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Zealot trials

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    Does Josephus -- or any other ancient source -- ever tell us that any of the various revolutionary parties under Menahem or Eleazar or Simon, etc.,
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 10, 2003
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      Does Josephus -- or any other ancient source -- ever tell us that any of
      the various revolutionary parties under Menahem or Eleazar or Simon,
      etc., prosecuted/persecuted those who questioned or did not openly
      support the war against Rome? If so, where might the statements to this
      effect be found?

      With thanks in advance.

      Yours,

      Jeffrey Gibson
      --

      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

      1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
      Chicago, IL 60626

      jgibson000@...
    • David C. Hindley
      ... the various revolutionary parties under Menahem or Eleazar or Simon, etc., prosecuted/persecuted those who questioned or did not openly support the war
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 12, 2003
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        Jeffrey Gibson asks:

        >>Does Josephus -- or any other ancient source -- ever tell us that any of
        the various revolutionary parties under Menahem or Eleazar or Simon, etc.,
        prosecuted/persecuted those who questioned or did not openly support the war
        against Rome? If so, where might the statements to this effect be found?<<

        I'm kind of surprised no one is responding to your question.

        All the fun stuf that occurred in Galilee, where contending parties wanted
        to arrest and deport to Jerusalem just about all the leading rebel figures,
        suggests that legal action was going on against those who were considered
        rebels. I guess that who was considered a rebel was dependent upon what
        faction was holding the court sessions.

        The rebels conducted executions, which normally imply trials, mentioned in
        War 4.84ff:

        John of Gischala, having entered the capitol after being routed from
        Gischala, promoted civil infighting. With the help of "other brigands" who
        had entered the city, they arrested:

        Antipas (a member of the "royal family") manager of the public funds
        Lavias, an eminent man, of royal blood
        Sophias son of Raguel, of royal blood

        These were executed by sword by John son of Dorcas on the charge they had
        approached the Romans about surrendering the city. There is no mention of a
        formal trial, at least one that Josephus recognized as legitimate, but I'd
        assume some sort of tribunal was held.

        With the entry of the Idumeans into the city, there was the arrest and
        execution of a large number of chief priests, including Ananus son of Ananus
        and his deputy Jesus, and the resulting execution of "12,000" "young nobles"
        who had been arrested by the Idumeans and Zealots (including John?). Arrest
        and subsequent executions may or may not require a trial, at least in
        practice, but imply it.

        At this point, though, "sham" courts were set up and "fake" trials held,
        apparently done in order to legally appropriate the wealth of the
        defendants. Only one such trial is recounted, though. A sanhedrin of 70 men
        in public positions was summoned to the Temple, and Zachariah son of Baruch,
        a very wealthy man, was charged with sending an offer of treason to
        Vespasian. When the court "unanimously" acquitted him for lack of evidence,
        two of the Zealots murdered Zechariah "in the middle of the Temple." The
        judges were driven from the Temple in order to tell the tale.

        I got the impression that more such trials followed, where the judges
        summoned were cowed into convicting the hapless defendants, for fear of the
        anger of the Zealots. I do not know if this was conducted by Zealot
        faction(s) among the brigand chiefs that ruled the city (and later under the
        command of Eleazar) or if Josephus lumps all of the brigand chiefs under the
        label Zealot. Later on, though, John was killing the partisans of Eleazar,
        who are there called Zealots as if a distinct faction from John's.

        After the Idumeans left the city, releasing 2,000 political prisoners as
        they went (who promptly fled the city to Simon, son of Gioras, who was then
        starting his campaign to take over the countryside not yet secured by the
        Romans), the Zealots continued executions of "the brave and the nobly born":

        Gurion, a man with a (good) reputation and (from) a good family
        Niger the Perean, a notable fighter against the Romans in earlier campaigns.

        Again, arrests and subsequent executions suggest, but do not require, formal
        trials.

        In this way, and through unspecified power plays among the "brigand"
        leaders, John of Gischala made himself master of the city, at least for the
        time being.

        Somewhere between 5.21 & 5.45, the now rival bandit chiefs John and Eleazar,
        and Simon, set up guards, presumably to arrest anyone who was "for peace
        with the Romans or ... suspected of intending to desert," and executed those
        so charged. Since it is said the bandit chiefs executed these people, and
        not the guards, I presume some sort of trial or hearing was held.

        Somewhere around 5.98 the partisans of John, just having wrested control of
        the Temple from Eleazar the leader of the Zealots, "led away to his doom"
        anyone "recognized" as a Zealot. Led away to what? Summary execution or
        trials leading to execution? I wonder what Greek word is here translated
        "doom."

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA

        PS: Sorry for the imprecision. I used G. A. Williamson's Penguin paperback
        translation of Josephus' War here, so I am at his mercy when it comes to the
        accuracy of the words he uses to translate the Greek. Also, he only gives a
        very general guide at the tops of the pages to help relate his translation
        to the Greek text. I did not have the time to cross check more precise
        sources.
      • Bob Schacht
        ... David & Jeffrey, Thanks for the interesting material. One suggestion: I think several things may bear some investigation: * What were the standards and
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 12, 2003
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          At 11:51 AM 10/12/2003 -0400, David Hindley wrote:
          >Jeffrey Gibson asks:
          >
          > >>Does Josephus -- or any other ancient source -- ever tell us that any of
          >the various revolutionary parties under Menahem or Eleazar or Simon, etc.,
          >prosecuted/persecuted those who questioned or did not openly support the war
          >against Rome? If so, where might the statements to this effect be found?<<
          >
          >I'm kind of surprised no one is responding to your question.
          >
          >All the fun stuf that occurred in Galilee, where contending parties wanted
          >to arrest and deport to Jerusalem just about all the leading rebel figures,
          >suggests that legal action was going on against those who were considered
          >rebels. I guess that who was considered a rebel was dependent upon what
          >faction was holding the court sessions.
          >
          >The rebels conducted executions, which normally imply trials...

