how that can be done by taking a particular example: how did the Gospel writers remember Jesus’ death.  This is how I explain it in my book Jesus Interrupted (this will take two or maybe three posts).


I can begin my comparison of texts by discussing an example that strikes me as particularly clear and gripping.  As is the case with detailed discrepancies one can find between one account and another, this kind of difference can be seen only by doing a careful horizontal reading of passages; but rather than looking for minute disagreements here or there, we are looking for broader themes, major differences in the way a story is told.  One story that is told very differently in the Gospels is the key story of them all, the crucifixion of Jesus.  You might think that all the Gospels have exactly the same message about the crucifixion, and that their differences might simply reflect minor changes of perspective, with one author emphasizing one thing and another something else.  But in fact the differences are much larger and more fundamental than that.  Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the accounts of Jesus’ death in Mark and Luke.

I should probably reiterate a point I made earlier, that…

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A Very Different Portrayal of Jesus’ Death
A New Way of Reading the Bible



  1. Avatar
    jsullivan  June 15, 2017

    When you were a committed Christian, did the primacy placed by the John gospel on belief in Jesus as a deity, as compared to the synoptic gospels, ever strike you as odd? It did me because it made no sense to me that a deity would care whether you believed in it or not. It seemed more like psychological coercion used by a group trying to get followers, and led me to believe that the gospels indeed had had varying messages and were directed at different groups of people. The importance in believing Jesus is a deity did not jump out to me as a teaching of the Mark gospel, but it’s been a long time since I have read any of it. I suppose this is more a matter of emphasis rather than an actual inconsistency among the gospels.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      Yes, I came to see this as highly significant: John’s portrayal of Jesus is markedly different from the others on this point of what Jesus claims about himself.

      • Avatar
        Tempo1936  June 16, 2017

        I was told to tell new believers to start reading the Bible with John. Now I see that by describing Jesus’ high deity, then you don’t Need to know more and ignore problems w
        other gospels.

        • antoinelamond
          antoinelamond  July 4, 2017

          Funny, I was told to have new believers read Acts, then Paul’s epistles, the other epistles, then the Gospels

  2. Avatar
    fishician  June 15, 2017

    Why do you think Mark gives the cry of dereliction in Aramaic and then translates it? I’ve heard it suggested when the Aramaic “Ephphatha!” is quoted in one of the miracles it was because they thought of it as a magical phrase (like “Presto!”) but that doesn’t fit the cry of dereliction.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      My sense is that the phrase is used to provide a sense of heightened authenticity to the scene; also by including the Aramaic it makes sense that some people standing buy think he is calling upon Elijah (Eloi sounds like Elijah), so it has a narrative purpose as well.

  3. Avatar
    DavidBeaman  June 15, 2017

    This seems to me to be pertinent to your own decision that God doesn’t exist. You finally came to the conclusion that you could not believe that any God exists if it had purposes that would be worked precisely through suffering rather than by preventing it.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      That’s an interesting way to look at it.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  June 16, 2017

      Probably the best adumbration of the Problem of Evil is via Epicurus’ Trilemma.
      If God is willing to prevent evil, yet unable to prevent it, then he is not omnipotent (i.e. why call him a god?).
      If God is able to prevent evil, yet he is not willing to do so, then he is not omnibenevolent (i.e. why is he worthy of worship?).
      If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

      A corollary possibility is that God is neither willing to prevent evil and unable to do so even if he were willing, in which case he’s pretty much useless.

    • Lev
      Lev  June 18, 2017

      David – this is one of the best comments I’ve read. These past few days, I keep coming back to it and reflect on it.

  4. Avatar
    Wilusa  June 15, 2017

    But there’s no real explanation of *why* the centurion suddenly concludes Jesus is the “Son of God”! Just because he’d cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me?,” and then died?

