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Jesus' Suicide

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Frank 013
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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I have trouble believing that a historical Jesus ever existed. There is no evidence for Jesus outside the Bible during his alleged lifetime. The Bible is suspect because there is no way to tell when the first gospels were written, or even who wrote them. The Christians want me to believe that the Bible is flawless because the Bible says so, you will have more luck asking me to believe that the "Enquirer" is true because it says it is the real news. That asideIf Jesus was the son of God, and he knew he was going to be crucified, than he committed suicide. It would be the equivalent of standing on the train tracks, watching a train descending toward you and not stepping aside. If this was Jesus' intent one could hardly blame him, he lived a life of poverty, he was constantly threatened with his life, he was tortured and finally crucified. He then escaped (by dying) to live in eternal joy with God, not much of a sacrifice if you ask me. If he did not see it coming then he was not God, and nothing further need be said on the matter.Later
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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MadGood you know your history well.Josephus' writings; there is some evidence that the section about Jesus was forged (added later) also Josephus was born too late 37C.E., for him to have actually met Jesus, so his entire statement is suspect, hearsay, Even if it wasn't forged. Also Josephus wrote many statements about Hercules, (more than he did about Jesus) but we do not believe that Hercules is real. The Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi text; Archeologists have dated them at around 350-400 C.E. They represent copies from previous copies. None of the original texts exist and scholars argue about a possible date of the originals. Some of them think that they can hardly have dates later than 120-150 C.E. Others have put it closer to 140 C.E. Again suspect because of hearsay.Some of the translated texts from old Egypt are shedding some light on the name Jesus Christ. The divine title "Lord", in the New Testament, is translated from the Greek "Kuros," which is the Persian name for the sun; God is "Gad," and Ammonian name for the sun; Jehovah by translation and declension, become Jupiter, which, according to Macrobius, is "the sun itself." Deity is from the Latin "Deus," which is traceable to "dies," a day - a period of time measured by the sun; Jesus is from "Jes"...which means "the one great fire from the sun," and Christ is derived from "Chris," a Chaldean term for the sun - Kersey Graves (Bible of Bibles, 1863 AD)So Jesus is just "Jes" (the one great fire from the sun) with the typical roman "us" added to the end, And "Christ" from "Chris". (another word for the sun.) So Mary (a Jew) named her child from her God, "The one great fire from the sun", with a roman prefix added to the end. And then later Jesus' followers decided that this fire from the sun guy, needed to be called "The one great fire from the sun" "Sun". If that is what you are saying Ok, I just want to be clear about where the names came from. I have no proof for this but I think it far more likely that the early church just made the guy up. Lastly Even if the original gospels were written early enough to have been somewhat accurate, we have no way to know how they might have been altered by the early church before we got to the existing copies. Again all of this material is suspect, hearsay.Take, for example, Eusebius who served as an ecclesiastical church historian and bishop. In his Ecclesiastical History, he writes, "We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity." (Vol. 8, chapter 2). In his Praeparatio Evangelica, he includes a chapter titled, "How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived" (book 12, chapter 32). Here we have a motive for alteration, and it would be irresponsible to believe anything we read from the Bible, including the existence of its characters.Even if the texts supported the notion that the apostles wrote them, consider that the average life span of humans in the first century came to around 30, and very few people lived to 70. If the apostles births occurred at about the same time as the alleged Jesus, and wrote their gospels in their old age, that would put Mark at least 70 years old, and John at over 110.Anyway there is no point in going further, you obviously do not believe in a literal interoperation of the Bible and it would be a shame to use all of my ammo on you. Later
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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Well, let's be clear about what I'm saying. I'm not making any claims about the divinity of the figure in question. But I personally don't see any reason to suspect that there wasn't an actual person. It seems far simpler and not at all implausible that there simply was a person named Jesus who did travel around for several years preaching a reform tradition, and that some of his teachings went on to form the basic doctrines of a religious group. That sort of thing happened with some frequency in those days -- that sort of thing still happens with some frequency. It seems far less plausible to me that Jesus is the result of some conspiritorial fraud perpetuated on the early church -- if nothing else, it begs the question of how there got to be a church in the first place. Who were the early church fathers fooling if not an already established body of believers? That isn't to say that the person of Jesus hasn't been editorialized a great deal, but isn't it much simpler to editorialize an actual person -- particularly no less that 100 years after their alledged death -- than to pass of total fiction as historical fact?You are, of course, right to say that we have good reason for suspecting the existent texts of the Bible that we currently possess. That's true of all documents from antiquity, though, so to condemn the Bible outright is to condemn all historical scholarship prior to a relatively modern date. Better to use a critical approach, and I don't think that I've been too uncritical here. It's far simpler to deduce the existence of an actual historical figure named Jesus, and nothing about the presumed existence of such a person strikes me as inconsistent with the information we have. So far as I can tell, the only strong reason for denying that personage is that it undermines the basic doctrines of Christianity -- but that's a polemical reason. I can't see any strong reason for doing so from the viewpoint of historical accuracy.These concerns are pretty far removed from Mr. P's original question, though, which had more to do with a potential self-contradiction in Christian doctrine than with historical fact.
