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Jesus Death as King of the Jews

I now can mount a second argument for why Jesus almost certainly called himself the messiah during his lifetime.  Remember: by that I do not mean that Jesus wanted to lead a military rebellion against the Romans to establish himself as king. On the contrary, I think Jesus was not a supporter of a “military solution.”   Jesus was an apocalypticist who believed that God himself would take action and do what was needed – overthrow the evil ruling authorities in a cataclysmic show of power and destroy all that was opposed to himself, and so bring in a good, utopian kingdom on earth.  And Jesus would be made the king.

I don’t need here to give the extensive reasons for thinking that Jesus held to this kind of apocalyptic view in general – I’ve talked about it at length both in a number of my books and on the blog.  The question here is the more narrow one: did Jesus think he would be the king of the coming kingdom?  I have given one strong reason for thinking so: he taught his disciples that they would themselves be seated on thrones as rulers in the future kingdom.

Someone on the blog has asked why that means Jesus himself would be king over them.  It’s a good question.  The answer is that we have to think in terms of what a first century person in the Roman empire thought a kingdom was.  Kingdoms have kings.  They don’t have twelve kings.  That would be twelve kingdoms.  Every kingdom and empire in antiquity had one ruler (until the Tetrarchy; but that’s a completely other story).  Often they had rulers under them: client kings, administrators, governors, and so on.  But ultimately there was one king.

That’s what Jesus appears to be imagining the kingdom of God like.  There would be a king.  And under him twelve other rulers for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.   So who would be the solitary king?  The only reason the twelve would rule is because they followed and obeyed their lord and master Jesus.  He ruled them now.  He would rule them then.  He would be the king.

And now for another reason for thinking so.  It is beyond any real doubt that…

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Readers’ Mailbag December 4, 2015
Judas and the Messianic Secret

55

Comments

  1. Avatar
    paradoxrocks  December 2, 2015

    Yes, but I find it unlikely that the charge of “king of the Jews” could have been completely unrelated to the central message of Jesus throughout his public career, i.e. his proclamation of the “kingdom of God” (the reign of the God of Israel)… The phrase “king of the Jews” is basically synonymous with “kingdom of God” from a Roman point of view. And so, while only ever showing up in the context of the reason given by Pilate for his execution, “king of the Jews:” may well have been not how Jesus understood himself, but how Pilate understood what the Temple priests would likely have told him about Jesus. The chief priests had no doubt heard that Jesus was generating a following announcing the kingdom of God, and so to drive the point home and ensure his execution, all they had to do was frame Jesus’ central message to Pilate in a frankly slanderous way in order to make him out to be a self-proclaimed Jewish pretender to the throne of Caesar. Pilate’s charge is a blatant second-hand misrepresentation of Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God, a perspective fashioned for Pilate by the Jewish conspirators against him… This is clear once we look at the content of Jesus teachings and practice of this kingdom – his message could not have been more un-kingly, Jesus deployed the term “kingdom of God” as a kind of double entrendre, or as an ironic, subversive and paradoxical strategy for his kingdom was confounded and contradicted the powers that be, it was a kingdom “not of this world”…

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      My contention is that it is one thing to say that the kingdom is coming (a standard apocalyptic proclamation) and another to claim “I am the future king” (Jesus’ own view). I too see these two messages as intimately connected, since the second makes no sense without the first, but the first can stand without hte second.

  2. talmoore
    talmoore  December 2, 2015

    Dr. Ehrman, again, I think your argument is generally sound, but I still see one major undermining flaw, and that is this. None of this necessitates that Jesus, himself, actually believes that he’s the once and future king of the Jews. He merely needs to be perceived as believing that he is. Jesus didn’t actually have to tell his disciples that he was the king of the Jews. They merely had to presume it, and Jesus merely had to not deny it. Same goes for Pilate. Pilate only needed to presume that Jesus was going around claiming that he was the king, and even if Jesus did, in fact, deny before Pilate that he was claiming to be the king of Jews, there’s no reason for Pilate to believe him. Just put yourself in Pilate’s position. It’s the biggest Jewish festival of the year, with tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims stuffed inside Jerusalem and its environs, and your men have brought before you a man who just the other day was causing a scene in the Temple court (overturning tables and such), and there are rumors that he is going to try to seize power. If you’re Pilate, you can certainly ask the man if he’s actually claiming to be the rightful king, but regardless of how Jesus answers (affirms or denies), just go ahead and crucify him to be safe. It’s not like Pilate is going to have to answer to anyone, because this man Jesus is a powerless nobody anyway. No one is going to come to his defense or vouchsafe for him. Better to be safe than sorry.