    It’s not as if the centurion had witnessed something like what had allegedly happened in the Temple.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      for Mark there’s a very clear reason for this. No one in the entire Gospel — including, notably, Jesus’ family and his closest disciples — understood who he was, the messiah/son of God who had to die. Until the end. An outsider “gets” it. And he’s a gentile. It’s the gentiles, not the Jews, who are going to be most open to accepting Jesus as the suffering messiah.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  June 16, 2017

        Yes, but *why* did the outsider “get” it? There’s no *reason* given.

        Did the author just think that to all “good” people (who happened to be Gentiles), the divinity of Jesus would be “self-evident”?

        Of course, this is the author who seemed to think people’s dropping what they were doing and following Jesus – a total stranger – just because he ordered them to would be a good thing…

        • Bart
          Bart  June 18, 2017

          It’s part of Mark’s literary purpose, all tied in to show that Jesus was not the messiah that *anyone* expected. (He is trying to explain how he could possibly be a messiah if he was crucified)

          • Avatar
            SidDhartha1953  June 22, 2017

            Could the centurion a)have been speaking sarcastically (unwittingly speaking the truth), or b)have been more willing to see Jesus as a son of God because the other gods had sons and daughters, which Jews would not have been willing to admit? For the second to be the case, it would seem necessary for the centurion to have seen some sign of divine power. Did he somehow know, from where he was standing, that the curtain in the temple had just ripped in two?

          • Bart
            Bart  June 23, 2017

            For Mark the centurion is speaking the truth, but it is worth noting that this is one of the two places (I think two!) where “son of God” does not have the definite article, so he *could* be interpreted as saying “a” son of God. But the ultimate point is: Jesus is God’s son because of his death, not in spite of it.

  5. Avatar
    godspell  June 15, 2017

    Much as I agree with this analysis, I also think that Mark wouldn’t put those words in Jesus’ mouth, unless there was a tradition of him having said them. Which doesn’t prove that he did, but the Doctrine of Embarrassment argues, though not conclusively, against early Christians having made this up. Different discussion.

    Why bother to give us the original Aramaic–which Mark, writing in Greek, knowing many if not most of his readers won’t know Aramaic, then translates. Why not just have Jesus’ last despairing words rendered in Greek, like nearly every other direct quote from him in that gospel?

    There is another case, of course. Talitha Kum. Mark does the same thing there. Now I don’t believe Jesus could literally raise the dead, any more than I believe he himself literally rose. But I do believe he did faith healings on a regular basis, some of which might well have seemed miraculous (it’s not any kind of a stretch), and that a story about such an incident could have grown over time into a story about him resurrecting a dead child.

    So both of these times that Mark gives us original Aramaic phrases, and their translations, involve resurrection. That’s a conscious artistic expression on his part.

    Because these are The Master’s own words, as Mark believes he spoke them. They have a different kind of power than the sayings rendered in Greek. He’s making a connection.

    Jesus would always have been speaking in Aramaic, since that was probably the only language he was conversant in. Mark knows perfectly well he’s giving us his version of Jesus in this gospel, knows he’s telling a story. But he wants us to experience for a moment what it would have been like to hear Jesus speak in person. He wants us to hear the actual words he spoke in our minds.

    Which doesn’t necessarily mean they are his actual words, I know. Mark wasn’t there. But he must have felt sometimes that he was, when writing this.

  6. Avatar
    nbraith1975  June 15, 2017

    This brings to mind the virgin birth account. Mark, being the first gospel written, makes no mention of the virgin birth and goes right in to the ministry of Jesus.

    It seems to me that Matthew and Luke were trying to somehow reconcile how a mortal man could literally be the “son” of God. If Jesus had a human mother and father he would be no different than any one else. But if Jesus was not conceived by a human, and was instead conceived by God himself, he could then hold the mantle of the literal son of God.

    The virgin birth narrative plays a huge part in the Christian faith. I tend to think it acts in conjunction with the resurrection narrative as divine book-ends to the entire Jesus story.