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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MadOf course I accept the possibility that Jesus was an actual person, I am just offering up the possibility that he may have been made up. But you are correct we have wandered.Later
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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Well, to get us back on track again -- I previously offered up the distinction between suicide and martyrdom, which would likely be an element in any Catholic answer to the seeming contradiction. Any thoughts on that?
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Re: Jesus' Suicide

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MadAs an outsider I see Jesus' action as a suicide. But anyone who believed that he was the son of God would have to wonder about his reasoning. If he really said he was dying for their sins that goes a long way in his defense, if he did not say that, then those words may have been attributed to him for the reason of martyrdom and to keep the people from asking questions. In either case the result was the same.Later
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Jesus' Eschatology

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I think two voices worth examining in this context, belonging to opposing viewpoints in the "Quest for the Historical Jesus" movement, are N.T Wright and John Dominic Crossan.Quote:"Well, I think the critical thing to say is that Jesus believed he was living at the climactic moment of history. He wasn't just a teacher of general timeless truths or even of a general political agenda that might be applied any time any place. He believed he was standing at the corner of history - the corner of Israel's history and hence because of Israel's calling, the corner of world history. And he believed that it was his vocation to announce God's Sovereign Rule - God's Kingdom if you like - not just in the ordinary Jewish sense of God is going to be "King or the Romans are going to get their come-uppance" but in the much more specific sense that now at last God was going to be King of the whole world, everything was going to be different. And he believed that it was his calling to take Israel and hence the world around that corner once and for all time. And one of the words that got attached to that in various senses was this word "Messiah" or "Christ" but Jesus redefined that around himself. He drew upon himself the whole picture of Messiahship that different Jews in that period might have been sketching in different ways. And within that again Jesus believed that he had the vocation to deal with the radical evil that had infected the world once and for all. And that is why he not only announced the Kingdom of God, he lived it, he enacted it symbolically, and ultimately he died for it. And that is at the heart of what it meant for Jesus to be the one who would bring the world to its great climatic moment. N.T. Wright." Quote:"Jesus didn't talk about himself. He talked about the Kingdom of God. The "Our Father" is not a prayer to Jesus. It's Jesus' prayer about the Kingdom of God. So if I were to try and summarize it, Jesus is located in the situation which is terribly specific. It's in Lower Galilee, under Antipas in a time of Roman urbanization. And what Jesus said is this system as here represented is not the will of God. The Kingdom of God stands opposed to it. So if I were to put it in a sort of a sound bite in honor of the medium in which we are in, as a historian I reconstruct Jesus as "a peasant with and attitude". But as a Christian I consider and believe that that attitude is the attitude of God. John Dominic Crossan "Crucial to both of their perspectives is the integral meaning and focus of the "Kingdom of God" in Jesus' mission and life. And key to this is the notion of eschatology: what is going to happen at the end of time; where is all of history headed and what will be its consumation and conclusion? Thus, before we can determine suicide or martyrdom, we need some grasp of Jesus' eschatology: what did Jesus have in mind when he prayed "...your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it in heaven..." and how did he see his deeds and impending death playing out within that context?Did Jesus embrace an apocalyptic eschatology where the hidden light of God will come crashing into the dark tortures of this world with devastating cosmic consequences for those on the wrong side of Jewish history?Did Jesus embrace an ethical eschatology where the obscured wisdom of God is made avaialble to the peace makers and justice seekers, radically altering the entire landscape of social/political/familial/religious domination?As I see it, choosing the side of the sojourn and oppressed, living among the lepers and prostitutes, offering free healing and open meals against all caste structures, and constantly reminding the occupied natives of a kingdom greater than Ceasars, where the last shall be first and the first will be last....this is deadly business.
