And now *here* is an interesting way to think about whether someone was raised from the dead!  This is a Platinum Guest Post by Ryan Fleming.  It is begging for responses.  What do you think?


A short story:

Suppose you are a French-resistance fighter in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. One of your countrymen, Jacques, is unbeknownst to you, a Nazi spy. He openly supports passivism towards Nazi authority, keeps the peace, and even promotes paying taxes to the Nazis. Periodically you see Jacques in the company of a Nazi officer. You and your fellow countrymen become suspicious, even fearful. Is he subverting the mental drive to undermine resistance, or at worst, is he giving away secrets, risking the lives of resistance fighters?

You and your countrymen conspire to present a charge to Nazi authority that Jacques has raped a woman to see what they will do. You demand Jacques is guilty, present the woman as a witness who emphatically exclaims Jacques raped her, and demands Jacques must be executed. Eventually, Nazi authority, wanting to avoid an uprising and exposure, agree to execute Jacques.

The day of the firing squad, Nazi soldiers keep everyone at a distance as they blindfold Jacques and tie him to a pole. The soldiers march in and raise their rifles. The Nazi officer gives the command, the rifles fire, and Jacques immediately falls limp. The Nazi commander removes Jacques’ hood, places two fingers up to his throat to feel for a pulse, pulls up his eyelids and then suddenly calls out, “He is dead! Such a brave man to have faced death so eloquently! Surely this man was innocent of the charges made against him!”

The Nazi commander directs an independent person, someone you are not familiar with – let’s call him Joseph of Amarna, to take Jacques from the pole and place him in a tomb. Nazi soldiers are assigned to the tomb to keep everyone at bay from gawking at the body.

Three days later, you are at the train station, and you are shocked and amazed to see Jacques running on a platform as he jumps onto a train. You run up in disbelief as the train starts moving. As it goes by, you see Jacques looking directly at you from one of the windows. He recognizes you, then smiles and waves in sarcastic victory.

Your countrymen do not believe you, since the man was at a distance when he was running on the platform, and seen through a pane of glass up close. So, you and your countrymen go back to the tomb and find it empty.

What do you think happened here?

  • You simply thought you saw Jacques, but it really wasn’t him
  • Jacques miraculously came back to life and escaped the eternal bondage of the tomb
  • The Nazis staged the execution and Jacques never died

Would you change your answer if 14 others, including his own brother, saw Jacques and swore it was him?

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2023-05-17T10:55:25-04:00May 16th, 2023|Public Forum|

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  1. tom.hennell May 16, 2023 at 7:52 am

    Interesting hypothetical Ryan.

    But if we were to follow-through your counterpart narrative; execution for rape in France up til 1939 was done by public guillotine, not by firing squad.

    So; if we suppose that Jaques had been publicly decapitated; might that change your evaluation of the likely explanations for his subsequently appearing fit and well?

    • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 8:44 am

      Yes, if Jacques had been publicly decapitated it would be clear he had died. However, in the parallel, Jesus was not decapitated. Also, the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and all seven letters attributed to the Apostle Paul say nothing about nails being used to attach Jesus to the cross. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention no form of violence against Jesus during his six hours on the cross (seems like a brief time). Jesus appearing live after the crucifixion in Luke 24:36-43 mentions no wounds of any kind.

  2. saavoss May 16, 2023 at 9:08 am

    I get the analogy … I’ve heard similar things about Saul/Paul (that he was a Roman spy or double agent) … The only part of the analogy I don’t understand is the accusation of rape … Why rape? Just because it was a capital offense requiring the death penalty? Why not use a different capital crime? Why use one that is so emotionally charged? Surely Jesus was not accused of such a violent crime. His crime(s) were purely political (sedition)?

    • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 9:53 am

      The charge of sedition was presented as a front by the Jewish Court (Matt 27:18, Mark 15:4 10, Luke 23:2 14). The real charge in the eyes of the Sanhedrin was blasphemy (Matt 26:65-66, Mark 14:64). Performing miracles in the name of the Judean god, and on the Sabbath, and claiming to be the son of their god (Luke 22:70) would have been perceived as a mockery of Judaism, and yes, would have involved deep emotions, to the point warranting death (above references).

      • dankoh May 16, 2023 at 11:11 am

        The charge against Jesus wasn’t blasphemy. I would go into more detail, but I have a Platinum post in the queue on that very topic.

        • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 1:02 pm

          I am not sure of your point. Jesus is never documented as supporting any type of resistance against the Romans, armed or otherwise (see Dr. Ehrmans’s post from 8/28/22 entitled “Did Jesus Believe in Armed Resistance to the Romans”). Quite the opposite. Jesus publicly referred to a centurion as having the greatest faith in all of Israel (Matt 8:10-13, Luke 7:9). In turn, a Roman centurion referred to Jesus as “Lord” (Matt 8:8, Luke 7:6) and in another case as “[a or the] Son of God” (Matt 27:54, Mark 15:39).

          • dankoh May 16, 2023 at 6:15 pm

            I didn’t say anything other than that Jesus would not have been charged with blasphemy. He could easily have been charged with se turbulente gessere (disturbing the peace) for overturning the moneychangers’ tables, or for seditio for saying he was the “king of the Jews.” Rome didn’t require armed resistance for a sedition charge; anything that in any way challenged its authority would do, and claiming to be a king over Rome’s subjects without Rome’s approval definitely fell into that category.

          • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 8:59 pm

            I read the Gospels differently than you. Jesus never refers to himself as the King of the Jews. This is a title Pilate gives him (Matt 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:33-34) and Jesus responds, “Thou sayest.” Jesus, and later Paul, speaks of the kingdom of heaven, not an earthly kingdom. Pilate uses this term while he is defending Jesus against the Judean mob (Mark 15:9-14, John 18:39 19:14-15), as if he is saying, “Are you sure you want me to crucify your king?” I see this as an emotional plea, not as a statement in agreement with the crowd as justification for crucifixion. Why do you see this as Jesus proclaiming himself King of the Jews and Pilate feels forced to crucify Jesus because of this? Pilate’s label of this charge (Matt 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19) is an emotional mockery of being forced to crucify Jesus. The Jewish elders even ask Pilate to change the inscription to, “This man claims to be King of the Jews” (John 19:21), but Pilate responds, “What I have written, I have written” (John 19:22).

          • dankoh May 16, 2023 at 10:17 pm

            Critical scholarship has long agreed that none of the gospel accounts of the trial are historical. But let’s imagine the scene for a moment: You (Jesus) have just been hauled before the governor of Judaea, a man with the power to order excruciating executions and with a reputation for cruelty. The governor asks you: “Are you the king of the Jews.” Would you really just shrug and say “You say so”? For that kind of insolent remark, you’d be sent to the cross on the spot. Also, in John, Jesus plays word games with Pilate, neither admitting nor denying the charge, which is also not going to win him any sympathy.

            The mob stories are also ahistorical. To believe them, you have to believe that the priests, having just spent an exhausting day at Temple sacrifices, and having had Jesus arrested in secret so as not to stir up a mob, then go out in the middle of the night and arrange for their own mob to show up at dawn demanding Jesus’s death. Again, not credible.

            continue. . .