    Bart, do you think the addition of the virgin birth by both Matthew and Luke may have been an attempt to lend more credibility to the Jesus story/movement?

  7. Avatar
    Eskil  June 15, 2017

    > “Like Jesus, his followers may not know why they are experiencing such pain and misery”

    I think Tim Rice have written the perfect lyrics about this and put them in Jesus’s mouth…

    “Oh, why should I die?
    Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?
    Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain.
    Show me there’s reason for your wanting me to die,
    You’re far to keen on where and how and not so hot on why.”


  8. Avatar
    Michael Toon  June 15, 2017

    Was Jesus statement “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” an example that Jesus was misguided in his assumption that God was going to intervene in his lifetime with the eschaton?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      I don’t think the Gospel writers could imagine that Jesus was mistaken. Instead, Mark is trying to show that at the end even Jesus did not understand the full divine plan that was at work. No one else understood either, in that Gospel. But the reader understands.

      • Avatar
        godspell  June 17, 2017

        I agree with this interpretation, but would argue it’s still Mark interpreting words he believes Jesus to have spoken, because of an oral tradition preserving those words.

        The last words he ever spoke would have been preserved, no matter what they were.

      • Avatar
        Michael Toon  June 17, 2017

        Thank you kindly, Professor Ehrman!

  9. Avatar
    doug  June 15, 2017

    When I believed the Bible was inerrant, I thought people who said the Bible had errors were killjoys. In a fearful, confusing world, I finally “knew” what to believe – and those people were trying to take that away! I believed that surely God would want us to know what was true, and the Bible was it. Well, that became another chapter in the book of “Life Isn’t That Simple”.

  10. Avatar
    James Chalmers  June 15, 2017

    Two historical questions:
    Is it true that Jesus died more quickly (in hours) than other victims of crucifixion?
    Do we know what Jesus’s last words were?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      We simply don’t know. Our earliest account was written forty years later by someone who wasn’t there and didn’t know anyone who was there. We just lack the evidence we would need to be able to know.

  11. Avatar
    Tony  June 15, 2017

    Mark definitely had an agenda in telling his non-historical account of the death of Jesus. A main objective, throughout his gospel, was showing prophesy fulfillment. Mark used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, to show that his Jesus fulfilled scriptural prophesy and thereby provided proof positive that Jesus was the son of God – and the Christ.

    Mark liked Psalms 22, and used it for his Mark 15 narrative three times. Mark put Psalm 22:1 on the lips of the dying Jesus. He also used Psalm 22:18, “they divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots – which became Mark 15:24, “And they crucified him and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.”

    Similarly Psalm 22:7-8, “All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; Commit your cause to the Lord, let him deliver – let him rescue the one in whom he delights”. This became Mark 15:29-31, “Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

    Matthew pretty well copies Mark, but Luke had different ideas. Luke went further down the scroll and found Psalm 31:5, “Into your hand(s) I commit my spirit”, and decided to make those the last words of Jesus in Luke 23:46.

  12. Avatar
    Stephen  June 15, 2017

    Prof Ehrman

    Perhaps I misunderstand. Are you saying you don’t think the writer placed those words of despair on Jesus’ lips as a conscious literary strategy to call up a whole host of associations with Psalm 22 in the minds of his audience?

    You say- “God’s purposes are worked precisely through suffering, not by avoiding it — even when those purposes are not obvious at the moment.”

    But isn’t that exactly what Psalm 22 does, to guide the reader through the process from despair to transcendence? Does this really rob Jesus’ cry of its power? Perhaps the Psalmist and by extension “Mark” would think for the transcendence to be real the despair must be real as well.


    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      I don’t think he imagined that his readers would see Jesus quoting the first verse of the Psalm and then automatically recalled, on their own, the last verse of the Psalm, and think that *that* was the point he was trying to make instead of the point that he *does* make by quoting only the first verse. He does indeed want the reader ot know that Jesus’ fulfilled Scripture. But it was by being abandoned by God, not be being comforted by God.