          >There is no mention of a formal trial, at least one that Josephus
          >recognized as legitimate, but I'd
          >assume some sort of tribunal was held....
          >
          >At this point, though, "sham" courts were set up and "fake" trials held,
          >apparently done in order to legally appropriate the wealth of the defendants.



          David & Jeffrey,
          Thanks for the interesting material. One suggestion: I think several things
          may bear some investigation:
          * What were the standards and protocols for trials among Jews under
          Roman occupation-- not just the theory, but the practice?
          * What were the standards and protocols in Roman courts-- again, not
          just the theory but the practice.
          * Did these standards and protocols differ between Judea and Galilee?
          * Were there differences among legal standards, social legitimacy, etc?
          One of the things that these investigations presage is the question of the
          formality (or lack thereof) of Jesus' trial(s), both the Jewish and Roman
          parts thereof.

          Bob Schacht
          Northern Arizona University


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jeffrey B. Gibson
          ... If you are speaking of capital trials, then you are opening a rather large can of worms. The issue of the competency of the Sanhedrin is one that has
          Message 4 of 5 , Oct 12, 2003
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            Bob Schacht wrote:

            > David & Jeffrey,
            > Thanks for the interesting material. One suggestion: I think several
            > things
            > may bear some investigation:
            > * What were the standards and protocols for trials among Jews
            > under
            > Roman occupation-- not just the theory, but the practice?

            If you are speaking of capital trials, then you are opening a rather
            large can of worms. The issue of the competency of the Sanhedrin is one
            that has generated an enormous amount of literature. It's summarized by
            Brown in his _Death of the Messiah_

            But one interesting thing to note is the fact, noted by Gaayla Cornfeld
            in his(her?) edition of _War_ is that to try Zacharias, the Zealots set
            up a court of 70, like a Sanhedrin, and that "they would not have taken
            the trouble to do so had it been customary to try capital cases before a
            smaller number of judges" (p. 284 n. 335c).

            > * What were the standards and protocols in Roman courts-- again,
            > not
            > just the theory but the practice.
            > * Did these standards and protocols differ between Judea and
            > Galilee?
            > * Were there differences among legal standards, social legitimacy,
            > etc?
            > One of the things that these investigations presage is the question of
            > the
            > formality (or lack thereof) of Jesus' trial(s), both the Jewish and
            > Roman
            > parts thereof.

            I wonder if it's really germane to try to establish these things if, as
            is often argued, Jesus Sanhedrin trial is portrayed by Mark as an
            emergency situation.

            Yours,

            Jeffrey
            --

            Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

            1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
            Chicago, IL 60626

            jgibson000@...



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Emergency situations are famously used as excuses for extralegal procedures. But should it be taken as given that Mark s portrayal of this as an emergency
            Message 5 of 5 , Oct 12, 2003
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              At 11:26 AM 10/12/2003 -0500, you wrote:


              >Bob Schacht wrote:
              >
              > > David & Jeffrey,
              > > Thanks for the interesting material. One suggestion: I think several
              > > things
              > > may bear some investigation:
              > > * What were the standards and protocols for trials among Jews under
              > > Roman occupation-- not just the theory, but the practice?
              >
              >If you are speaking of capital trials, then you are opening a rather
              >large can of worms. The issue of the competency of the Sanhedrin is one
              >that has generated an enormous amount of literature. It's summarized by
              >Brown in his _Death of the Messiah_
              >
              >But one interesting thing to note is the fact, noted by Gaayla Cornfeld
              >in his(her?) edition of _War_ is that to try Zacharias, the Zealots set
              >up a court of 70, like a Sanhedrin, and that "they would not have taken
              >the trouble to do so had it been customary to try capital cases before a
              >smaller number of judges" (p. 284 n. 335c).
              >
              > > * What were the standards and protocols in Roman courts-- again, not
              > > just the theory but the practice.
              > > * Did these standards and protocols differ between Judea and
              > > Galilee?
              > > * Were there differences among legal standards, social legitimacy, etc?
              > > One of the things that these investigations presage is the question of the
              > > formality (or lack thereof) of Jesus' trial(s), both the Jewish and Roman
              > > parts thereof.
              >
              >I wonder if it's really germane to try to establish these things if, as
              >is often argued, Jesus Sanhedrin trial is portrayed by Mark as an
              >emergency situation.

              Emergency situations are famously used as excuses for extralegal
              procedures. But should it be taken as given that Mark's portrayal of this
              as an emergency situation is correct? Besides, I think that many of my
              questions would still be germane. Furthermore, I forgot one bullet:
              * Were jurisdictional issues involved-- not only between different
              Roman administrative units, but also between areas covered/not covered by
              Roman Law, and whether citizens were involved or not?
              These are all clearly at issue in the Gospels, as the "Sanhedrin" trial, if
              that is what it was, was only a prelude to the trial before Pilate, who had
              to authorize the crucifixion. Furthermore, the issue of Roman interests
              came up as well-- was Jesus' "crime" merely that he violated Jewish laws,
              or did he violate Roman law as well?

              How Mark "spun" these is of interest, and therefore the difference between
              whatever the reality would have been, and Mark's "Spin", if any, is of
              interest.

              Bob Schacht, Ph.D.
              Northern Arizona University

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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