          • dankoh May 16, 2023 at 10:21 pm

            . . . continued

            Pilate wasn’t “forced” to do anything. He had two jobs: collect taxes and keep order. He had such total control of the Temple priests that the high priest couldn’t even wear his ritual robes without Pilate’s permission. He was certainly not going to take orders from them; it was the reverse. And Pilate was, according to the gospels, already planning to execute two insurrectionists (lestai can mean insurrectionists as well as bandits); Jesus was just one more to add to the total.

            Scholars are divided over whether the charge Pilate executed Jesus for was sedition (claiming to be a king) or disturbing the peace. And yes, disturbing the peace could be a capital crime in Roman eyes, especially in Jerusalem at Passover, the most volatile time of the year, which is why Pilate was in Jerusalem that week in the first place.

            So yes, I read the gospels differently than you do. For one thing, I (and many others) find in them an increasing (from Mark to John) effort to shift the blame for the crucifixion from the Romans to the Jews.

          • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 9:11 pm

            The Christian historians, Tertullian (155-220 CE) and Eusebius (260-339 CE), documented that Pilate requested Jesus be declared a god by the Roman Senate. Again, these are not my words, but words from people nearly time current with Jesus – not two thousand year later declaring these references based on legend and not real events.

          • dankoh May 16, 2023 at 10:02 pm

            Two centuries later is not “nearly time current with Jesus.” For that, try Philo (d. 50 CE) or Josephus (d. 100 CE), both of whom describe Pilate in ways that make it impossible to believe he would have done such a thing. And while Philo and Josephus didn’t care one way or the other about Jesus, Tertullian and Eusebius both definitely did. It was in their interest to absolve Pilate of deicide (and blame the Jews), so while it makes sense for them to say Pilate asked the Senate to declare Jesus a god, it doesn’t make sense as history. Tertullian wasn’t a historian, either; he was a theologian. Eusebius at least makes pretensions of being a historian – and it’s quite possible he got this story from Tertullian.

        • OmarRobb May 17, 2023 at 1:08 am

          Hi Dankoh,

          To my understanding, the data related to the trial of Jesus has passed the criterion of multiple attestation and the criterion of dissimilarity (although I don’t like the last criterion, but this is a different subject). Therefore, I don’t think that “critical scholarship” has disregarded the historicity of the trial of Jesus. Best case is that this trial might be disputed, but I don’t think this is consensus.

          So, we have here clear and direct data that is supported by accepted criteria. Therefore, this data cannot be “argumentatively” rejected without equal direct data.

          But your arguments here lacks direct data: you are using a generalization (Pilate was cruel, which doesn’t have multiple attestation), and the assumption that Roman Governors were dictators that they can rule and judge however they want (which is a claim that I don’t agree with, but his is a different subject as well) to derive a conclusion that oppose the direct available data. And I don’t think this is logical.

          For sure, we can have an opinion that is against the direct data, but this would be a “value judgment” and it doesn’t have much weight in logical arguments.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 10:50 am

            That there was some kind of interrogation of Jesus is probably historical. The details of the “trial” are highly suspect.

            Both Pilate and Josephus attest to Pilate’s cruelty.

            Judgments on the “direct data” are made on the basis of comparison to other data of the time and on their general plausibility, bearing in mind that the “direct data” comes from polemicists, not historians.

            From Public Order in Ancient Rome by Wilfried Nipple (Cambridge U. Press): “decisions whether actions should be taken and what means were appropriate had been subject to the often erratic discretion of individual rulers and governors” (p. 3). Google Scholar shows plenty of other examples from the scholarly literature. Bear in mind that Judaea was a minor -and difficult – province in the empire that would not have attracted the best people.

          • OmarRobb May 17, 2023 at 11:59 am

            I think you meant Philo not Pilate.

            Philo and Josephus spoke about Pilate. However, Josephus is the main source, and he talked about Pilate violence against a rebellious movement, and for this reason he was summoned to Rome (this would give a good indicator that Governors didn’t act as they pleased). I don’t think Josephus had mentioned anything about Pilate cruelty in the day-to-day management, in the contrary, the things he mentioned about Pilate seems that he wasn’t.

            However, all the data we know about the trial of Jesus is the Gospels. And it is preferable not to pick and choose from them without proper justification. Most details related to the story of the trial have multiple attestations, they don’t contradict with Science or the background culture, and dissimilarity can be applied to them. Therefore, these details are valid historical data according to our limited historical resources.

            Therefore, opposing it requires equivalent direct data, unless you are presenting a claim of “value judgment” without data.

            I appreciate your appeal to references, but this reference is not specific to the subject of the trial. Furthermore, I assume that the early Christian history has many contradictive opinions by so many well-known scholars.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 12:33 pm

            Yes, I meant Philo. Who went into great detail about Pilate’s cruelty and venality in his letter to Gaius. Pilate got away with a lot, including robbing the Temple funds to build an aqueduct, and also slaughtering Jews who protested his actions. He tried to set up effigies of Caesar in the Temple, showing he knew little and cared less about Jewish sensitivities. (And if he did know, then he was being deliberately sadistic and provocative.) He was recalled to Rome because he finally went too far even for Governor Vitellius to tolerate. A Samaritan delegation convinced the governor that the men Pilate murdered weren’t trying to rebel but were trying “to escape the violence of Pilate” (Ant. 11.88) Josephus blames a later Roman governor, Florus, for being “so wicked, and so violent in the use of his authority” that he triggered the Great Revolt of the Jews against Rome (Ant. 20.253). Josephus was an adult and a general at the time, so this is a contemporary report. He was also writing for a Roman audience, who would have objected if he had misportrayed Roman governors.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 12:52 pm

            As for the trial, the gospel stories do exactly contradict the background culture. In Jewish culture, trials were not held at night, nor on a holiday. There was never a Jewish custom of releasing a prisoner on a holiday (it was a custom elsewhere in the empire, but not among the Jews). Nor is it credible, as I pointed out before, that exhausted priests were able to assemble a mob between midnight and dawn – meaning that “Science” contradicts the gospel accounts.

            Read Bart’s book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, 219-23, for some of the problems historians have with the trial accounts, and especially 221 for a description of the arbitrary powers a Roman governor possessed. Paula Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews is an excellent scholarly reference, esp. 171-72 on the character of Pilate and 220-24 on why the trial accounts, particularly Mark’s, are not credible.

            Also read Lémonon, Jean–Pierre. 1981. Pilate et le Gouvernement de la Judée: Textes et Monuments.

          • OmarRobb May 17, 2023 at 5:38 pm

            There is a bit difference between contradiction to customs and contradiction to culture. It is the custom of the Romans to nail the convicted to the cross, but sometimes they just tied them. But it is the culture of the Jews not to eat pork, therefore, if someone claimed that the Jewish religious authority ate pork with Pilate then we would probably ignore this claim.