  13. cheito
    cheito  June 15, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your comment:

    how did the Gospel writers remember Jesus’ death.

    My comment:

    The synoptic gospel writers did not remember Jesus!
    They couldn’t have remembered Jesus’ death, because they didn’t witness his crucifixion.

    They portrayed Jesus according to their own theological persuasions.

    What good is theology, if it’s not founded on historical truth?

    If Mark did not know exactly what Jesus said or did when Jesus was crucified, then Mark made it up to establish his own theological views, and to convince those to whom he was writing, about Jesus final words.

    We must know exactly what Jesus said, or didn’t say, during his trial and crucifixion, before we can arrive at any relevant theological truth.

    If we don’t know Jesus exact words at the time when He breathed his last breath, the we are only speculating and our theology and history is null and void.

  14. Avatar
    llamensdor  June 15, 2017

    Why does the centurion say, “Truly, this was the son of God?” This is probably the most egregious non sequiter in all of religious history. He wasn’t near the Temple, so he couldn’t have seen the curtain torn, and even if he had, why would he understand the religious significance of it? No doubt the gospel writer was trying to impress us that even a Roman officer “got” the message and recognized Jesus’ divine nature. Why would any reasonable person reading this, not say something like “Huh?”

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      My view is that it is not that “even” a Roman soldier got it; it’s that *only* a Roman soldier got it. What he got was not Jesus’ divine nature in the later sense, but the fact that Jesus was the Son of God precisely *because* he died (not in spite of the fact he died). That was Mark’s major emphasis: the messiah had to suffer. It was a view that was completely unknown to the Jewish world before the Christians began to proclaim it.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  June 16, 2017

      The centurion’s declaration was written precisely so that 2000 years later John Wayne would have a line in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

  15. Avatar
    john76  June 15, 2017

    Mythicism is a very difficult position to try to defend. The one historicity point that most mainstream scholars seem to agree upon is the crucifixion, so I think mythicists would need to try their luck with focusing on that. Just for the fun of playing Devil’s advocate, I’ll take a run at it:

    Maybe the reason Mark develops narrative details about the crucifixion through scriptural allusions is that Mark’s source for the crucifixion is Paul, and Paul doesn’t give any narrative details about the crucifixion. So where did Paul learn about the crucifixion? It may have been from sources about the historical Jesus, but maybe not. The only detail Paul gives about the crucifixion is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3).” This may mean that Paul learned of Christ’s atoning death through an allegorical reading of Hebrew scriptures. But what scriptures? Paul says “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,” wrote Paul, “for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). Paul was quoting a phrase found in Deuteronomy 21:23. So the mythicist argument could be that Paul learned of Christ’s atoning crucifixion through an allegorical reading of Deuteronomy 21:23.

    And this business of Christ being hung on a tree as meaning Christ’s crucifixion also shows up in the following passages from Acts and 1 Peter:
    Acts 5:30: “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘…The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.’”
    Acts 10:39 – 4: again Peter: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day…”
    Acts 13: 28 – 29: Paul: “… they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead…”
    1 Peter 2: 24: “He… carried our sins in his body up onto the tree…”

    So, just for the fun of playing Devil’s advocate, that’s how I would put forth the mythicist argument against the historicity of the crucifixion.

    • Avatar
      john76  June 15, 2017

      Or if not Paul (if you view the Corinthian Creed as pre-Pauline), this allegorical reading of Deuteronomy 21:23 may have been how the Christians before Paul, such as Peter, learned of the crucifixion of the mythical Christ.

      That’s the best way I can argue it, anyway.

      • Avatar
        dragonfly  June 16, 2017

        Would this mean the only information Mark knew about Jesus was from the few letters of Paul that we still have today, and he made the rest up from scratch?