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the Kingdom of God

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re: the quotations provided by DH, I thought I'd draw this out for a moment:So if I were to try and summarize it, Jesus is located in the situation which is terribly specific. It's in Lower Galilee, under Antipas in a time of Roman urbanization. And what Jesus said is this system as here represented is not the will of God.This brings up the question of the role played by the Kingdom of Heaven in Jesus' teachings, and it's not at all a settled issue. I would say that Crossan's summary points to the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is deliberately something unreal, which isn't to say unattainable. That is, that when Jesus talked about the Kingdom of Heaven, he was talking about a social pattern, a moral social order, that is ideal rather than an inevitable historical reality, and that much of what he taught was a comparison of the sort of social order that comforms to God's will -- as it was understood from the Judaic scripture -- and the social order that actually existed at the time. To put it bluntly, the Kingdom of Heaven is of the same type as Moore's Utopia or Plato's Republic. There are, of course, differences in kind, but that's a basic way to look at it.That interpretation -- which I won't defend as absolutely correct, but will defend as potentially valid -- throws some new angles in our consideration of whether or not Jesus' surrender in the garden in Jerusalem initiated an act of suicide. It opens up the possibility that Jesus had intended to open a demonstrative drama, to say by his actions, watch, this is how far removed the current order is from the order that is ordained by God.That isn't the only possibility, but I thought I would throw that out for consideration. We could just as easily suppose that Jesus was looking for a hearing, for an opportunity to submit his teachings directly to the highest local authority, much as Socrates had the opportunity to do when brought before the Senate in Athens. I'm sure there are other ways to read the surrender in light of this interpretation of the Kingdom of Heaven, though this should be enough, for now, to suggest the range of possibilities.
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Re: the Kingdom of God

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MA: I would say that Crossan's summary points to the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is deliberately something unreal, which isn't to say unattainable. I think the distinction is not that the Kingdom of Heaven is unreal, but that the promises offered via the Reign of Ceasar are illegitimate; and their legitimacy depends upon their allegience to the Reign of God. The Reign of God is the only real thing, all else is shadow, facade: constructed to either reinforce Ceasar's lie, or assist in building an imperfect way for the coming of the Lord. I think the crucial issue for Jesus was not simply a notion of the "good society" or perfect adherence to Mosaic Law, but the radically intimate presence of the God of Justice who's will would be done on Earth as in Heaven. This is where eschatology is essential in understanding Jesus. MA: It opens up the possibility that Jesus had intended to open a demonstrative drama, to say by his actions, "watch, this is how far removed the current order is from the order that is ordained by God."Who is Jesus performing this drama and passion play for, and to what end? Is it a the fury and madness of an idiot hoping to convince Ceasar and his ilk that they should abandon their status, wealth and power and be prepared to wash the feet of their slaves? Is it the questionable imagination of a desperate leader hoping to ignite the courage of a oppressed people, reminding them of the God of Exodus who had delivered them from Pharaoh and could do the same with Ceasar? Or is it the way in which the God of all creation brings the entire course of human history to its final concluding consummation and glorious end?The two types of escahtologies I referred to, (taken from Crossan's The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus), ethical and apocalyptic, provide a crude simplification of the various eschatologies available in Jesus' day. If Jesus adhered to an apocalyptic version, then it seems he would have seen his death as an essential component in the earth-shattering intervention of God into the dark and violent world of Ceasar's reign. Crossan challenges us to then consider if this means annihilation (wiping out) of those who don't pass muster for God's righteous kingdom- and if so, how does this kind of eschatology impact our contemporary ethical and political system. If Jesus adhered to an ethical version, then it seems he would have seen his death as an inevitable result of confronting the system of injustice and domination that was Rome; hopeful that the God of love and healing would transform the hearts of those who were touched by "the Way" he embodied. Crossan challenges us to then consider if this means conversion (metanoia/transformation) of those enslaved in Ceasar's reign- and, again, what does this mean for our contemporary world?MA: We could just as easily suppose that Jesus was looking for a hearing, for an opportunity to submit his teachings directly to the highest local authority, much as Socrates had the opportunity to do when brought before the Senate in Athens.Jesus was not in the same social/political class as Socrates was in relation to the Athenian Senate. Jesus, being a landless peasant under occupied forces could not imagine to have the same rights and privileges as Socrates, (a free Greek male citizen and former hoplite soldier,) when adressing the authorities that determined his life or death. Socrates was seen as an equal. Jesus was seen as less than human. Therefore, it seems Jesus had to know that there would be no "fair" hearing of his complaints or open reception of his vision of the "good society". Socrates was encouraging Athens to live up its highest ideals and be good Athenians. Jesus was challenging the entire structure of Roman authority from top to bottom, offering a radical alternative. Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 12/5/05 2:50 pm