            However, The main data of the trial is that {the Jewish authority arrested Jesus and delivered him to Pilate and requested Pilate to execute Jesus for planning against the empire}. This data has multiple attestations, and it doesn’t contradict with the background culture. So, what is the percentage of the well-known critical Scholars that reject this data? 90% of them, 50%, 10%, or less than that?


            I agree with you that Pilate was “cruel (A)” against riots and rebellions. However, I am asking about “cruelty (B)” which related to the day-to-day management, because this cruelty is the one related to the trial. Are there any accounts that describes Pilate to be cruel narcissist ruler who was using his secret police to capture all alleged opposers and torturing and executing them?

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 7:55 pm

            Custom and culture are not that distinct; each supports the other. I used your language in my response, whether you call it custom or culture, Jewish authorities did not hold trials at night, and there was no record that they ever released a prisoner for a holiday, as the gospels say Pilate claimed for them.

            The most likely scenario is that the Temple priests, who were responsible to Rome for keeping the peace in Jerusalem and who were under Rome’s control, acted as Rome’s agents in their handling of Jesus, who had become a problem for Rome. Whether this was because he had caused a disturbance in the Temple or because he was suspected of sedition is still a debated question. What is not debated is that either charge would have enough for Pilate to order his execution.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 8:21 pm


            In Letter to Gaius in 45 CE, Philo lists “the briberies, the robberies, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty” (302) that Pilate was guilty of. Philo’s point to Gaius is mainly how the Jews put up with much of Pilate’s vicious behavior, but that Pilate’s attempt to install Caesar’s image in Jerusalem “to annoy the multitude” (299) was just too much to take. Philo is making this argument as part of his effort to dissuade Gaius from doing the same thing.

            If you insist on explicit examples of Pilate using a secret police to capture his enemies, you aren’t going to get them. But he was a cruel ruler (though probably not a narcissistic one).

            Lemonon, in concluding his own study of Pilate (1981), doesn’t think Pilate was deliberately cruel. He does say Pilate was “deprived of political sense, clumsy [maladroit] with the Jews . . . [and] insensible to Jewish protestations, desiring tranquility and ready to resort to force in order to obtain it. . . .” (my translation).

          • OmarRobb May 17, 2023 at 9:10 pm

            OK, I think we might have started to have a common ground here.
            The most likely scenario is just a claim: an interpretation for the Data. However, I would assume that many Scholars would prefer the main data as is, because it is the direct data. So, yes, it would probably be a disputed matter between scholars.


            Philo seemed harsh against Pilate, while Josephus seemed neutral. This can be interpreted many ways: Philo was accurate while Josephus was trying to please the Romans. Or Philo was angry from Pilate as Philo was religious while Josephus was more objective as a historian. So, I assume Scholars have some disputes about the accounts of both.

            However, I think Philo was bit harsh at least on the day-to-day management of Pilate, because I don’t think Rome would leave Governors without sufficient supervision, and it is of the best interest of Rome not to alienate (as possible) her overseas subjects.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 10:50 pm

            Pilate was just a side point for Philo; he was trying to convince Gaius (Caligula) not to send statues of himself to Jerusalem. He was using Pilate as an example of how upset the Jews got when Pilate tried the same thing.

            Josephus would not have pleased the Romans by telling them how bad their governors were, so they must have known that already.

            You can’t judge Roman governors by today’s standards. It was in Rome’s interest to keep the populace under control and the taxes paid. Rome didn’t care if their subjects felt alienated; they would just have their soldiers stomp on them. Supervision of governors was also lax; Pilate got away with his acts for years because he kept the revenue coming and Judaea quiet. Vittellius only had Pilate recalled because a Samaritan delegation managed to get his ear and complain. Per Josephus, Florus was worse than Pilate, but he was left unsupervised until Judaea revolted.

            Rome ruled a huge empire, and communications were slow. Unless something exceptional happened (like the Judaean revolt), Rome didn’t keep a close eye on its governors, especially ones in a small backward province at the edge of the empire.

          • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 10:56 pm

            PS: Example of Rome’s indifference to what her subjects felt: In 63 BCE, when General Pompey settled a Hasmonean civil war by claiming their kingdom for Rome, he strode into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. There could have been no single act more calculated to alienate the Jews, but Pompey didn’t care. He wanted to establish that Rome was now master there.

          • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 11:42 am

            These comments mention generalizations of Roman and Judean culture, and statements on how things should have been. References are sited attempting to characterize Pontius Pilate, almost attempting to define his personality. How can we know his personality? Pilate was a man, not a generalized Roman – with weaknesses, strengths, quirks – maybe even obsessions. He governed for ten years (26 CE to 36 CE), which is a long time to be surrounded by a culture. It is documented that Pilate exhibited some flexibility and compassion when he backed down from placing images of Caesar in Jerusalem after Judean protests.

            There are any number of reasons Pilate may have had an interest in Jesus. It would only take a slight interest for Pilate to prevent Jesus’ death on the cross. All the references in this discussion suggest Pilate probably had more than just a slight interest.

            There could have been any number of reasons for a nighttime arrest and trial – secrecy and concern for a daytime arrest causing trouble, or concern that a trial the next day would get too close to Passover? If Jesus’ arrest and trial were pre-planned, this wouldn’t have been a haphazard gathering of exhausted priests.

          • dankoh May 18, 2023 at 2:06 pm

            Descriptions by Philo and Josephus of Pilate are specific to Pilate. We know Pilate by his actions, which were often cruel. And if Pilate had wanted to spare Jesus, he would have done so. He was the absolute ruler of Judaea, and had previously shown his indifference to what crowds wanted. (Yes, he backed down on the statues – but not on taking over the Temple funds; that time he had the whole crowd slaughtered.)

            Nighttime arrest, perhaps. Nighttime trial, no. They would have waited until the next morning. Passover wasn’t until the evening (unless you accept the version that it was already Passover, in which case the trial would have had to be delayed until later).

            Further, the evangelists were not objective stenographers recording the proceedings, nor were they witnesses. They had a vested interest in shifting the blame from Pilate to the Jews, a shift which increases from Mark to John.

          • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 12:00 pm

            As a side note – the arrest story in the Gospels, as told, had to be pre-planned. First, at the supper, Jesus tells Judas to go do what he must do. Unless you believe in a supernatural explanation, this alone suggests the arrest was pre-planned. Then Judas runs off. Jesus doesn’t call out, “Oh by the way Judas, don’t bring the arresting party here. I realize you might assume we will be spending the night here. However, bring them to an obscure place at the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives at two in the morning.”

            It’s very simple. How would Judas have known where and when to bring the arresting party unless the whole thing was pre-planned?

          • dankoh May 18, 2023 at 2:07 pm

            “Now Judas, who had betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.” John 18:2.

          • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 3:37 pm

            But in the middle of the night? I’m sure Jesus met with his disciples in many different locations. How would Judas have known to go to that specific location unless it was pre-planned? The way the garden is described, it could have been a meeting place during the day. But during the night? There is no mention of tents or any type of shelter.

          • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 3:51 pm

            You have a good point, though. Luke 22:39 also says, “And he came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples followed him.” So it must have been their practice to go there and sleep under the open sky. However, I think Jesus’ initial declaration telling Judas to go do what he had to do makes it sound pre-planned.