    Of course, the question would still remain as to why Jesus wouldn’t deny kingship to his disciples if he didn’t actually believe he was the king. For the very same reason *any* nobody with a sizable following would do it, because it’s a massive egotrip. It’s quite possible that Jesus was so intoxicated by pretense of being worshipped to the point where it came to, literally, get him killed.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      Yes, it is entirely possible that Jesus was executed for charges he was innocent of. In response, though, I’d say that Romans were not particularly apt to execute innocent people, especially when fearful of uprisings, and usually had no reason to do so. If the issue for *them* wsa the incident in the temple, I think there’d be some record of it at the trial. Moreover, this evidence needs to be taken with the rest, involving Jesus’ teaching to the disciples of the future kingdom in which they would rule, and the betrayal of Judas.

      • talmoore
        talmoore  December 4, 2015

        Well,
        A) I don’t think there was ever a record of the “trial”. The account we have in the Gospels is probably speculation mixed with assumptions blended with conjecture. I doubt there would have been a way for the disciples to reliably find out what happened to Jesus once arrested (and probably held inside the Fortress Antonia).

        B) I put trial in quotes because, in all likelihood, whatever occured there after was probably not public. Jesus was simply brought before Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus a few questions–who was he? where is he from? was he planning a coup? how many people did he bring with him? are they armed? you know, the kind of questions we could expect Pilate to ask if he suspected seditious activity. Jesus’ answers, whatever they really were, clearly didn’t satisfy Pilate.

        C) The Gospels’ attempts at making it seem plausible that information about the trial came by way of Peter surreptitiously witnessing the trial is, to be honest, borderline ridiculous. Remember that Pilate has arrested the presumed ring-leader of a rebellious group…in the middle of the night, at the beginning of the biggest festival of the year! Are we supposed to imagine that Pilate would then proceed to give this man a *public* trial, before his fellow (possibly rebellious) Jews? If Pilate’s purpose was to preserve public order, that would definitely be the wrong way of going about it. Indeed, that’s why Antipas had John the Baptist arrested and taken to a fortress all the way down by his southern border with the Arabs (Macherus, as recounted by Josephus), because it would have been insane to hold a public trial in the burned-over district that was Galilee, exciting the known revolutionary spirit of the Galileans.

        D) Most likely, the first the disciples and the Judean public in general saw Jesus post-arrest was when he was publicly marched out and crucified. Indeed, the Gospels themselves (not counting Luke) even suggest that the male disciples weren’t even witnesses to that much. The implication is that only the female followers of Jesus–the Marys, et al.–actually witnessed the crucifixion. And it’s telling what details they recount. Two details in particular are important. Jesus had a plaque that stated his crime: claiming kingship. And Jesus was crucified with two other men are were also rebels of some sort. Why would Pilate want to stress his crime as sedition? Why would Pilate crucify him with other rebels? Because he wanted to send a message to all the other Jews during the time of the festival, “don’t even think about it.” Pilate didn’t actually care personally about Jesus, the nobody from the backwaters. Pilate only cared about making an example out of Jesus.

      • Avatar
        willow  December 5, 2015

        Might it not be possible that Jesus didn’t declare himself king because he wasn’t yet king, and would not be until the Kingdom of God was established?

        • Bart
          Bart  December 7, 2015

          Interesting idea.

          • Avatar
            willow  December 9, 2015

            But to further my point, Bart, for but a better understanding:

            Mark 6:36 (ESV) And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.
            (Loose lips sink ships).

            Mark 8:30 (I am paying particular attention to 8:27-33 and omitting from v. 31 “and after three days rise again”. (I well understand that I might be accused of adding to or taking away from, and in so doing, risk hell’s fire and brimstone, but …) 😉

            Mathew 16:20 (ESV) Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ (Messiah).

            There are other examples.

            But why would he do this? Why would he seem to so strive to keep his “identity” if you will, a secret? There doesn’t seem to be, to me, but one obvious answer: because he knew to make such claims, prior to the arrival of the Kingdom of God and the destruction of Roman rule, would cost him his life, and so it did, all because his disciples, in particular, perhaps, Peter, couldn’t/didn’t keep the secret.