        • Avatar
          Tony  June 22, 2017


          • Avatar
            dragonfly  June 27, 2017

            I think it’s possible, even probable, that Mark had access to the letters of Paul that we have. He might even have had access to other letters of Paul that we don’t have, but there’s no way to know. However the probability that Mark’s narrative is made up by one person from nothing is extremely low, and the probability that he made up his narrative from oral traditions that he had heard is very high. For example, the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 is consistent with 2 different oral traditions that are 2 versions of the same story, but it’s hard to explain why an author would make up both versions and put them in the same book. If course this has no bearing on what Paul thought about Jesus.

    • Avatar
      Tony  June 16, 2017

      Just ask a mythicist. Mythicism, or a-historicty, is very easy to defend. Of course, historicity got the numbers and vested interests – but not the evidence.

      -Paul writes unequivocally, that his Christ, the son of God, was “crucified”. He does not say where, when, or how. By how, I mean that Paul, as well as the gospels, use the Greek word “stauros” and that word means upright pole or stake. The verb is stauroo, to hang/attach something from a stake or pole. That could include, but is not limited to the Roman execution method. Of course, from the later gospels, (but not from Paul), we do know the gospel “stauroo” method.

      -Gal 3:13 scripture reference is to the Jewish practice of the postmortem display of an executed criminal. Paul uses the Greek word “xylon” meaning something made from wood – which could be a wooden stake pole etc.

      -Paul believed in multiple heavens. That cosmological belief was widespread at that time. In a nutshell, these heavens or worlds (usually seven) were better versions of earth. They were invisible to us, but they had forests, trees, buildings, rivers, oceans, armies kings etc. The higher up you went the less material and more spiritual the heavenly occupants became. The seventh heaven was completely spiritual and there is where God, his Son, and God’s angels resided. The heavens rested on the Firmament – the space between the earth and the moon – and this was the domain of Satan’s world and his demons.

      -There is a document called “the Ascension of Isaiah”, that describes the son of God (Christ) being send down and, while acquiring human form along the way, was not recognized by Satan and killed by him in the firmament, and hanged from a tree. Being the son of God, Christ was resurrected on the third day and headed back up, but Christ’s sacrifice meant the end of Satan’s power.

      -The mythicists viewpoint is that, based on Paul’s letters, the beliefs of Paul and his followers were similar to those described in the Ascension. Paul’s Christ was celestial, had never been on earth, but was expected to come very soon.

      -Of course, Paul’s heavenly Christ was a no show, and the war in CE 70 likely wiped out the Jerusalem originators of Paul’s religion. A generation after Paul we have someone, let’s call him Mark, creating a story about an earthly Jesus of Nazareth executed by the Romans in Jerusalem. Mark uses Paul’s letters as one of his inputs. Later, others copy and embellish on Mark’s story.

  16. Avatar
    anthonygale  June 15, 2017

    If Jesus didn’t believe he was to be the crucified messiah, and considering that Mark was probably the first gospel, do you think Mark’s portrayal of Jesus’ death might simply, or at least partly, reflect greater historical accuracy?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 16, 2017

      I don’t think Mark would have had access to any records indicating what really happened at the crucifixion, apart from teh very broad facts (crucified by Romans outside the walls of Jerusalem with a few others, on the charge of sedition)

      • Avatar
        anthonygale  June 16, 2017

        Do you think any of the oral traditions may have originated from followers of Jesus present at the crucifixion?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 18, 2017

          No, I don’t think there would have been any of his followers there.

      • Avatar
        godspell  June 17, 2017

        Unlikely there were any records. Jesus wasn’t any kind of serious threat to Rome, like Spartacus (and not even the Romans were 100% sure he was dead, after that last battle, but they certainly wrote about what they did to the other slave rebels). Anyway, I don’t think there are any surviving official records of that, either. Just historical accounts from well after it happened. Maybe Pilate kept a journal–now wouldn’t that be interesting to read? And probably disappointing to early Christian scholars. LIke that Anatole France story. Man had no idea he was doing the one and only thing people would remember him for.