      • OmarRobb May 16, 2023 at 12:24 pm

        I understand your model, and I don’t agree that Jesus was a spy to the Romans, but your model is exploring an angle in that direction, and exploring is always fun. But I think I will go with Saavoss in criticizing the rape charge:

        A freedom fighter in one side can be regarded as terrorist in the other side. A social reformer in one side can be regarded as troublemaker in the other side. A religious reformer in one side can be regarded as blasphemous in the other side.

        So, all of these labels are subjective and dependent on the “side”. But rape is not subjective, and all reasonable sides will agree that rape is immoral. This does not fit as an analogy for Jesus, as there were Jewish followers to him, and after him.

        • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 12:43 pm

          In the short story I am presenting it as a false charge fabricated by the resistance fighters, similar to what was apparently a false charge of sedition presented by the Sanhedrin to meet a Roman requirement for execution. The Gospel references above state Jesus was deserving of death for blasphemy – again, not my words, but written accounts from two thousand years ago.

          I understand the short story is not a perfect match to the Gospel accounts. The short story did not include the resistance fighters presenting a charge of sedition against the Nazis, but it’s possible I could have made that work…

    • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 10:12 am

      As a side note – I am not claiming Saul/Paul was a Roman spy or double agent. I think Paul was completely duped by a Jesus movement that had already formed, and that maybe he did see a living Jesus after the crucifixion. As Dr. Ehrman states in “The Triumph of Christianity”, “it is crystal clear that he [Paul] believed he did see Jesus… Just as Peter, James, the twelve apostles, and others saw Jesus raised from the dead.” “Paul knew that God raised Jesus from the dead because he himself had seen Jesus alive afterward. Paul could swear to it. He did swear to it.”

      • saavoss May 16, 2023 at 10:45 am

        I did not say that you said Paul was a spy or double agent. I only said that I heard that argument elsewhere. It was years ago as part of a video about “Who Was Paul?” I don’t remember the name of the researcher who said it … I know it was not you.

    • tom.hennell May 16, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      We know that crucified criminals were nailed in this period; both from literary sources and archeology – two nails, through the heel-bone. And that criminals were routinely scourged, as the gospel accounts confirm.

      There are accounts of crucified victims surviving; but clearly this was the exception. And they would not then have jumped on a train, or walked to Emmaeus.

      • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 3:34 pm

        Yes, Matt 27:26, Mark 15:15, and John 19:1 state Pilate had Jesus scourged prior to having him “crucified”, but John 18:28 also states that Jews did not enter the praetorium that day in fear of defilement. It’s interesting that the non-presence of Jews is actually documented. This means the “scourge” would have been based strictly on Roman witness, the very ones who would have been involved in deception. The Roman statement of a “scourge” is in stark contrast, and quite frankly contrary, to the open and public defense Pilate presented against a Judean mob – again, not my words.

        The archeological evidence of two nails is actually a single nail in the heel bone of a skeleton found in Cambridgeshire, England. Archeologists are not sure the person was even crucified. This single archeological find is far from evidence that nails were commonly used in crucifixions. From what I understand, scholars believe the most common form of crucifixion had the victims tied to a cross, and the process took many days before death occurred, not six hours.

        • tom.hennell May 17, 2023 at 7:23 am

          I think you need to revisit your understandings crucifixion methods, Ryan; the literary evidence is surveyed by Robison in ‘Crucifixion in the Roman World’ (Studia Antiqua, 2002).

          There are archeological reports for three crucified Roman skeletons – all nailed through the heel-bones; in Givat HaMivtar, near Jerusalem, from 1st Century; in Gavello, North Italy, also from the first century; and in Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire, from the fourth century. The initial reports of the Jerusalem skeleton have been reappraised by Zias, the Gavello skeleton is reported by Gualdi-Russo, and the Fenstanton skeleton by Ingham and Duhig.

          All three were certainly crucified; the uncertainty (in some of them) is whether crucifixion was the cause of death – that is whether they might have been already dead when fastened to a cross.

          Robison finds 47 literary references to nails being used to fasten the crucified victim, against 7 (chiefly later) which refer to ropes. He points out that the former scholarly consensus for the wide use of ropes – in Jeremias for example – arose from over-generalisation from scant evidence; supported by a theological preference for the crucifixion of Jesus as being a ‘bloodless sacrifice’

          • rfleming May 17, 2023 at 10:23 am

            Thank you for the additional archeological references regarding nails through the heel bone in crucifixions. Very interesting and valuable information.

          • tom.hennell May 22, 2023 at 10:27 am

            Ryan; you may also note the 1CE Puteoli inscription, stating contractual terms for the municipal funeral concession holder.

            (A) Whoever will want to exact punishment on a male slave or female slave at private expense, as he [the owner] who wants the [punishment] to be inflicted, he [the contractor] exacts the punishment in this manner: if he [the owner] wants [him] to lead the patibulated individual [carrying the patibulim] to the cross [vertical beam], the contractor will have to provide wooden posts, chains, and cords for the floggers and the floggers themselves. …

            (B) Whenever a magistrate exacts punishment at public expense, so shall he decree; and whenever it will have been ordered to be ready to carry out the punishment, the contractor will have gratis to set up crosses, and will have gratis to provide nails, pitch, wax, candles, and those things which are essential for such matters. Also if he will be commanded to drag [the cadaver] out with a hook, he must drag the cadaver itself out, his workers dressed in red, with a bell ringing, to a place where many cadavers will be.

            So, for a public crucifixion, nailing was ‘essential’.

          • rfleming May 22, 2023 at 12:00 pm

            Fascinating contract. I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but the instructions don’t describe how the nails are used. The nails could be ‘essential’ to connect wooden sections together – for example the patibulim to the vertical beam? I don’t think one should jump to the conclusion that nails are used to attach the victim to the cross. It’s pretty clear what the hook is for – ‘to drag the cadaver itself out.’ Is there any additional information in the contract that states how the nails were used?

          • tom.hennell May 22, 2023 at 1:02 pm

            Nails are specified as being supplied by the contractor for ‘public expense’ crucifixions; not for crucifixion of slaves at ‘private expense’ (nails were expensive, and if a slave-owner wanted them, he presumably had to supply them himself). The contractual terms do not specify separately that the contractor should supply the patibulum for public-expense crucifixions, but that would appear to be implied within his “setting up” the cross gratis. I think it is commonly believed that the patibulum had a slot which sat over a lug on the cross upright; and so would not need nailing.

            The listed requirements for “Nails, pitch, wax, candles” in public-expense crucifixions all appear to relate to tortures to be inflected on the victim; counterpart to the flogging post, flogging cords and chains listed for private-expense crucifixions. Given other literary references to nails being used to fix the victim to the cross, it would indeed be nit-picking not to read this here too.

            The hook is to avoid physical contact with the dead body of a crucified victim – which was considered seriously polluted and polluting – hence too the bells and red clothing.