  3. Avatar
    whitejam0  December 2, 2015

    Bart, I’m sure that you have addressed this question in other writings, but do you feel that the accounts in Mathew, Mark and Luke of the torn temple curtain, the earthquake, and graves opening; were original or added later by scribes in order to prop up the idea of Christ’s significance and messianic identity? Your post on , “Jesus death as King of the Jews,” caused me to go to this. Pardon the free-association.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      The torn curtain is found in the Gospels, but the the other “miraculous” signs are only in Matthew. My sense is that all of them are legends that arose in the ealry CHristain community to show the cosmic significance of Jesus’ death. They almost certainly did not actually happen.

      • Avatar
        willow  December 5, 2015

        Scribal Embellishments.

        Seems to me they weren’t so unlike modern day journalists with an agenda.

  4. Avatar
    jpriscu  December 2, 2015

    I might remember it wrong, but didn’t you somewhere said Jesus was expecting the the Son of Man to come and take over, not Jesus himself. If Jesus believed he was the future king, then what did he think of the Son of Man?

    Thanks.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      Jesus appears to have expected that a cosmic divine figure (a powerful angel?) would come from heaven to destroy all those aligned against God, as described first in Daniel 7.

  5. Avatar
    Joseph  December 2, 2015

    This thread has got me wondering what you think about Jesus’s future kingdom. Given that Jesus is allocating the kingship to 12 people, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, his ministry was almost exclusively to Jews (?) , and gentiles are associated as dogs (the “Syro-Phoenician woman” ), Do you think Jesus envisioned an eschaton were all the Gentiles would be destroyed and the Jews would have the world to themselves?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      It’s almost impossible to say. My guess is that he thought all peoples would convert to the religion of the Jews and become part of the people of God, or at least that Israel would rule the other nations.

      • Avatar
        willow  December 9, 2015

        That’s pretty much what Zechariah 8:21-23 indicates, correct?

        And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

  6. Avatar
    Wilusa  December 2, 2015

    Assorted thoughts…

    I think your point about no one’s having been likely to make up a name as strange as “Iscariot” is the strongest argument for Judas’s having been a real person.

    But, going back to what Jesus supposedly told his disciples about their “twelve thrones”… If a modern author wrote that, he or she might have added, “He said that, despite knowing Judas would betray him, to let Judas know what he’d be giving up.” Is it possible a Gospel writer would have taken for granted his readers would interpret it that way? If so, it would be a weaker argument for Jesus’s actually having said it.

    About early Christians not having referred to Jesus as “King of the Jews”…you’ve stressed that Greek-speaking Christians began, very early, to refer to him as “Christ.” “Christ”/”Messiah”/”King of the Jews”…they could all be taken to mean the same thing. I’ve never heard a Latin term for “Messiah” other than that one (which emphasizes the literal/historical meaning of “anointed one”).

    And about a traitor being needed to lead a force to arrest Jesus when he and his disciples were alone? I think it could well have been necessary. He and the disciples might pop up anywhere in a crowded Temple or elsewhere, and be gone before guards could be summoned to follow them. Also, they were a group of men of the same ethnicity: what if they’d pulled the “I am Spartacus” stunt, all claimed to be Jesus?

    I know you’re probably right on all counts. But I can’t help thinking of this alternative…

    The Temple priests were so used to crackpots calling themselves the “Messiah” that they usually let it go. In this case – having heard exaggerated accounts of Jesus’s ruckus with the moneychangers – they wanted to have him executed for blasphemy. But they couldn’t do that. So now, they made a big issue of his (presumably) calling himself the Messiah…telling the Romans what being the “anointed one” had meant, historically, and letting them think it still necessarily meant that.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      My sense is that the Gospel writers who wrote the saying about the twelve being rulers didn’t think about it to realize that this would include Judas! Just as readers today never think about it.

      • Avatar
        maryhelena  December 4, 2015

        Robert Wahler December 4, 2015
        ”Again, how can you not see this as pure literary fiction? You, of all of us, surely realize that the Gospel story isn’t anything that actually happened”.
        —————-
        Robert, we all know the gospel story. Some of us see that story as only a literary construct. Some people see the gospel story, minus certain aspects, as being historical. i.e. they create their own story from what they find of value within the gospel story. (Thus the many types of Jesus that are available in the market place of ideas.) I see the gospel story as a political allegory. A story that is not itself historical but contains historical reflections. Historical reflections that relate to actual historical realities.

        In other words; faced with the same gospel material different interpretations, or viewpoints, can be held. However, if we are ever to get on solid ground re early Christian history, then interpretation has to give way, has to allow, history to be primary. i.e. interpretation needs to be of historical realities. ‘Salvation history’, which the gospel story is – is itself an interpretation of history.