        But there were stories, surely. Some of them made up, out of rumor and wishful thinking, but there were witnesses to a public execution, obviously. That’s the whole point of a public execution.

        And while Jesus’ inner circle of male followers would have fled, you can’t tell me some of the women he’d taught, and treated as if they mattered as much as men, were not there. The Romans would only be concerned about male followers, potentially armed and dangerous. The women were not going to be rounded up and crucified. The Romans thought as little of women as most Jews did.

        That may have been a mistake.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 18, 2017

          I doubt if anyone from his followers was there, but even if they were, they would have been a distance a way and would have had no way to know what he was saying. It just seems otherwise to us because we’ve seen so many movies, and everything sound crystal clear! Surely his last words were whispered.

        • Avatar
          Duke12  June 20, 2017

          As I recall, doesn’t Justin Martyr (aka Justin the Philosopher) claim that everything about the trial is recorded in “The Acts of Pilate”? (Presumably kept in some archive in Rome?). Any thoughts as to how Justin came to believe this? Passed-down rumor? I’m also noting that no authentic acts of that sort dated to the 1st Century, if they ever existed, have ever been found.

  17. Avatar
    Phil  June 16, 2017


    What date did Jesus die? There is a reasonably good article on Wikipedia on this, but I wanted to get your take. The article seems to pinpoint Friday, April 3, 33 as the most likely date, although some of the methods that are reviewed (such as harmonizing the accounts of John and the Synoptics) seem to be a stretch. Interestingly, the article states that there was a lunar eclipse on this date, so if that is the correct date, the eclipse could have possibly contributed to the resurrection myth.

    What do you think?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 18, 2017

      I don’t think there’s any way to know. (But I don’t see how a lunar eclipse would have any bearing on the question — or on the tradition of he resurrection)

  18. Avatar
    Steefen  June 17, 2017

    Jesus says nothing the entire time until the very end, when he utters the wretched cry, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” which Mark translates from the Aramaic for his readers, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

    Dr. Ehrman, couldn’t that have been a literary device: give the dying character last words when there weren’t any?

  19. Avatar
    Jayredinger  June 19, 2017

    Hi Bart, in the gospel of Mark Pilate asks the religious leaders what crime he has committed and offers to release Barabbas, would this not indicate that Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of anything, but had him crucified at the request of the Jews?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 19, 2017

      Well, kind of. He released Barabbas even though he *was* guilty, so the offer to release Jesus was not necessarily because he was *not* guilty. His view of Jesus’ innocence becomes more explicit in the other Gospels.

      • Avatar
        Tony  June 22, 2017

        I am sure you are familiar with the bar-abbas “son of the father” scapegoat analogy. Perhaps something for a post?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 22, 2017

          Can’t remember if I posted on that or not! I’ll have to look. The point, though, for me is that the stories are meant to show that hte Jewish crowd chose the *wrong kind* of “son of the father” — the military insurrectionist rather than the spiritual messiah.

          • Avatar
            Tony  June 25, 2017

            But surely you know that there was no such custom of Roman administrators releasing an insurrectionist to the (Jewish) crowd!
            The parable relates to the scapegoat practice. One released into the wilds (Bar Abbas), the other sacrificed for the sins of Israel (Jesus, son of the father). Pure literary fiction by Mark – copied by the others.

          • Bart
            Bart  June 26, 2017

            Uh, yes, I do know that…

  20. Avatar
    mdwyer  July 3, 2017

    Is there any way to make an educated, historical guess of what Jesus’ attitude was when he was being crucified? Did he still believe that he was playing a central part in God’s plan, or is it more likely that he really did believe God had forsaken him, and that his entire “mission” was a lie? My understanding is that he believed God was going to return in his lifetime, in which case it seems he would not consider crucifixion to be part of the plan.

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