        • tom.hennell May 17, 2023 at 7:40 am

          on the issue of scourging Ryan, Roman practice was that the crucified victim would be naked (or wearing only a loin-cloth); so even if the scouging itself was not publicly witnessed, the effects of scourging would be apparent for all to see on the bodies of the three victims.

          In the most reliable contemporary image of a crucifixion, the graffito of Alkimilla from Puteoli, the stripes due to scourging are gruesomely apparent – as are the two nails fastening the heels either side of the ‘stipes’ or fixed upright. It less clear how Alkimilla’s wrists were fixed to the ‘patibulum’ or movable cross-piece, but they could well have been tied

      • Serene May 16, 2023 at 8:08 pm

        Do you know le story of Michel Ney? The French Rev hero who the next administration puts on the firing line that also used a lot of blanks. A few months later, a schoolteacher arrives in America who puts kids in drill formations for fun. Has the name of Ney’s parents, said he was Michel Ney. But who knows.

        There are sooo many circa-First Century people that escape through clever means in Josephus’ books alone that I haven’t even counted them all. There’s also Rabbi John Ben Zakkai escaping Jerusalem in a coffin in 70 CE before popping up on the other other side.

        It’s the High Priest that says one man must be sacrificed for the good of the people” and he’s the villain:

        John 11:50
        “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

        One piece of le puzzle is the governor *over* Pontius Pilate. Could be Vitellius, who is mysteriously involved with freeing Prince Marcus Agrippa in 32 CE. Gospel authors are already incorrect about the chain of command with ‘King’ Herod, Daniel swaps Nebuchadnezzar for Nabonidus, etc.

        Peter’s escape might have been glossed differently to outsiders.

        • rfleming May 17, 2023 at 12:09 pm

          I had not heard of Michel Ney. Fascinating person from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and his death by firing squad in 1815. His alleged survival story regarding the man in Rowan County, North Carolina who claimed to be Michel Ney on his death bed in 1846 has an uncanny, and unintentional, relation to this short story. (Twilight Zone theme song…)

  3. MichaelHenry May 16, 2023 at 9:32 am

    Great story and analogy.

    I would pick:

    The Nazis staged the execution and Jacques never died


    1. He seemed beloved by the Nazis.
    2. He waved to you as if it he tricked you.

    • rfleming May 16, 2023 at 10:26 am

      Highlighting your point that Jacques was beloved by the Nazis; in all four Gospels, Pontius Pilate openly and publicly defends Jesus in front of a Judean mob – even until a riot was forming (Matt 27:24). Luke 23:20 even states Pilate desired to release Jesus.

      (1) Roman guards and even a centurion stood guard at the crucifixion site.
      (2) In the first three Gospels, all Jesus’ acquaintances and the women witnessed the crucifixion from a distance (Matt 27:55, Mark 15:40, and Luke 23:49).
      (3) A heretofore unknown person, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and “secret” disciple, took possession of Jesus’ body per direct authorization from Pilate.
      (4) Pontius Pilate was directly involved with assigning soldiers to guard Jesus’ tomb.
      (5) A Roman centurion declared Jesus’ supposed death (not examination from Jewish elders). The same centurion openly and publicly declared Jesus as the Son of God.

      These are not my words – these are written accounts from that time. If Pontius Pilate had any type of interest in protecting Jesus (for whatever reason), do you think he could have prevented Jesus from dying on the cross?

  4. blclaassen May 16, 2023 at 9:49 am

    I like the analogy and how it compares to present-day conspiracies. I have always liked Bart’s similar conjecture of the disciples inventing the tomb/resurrection story to keep the savior alive in order to continue their free ride, so to speak.

  5. Charlesintexas May 16, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    “the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and all seven letters attributed to the Apostle Paul say nothing about nails being used to attach Jesus to the cross.” …… Do you mean the Greek manuscripts don’t use the word for ‘nails’? The gospel accounts I checked don’t use ‘nails’ in the KJV, but they do in the NLT.

    • rfleming May 17, 2023 at 7:07 am

      That is an interesting question. I must defer to Dr. Ehrman when he becomes available. I do not have access to Greek manuscripts, nor do I understand Greek. That would be very important if the Greek manuscripts mention the use of nails. I have access to the KJV and the Revised Standard Version. These translations do not mention nails in attaching Jesus to the cross.

      • dankoh May 17, 2023 at 10:47 am

        You can use Strong’s ( with its bilingual texts to work it out.

  6. pommylee May 17, 2023 at 2:52 am

    Very interesting hypothetical Ryan, I have myself often wondered about the 6 hours Jesus was on the Cross, doesn’t seem like long enough to kill you really

    Now I am not saying I think this is what happened, but definitely a fun little mental exercise

  7. ReligionProf May 17, 2023 at 8:55 am

    One quibble I have is the guards on the place of burial, which is Matthew’s late addition to the traditions about Jesus’ burial, introduced in the interest of apologetics.

    Thanks nonetheless for this thought-provoking post, which has clearly done a good job of generating interesting discussion here!

  8. EricBrown May 17, 2023 at 9:48 am


    Thanks for this post. I could swear as I read this that I had already read it. Did you post this previously in a comment section perhaps?

    While I understand this short story is designed to create a plausible Romano-Jesus conspiracy narrative, I find it interesting as well in the context of Bart’s current “memory” and perception thereof postings.

    An alternate short story to explore that idea might instead have with fewer clear-cut sightings after the supposed execution, years later, Jacques dear friends or family trying to rationalize details they heard after the fact (they perhaps having been elsewhere at the key time).

    • rfleming May 17, 2023 at 10:36 am

      Yes, it was a Platinum Member Post from 2/13/2023. It was recently voted on for a second posting to the full blog.

  9. balivi May 18, 2023 at 6:16 am

    According to the testimony of the author of Luke’s Gospel, the events described by him took place during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, during the governorship of Pontius Pilate. It is part of the historical reality that in terms of the family origin of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus, he was the adopted son of Imperator Caesar Augustus divi filius, commonly known as Emperor Augustus, since although he was married three times, Augustus never had a son. After Augustus adopted his father, Julius Caesar was raised among the gods after his death, therefore Augustus called himself princeps, meaning “son of god”. The later princeps all adopted Caesar’s name, which is why it became synonymous with the ruler. Tiberius also took the name Caesar, which logically means that Tiberius also had the right to the title “son of God”.

  10. balivi May 18, 2023 at 6:18 am

    According to the account of the Gospel of John, the Jews obtained the crucifixion of Jesus at Pilate with the accusation that Jesus made himself the “son of God”. If we interpret this accusation in the historical context outlined above, it becomes understandable why it could have happened that when “Pilate heard this speech, he was even more terrified” (John 19:8).

    If we discovered a real thread from the past in the narratives, then the real, historical reason for the death of the historical Jesus could have been that Pilate, as a good “vassal”, wanted to prevent a “war of succession” after a religious accusation, faithfully served in the defense of his ruler and himself for the sake of it, since if a rebel in Judaea, who had given himself the title of emperor, aspired to the rights of ruler, then Pilate’s governorship would certainly have ended. All of this would also explain why Pilate nailed the “King of the Jews” and not the inscription “Son of God” to the head of Jesus on the cross.