        What triggers that ‘Damascus’ moment when one sees things differently? The mind, seemingly, can’t always rely on logic. That light bulb moment when the penny drops – different for all of use – but when that switch happens we enter a new intellectual world…..

        ‘’There is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas, or a logical reconstruction of this process. Every great discovery contains an irrational element or a creative intuition’’. Karl Popper.

        Right now the historical Jesus assumption holds sway. That’s what most people ‘see’. We can argue that all they ‘see’ is a shadow and not the historical reality – but we can’t force a mind – all one can do is put alternative options in the market place and if the time is right – we might have an idea whose time has come….;-)

        • Avatar
          Jim  December 9, 2015

          “Differences of opinion do not necessarily mean differences of principle.”
          I think Thomas Jefferson said this and is appropriate for this blog, with kind respect to everyone.

  7. Avatar
    godspell  December 2, 2015

    Bart, with all due respect, this implies that a governments–even governments far less arbitrary and unjust than the one the Romans had imposed on Palestine–only try and convict people for what they genuinely believe, say, and do–and we all know that is not true. Very recent history teaches us that is not true. Jesus could have been misunderstood, particularly since he so often communicated obliquely. Or he could have been traduced.

    Jesus could have been convicted on false testimony. In fact, we can be sure he was, because going by your own interpretation of the facts we have, he never said he was King of the Jews. He said he WOULD be, in some future time, after an all-powerful Supreme Being that the Romans did not believe existed (or at least was not very important compared to their own gods) came to overthrow all governments and impose his rule over the earth. In other words, never.

    So for the Romans to convict him of sedition on this basis, they had to have been fed a misleading notion of his teachings. This may explain Pilate’s seeming confusion when actually confronted with Jesus (not that I believe the account of Pilate’s behavior at the trial to be accurate, and I know why later Christians might have wished to minimize his role in Jesus’ execution, but there is something oddly persuasive about that part of the story, and it may well have a nubbin of truth in it).

    He was told this was some crazed zealot who wanted to make himself king (another day at the office for Pilate), and then he meets this man, who clearly poses no direct threat to the established Roman order (indirectly, centuries later, but that’s not what Pilate would be concerned with, even if you could make him believe it). He was a ruthless man, by all accounts, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a fair one, by his own lights. He might well have wanted to understand why his time was being wasted with a case like this, involving a barefooted ignorant preacher with a handful of cowed followers, who talked about some airy-fairy neverland coming in the future.

    So no, I don’t think this proves anything. It’s evidence, yes. Strong evidence. But not overwhelming. The fact that Jesus said the disciples would be kings does not mean he believed he would be king over them–he might have thought God would be king over them, since this is, after all The Kingdom of God and we know Jesus did not think he was God.

    He may have believed his role would be completed once the Kingdom came. He may even have believed that he had to die for the Kingdom to come. He would be the Passover sacrifice. This would be why he told his disciples not to resist, not to fight for him (they would still have felt guilty for denying him to save their lives). They needed to live, so they would be there for the coming of the Kingdom. And they could not stain their souls with blood, or they would be unfit to rule over all those who had a place in that Kingdom. “He who lives by the sword, perishes by the sword.”

    Now possibly he believed his death would not be permanent–perhaps he really did believe he would rise again. But then why would he cry out in agony that God had forsaken him? Because he had made the sacrifice, believing that in ending his life, he was giving new life to the world–and the world was staying as it was. And he wants to know how he had failed God–how was his sacrifice deficient? Where had he gone wrong?

    I just have a hard time seeing him even wanting to be a king, I guess. It seems out of character. I could be wrong. So could anyone. Jesus was. At least about some things.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      Yes, you may be right. But my sense is that the Romans as a rule were not interested in executing people who had done nothing wrong — in fact were actively disinterested in doing so, for fear of uprisings.

      • Avatar
        godspell  December 4, 2015

        True–that would be why Pilate hesitated (if he did), not out of mercy or a modern sense of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ But Jesus had made a lot of enemies. His behavior had been provocative at the Temple, intentionally so. He was making outrageous public statements. In undermining the Temple authorities, he’s also undermining Roman authority, since the Romans governed through their surrogates, precisely to try and avoid uprisings.

        I don’t think they’d acquit him simply because he wouldn’t come out and say “I am the King of the Jews.” And again, even if that’s what he believed he would be, the Kingdom not having come, he wouldn’t say that, because it wouldn’t be true yet. But nobody’s an authority on human behavior. He might have done and said anything, under that much stress, and in the grip of such powerful ideas and emotions.