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Re: the Kingdom of God

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Dissident Heart: I think the distinction is not that the Kingdom of Heaven is unreal, but that the promises offered via the Reign of Ceasar are illegitimate; and their legitimacy depends upon their allegience to the Reign of God.Crossan's interpretation isn't really what interested me in my last post; it merely opened the door for a different consideration of the subject. By saying that the Kingdom of Heaven "is unreal", all I meant to suggest was that it was not intended as something with an actual temporal or spatial locality -- not something that would take on the physical presence of Rome, or with the future promise of something like Israel for the Zionists. It's a view of the Kingdom of Heaven as a kind of divine and ideal pattern to be strived for, even if never fully attained. But this line of thought is only a suggestion -- not something I would stand by with any sort of passion.The Reign of God is the only real thing, all else is shadow, facade: constructed to either reinforce Ceasar's lie, or assist in building an imperfect way for the coming of the Lord.This reminds me of the gnostic mish-mash Philip K. Dick presents in "Valis".Who is Jesus performing this drama and passion play for, and to what end? Is it a the fury and madness of an idiot hoping to convince Ceasar and his ilk that they should abandon their status, wealth and power and be prepared to wash the feet of their slaves? Is it the questionable imagination of a desperate leader hoping to ignite the courage of a oppressed people, reminding them of the God of Exodus who had delivered them from Pharaoh and could do the same with Ceasar?It might be any of those. I'm just opening it up as a point for consideration. I don't see any particular need to tie ourselves in this discussion to the conclusions drawn by previous authors. They're helpful in showing us the various directions available to us, but we're just sort of shooting the shit about the psychology of a person for whom we have no direct evidence.Personally, I think there's a need in lay debates over the topic of Christianity's defining moment for a little more flexibility in interpretation. When I see people attempt to discredit Christianity specifically, and religion in the more general scheme, by looking for contraditions in the Gospel narrative, those attempts are almost always attended with a) a sort of dual insistence on fidelity and infidelity to the text, and b) an assertion that the only two available responses are full acceptance or total rejection. By the first, I mean that the critics insist that we take certain points as given while brushing other doctrinal assertions aside, as necessitated by their argument. By the second, I mean that such argument imply that, given that we cannot accept the doctrine as stated, we must reject the whole tradition.My overarching objective in this thread so far has been simply to demonstrate that religious believers are not inert receptacles for offical doctrine. They are and always have been active interpreters. Beyond that, I'm just enjoying the speculative activity.Supposing that Jesus was an actual historical figure who ran afoul of the Roman authorities in more or less the way described does not obligate us to assign to Jesus a fully reasonable motivation for surrendering to Pilate. For all we know, he might have been losing his grip on the political realities of his situation. That's probably more consistent with what we know of Jesus than to assume that the passion was an indirect form of suicide. The one suggestion you've made that I would really caution against is this:Or is it the way in which the God of all creation brings the entire course of human history to its final concluding consummation and glorious end?That may be more in conformity with the doctrines of the Church, but so long as we're considering Jesus as an actual historical personage with more or less the same limitations of subjectivity imposed on most of us, I don't think we're justified in concluding that he had Church doctrine in mind.The two types of escahtologies I referred to, (taken from Crossan's The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus), ethical and apocalyptic, provide a crude simplification of the various eschatologies available in Jesus' day.You and I may well be the only people in this discussion that have read much at all about eschatology. You may want to justify to a greater extent your claim that the discussion is incomplete without a serious consideration of eschatology.Jesus, being a landless peasant under occupied forces could not imagine to have the same rights and privileges as Socrates, (a free Greek male citizen and former hoplite soldier,) when adressing the authorities that determined his life or death.There is, as yet, no cause for hazarding a guess one way or another as to what Jesus expected from the authorities. There's a good chance that he nothing of Socrates as all, so the idea that he made a conscious self-comparison is rather moot. I only brought Socrates up by way of analogy.The timing of Jesus' surrender may also bear on the question of what he might have suspected. The Gospels present the tradition of the Roman prelates offering, once a year, to the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem, the option of pardoning a Jew that has been condemned by the Roman authorities. And, of course, Jesus was one of the convicts available for release, on the recommendation of the Jewish people. If we're considering the possibilities of a historical Jesus, distinct from the omniscient and infallible doctrinal version, we may also consider the possibility that this timing was deliberate, and that Jesus expected to be exonerated by his own people. This, as another demonstrative option.
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