  11. Serene May 18, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    May I chime in on the sedition vs blasphemy convo? *unrolls scroll*

    1. “What is clear is that Jesus was killed on political charges and nothing else.”

    2. Jesus tells people he’s the Jewish messiah – that’s a king. “The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming…” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

    3. Isaiah 9:6 “…the government will be on your shoulder…” You need your empire to approve that.
    The context In Isaiah is, an Edomite king is defeated and Israel is freed from client state status.

    •Herods are Edomites
    •Gospels proclaim Jesus’ Davidic lineage, king prophesy.

    4. There was a waaaar plotted against Herod Antipas right before Jesus’ mission. Herod breaks his marriage alliance with Nabataean Phaesalis – John the Baptist protests the new marriage.

    Phaesalis meets her father’s generals at Machaerus, the generals conduct it, and Antipas is defeated by 36 CE. Herod Phillip’s tetrarchy flips loyalties first, as Jews were a minority. there. It’s where Jesus escapes to:

    John 10:39
    “Therefore they sought again to seize him, but he escaped out of their hand. And he went away again beyond the Jordan…”

    5. Son of God was a term for princes:

    • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 4:00 pm

      Very good point with Jesus stating he is the Messiah, and that title’s equivalency to king.

    • dankoh May 18, 2023 at 4:44 pm

      A messiah is not necessarily a king; there were a number of different ideas about the messiah (and for that matter the number of messiahs) in first-century Judaea. But it is highly unlikely that Pilate knew about the nuanced distinctions; he may have heard Jesus called “messiah” and assumed it meant “king.”

      • Serene May 18, 2023 at 7:47 pm

        True, but the *Jewish Messiah* type is a prophet king.

        I would lean towards him not saying he was a king, but aspiring, as a prince via Abrahamic divine king Aretas and Obodas Theos.

        1. Deuter-Isaiah’s 400-years-past typology wasn’t a “present “prophecy’ that most expected or wanted . Netanyahu wasn’t asked for his Davidic lineage, was he?

        Campaigning for everyday people’s support was important to *Nabataeans* per Strabo. Prophets didn’t give out bread. Campaigners across the Roman Empire did.

        A prince in the Roman Empire gets toparch, ethnarch, tetrarch, finance minister or *something* before they get king. This is a client state, you have to prove you can govern.

        Prince Marcus Agrippa (Prodigal Son, Prince Of this World, and Barrabas, imo) gets Market Taxer of Galilee before ousting Herod Antipas to become tetrarch of Galilee-Peraea, and then becomes king of the Jews.

        2. Jesus’ missions have been divided into two: Galilee and Perea. Well, Galilee-Peraea was a *political* district, IAntipas’ tetrarchy. Non-contiguous – you have to leave Jewish territory.

        Antipas is the target of supporters of Queen Phaesalis *and* supporters of Agrippa, who unlike Antipas, has Jewish lineage (1/4). Hasmonean with an Emperor bestie.

        But we haven’t talked tunnels yet.

  12. PeteMo May 18, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    I have a problem with the sedition charge. If true then why did the Romans not arrest the apostles when they preached openly in the streets, allegedly some 6 weeks after the crucifiction according to Acts? If the Romans had a problem with a group, they often went for the ring leaders to stamp out any threat to Rome. If Jesus was charged for citing sedition, then I find it surprising that the apostles were not ruthlessly hunted down. When Pilate wrote the charge King of The Jews, he appears to be mocking Jesus rather than making a Christological statement.

    • rfleming May 18, 2023 at 9:41 pm

      Excellent point. A charge as serious as sedition would target more than one person. According to what was written, the disciples were closely associated with the movement.

  13. Serene May 21, 2023 at 1:55 am

    Such a fun thread Ryan, ty.

    So, tunnels. Tunnels dating to the First Century or earlier can be found under a lot of the places mentioned in the Euangelions. There’s even a First Century tunnel under a rock-cut tomb.

    Undermining (earthquake, temple curtain splitting) was noted in Alexander the Great’s warfare. Tunnel warfare isn’t noted for Jewish folk until Bar Kohkba, it’s the Nabataeans who are the master tunnel builders and plasterers.

    Next, ‘Roman’ soldiers. (I think the Zealots were more ethnonationalist than the Romans ala the National Socialist Worst-Party-Ever.) Herod Archelaus’ auxiliaries were mostly *Syrian* ethnically. And Syrians were bros with Nabataeans.

    See Damascus allowing Aretas’ ethnarch to seek the uh persecutor of Jesus’ followers. (There’s at least three instances in Josephus’ books and Book of Kings where Nabataeans pursue and judge Jewish folk. They always side with the softies.

    Maybe there’s reason to wonder about the ‘Roman’ soldier offering a sponge (sponges somnifera?), when a cup has already been offered. Maybe it’s ok to wonder why Jesus’ mother didn’t recognize him.

    Why aren’t apostles charged? They didn’t participate in the riot at the temple during the customary “Free Judaea” week of Pesach, but possibly also it was a pre-arranged event.

  14. mreichert May 21, 2023 at 1:41 pm

    After reading all of this I am still not sure what is considered “historical” and what is speculation. To me history shows that Jesus got cross-ways with Jewish and/or Roman authorities, was crucified and declared dead after a relatively short crucifixion, then handed over to an apparent supporter, Joseph of Arimathea, for burial. A couple days later witnesses claim they saw Jesus alive and the tomb empty. This is the crux of the story. I don’t see how details like sedition charges or Pilate’s supposed cruelty are important factors in this story. What is important historically is, was Jesus actually dead? On the one hand, Jesus could have been dead and witness testimony could amount to “Elvis sightings” or and other explanations. On the other hand, proclamations of Jesus’s death could have been premature, either deliberately so or a mistake. What I find fascinating is the way people will claim that a mistake like that, proclaiming Jesus dead mistakenly, could not have happened. Really? People never make mistakes like that? If all it takes to believe Jesus survived crucifixion is to believe someone made a mistake, then I believe Jesus survived the crucifixion because of a mistake.

    • rfleming May 21, 2023 at 7:21 pm

      That sums it up very well.

    • dankoh May 21, 2023 at 7:42 pm

      The credibility of the details of things like the trial go to the credibility of the whole, including the stories of the resurrection. While a flaw in the credibility may not necessarily convict, it certainly indicts.

      • rfleming May 21, 2023 at 9:15 pm

        But there are human explanations – a pre-planned arrest and trial (not a haphazard evening arrest and trial), Pilate having some kind of interest in Jesus (expressed in written form from that time), or other possible explanations, that make the stories more credible than you imply, without the need of supernatural explanation. And Paul’s seven letters corroborate some of the important details [betrayal the same night as the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-26), several references of death on the cross (with no mention of nails), resurrection after three days, and appearance live after the crucifixion, etc.], much sooner than the several decades assumed for the Synoptic Gospels.

