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Destined for Execution,
This review is from: The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem (Paperback)
"Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30. It was the beginning of the week of Passover." From the East came a peasant procession with Jesus of Nazareth riding on a donkey and cheered by his followers. From the West came the Roman governor of Idumea, Pontius Pilate, who had come up from Caesarea Maritima. That the two processions occurred on the same day is not recorded in the Bible and, in fact, the two processions may not have happened on the same day. However the Roman governor did travel from Caesarea Maritima for festivals such as Passover. Most of all, for Mark, the procession of Jesus was clearly counter to the procession of Pilate.
The inevitable confrontation may be described as the "domination system" which had developed in Jerusalem. Borg and Crossan explain that domination system is a shorthand for political oppression, economic exploitation, and religious legitimation. Jerusalem had become a society where only a few ruled, the monarch, the nobility, and the wealthy. A high percentage of the society's wealth came from agriculture. Structures of laws of land ownership, taxation, and indenture of labor, put between a half and two-thirds of all of the wealth into the coffers of the few. In ancient societies, these structures were legitimized by religious language: the monarch ruled by divine right and the social order was the will of God.
The day after Jesus made his procession into Jerusalem, he drove the moneychangers from the Temple and aroused the severe wrath of the temple priests. The next day, Tuesday, was a day of challenges. Jesus returns to Jerusalem. As he is walking Jesus is challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders who want to know the authority he has for committing his prophetic act in the Temple. Jesus parries and asks about the authority of John the Baptist. Most readers know the story and know that the priests lose face. If that were not enough Jesus counterchallenges with the parable about the vineyard. Borg and Crossan emphasize that the priests et al realize that that parable was spoken against them.
So was Jesus destined for execution? From the point of view of the will of God, Borg and Crossan maintain an emphatic negative response: "It is never the will of God that a righteous man be crucified." Judas did not
*have* to betray Jesus. The Temple priests did not *have* to seek execution. (There is a similar story in Josephus of another who preached against the Temple. Interestingly this other man was only flogged.)
Rather it was the inevitability of the domination system that sent Jesus to death. Borg and Crossan wonder what it was about Jesus and his followers that so provoked the authorities.
Certainly the death of Jesus stunned his followers. Borg and Crossan find various ways for the followers of Jesus to come to grips with this within the New Testament and in subsequent centuries. For example, many Christians believe that the real reason (substitutionary atonement) for the death of Jesus was best explained by St Anselm in 1097. But how soon did the followers of Jesus try to begin to explain his death as an atonement? Have a look at 1 John 2.2 and 4.10.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 11, 2009 2:30:38 PM PST
This is more of a preview than a review of the book.
Posted on Feb 11, 2009 2:31:25 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 11, 2009 2:32:20 PM PST]
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