        All they’d really need to do, the ones who wanted him convicted, would be to present witnesses who claimed he had said he would be king. And maybe he did, or maybe he said something that could be interpreted that way.

        It’s funny, isn’t it, that Socrates was also put on trial for sedition, and he also is reported to have dodged the question of his guilt under the law, and under that very different system of government, he was also put to death (perhaps with the option of escape, which he did not take). And we also have no actual witnesses to that trial–merely hearsay testimony from guilty disciples.

        And all these centuries later, we’re still arguing about what really happened.

  8. Avatar
    flshrP  December 2, 2015

    Well said. I think you nailed the landing.

  9. Avatar
    rivercrowman  December 2, 2015

    Another great post! … Crystal clear to me.

  10. Avatar
    fabiogaucho  December 2, 2015

    We also have to keep open the possibility that Jesus and Pilates never met. Since, as you said, there were notes taken during the trial – if there was ever one -, and no followers present, there may not have been a time when PIlate bothered to confront him face-to-face. The Sanhedrin brings the charges (of self-proclaiming to be King of the Jews) to lower-level authorities, who report the claims to the big guy. Either before or after that, Jesus was arrested. And then PP tells them to proceed with the execution. Josephus notes that he was not big on due process… and the gospels tend to increase Jesus’ impact in his lifetime (multitudes following him, etc.), so bringing him to the Roman governor himself is very fitting, besides making for a great scene. It would be kind of anti-climatic if he only interacted with centurions and soldiers.

    The interrogation by Caiphas, on the other hand, seems a lot more likely to have happened. They wanted to hear some things from Jesus’ mouth.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      Yup, it’s possible; but if Pilate was in town and it was a capital case (both of which seem true), then it appears more likely he was the one who heard the case….

  11. Avatar
    prairieian  December 3, 2015

    I sense that the whole trial issue has been exaggerated in the accounts that have come down to us. Life was cheap in the ancient world, due process existed but only for citizens and scarcely to a modern standard. I imagine that the ‘trial’ would have not exceeded five minutes, and the time frame between sentence and execution would have been within an hour. Worse for the earliest of Christians, I also suspect that there was no recollection on Pilate’s part after Jesus’s execution. It was a minor nuisance, nipped in the bud, and forgotten as soon as done.

    The edifice erected on such a beginning is truly remarkable – mind you, not unique.

  12. Avatar
    drdavef  December 3, 2015

    But why have 12 disciples to judge the 12 tribes when there were only 2 tribes left? Wouldn’t two disciples have been enough?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 4, 2015

      There was a broad expectation that the other ten would be “restored.”

  13. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  December 3, 2015

    I had not realized that Jesus is never called “King of the Jews” in the Bible outside the trail with Pilate. Interesting.

  14. Avatar
    Carl  December 3, 2015

    What do you make of Jesus’ response, “You say so”? Is it meant to be ambiguous, so that Pilate had a reason to let Jesus go? Then the Christian storytellers could have the Jewish crowd pressure Pilate to execute Jesus?

  15. Avatar
    randal  December 3, 2015

    I agree completely. In my Baptist fundamentalist days, I privately wondered why it was that nowhere else is Jesus ever referred to as “King of the Jews”. Furthermore, it doesn’t fit the christian message very well. But, by viewing Jesus as an apocalypticist, it fits perfectly.

  16. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  December 3, 2015

    Hello Bart

    in book of act we read that jesus was first killed then crucified on tree

    Acts 5 : 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

    Acts 10 : 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

    Acts 13 : 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

    but in the gospels jesus was crucified on the cross alive then he died later on the cross . how do you explain the contradiction

    thanks

  17. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  December 4, 2015

    I have no idea how you are able to write meaningful, concise, helpful columns almost daily. It’s a lot of work and you are a very productive scholar. You also have a “gift” which you have worked very hard to develop. Thanks for sharing that gift with this blog.and with your books and youtube debates.

  18. Avatar
    Adam0685  December 7, 2015

    What do you make of Luke 22:36–where he tells his disciples if they do not have a sword they should sell their cloak and buy one? Do they believe that they may have to fight (Rome?) with a sword before the kingdom arrives or for the kingdom to arrive?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 8, 2015

      Yeah, it’s a real head-scratcher…. You wouldn’t think a single sword is going to help much against the Roman armies.