        I don’t like mentioning Paul’s unfortunate corroboration with not siting sedition against Rome for Jesus’ crucifixion (again, not my words, but Paul’s idiotic words), again much sooner than the several decades assumed for the Gospels. I personally see the early Jewish rejection of the Jesus movement to their credit, recognizing a movement that was not divinely inspired by their god, but potentially based on something more earthly?

        • dankoh May 22, 2023 at 12:44 pm

          The Jews rejected (or more often, just ignored) the Jesus Movement for several reasons, mainly that their claims were so far out of line with Jewish traditions and beliefs as to be not worth consideration. These included his being the messiah even though he had died, the primacy of belief over behavior, and (later on) his being born of a virgin.

          The basic problem with Paul is that he started writing some 20 years after the crucifixion, and we have no idea what discussions or decisions took place during that time. He may well have been reporting a sequence of events that had been agreed upon by that time, and which the gospels later repeated (more or less). None of this testimony is eyewitness or contemporaneous, and all of it is polemical – that is, given in order to make a point rather than as “objective” reporting.

      • Serene May 21, 2023 at 10:31 pm

        The credibility of the reporting of one of the “least-educated” regions in the Roman Empire’s is not the sharpest data point, but still invaluable.

        The Book of Daniel got Belshazzar’s dad wrong. The author also fictionalized for the sake of polemic – characterizing the mad king as a grass-eater because he joined grazers.

        What could be going on with the story of Pontius choosing to free someone at Passover is that it’s a parable or polemic for the more-educated diaspora. I think the story of Legion also fits.

        Like Nebuchadnezzar for Nabonidus. they may have swapped the known Pontius for the unknown Vitellius who had power over Pontius.

        In Josephus’ AJ it’s
        1. Vitellius who visits on Passover 2. Vitellius who is involved in the mysterious escape of Prince Marcus Agrippa I from his Roman fate in 32 CE. That’s maybe just months prior to 4/3/33 CE.

        3. Agrippa I that is the only Herod that’s the Son of The Father, aka a nephew (Barr-Abas).

        4. Agrippa I who mishnah said the crowds go crazy for.

        5. Agrippa I who vocally opposes Tiberius and Antipas. He wins Galilee as soon his bestie rises to Emperor.
        It’s a parable of Aristotle’s Like Cases Maxim:

  15. rfleming May 22, 2023 at 8:01 am

    Two early Judean leaders of the New Testament movement wind up dead. John the Baptist was decapitated with little doubt of his death and no written stories of appearing live afterward. John openly and publicly baptized tax collectors and soldiers. When tax collectors asked what was needed to be righteous, John told them to collect no more than the allotted amount – a public declaration that the amount was proper and legitimate. John did not tell them to stop collecting taxes for the oppressive Roman Empire. As for soldiers, John did not tell them to put their soldiering efforts towards fighting Romans, he told them to be happy with their wages.

    As for Jesus…

  16. Serene May 22, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    All you need to know about John the Baptist, imo is he is rocking a camel coat, Same as Elijah the Resident Alien (Tishbite). Who after ascending (a directional term, used as such with Paul) to the heavens, per Mishnah occasionally descends “dressed as an Arab” gifting money to Jews.

    .Which country had a camel as their national symbol on the Roman denarius?

    Their Petra coin stashes match those found with the Qumran Essenes, per Dr. Jodi Magness. Someone is funding someone, it’s got to be the ultrarich funding the service class. And John the Baptist is likely Essene.

    These are the major players:


    John the Baptist is *avenged* by Aretas IV in Josephus’ account.

    Aretas III is the one who Josephus says “unites the Jews and Arabs”. Together they besiege the Second Temple – the *non-lineage* priests are the only supporters of Aristobulus; the Temple of Onias is the Aaronite liineage.

  17. Serene May 22, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    Four early leaders, if you count James, Jesus’ brother, leader of the First Church of Jerusalem, and Steven.

    Paul was a part of the Steven thing and hauled folk personally. Because we know the 30s war begins with the generals at Machaerus ( before Herodias marries Antipas), this isn’t a consequence-free event. Aretas is copying his ancestors as king-judges in the Transjordan, including Jews outside of Judaea.

    Jesus might be in hiding until Tiberius is out – in Syria’s capitol, Damascus (it’s the beginning of the road to head to the traditional refuge of the Temple of Onias in Egypt)

    Yep, Ryan- Jesus is also Roman-employee (Syrian) friendly and tax collector friendly! The Nabataean royalty (again, I believe Jesus’ dad is divine king Aretas IV) collect 25% taxes as their major income on the Spice Route. Their full range is from Puteoli, Italy to Leuke Come, the port to Egypt.

    I think Jesus is in hiding until 40 CE when Tiberius is out, Tiberius was pro Antipas, anti-Arenas -and Agrippa. When the administration flips, Galilee gets Agrippa, who is given Arabian kingdoms, too – he is 4/5 Arab.. Nabataea gets a mystery king.

  18. donaldk15 May 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    It’s interesting that you left out a few details in your attempt to liken the execution of your Nazi spy to the execution of Jesus.
    Jesus was naked or nearly naked. His mother(!) and close family members were at his execution. A roman soldier thrust a spear in his chest while others watched blood and water flow out. A follower of Jesus took the body to a cave for burial while his mother and friend were there. Etc.
    How would your Nazi story change if he was executed before a firing squad while naked with his mother and friends watching 8 high powered rifle slugs rip a 12 inch hole in his chest and then a Nazi come running up and thrust his bayonet in the chest??
    Of course if you disregard anything in the bible that opposes your thesis you can creat a compelling tale.

    • rfleming May 27, 2023 at 9:04 am

      The items you mention are in the Gospel of John and can be perceived as contradictions from the earlier-written Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The Synoptic Gospels state that all the women followers and all his acquaintances witnessed the crucifixion from afar (Matthew 27:55-56, Luke 23:49, Mark 15:40-41). John is the only Gospel that mentions his mother near the cross. The Gospel of John is the only gospel that mentions Jesus being stabbed with a spear. The Synoptic Gospels mention no form of physical violence against Jesus during his six hours on the cross. Also, in the Gospel of John, Jesus carries his cross to the place of crucifixion (John 19:17). In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus does not pick up his cross or carry it for any distance. Instead, Simon of Cyrene is directed to carry Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26).

      Also, Jesus’ post appearance story to his disciples in Luke 24:36-43 makes no mention of wounds on Jesus body (nail or spear).

      Most biblical scholars believe the Gospel of John was written decades after the other three. Did John introduce sensational embellishments sometimes associated with religious writings, and as a result contradictions?

  19. Serene May 28, 2023 at 7:31 am

    Great summary, Ryan! It didn’t register until reading that, that gJohn was sometimes in contradiction to the Synoptics, and not just a variation. I have read where Dr. Ehrman points out that the Gospels are not harmonized, right now it’s the ‘‘from far away” that clicks.

    John 19:35 “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.”

    Is there just one witness to that?

    Deuteronomy 19:15: “One witness shall not arise against a man for any sin or guilt that he may commit; according to two witnesses or according to three witnesses a matter shall stand.” Thus, two witnesses provide conclusive proof of reality, but one witness does not:,but%20one%20witness%20does%20not.

