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Roman Crucifixion

Saint Paul was, among other things, a Roman citizen.  His extensive travels were in large part due to the fact that his Roman citizenship allowed him to move with some degree of freedom.  It also gave him license to preach "the Gospel according to Saint Paul". *

However, it is unlikely that a genuine political rabble rouser would have been allowed such freedoms, regardless of their citizenship.  Accordingly, Paul, either by his own design or by circumstances, was compelled to address his letters and thoughts in such a way as to be acceptable to a Greco-Roman audience.  Inasmuch as the four Gospels were composed later, during and after the Jewish revolt of 68-74 AD, when Judaism had effectively ceased to exist as an organized social, political, and/or military force, the Gospels also had to be composed with due regard to their audience and the political reality at the time.           

Mark's Gospel, generally considered to be the earliest of the Gospels, was composed during the revolt of 66-74 AD.  Mark, himself, may have come from Jerusalem, and been a traveling companion of Saint Paul on his rounds.  Certainly, Mark's Gospel has all the earmarks of adhering to the party line of Paul's cult.  And as Clement of Alexandria has stated, Mark's Gospel was composed in Rome and addressed to a Greco-Roman audience.             

Similarly, Luke appears to have been a Greek doctor, composing his work around 80 AD for high ranking Romans.  Matthew may have been a Jew, possibly a refugee from Palestine, who composed his Gospel around 85 AD.  More than half of Matthew's work appears to have been lifted from Mark's.  In fact the first three Gospels are known collectively as the Synoptic Gospels, implying that they see "eye to eye" or "with one eye."  Actually, while there is some overlap and the appearance that they derived from a single common source (either orally or written), they nevertheless disagree in several arenas.           

The fourth Gospel was probably composed around 100 AD by some unknown writer (the reference to John is considered to be something added later as a tradition).  This Gospel is significantly different from the other three, but is generally considered the most reliable and historically accurate of the four.  It also appears to rest ultimately on a first hand account of the Crucifixion.  Nevertheless, it too was written for a Roman audience.           

It's important to recognize that at the time of Jesus, Rome was not overly enamored with the Jewish scene, having fought a bitter and costly war against the Jews.  Accordingly, it was natural that Paul's letters and the Gospels would by necessity be required to cast the Jews in the role of the villains, avoid portraying Jesus as a political figure (one whose existence could be construed as more political agitation), and then whitewash or present as sympathetically as possible, the Romans' role in the affair.  Thus, Pilate seems reluctant to crucify Jesus, comes across as a decent, tolerant ruler, and appears at his worse to lack the moral stamina to stand up to the Jewish demands.  Instead, he washes his hands of the whole affair.           

All of which, of course, is just so much barn carpeting!  According to the Gospels, Jesus is initially condemned by the Jews, specifically, the Sanhedrin (the Council of Jewish Elders).  The Jews then take him to Pilate in order to obtain a death sentence.  Furthermore, the arrest and condemnation is, according to the three Synoptic Gospels, done on the night of Passover.  But by Jewish law, the Sanhedrin are forbidden to meet during Passover, and furthermore to meet at night or anywhere outside the temple precincts.  Moreover, the Sanhedrin are, contrary to the impression left by the Gospels, fully authorized to pass a death sentence.  In fact, the Sanhedrin could have easily disposed of Jesus by having him stoned to death, without any involvement whatever by the Roman authorities.  Admittedly, only the Romans could have ordered a crucifixion, a form of execution reserved exclusively for the enemies of Rome.  But Jesus would have been just as dead, perhaps even more so, had the Sanhedrin simply had him stoned to death.           

The Gospels also include an apparent offer of a dispensation by Pilate, to wit, to free a prisoner of the crowd's choosing, as part of the "custom of the Passover festival".  In fact, there was no such custom.  Any alleged offer to liberate Jesus or Barabbas is sheer fiction.  The reality is that a Roman procurator -- particularly one as ruthless as Pilate -- would never bow to the pressure of a mob, would never bother to wash his hands, and would not kowtow to the Jews and allow a Roman criminal to get off scot free.           