  19. Avatar
    Steefen  December 10, 2015

    Dr. Ehrman: early Christians, so far as we know, never called Jesus the King of the Jews.

    Steefen: Semantics. Brady Bunch episode where the oldest son Greg is saying “those aren’t my exact words.”

    Jesus said his mission was to the Jews (with the infamous reference to Gentiles, as dogs eating the crumbs off the table of humans). So, if Jesus had a kingdom, and he was the king, he was the king of the Jews.

    Even when Jesus was on the cross, a Jew told him remember me when you come into your kingdom. That bandit probably had hopes Jesus’ kingdom would still materialize on Earth.

    I still wonder if Queen Helena was a queen of the Jews, her husband, a king of the Jews, their son, Izates, a prince and a king of the Jews after they converted to Judaism and lived in their palace in Jerusalem. I also wonder if Helena’s king who was recognized as wise by Augustus lost his protected status and was killed. The Babylonian Talmud says Jesus was given 40 days notice before sentencing and/or execution * because he was connected to government . *

    And Dr. Ehrman, Palm Sunday’s “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” means what? It does not mean blessed is he who comes to lead the people?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 11, 2015

      Remember: we’re not asking what hte Gospels *reported* as said during Jesus’ life, but hwat we can establish as probably having actually been said then. Palm Sunday as it is presented int he Gospels is almost certainly not historical

      • Avatar
        brandon284  November 19, 2016

        What are the arguments for Palm Sunday not being historical?

  20. Avatar
    Steefen  December 12, 2015

    Steefen: I still wonder if Queen Helena was a queen of the Jews, her husband, a king of the Jews, their son, Izates, a prince and a king of the Jews after they converted to Judaism and lived in their palace in Jerusalem. I also wonder if Helena’s king who was recognized as wise by Augustus lost his protected status and was killed. The Babylonian Talmud says Jesus was given 40 days notice before sentencing and/or execution * because he was connected to government . *

    Response (in memory of another person interested in the historical Jesus, Joseph Raymond, nonfiction author of Herodian Messiah and historical fiction author of Grandson of Herod):

    Both Matthew and Luke herald a king being born. How does that happen unless that child were born of a king?
    The ancestor list found in Luke, Ch. 3 appears to contain the names of Hasmonean kings. Who does ancestor lists just for the type of person Bart Ehrman makes of Jesus?

    Jesus’ denied he was a son of David. See Matthew 22:41-45, Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44. Herod the Great was not of the family tree of King David.

    History records no slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. Herod knew exactly who he was looking for, but the gospels couldn’t admit that so a plausible story was created to cover the truth.

    The family did flee the country returning only for a visit during Passover when he was 12.

    Think about that – how did they get to Jerusalem during that trip? By caravan, and you don’t take a caravan from Nazareth to Jerusalem. You walk, like every one else. But you do take a caravan when you’re coming from a long distance.

    – The private audience that Pilate granted Jesus is a courtesy generally only granted to Roman citizens.
    – And then you have the Sanhedrin which had found him guilty of blasphemy but threw up their hands and claimed that they had no authority over him.
    – Herod Archelaus, who would have been more than happy to eliminate a rival, said the same.
    – The only class of citizen with that kind of immunity would have been a Roman citizen. Herod the Great, being a client king of Rome, was granted Roman citizenship.

    Steefen: Okay, an illegitimate son of Herod the Great or maybe a grandson of Herod the Great was Jesus. Jesus did call the Temple his father’s House of Prayer. We may be talking about a son rather than a grandson. The Talmud says Jesus was connected to government. Maybe that means Jesus was illegitimately connected to government.

    Bart Ehrman says we cannot trust the Palm Sunday account: 1) it was not triumphant and 2) not one palm branch was waved while people said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. It is really tearful that Dr. Ehrman is going out on that limb. It is a limb because he cannot evidence Jesus did not stage an entrance of riding in on a donkey (or what have you) referencing kingship. Second, this should have been Jesus’ height of popularity; so, we *would* have been witnessing a triumph of, at least, his celebrity. This prophet of the placebo effect, this faith healer, this preacher, this deliverer of parables, this user of the invertor of Heron of Alexandria’s “miracle vase” which could have water poured in it then, when the vase was turned a different way, wine came out, this messenger of good news and this man who showed compassion for widows and children was celebrated and had a personal triumph. Jesus’ biggest spectacle would have been what would be his great fate or his tragic fate in Jerusalem.

    In conclusion, the husband and sons of Queen Helena are not the only ones to lend royalty to the Jesus Story.

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