    As an aside, in researching Dr. Ehrman’s helpful blogposts, ChatGPT differs, that Romans *did* grant burials and other favors to people with pull with political charges.

    “…although the Jews are so careful about burial rights, even malefactors who have been sentenced to crucifixion are taken down and buried before sunset” (Jewish War, 4.317)

    It also seems that with the Roman administration, disfavor with one could be favor with the other? Look at Agrippa and Tiberius/Gaius:

    • rfleming May 28, 2023 at 9:57 am

      Thank you! There are a few other important/interesting differences in the Gospel of John compared to the Synoptics. The famous quote from Jesus promising the coming of the Son of Man/Kingdom of God occurring within their lifetimes (Matthew 16:27-28 24:34, Mark 9:1, 13:30, Luke 21:32) is completely missing from the Gospel of John. Maybe by the time the Gospel of John is written, the author realized that his/her version of this “promised coming” didn’t happen or wasn’t going to happen within that generation and, therefore, left it out. A question I have for a biblical scholar, like Dr. Ehrman: Is John 21:23 alluding to the “promised coming” as being rumors that followers of Jesus had heard incorrectly?

  20. Serene May 28, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    Promised coming:
    33 CE – Jesus exits Jerusalem
    36 CE (by) – Galilee war won
    70 CE – Temple razed; Nabataea sent 5k troops to join Syria and Rome.

    Either of those two dates work.

    Matthew 24:27
    “For as lightning that comes from the *east* is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

    Lying, playing dead, tunnels, disguises – no punishment from God:

    1 Samuel 21-12:13
    King David
    “David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.”

    Genesis 20:2
    “And Abraham said of his wife, Sarai, “‘She is my sister.’”

    1 Kings 20:38
    Then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes.

    70 CE Jerusalem
    Rabbi Yohana ben Zakkai (founder of Rabbinical Judaism)

    “‘It’s a dead man, as if you did not know that we’re not permitted to let a corpse remain within Jerusalem overnight!’ The porters replied: ‘If it’s a dead man, remove him.’ They then removed him….They opened up the coffin and he stood up before him.’”

  21. Serene May 29, 2023 at 12:14 am

    The OT God never tells people, afaik, “Because you lied to save your life, you will get 10-15 frogs rained down on you.” Instead, they get rewarded.

    1 Kings 22-30
    King of Israel
    The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself…

    Compare John 20:14
    …but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”

    Joshua 2:1–7
    Rahab (the Prostitute)
    “She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left…” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)

    Josephus has the same empathy:
    AJ XV3:2
    Alexandra and Aristobulus
    (Jewish royalty)

    “She got two coffins made, as if they were to carry away two dead bodies; and put her self into one, and her son into the other; and gave orders to such of her servants. as knew of her intentions, to carry them away in the night time.”

    *As knew of her intentions.*

    Alexandra, Aristobulus, and Jesus/Immanuel were betrayed by servants. Why would the empty tomb be revealed to third parties in the earliest gMark – so that Tiberius could finish the job?

  22. Serene May 30, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    So I have never done three-comments-in-a-row, but if you’ll allow, Ryan, we’ve come to the biggie: a
    Q: Would Jesus tell a, you know, to save his own life? (Like heroes in the OT deemed clever)

    John 7:8-10
    Jesus: “You go up to the feast, I am not going up to the feast”… However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

    Why? It’s in the lede:

    John 7:1
    “…He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him.”

    Luke 16:1-8
    Jesus: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly… And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone they may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

    Secrets at least, seem ok:

    Mathew 13:11
    Jesus: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. “

    gMatthew’s Jesus lineage has four women. Three are famous for doing a sneaky – Rachab, Ruth, Tamar. And they win.

    I’m surprised athiests especially don’t look at common themes in the OT for the NT’s explanations. I am not an athiest.

    • rfleming May 30, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      Interesting points I would like to investigate further. The idea of secrecy in the NT is curious. Joseph of Arimathea was highlighted as a secret disciple (John 19:38).

  23. Serene June 3, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    John 19:38
    “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate…”

    Mark 1:43-44
    ‘See that you say nothing to anyone.”

    Mark 5:43
    Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.”

    Mark 7:36
    Jesus “charged them to tell no one.”

    Mark 8:30
    Jesus “strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”

    Mark 9:9
    Jesus “charged them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

    “Pikuach nefesh (Hebrew: פקוח נפש) is the principle in Halakha (Jewish law) that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious rule of Judaism”:

    “In the Talmud (Yoma 85b), Samuel of Nehardea interpreted the verses above [Leviticus 18:5, Ezekiel 20:11] to imply, “Live by them [God’s statutes and laws], and do not die by them”. Shmuel’s interpretation, which is accepted as canonical in Rabbinic Judaism, is that Jews should live by Jewish law as long as doing so does not endanger their lives…”

    “The laws of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays may be suspended for the purposes of pikuach nefesh. The earliest known example of this took place in 167 BCE…

    Mark 2:27
    “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

  24. Serene June 4, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    The ethical consideration is, should Jesus’ servants have been told how Jesus survived, if the people involved were still saving lives?

    Matthew 9:13
    Jesus: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”

    On the possible how:

    1. Breath, and not pulse as the marker for ‘alive’ was less reliable. Rabbi Shmuel (1C, if dating is correct) in Yoma 85 references the preexisting school of thought that even body movement still meant they were dead as long as it was spastic, pirchis be’alma.

    Pb‘a is maybe how you get the breaths in unobserved:

    2. Tum‘at met would contribute to a reluctance to thoroughly examine:

    “It is the highest grade of uncleanness, or defilement, and is contracted by having either directly or indirectly touched, carried or shifted a dead human body,[1] or after having entered a roofed house or chamber where the corpse of a Jew is lying…”

    Transmissable, too. But it also made successes more likely:

    2 Kings 4:32-34
    “When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch…Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm.”

  25. Serene June 5, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    So yesterday, I noticed another something unusual about the spear account in gJohn – Thomas/Didymus is possibly a role name, Twin/Twin.

    I actually have no best guess about how Jesus survived, I just think that it’s likely that he did. I have much more substantiation for my hypothesis of Jesus/Immanu‘el as a Nabataean prince born of a Jewish doule in an heir alliance. Platinum submission pending 🙂

    Just whenever I see a potential role name, I wonder. Ancient authors often did not mark out nonfiction from fictionalized or symbolic passages.

    Other possible role names:

    Judas the Sicarri (armed guard of the money bag, maybe a descendant of Judas the Galilean:

    Barabbas, Son of the Father (imo likely Prince Marcus/Agrippa I).

    And I could be wrong. Three things:

    1. John 19:35 seems to emphatically contradict Deuteronomical law 19:15.

    2. John 19:27 Twin also contradicts sole 19:15, attestation (If he touches Jesus right? It’s not stated).

    3. Simon of Cyrene missing.

    Could Twin be a lookalike? Jesus could have many brothers from the bio dad’s side. One of the Aretas was counted at (probably exaggerated) 700 sons.

    Different gospel versions could also be like mapmaker fictional towns to identify “those who know, know.”

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