“Christian belief is 1) an act of Faith 2) in the Historical Jesus 3) as the Manifestation of God.” –John Dominic Crossan, Jesus a Revolutionary Biography.
The gospel story, according to this widely respected, accepted and prominent biblical scholar, is
“Prophecy historicized rather than History memorized”
I just finished this thinner, more popularly accessible version of Crossan’s larger work on the Historical Jesus, what we can and cannot know about Him from the evidence and what History actually says and does not tell us about the Carpenter from Nazareth, His ‘band of merry men’ and the Gospel Narrative that we have come to accept and have been taught as Historical and true to the events that happened 2000yrs ago.
According to the author there is almost universal acceptance, excluding a small number of mythicists, that ‘some’ Jesus, who Crossan referred to a Jewish Palestinian Cynic, lived and walked and died under Roman rule, and even at the command of Pontius Pilate. But that He, the Jesus of the New Testament, is a kind of ‘retrofitting’ of Old Testament prophecies and messianic expectations imposed onto the identity of the Real Jesus.
Crossan says the evidence of history tells us that the Historical Jesus was most probably a religious reformer for the peasant masses who, when he visited Jerusalem and the Temple, probably for his first and only time during the Feast of Passover, was arrested and executed for either causing or the fear of prompting an outbreak of violence and insurrection.
The Historical Jesus, if he had friends or followers powerful enough to secure his body from the final humiliating penalty of the dogs and birds devouring it after he was hung on a Roman Cross for all to witness and as a warning to others not to rebel, he most certainly would have had friends or followers powerful and influential enough to keep the crucifixion from being carried out in the first place.
There was no Nicodemas.
There was no Joseph of Aramathea.
These were literary tools designed to explain away inconsistencies in the previous ‘incarnations’ of the story of how a poverty preaching peasant, Palestinian Cynic rabble rouser could possibly escape the overwhelmingly common and historically unalterable fate of all victims of Roman crucifixion in the 1st century:
You were tried, found guilty, hung on a cross or post of wood until dead… in full view of the rest of the populace as an example to others. Then… left there for the final indignity of denying you a proper and honorable burial until the flesh rotted and fell from your bones or was eaten by the birds above or the dogs who waited below. Afterwards, your remains were tossed into a common grave with others who suffered the same fate as you before or a shallow pit covered over with not nearly enough dirt to save your body from being ravaged again by those same dogs.
No. The Historical Jesus, if he was turned over to be tortured and executed by Roman authorities, would not have had the honor, priveledge or dignity afforded him to have been buried in any tomb, let alone a “New Tomb where no one had ever been laid” owned by a rich and well connected ‘member of the council’ whether he ‘agreed with the verdict’ of his contemporaries or not.
While there is plenty of historical “evidence” of the literary kind for the death of the Historical Jesus in secular or non Christian sources, there is Zero in the way of such unbiased and ‘unaltered’ writings for his miraculous and scientifically impossible subsequent Reconstitution, Resuscitation and Resurrection. Zero.
No again. The Historical Jesus, if he died on a Roman torture stake or Cross, would not have been afforded “intact” and safe burial in a rich man’s family tomb, and he would not have risen from death three days later. These are myths retrofitted onto the Historical Jesus by his followers, some who followed his words and works before his death and more who created and followed the mythologized Jesus afterwards in an effort to hold onto and further their own control of the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Christianity really comes down to Faith in the mythologized Jesus of the New Testament. Faith, not facts or evidence, that the Historical Jesus was the Jesus that the New Testament says he was. An act of Faith, in the Historical Jesus as the manifestation of God on earth. But historically and from the evidence, you cannot demonstrate that such a person as the New Testament Jesus ever lived, died, rose from death and ascended to heaven to return again soon. That Jesus never actually existed and does not exist today other than in the pages of the New Testament and the Hearts and Minds of those who choose to believe by Faith what they could never demonstrate by Facts or Evidence.
I was once one of those. Even taught and proclaimed it. But no more. I’m in Recovery. How about you?