This is not to say that the Jews were entirely blameless.  It would have been expedient, for example, for the Romans, who may have feared a popular uprising on behalf of an alleged priest-king such as Jesus, to employ Jewish agents (such as the collaborator Sadducees) to betray Jesus and make it appear that it was the people who had turned against the potential usurper.  But ultimately, Jesus was crucified, not for crimes against Judaism, but for crimes against the Roman empire.  The inescapable fact is that Jesus was a victim of a Roman administration, a Roman Court, and a Roman execution.  In short, Rome crucified Jesus.  And as will be eventually pointed out, in more ways than one.           

So how is it that the burden of guilt is being transferred from the Romans to the Jews?  Primarily because Saint Paul and the authors of the Gospels were creating a new religion using Jesus as a figurehead (but otherwise ignoring the reality of Jesus' life).  Christianity, as promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church, and later by the Protestant spin offs, is more accurately described as "Pauline Christianity".  Jesus on the other hand, would undoubtedly have been appalled and horrified at the blasphemous manner in which his life and death was used.  Keep in mind, one critically important fact.  Jesus was a Jew!           

This simple fact speaks volumes.  Jesus, for example, came not to change the Jewish Law, but to fulfill it.  And as a Jew, Jesus believed in one God -- the idea of a divine Messiah would have been utterly unthinkable.  To him and the Jews of his age, a "Messiah" meant nothing more nor less than "the anointed one", i.e. the duly consecrated and divinely endorsed king.  Every king of Israel was regarded as a Messiah!  But at the time of Jesus, there was no duly consecrated and divinely endorsed king, and thus no Messiah.  The Jews were in fact looking for a Messiah in order to lead them to overthrow the Romans.  But there was nothing intrinsically divine about such a figure.  Rommel and a Panzer Division would have been quite adequate from the point of view of the Jews (although they would have preferred some spiritual, Jewish background of their commanders as well).           

Paul, on the other hand, intent as he was on creating a cult, had to compete with a wide variety of established religions.  In Paul's cult, Jesus had to assume the status of godhead comparable to other deities.  Tammuz, for example, the god of ancient Sumerian and Phoenician mystery teachings, had been born of a virgin, died with a wound in his side and, after three days, rose from his tomb, leaving it vacant with the rock at the entrance rolled aside.  Much of the Gospels also include specific elements of traditions surrounding Tammuz, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Dionysus, and Zoroaster.  Mithraism, in particular, postulated an apocalypse, a day of judgment, a resurrection of the flesh and a second coming of Mithras himself.  Mithras was also said to have been born in a cave where shepherds attended him and regaled him with gifts.  Finally, there is a passage in the Mithraic communion which states:  "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."           

Paul and the later Gospels, obviously, were stretching far and wide to encompass all the specific ingredients of Godhead status for Jesus, just in order to compete.  Romans, content with a host of Gods and Goddesses, were unlikely to give the cult of Paul a second glance unless there was some real pizzazz!  Keep in mind that the Romans were accustomed to spectacle, much as our modern audiences of rock concerts are.  There has to be some real drama in Jesus' Godhead to get their attention.           

Finally, Paul states clearly in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, that the Nazarean emissaries of James (Jesus' younger brother and clear Heir Apparent) were promulgating "another Jesus", one very different from the Jesus that Paul was promulgating.   

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”  “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  

[The analogy of the serpent and Eve might suggest an continuation of the Enki and Enlil saga -- even unto this comparatively late time period.]  

Paul, in effect, under a commission entrusted to him by James and the Nazarean hierarchy, had betrayed said commission, considered Jesus' teachings and political status as less important than Jesus himself, and instead of making converts to Judaism, was attempting to make converts to Paul's own personal cult of Jesus.  For Paul, Judaism as such became incidental, if not irrelevant.  Paul, in fact, had never been a big supporter of the Jews -- even in his alter ego of Saul, the tax collector.  Paul, instead, ignored the fact that Jesus was a Jew, and his cult included and endorsed priorities that Jesus himself would undoubtedly have deplored.         

On the other hand, Pauline Christianity, with his unique, early marketing and promotion skills, won the "Best of Show" sweepstakes, and today the Christian religion is dominated by his views, in contradistinction to those of Jesus, his family, his followers, and the reality of Jesus' life and times.  


Bloodlines        History 009

Forward to:

The Crucifiction

*This very abbreviated historical perspective is taken from numerous sources, including specifically, the excellent book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln [Dell Publishing, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1983].   


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